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Flora, Fauna, and Monsters of Tharsis

by KtA

Conventional flora is mostly limited to the lower elevations, and even there is sparse - lichens and a few rare grasses. On the higher reaches of the Plateau, the flora is limited to unusual, semi-mineral growths unknown on worlds such as Mystara - land corals, stone lichens, and crystalmeadows. These strange 'plants' look like rocks to the unfamiliar eye, but contain an organic core under a protective mineral layer, which may protect against cold and wind, focus light onto the photosynthesizing cells, effectively absorb the sparse solar heat, or all of these.

Similarly, conventional animal life on the surface is mostly limited to small invertebrates. Large creatures are either those linked to elemental earth (such as basilisks and gorgons) or organic-mineral combinations such as the sandfolk themselves. These combined life forms are the original native biosphere of Vaniae, though they are now mostly limited to Tharsis and the dry lands of the southern hemisphere.

However, within lava caves and canyons, things are very different. The mineral-rich water from hydrothermal features supports chemosynthetic microbes and bacterial mats, which feed a variety of invertebrates (including giant ones) and their predators. The most dramatic creature of this area - which has literally shaped the landscape - is the great Lava Worm, whose burrowing opens lava passages to the surface to create the canyons of Tharsis.

Suggested Monsters
Surface
Basilisk
Elemental, Earth
Gorgon
Kryst
Medusa
Mek
Sandfolk

Underground or Canyons
Beetle, Giant
Centipede, Giant
Crab, Giant
Gray Ooze
Lizard, Giant (Gecko, Tuatara)
Locust, Giant
Ochre Jelly
Purple Worm (= Lava Worm)
Scorpion, Giant
Shrieker
Spider, Giant (Crab Spider)
Toad, Rock or Cave
Yellow Mold

New Monsters
Stonebreaker
Walking Stone