Dungeons & Dragons Online

Creating a Workable Botanist

I'm a pretty new DM who needs help creating a set of rules, traits, and/or a class for a botanist in 5e.

My player is playing a selkie ranger who's very interested in studying plants. She specifically isn't interested in any herbalism/healing properties of the plants, but wants to know things about where it grows, the scientific name, what it looks like, etc. I've used rpg herbalism guides as a base for my system, but it's definitely still lacking in some ways, and I feel like I don't have enough information to reward her when she rolls really well.

My current spreadsheet is split based on habitat type (desert, forest, etc.) and climate zone (temperate, arctic, etc.). Each plant has the following information:

  • scientific name
  • common name
  • availability (season and a percentage out of 100 to indicate rarity. the larger the number, the rarer the plant is)
  • if it's in her field journal yet
  • price
  • physical description

In my current system, she finds plants by rolling a wisdom (foraging) check. I roll a d100 to represent the randomness of nature and add that to what she rolled. If the resulting number is equal to or higher than the rarity number of a plant, she finds that plant. (For an example, colewort is a more common plant and has a 30% rarity score. Between my d100 and her wisdom check, it's pretty easy to get above 30. She's much less likely to find a very rare plant like winclamit, which has a 99% score.

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She rolls an intelligence (botany) check to see if she can identify the plant and any other information about it. The higher her check, the more information she receives. The DC is decided based on if she's seen similar plants before, if she's ever studied in that climate zone, and so forth. The DC is also lowered when her character spends time studying the plant, rather than just grabbing a clipping and leaving. If she rolls low initially with a plant and later comes across another sample of the plant, I'll let her re-roll to see if she learns more than she did the first time.

I'm not sure if I'm asking for the correct checks or if I should create other categories for her to roll in. I'd also like to be able to give her more information beyond the categories I've thought of thus far.

I'm also not sure how to incorporate books into this system. If she finds a book on plants, what benefit should that give her? Should I make her roll investigation to see if she finds useful information? I want to reward her for taking initiative and using the world around her, I'm just not sure how to do it.

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Any edits, comments, suggestions or ideas are very welcome!! This is my first time designing mechanics like this and I really want to create a coherent system while making it fun for my player!

(PS: Also, ideas/tips on how to standardize the DM's process of finding plants, finding their scientific names separately, making up magical plants, deciding DC's for checks, etc. would be greatly appreciated. I'm a college student and while I love DM-ing, I seriously do not have enough time to develop the rest of the campaign while also doing hours of background research on plants.)

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