Saturday, March 3, 2012

Monster Ecology - From larval to juvenile to adult forms

Some of the monsters through the history of the game lend themselves to inventing reasons for them to exist. This is an attempt to show how 3 monsters fit together even if going by the rules wouldn't quite make sense. F it, it's magic!

Our subject today is the Roper.

In caverns deep there are horrors aplenty just waiting to make a meal of your frail adventurer. It could be things like the Mimic and it's cousins the trapper, lurker, etc. In this case we're looking at the Roper and what it might look like at various stages of life.

I posit that what we know of as the roper is the adult form of a very long lived monster:

The roper is a strange stalagmite appearing creature, powerful enough to destroy adventuring parties or at least block their way to where they want to go. It can drain the strength of opponents when it grabs them with tentacles and begins dragging them to where it can deliver a savage bite. It is also exceptionally intelligent and knows it can bargin or extort treasure or magic from the potential food in order to avoid a fight and still gain something to lure other easier prey.

The monster is rare and that is a good thing since a monster of such power and intelligence could control or wipe out whole underground kingdoms should a group of them be so inclined. Thankfully then they are chaotic.

But what do they look like and behave like when they are younger and not so powerful?

Perhaps this is their juvenile form:

The much more mobile and vulnerable Darkmantle. In this younger form it is able to fly short distances, create areas of darkness, an ability it seems to lose in adulthood, and it spends most of its time skulking about at the tops of cavern rooms waiting to ambush prey, a trait maintained from when it was in the larval form. This creature is often encountered in numbers since on their own they are fragile and easily slain if the prey are in groups. You can see from this image that it has formed numerous tentacles and begun to take on a form similar to what it will have as an adult. The multiple eyes will gradually combine into a single, large ocular orb and the tentacles will fuse to form fewer, but much stronger appendages.

Moving on to what I believe to be the larval form of the dreaded roper:

These pathetic creatures imitate stalagtites, hanging in larger groups, high up on the ceilings of mineral rich caverns. They have a very strong outer shell formed by absorbing calcium and other rocky minerals. Some might even manage to pick up some small semi-precious stones as their carapace hardens. In this form they are nothing more than hungry ambush predators desperate for anything they can fall on and devour. It is very likely that they can sense the vibrations of movement below and their eyesight, though primitive, is enough to sense light. Through these combined senses they know when dropping down is likely to score a hit on something they might be able to eat.

Once down below they are so slow moving that surviving prey can often slaughter them before the beasts can climb back up to safety. This might account for the large number encountered at any time. Their hardened shells help buy time for some of them to reach safety and grow into the juvenile form.

Of course this could all be a flight of fancy and these could well and truely be unrelated monstrosities inhabiting similar niches in our magic rich world.

Yours with curiosity and imagination,

                                                              Prinportia the Sage, of Loreltarma

1 comment:

Matt said...

I like where you're going with this monster evolution/progression but what really caught my attention was how UNGODLY TERRIFYING that roper looks in the bottom picture.

Maybe that adventurer will think twice about her skimpy getup after that nasty encounter.