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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Brother's Revenge: Horrid Minions

This is part four of a series of encounters and events involving the NPC group The Bandits of Lope. The previous parts are Early Indications, First Blood, and Danger Approaches. By now the party is probably aware that something is afoot. This article describes the creatures used by the vengeful Renis in his quest for revenge. As outlined in the previous article, Renis' deity Yullic has granted him access to the spells Diseased Sending and Seed of Decay. These spells will eventually give rise to Fungal Zombies and Fungal Brains, two noxious creatures from Yullic's domain of disease and decay.

Fungal Brains

These frightening creatures appear when a priest of Yullic uses the Seed of Decay spell, or when a Fungal Zombie survives long enough to form a cocoon and transform into one. Brains are stationary creatures, preferring warm, moist environments. Their bloated, globular bodies look very much like a gigantic, blackened and decaying brain half buried in the earth, thus their name. A typical Brain is four or five feet in diameter.

Fungal Brains might appear helpless, but they're anything but. Each emits a cloud of spores in a 60' radius that cause drowsiness and mild hallucinations to all who enter the area of effect. It also has a set six of 20' long tentacles growing from the underside of its body and out through the earth in all directions. The Brain can use these tentacles for attack. A successful hit will cause Poor damage and infect the target with the Plague of Yullic (Fair potency) unless they resist the effect.

Fungal Brains are driven by two guiding forces, the need for flesh to feed on, and the desire to infect new victims with the Plague of Yullic. Any victim who falls unconscious within reach of the tentacles will be infected with the Plague. If the infection fails to take root, they will be consumed by the Brain.

Fungal Brains have the following characteristics:
  • Average defense, Great toughness.
  • Good tentacle attack, tentacles may each attack independent targets, 20' range. Successful hit will infect the target with Fair potency Plague of Yullic unless resisted.
  • Good spore cloud attack, 60' radius, causing sleep and hallucinations unless resisted.
  • Superb resistance to cold.
  • Great resistance to lightning.
  • Awful resistance to fire.

Fungal Zombies

Fungal Zombies are not undead creatures, rather they are the end result when living beings are infected with the Plague of Yullic. Any large, warm-blooded creature can become a Fungal Zombie. Smaller creatures can be infected with the Plague, but do not survive long enough to turn.

The victim's original mind is destroyed by the Plague, their nervous system taken over by the infecting fungus. They will lose most of their hair or fur, their skin will be streaked with grayish blue discolorations, and large bulging pouches of spores will cover their torso. Any wounds suffered will remain unhealed.

Fungal Zombies use physical attacks against their targets, adopting the native attacks of the original creature. Human Zombies will attack with two clawing, punching attacks and a bite for example. A Fungal Zombie will be stronger than their original form, increasing base damage caused by one rank. Successful melee attacks by Fungal Zombies have a Fair chance of infecting the target with the Plague of Yullic. The pouches that form on a Zombie's torso emit spores in a 10' radius that cause foes to sneeze and choke while within its area of effect. Opponents thus affected suffer a Good penalty on all skill tests. If a Fungal Zombie is slain and the remains are left unburned, there is a Fair chance a Fungal Brain will form from the creature's skull.

Fungal Zombies created by a Fungal Brain are initially subservient creatures. They will scour the area within a few miles of their controller searching for additional prey and dragging it into range of the Brain's tentacles. Controlled Zombies will share the Brain's food supply, though the Brain consumes the lions share.

After two weeks controlled Zombies mature and break the Brain's control. Freed Zombies, and those created by Diseased Sending are free-willed creatures that will first seek a good source food. After two or three weeks of feeding they will seek out a warm moist location and cocoon itself in a sticky black shroud. While in this form the Zombie is completely helpless and vulnerable. The cocoon lasts for one week, after which it decays away and a new Fungal Brain is born.

Fungal Zombies have the following characteristics:
  • Average defense, Fair toughness
  • Good natural attack
  • Choking spore cloud 10' radius
  • Superb resistance to cold
  • Great resistance to lightning
  • Awful resistance to fire

A Note on Yullic

Yullic is a dark and dangerous god. In most places he would be considered evil, being the source of disease and decay. Priests and followers of Yullic are often outcasts or afflicted with chronic, incurable illnesses. Though followers of Yullic carry diseases, his blessing keeps them alive both to revel in their illness and to spread it to others. Priests of Yullic have great healing powers allowing them to sustain even the most diseased follower. Followers believe that spreading disease and decay increases Yullic's power in the real world. Their hidden shrines and temples are filthy places where the stench of decay competes with the buzzing of disease carrying insects and the chittering of rats.

In civilized lands the worship of Yullic is likely outlawed, and the mark of Yullic (an open hand with ring finger bent) is considered a serious threat.
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