PHEROCANTH


A horrid little parasite that lives in the bodies of its hosts - which can be almost any animal. In its adult form it is a small globular creature about 15 cm in diameter, with vestigial limbs and a head set so deeply in its body as to be barely detectable. Its most prominent feature is a tough, flexible tube about 6 inches long, protruding from its head where the mouth would normally be. It infects its host by shooting darts from this tube, which it will extrude from the characteristic hole it leaves in the skin. The creature is effectively without senses except for its acute ears. Once established in the host, it spreads these under the skin and is capable of detecting a heartbeat at some distance - which is its cue to shoot. Apart from this, it will happily sit in the tissue like a tumour, absorbing nutrients from the blood and shooting its darts at any suitable targets until either the host or the parasite dies. However, if the host should be reinfected while carrying a pherocanth, then the second parasite will migrate to the site of the first and they will mate. When this happens, they begin to divide, producing more and more parasites until the host is consumed, at which point they will eat their way out and crawl slowly about looking for more hosts. At this stage, they are very vulnerable and fortunately, not many survive. It takes about a month for a parasite to develop from the dart (larval) stage to full growth - and another month or so until it begins to shoot darts. Once it reaches this stage, it can release a hormone that speeds metabolism in the host - it does this to help the host survive the insult to the body's metabolism, and also it makes the host ravenously hungry, forcing it to move about in search of food and thus increasing the potential range of new hosts. Since it is attached to major arteries, simple surgery to remove the pherocanth usually results in the host bleeding to death. A successful surgery roll (at -3) and a mage with healing spells is usually required.

 

Technical notes

There's not much point in giving the Pherocanth statistics - an adult is more or less completely immobile and lives inside its host anyway. If you need Stats for a an adult pherocanth outside its host, give it 3 for everything and 4 levels of shrinking always on. Instead, since the pherocanth is essentially a parasitic disease on other animals, it is treated as an addition to the host animal by making the following additions:

Pherocanth infection:

8

+1d6 SPD, always on (NB: this means that the host cannot willingly slow down their action - for example to slow rate of drowning).

6

+3" base movement (running for land animals, swimming for aquatic animals, flight for flying animals)

15

Physical limitation - always ravenously hungry.

Note that since the +1 SPD is an unnatural addition due to the hormone secreted by the Pherocanth it is NOT subject to the "Normal Characteristic Maxima" limitation, making a hunger-maddened host a potentially dangerous opponent.