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Basic Information

Sphagnum is a type of moss commonly found in peat bogs. It can soak up lots of water (over 20 times its dry weight in water). Sphagnum has a acidic ph which is the reason why bogs are acidic and is turn is why things like bog iron, bog butter and bog mummies can be produced in such conditions.

Peat itself is actually dead decaying sphagnum. Harvested from its environment, cut and dried, peat can be used a fuel, a treatment/conditioner for soil (being an especially useful additive if you soil is too sandy), insulation in northern climates, etc. Lots of uses for the stuff.

Sphagnum is sometimes used as a wound dressing in natural medicine. The mild acid it leaks into the wound can help kill off bacteria and fungus at the injury site. During World War I, cotton shortages restricted the availability of bandages, so the United Kingdom sent tons of dried cleaned sphagnum to the trenches for use as field dressings.

If too much sphagnum or peat is harvested in a short time, the bog may dry out, die off, or even catch fire. If care is taken to not cut too much in any season, the bog may be a renewable resource for at least hundreds of years.


Game and Story Use

  • Sphagnum "bandages" are likely to be in the healing kit of a ranger, fantasy druid, cunning man, wise woman, witch etc.
  • Dried sphagnum peat is often harvested and sold by a fueller to help heat a village or castle. So there might be a cart of flammable material sitting around when the heroes (or plot) need it most.
  • Dangerous monsters moving in to the local bog might cut off the communities supplies of heating fuel, herbal medicine / bandages / leaches, iron ore, bog butter, etc. We need a hero to risk the treachery of the quaking bog to bolster our local economy and get us the supplies we need to survive a bad season.
  • A swamp version of an undead mummy may be overgrown with a thick mat of sphagnum, providing it with armor, an acidic touch attack, or the ability to drown those whom it grapples. Given that sphagnum tends to kill bacteria, this may replace the "traditional" disease ability of a D&D mummy… but if germ theory isn't true in your setting (or enough magic is involved) it might be possible to have both effects.
  • An entire bog bursting into flames because of over-harvesting and/or a dry spell would be a memorable sight / plot development.
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