Talking To Plants: Interacting With The Triffids


While I have seen much discussion and lore proposals regarding the Blob and the Fungus, I have not seen much regarding the Triffids. The only threads I’ve seen discussing them are here, and here. From what I have seen, they have been described as only the hearts being intelligent individuals, with the rest of the organisms merely extensions of themselves, like independently mobile limbs. The Triffids on earth currently are basically like first in colonists or pioneers, settling/conquering a newly discovered world.

I would like to propose some further ideas for their nature and the different ways you might interact with them apart from burning their groves to the ground. Any additional suggestions, criticisms, or ideas are welcomed.

Civilization & Culture
1.) Since each Triffid Heart is an individual macro-organism composed of a single mind controlling many bodies, the nature of their existence might be more closely compared to a nation-state than to an individual human.

2.) Triffids are highly individualistic, and their interactions with each other and other species is strictly based on individual needs, resources, and goals. Interactions between Triffid Hearts are normally very formal and objective oriented, almost legalistic; the closest approximation in human culture to a Triffid “conversation” would be diplomats engaged in negotiations. The closest comparison of a typical relationship between individuals would be to human legal contracts or international treaties: trade agreements, employment contracts, mutual defense pacts, etc. The precise degree of formality may vary depending on the current nature of the relationship between them, previous interactions. Triffids who have very close relationships (closest human approximation is mutual reliance) may approach the human norm of conversation, though lacking in “small talk”.

3.) Contracts and obligations are very strongly enforced by cultural norm. While there is no direct punishment for breaking your word or an agreement by Triffid society as a whole (though the victim may seek retribution against an oath-breaker individually), the stigma against oath-breaking means that those who do so will find it much more difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, to interact with the rest of their society, depending on the nature of the offense and one’s overall reputation.

4.) Due to the nature of their biology and individualistic nature, the Triffids as a whole do not have a centralized government, nation-states, or even laws. The highest degree of organization might be equivalent to a Feudal or Corporate structure, but the scope is only the parties involved, not the rest of their society. Disputes are commonly settled between individuals personally, either by direct negotiation, third party arbitration (neutral arbitrator is hired, payed with equal contributions from the disputing parties), or violence. Violent disputes may occasionally result in other Triffids joining in on one side or the other if their interests are sufficiently threatened by the conflict, or due to requirements stipulated in a previous agreement with one of the individuals in the conflict. It is unusual for this type of violence to spiral out of control into a massive conflict (similar to the alliance system which led to WW I on earth), but not without precedent in Triffid history. As a result, the best approximation to a close human “friendship” for a Triffid is somewhere between a mutual defense pact (with specific pre-negotatiated escape clauses), and a human marriage, though it is far more nuanced than this.

Communication & Interactions With Humans
It is difficult for humans to communicate with Triffids directly. Initial contact and communication can be done by:
1.) Using a Human Plant Mutant as a Translator, specifically one with a new mutation, “Plant Whisperer”, which allows the player or NPC to talk to Triffids and prevents trees and other botanical growths from obstructing line of sight (they ask the tree what is on the other side).

2.) Obtaining a Triffid Symbiont, a biological “item” which can be worn on the head to allow you to understand them. Can occasionally be found growing in Triffid groves, or given to the player by a Triffid “Envoy” organism that walks up to the player and attempts to indicate its use via gestures or pictograms. Accepting one of these from a Triffid Envoy is risky though, as it may actually be a Triffid Control Vine, which attempts to hijack the nervous system.

3.) Pictographic Communication or Sign Language may be used, but getting to the point where a Triffid Heart can understand you this way is time consuming, difficult, and can be dangerous, as there is a high risk of conflict occurring due to a misunderstanding or hostilities beginning before communication can be achieved at all.

Though they are typically self-interested to an extent, Triffid motives and personalities can vary just as widely as humans, making any given Triffid Heart an unknown quantity. It is important to note that your relationship with any single Triffid does not represent your standing with the whole. Any given Triffid macro-organism might ignore you unless threatened, attempt communication, offer to trade, or perceive you as a threat and attempt to destroy you on sight without a word.

If you do manage to get one talking, and wish to make a deal, it is important to note that while Triffid cultural norms on agreements and oaths are VERY strong, they only bind them to the WORD of an agreement or contract, not the “spirit”. While this is not to say that every Triffid is like a genie looking to screw you over due to poor wording at the first opportunity, it is not considered unacceptable for them to do so. As a result initial interactions or agreements between Triffids or with other species are generally very careful and legalistic; however to interact with them in this manner once you know them well is considered extremely insulting, and might provoke them into the very genie-like behavior your careful wording was intended to prevent.

What Do Triffids Value: ie, Why Should They Care About You?
Being plants, Triffids have no need for many of the various tools or other goods that humans might find useful, and generally do not desire minerals such as gold that would normally considered valuable. That does not mean there is no reason for them to interact with you, or that there is nothing you could offer them. Some potential sources of value for them could be:
1.) Rich biomatter for growth (fertilizer).
2.) Refined chemicals or rare/synthetic organic compounds.
3.) Knowledge.
4.) Mutual defense against common enemies.
5.) Exotic materials (extradimensional matter, etc).
6.) High Technology.
7.) Novelty or entertainment goods. (For example, a Triffid may get its vines on a TV and a bunch of DVD’s and discover it LOVES watching human soap operas or something).


It would be cool to be able to interact with Triffids rather then them just being some enemies you avoid in designated areas. Just being some side road you don’t travel down is waisting some of their potential as they tend to spawn out of the way as well. Someone put a lot of work into making em and they really have no actual ingame relevance really.


Yeah, kinda weird when (spoiler?) you have dreams as a Plant Mutant and they talk about a rather attractive Triffid giving you a bonquet of ape heads, but you can’t technically be neutral/friendly to them.


Exactly. Right now they are simply a nuisance; about the only thing they are good for is killing them for their plant fiber or the materials for cooking oil.


Triffid interactions are something I’ve been wanting for a while now. Tired of them existing solely so I can light half the world map on fire and die to athleet’s foot.


Perhaps plant mutants could get the ability to speak with trifids telepathically.


For the most part you’re barking up the right tree. Communication with triffid will eventually be possible, but the route will probably be through researching them and finding out how they communicate, not through mutation. A plant mutant is no more similar to a triffid than a dolphin is to a termite mounds; I don’t think it would give the power to understand their signals and language.

For the most part I think you’ve got the communication stuff pretty right. Of note, triffid are biased towards assuming we’re inferior. Most interactions with them are going to be heftily weighted to the triffid side. However, they are the most comprehensible of the alien types in the game currently, and could be reasoned with along the lines of diplomacy with a powerful foreign nation.


I actually like this. Very good points and could make post threshold plant more fun for sure.

Also “Barking up the right tree.” It’s funny cuz plants.


If you really want something wacky, add a “Triffid serum” that only works on full Plant mutants that cause you to become a Triffid.

I mean, I think you can make Plant mutagens out of Triffid parts (Plant marrow, biollante bud or datura seeds), so technically a Plant mutant is closest to a Triffid? Thus, making an advanced-serum causes you to become a triffid.


Yeah I’m not sure I like that very much. The whole arrogant aliens trope is kinda overused for one thing. Secondly, I’d rather not have players go to the trouble of finding a way to interact with the Triffids only to write them off as being a bunch of speciesist weeds after the first couple of conversations end in the Triffids being arrogant dicks. I know if that happened in my game the conversation would deteriorate quickly, and shortly after I would begin an aggressive campaign of Herbicide.


Talk to one of the other species then. This isn’t a game where anything tends to be very friendly to humans, and frankly the triffid per the design doc are superior to us.


Yes, but if they are massive dicks people are just going to ignore or exterminate them rather than trying to interact. You can make them a bit arrogant, but much farther than that will defeat the entire point of making it possible to interact with them, because no one will bother.

And aren’t all the other factions either unequivocally hostile or too alien to be communicated with? The fungus has to assimilate you, and at that point you basically become their meat puppet. The blob flat out cannot be interacted with, and getting its attention would be a horribly retarded idea per Kevyn. The netherworld creatures like the Mi-Go are all evil and hostile or nonsapient.


Who said they are “massive dicks”? Don’t make assumptions and then spend a lot of time arguing about the stuff you’ve assumed


You misunderstand, I’m not saying that they are already described that way, I’m saying that if we make them overly arrogant in their interactions it will be self defeating. They might be superior, but if they rub it in peoples faces too much it will end poorly more often than not. And all the trouble of making them more than just random mobs will be mostly for nothing.


Ah. I don’t think they care nearly enough about us to rub our faces in anything. We just have very little to offer them, besides food made from us.


Still, one might try negotiating if your standing next to it flamethrower in hand.


How about a post-threshold plant mutant building a triffid-encrusted-fortress like a clown fish builds its anemone nest? The triffids recognize the mutant and do not attack him.


fungus is just annoying like,tey can destroy the evac shelter you’ve baricaded in one day you stayed away from it to find a lab or something in those lines,i only found trifids twice and died to them,they could be some high risk high reward thing to ally yourself with,like you do some stuff for them and they kick fungui ass for you : v


Ah yes, the Ripley Method of negotiating with alien lifeforms, aka “fuck off or the eggs get it”. I am definitely a fan of that technique.


Maybe a way of implementing this would be to have a triffid emissary NPC - probably with hidden mutations similar to the bee npc to ensure it registers as triffid friendly - on the bottom layer of a triffid grove, before the heart. So that if the player has killed their way down that far, the heart starts getting scared, and offers to negotiate in an attempt to save itself.

Given triffids seem to be able to manipulate earth plants quite a bit, perhaps they offer to supply food to the human - or nearby human settlement, in exchange for their continued existence. A cautious alliance could grow from that starting point.