Thursday, October 31, 2013

Everyday Items 2: Biomes, part 1: Plants & Fungi Part B

Plants & Biomes: Tundra

Tundras are basically cold deserts that thaw just long enough to let a dense carpet of shrubs, sedges, mosses, lichens and grasses. plants grow and reproduce. The water that melts from the permafrost into shallow lakes and marshes during the summer. During the summer months they are marshy, making it difficult to move due to the hindrance of standing water and vegetation, but provide cover to characters. The deeper the water and taller the vegetation, the more time it takes to go through it. During the winter, they refreeze over and are difficult to move because of the uneven surface.  If you would like some real world view of how someone survived alone, see the film "Alone in the Wilderness"

Some potential plots would be that:
  • The tundra is melting at an alarming rate, and the PCs need to find out why.
  • A certain moss is taking over vast parts of the tundra and the PCs need to know why. 
  • Shambling mounds have infested the tundra and the PCs must defeat them. 

Plants & Biomes: Taiga

Similar to the tundra, the taiga isn't home to many plant species., as well as having short summers, only 50-100 frost free days. Summer temperatures range from 20° F to 70° F and are mostly warm, rainy and humid. They are also very short with about 50 to 100 frost free days. These areas only get 12 - 33 in yearly in the form of rain, snow and dew. It is either hot and humid or very cold in the taiga.

There are not a lot of species of plants in the taiga because of the harsh conditions. The main types of plants you'll see are lichens/ mosses, evergreens clumped together to help protect the branches against the weight of  falling snow, sparse grasses, and a few berry bushes  This gives them protection from the cold and wind. The taiga is susceptible to many wildfires. Trees have adapted by growing thick bark. The fires will burn away the upper canopy of the trees and let sunlight reach the ground. New plants will grow and provide food for animals that once could not live there because there were only evergreen trees.

Some potential plots would be
  • Strange weather has been happening. It's getting much warmer (or colder) and the PCs need to determine why 

Plants & Biomes: Grasslands

Grassland biomes are large, rolling terrains of grasses, flowers and herbs. Latitude, soil and local climates for the most part determine what kinds of plants grow in a particular grassland. Grassland are regions where there's enough precipitation annually to support grasses, and in some areas a few trees. Precipitation is so erratic that drought and fire prevent large forests from growing. Grasses can survive fires because they grow from the bottom instead of the top. Their stems can grow again after being burned off. The soil of most grasslands is also too thin and dry for most trees to survive.

There are two different types of grasslands
  1.  Tall-grass, which are humid and very wet 
  2. short-grass, which are dry, with hotter summers and colder winters than the tall-grass prairie.
Temperatures generally range between -40° F to 70° F with a growing season of 100 - 175 days.Plants usually start growing when the daily temperature reached about 50° F. In temperate zones has between 10 - 30 inches of precipitation yearly. In subtropical and tropical areas grasslands get between 25" - 60" y There are two real seasons: a growing season and a dormant season. 

In temperate grasslands the average rainfall per year ranges from 10-30 inches. In tropical and sub-tropical grasslands the average rainfall per year ranges from 25-60 inches per year The amount of rainfall is very important in determining which areas are grasslands because it's hard for trees to compete with grasses in places where the uppers layers of soil are moist during part of the year but where deeper layer of soil are always dry.

The most common types of plant life on the North American prairie are Buffalo Grass, Sunflower, Crazy Weed, Asters, Blazing Stars, Coneflowers, Goldenrods, Clover, and Wild Indigos.

Some potential plot points might be:
  • Fires are sweeping through the grasslands endangering all who live there. It's up to the PCs to stop them
  • The grasslands are having a drought. It's up to the PCs to bring rain or water into the area somehow.
  • There is flooding and it's swept away several houses. The PCs are hired to dig ditches, and sandbag to prevent further damage. 

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