It may be wondered why packs of wolves, Giant Spiders and other such animals would attack PCs, when said PCs are normally armed to the teeth with deadly weapons and spells. Surely it would make more sense to attack weaker prey? Sometimes it is because the PCs are threatening the animal's territory or cubs or egg sac. Sometimes the animals may be crazed with hunger. Or it may be because the animals have become infected by Atissi worms.
These worms hatch out in dead bodies and, if buried, squirm their way to the surface, where they are quickly eaten by birds When eaten, the worms hatch out tiny versions of themselves which cross the blood-brain barrier and take over the bird's mind. They are driven by hunger and the bird in itself will not be enough to feed them through their entire lifespan. So they drive the bird to it's death by wolf or bear or giant spider. In eating them, the spider or other creature itself falls victim to the infection, and is itself taken over by the worms and sent out to attack humans or other animals to provide new hosts for the worms to feed on.
If a human is wounded by one of these possessed creatures, he or she is infected by the worms, but in the short term may not know it, as there are no initial signs except for the wound getting itchy and infected. At this stage healing magics or a mixture of herbs can kill the worms before they can do any more damage, but often the infection is put down to being caused by scratching or by dirt in the wound.
Within an hour or two the victim has a strong headache and an urge to drink a lot. Not long afterwards, the worms infect the brain. Some are aware of themselves being infected and may scream for help, or warn people to get away from them. Others are taken over before they can do anything, and the infected people then lash out at those around them, trying to bite as well as to punch, kick or use weapons. Spells however are beyond the ability of the infected Atissi Zombie, for that is what the victim has become. Immune to pain, they generally have to be hacked to pieces or burned to destroy them.
Whilst zombies created by necromancers do what the necromancer tells them and are not hostile unless ordered to be, having no will of their own, zombies created by Atissi worm infection have a mindless urge to spread the parasite within their worm-filled bodies. They only last for a couple of days, as after that the worms have eaten their muscles to the point that they cannot move, but in that time one zombie can infect a lot of people who in turn infect others, creating a zombie epidemic which if not checked quickly, can become a major menace to the whole region.
When PCs come across a large number of fierce zombies who attack on sight, they are more likely to have been infected by the worm then deliberately created by a necromancer.Creating a zombie needs a lot of proper preperation and powerful magic, and few necromancers have the power to create a large number of them. And the few who do are often high ranking nobles who wish to keep their powers a secret, and so may create a handful of zombies as slaves or assassins, but do not want to go to the great time and trouble to create a zombie army which will reveal them as necromancers to everyone in the region,create panic and generaly disrupt everything.
Once they have eaten the bodies, the worms pupate and turnm into blue beetles which fly off, leaving a husk behind. After mating, they bite something or someone else and the cycle continues.
ZOMBIES! (the apocalyptic kind)
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? Responses (7)
Vaguely reminiscent of Star Trek, the Wrath of Khan, another next generation episode, and an old X-files episode 'the Ice Worms'. Obviously these aren't garden variety zombies and are under the pressures of starvation, dehydration, and all physical limitations of the host. Such an insanely vicious parasite could certainly wipe out small towns of common villagers in no time.
I think you might want to introduce a weakness to help keep the zombies in check... such as a hatred of sunlight or something of that caliber.
A possible plot hook to go along with the Atissi, could consist of some dark person with animal control powers... who discovers he can control an Atissi zombie by controlling the, I guess it would be, the 'dominant' brain worm. It would be easier for such a villian to create a zombie army than a necromancer, as Cheka explains. One final twist, have a queen for each colony of such worms, and have the zombies act a little more coordinated and intelligently when they are close to the queen. Nicely done.
Great way to kick off the Quest, Cheka. There were a few bits, especially in the second-to-last paragraph, that felt like unnecessary filler content, but overall: Very Good.
I think the best weakness for them would be to take the cure mentioned in the second paragraph, just taken to a bit of extreme; any healing magic or healing potions will kill off the worms. Simple as that. The Only way for them to survive would be for the subject to try to heal naturally, like an animal or non-adventurer would. This pretty much leaves the PCs unaffected in most games but still provides unsettling enemies.
But, if you just want an all-out apocalypse, this works well.
I was thinking of some way to allow them surviving longer periods without a new host. Eventually, the infestation will wear itself out, the mindless hosts will run out of strength and most animals or people likely to spread it more will avoid the plague. Then, some hosts could be driven to find a cozy place for a winter sleep... they will never wake up, but something may find the dessicated corpse years later, and become infected again.
And you thought it was over...
And then I noticed the blue beetles, that will keep on spreading the plague. I imagine they would avoid already infected bodies to not waste time; that could lead to a certain defense: based on pheromones, people could pretend, they are already infected and be spared.
An expanded version of Walkers Plague Idea. Still a very basic idea.
The creatures mindlessly attack, so it is straight line movement for the nearest vector. How do the worms know where 'good eatings' are?
So these things should be infecting Dragons and other creatures that are long lived and still (alive). Your zombies should be looking for Elves and such.
Pretty cool, nice natural way for zombies to occur. You could add a queen or some kind of psionic controller caste to spice things up, or to add to Moonhunter's idea above. Interesting.
What about a creature that regenerates, such as a troll?
Interesting idea. Though what will happen if it infects something that can't die or something inorganic?