Friday, November 26, 2010

Flesh-eating plants attack cave explorers.

I came to consider the difference between creatures and animals, today. I'm not thinking now about the difference of these words or their meaning, but how I approach these concepts as a designer.

Some creature designers enjoy making otherworldly animals, but what I primarily enjoy is making creatures. What I mean is that imaginary animals strive to play the role of convincing animals, but creatures (in my definition of the word) brings something extraordinary into the story.

Greek mythology and European folklore are full of creatures. The chimera, the Medusa, the unicorn, the harpy, the centaur, the minotoaur - all these have another dimension to them. Apart from looking more or less alien they have attributes that speak to us on a subconscious level. They might be multi-headed monsters, or charming nymphs of the sea, but common to them all is that they rise above the state of the animal into the spiritual, or psychological field.

Mythological creatures and the greatest monsters always speak to us on that deeper level. They have something of us in them, that makes them worthy of our stories. We, the makers of the stories, bring these aspects of our fears, desires, secrets, and faults into the beasts of our making. That is the difference between a new animal concept and a new creature. That is at least my way of looking at it, and that is also my ambition. I aim to create fascinating creatures.


TERRAIN: Damp places
FOOD: Carnivore
SIZE: 8 feet tall (240 cm) without limbs
NUMBERS: 1 to 20

(If stats of a human ranges from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running x 0,01
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

(If Full Plate Armour is 10)

Chopping at a PanPanarih is like chopping away at any tree in the forest. It is commonly clad with a layer of moss that gives no or little protection, but since it feels no pain it will move about until it is cut to pieces, or burned down.

5-8 POINTY BRANCH STABS: 1-5 (+ burning tongue damage)
(If a Long Sword makes a damage of 1-8)

The PanPanarih thrusts with the spear-like ends of its branches to kill prey. Smaller creatures are then drawn into the core, through the hollow limbs, by the tongue emerging from their centres. Insects and very small creatures are trapped directly by one of the tongues, which are fast and very sticky. Larger life-forms are stabbed repeatedly until they they are still. The PanPanarih continues to attack until the flesh is loose enough for the tongue to tear it off. The burning saliva also helps disintegrating muscles and other tissue. Losing consciousness near a PanPanarih is to be avoided.

ENCHANTING FRAGRANCE: The PanPanarih is usually without scent, but may release a strong fragrance to attract nearby prey. The scent can only be produced when the plant bears fruit, and that is usually when extra food is needed. The aroma of these plants is like a heavenly perfume and very hard to resist. Unless a saving throw (Mental Resilience) is successful the victim is enchanted and will seek out the source of the scent and hug the PanPanarih to fill his mind with the wonder of its fragrance. At touch the plant will attack. On a windless day the fragrance can spread up to 500 yards (457 meters) from the fruit. If the Game Master desires, the chance of resisting the enchantment can vary with distance.

TELEPATHIC VISION: The seeds of the PanPanarih is a kind of eyes. Around every seed is a mother-of-pearl like lid that can open to reveal the organ of vision. They are fully self-sufficient, like clams, but cannot eat, and live only for six months. Whenever they open they send visual information back to the PanPanarih, which may act upon this knowledge, but the ability is also for finding a good spot to sprout upon. Birds, and other creatures, attracted to the glimmering surface, takes off with the seeds and thereby the plants spread. If dropped nearby water the seed will settle, but otherwise it stays closed most of the time, and awaits better opportunities. A dead seed can still become a new plant, but it loses its ability to see and open.

BURNING SALIVA: The sticky tongues of the PanPanarihs produce a burning saliva that inflicts 1-2 points of injury for 1-4 rounds when it makes contact with naked skin. It is not acidic but consists of a nerve poison that causes pain and cell damage.

The PanPanaris pose as common trees when they don’t engage in hunting or feeding. They stretch their limbs and branches upwards and hide their surveying eyes well. They may live in any place where water is available but prefer a damp climate. Even dungeons will do if a subterranean stream can be reached and an occasional beam of sunlight manages to squeeze in. Their roots grow fast and can stretch out hundreds of yards from the main root, which is always located in, or very close to water. Within this area the PanPanarihs are mobile, and move around slowly, on shorter tentacle roots, to their position of choice.

No brain is to be found in these plants, but the instinctive innate behaviour of the PanPanarihs is creepily complex. For example, they tend to hunt in groups, letting some creatures pass by while posing for harmless, only to block the opening of the cave where the creatures spent the night sleeping. They sometimes let go of some of their seed eyes to monitor a trail nearby, and they let groups of birds hack away at their big red fruits, until enough of them gather to feed all of their hollow limbs at once. Though the PanPanarih transports itself slowly, its upper structure is very flexible and its limbs can flail about at some speed. The tongues are extremely fast, and the plant gets half of its nutrition from the numerous insects landing unknowingly on the fruit, or upon the cluster of small white flowers that blooms in the centre before the fruit appears.

The fruit of the PanPanarih is large and delicious. Once served at many courts as the treat of summer festivals, the plants are now eradicated from populated areas. Attempts have been made to grow them, but they are far from energy efficient, and the danger of managing them discourages most such enterprises. Once a seed has reached water, it takes at least two years for the plant to reach a full-grown state.

The human-like shape of the creature has given rise to many scary stories about the PanPanarih, whose silhouette against a moonlit sky has been used more than once in illustrated myths to symbolize dark times ahead. Folklore claims that when the plant consumes human beings, it absorbs their essence, and slowly begins the transformation into a complete replica of a humanoid.

© Copyright 2010 - Nicholas Cloister