B Simon Smith’s Plants and Fungi of the Realms is an unusual supplement. Over its 31 pages, it presents a very large number of plants and fungi that can be used to distinguish the vegetation of a Forgotten Realms game – or any other fantasy game – from the real world. Some of the descriptions are just that – descriptive, with a little bit of the history and lore of the plant.
However, many of the plants have particular game functions. Perhaps some can be harvested for poison, others have curative properties. The humble Darkhorn mushroom is grown by some Underdark races at the bottom of pits, where it’s rigid and spiky frame create natural spikes, inflicting an additional 1d4 damage to whoever falls in. Those are the touches that are really nice to see.
A few of the plants are mobile and have monster stat blocks. Each plant and fungus is distinguished by the area in which it grows, and an identification DC is provided so players might not automatically know what the plant does.
The first two-thirds of the book give the descriptions of the plants in their natural state. The final third describes what products can be made from their roots, leaves, sap and branches. Spellbane leaves render a creature unable to cast spells, but grant a resistance to magical effects. Bluewood can be used to make weapons and armour that weigh half as much, but cost more. The leaves of the Aadarna plant can be brewed into an infusion that allows the user to see the Astral plane, but at the cost of being blind to what’s happening in the Material plane!
The details in Plants and Fungi of the Realms are drawn from a large number of previous Forgotten Realms supplements (I count eighteen in the acknowledgements), and then updated to 5E terms. There are a few cases where I would have liked to see a few more 5E terms creep in; for instance, redroot paste can cause nausea and vomiting, but no rules for this are given – I’d be looking at conditions like “poisoned” and “incapacitated” to use in this case. Mostly, the conversions are well done.
The product is very nicely laid out, with small pieces of artwork breaking up the text.
(I do note that it incorrectly includes an Open Gaming Licence in the back. If you’re releasing using the DMs Guild, as this product does, you can’t use the OGL. Thankfully, it doesn’t actually nominate anything as Open Game Content.)
Plants and Fungi of the Realms is a speciality supplement: a product for people who want to add more flavour and colour to their D&D campaigns. It accomplishes that admirably.