A Preview from Beneath the Sea! - Threats II: Enslavers!
Yesterday we previewed BUT ONE of the deadly and diabolical threats you may encounter when participating in the simulation... I mean, when running a game of They Came from Beneath the Sea! We showed the dreaded Aqatepillar, one of the Destroyer-types featured in the Threats! chapter from the rulebook.
But there are other deadly dangers under the waves, with other objectives, motivations, and methods! And, as previously mentioned, not all of the undersea aliens get along... as evidenced in the relationship between today's creature feature - the pillbugs - and the Glowing People, who will be included in the full backer-only manuscript preview posted tomorrow!
Enslavers are a broad class of beings, ranging from the at least passably semi-humanoid to the not very human at all, with nearly everything in between. The one characteristic these multifarious beings have in common? Their ability to invade, corrupt, and dominate the minds and bodies of others. Even the strongest-willed humans can be reduced to putty in their hands given sufficient time, forced into the service of humanity’s enemies.
Enslavers find their natural enemies in Mouths, those humans most firmly and fundamentally dedicated to discovering and promulgating information, most specifically the truth.
Mouths gain one additional die on all mental-based rolls made against Enslavers.
Enslavers gain one additional die on all social-based rolls made against Mouths.
“I was at the beach with my gal when those freaks showed up. They looked more like bugs than fish, like those gross silvery ones you can find when you flip over rocks. Definitely not something that should have arms and legs!
I freaked out. I tried to punch it, but it stabbed me with one of its stubby arms and I passed out. When I came to I was in the hospital, getting all different kinds of antivenom pumped into me. The gash it gave me required 12 stitches!”
— Travis Parker, the first civilian victim of the gigantic pillbugs’ venom, now deceased
The pillbugs are physically large and have a fearsome appearance. A gigantic pillpug is a bipedal creature, with a pair of arms and another set of shorter arms with no hands. Instead, the second arms end with a sharp nail, the injector used to deliver venom to any threat that comes into close range. A gigantic pillbug becomes twice as tall as a man if it unfolds its antennae fully.
Gigantic pillbugs are capable of communicating in human speech, but the words from their mandibles are often lies. It is possible their only purpose is revenge against their former enslavers, the Glowing People, and they have a desire to prevent another intelligent species from becoming their new slave race. Records show the aliens may have a concept of humor and can make pill-based puns.
While linguists and several laypeople agree that the pillbugs know enough of human language to communicate with mankind, enough for them to make attempts at joking, they show no understanding of human etiquette. Their way of introducing themselves contains no greetings of themselves or their race, instead they tell you how much they hate the Glowing People.
If one should manage to tolerate their brash behavior, a lone pillbug can make an interesting sidekick if asked to tag along. There are reports of lone pillbugs being seen in places where violence or death can occur, such as gang fights, boxing rings, even fishing boats. It is important that those who have enjoyed their pillbug companion’s company ensure they never cross paths with another of their kind. Once they do, their connection to their species’ hivemind will make them leave behind any friendships they’ve created in order to return to their vengeful pursuit of the Glowing People.
Gigantic pillbugs collect the bone plates of Glowing People and make necklaces of them, sending a clear message to any Glowing Person who happens to witness their accessories. A bone plate from a Glowing Elder is an especially prized possession, something that may be used as a chestpiece rather than a necklace.
Especially valued are bone plates carrying an intricate design. These bone plates display many individual variations, especially those of fully grown sessile slavers. The pillbugs have a complicated system for assessing the value of each bone plate.
However, the pillbugs never trade bone plates. All known cases where a person has attempted to trade with a pillbug for their bone plate ended with a head butt, then a desperate plea for an aspirin after waking up from a concussion. Each pillbug family keeps their own trophies as family jewels. Faking a bone plate, or altering it to make its pattern more attractive, are capital crimes. In fact, the pillbugs extend the punishment of falsifying battle memorabilia to mankind. Fake furs, synthetic materials, and other similar materials upset the aliens, but give them common cause with Amish communities.
The gigantic pillbugs know their former enslavers are kidnapping humans in order to shackle a new race. The lone pillbug cares greatly for the fate of the humanity, but the hivemind pillbugs focus solely on their species’ collective goal. Pillbugs are split between wanting to enslave the Glowing People for the cruel treatment of their race, or to exterminate them completely. However, they do agree on one thing — the Glowing People must pay!
For unknown reasons, James Bean, private investigator, was staking out the penthouse of successful businessman Stephen Siviid. When Bean’s body is found in a dumpster, his head cleaved by a sharp weapon laced in potent venom, the town starts talking: Is Siviid a killer? What does he have to hide? Are the scientists right when they describe the venom used in the attack as that of the infamous gigantic pillbugs?
These disturbing creatures come in two forms scientists have so far identified.
Adult Gigantic Pillbugs
The adult pillbug stands tall on its two back legs. Its back is covered in hard plates they boast are impenetrable. When the pillbug becomes an adult, it has the innate need to seek out the rest of its kind, and most continue to travel in groups that slowly expand in size. A few strike out on their own, perhaps to find more distant members and bring them to a secret location.
The pillbug is impressionable when on its own, with documented cases of people convincing a lone alien to join their cause and abandon the pillbug purpose.
All players making Persuasion and Manipulation rolls for characters interacting with gigantic pillbugs gain one additional die when there’s no other pillbug present in the scene. However, the die is lost if the bug sees another of its kind or a Glowing Person. Nobody knows why this is the case.
When there are at least three pillbugs present in a scene, all Persuasion and Manipulation rolls lose a die.
Skills: Athletics 2, Close Combat 3, Command 2, Survival 3
Attributes: Intellect 2, Cunning 3, Resolve 2; Might 4, Dexterity 2, Stamina 5; Presence 1, Manipulation 2, Composure 4
Larval Gigantic Pillbugs
The different growth stages of the pillbug initially appear like an uncoordinated invasion of mindless alien animals eating everything. The larvae do not physically resemble the adult pillbug, and pillbugs blame the slavers for this mutation, claiming it’s the harsh result of generations without proper nutrition and attempting to make the race less independent so they can more easily be controlled. The young look more like a crossbreed of grubs and shrimp.
The smallest of this race are swimmers and live only in water, while bigger ones are amphibious but must stay close to water, and the largest can live on land or in water for as long as they want. Only after a few months and several molts do they take on an appearance similar to adult pillbugs.
Grubs lack the venom and armor of the adults, hence the threat level of the young pillbug decreases to Delta-5. They have, however, strong jaws that can make short work of human limbs and spit an extremely corrosive acidic saliva. With no technology or understanding of how to even use the most primitive of tools (other than consuming them for food) the grub is only a threat to unarmed civilians.
The number of eggs spread by the pillbug ships is enormous, and depending on the amount of food eaten, the pillbugs grow at differing rates. They eat younger pillbug stages if no other food is available, which guarantees that in the end only adult pillbugs will be left. In practice, the process efficiently converts a whole biosphere into a pillbug army.
Skills: Aim 2, Athletics 2, Close Combat 1, Survival 2
Attributes: Intellect 1, Cunning 2, Resolve 1; Might 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2; Presence 1, Manipulation 1, Composure 1
The pillbugs like to take advantage of their size and weight in close combat. They attempt to grapple their targets, using their limbs to pin them down and then use their stinger arms to inject venom.
Venomous Sting: The gigantic pillbug venom causes trouble for a period of several days, but isn’t fatal to healthy adults. Getting stung leads to extreme pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Its stinger arm easily penetrates leather. The stingers have a reach of one and a half feet, so they need to get close.
Their toxin is an Injectable Venom with a damage rating of 3, with a damage tag of Continuous (minute). On a successful hit, a victim must succeed on a Stamina roll or suffer the Paralyzed Condition for the remainder of the scene as excruciating pain wracks their body.
A Ball of Armor: True to their name, the gigantic pillbug can roll up to protect their vitals, turning into a ball of impenetrable armor. Their back armor protects them against any direct damage and they must either be coaxed to show their body parts that aren’t as well-protected or dealt with by using indirect methods (by using fire or gas-based toxins). The ball of armor conveys a +4 Enhancement against kinetic energy, such as bullets or rocks.
The grub stage has plates on its back, but isn’t hardened to match the toughness of the adult. Its protection grants a +2 Enhancement against kinetic energy. It will exhibit the same behavior as the adult and roll up in any danger where it feels it can’t feasibly fight off the threat.
Acidic Saliva: This ability is only used by pillbugs in the grub stage, allowing them to consume almost everything. Its acid is strong enough to dissolve and soften up the hardest of steel. The resulting burns from their spit are atrocious. Luckily, the acidic saliva can be diluted and washed away using water, but it does nothing to ease the smell of burning flesh that lasts for up to one week.
The acidic spit is contracted upon the grub biting a victim, or them spitting on anyone who threatens their existence. The longest range documented by grub spit is 10 feet and inflicts an Injury as the corrosive fluid dissolves flesh.
STRETCH GOALS AND ACHIEVEMENTS!
Well, this entire campaign was built and timed to deliver a Stretch Goal for esteemed backer Karpomatic's birthday - and together, we delivered! Great job, everyone! Lots of planning went into that! With that fundamental goal take care of, we'll continue with our Kickstarter campaign and see which other birthdays we can include...
Achieved! - KARPOMATIC'S BIRTHDAY WISH - A NEW SCENARIO - More adventure to be had with a new scenario PDF, added on to the rewards list for all backers receiving the They Came from Beneath the Sea! rulebook PDF.
At $35,000 in funding! - EXPANDED FLOATING FOES! - - A pailful of new threats and antagonists will be created and released as a Threat File! PDF, added on to the rewards list for all backers receiving the They Came from Beneath the Sea! rulebook PDF.
At $36,000 in funding! - DIGITAL WALLPAPER - Dress up your monitor with some amazing art from They Came from Beneath the Sea!, added to the rewards list for all backers.
At $37,500 in funding! - NEW MARINE MONSTERS! - A netful of new threats and nemisises will be created and released as a Threat File! PDF, added on to the rewards list for all backers receiving the They Came from Beneath the Sea! rulebook PDF.
We're going to post the complete Threat! chapter from the manuscript tomorrow, full of dangerous foes and evil antagonists! And, even though there will be a lot, you will want more! So, let's keep hitting Stretch Goals and celebrating birthdays, and add some more floating foes and marine monsters to the oceans of the 1950s!