Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stormsheep and Mantis Shrimp

Stormsheep (Fulgeroids)

Imagine the tangle of glass left in sand when lightning strikes.

Now imagine it moving, squirming and birthing itself out of the granular quartz. Stretching like a deer foal and picking its way on spindly tubular limbs. Migrating somewhere under the earth.

Now imagine walking through an underground nightmare for a month then hearing, up ahead, the sound of a party in a wine bar. The plinking and tumbling of glass. Mutterings. A kind of vague ultra-high-pitch whine like a mosquito in a jam jar. You turn a corner, look down, and there they are. Spindles and bulbs of rippling processioning beaker-ware. Glass-marked in primary for the taint in sand that made their flesh.

The Stormsheep are blobs and twists of living glass with startling synthetic-bright shades within. They flock in fractal patterns, migrating carefully, touching the wall.

Miners hunt them for the ore-scent pulling them to metal as it winds its veins beneath the earth. They gather in herds around the slight twists of silver and iron that root down from the mountaintop. And, sometimes, around thick and silicised waters. They are waiting for a storm to summon lightning from below.

Lightning strikes up, not down. Watch it in slow motion and you'll see. Zeus was a target. This planet is a battery. The storm makes negative one sky-bound pole and electrons1 rampage in a flicker up out of the iron heart of the earth. On its passage it collects spiritual, magical and physical impressions and leaves these written in the glass of the Stormsheep before the air absorbs its pure distilled remains.

They are a kind of detrius, but do not know this. Each one has a sort of memory map inside, made of the lightnings path as it burrowed up out of the slow epochal magma storms, seeking the sky above. A genetic vertical geography encoded in an instant. It may be this recall that makes them seek out the deeps.

They follow lines of electric conduction, when the strike occurs above they taste it with their glassy limbs. It fills them with electricity and geospiritual calm, this makes them less dangerous.

If you find the Stormsheep hungry, they will sense the electricity and memories inside your head and, in famine-struck madness, attempt to feed. The use of metal weapons is not advised. Metal armour will reverse or invert your AC. Don't get wet. The glass limbs need not touch you, they can summon forth the electrical impulse within you from a foot away. The corpuscles in your arterial blood spin madly on their axis. Each one becomes a tiny generator. Veinous blood is safe, the iron is dull in its cells.

Stormsheep summon electricity from your flesh. (When they attack, you roll to hit, use your CON modifier, add their HD bonus. If you hit, electricity leaps from your flesh, connecting with its outstretched limb. It burns you and sends you into stroke-spasms.)

If they get close enough to touch they will try to eat the electrical memories in your brain and spine. This will kill, or mind-blank you. It poisons them. Stormsheep that eat human thoughts stagger, crazed and maddened like cows with CJD. So by defending yourself you are also protecting them. There is no way to explain this to them.

If you meet sated Fulgeroids, happy and fat, things will be different. They will gather in weird neuronal constellations in the dark. Exchanging silica dreams with thick blue twig-shaped sparks. The blue electrical charges sputtering amidst them hum and pulse in cryptic configurations. Sages read the crackling magnoglyphs to discover secrets. The conditions are dangerous and uncertain. Sages often need protection, from the Sheep, and from whatever else wants those secrets kept.

Each Fulgeroid carries inside it, coloured by metallic taints, a map of the path the lightning took that made it. This 3D tangle of shades shows unknown route not trod by man. If you can work out where it fits in the endless warrens of night. This makes Stormsheep bodies quite potentially valuable. They are difficult to retrieve whole, as the creatures splinter on all but a critical killing blow, but the corpses have been known to show the way to secret treasures and hidden lands.

For this reason they are sometimes guarded by hidden Knotsmen.

1- Whatever the fuck they are, I've never seen a clear explanation.

Mantis Shrimp

This predatory amphibious leopard-sized shrimp usually draws no benefit from it's invisible flesh. That's why it hunts the sighted.

The shrimp descends from tiny translucent ancestors that lost their pigment in the dark. Not just the skin, but the flesh inside went blank. Holding in your hands a bowl, full of water, with the shrimp inside, you shine a light. All you see is the misty shadow of the beast on the bowl bottom, the creature itself is nearly invisible.

i will cut your penis off...

It's larger cousin uses the same transparent flesh to gain a brutal advantage against light-bearing prey. It can't be seen. Only the shadow on the cave wall, like the shadow of glass on a dining table. (Triangulate your lanterns.)

Sighted prey is rare underground, but there are just enough functioning eyeballs down here for the shrimp to carve out a small evolutionary niche as an ambush predator.

It tracks the party underwater, following the glimmers of their lights caught in the surface flow. Waits, observes, then pounces on the weakest, dragging its catch into the black.

The Mantis Shrimp likes killing. This isn't just about food. It's the only shrimp anywhere near the top of a food chain and it kills for fun and pleasure when it can. Bodies have been found in parts, with extremities removed and scattered, or piled in delicate heaps as territory marks. A pile of wet fingers or nibbled ears on a prominent rock can mark its hunting ground.


  1. seconded. Wow.
    On stormsheep, do you know about Hattifatteners?

    1. I did not but I am glad that I do now, they are awesoms.

  2. you are wrong about the 2.b bill yeares... what about 6.6 thousten years?