Blood Moss

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Blood Moss (BM) is an red-hued fungus which is prized by Britannian and Serpent Islander magicians as a magical reagent.

History and Uses[edit]

Britannia[edit]

Blood moss was first described by Philpop the Weary, a court magician in service to Lord British in the early Age of Enlightenment. In this text, the fungus is described as an agricultural pest, growing only in excessively dry climes in direct sunlight, where it had but a fleeting lifespan - dying off within the span of a day as nightfall overtook its light source. It was explained by Philpop that this fleeting existence imbued the mushroom with a mystical potency related to quickness and movement, and the reagent has long been used to instigate such effects in Britannian spellcastings.

Curiously, blood moss in later ages appeared to be adapted to a wider range of habitats, and could frequently be found in damp marshy areas such as the Bloody Plains as well as in the forests of Spiritwood - implying perhaps that Philpop's description ultimately amounted to a well-intentioned fable. Over time, another explanation of the red fungus' origins developed, purporting that it sprouted on sites where blood had fallen. While such a history would well explain the prevalence of the reagent on the Bloody Plains, it falls short of providing as neat a cosmological explanation of the mushroom's mystic properties as Philpop. By the late Age of Armageddon, however, the legend of the blood had become accepted as fact, with scholars even taking stock in a new and lurid detail that the moss preferred the blood of virgins - purportedly leading to perverse abuses by amoral wizards in search of the reagent.

Serpent Isle[edit]

On the Serpent Isle, blood moss is a comparatively rare commodity, with the only known cache of the fungus growing in the swamplands of the Isle of Illusion, south of Moonshade.

Lore[edit]

Blood Moss
Blood Character.png
blood Moss - is the bane of farmers and the boon of magicians. It is a deep red fungus that attacks the crops of those who raise grain, yet it is a vital component in the casting of spells. An oddity to those who spend their lives observing the growth of that which is not animal in nature - for it behaves like no other plant or mushroom - Blood Moss grows only in the driest of times, when all around it is perishing from drought. It cannot survive the absence of direct sunlight, and thus passes from the earth each night, only to return when the sun blazes mercilessly upon the land. Blood Moss seems to feed only in ripening grain - it can lay waste to an acre of corn in a single day and vanish without a trace as night falls, leaving naught but fruitless stalks swaying in the cool, night breeze. The magic of Blood Moss is thought to reside in its fleeting nature, for it is used in the spells of movement - from the simplest levitation to making the very earth tremble. As harvest time comes each year, the merchants send runners to wait by the fields and gather the Blood Moss. Farmers consider these runners unlucky and try to chase them from their fields, but enough show persistence to ensure their masters a plentiful supply of Blood Moss to sell.
Fungal growth usually found in deep forests and warm, damp areas; especially favored as a reagent for its ability to enhance mobility.
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"Moss" it may be called, but blood moss is, in reality, a fungus gathered in the enchanted forest of Spiritwood. There it is found growing under the loose, dead bark of fallen trees. Blood moss is used to enhance mobility and movement.
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In recent years the only places where this strange substance can be located are in the Bloody Marsh across the mountains from Cove (where many years ago thousands of soldiers lost their lives) or in the enchanted forest of Spiritwood, beneath the rotting bark of dead trees.
This reddish fungus, found only in the swamp south of Moonshade, usually grows on dead trees and is found between the bark and the outermost ring of wood. Blood Moss is used to instill a spell with the power to increase speed and mobility.
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The energy of blood roiled in battle imbues a common type of moss with a magical potential that is suitable for spells of movement. In binding with this reagent, the mage draws from it the carriage power of the blood contained therein. Sadly, the moss seems to favor the blood of virgins, and reports of abuses have spread from the hinterlands.

Trivia[edit]

Hydnellum peckii, the bleeding tooth mushroom
  • The use of blood meal as an agricultural fertilizer may explain the difference in accounts regarding blood moss's habitat, as it does not seem impossible that crops grown from blood-infected soil might beget short-lived waves of the fungus. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the real world writers responsible for the varied literature regarding blood moss had a conscious reasoning for the shift.
Red Sphagnum Moss, sometimes known as "blood moss"
  • Unlike many of the other reagents featured in Ultima, blood moss doesn't appear to have an immediately identifiable analogue in reality, although a number of plants and mushrooms share some of it's characteristics. Several shrubs and bushes, such as elder or mulberry, have mythologies which claim they only grow where blood has been shed, and there is even brief mention of a legendary red fungus with this property which appears at Cotehele, a manor house in Cornwall.[1] While some documented mushrooms, such as the Bleeding Tooth certainly have an appropriately dramatic appearance, none of them seem to coincide decisively with Ultima lore or with the descriptions of Cotehele growth. Lastly, while not a fungus, the Sphagnum Moss (especially Red Sphagnum Moss) at times went by the moniker of "blood moss," as it can be used as a makeshift bandage. It was this species that Joe Garrity (curator of the Origin museum) used in his creation of a real world reagent box as a gift to Richard Garriott.[2]

References[edit]

  1. Hare, Augustus John Cuthbert. The Story of my Life, Volume IV. Balantyne Press: 1900. Page 248.
  2. Garrity, Joe. "Ancient Artifacts of the Origin Museum, Part II". The Artful Gamer. January 9, 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

Reagents
Britannian Reagents
Britannian Black PearlBlood MossGarlicGinsengMandrake RootNightshadeSpider SilkSulfurous Ash
Serpent Isle Reagents
Serpent Isle (SI) Blood SpawnSerpent ScalesWorm Heart
Pagan Reagents
Necromancy (VIII) BlackmoorBloodBoneDirtExecutioner's HoodWood
Sorcery (VIII) BrimstoneDaemon BonesObsidianPig IronPumiceVolcanic Ash
Thaumaturgy (VIII) Bat WingDragon BloodEye of NewtSerpent Scales
Other Reagents
Alchemy (UO) Luminescent FungiCaptured EssenceParasitic PlantsEgg
Mysticism (UO) BoneDragon BloodDaemon BonesFertile Dirt
Necromancy (UO) Bat WingDaemon BloodGrave DustNox CrystalPig Iron
Shamanism (SE) ChocolatlPindeYopo
Spellweaving (UO) Arcane Focus