I have a druid in my group who often spurns buying rations at the towns or cities she comes across, preferring instead to forage. This would be an extremely nasty surprise, especially when she ventures into stranger and stranger lands, encountering all sorts of fruit she's never seen before . . .
For my purposes, I'd probably make the "fruit" not deadly in and of itself, but merely a powerful sleeping agent. Otherwise . . . well, my party's average will save isn't all that great and I'd rather not achieve a TPK. Yet.
Sylvan Alp Tree
Alp trees are a member of the Necrofoenae family, and a very close cousin to the Sylvan Incubus Tree. Like the Sylvan Incubus, it produces a fungal growth that i much like a nondescript yet alluringly aromatic fruit. However, the fruit of the Sylvan Alp Tree kills in a very different manner.
Those who partake in it, fall deeply asleep into a catatonic state, filled with vivid, surreal dreams. These may be nightmarish in nature, or perhaps dreams of carnal lust. They are equally as likely to be dreams of penitence or glory - all depending on the persona of the victim.
Whereas the Sylvan Succubus Tree sweeps it's quarry underneath it's roots and digests it that way, the Alp Tree uses dexterous, vine like extensions to pick it up, and wrap tightly around it. From here, the tree produces micro-needles (about the size of a jellyfish's stinger) which slip into the pores of the prey. The sleeping prey is hoisted up into the thick branches of the tree to be digested, while it's still living; thus earning the tree it's vampiric nickname.
There are records of those who are strong enough of will to wake themselves from the dream the fungus induces - but only once the dreamer acknowledges that he is sleeping and his/her surroundings are in fact, immaterial. Not an easy task - considering that the poisonous fungus stimulates the persons mind in such a way that he is convinced that those around him are in fact real, by appealing to his personality through the use of familiar places and faces.
Those who wake have a slight struggle to writhe free of the prehensile grip of the Alp Tree, though the vines offer only token resistance. From here, the victim suffers no ill, except for a weeks worth of red, spotted sores covering all of his/her exposed flesh.
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While the Incubus Tree fits into my world, I acknowledge after reading your comments that it's not entirely conducive to anything less than a party of UBER PCs. So this is my offering to all of those who want to use the basic idea of a carnivorous tree, in such a way that the PCs entire experience doesn't simply ride on a single save.
Concept is solid but it feels like it is creeping up on being munchkin. If you get through the automated defences and droid fighters and stuff in orbit, nigh invincible terminator cyborgs are going to be dropped on you, and they have rail guns and mini-gattling gun hands. For the tone of the material thus far it is good. But, and I have to say this, they are too bad-ass. They need to have some sort of weakness, something that mitigates their value or deployability.
IMHO they either need something that limits their numbers in deployment, such as high cost, long time to build, or some similar issue, or they need an achillies heel. I don't know how a PC group is going to do anything against a concerted unit of these other than die badly, unless they are armed to the teeth with alien gear and hypertechnology weaponry. (I have a few ideas, but I want to make them into submissions evil laugh)
I agree with Scras's comments, but I have no idea the size of these things. It seems implied that these are human-sized - or close to it. If thats true, high-rate-of fire weapons are probably not the best choice for logistical reasons. If they carry a large amount of ammo, then it will compete for space within the presumably very expensive armored interior, or if externally carried, a dangerous weakness.
I'd think for this application, and with a fusion reactor to boot, they would be armed more with energy weapons.
Just to toss some cold water on the fire, I think that MADDS greatest strength isn't in it's scale or coordination, ability to handle threats, or destroy enemy forces. I think it's real strength is that looking at it from an attackers perspective it's scary as hell. When you go after a world defended by one of these you're going to take losses. Lots of losses.
Combine MADDS with something like a drone operated shadow fleet, coordinated with conventional manned fleets, and thats something impressive. FTL communications could be used to transmit and recieve combat data from a battle back to the nearest unoccupied MADDS world and a remote fleet could benefit from the same coordination bonuses. There could be smaller fleet scaled MADDS systems that coordinate a smaller number of conventional warships and fighter escorts, piggy backing onto the existing electronics systems and such.
An interesting take on planetary defense. I really suggest you read David Weber's Honor Harrington series on a treatise of fleet vs. planetary fortress warfare.
Basically, the main issue is this: a planet cannot dodge. Neither can a fortress. In the case of a planet, the foe will exactly know where a planet will be. In the case of fortresses, he can predict it (they will be guarding access vectors from closest systems, wormhole openings, and surround planets and important stations).
The mainenance of a fleet becomes a necessity when you consider that an unhindered enemy fleet can lurk around the star system, shoot up anything not covered by the MADDS, and launch distant asteroid strikes or swarms of dumb nuclear warheads at the planet. Hidden in an asteroid swarm, no less. Because, if useful planets are not ine in a million, denying a foe an asset he invested so heavily in is almost as good as claiming it yourself.
On a different note, I am intrigued by the concept of the cryo-cyborg. Care to explain further?
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Well, what I wanted to point out is that yes, a MADDS can survive an attack, and prevent a foe from taking the planet. But it cannot survive a siege (siege weapons in space have unlimited range), nor sufficently protect its prize without a mobile fleet. Fleets will need their own leadership, because a communication delay imposed by the speed of light between the MADDS in mid-orbit and a fleet in outer space is unacceptable. Unless you have FTL radio in your setting - then, a MADDS could concievably coordinate a fleet in its system too.
Actually, the argument is flawed in several important respects. Let me elaborate.
Space is huuuuge. Actually so huge that light takes several hours to reach the edge of the solar system, if my calculations aren't totally off.
What does this mean? First of all, if you do not have Faster-Than-Light comms, then anything that happens out there takes several hours to be relayed to you if, and only if, you detected it. Meaning, you have to have probes out there. Meaning, you have to cover a sphere with a radius of 50 AU.
Now, with our technology, we are still discovering the things the size of planets. Inside the solar system. Like, Eris. A ship is way smaller than a planet, usually. Meaning, unless you have a sensor grid out there, you will know diddly about what is going on in your solar system. If you do have a sensor grid, you may learn something... six hours later. Now, if this sensor grid does active sweeps, or is in any way detectable, an enemy appearing out there will know it is there, and where it is, and shoot it up. Thus, you learn that an enemy is there, perhaps even something about his forces. Then, you again know diddly. And, unless you have FTL in-system drives, anything you send out there will again take six hours to get there. And of course the foe will be long elsewhere. Meaning, yes you can fire from a MADDS at an enemy fleet you detected at a system's edge. Which will do exactly nothing, because your foe is not a retard to sit there. Whereas your planet is prety predictable about where it will be in a few hours. Along with the entire MADDS, of course. Meaning, you cannot really shoot back.
Now, if you send some combat vessels out there, there will be a several hour communication delay between the vessel and the planet. Meaning, you cannot communicate and have to use live crew. Who are of course fighting without the support of the MADDS. Because it is six freaking hours away. Six light-hours, that is. And if you leave the foe unengaged, he will plunder your system, shoot up the transports and sensor grid, cost you billions of credits and go away without taking a single shot. Once you rebuild, if he lets you, he will do the same again.
Of course, if he lets you, because a few warships can inflict a heavy toll on transport vessels.
So the likeliest scenario is: you invest a truckload of money into a MADDS. Your foe builds some warships. Your MADDS cannot go to his system to mess him up, but your foe can go to yours, and will. And he will make sure to make your life a living hell, and if he grows bored, he can always bombard the orbit from space without really harming the planet. Think gravel, at near light speed. Of course he can also toss a shitload of cheap nukes, if he feels nasty.
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Point made? (the Echo is really trying to help)