Grass Rippers are spotted as large spheres, found slowly crawling around the countryside of Ximax, slowly but steadily devouring any vegetation in these mysterious little creatures’ path. Although uncertain about its origin, these beings are classified as magical beasts, following a strong belief that their existence is due to accidental magic. These slimy beasts leave behind a fluid trail which was rapidly discovered to have unusual properties, some of which when used appropriately, yield a vast range of potions.
The Grass Ripper is a small blob that roams the province of Xaramon, in southern
Sarvonia. It ranges from a
palmspan to a ped in
diameter. It has no major features like eyes or a mouth and its colour and size
are determined by its age and diet. At first glance it appears to be a shiny
blob, thin on the edges and sloping up to a lump at the top. When closely
examined its surface is smooth and curved and its outer layer is fleshy. As
discovered early on by children, when poked the skin of this creature sinks with
the touch, but will soon thereafter swell out the indent and return to its
original size. The outer mass is mostly solid and will rupture if cut, releasing
all of the liquid inside.
In its early stages it is small and colourless. Depending on its diet, it will gain the colour of plants it has recently eaten. As it eats more, it grows in size and begins to secrete a liquid of the same colour as itself. As it secretes liquid, its color begins to fade until it eates more plant matter. If a Grass Ripper is starving it may be completely colourless. Upon reaching its last stage of life, the Grass Ripper will then congeal into a solid mass, tightly fusing its carcass to the surface it died upon.
The Grass Ripper has one major aspect that makes it prized by alchemists. The
creature secretes a liquid that takes on and combines the properties of the
plants it eats. For example, if fed a diet of only
yahrle leaves and
odea moss, the Grass Ripper will
secrete fluid that is a potent healing agent. This amazing characteristic has
led alchemists to call it "Mixer" or "Moving Mortar".
In the past twenty years of its existence alchemists have found a myriad of formulae on what plant combinations create certain mixtures and effects. They have also learned what type of combination's create harmful liquids and useless potions. A famous alchemist named Syrsicc Firestone published a 420 page text filled with possible plant combinations. Many of the alchemists in Santharia have purchased this book, setting out to find new plant combinations for ‘the mixers’ themselves.
Territory. The Grass Ripper is found predominantly around the city of Ximax and the area of Xaramon. They cannot tolerate cold, and die quickly during bad winters. They have survived in small colonies in Sanguia and Enthronia. Alchemists keep individuals as far north as Voldar, though they do not live as long. The creature must also remain moist and as such it stays in wet areas, during droughts they reduce in size to prevent dehydration or else they may die of water loss. As such, they cannot live in the drier areas of Xaramon, like the grasslands during the dry season.
Habitat/Behaviour. Grass Rippers are found mainly in wooded areas, sliding across the ground in their peculiar way of moving. Grass Rippers shift their body mass forward and use the liquid they secrete to stick themselves to the ground or object in front of them. They then pull the rest of their mass forward and continue on. Grass Ripper eat during their motion, constantly peeling off and absorbing the plant matter beneath them, thus earning their namesake.
Regardless of their continuous decimation of the vegetation before them, the Grass Rippers are not directly dangerous to wildlife, given their incredibly slow rate of travel. Once the destruction of vegetation was accredited to these creatures, investigations followed whether the same happened when meat is placed in front of these magical beasts. However, when placed in their path, the meat remains untouched. Unfortunately, during wet years, Grass Rippers proliferate and large numbers of crops are lost. Farmers have learned how to defend against the pesky Grass Rippers. Salt sprinkled around fields can deter them and tight stone walls can keep them out. During the last month or so of its fifteen year lifespan it will try to find a tree, at which point it will climb up it and burrow into the inner bark. With the nutrients from the tree it will solidify into a solid brown mass that is the colour and texture of the tree it is connected to.
Grass Rippers used to have no natural predators, mainly because when their outer mass is breached the inside is simply unappetizing goo. One animal though has begun to prey on the vulnerable Grass Rippers, the mimsy. The omnivorous mammals slice open the outside of the creature and scrape the fluid from the inside of the Grass Ripper. Instead of being repulsed or poisoned by the strange liquid, they seem to gain more energy, their coats become shinier. Researchers have seen older mimsies move with new energy and purpose. This curious development in the life of the Grass Ripper has stopped its rapid increase in population, to the relief of beleaguered farmers. During the first few years mimsies ate Grass Rippers, they would occasionally succumb to a foul mix of plants that the Ripper had eaten. Recently Mimsies have developed a resistance to the heterogeneous slime in Grass Rippers and can survive anything but strong toxins.
Diet. Grass Rippers eat any plant matter in their path. Plants usually poisonous have no effect on them. They will scrape rocks clean of moss. A distinctive trail is left by the Grass Ripper while feeding. The animal leaves a clean swath of ground devoid of plant life along its path.
Mating. Grass Rippers have no noticeable gender and do not need to reproduce to produce offspring. Before a Grass Ripper's death, it uses the extra mass it has gained from eating into the tree to produce offspring. It opens pores along its body in random locations. Soon small colourless offspring emerge from the pores and travel on their separate ways. Grass Rippers produce around 10 young per spawning.
Usages. The Grass Ripper has one major use. It secretes a liquid that combines and distorts the properties of the plants it has consumed. It is this amazing property that leads alchemists to call it a "Mixer" or "Moving Mortar". After the discovery of the mixer, alchemists began to domesticate them. Alchemists keep them in specially designed metal pens in their homes and feed them different plants to produced a desired mixture.
Depending on the amount of plants fed to the creature at one time the fluid could be weak or extremely potent. Moving Mortars are Grass Rippers that are larger and can make more fluid than other Mixers. They can make three times as much fluid in a day than a normal Mixer could in a week. When the Mortar inevitably dies, about half of its offspring are also Moving Mortars. The young Moving Mortars main difference from its brethren is that it is born out of a larger hole in its parent's skin. This gives the Mortar a larger starting size that puts it ahead of its siblings. The fluid generated by Mortars is usually more complete and has more pronounced effects than other Mixers. Most alchemists are content with using the normal Grass Rippers, as the fluids they create can be collected by a single alchemist. Alchemists are experimenting with blending plants to make liquids with new properties. New potions of all kinds have been created: potions that can scorch rock off of gemstone and leave the gem unharmed, potions that can preserve food longer. Even potions that make plant grow taller and faster, new potions for healing have been created and now can do anything anything from preventing and curing frostbite to removing blemishes.
Origins. Many theories have been put forth about the origin of this creature but the most widely accepted is the story that a wizard in Ximax was tinkering with potions and magic one day and created a large blob of material. Finding no use for it he poured it out the window. The creature emerged outside of the city and proceeded to travel on its way. The first sightings of Grass Rippers came in 1649. A disgruntled farmer had lost entire rows of his crop to a strange pest, he came across the Grass Ripper feeding from a small shrub. The angry farmer stabbed the creature with his pitchfork and killed it. The farmer was curious as to what type of strange animal he had killed so he brought it in for examination at Ximax. The mages found that no other creature was like this one and a new species must have been created somehow as it had never been seen in Ximax before. Soon the Grass Rippers had multiplied and became a common sight in Xaramon.
Researchers. The most renowned expert on Grass Rippers is surely Syrsicc Firestone, an alchemist that has worked solely with Mixers since they became plentiful. He has discovered thousands of possible mixtures that the Grass Ripper can produce. Working alone he raises dozens of Grass Rippers and tests many new potions every day.
Along with his other experiments, Syrsicc has done research into the Grass Ripper itself. He examines the corpses of Mixers and cuts them open to gain insight into their body. He has also published a book on the topic. A list of new liquids the Grass Rippers produce that has already become a standard on the bookshelvess of many healers and alchemists. He plans to publish a second book sometime in the future. Every successful alchemist keeps a few Grass Rippers and they make personal notes that are used to create their own formulae known only to them.