Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Armor with a life of its own

A necromancer hired a bodyguard, a giant of a man who boasted of his skill in combat. The bodyguard died at the first sign of trouble, an arrow to the throat. Chiding himself for trusting the foolish living, the necromancer turned to the steadfast undead. With one spell, the bodyguard's body was skeletonized. With another, the bones rearranged themselves, becoming a suit of armor with an extra pair of bony arms extending from the shoulders. The bodyguard's arms are far more effective in death than they were in life, holding shields in the necromancer's defense, leaving his hands free for spell casting.

An elf wanted to protect his woodland home. He begged a dryad for strength, so she cut open his chest and planted an acorn beside his heart. The acorn took root and began to grow into a might oak, reinforcing him like a tree strengthens a stone wall. He patrols the borders of the woods, walking more slowly each season. One day he will join the trees he has protected.

The ogre was going to eat the gnome, but the gnome kept explaining how he should be cooked until the ogre found himself with the gnome on his shoulder, being directed to find herbs in the forest. He grew used to the situation quickly, and before long the gnome was dictating all aspects of his life from a seat on his shoulder.

Even dragons grow old. When its scales began crack and fall of, one dragon began to replace them with the shields of those that had tried to slay it. The colors of heraldry are a riot across his body. When he next went ravaging across the countryside the survivors told only of an army that ate towns.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Hummingbees

To the unfamiliar, hummingbees are not easily distinguished from hummingbirds, their close relatives. The big giveaways are their bright plumage in bright violet and deep black, and their longer, thinner beaks, which get longer and sharper as they grow older.

Hummingbees live in colonies of a few dozen, building large nests out of thin sticks and mud in the crooks of trees. All their eggs and young are raised collectively. The birds are thus willing to sacrifice themselves in the defense of their nest, knowing that their young will still be cared for. They attack intruders one at a time, oldest bird to youngest. They attack by darting quickly and powerfully at the enemy, piercing soft tissue with their needle-like beaks, aiming most often for the eyes. The wounds inflicted are small but deep and can often kill through blood loss or infection. Most animals have learned to avoid hummingbee nests.

Where it comes from: They are born from small blue eggs and raised by all the adults of the colony.

What it wants and needs: Hummingbees eat both for themselves and for the young in their nests. They eat massive amounts of nectar, supplemented by small insects.

What it will fight for: Hummingbees will always fight in defense of their nests.

What happens if you eat it: Delicious!

What can be crafted out it: Their beaks can be used as needles, awls, or shanks.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Nootropics

The stuff isn't addictive, per se, but I promise you'll never go back. Because my stuff works. Genius in a pill, take one a day.

Suddenly the world is simple. Everything is obvious. You'll have so many ideas.

Don't go off it. You'll remember being smart, remember enough, that, when you quit, you'll feel pitiful, slow, damaged. The thoughts will come slow and arrive half-formed. You'll know you can be better. You'll know it, but its just not coming together. Not without my help.

Or maybe you've been taking it for years. You've built a career. An identity. You won't be able to keep up without it. You'll be drowning in your own life.Your coworkers will wonder what happened, why you can't get anything right anymore. Your dreams of inventions, discoveries, or artistic masterpieces? Impossible now. Unless you take another dose.

First time's free.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Zombie Troll

Zombification is a disease, passed through saliva like rabies. Trolls are large humanoid monsters known for their ability to rapidly heal. When a troll contracts the zombie disease, a fierce stalemate results, the disease continually spreading and the troll continually recovering.

Where it comes from: It is not easy for a troll to catch the zombie virus, as they are both strong and fast. Usually it happens when a zombie stumbles upon a sleeping troll.

What it wants and needs: To eat. Half the monster is a zombie, and half is a troll, and both are hungry. The troll pursues prey, the zombie bites, and so both creatures are fed. The hunger never leaves, however, and it will eat soil if nothing else is available.

What it will fight for: Food. A zombie troll will not stop trying to eat, no matter what. It does not feel pain or fear. It can be distracted, however, by a more convenient meal. 

What happens if you eat it: Your death will be complicated and agonizing. The zombie tissue will cause food poisoning, abdominal necrosis, and possibly zombification. The troll tissue will attempt to reform itself inside you, absorbing your flesh to create more of its own. You may be turned into a new zombie troll, as the zombification of your flesh is matched by the growth of the troll, or you may be slowly torn apart, as your flesh is killed by zombie toxins and your body burst open by a troll teratoma. Or both.

What can be crafted out it: If sterilized, dried, and powdered, zombiefied troll flesh is a powerful addition to healing potions. The hide of a zombie troll is very tough, albeit uneven, and requires a great deal of work to be turned into leather.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Anteaters

The eusocial arthropoids of Sirius are not ants, and the mammaloids that prey on them are not anteaters, but that it what they were called by the rushed survey team, and that is what stuck.

Neither species truly resembles ants or anteaters. The "ants" are usually about a centimeter long and half as wide, with translucent, slightly shiny exoskeletons. They spend as much time as possible in their underground colonies, hiding from the sun. The "anteaters" have six limbs, but only walk on four. Their front two limbs are asymmetric: one is strong and has large claws to break open colonies, and one is long and dexterous for snatching up ants.

It turns out the anteaters are sentient, something the survey team missed on their first visit. In their defense, the anteaters have no technology. Their social structure, however, is sophisticated, and their politics fast-paced and lethal. Everything revolves around the care and breeding of the ants, which they have domesticated. Leadership is equated with ant farming; their autocrats are expected to "farm" their society like they do their ants.

They have no tools, but their digging claws and organization are enough for them to construct city-scale burrow complexes. They do not use fire, but they practice eugenics. They are breeding themselves to excel even more at their social games, getting smarter and more cunning, yet specialized and incomprehensible. What would happen if this primitive but intelligent species were suddenly introduced to technology? The sector governor has decided to leave that question unanswered.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Swarm the Countess

The countess was a clever girl,
she wrote a grammarie of bees,
stole family jewels from an old earl,
a tuneless hum is on the breeze.

She grows her children in the wall,
they stare and glare and grow so tall,
her husband's useless as her thrall,
he sells strange honey at a stall,
his knight's their vows they don't recall,
they fight with splinters one and all.

Now she her thoughts are many thoughts,
her people work for her all day,
they choose who dies by drawing lots,
but from their labor they can't stray.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Stunsnake

A genetically engineered self-defense tool, stunsnakes are a combination of electric eels and vipers. They have a viper's fangs made of a copper alloy. When they bite, their fangs create a circuit with their target's flesh, working like a stungun. A stungun that will automatically attack movement, penetrate light armor with their metal fangs, and wrap themselves around a target so that it can't escape. Stunsnakes are thicker and shorter than ordinary snakes, with shiny black skin.

Where it comes from: Stunsnakes are the flagship product of biotech company Practibeasts. The company ultimately went out of business, but not before they produced a run of ten thousand stunsnakes, which have found their way all over the world.

What it wants: Stunsnakes are engineered to be as easy to care for as possible. They spend most of their time in a light doze, from which they can wake at a moment's notice.

What it needs: Stunsnakes are obligate electrovores. They need electricity not only to shock their targets, but to live. Providing them with a sufficient charge is easy: their tails plug into any standard AC outlet.

What it will fight for: Stunsnakes will attack any movement. Familiarizing them with your smell is necessary to prevent them from attacking you.

What happens if you eat it: Stunsnake skin contains layers of rubber, and is inedible. Stunsnake flesh, if it carries a charge, will shock your mouth as you chew. If uncharged, it tastes like bland fish.

What can be crafted out of it: The electrocytes of a Stunsnake, if removed correctly, can be used by any bio-fabricator with a fuzzy logic module to make batteries. The skin is a great electrical insulator, and can be made into protective gloves or shoes.