Originally grown as servants for more powerful fey and intelligent plant life such as elder treants, leshys are sentient plants who look after their unintelligent brethren and serve as nature’s verdant watchers. Several breeds ofleshy exist, each being kindred to a broad group of plants or fungi. Among the best known are superstitious gourd leshys, wise seaweed leshys, strange fungus leshys, and wary leafleshys, though others are rumored to exist, such as the surly cactus leshy, the sinister flytrap leshy, the garrulous snapdragon leshy, and the enigmatic lotus leshy. Leshys begin their existence as sentient though bodiless spirits of nature of the sort contacted by spells such as commune with nature. These spirits normally have no way to directly manipulate the physical world, but a skilled spellcaster (typically a druid) can grow a special plant body for one of these spirits, giving the spirit a home to animate.
Once accepted into a body, a leshy’s spirit remains within unless the body is destroyed. Leshys do not fear death as many other creatures do, knowing that should they fall, their spirits merely return to the natural world and can be called to inhabit a new leshy body at some point in the future. As a leshy’s body dies, the magic animating it unravels in a burst of life energy that infuses its surrounding and quickens the growth of any plants in the vicinity. Some leshys even voluntarily discorporate to save the lives of ailing plants, knowing that their sacrifice may mean the continuation of countless otherwise helpless flora. Regardless of how a leshy dies, leaving the body traumatizes the spirit, and the leshy retains only faint memories of past corporeal existences. Leshy spirits need not return to the same form if bound again to a body. During the course of its existence a single spirit can inhabit any number of different types ofleshys. A leshy without a body has no power to affect or contact the material world.
The rites and special materials required to create a leshy’s physical form vary between individual leshys. Once the creator assembles the necessary materials, a leshy must typically be grown in an area of natural power, such as a treant’s grove, a druidic circle, or a site of pristine natural wonder. A newly born leshy is a free-willed, neutral being, under no obligation to serve its creator.
As a group, leshys share certain common attributes. They resemble plants but with vaguely humanoid appearances, and are always Small. While leshys of the same species share the same general shape, leshys have all the diversity of the plant world in appearance. For example, one fungus leshy may have a classic red, white-dotted mushroom cap, while another might have the spongier and darker contours of a morel, while a third might have the coloration of a pale gray cave mushroom.
The process of growing a leshy has some similarities to making a construct, but doesn’t require the Craft Construct feat. Typically, the creator of a leshy must be a powerful druid, but anyone capable of making the required Knowledge checks and casting the required spells may attempt the process.Growing a leshy body takes 2 weeks per Hit Die, during which the nascent form must be well fertilized, watered as needed, and kept safe from harm. During this period of growth, certain rare nutrients and fertilizer must be used to prime the leshy’s transformation from a normal plant into a sentient one—the cost of these components varies according to the leshy, but is never less than 1,000 gp. The cultivator must make a successful Knowledge check at this time (usually a Knowledge [nature] check) in order for the plant body to be properly formed—the exact check as well as the required DC varies according to the leshy. If the check fails, the plant withers and dies and the cultivator must begin anew.
If, on the other hand, the skill check is successful, the cultivator must then step in and perform a 24-hour ritual within a day of the leshy’s cultivation. During this ritual, the cultivator must cast a number of spells (see each individual leshy for a list). At the ritual’s climax, there’s a flat 50% chance that the attempt to create a leshy succeeds—if this final check fails, no appropriate spirit is close enough to answer the call. The plant body rots and the creator must begin anew with fresh materials if he wishes to try again. At the GM’s discretion, this final chance for success might increase to 75% or even 100% for particularly magical areas where leshy spirits are much more common than normal. Discovering such a rare and magical site should be the focus of its own adventure.
If the ritual is successful, the leshy awakens fully formed and able to serve as a minion. A freshly created leshy is under no particular compulsion to obey its creator, but most regard their makers as friends and allies.
Plant creatures are particularly adept at growing leshys. Such creators gain a +5 racial bonus on their Knowledge checks, halve the time required to grow the leshy, and reduce the cost to create the creature by 25%. A plant creature is always successful in luring a spirit into the body, and need not make the final percentile roll for success.
Leshys with more Hit Dice than normal can be created. Each additional Hit Die adds 2,250 gp to the cost of creating the leshy (and thus 4,500 gp to the overall price), increases the DC of the Knowledge check by +2, and requires an additional 2 weeks of growth. Attempts to create leshys larger than Small always fail—the strange spiritual energies that animate these creatures are only capable of doing so to a body no larger than that of a human child.
- Time: 2 weeks per HD. Plant creatures take half the time required to grow the leshy.
- Cost: never less than 1,000 gp. Plant creatures reduce the cost to create the creature by 25%.
- Skill: Knowledge (usually Knowledge [nature]) DC varies by leshy. If the check fails, the plant withers and dies and the cultivator must begin anew. Plant creatures gain a +5 racial bonus on their Knowledge checks.
- Additional Time: 24-hour ritual within 24 hours of successful cultivation.
- Spells: Spells vary by leshy and must be cast during the ritual indicated under “Additional Time.”
- Chance to Embed Spirit: Flat 50% chance of success to embed a spirit after completion of ritual. At GM’s discretion, this chance might increase to 75% or 100% if performing ritual in magical areas where leshy spirits are more common. If successful, the leshy awakens fully formed and able to serve as a minion. A plant creature need not make the final percentile roll for success. A freshly created leshy is under no particular compulsion to obey its creator, but most regard their makers as friends and allies.
- Tougher Leshys: Each additional Hit Die adds 2,250 gp to the cost (and thus 4,500 gp to the overall price), increases the Knowledge check DC by +2, and requires an 2 additional weeks to grow. Attempts to create leshys larger than Small always fail—the strange spiritual energies that animate these creatures are only capable of doing so to a body no larger than that of a human child.