Sunday, January 15, 2017

Meditation and water are wedded for ever - Part 2 (Pathfinder)

 
A lad quite insane (Variant). Art By: Me

Author's Note: As you can see, I've reused some art from my previous post as well as created new art for this post. If you haven't read my previous post, I recommend doing so, otherwise you might not understand what is going on here. Here's the link for my previous post: (LINK).

In this post you will find stats for Thought/Psychic Whales, possible rewards for PC's that accept they really are a psychic whale, and information about strange wandering vending machines modeled after David Bowie as well as some strange items they sell. Systems used in this post: Pathfinder / DnD 3.X, OSR / LotFP / AD&D, Pits & Perils, and Into the Odd.

(Fluff)
Faulk, Edmund (6M – 279). Minds Within the Depths: A Study of Thought Whales. Infinite City: Kellig University Press. Pg. 36

They are titanic, gliding through the Inner City Sea as a cloud through the sky. However, it is not their considerable waterborne which is their greatest quality. Rather it is their minds, granting them insights into the universe that no man or machine might process.

But, before we get to the full capabilities of their minds, we must examine what fuels them. To do that we must look to their prey, a species of plankton named Dictyocysta Coeus, know commonly as Mad Plankton or Psychosis Plankton (often shortened to Psycho Plankton).

Giants of the depths. Art By: Me

There is a dearth of reliable information about Dictyocysta Coeus, with most sea naturalists finding little interest in the study of plankton. They possess a protein-based bell shaped shell protecting their organs. Dictyocysta Coeus use a number of cilia that extend from the opening of their shells. Measuring 25 micro-meters, they are invisible to the naked eye.

While there is a scarcity of reliable information about Dictyocysta Coeus, one may find an extensive “study” of their physiology by Doctor Kellis Blue. Like many great minds, Dr. Blue skated the razor edge between insanity and genius for many years before falling fully into madness. I am unsure of the exact etymology of the term Mad Plankton and Psychosis Plankton, but I am sure Dr. Blue's descent into mental illness is linked to it.

According to Dr. Blue's book Tiny Minds of Genius, they possess approximately twelve-thousand neurons (11,976 to be exact), though how she reached this number is unknown. Furthermore, she writes that the average human possessed eighty-six billion neurons in their cerebral cortex. These numbers must be pure conjecture as there is no means either mechanical, meta-mechanical, or occult to determine the exact number of neurons in any creature due to their extremely miniscule size.

Dr. Blue goes on to posit that the Dictyocysta Coeus is capable of some form of neural among other members of the species to create complex neurological structures. In essence, they are able to literally pool their mental resources to engage in complex mental tasks. Through simple arithmetic, we can estimate that it would require 7.18 million individual Dictyocysta Coeus to match the mental abilities of a human being; though this estimation is based on information that is more than likely to be the ramblings of a madwoman.

The tentacled sensory organ of the Thought-Whales. Art By: Me

According to her writings, the Dictyocysta Coeus can form a single colony organism similar to the Iberian Man o'War, which she refers to as a Cabal. While it is not outlining her paranoid delusions, it is sufficient to say that Dr. Blue believed that these Cabals were engaged in nefarious actions aimed against other species which includes humans. Unfortunately, she committed suicide three years prior to these writings. It is a tragedy that her mind was lost before she could add to knowledge of our Inner City Sea.

The Dictyocysta Coeus would still be a mystery to the world had not the body of a Thought-Whale been discovered near a City-Ship. An incredible number of these small beings were found partly digested in the stomach of the Thought-Whale, which provided the answer to the question of Thought-Whale nutrition and expanded our knowledge of Inner City Sea plankton...

Anonymous “Words from the streets” Undiluted Truth (Infinite City) 17th of Pyanepsion 6M – 283 pg. A5
Each week I wander the streets of the city, and find individuals who are willing to give their insights about it. This week I met with Jareth Leroy DeGobelin, one of the many homeless of the city looking for shelter as the we move towards winter. I asked Jareth for any insights about the city, this is what he said:

Poor Mister Jareth.

Yeah... Yeah I got somethin'. Y'see there are these vendin' machines that look like peoples. Only they got coin slots for eyes, gray skin, and a speaker-box instead of a mouth. Theys called Dream Engines, and they can talk to ya.

Give them a copper and they'll spray this rainbow light on ya, you'll be warm for two days, or cool iffin it be hot out. Theys got this triangle in theys chest, that's where the light comes from. They all got the same name, Mister Sane. And theys right nice sometimes, givin' somebody warmth if them helps clean theys skin.

They all work for this king named Jones, he's the king of Blackstar. That's where all the money goes. I'm supposed to go see Mister Sane tonight, he said Jones has got work for me! Imma gonna be rich!

You's real nice for buyin' me this new coat and all this food. I'll remember ya when Imma rich and powerful.

Mister DeGobelin offered to meet with me the next day to speak about his experience with the Blackstar King, but he never appeared for our appointment...

The Skinny (Stuff in Plain Words / Non-Fluff)
Our psychic whales, like many other whale species, feed by filtering large amounts of sea water for tiny organisms call Plankton. Their favored food source is Psycho Plankton, tiny animals that can link their tiny minds together to create complex neurological structures. This linking allows them to create a colony organism called a Cabal, similar Portuguese Man o'Wars. On their own, they possess the basic intelligence of a Pond Snail, together they can be as intelligent (or more so) as a human.

I based the idea of Psycho Plankton on the Portuguese Man o'War (WIKI LINK), the number of neurons that various species possess (WIKI LINK), and the intelligence of Honey Bees: (WIKI LINK) and (Jon Lieff M.D. BlogLink).

Some fun facts:
Bees routinely solve the advanced mathematical problem of the traveling salesman. (Traveling Salesman WIKI LINK)

Bees can handle two different abstract concepts at the same time and make decisions based on these in new situations.

A bee brain contains roughly 1 million neurons in its 0.5 mm size, as opposed to a human's 86 billion.

Bees distinguish landscapes scenes, types of flowers, shapes and patterns.

Now, this doesn't mean that bees are some kind of insect super-geniuses, so no need to worry about the bees overthrowing humans. However, their abilities do call into question what the exact relationship between brain size and intellectual abilities.

Look out for my next post about Psycho-Plankton and their nefarious plans!

Whales and Vending Machines
If you remember my previous post (LINK), Dream Engines are somehow linked to the Thought-Whales, though how is up to you or a fun chart I've included. As you may have noticed, they are a huge fan-boy, pun filled love letter to David Bowie. I have included some stuff they sell, though you are more than welcome to add to their menu of items sold. These strange vending machines work well for strange or powerful items you make available to your players for purchase. Plus, since they are mobile, you can use them to limit how often these items become available. Another use is a mobile merchant that can appear in dungeons randomly for the PC's to stock up on various adventuring items. Just like David Bowie, these machines are capable of a lot.

Since I was in a rush with my last post, I didn't include stats for the Thought-Whales. I have included them in this post, though their abilities are still up for interpretation. If any of you folks have advice for improving the mechanics, please let me know. Finally, if anyone is good at statting up monsters for 5th edition DnD, I would be happy to post your write-up on my blog for your workup of Thought-Whales. I have included a list of possible rewards you could give to a PC that plays along with the whole 'Guess what? You're a psychic whale!'. 

A page from a ship's naturalist's journal. Art By: Me
 
Thought-Whales

Pathfinder / DnD 3.X
CR 14 (?) - 38,400 xp
N Colossal animal
Init -1; Senses low-light vision, Scent, Blindsense 60 ft; Perception +27

Defense
AC: 26, touch 1, flat-footed 26 (-1 Dex, +25 natural, -8 size)
HP: 184 (16d8+112)
Fort +17, Ref +9, Will +18

Offense
Speed: Swim 40 ft.
Melee: Tail Slap +21 (8d6+24 plus stun)
Ranged: Telekinetic Blast +11/+6/+1 (4D6+11 / P, S, or B) Range: 30 ft.
Space: 30 ft.
Reach: 30 ft.
Special Attacks: capsize

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th)
At will— Mindlink [PAIZO LINK] (DC 17), Telepathy (DC 20), Telekinesis (DC 21), Hypnotic Pattern (DC 18), Illusory Wall (DC 20), Mirage Arcana (DC 21), Persistent Image (DC 21), Programmed Image (DC 22), Project Image (DC 23), Veil (DC 22)

3/day—Dominate Monster (DC 25), Create Mindscape [PAIZO LINK] (DC 21), Mindscape Door [PAIZO LINK] (DC 20), Modify Memory (DC 20), Synaptic Pulse [PAIZO LINK] (DC 19), Synaptic Scramble [PAIZO LINK] (DC 20), Riding Possession [PAIZO LINK] (DC 20)

Statistics
Str 42, Dex 8, Con 25, Int 41, Wis 36, Cha 22
Base Atk +12
CMB +36
CMD 45 (can't be tripped)

Feats
Awesome Blow, Diehard, Endurance, Improved Bull Rush, Iron Will, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Focus (tail slap)

Skills
Perception +27, Swim +35, Knowledge (All of them plus any you make up on the fly) +30, Sense Motive +25, Diplomacy +22, Bluff +22, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers +12 Perception

Languages
Telepathic Bond (65 ft), Northern Whale, Southern Whale, Orca, Dolphin, Narwhal, Akklo, Common, Space Whale, Crabbish

SQ: Hold Breath

Ecology
Environment: Any Oceans (Inner City Sea in my world)
Organization: Solitary, Pair, or Pod (3-18)
Treasure: None

Special Abilities
Hold Breath (Ex): A Thought-Whale can hold its breath a number of rounds equal to 10 times its Constitution score.

Stun (Ex): A Thought-Whale's fluke can deliver a powerful stunning blow. A creature struck by this attack must succeed at a DC 34 Fortitude save or be dazed for 1 round. If the strike is a critical hit and the target fails its save, it is also stunned for 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Strength-based.

Tail Slap (Ex): A Thought-Whale's tail slap is a primary attack and applies 1-1/2 times its Strength bonus on damage rolls.

Capsize (Ex): A Thought-Whale can attempt to capsize a boat or a ship by ramming it as a charge attack and making a combat maneuver check. The DC of this check is 25, or the result of the captain's Profession (sailor) check, whichever is higher. For each size category the ship is larger than the creature attempting to capsize it, the creature attempting to capsize the ship takes a cumulative –10 penalty on its combat maneuver check.

PC Rewards - 1D6
Here are a few minor rewards for PC's that play along with the Psychic Whale origins. Each advantage comes with a minor physical change to the PC's body. You can roll on this chart, or just choose a reward.

  1. Blindsense: Character gains blindsense with a 5 ft maximum range. Physical Change: A small, but noticeable bump, forms at the center of the character's forehead. This bump is a resonance chamber, creating and receiving high-frequency pulses used for echolocation.
  2. Powerful Lungs: Character can now hold their breath twice as long as they could before. Physical Change: The character's lungs and ribcage expands, making the character look more 'barrel-chested'.
  3. Cold Resilience: Character can now survive extreme cold from natural environments, such from an arctic ocean. This does not make them immune, or even resistant to, magical cold effects such as ones from Cone of Cold. Physical Change: The character's appearance softens, losing some definition on bone structure. This change comes from the character gaining a new layer of super-dense fat to act as insulation. This layer is thin, which reduces the amount of change to appearance that would occur.
  4. Great Swimmer: The character gains a swim speed equal to their base speed. Physical Change: Character develops minor webbing between their digits as well as a broadening of their shoulders and thickening of thighs.
  5. Kinetic Blast: Character gains the ability to fire off a Kinetic Blast of bludgeoning damage. The damage done by this blast is 1D6+Int Mod, with a maximum range of 30 feet, the character must make a successful ranged attack. The character may use this ability once per day, the character gains an extra use per day for every three levels beyond the first. Physical Change: The character's forehead bulges slightly as their brain and skull expands.
  6. Empathic Communication: The character may transmit their emotions to another willing individual within 40 feet. These transmitted emotions do not effect the emotions of those receive them, rather the receiver just gains knowledge of the transmitter's current emotional state. The character may use this at will, with only one target at a time, this target must has a minimum Wisdom score of 3. Physical Change: The character's eyes change to a sea-green color that glows slightly when the character uses this ability.
Mister Sane. Art By: Me
 
The Men who Fell to Earth
These wandering mechanized merchants are purveyors of the strangest services and baubles. In the next post I will provide stats for them, but if you need stats now use the stats of a Flesh Golem but medium sized. Mr. Sane always plays a song when dispensing their items or services, I've included a Youtube link for each service.

Golden Glow – Golden Years (LINK)
Mr. Sane emits a rainbow light from its chest that bathes the target. For the next 24 hours, the target is immune from any adverse effects from weather related temperature. The target is completely comfortable no matter the how hot or cold it is where they are.
Cost
Pathfinder / DnD 3.X: 1 cp

You Can Be Heroes – Heroes (LINK)
Mr. Sane sings for an individual, casting an amazing prismatic light show on the target. The character gains a morale bonus to certain actions for 3 hours.
Rules and Cost
Pathfinder / DnD 3.X: +1 to-hit, damage, and saves. Cost: 6 gp

Strange Rainbow Eggs. Art By: Me

Moonage Dream Stuff – Moonage Daydream (LINK)
While singing and emitting rainbow light, an egg sized and shaped object emerges from the hole in its chest. The 'egg' emits a soft glow as prismatic colors crawl ceaselessly over its surface.

The egg, when not in use, will orbit the user's forehead much as ioune stone might. Using their will, the character can shape the egg into any mundane tool, a buckler, or any weapon that is no larger than a short-sword. This object can be formed into a short-bow, but the user must supply their own arrows. The egg can only be formed into simple shapes without moving mechanical parts.

Rules and Cost
Pathfinder / DnD 3.X: Character must make a Will save DC 12 as a standard action the provokes and attack of opportunity to shape the object, a failure means the object isn't shaped. A critical failure permanently increases the DC by +1, the effects of numerous critical failures are cumulative. Cost: 100 gp.

Bang Bang, she shot me down. Art By: Me

Bullet Blasting Blues – Running Gun Blues (LINK)
While singing and emitting rainbow light, strangely shaped bullets/arrowheads emerge from the hole in its chest. These bullets/arrowheads fire targeted spells instead of projectiles.

Rules and Cost

Pathfinder / DnD 3.X
All bullets/arrowheads only require a touch attack to deliver spell effect. Each bullet costs 25 gp each. The DC for the Will save is 14.
  1. Dream Snake: The target begins to dream while awake, experiencing a form of hallucination. The target has a 20% miss chance when attacking a target. Each round there is a 25% chance that the target will confuse allies for enemies and enemies for allies. A successful save results in the target being only effected for 1 round, and unsuccessful save results in the target being effected for 6 rounds.
  2. Miss Bedtime: The target is put to sleep standing up. Sleeping creatures are helpless. Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not. Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action). Sleep does not target unconscious creatures, constructs, or undead creatures. A successful save results in the target being effected for 1 round, a failed save results in the target being asleep for 6 rounds.
  3. Wet Dreams: The target is filled with lust and desire for a single creature or object as designated by shooter at the time of casting. That creature or object must be within the spell's range and perceivable by the target of the spell. The target is filled with the compulsion to rush to the subject of its lust and passionately kiss or caress that subject on its next turn, taking no other actions. If the target would not normally have lustful feelings toward the designated creature or object, it receives a +4 bonus on its saving throw. A successful save results in the target being effected for 1 round, while a failed save results in the target being effected for 6 rounds.
  4. Flying Dreams: This bullet/arrowhead is meant for friends, loved ones, and yourself. Those who are successfully shot are granted the ability to fly at 60 ft with good maneuverability. This effect lasts for 6 minutes.