Parasitic Metamorph

Chris Van Deelen

Chris Van Deelen is the author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC sourcebook Creatures of the Tropical Wastes sourcebook, co-author of its Wisdom from the Wastelands game supplement and contributor to the 'Sword of Kos: Hekaton' Anthology.

No. Enc: 2d8
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
                      180' (60') Fly
AC: 3
HD: 8
Attacks: 3 (bite, rear claw, rear claw) or 1 (wing slap)
Damage: 1d6 / 1d12 / 1d12 or 1d8 plus special
Save: L8
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: V, VII, VIII

Parasitic Metamorph's started life out as Pure Humans, Humans or Mutant Humans. At some point in their life, they were exposed to a microscopic parasite (usually through contaminated water, food or bodily fluids from those already infected. Once infected, a drastic physical change begins, transforming the victim into a killing machine. Because of this, many wasteland scholars speculate that it is one of the many genetic engineering experiments conducted by the Ancients that went awry.

This creature has an overall humanoid physiology. Two arms, two legs, basic humanoid shape. The difference is that the body has become covered in an incredibly dense bone-like exoskeleton, making them impervious to most melee weapons, the hands and feet develop long powerful talons, while the head takes on a very reptilian appearance. The cranium is protected by a thick bony protrusion that looks almost like a helmet. The downside is that the protection partially interferes with the creature’s ability to see. Fortunately for these creatures, they have developed a special sense, very similar to ultrasound that allows them to see when their eyes fail them. Also the creatures developed large bat-like wings that allow them to fly and glide.

These mutant monsters also have no visible gender, although it is speculated that there are both male and female members. If they engage in sex, it has never been witnessed, and there have never been any reports of rapes during a raid from these creatures.

Something about the parasites that induce the physical change also cause startling changes in the mind and personality of those infected. They become very aggressive and are likely to turn on even close friends or family at the slightest provocation. To make matters worse, they also develop an un-natural appetite for raw meat and blood, many turning cannibal.

Those turned by the parasite seek out others of their kind to form packs. They have developed an aversion to ultraviolet light, which full daylight will cause 1d12 damage per turn (not round). They will never willingly go out in the daytime and their raids always take place at night. As a result, they make their homes in caves or in ruins (or other facilities) deep underground.

They do tend to hoard treasure they find and occasionally one of these monsters will be seen using artifact weapons, especially if they are going up against strong foes. The pack is always lead by the strongest and most fierce of their kind. Any member of the pack can challenge the leader at any time for dominance over the pack. If the leader loses the fight, he is usually killed outright. Occasionally the leader (or in the case of the leader winning the challenge) will allow the challenger to live, but will exile them from the pack. When this happens, the exile typically sets out on its own. It will look for likely targets to attack and it will do so, with the express intent of starting its own pack.

Each pack lives to raid and cause terror. They typically never attack the same location twice in a row, preferring to go after new targets. They kill as many creatures as they can (not caring if they're pure human, mutant human or even animals) and feed off the unfortunate victims during the raids to satiate their un-natural hunger. The downside for the creatures is that this typically incurs the wrath of those they attack and more often than not

Fortunately, these mutant monsters can actively choose to infect other creatures, and the bite isn't an automatic infection. If the creature chooses to infect a victim, they must bite the victim or expose them to their blood. The victim is then allowed a save versus poison. If it fails the victim is infected and will begin to undergo the change.

In combat, the monster can choose to attack with a flurry consisting of a bite and clawing attacks from its rear limbs (it will use its wings to hover while it attacks), or it will use its powerful wings to slap at an opponent. If the attack hits, the victim must make a dexterity check (roll 1d20 and roll less than its dexterity score). If the roll fails, the target is knocked prone.

Once a target has become infected, the change begins quickly, and takes one full week to complete. During the first couple of days, the victim's hair falls out and the skin hardens quickly, developing into a heavy bone like exoskeleton. The hands elongate dramatically and spread out, the flesh growing between the fingers, eventually becoming full-fledged wings. All physical mutations disappear by day five.

On day four, the creature can no longer eat any food other than fresh meat, which can't have been dead for more than a few minutes. Any other food is automatically dispelled from the stomach and the desire for fresh meat grows stronger and stronger with each passing day.

Finally on day six and seven all the previous mental mutations disappear and the personality changes completely as well. Although they may still retain feelings for friends and family, they have to leave them for fear of harming them at some time in the future, and the siren call of the pack can no longer be ignored. 

Mutations: aberrant form (natural weapons, xenomorphism), dietary requirement change (living flesh), Epidermal Susceptibility (light, modified), full wing development, genetic replication, increased senses (smell, hearing), natural armour, unique sense (ultrasound), vision impairment.

Source: The Cave (2005)