Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crawling Death

Horrible things infest the abandoned areas, things that do not warrant a name

Aboard the HMS Apollyon the scavengers, stewards and others who enter the lost decks and abandoned companionways are faced with a wide variety of life, almost all of it hostile.  Because of the ship's presence on multiple planes of existence and the bizarre radioactive and thaumaturgic forces it has been subjected to over the eons, much of this life is odd, uncanny and possesses incredible variety.  Strange species of alien nightmares and unique sports of normal creatures changed in horrifying ways (such as the common cray dogs).  Rather than create a taxonomy of these beasts, scavengers have lumped most of them into the broad descriptive category "Crawling Death".

Beaked horrors that run on a mass of churning filaments
No Enc. 1D6 (3D10)
Movement: (20')
Armorclass: 1 - 6 (Avg 5)
Hit Dice: 1/2 - 4
Attacks: 1 (Generally Bite)
Damage: 1D4 or 1d6
Save:F 0 - 5
Hoard Class: None
XP:Varies (5 - 80)

Crawling Death - many varied horrors that cannot be properly described or related to other creatures, crawling death is a term used to describe those disgusting unnatural things that erupt from rust eaten deck plates, drop out of the darkness of torqued companionways and generally infest areas of the ship that have not been colonized by more dangerous or organized creatures.  The term Crawling Death is used to describe only the simple creatures that display no special hunting abilities (for example cray dogs, with their pack intelligence and ability to mimic human voices are not Crawling Death, while the giant mite below is because other than a nasty bite it isn't worth noting).  The small types of crawling death described above are generally from 1' to 5' in length with masses of up to 150' lbs. The monsters hunt alone or in packs, and larger nests of related or symbiotic species are sometimes discovered.
Rust Mites like this appear to feed on ferrous metal in addition to flesh.
Varied monstrosities will begin appearing within days of an area having been cleansed of larger life.  Always the smallest and weakest life appears first, but within a matter of weeks larger predatory varieties will begin to build nests, or perhaps the smallest vermin grow larger to fill abandoned space.  Decks that are sealed or remain uninhabited for years become very dangerous as larger and larger varieties of Crawling Death begin to proliferate.  Worms of over 50' in length and 1,000lb hulks covered in fanged sores are not unknown, even if it is entirely unclear what sort of ecosystem exists to support these monsters.  It is possible that crawling death is not a vast array of mutated and alien creatures but instead the psychic and magical expression of the HMS Apollyon's fundamental wrongness - specters formed out of the ship's own reservoir of evil, decay and loneliness.

Note: All photos are electron microscope images of tiny mites and worms.  The top one is a "Water Bear".


  1. ...and self-loathing, in the case of the rust mites.

    Nicely horrid.

  2. Yes I suspect self-loathing is an emotion given free reign aboard the HMS Apollyon, both by its inhabitants and vessel itself. Oh course rust mites and the more dangerous vault spinners don't actually damage the hull, they only rework interior spaces by creating hazards and transforming architecture in unexpected ways.