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August 30, 2011, 4:15 am

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Dynamic Missile-Fish

The Skirrin

Found to frequent larger rivers and its tributaries,
Skirrins are small, fish-like creatures. Skirrins feed
on algae and insects nearby shores and can be easily
identified by their lurid, off-yellow colouring. Occasionally
mistaken for a 'cloud of pee', it has become a popular nickname
for the creatures between merchants and sailors. Thought to
be relatively harmless with their first appearance several years
ago, the Skirrin soon became regarded  as a nuisance.

When started, Skirrin converge into a mindless shoal that swims
blindly in a straight line away from the potential threat. This can
lead to Skirrin become stranded on the shore (and promptly) dying, or
more in dire cases -- when they choose to swim inwards into deeper water,
ramming into passing or docked ships or rafts. This wouldn't be a cause
for concern, were it not for the creatures ability to pass through most
solid objects and leave small, gaping holes in their wake. Which have
a tendancy to sink ships. Especially if there are three hundred small

The scales on a Skirrins head are extremely hard, verging on
being unbreakable. In their frenzied moments of panicked fleeing,
they become dynamic underwater missiles, breaking clear through wood or
plank of any unfortunate ship that they may encounter on the way.
These missiles can also become airborn, should they flee shoreward.
There have been few accounts of fatalities from Skirrin, though a deal of
injuries have been recorded from the occasional fisherman  who were too
close to the shore and happened to be ankle-deep in the water during a
landward fleeing of the Skirrin.

To deter Skirrin, Skirrin-wards are strapped over the sides of the ships. Long,
rope-wreathed tresses of bells and trinkets. With the noise and the racket,
the ships often succeed in scaring the Skirrin shoreward and away from the
ship. This is however, detrimental to anyone being on the shore.

A yearly Skirrin-hunting competition is held at the shore of the afflicted river,
by the village of Tekosilot, where young men from the fishing community
prove their worth by entering the waters (without getting a Skirrin lodged
within their bodies - although it occurs quite commonly during the event)
and retrieving a strand of Skirrins eggs from where they build their nests
upon river weeds in the sand-beds below the water. The eggs are considered
a delicacy and it also serves to keep the population numbers down. Skirrin
eggs have a translucent green appearance, and when left to dry outside of
the water become a hard and chewy and a more solid lime-green.

Skirrin's origins are still obscure, but it has been rumoured that they
were deliberately introduced after being smuggled in from a foreign land
to harm the economy. This might have been successful were it not for the
ingenuity Tekosilot, the profits garnered from selling the eggs, and the
invention of the Skirrin-Wards.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
August 30, 2011, 18:12

Bullet fish. Delightfully orginal creatures.

Voted Scrasamax
August 31, 2011, 9:31

Can you eat the fish themselves? How big are they? Why do they have this sort of escape mechanism? What kind of creatures prey on them where they come from?

August 31, 2011, 10:49
Skirrin's are edible, provided you can sever the head from the body, but the meat has an intensely sour, unappetizing taste to it. The bodies of Skirrin that come ashore are occasionally dried and sold off in something not unlike jerky.

Each fish measures about eight or nine inches long. There have been
accounts of some growing up to around fifteen, though bullet fish of this size and age are rare given their pen chance for accidental land-running.

Skirrin are blind. They have multiple fins at the ends of their tails that allow them to accumulate an incredible speed in a matter of heartbeats. The Skirrin are alerted to danger by acute hearing coupled with two small flaps covered with fibers at either sides of its body which catch up on sonic vibrations of sound through the water. If these vibrations are strong enough, it triggers an flight reaction in the Skirrin.

Rivers are not their natural habitat. Originally, the Skirrin come from
the deep ocean, where they were able to flee from predators without ramming anything (or anyone) in their path. In the ocean, their natural predator is an Akaat. A bulbuous, gelatinous creature. An Akaat embeds its prey into its flabby belly, where it becomes stuck. Its slowly sucked into its stomach, and devoured over time. Its a tedious affair, through the Akaat's own body works by draining the nutrients off of that which it eats, making the Skirrin its favoured meal. The Skirrin's head, a solid, thick base is a great source of calcium - something that the Akaat cannot manufacture on its own.

They would migrate once yearly to the warm waters of reefs, where they would lay their eggs. The hatchingling Skirrin, barely half an inch big, are swept up by the
seasonal currents from the reefs into the deeper ocean where they either join with existing shoals, or form independant ones.

Due to the abundance of not only food, but egg-laying opportunity within the rivers the Skirrin have managed to survive, and would indeed be a pest were it not for the yearly fishing competitions that were held. They have managed to adapt to their surroundings: despite it not being salt-water. Surely, they could return to the ocean if they followed the river upstream, but they have the perfect surroundings for procreation right where they are. Instinct drives them to stay put.
Voted Dossta
September 1, 2011, 0:57

I'm not sure how the Skirrin would have evolved the strength and/or skull thickness to forcefully ram their way through obstacles in the deep ocean.  Other than that, this is a lovely bit of flavor to add to a campaign.

Voted PoisonAlchemist
September 1, 2011, 4:41

This is not just a great flavor piece but a serious natural hazard in an aquatic game. It's very well detailed and has lovely cultural touches. 

Voted valadaar
May 12, 2014, 13:57
I think these are a wonderful Fantasy/Mythic fish, perhaps sent to the world as punishment by some jerk of a god or goddess. Gods help you if there is a flying variety.

Voted Murometz
December 12, 2015, 16:31

I don't find myself worrying too much about "how they evolved". Tiny, nervous fish with exceptionally hard scales and skulls. Makes sense to me! And tasty roe. All is in order here.

These fish can be all sorts of fun use as an encounter on their own (with the cultural tid-bits thrown in), or as a surprise addition to some other aquatic melee. The PCs could be fighting something else, when suddenly a school of panicked skirrin bum-rush the boat, complicating matters. Also like Val's flying skirrin idea.

Tundra, if you ever read this comment, I'd like to see the Akaat written up too!

Voted Moonlake
December 12, 2015, 18:34
The concept of these missile fishes is quite nice by itself and I really wish that Tundra's comment to Scras' clarification question had been incorporated into the sub itself as the info. included there was fascinating. The bit about their hunted by the Akaat surely brought the creatures to life.

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