Roleplayer #22, November 1990

Bestiary: The Yrl-Tree

An Enlightening Encounter

by Scott Maykrantz

Yrl-Trees, also known as World Trees, are incredibly old, solitary plants. No one has yet discovered more than one Yrl-Tree on a single planet, nor have any Yrl-Trees smaller than 500 feet tall been found. No one knows how Yrl-Trees are born. Very, very few people have ever encountered an Yrl-Tree; the experience is said to be of an almost religious quality.

ST:n/aMove/Dodge:–/–Size:75 (1,000' tall)

Each Yrl-Tree is incredibly intelligent, but its thought pattern is radically different from that of humans, or any kind of animal life. Yrl-Trees "think" slowly and fully, with a perception of the universe much like that of a Zen master who has reached the highest level of consciousness. An Yrl-Tree may be located at the center of a village of primitives, who worship and protect it. In turn, the Tree will use its powers to protect the primitives.

Yrl-Trees need rich soil, sunshine and water like normal plants. They do not have mouths, faces, or brains, and cannot move their limbs or walk on their roots. An Yrl-Tree looks like nothing more than an unbelievably huge, old tree. Each Yrl-Tree can live as long as the planet on which it makes its home.

Each Yrl-Tree is highly telepathic. Each has Telepathy Power 23 (see pp. B 165-171, and pp. 46-49 of GURPS Supers) and the following telepathic skills: Emotion Sense, Illusion, Mental Blow, Psi Sense, Suggest, Sleep, Telereceive, Telesend, Telescan. All skill levels are equal to the Yrl-Tree's IQ.

The Yrl-Tree can use its telepathic ability to protect itself. Illusions, Mental Blows, Suggestions and Sleep can persuade or deter characters or animals that can damage an Yrl-Tree.

But the Yrl-Tree also uses its telepathic abilities to contact and enlighten other intelligent beings. When intelligent creatures approach, the plant will scan their minds and get an idea of the basic nature of each individual. This lets the Yrl-Tree know if the visitors intend to do it harm or if they come in peace. If they are violent or may cause harm to the Yrl-Tree, it will try to protect itself using its telepathic abilities. Or, if it detects the intruders before they see it, it will hide by creating an Illusion that it is not there.

If the visitors do not intend to harm the Yrl-Tree, it may decide to telepathically contact them, initiating a mind-to-mind conversation. Because of the "higher" thought processes of the Yrl-Tree, anyone with an IQ less than 21 will be mentally stunned during this telepathic contact. The Yrl-Tree will ask the visitors about themselves; it will not say anything about itself except "I am the Yrl-Tree."

The Yrl-Tree then tells them about the planet they are on, giving them some helpful information. For example, it may tell them where to find a place they are searching for, or it may tell them about dangerous people or animals nearby. The visitor will sense, through the telepathy, that the Yrl-Tree has great knowledge, much more than it is willing to tell them.

If they ask for more information or harm the Yrl-Tree, it will break the contact and then use its telepathic abilities to send them away. If they thank the Yrl-Tree for the information but do not ask anything of it, it will enlighten them.

Enlightenment from the Yrl-Tree will give the enlightened character some insight into himself and the world around him. This enlightenment is a sort of awakening of the inner senses, allowing the character to see his life a little differently and to tap into special, previously unknown reserves in the soul.

The game effect is this: each player, after his character is enlightened by the Yrl-Tree, has 20 character points which can be used to buy off a mental disadvantage or to buy a new mental (or mind-related) advantage. The player cannot spend the points on more than one advantage or disadvantage.

For example, someone suffering from an Addiction may find himself able to control his urges as a result of being enlightened – he buys off an Addiction worth 20 (or less) points. Or perhaps one of the characters establishes a mind-body link as a result of the enlightenment, allowing him to make better use of his senses – he gains 4 levels of Alertness. The most common use of the points is to buy two levels of the Telepathy Power. If the player cannot decide how to spend the points, the GM can let the character "discover" some new abilities later.

Each Yrl-Tree can sense if a visitor has made contact with another Yrl-Tree in the past; if so, the Yrl-Tree will not enlighten them again. However, it would be very unlikely for anyone to meet more than one Yrl-Tree in a lifetime.

Of course, giving each character 20 free points is not recommended for every game session! Keep in mind that an encounter with an Yrl-Tree is a rare, highly significant event in a person's life, and does not always result in enlightenment.

("Yrl" is pronounced "eer-ull," beginning with the same sound as "eerie." This article was inspired by Viking folklore.)

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