From a record of correspondence between Lallnik Elljin, Royal Court Horticulturist for the Queen of Air and Light, and Janisk Elljin:
My dear great-great-nephew Janisk,
I was pleased to learn of your appointment as the Head of Gardens for the family lands. I remember quite fondly designing those gardens when I was in only my fourth century. Your cousin-by-bond twice removed, Tunaka, succeeded me when I was called to tend the queen's gardens.
I confess to continued disappointment in having left the care of our family lands to one so lacking in talent. My heart broke upon discovering that the sapphire trees had died, and all the sprites had left. I had spent fifty years building a stable sprite population. Now that Tunaka has left for the mortal planes, I trust you will work hard to restore beauty and fame to the Elljin Gardens. As for your questions concerning which type of garden sprites to cultivate, I believe I can offer some advice.
One of the most difficult, yet rewarding, varieties of garden sprites to breed are the sleeping blossom sprites, or genus flora sophoria. They have a good feel for plants. Many a time they warned me when one of their favorite flowers was fighting disease and helped me save it.
The sleeping blossom sprite can be distinguished from its relatives, the starlight sprite and the morning rose mallow sprite, by its coloring. Sleeping blossom sprites tend to have pale skin, with red- or orange-tinted wings. Starlight sprites are vibrant blue- or violet-skinned, with florescent wings. Morning sprites have a dark brown coloring, with green mottled wings. They tend to blend in to their surroundings, making them less desirable. If you are going to cultivate a sprite, you want it to be one of the showpieces of your garden. Many horticulturists shy away from them due to their volatile nature, but their rarity makes them all the more prized, in my opinion.
Sleeping Blossom sprites are attracted to flowering plants with large, bright petals. I recommend the begonia semperflorens, or the nicotiana alata grandiflora. These plants will each sustain three to five sprites. The begonia semperflorens has strong, waxy petals with hues varying from azure to crimson. The color, in particular, along with the light, sweet fragrance, seems to attract the sprites. This plant is also hardy, and with careful tending, can bloom all year round. Nicotiana alata grandiflora have trumpet-shaped flowers that close during the evening and during rainstorms. Their colors range from chartreuse to lavender, so they should match whatever color scheme you choose for that section. These plants are more susceptible to infestations, so you will need to watch them carefully.
Once an ideal environment has been created, there are two ways to acquire a sprite population -- neither, unfortunately, perfect. The first, and the most tenuous, is to attempt capturing wild sleeping blossom sprites and transplanting them into your garden. One highly recommend method suggests capturing them at night and keeping them contained with wind-based spells. However, if you do not gather up the entire swarm (and there is no way of knowing whether you have them all), when they wake up they go on a rampage, destroying your garden and injuring any creatures in their path as they try to find their missing members.
A safer but much more costly way is to have a sympathy spell cast. This attracts any sprites in the area to your garden. If they find it acceptable, they stay. The drawback is that you may have to cast it many times before you attract the right type of sprite. Driving off unwanted starlight or morning sprites requires much work: Once the spell has ended, they must be caught and released back into the wild.
Once you have your swarm of sprites, it is best to cordon off that area of the garden for several years. Contact with the queen of the swarm should not be attempted for at least a decade. During this time, you should regularly supply honey and fragrant herbs to the sprite community. Sleeping Blossom sprites require some time to settle in. If they are disturbed, they will either react violently or leave. Be sure you never allow an open flame anywhere near the sprites for they hate fire above all.
Sleeping blossom sprites can be dangerous if provoked to attack. They cause a great deal of damage and have an ability that makes their victims sleep, which can prove most inconvenient when fighting or trying to escape from a swarm. The unwary gardener may be injured if he should annoy the swarm, but with a few precautions, the dangers can be minimized. First, try casting a sanctuary spell before you enter the garden. I would use this precaution for the first several years, or until the queen of the swarm has accepted you. If the spell does not work, have a skillful bard accompany you while gardening. A bard's fascination ability usually has a calming, almost tranquilizing effect on the sprites. (Of course, make sure your bard companion is not especially favored at court, in case the sprites attack.) When soothed by music, my sleeping blossom sprites liked to gather around and watch me work.
Once you have a thriving, stable sleeping blossom sprite population, your garden is ready for parties and showings. (Do not forget the centennial judging that is coming up in three decades. While I was head gardener, we never failed to place.) Happy sprites allow visitors to watch their frolicking, and may even offer a short performance for your guests. Their lively dances and light displays in the evening hours are always a crowd pleaser, and make your garden the talk at court.
I trust this advice will help you, dear nephew. I expect to be home for Aunt Illisu's 700th birthday celebration in five years. I look forward to seeing what you have done with the family lands.
-- Your Great-Great-Uncle Lallnik
Sleeping Blossom Sprites
Diminutive Fey (Swarm)
Hit Dice: 10d6 (35 hp)
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 17 (+4 size, +3 Dex), touch 17, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/---
Attack: Swarm (2d6 plus deep slumber)
Full Attack: Swarm (2d6 plus deep slumber)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Deep slumber, distraction
Special Qualities: Immune to weapon damage, low-light vision, swarm traits
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +10, Will +6
Abilities: Str 4, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 8, Wis 9, Cha 21
Skills: Hide +30, Knowledge (nature) +12, Listen +14, Move Silently +18, Spot +14, Survival -1 (+1 in aboveground natural environments)
Feats: Ability Focus (deep slumber), Alertness, Improved Initiative, Stealthy
Environment: Temperate forests
Challenge Rating: 5
Alignment: Always neutral
Level Adjustment: ---
Miniature faeries flit among the flowers.
A single sleeping blossom sprite looks like a miniature humanoid with translucent wings. It stands only a handspan tall.
Sleeping blossom sprites speak Sylvan.
A sleeping blossom sprite swarm seeks to surround and attack any creature it perceives as a threat, especially one bearing an open flame or other obvious threat to its garden home.
Deep Slumber (Su): A sleeping blossom sprite swarm attack often causes creatures to fall asleep. Any living creature that begins its turn with a sleeping blossom sprite swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 22 Will save or be affected as though by a deep slumber spell. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Swarm Traits:A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernable anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. A swarm comprising Fine or Diminutive creatures is immune to all weapon damage.
Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or fewer causes the swarm to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple another.
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects if the swarm has an intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes a -10 penalty on saving throws against spells or effects that affect an area, such as many evocation spells or grenadelike weapons. If the area effect attack does not allow a saving throw, the swarm takes double damage instead.
Swarms made up of Diminutive or Fine creatures are susceptible to high winds such as that created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of the same size as its constituent creatures. Wind effects deal 1d6 points of subdual damage to the swarm per spell level (or Hit Die of the originating creature, in the case of effects such as an air elemental's whirlwind).
A swarm rendered unconscious by means of subdual damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not re-form until its hit points exceed its subdual damage.
Distraction (Ex): Any living creature vulnerable to the swarm's damage that begins its turn with a swarm in its square is nauseated for 1 round; a DC 15 Fortitude save negates the effect. Even with a successful save, spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swarm requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level). Using skills requiring patience and concentration requires a Concentration check (DC 20). The save DC is Constitution-based.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrelis a managing editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent design work includes Planar Handbook: A Player's Guide to the Planes, Underdark, and Dragon Magazine articles. Editing credits include Book of Exalted Deeds, Draconomicon, and Fiend Folio. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Check out her website.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry ten years ago. Since then she has worked for three game manufacturers and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.