Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Encounter: Prickly Pal

Boil a flower and pour me out.
Cacti! Cacti are spiky, they have spikes because they lose less moisture than leaves! They can have neat flowers, and they can grow super deep roots. They also tend to grow weird looking "arms" at right angles, making them ripe for anthropomorphism. Today's affliction theme is hallucinations, and I'm gonna riff off of desert mirages. Let's see what we get.


OK, a cactus has a bunch of fun properties to riff on. They have spikes, they are well acclimated to desert climates, they look people-ish. For these incapacitating conditions, I'm bumping the CER "roof" up a bit to 45.  So let's start with the theme of hallucinations. That is going to require 10 CER for our budget right off. He's going to have short spines, which can do 1d-2 impaling. And because it is a plant, it feels right to give it homogeneous. Let's see where we stand.

Attack Skill0Active Defense0
Affliction10Damage Resistance8
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)13Total Protective Rating (PR)8
OK. Doing OK. I think I want to give it a bit of DR, and for fun, I want to give it a rapid fire pi- mundane attack.

Attack Skill8Active Defense0
Affliction10Damage Resistance10
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)21Total Protective Rating (PR)10
Doing decent on the CER, let's give it a few plant like weaknesses though. A slightly low Active Defense and slightly low speed just feels right.
Attack Skill8Active Defense-2
Affliction10Damage Resistance10
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)20Total Protective Rating (PR)8
A cactus to me seems like a pretty hearty guy, so I want to up its health a bit too.
Attack Skill8Active Defense-2
Affliction10Damage Resistance10
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)20Total Protective Rating (PR)10
Hey, it fits into the smaller range anyways, cool beans, didn't need to extend the limit at all. Let's turn this into normal GURPS stats.
ST: 10HP: 10Speed: 4
DX: 9Will: 10Move: 5
IQ: 6Per: 10
HT: 12FP: 10SM: -1
Dodge: 7Parry: 7DR: 2
Prickle Peppering (14): Range 10/100, Acc 3, RoF 5, 1d Pi- (Whatever gets through DR does 1/2 damage)
Misleading Aroma: Emanation, 5 yard area. Resist at Will+5, but with penalties for any dehydration fatigue and -1 if the desert temperature is outside of target's comfort zone. Protected breathing can prevent the effect. Failure gives hallucinations. When you attempt to act, roll against will, success gives you -2 on all success rules for 2d seconds as you are merely disoriented. Failure means totally hallucinating for 1d minutes, having a penalty on all rolls of -5, specifically, the target sees water just a little ways off... but can never actually reach it no matter how hard they try. More details on hallucinations are found in the basic set on page 429 in campaigns.
Punch(9): Reach C, 1d-2 impaling.
Traits: Deafness; Reduced Consumption 2, Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous); Invertebrate; No Manipulators; Numb; Vibration Sense (Air; Reflexive; Targeting); Temperature Tolerance (Hot) 2
Skills: Brawling-9, Innate Attack (Needles)-14, Desert Survival-14, Gesture-13


The species is split into male and female morphological forms. Like many birds, it is actually the males of the species that present and have a more attractive appearance bearing flowers with which to woo a mate. These flowers give off an aroma that can trick tired travelers into believing water is to be found nearby. Females do not have this flower [a female therefore has a CER of 20 as she cannot use the affliction ability].
The behavior of the prickly pal is very unpredictable and they have a reputation for being fickle, some are very friendly and actually help those crossing their deserts find water or shelter from the sun. Others seem to attack without rhyme or reason [Try using reaction rolls to determine how they feel about the party. Perhaps penalize people that seem disrespectful to the desert?]. Although they often create misleading mirages tricking people into going on a wild chase for water, they do, in fact, congregate around large sources of natural water. This actually makes separating the truth from the fiction that much worse for those desperately clinging to life. Areas where prickly pals hang around should only be traveled to in groups with buddies so that in the event that one is accosted by the hallucinations, the rest of the team can keep the victim from being lead astray. Their bodies are full of precious water if destroyed, and can render water enough for one person for 3 days [9 rations of water].

Other Notes and Closing

There are a lot of easy ways to make a cactus more dangerous. Giving it a better damage than pi- for one, more Hit Points might make sense; some cacti produce by budding identical cacti, so an ability to duplicate might be appropriate. Water based projectiles are also possible.
I tried to make them somewhat difficult to pin down on whether they were good or bad, and I could see some GMs wanting them to be a very friendly nearly sentient race, or a race of devious tricksters that fight for whatever reasons; maybe they are bandits that rob travelers, maybe they are protecting holy ground. A good one showing up could be a potential use of serendipity in the desert. The Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 1: Mirror of the Fire Demon supplement includes a lot of stats for desert themed encounters that might work well beside a cactus. One of Final Fantasy's mascot encounters is a "cactuar", a mobile cactus, and is among many others that might also give interesting ideas for application.

Precis - Prickly Pal poaches parched padres passing places particularly pleasing.

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