Not every creature is out to kill the PCs in Aliens & Asteroids, I promise. Many are simply there trying to survive themselves. Here were a few of the entertaining things that came up in a jungle adventure…
Design Thoughts – Moving Scenery
Well, in this particular jungle adventure, there was a wall that had a gap through which people (or vehicles) could travel. A bunch of vines grew up the wall and along the top, but in the gap lay a field of huge mushrooms, roughly 6 inches to a foot in diameter.
Though I’m not a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz, I always liked the idea of the poppy field that put folks to sleep. As a defense and breeding mechanism, I always thought this was a brilliant idea for a plant. Get picked up by some distracted passer-by and migrate to a whole new place that might be a fun environment to lay down roots in.
In this case, the ‘shrooms would explode in a cloud of spores when crushed or stepped on. Inhaled spores would put the victims to sleep. Other creatures would eat the victims, knowing to carefully avoid the mushrooms or evolving adaptations to avoid falling under their spell. And those creatures would then defecate later on, distributing spores to other places where they could grow and create additional land mine fields.
Meanwhile, at the top of the wall along the vines, a strange slime mold had adapted to find hard-to-find metals it needed to survive. These little blobs of protoplasm would travel along the vines, using them as a highway of sorts. If they sensed a metallic object, they would leave the vine, retrieve the object, and head back again. I am not sure how these things reproduce, but suspect that if they found enough mineral content they would divide and head separate directions to continue their quest.
One of the characters poked at a blob with a Skaali sword and it grabbed it. There was a battle of Toughness and the blob won, slowly moving the sword into a thicket to consume it. Another party member helped the first one retrieve the sword, but it was entertaining seeing my players chasing blobs of protoplasm along vines at the top of a wall on a jungle planet. 🙂
Creature Stat Blocks
- Spore Mushrooms (Low-level): Attribute 7; Locomotion: None; Spore Sleep (if inhaled, causes victims to fall asleep 1d6 hours; Save vs. Presence (Disadvantage))
- Protoplasmic Blob (Low-level): Attribute 9; Locomotion: Slime Streaming; Speed 5m; Grab Item (Athletics, can only grab onto inorganic items, clings tightly to metals – Grab at Advantage for any metallic item), Rip Item (Toughness, can rip item away from current owner to try and consume it, Save vs. Toughness to resist), Consume (Acid-based substance used to break down any metal content in item, causing 1d3 damage per turn)
Though I really didn’t ponder enhancing these creatures at the time, I think the mushrooms could be changed a bit to help break down decomposing creatures (read here for some ideas). Or the spores could potentially lead to fungus blooms inside a creature’s lungs, possibly killing them and spreading the species that way (like a pneumonia or aspergillosis).
I think the trick is to look at these creatures as living beings and determine how best they might try to continue their species. Earth has plenty of fun critters to choose from that you could really expand on for alien worlds and make horrific.
Anybody have any good ideas for natural nightmares we could expand and use to populate alien worlds in this way?
Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the Creature of the Week series!