APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 4 March, 1999


Tangle Weed

Janne Kemppi


Badlands in Western Desert.


Dry, rocky, desert washes, slopes and plains from 100 to 300 meters above sea level.


Yellow, 4 petal flowers less than two-centimeter wide bloom in the spring and early summer seasons.


Small, hairy, egg-shaped pod ending in a point contains one brown, bean-like seed, which may mature in late summer but does not open. The pod itself is covered with fine grayish-white hairs to allow wind to distribute seed further.


Tangle weed is low ankle to knee height brownish brush with thorns. It might have small yellow flowers followed by fruits depending on season.

The size of tangle weed depends on place. There are reports of tangle weed reaching height of 2 meters in protected desert gullies as well as reports of tangle weed bushes covering large areas of hectares and more. Such areas may hinder or even prevent movement by foot through such areas.

Characteristic pea patch like brush adapted to hot deserts areas in Western Desert of Terra Nova. Tangle weed derives its name from being common desert plant that has no use for humans and that is often met in desert slowing movement as people often stumble when having their clothes entangled to its roots or thorns.

Tangle weed is a typical xerophyte plant that has been adapted to survive desert conditions. It is very drought-resistant. The leaves have been transformed into thorns protecting it from animals and to reduce transpiration (loss of water to the air).

Tangle weed has extensive shallow root systems that are usually radial. This allows quick acquisition of large quantities of water when it rains. Water is then stored in core allowing tangle weed to survive years of drought on water collected from a single rainfall.

Adventure Hooks

Major impact of Tangle weed is that it slows, hinders or even prevents movement by people on foot. This is seldom important in tactical scale campaigns but in role-playing games this kind of plants can have great effect to characters planning to move into one area or another. This only affects if one is ready to use huge areas of very large tangle weed brushes.

Tangle weed bushes affect even wheeled vehicles. While heavy cross-country tires can theoretically ignore most thorns it has proven to be more rule than exception that sooner than later tire is going to burst. Furthermore changing tire in tangle weed bush is not easy. Therefor most drivers look carefully when moving close to tangle weed areas to avoid tire breaks.

The radial growth of tangle weed makes brush areas patchy. This leaves some room for maneuvering between individual tangle weed bushes. This could be used in game by making travelling in tangle weed areas possible but difficult and slow. Moving could include problems like hacking bushes sideways, selecting roads. Possibly making whole large tangle weed area into movable by maze like nightmare of old and new paths.

Alternatively one could parts of entire adventure into a place where tangle weed can have major impact. For example rescuing people from a giant tangle weed brush might require either aerial (like a helicopter) or armored (like a gear) vehicles making it possible to weave different kinds of characters (pilots and rescue people together).

One of major problems with GMing is that players are quite often in need of extra hints. Tangle weeds properties make it easy to give extra hints in form of having something entangled to brushes and then left behind (like a piece of cloth). This is a cliche by itself it still works.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 4 March, 1999