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D&D General The language of flowers

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Different human cultures in different periods have associated meanings to flowers and have used flower arrangements to convey a message, much like modern humans group emojis into combinations that express a meaning not inherent in themselves to eggplants, donuts, hot dogs and peaches. ("Please, Whiz! This is a family website!")

But other species have much more complex communications using flowers and other plants, far beyond what humans do.

The elves, with their centuries-long view of forests and nature, construct great works of subtle art with the arrangements of which trees and plants grow where and in what combinations. The works are too subtle to be recognized as such by most, but elves will come a long distance to see forested hillsides that a master elven artist took centuries to grow and guide, even if the intended effect can only be grasped at sunrise during a single day in spring. It takes a DC 20 Survival check to spot elven plant artwork like this.

The gnomes' language of flower is a secret code, similar to what some urban thieves guilds use with images scratched on walls. But the gnomes grow trees and flowers ever so slightly out of place, or shaped in a way that wouldn't occur in nature. The gnomish language of flowers warns of dangers ahead or points to hidden refuge gnomes can leap into to escape their enemies or tells how to avoid the traps meant for pursuers. It takes a DC 25 Survival check to spot gnomish plant signage and it takes a DC 25 Insight check for those who do not speak Gnomish to interpret it.

In contrast, it's easy to spot halfling floral signage. They're used to spell out family names or advertise businesses or promote festivals or art events. Big splashy colors, in the form of difficult to cultivate blooms, call a great deal of attention to themselves. Sure, there might be signage written in Common as well -- there almost certainly is -- but the halfling language of flowers is intended to give a different message: "this message is for you, our extended family member -- mention this floral arrangement and get 10% off your dinner at the inn." The master gardeners capable of growing this signage like to sign their works, the way a master sign-painter would, typically with a particularly splashy and hard to grow bloom punctuating the end of the message. It takes a DC 10 Survival check to spot halfling floral signage and it takes a DC 20 Insight check for those who do not speak Halfling to interpret it.

There is no druidic language of flowers. The druidic community is split over the languages of flowers, even as practiced by the elves. While some view the gentle manipulation of the natural world in this way as inevitable as termite mounds, other druids preach that it's an abuse of the natural world.
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I remember reading Gun, Germs, and Steel and there is a discussion of how Oak acorns have a lot of nutritional potential...but breeding oaks is not practical, because their lifespan is longer than humans, unlike wheat.

Made me wonder about Elven Oak farmers...
They do indeed, but are also rich in tannins. To make acorn flour palatable you have to leach the flour.

And, yeah, you need to find an oak forest or plant for your grandchildren.


They do indeed, but are also rich in tannins. To make acorn flour palatable you have to leach the flour.

And, yeah, you need to find an oak forest or plant for your grandchildren.
Yeah, hos particular wxample of impractical but theoretically possible was breeding the tannins out of Iak acorns. Biologically, very doable, but it would tale centuries of trial and error. Unlike quick turnaround of grains.

But agai, the idea of Wood Elf Iak breeders and Miller makes a lot of sense.


I think it's also worth touching on human arrangements as well. Signages to indicate things from birth, death, marriage, upcoming festivals and the like are used even today. The wearing and positioning of a flower can have significant meaning, especially in courting rituals. Secret organizations have used flowers and other plant life to convey secret messages ranging from mere membership to commentary on social/political views or even as indicators to signal the start or continuation of secret plots.

Humans also have used gardening for signage as well - from the tending and cultivation of botanical gardens as decorations to using them to promote various agendas or even transmit secret messages to allies under the nose of those ignorant of its secret meaning - such as the planting of an invasive, quick-growing flower in the king's rose garden to indicate support of rebellion against said monarch.


A suffusion of yellow
My gnomes have an enhanced sense of smell (they have limited vision) and I’ve always wondered about the use of alchemical perfumes. Having gnomes communicate by cultivating scent patterns of mixed flowers, herbs and spices is brilliantly evocative



Look at how young he is in this movie.

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