Pregnancy: 2 Months
|Height Data|| 5'75" / 3.429m
6'0" / 1.828m
|Weight Data|| 240 lbs. / 108.86kg
290 lbs. / 131.54kg
|Bark Colors||Dark Brown, Light Brown, Dark Gray, Red-Brown, Black, Silver-Pink, Mountbatten Pink|
|Leaves Colors||Red, Dark Red, Pink, Purple, Mauve, Orange, Yellow|
|Eye Colors||Pink, Orange, Red, White|
|Physical Distinctions||Bioluminescent Veins, Slightly Acidic Bloodsap|
|Properties||Heartwood Treefolk Properties|
Heed the dreamers. Some walk the world as you and I, influencing the dreamscape. Others exist there, shaping our world. Walk with the knowledge that you are never alone and hope that your path, dreamed of, is filled with pleasantness and not with the restlessness of nightmares.
The world exists in these two states, then, whether you know it or not. We do our part to make sure those of us who came before and those yet to arrive only have the best of dreams. Living a good life, finding inner peace and helping others do the same will shape the world in turn. Hurting others and accepting inner turmoil only brings about chaos.
Is is sad to know that there are many who don't wish to sleep for fear of nightmares and there are many who don't wish to wake for the same fear. We do our part to walk a path, the one presented to you now.
Peace for the dreamer. Calm for the awake. Serenity for those yet to come, recognition for those who have gone. That is who we must be for everyone. That is what we must be for ourselves.
Lesson from the Bushi Bunjida Nyukuti to his student Jarlika Yindiko
Being the first species of plantfolk that the Planar Council encountered, contact with the Heartwood Treefolk initially caused some shock amongst its member species of the time. Myths from various other worlds contained intelligent trees and their existence had been speculated upon but the initial explorers had no idea what they would encounter. Luckily the inhabitants of Verdavent proved to be peaceful and welcoming. Their presence in the Planar Council would help ease future encounters with more alien sophonts found across the planes.
The Dirame Zameta are an older species, their civilization having collapsed due to conflicts and illness centuries ago. After suffering through a period of decline, eventually a new era of stability was reached. Previously warlike, society would shift to replacing military leaders with ones who focused on philosophy and knowledge. As they rebuilt they took a deeper look at their past and their surroundings and started to build the cultural cornerstones that make up the foundations of the current cultures of Verdavent. After the reformation, many Heartwood would become followers of "The Path of the Dream". Known for being a voice of reason within the Planar Council, the Heartwood gladly take their place amongst the planes as they think of themselves as members of a dream shared by millions.
Though they have an evolutionary path far different than other species of the Planar Council, the Heartwood's physiology is similar to that found amongst other bipdeds. Their body consists of the legs, the torso, the arms, the neck, and the head.
Many parts of the Heartwood's body are incredibly similar to their animal counterparts, functioning as plantlike analogs. A thin layer of flexible bark covers a layer of contracting soft tissues, fats, and organs. These are in turn protected by a "skeleton" of hardened wood material, functioning like bones in non-plantfolk species. They also have blood, similar to both sap found in trees and blood found in animals. This is sometimes called "bloodsap".
Bark colors vary between individuals and are interlaced by a network of external auxiliary vein-like structures that will glow through a biological form of bioluminescence. Some of the reagent for this reaction is contained in the blood of the Heartwood which causes it to slightly acidic. Though it isn't enough to burn through materials, it can act as a severe irritant to organic matter. The belief amongst their kind was that this was more of a side effect for the development of bioluminescence than one developed for a defensive purpose.
Being bipedal gives the Heartwood far more mobility than normal plants and even on their world not all plants are capable of it. Given that the mobile plants (or plents as they are called) of Verdavent need to consume additional energy beyond what their leaves can produce, locomotion can be seen as an important development that allowed their evolutionary ancestors to have greater odds of survival and have more opportunities to spread.
Heartwood leaves to this point function similarly to hair on other non-plantfolk species, being arranged or styled in aesthetically pleasing ways with their photosynthetic properties generally being ignored. They have a number of branches that sprout from their head that are called "headbranches" which is where the leaves reside. A fully developed digestive system exists which has replaced photosynthesis of being the primary means of nutrient acquisition.
Their organic makeup being slightly denser than their animal counterparts leads to Heartwood being heavier with an average weight of 290lbs and heights ranging from 4 feet 8 inches to 6 feet.
Heartwood reproduction requires a male and a female, a trait not found in most immobile plants but common with mobile ones. Being dioecious, males produce a pollen-infused liquid that females use to produce a single large seed though sometimes 2 or even 3 can develop similarly to twins or triplets found in other non-plantfolk species. These seeds develop internally for two months before being planted and cared for by the parents. Once planted, the seed requires around a year before it starts to germinate into a newborn. At this stage in development the Heartwood is fully immobile, being kept in place by a root structure to help with development. It is not uncommon for Heartwood to carry their young during this period.
Upon leaving the sproutling stage after around two years, the root structure will start to break down and Heartwood's stem will start to function as a locomotive organ. Initially this results in movement similar to a serpent but as the stem starts to split into two separate halves and harden, the wandersprout will be fully capable of ambulatory movement. Once able to walk, the wandersprout is developed mentally similar to a young child in other species and still requires care and education to further develop into maturity. Bioluminescence doesn't begin to develop until adulthood and is seen as a sign of physical maturity.
As the Heartwood developed evolutionarily past locomotion, the photosynthetic processes found in their leaves was no longer enough to sustain them alone. Evolutionary pressure moved their ancestors from being solely phototrophic to becoming mixotrophic, adding the consumption of plants to their diet. Over time, evolution would continue to broaden their diets, causing them to eventually becoming omnivorous mixotrophs — capable of acquiring energy either through sunlight or through the consumption of plant and animal matter.
Due to the recent cultural developments focusing on shifting away from opulence and materialistic tendencies, Heartwood cuisine has also started to become simpler. Though more ornate and complex dishes were common in the past, in the present they are decidedly only served during ritualistic meals, banquets or feasts. Pickles and other fermented foods are very common, as are soups served aside grains. Heartwood are known to have a legendary sweet tooth however, though the lack of any overly decadent desserts betrays this.
Heartwood have a number of traits that vary from individual to individual, some being passed down to their offspring. Bark color, number of headbranches, leaf and eye colors and the color of their bioluminescent veins make up the primary traits that differ between the Heartwood.
Climate also seems to effect some traits, primarily bark color and the number of headbranches. In colder climates Heartwood lean towards darker bark colors and more headbranches with the opposite being found in warmer ones.
Be as the tree: still, calm, pondering but rigid.
Be as the animal: lively, free, moving but with purpose.
Finding your balance is key to knowing your way.
A Heartwood Treefolk Kensei reflecting on the Heartwood's place in the world
Animal and plant life developed on Verdavent as it does on many other worlds though a number of events and changes led to mobile plants being the dominant life forms.
An increase in volcanic activity in the plane's past led to a growing amount of ash in the atmosphere which would lead the world to becoming darker, colder and more deadly. Some plants already existed with a vineal nature that were capable of spreading across the landscape. In order to survive, a number of these plants evolved their vines to be able to perform basic locomotion which moved their survival strategy away from spreading out in place to being able to reposition themselves. It is believed that the combination of being able to create food from what sunlight still came through and consuming other plants is what allowed the ancestors of the Heartwood to thrive in an otherwise tumultuous period.
Time passed and many plants had moved away from being immobile and started developing animal-like features, becoming an entirely new type of lifeform known as a "plent". As the atmosphere cleared and the plane started to return to normal, animal life found that it had been replaced as the predominant life form on Verdavent. A branch of plents adopted an omnivorous diet, allowing them to increase an ever increasing intelligence. These plents would start to evolve beyond simple animal-like intelligence and exhibit the first signs of tool use.
Over time, a handful of species started to develop a more bipedal form. Familial bonds allowed the plents to adapt a change in their life cycle where their young would be cared for to improve survival rates. At this point, they had evolved to have an immobile period in early life that transitions into development of their limbs as they grow. The first signs of societies and culture would emerge during this period.
Eventually a single intelligent species of plents evolved, securing their place on the top of the food chain in a world of both animals and plants. Capable of surviving in nearly every environment on their plane, it would be just a matter of time until they covered its entire surface.
The proto-Heartwood would begin to form family groups to protect their young that would lead to the first permanent societies coming into existence. Being incredibly territorial would lead them into frequent violent encounters between familial tribes which would heavily dampen the growth and spread of the species, ultimately stunting advancement beyond simple stone tools. As generations passed and the proto-Heartwood spread out violence would become less frequent due to an increase in the amount of territory between tribal units.
The tribal nature would continue to exist as societies developed, leading to the formation of the clans found in modern times. Due to the incredibly violent and territorial tendencies of their ancestors, the devlopment of simple societies would bring about the beginnings of horrific acts against their own kind. Looking back at their prehistoric ancestors, modern Heartwood find no pride with the territorial nature found during this point of their history.
Finality of Form
For most of their existence, proto-Heartwood seeds would grow into fully mobile forms that would be left to find their own way in the world. Eventually both of these things would change. It is unknown which came first: the change away from fully mobile young or the change to members of the proto-Heartwood staying together. Regardless, one benefited directly into the other. Units of proto-Heartwood staying together would increase their odds of surviving and allowing young further time to develop would eventually lead to the final form of the Heartwood evolutionary path.
This change would lead to their bipedal forms becoming more upright and more balanced. This final body shape would grant the proto-Heartwood an easier time mastering their environment, hunting prey, carrying their young, and traveling longer distances. This fully bipedal shape is unique to the Heartwood as there are no remaining relatives of their evolutionary path that still exist today though there are quite a number in the fossil record. Modern Heartwood accredit this to their ancestor's territorial aggression.
As tribal existence led to moving away from being nomadic to more stationary lifestyles, the Heartwood would maintain a form of hunting and gathering as their numbers increased. It is believed that the large number of both animals and plents provided ample sustenance to the growing tribes. This eased the transition from a nomadic species into a sedentary one, especially as the discovery of agriculture wouldn't happen for quite some time.
Proto-Heartwood tribes would eventually lead to more complex societies being developed, as well as the beginning of laws, culture and politics. As the basics of trade blossomed and tribes started interacting with each other in non-violent ways, the final form of the Heartwood as they are known in modern times would come into existence. It would also start the beginning of moving away from violent interactions so that relationships could develop between different tribes, leading to the formation of larger clans, nations and the emergence of different cultural groups.
Transition to Civilization
As the Heartwood spread out and the distances between tribes increased the amount of violence began to drop between the different tribal groups. This drop in violence would inevitably lead to an increase in overall Heartwood population across Verdavent and as is often the case, the increase of population would lead to new developments in society as the need for cooperation arises. Tribes would eventually grow to a size where it would encompass a large number of Heartwood, with the largest of them becoming clans with multiple tribes worth of Heartfolk under them. During this time the violent tendencies of the Heartwood would diminish and many tribes would begin to have some form of interaction with other tribes, primarily in exchanging resources or information.
As the clans increased in size, so would their dominion. It is around this time, much later than on most other worlds, that agriculture would come into practice and begin to spread. The increase in food availability without having to rely on the large numbers of animals and mobile plants meant that settlements would increase in size with the first cities being formed. This however would lead to territory being even more important which sadly would lead into an inevitable increase in violence between the burgeoning Heartwood nations.
Violence between nations and clans would occur often in this period of their development. Many Heartwood would find themselves forced from their lands as to flee being slaughtered by rivals from other nations or clans. This time period would see an increase in exploration and the settling of unclaimed lands as many of these peoples would find no nations to accept them. This period of intense strife would continue for much of the Heartwood's history and would include many horrendous acts they are now ashamed of, such as burning entire wooded regions and hunting species to extinction to prevent others from being able to make use of the resources they provided.
The level of conflict was not sustainable over thousands of years however, and with the arrival of a potent blight that would affect plants, plents and the Heartwood themselves they would find their civilization collapsing around them. Large areas of land would become unable to sustain life and settlements, even some large cities, would become ghost towns. If it wasn't for a number of highly influential individuals the Heartwood could have easily faded away into nothingness. Instead they suffered this Dark Age and vowed to never let it happen again. Though some outliers exist, a new age of cooperation and unity would usher in a new age of Heartwood civilization that is still present in the modern era.
Learn from our ancestors so that we may not repeat their crimes.
We hated the other clans because we would not know them and we would not know them because we hated them. This hatred is what made us ugly, turning to uglier and uglier acts.
Love loudly. Hate in silence. That must be your way going forward.
Teangi Kawakae, Heartwood Historian's Journal
Though there are a variety of other ethnic groups that originated on other worlds, there are a few that are known to have developed originally on Verdavent and thus hold a special, historical status to the Dirame Zameta as a people. This is by no means a complete list, instead being a shortened list including the most prominent, largest or well known ethnicities of which members can still be found.
A broad term used for those Heartwood who don't actively pursue the beliefs and goals of a clan but still are members of it, the Tingijiga is also what Heartwood refer to members of their own kind from other planes until they learn about them. It is not intended to be seen as an insulting term but can be interpreted that way by some. "Hollow" in this sense refers to the hollow of a tree that may either be empty or be lived in by something else, abstractly thought of as a "hole for an idea or purpose".
Known as a clan of poets, architects, and farmers, the Kowariasu played a major part after the collapse of Heartwood civilization in bringing the survivors together. The Kowariasu are responsible for the idea and building of granaries across their territory which allowed them to store large amounts of food, a feat other Heartwood hadn't learned of yet. Their refusal to engage in aggressive violence is thought to have sparked the turning point of Heartwood cultures to adapting peaceful ways instead as those of all other clans found themselves engaging with them.
The Kowariasu peoples tend to be taller than other Heartwood with silver-pink being the most prominent bark color found.
Rolling green hills beneath slumbering mountains are what the Korariasu lands are known for. The mountains were once volcanic and responsible for the the verdant farmlands in the lands they call home. Agriculture blossomed upon reaching their lands which allowed the clan to grow quickly. This need to build is what allowed the Korariasu to become adept with architecture which would lead on to other marvels. They are known for constructing temples dedicated to poetry which are known as "Munuta".
Philosophers and spiritualists at the core, it is the Warukirimoko that laid the foundations for the modern beliefs and practices of the Heartwood. Always practicing some form of ancestor worship, after the loss of so much life due to the blight they begin to feel as though their connection to the world was far deeper than they initially thought. The idea of a "shared dream" that they were a part of became popular. It may have been an idea that happened to be at the right place at the right time, but it is a massive part of the modern Heartwood identity.
Dreamshrines can be found extensively across Verdavent but are the most numerous in the lands of the Warukirimoko. These contain links to people "who have dreamed and have yet to dream", monuments to dream beasts or records, laws and proverbs that are relevant to those who follow the Path of the Dream.
Physically, the Warukirimoko tend to be average in size and are known for having additional leaf growths on the sides of their heads, almost looking like beards and mustaches in other planar sophonts. Darker bark colors and yellow leaves are more common amongst their kind.
Once known as Awatikunshu, the Marayaleta were the largest and most aggressive of the clans before Heartwood civilization collapsed. Relying more on raiding their neighbors for resources than providing for the entirety of their population themselves meant that the blight would hit them the hardest. Though they no longer embrace wanton violence, they still train their bodies and minds in warfare and tactics so that they may walk the Path of the Dream as guardians and protectors. Though peace may be the new way of the Heartwood, nightmares still exist, as does crime.
As combat is nowhere near as common on Verdavent as it once was, the Marayaleta find their minds and skills turned towards games, sports and athleticism. "Warkamorin" is a biannual event held by the Marayeleta where Heartwood come to compete in various physical and mental activities. War games are popular with spectators.
The Maralayeta are bulkier than other Heartwood, with their bark generally being lighter in color. It isn't uncommon for some of them to be completely leafless, though female Heartwood will decorate themselves with fake leaves if possible so as to not appear "barren".
A clan sometimes referred to as "Treetenders", the Niponekaru have always had a druidic bent culturally trying to secure their place with the environment instead of destroying it. They took it upon themselves to try and save plants and animals that some other clans tried to actively wipe out due to aggressive tactics. Their knowledge of nature also was used in conflicts however as the Niponekaru were no less aggressive then their neighbors. Early forms of biowarfare made sure the Niponekaru could protect their lands and their values.
With the collapse of Heartwood civilization, the Niponekaru became incredibly isolationist and took to hiding in the forests, jungles and deep hidden places in their territory. They almost became a clan of legend, almost being forgotten until they were rediscovered as civilization rebuilt.
Physically, the Niponekaru tend to be tall and frail when compared to other Heartwood. Leaves can sometimes be found all over their bodies, something that culturally other Heartwood can view as being primitive in nature.
Though arcane magic would eventually be discovered by the denizens of Verdavent, psionics were actively embraced long before wizards were prevalent. Though all Heartwood exhibit the gift, it is agreed that it is the Mikilyisine exhibit the greatest mastery of it with psionics being an active part of their culture. The Mikilyisine's relationship with the Warukirimoko is thought to help establish the Path of the Dream that is the core tenet of modern Heartwood cultures.
Mikilyisine psions are known to try bring out the psionic potential in other sophonts across the planes, potentially bringing about a psionic revolution on those worlds. On Verdavent, they can be found often as healers to those with mental anguish and trauma so that they can soothe said individuals so as to not feed the "shared nightmare" that exists alongside the dream.
The Mikilyisine tend to have more headbranches than others with bark colors leaning more towards browns and reds. White eyes are also common.
One of the clans that embraced arcane magic would approach the grief of the collapse in a way that would shame them forever. The Yayariddo would turn to Animancy to try and bring back their loved ones lost to war and blight. Not only would they bring undeath to Verdavent but an alteration of the blight would cause an additional layer of disdain from others. Though they are more skilled with arcane magic, it hard for other Heartwood to yet forgive them for their actions in the past.
Yayariddo are known to look sickly and thin in comparison to other Heartwood with their leaves being sparse if present. Their bark can appear to be scarred or cracked, an unfortunate side effect left behind from the genetic damage of the altered blight made by their ancestors.
Though Yayariddo follow the Path, they have a harder time finding acceptance by other Heartwood. Many struggle with the weight of their past and the hope for the future. Many left Verdavent to find new homes on other planes, some with the intent of find a way to undo the sins of their fathers committed in the past.
When I lost everyone I cared for, I tried to bring them back. I was a fool however and played with forces I barely knew of. I learned what I bring back is just a mere puppet of the person that I loved, made even sicker by this magic. I am sure, however, that time, practice, and dedication will give me the perfection I seek. I may be sicker, but without a fear of death we will pluck our loved ones from the Dream so they may wake once more.
Mapajaka Akufu, the first of the Yayariddo
One of the fundamental understandings of the Path of the Dream is that material possessions are temporary, a lesson especially learnt when Heartwood civilization collapsed. Unlike many others however, the Icenuzaikowati do not embrace this aspect of the Path, instead believing that wealth can impact their place once they pass on into the dream. They were called something else once but decided to take the insult used against them and wear it as a badge of pride. A very expensive, shiny and decorative badge.
Masterful traders, the Icenuzaikowati are masters of the long game and will often take trades that seem disadvantageous only to come out ahead in the future. Whether or not they manipulate markets for these profits or if they are blessed with a combination of skill, luck and patience is up to debate.
The Icenuzaikowati tend to be heftier than other Heartwood as they will partake in large amounts of food and beverage. Grayer bark colors are common amongst their kind.
Though the Path of the Dream is available to all, there were older clans and peoples that grew jealous of the success others had found during and after the reformation of Heartwood civilization. One of these took it upon themselves to prey on others to take what they felt they deserved. Their original name long gone, the Malakumu don't really have a land of their own anymore, instead being a wandering people given to vagrancy and infiltration.
The Malakumu are thought to consort with darker forces on Verdavent, actively engaging in the shared nightmare of the world as opposed to the shared dream. In recent years a blossoming counterculture has begun to form with an opposing force to the Path of the Dream being created, the Path of the Nightmare.
Lighter colors and white eyes are known signs of the Malakumu, with albinism having an increased rate of occurrence.
A clan of architects, growers, cultivators and designers, the Shidokatta take to growing buildings, equipment, and tools instead of cutting down trees to do so. A firm belief that trees exist as part of the shared dream has created a sort of taboo that prevents their destruction. Their works are legendary, even rivaling Kowariasu works. When the two work together however, the buildings are a pinnacle of Verdavent ingenuity.
Husbandry of plants is very important to the Shidokatta people due to the need to create some for different purposes. Hemomancy has become a growing interest to their kind as the idea of using magic to alter life would be a huge aid on top of the dedication and time they already exhibit in this area.
Physically, the Shidokatta tend to have mauve leaves over other colors. Other physical traits don't find any similarities amongst Shidokatta kind.
One of several clans with a larger naval presence, the Tumuyoki are known as explorers, merchants and at one point in their history, slavers. After civilization collapsed the Tumuyoki were overthrown by their slaves which led to a reformation of their society. Once they became aware of the Path of the Dream, many of them would become active practitioners of it and would begin spreading knowledge of it across the seas they traversed.
The Tumuyoki's large wakomaro ships can sail out for months at a time and have large cargo holds. This would allow them to transport vast numbers of slaves, resources and interesting lifeforms encountered on their journeys. Through them, others would explore newly found areas to take advantage of things the Tumuyoki discovered as they were less inclined to settle as they sailed outwards. This is generally what leads to many assuming the Tumuyoki have a sense of wanderlust, finding it difficult to stay in one place.
As a people, the Tumuyoki tend to be more lithe and shorter than other Heartwood. No particular bark, leaf or eye colors are common amongst them.
Refer to Cultural Details
Amongst the Planes
Being the first of the Treefolk races to be discovered by the Planar Council means the Heartwood played a much larger role than they or the Council would have originally anticipated. Initially distant, the Planar Council was aware of the possibility of more alien sophonts than what had been previously discovered. Curiosity of their kind led to many discussions with the Heartwood, learning more of their people and sharing knowledge of Council members. Thankfully the Heartwood were many years past the reformation of their civilization and eager for peace. Upon joining, a similar reaction would be seen across the planes from other sophonts; first distance, then curiosity and eventually acceptance.
Heartwood have had a major role in dealing with sophonts on newly discovered planes since joining the Planar Council. Many meetings that would lead to planes joining the Planar Council have had at least one Heartwood in their entourage. For many, the Heartwood would be the first evidence of a far more diverse universe.
To this day, many are shocked to find that the Heartwood had an incredibly violent past as they are known for being calm, collected and generally peace loving. Heartwood are well known for being psionically gifted and are open to helping others reach their psionic potential. A growing interest in philosophy, art and literature amongst their kind means they can be found in many realms of academia as well, with some becoming masterful teachers in their own right.
Unfortunately being the first of the plantfolk races to be encountered meant that there was a high amount of racism towards the Heartwood initially. A wide variety of tree-based nouns were used in an insulting manner, e.g. "barky", "brancher" and so on. As the Heartwood's integration continued with the Planar Council, physical insults became less common and those insulting their culture become more common. Many have insulted Heartwood purposefully to see if they could make them angry enough to become violent, turning their back on the practice of the Path of the Dream.
One's got skin,
One's got bark.
One gets to live,
Other's dead on a lark.
Shaggy and hairy,
One of them's not,
Bones last forever,
While wooden ones rot!
A children's nursery rhyme heard after the Heartwood Treefolk joined the Planar Council