Thinker Shark

Chris Van Deelen
No. Enc: 1d4 Alignment:  Neutral Movement: 180’ (60’) AC: 0 HD: 28 Attacks: 2 bites or 1 ram Damage: 8d6 / 8d6 or 6d6 and special Save: L20 Morale: 7 Hoard Class: None

Many years before the end of civilization, there were scientists who were trying to create a cure for Alzheimer’s. They had known for decades that Sharks never suffered from any sort of similar affliction and decided to experiment on various species.

Out of all the species that they used, only the Tiger Shark showed any sign of success. As a result of their genetic tinkering, the Sharks grew larger, but that wasn’t the worst of it.

The creatures grew more and more intelligent with every passing generation. The brains of these creatures did indeed contain chemicals that not only cured but actually reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s.

But this cure didn’t come without a terrible price. Most of the initial scientists involved with the discovery were killed and devoured by the sharks. The research was recovered and the breeding of the mutant Tiger Sharks continued unabated, the pharmaceutical companies harvesting the chemicals produced by their massive brains and making uncounted billions.

When the final wars erupted, many of the creatures were able to escape into the oceans where a few managed to survive and eventually the population grew once again. Now these sharks live along the coastline of pretty much every continent on the planet, for the most part leaving other creatures alone except when they need to feed, or if they feel threatened.

These sharks have intelligence that rivals that of most humanoids and as a result are no longer the mindless killing machines their ancestors once were. They live together in small pods of no more than four individuals and are explorers of the deep. Their knowledge of the shorelines, the ruins, the wrecks as well as the dangers make these creatures actually sought after by many explorers and travellers along the shores.

The only thing is that they demand a great price in food, typically food that they cannot get, such as cattle or other land animals that they have acquired a taste for. Other times they will demand knowledge of other locations along the coast or demand a favour.

The downside is that they can only communicate through telepathy, they cannot speak as their throats and mouths are simply incapable of it. Frankly, most creatures that see these massive sharks flee in terror and rightfully so, as there is little physical difference between them and other un-mutated Tiger Sharks, other than their size.

A fully grown shark measures about 25 feet in length and weights upwards of six tons. They have three rows of serrated teeth that cause horrific wounds when they bite, and the teeth are constantly growing, the back rows pushing the front rows out.

In combat, any medium or smaller sized creature that is bit with a natural 20 is swallowed whole. The creature is stuck in the stomach and can only use small weapons such as knives to cut their way out. They have to cut through the tough flesh of the stomach, which has an effect AC of 3 and must do at least 30 points of damage. Each round a creature is in the stomach they suffer 6d6 points of acid damage from the digestive fluids. These creatures can ram a target and if they are hit they must make a save versus stun or become stunned for 1d6 rounds.

These massive mutated sharks mate only once every five years and the females lay 10d10 egg sacks 4 months later. The pod always stays around the egg sacks, guarding them from any would be scavengers. It takes another four months for the eggs to hatch and at that time the young sharks are then forced to fend for themselves.

One reason the creatures are so careful with their eggs is that anyone who eats an entire egg sack will have their intelligence permanently increased by 1d3 points. This can only work once, so the eggs fetch a very high price. Once the sharks hatch, anyone consuming them gains no benefit.

Despite the fact that their eggs are sought after, the creatures are still willing to sell their knowledge to other creatures and surface dwellers, but they will never, ever reveal the location of one of the clutches of eggs to outsiders.

Anyone who manages to discover the location, even by accident will be hunted down and devoured by the pod. Despite this, there are still those who actively seek out the creatures because the eggs will make them rich.

The chemicals produced by their massive minds is still a cure of Alzheimer’s disease and occasionally they will be willing to sell the bodies of a dead pod-mate, but the price they demand is always extremely taxing, but many creatures are willing to pay it.

There are some members of the species that have developed powerful mental attacks, but they are quite rare, usually only 1 in 100 possessing these attacks.

Mutations: Gigantism, increased willpower, killing sphere (rare), mind thrust (rare), neural telepathy.

Source: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

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.