Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Writing Prompt: Secret Jackalope 2022

What's in my Discord inbox today?

You've been paired with Rook#1407, who wants "Take a non-intelligent DND monster of your choosing from the 1977 Monster Manual, like a Roper or Bulette (or a couple of real world animals) and 'speculatively evolve' it into a few distinct evolutionary niches. Basically, take that creature and specialize it into a new environment or ecological role for several dozen million years and see what happens to it. It's more biological that putting gills on a Rust-Monster if it evolves into the oceans. Here's a great example; https://sites.google.com/site/worldofserina/home. Points for stats. Ten thousand million points for a couple of sketches of your new creatures. "

(Or perhaps After Man...)

Welcome to Secret Jackalope 2022. Been a couple of years (or maybe I just missed last year's effort)?


Meet the Hegemonic Cube.

Through assimilation of genetic material over generations of scavenging and predating, at some indistinguishable moment, the gelatinous cube reached a tipping point to gain an alien intelligence, after a fashion


The body form modified from a cube into a lobed protoplasm that extruded throughout its territory, slowly creeping, branching and creating sensory nodes of massive neurons to "feel" its environment. The evolved "hegemonic cube" became a decentralized intelligence, with each nerve center sharing a portion of the creature's intelligence and memory, a redundant, multiple-parallel network.

Creatures of humanoid intelligences, or those similarly evolved, speak of feeling a 'static' in their minds upon approaching one of these slow-moving minds. Those who attempt to probe the cube's "minds" by mental means are often met with blasts of howling psychic energy that can stun, blind, or even destroy a mind. 

Although light sensitive, the "hegemonic cube" has no true vision, relying instead on the sensory input of chemical means. Likewise a "cube" will communicates with other colonies of its type via chemical means - establishing boundaries, or sharing memories and resources.

Although the creature may appear immobile, it may investigate or colonize areas via a biological avatar. To create its avatar, the cube will overcome an animal or humanoid, some vessel more capable of enduring the light and open elements. The cube then separates a portion of itself to possess and animate the creature. These avatars may also be used as remote sensors, tools to gather resources, and as communication means to more distant colonies of its type. There are rumors of the avatars even communicating with other intelligent creatures through an alien mental language of symbols and sensations.


The avatar is also used to carry a new colony into fertile terrain. Once the mobile element finds a new environment, the hegemonic cube-fragment explodes the vessel to seed the area, with its immature forms resembling their voracious, ancestral cubes, until sufficient resources have been gathered to transfer into its final colony-form.  

And the cycle begins anew...

Well, ok, that was evolution of one critter. Now let's do some ecological roles and niches...


D8 Niche Owlbears:


Like the Galapagos finches, the majestic chimera that is the owlbear has expanded its range and evolved itself into new ecological niches and resulting body forms, each specialized to negotiate or exploit the environment, and each with its own character and specializations.

  1. Slowlthbear: Habitat: Rainforests; Appearance: Likely hanging from a stout branch, covered in moss and algae (surprise on 4 in 6); Features: Oversized, hooked claws for hanging (Claw damage +2), Slow (half speed movement).
  2. Burrowingowlbear: Habitat: Plains, lives in a hole in the ground (perhaps out near the trailer park); Appearance: Claws well-suited for either digging or expanding burrows to make a suitable lair (Digs at 1/3 movement rate), may be distracted by giant rats as bait.
  3. Falconbear: Habitat: Plains, mountains; Appearance: Where the hell did that come from? Either dives off cliffs or rushes headlong into its prey for first attack (surprise on 3 in 6), double damage from charge.
  4. Finchbear: Habitat: Forests, particularly those where it has coevolved with massive trees; Appearance: Heavy, seed-cracking beak (Bite damage +2, Ignores 2 points of armor).
  5. Crowbear: Habitat: EVERYWHERE; Appearance: Black-feathered, heavy, probing beak. Mostly interested in stealing food and occasional shiny things. Noisy, may mimic other creatures.
  6. Storkbear: Habitat: Wetlands, lakes; Appearance: Long legs, spread toes (may move in shallow waters or marshes at same rate as dry land), long, spearing beak.
  7. Screechbear: Habitat: Forests, hollow trees; Appearance: Small (-1HD, Damage: 1 dice smaller), Blends into woodland terrain (surprise on 3 in 6), High-pitched shriek (save or become deafened for 1d4 turns).
  8. Swiftletbear: Habitat: Caves; Appearance: Well suited for nocturnal and subterranean life. No infravision, but echo-locates its way through its environment with sharp clicks. Creates 'nests' of solidified spit and mucous. A delicacy among dungeon epicures. Gangs of goblin nest-harvesters risk life and limb to carry one off before a bear returns from hunting.

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