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Endless Blue – Week 113 – Ocean’s Bounty: Aquatic Fruit   Leave a comment

Pomology

Ocean’s Bounty: Aquatic Fruit

While many of our lives’ little details have clear parallels with aquatic life, one glaring major difference is the lack of fruit.  While plant life, like animal life, began in water, it found greater success once it spread to areas where the water’s edge slowly subsided.  With water receded, what would become flora took root above the waves and spread across the world.  Most of what we would consider “underwater plants” are actually algae — kelp and seaweed, most notably

Despite this, plants are found near or in water.  Normally they are classified as submerged, emergent, or floating.

  • Submerged plants are vegetation rooted to the ocean floor with most if not all of their mass existing beneath the surface of the water.  Sea grass exemplifies this type of aquatic plant.
  • Emergent plants are rooted along the shoreline, sometimes becoming submerged during high water.  Lily pads are an example of emergent plant.
  • Floating plants are not tethered to the sea bed or shore line by their root system.  They truly float upon the water, their roots dangling into the water, like the water hyacinth.

The reason for this is that fruit requires pollination.  The denser medium of water severely limits the range that normally air-spread spores can reach, and most insects cannot survive the pressure of ocean depths.  However, both methods can still work.  A plant spreading its pollen is little different than a fish spawning over eggs, save the distance the sperm travels.  Further, while bees cannot survive under water, there are plenty of tiny aquatic crustaceans that can serve the same purpose.  In fact, this is the mechanic by which sea grass reproduces — sea grass pollen carried on the backs of invertebrates.

Anatomy of Fruit

Fruit is the structure produced by fertilized flowers that contains seeds.  It is the means by which some oceanic angiosperms (flowering plant-life) disseminates its offspring.

Outer Layer — All fruit has an outer layer.  Skin, peel, rind, or husk — be it for protection or capturing attention — the outer layer of the fruit is the most prominent characteristic.  Whether it is the green stripes of a watermelon, the prickly husk of a pineapple, or thick rind of oranges, this outer layer stands out as the primary identification for fruit.  Beneath the waves, this is no different.

  • The foremost attribute is color.  Some fruit are vividly hued, to gain the attention of herbivores that will consume the fruit and later spread the seeds elsewhere.  Remember that in the Endless Blue Campaign Setting, many creatures can see into the ultraviolet range, adding to the palette of possible coloration.  Also under coloration falls patterns. Spotted, striped, gradients, or spotted, symmetrical or asymmetrical patterns, can make a fruit look distinctive
  • Second only to coloration, the shape of a fruit is the next most distinctive attribute.  Fruits like the pear demonstrate how the physical shape of a fruit can become iconic.
  • The texture of the outer layer of fruit can be varied: smooth as an apple, husks like coconuts, or festooned with spines like cactus fruit.
  • Size is another trait that varies widely.  Some fruit can be tiny like berries or as large as pumpkins.  Keep in mind that the larger the fruit, the longer it takes to mature, taking up more of the plant’s resources to grow.  But just as fauna can grow to immense sizes underwater, the same can be said for flora.

Flesh —  This is the fruit proper: the pulpy, flavorful part that is generally viewed as the reason to eat.

  • Coloration again becomes a factor.  Most fruit flesh is pale, but fruit with vividly colored contents is common.
  • Texture also returns for consideration, but in the case of fruit flesh, it refers more to the feel of the fruit while being eaten.  Pomes like apples are crunchy while bananas are mushy.
  • Form — The flesh of fruit comes in immensely variable forms.  Most citrus fruit develop sections, while the aforementioned pomes are a solid.  Extremes could be gelatinous or even liquid.

Flavor — Flavor is a factor all on its own, as the variety of taste run a gambit of complexity beyond any other attribute.

  • Taste — Most everything falls into the five categories of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory.
  • Temperature — While not really indicating the temperature of the fruit, but more the sensation of heat (spicy) or cool (minty).
  • Consistency — This refers to the tastes physical properties.  Watery tastes diluted, while creamy has a thickness to it.  Other possibilities are dry or astringent
  • Strength — Strength is the general potency of the flavor.  Mild to overpowering, it can be mellow, sharp, or even non-existent (such as the setting specific acari fruit used by Culinists for creating their potion-like fruit.

Seeds — The entire purpose of fruit is the dispersion of seeds, the floral method of propagation.  Sometimes the formation of seeds is problematic to eating the fruit, like the stones in cherries.

Ripeness —  Ripeness is the level of readiness a fruit has achieved in terms of being eaten.   As a fruit grows, it changes from an initial inedible seed-state into an edible fruit.  As more time passes, the fruit may leave its ripened stage and become past its best state for consumption.

Special — This category is a catch-all for any unique property a fruit (or fruit part) may have.  The most common special property is if the fruit if Processable.  This can manifest as simply as a minor change happening when cooked to as complex a process as making cocoa or coffee.  Fermentation is a category wherein the fruit can be broken down by micro-organisms to produce alcohol (see Drinking Like a Fish)

Fruit of the Fluid Nations

Acari —  Acari fruit is best known as the fruit used by Culunist to imbue with magical effects.  Acari grows from an aquatic vine that produces a translucent grayish melon with a rubbery skin and fully gelatinous insides. Flavor-wise, the melon possesses a bland, gruel-like taste, but its ability to absorb nutrients from the native soil will affect the pulp’s flavor.  Such “tailored” fruit will tend to grow to 60% or smaller than a wild Acari.

Funeral Stone — Most known for its role in funeral proceedings, Funeral Stone is a moderately sized fruit.  It possesses an almost rock-hard husk — thus the name “stone” — as well being incredibly dense.  Traditionally, they are used as weights in the funeral process to ensure the departed’s body sinks.

Funeral Stones grow in arctic areas, producing a flower that is hermaphroditic.  It changes from female to male quickly, thus making accidental self-pollination difficult.  The husk, fruit, and seed have almost identical solid composition, making it difficult to separate the parts.  Resistant even to denaturing, the best that can be accomplished is grating, thus it nominally used as a spice.  Care must be taken when choosing which part of the stone is grated, as the husk is a paralytic, and the seed is poisonous.

Merfruit – This is a group of inter-hybridized citrus fruits, so named as a parallel to the intermingling of Mer species. They run the range of coloration, but the key fruit are green (vert, bice), purple (damson), grey (oysterfruit), violet (solferino, sereino), and ultraviolet (abele).

Base Merfruit

Bice –  A small and oblate fruit with a thick pebbly skin.  They grow from about 1″ to 3″ radius, and weight deceptively more than they appear.   Inside, Bice has a vibrant green pulpy fruit separated into sections.  They have a slightly salty taste to their sweetness.

Damson – With a small, squashed round shape with faint lobes and a thin wrinkled peel, Damson have a powdery-purplish coloration within and without.  The tiny fruit ranges in size between 2.5″ to 4 inches across.  The taste of the fruit is often described as a mellow sweetness that distinctly identifiable as a Damson.

Solferino – The solferino is a large, smooth citric fruit with a violet peel.  Roundish, the solferino tapers slightly toward the stem, almost pear shape.  It’s pale pinkish-violet citrus pulp is deeply embedded inside a crisp pome-like flesh. It is found most everywhere in the Mer currents, and is a popular Merfruit outside is homesea.

Hybrid Merfruit

Vert – Crossing the solferino with a bice produces a greenish-blue mid-sized fruit.  Its skin is thick but easily pierced, and can be peeled of the citrus flesh in great chunks.  The citrus itself is sectioned into wedges, with a seed embedded in each wedge along the axis.

Abele – Further hybridizing the vert with another solferino produces an Abele.  The fruit is normally ultraviolet in coloration, and so look different to those without vision in the ultraviolet range.  Those with ultravision will see the fruit in its fully splendorous coloration; those without simply see a black fruit.

Sereino – Mixing an abele with a damson results in a bell-shaped fruit about the size of an adult’s fist.  The outer peel is easier to peel than that of the vert, but a deep purple hue.  The fruit is also purple in color, and is clumped together in wedges like the vert, but has a subdivision around its circumference.

Oysterfruit –  What can only be called as “remarkable”, infusing a Vert, an Abele, and a Damson achieves a huge hybrid known as Oysterfruit.  With a bark-like husk, the Oysterfruit actually grows into a hollow space-filled gourd.  The tensile strength of the husk keeps the fruit from imploding from the surrounding water pressure.  As a result, early pisceans used Oysterfruit husks as sturdy flasks once the slimy, almost mucilaginous fruit is scraped out.  The scraped out fruit can be eaten, and has an extremely salty and sour flavor, making it better suited for seasoning.  Both the husk and viscid fruit have a pale, unpleasing grey coloration that somewhat resembles the shell and meat of an oyster, hence the name.

Rotten Egg — Size of a Mer skull, Rotten Egg has a thin, soft scaly skin that is easily torn. The fruit is foul tasting, slimy, with a stringy texture. It comes in sections clustered around a central, fibrous core. The fruit drops from a surface plant into local sea water, where the saline levels slowly dissolve the skin. By the time the skin dissolves, the “ripened” fruit has become toxic. Bottom feeding sea life is drawn in by traces of flavor on the current and eat the fruit, thus swallowing the seeds and becoming poisoned.  The poison affects the creature’s sense of direction, causing the infected to beach themselves on the shore.  Those that are not eaten by the aberrations of the surface world decay and serve as fertilizer for the ingested seeds.

Telom — Telom are a similar citric fruit to Merfuit, but found in the Yaun-Teel Bights.  While not as extensive a variety as Merfruit, Telom have a couple of notable variants:

Bittersour telom — This variety of telom is very flavorful, with an intense bitter and sour taste and a lingering sweet aftertaste.  Unfortunately, eating the bittersour is actually bad for the health, interfering with the liver’s process of clearing toxins from the system.  They are best used as accents to other food and drink.  The fruit has a light tan skin, while the pulp is a pale pink.

Sweet telom — The tiny round fruit known as sweet telom have been cultivated to posses nearly no citrus pulp, and instead a having more a chewy flesh.  Usually found in freshwater or low-salt run-offs, they are a bright yellow color on the outside and nearly white inside.

Brindlemont telom — Brindlemonts have a heavy, waxy, bumpy skin and is oval-shaped with an extrusion on each end.  Its citric fruit in inedible, but zest grated from its rind is used for tinctures.

Thistlethread — This fruit is actually inedible, consisting of a fibrous bundle that, when “ripe”, are under significant tension.  When touched, the fruit explodes, loosening a mass of paired seeds connected with a thin strand.  The seeds are hooked, like a tiny harpoon, and will snag the flesh or scale of whatever disturbs the plant.  Clinging to the creature, the hooks on the seeds eventually break off and the tethered seeds eventually drift off, to settle on the sea floor and germinate.  The significance of this fruit is that, while a complex process, the threads can be harvested and woven together to from textiles.

Jared Rydelek, famous cultivar — half culinist, half packbreeder — creates new types of fruit. While this plant-breeding movement, like so many others, was founded in the Mer Currents, it was actually a Kouton that started the practice. As such, the practice of secrecy is deeply ingrained among its practitioners

— While good thoughts bear the best fruit,
bad thoughts do not wither on the vine…

Jared Rydelek, Kouton cultivar extraordinaire


I’d like to give thanks to Jared Rydelek and his YouTube Channel Weird Explorer.  It was watching his over 300 Weird Fruit Explorer videos that inspired this article.  Check out his work and realize that everything on there not only is real, but he has sampled them personally.  Many of the weirdest examples and the interesting trivia associated with them worked their way into this article, and as thanks, I created an NPC named after him and made him the founder of the Cultivar movement.  Jared’s proven he’s a braver man than me, and his perseverance shows how fact is often stranger than fiction.

Jared Rydelek’s Weird Fruit Explorer

Endless Blue – Week 91 – Icthara, the Voracious   3 comments

Theology

Icthara, the Voracious

Live to eat; eat to live.  Consumption is the basic need of all living things, the act of taking in nutrition to keep the body alive.  It is the current of life, cyclical, that all things need to thrive.  Eat, eat again, eat more, and grow.  Feed, consume, gorge, for you never know when you might eat again.  Next time, it might be you serving as the meal.  Bottom feeder or apex predator, aquatic flora or Vastness aberration, all must obey the most primal of all urges: eat to survive.

All exists to sate the Endless Hunger.  Not just food, but the living are to consume all that can be digested: drink, drugs, even detritus.  She is the Goddess of Gluttony, not Pride.  The sunken bodies of the dead are as much a feast to Her as the freshest roe.  Even the ley line nexuses fall prey to Icthara’s ravening.  She sups upon their puissance; and like ambrosia, She greedily gobbles it down.

The Queen of the Feast single-mindedly travels across the water world’s seabeds, consuming everything in Her wake with equal relish.

Icthara, the Voracious, the Empress of Consumption, Queen of the Feast, the Endless Hunger

Alignment: Neutral Evil
Symbol: Two rows of three orange hooks, facing downward and inward.
Domains: Animal, Destruction, Evil, Magic, Travel
Preferred Unguis (weapon): Claw.
Clerical Unguis of Choice: Prey catcher (man catcher).
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic evil, neutral evil, lawful evil, true neutral.

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Endless Blue – Week 63 – Elqua’s Blue Dragon   1 comment

Zoology

Elqua’s Blue Dragon

NOTE: The blue dragon is based on a real sea creature called the Glaucus atlanticus.  When this animal was brought to my attention, the deep blue coloring and the six appendaged shape instantly exemplified my concept of what native Elquan life would look like.  Its incredibly alien morphology gives it the perfect form for life in the Endless Blue, and I knew immediately I had to adapt it for the campaign setting.  With only slight modifications — and a little stat creation — I’ve adapted for 3E use.  The use of the Wikipedia image falls under the Wikimedia Creative Commons License and it does not qualify as Open Game Content as per the OGC document.  Photo by Taro Taylor from Sydney, Australia.  Used without permission.

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Endless Blue – Week 54 – The Nature of Kelaguen   2 comments

Chemistry

The Nature of Kelaguen

Kelaguen is the “wonder yeast” that revolutionized aquaculture (aquatic agriculture) and serves as the basis of the culinary arts.  Used extensively by the toothless Locanth for five Ages, it is a fungal derived substance based heavily on the compound lignin.  Its introduction into early Known World populations was key in the rise of more than one culture into the ocean nations of today.

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Endless Blue – Week 28 – The Culinist, Farmer of the Fathoms   7 comments

Sociology

Culinist — Farmers of the Fathoms

Culinists are the farmers of the fathoms, wielding aquaculture to produce consumable bounties for piscean life to thrive.  Through cunning manipulation of kelaguen — the tiniest wonder fungi — they can fertilize barren silt, ferment the ubiquitous ricelqua into alcohol, and infuse the unremarkable acari fruit with wonders of magic.

They are cultivators of magic in the truest sense — they raise crops infused with magic.  The fruit of their art can impart spells upon the consumer much like drinking a magical potion, but only after harvest has produced the ripened bevy.

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Endless Blue – Week 26 – The Floating Wheel   Leave a comment

Anthropogenics

The Floating Wheel

Perhaps the third most important discovery that enabled civilization to flourish, behind language and fire, is arguably the wheel.  Historians and philosophers can argue the details, but work-relieving potential of the wheel has proven itself indispensable in every culture known.  An astoundingly simply invention — the simplest shape, found everywhere in nature, and refined to become the greatest mechanical tool to push civilization forward — the wheel’s practicality is a little diminished when you can move in all directions.  Wheels essentially need traction to work, and when held aloft, floating in an endless ocean of water, there is little there for the wheel to roll across.  Even if the pisceans of antiquity kept to the sea bed with their wheels, the topography of the ocean floor is rough, usually steep, and most times less solid than packed earth.

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Endless Blue – Week 24 – All is not Blue Under the Waves   2 comments

Oceanography

All is not Blue Under the Waves

Contrary to first impressions, terrain under the oceans is not a flat, featureless horizon of silt and sand.  In actuality, submerged land has as varied a morphology as the land above the waves, perhaps more so.  Here, with sea surrounding you in every direction, the currents that affect the formation of terrain consist of water instead of air.

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