Razor-sharp leaves dripping in blood span the length of this cornstalk, while a snakelike root digs into the soft ground.
Blood Maize CR 2
Str 12, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 15
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 15
Feats Skill Focus (Stealth), Toughness
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +12; Racial Modifiers +2 Stealth
SQ change foliage, root deep
Blinding Bloom (Ex)
Once per day as a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, a blood maize plant can release a stationary, 20-foot-high cloud of fine pollen in a 20-foot radius centered on its square. The cloud acts as an obscuring mist spell, but it lasts for 1 round, after which it dissipates. A creature in the cloud when the pollen is released or that moves into the cloud before it dissipates must succeed at a DC 13 Fortitude saving throw or be blinded for 1 round. The saving throw DC is Charisma-based.
Change Foliage (Su)
Three times per day as an immediate action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, a blood maize plant can make itself appear as a different type of plant. This new appearance mimics that of any plant up to two size categories smaller than the blood maize and need not resemble the blood maize’s true form. For example, the blood maize can take on the semblance of a pumpkin vine, strawberry plant, or sunflower. A blood maize plant’s statistics remain the same, even if it is masquerading as a plant of a smaller size category. It can’t assume the form of another plant creature and can imitate only the appearance of plants that are normally considered part of the surrounding terrain. This effect is a visual illusion only and does not alter the perceived scent or tactile properties of the blood maize. While using this ability, the blood maize gains a +10 racial bonus on Stealth checks.
A successful DC 20 Knowledge (nature) or Survival check is required to identify the plant’s true nature. A creature that interacts with a blood maize plant while it is using this ability can disbelieve the illusion with a successful DC 13 Will saving throw. Changing back into its true form requires an immediate action. This is an illusion (glamer) effect. The saving throw DC is Charisma-based.
Root Deep (Ex)
As a free action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, a blood maize plant can use its long hooklike appendage to root itself deep into dirt or soil, but not into rock or other harder materials. This grants the blood maize a +4 racial bonus against bull rush or trip attempts.
Environment temperate or warm plains
Organization solitary or patch (2–8)
Named not for their physical coloration but for their thirst for spilled blood, the plants known as blood maize plants are insidious creatures. They look like common cornstalks, except their leaves are larger and more knifelike and their root systems are much more robust and mobile. In each specimen, the latter includes at least one long vine-like tendril that the plant can use to root itself deeply in the earth as it attacks its victim. Despite its fearsome nature, blood maize produces ears of sweet corn larger than those of traditional corn plants. A full-grown blood maize stalk is typically 7 feet tall and, including its root system, weighs about 70 pounds.
It’s said that blood maize plants arose spontaneously in ancient times at the sites of great battles, where blood pooled like rainwater and the plains were covered in broken bodies. In these legends, crops left to wither and rot due to raging wars adapted to their harsh new environs via a mixture of natural hardiness and the latent energies of suffering that permeated the land. The results were the first blood maize. Sustenance would not come to the blood maize, and so the plants developed a way to hunt down their own nourishment, and the blood that once choked their roots instead became their food. Many believe blood maize is evil due to its affinity for blood and the plant’s eerie ambulatory nature. However, despite its purported origin story, blood maize is actually unmotivated by anything other than the need for nourishment, albeit via a strange biology born from its dark origins.
While the uninformed often associate blood maize with vampires and other blood-drinking creatures, the plants don’t actually drink blood or grapple enemies to drain them. Rather, they instinctually seek to slice the skin of victims; any creatures that bleed are potential prey, though they most commonly stalk humanoids. Blood maize plants slice their prey with their large, sharp leaves, which peel away from their stalks to serve as appendages. These leaves are durable and can stiffen, and the edges are razor sharp.
When a blood maize stalk strikes a victim, it roots into place while its leaves lash outward and slice into the victim’s flesh.
Blood maize plants absorb spilled blood through their root systems and can do so even while they are mobile. To aid their search for blood, they can uproot themselves to move without impediment, and they can use their roots to dig a firm purchase in the ground. Blood maize can both see and sense movement remarkably well; the plants migrate and search for food at night, and so they are finely attuned to the ground vibrations they use to locate prey.
Although blood maize stalks that haven’t fed in days or weeks are tenacious in combat, these plants often try to withdraw from a fight once they’ve sliced one or more victims to death. When their thirst has been sated, they use their defensive abilities to avoid further violence, though this is more of an instinct for self-preservation than an actual desire to avoid a fight.
Foremost among these defensive measures is the blood maize’s ability to release a pollen cloud, which allows the plant to retreat from a battle while its enemies are distracted. This cloud is dense enough to block sight for a moment, and though the pollen dissipates quickly, creatures that get it in their eyes discover that it stings painfully. Once its enemies are distracted, a blood maize stalk disguises itself as an innocuous environmental plant in the hope that its enemies will leave the area and not discover the ruse.
Blood maize plants are perennial, and they are reduced to only their root structures during the winter. They regrow their stalks as well as their sweet corn cobs in the spring, and maintain this form throughout the fall. They reproduce only once in their life cycles through a special red kernel produced on one cob, usually in the plant’s second year. The other cobs produce normal corn, which is not only safe to eat, but delicious and wholesome. In fact, some hardy frontier homesteaders or settlements prize this corn as a delicacy and mount regular, if perilous, missions to harvest it. Blood maize plants typically live for 4 or 5 years, but there are reports of some in remote locations that reproduce each year and live for a decade or more.
Habitat and Society
Blood maize plants are found in temperate climates.
They are wild plants, but they tend to grow most robustly in rural areas, likely due to the abundance of prey that surrounds them there. Blood maize plants are attracted to gardens and farms, as the stalks can relocate easily in tilled soil and find that birds, livestock, and unsuspecting humans make for relatively easy meal sources. Farmers who don’t care to harvest blood maize’s corn consider it a dangerous pest, while evil-inclined druids and witch covens sometimes use blood maize to protect gardens and thickets where rare alchemical and spell components are grown. of course, these villainous gardeners can’t control the plants’ bloodlust; if they drop their guard around the stalks, they often find themselves fending off razor-sharp leaves.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #121: The Lost Outpost © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Jim Groves, with Adam Daigle, Isabelle Lee, Luis Loza, and Greg A. Vaughan.