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Parasite Unseen

Art by @symatt on Twitter.

Art by @symatt on Twitter.

This post was originally going to be a submission to Kobold Quarterly.

The Midgard Bestiary for 4E contained wonderful monsters that can threaten the lives of adventurers but like most 4E monsters, they are usually dealt with quickly. This article discusses parasites, tiny creatures that make up for their diminutive size by being a lingering menace to a single hero. Teamwork is needed to remove the threat before it is too late.

Each monster entry has an attack which is used to attach the parasite to a PC (henceforth known as the host). When attached, the parasitic traits are activated. The traits consist of a disease track and sometimes a trait with a constant effect. The disease track contains the serious drawback to having the parasite and is used to keep track of the progress in removing the parasite. The constant effects are non-combat and designed to inspire role playing.

The host fights off the parasite by making Endurance checks at the intervals noted in the entry. The allies of the host help remove the creature by making a skill check for an appropriate action they have taken to help fend off the parasite since the last Endurance check. For example, creating a salve that relaxes a Wizardbane Leech’s grip on the host. The host gains a cumulative +1 bonus to the Endurance check for each ally that is successful in their check. After the host has succeeded or failed enough times with the Endurance check, the parasite leaves and the parasitic traits are no longer in effect.

Geastrum Fata
This fungus has pearlescent bulbs on the end of four-foot tall stalks, which are filled with fungal spores. When the fungus senses a creature close by, it expels the spores which are usually breathed in by animals. Bouts of stress cause the host to teleport, coughing up spores in the process. This trick has allowed the fungus to thrive over a wider area than more mundane fungi.

Geastrum Fata
Parasitic Trap
Level 2
125XP
COUNTERMEASURES
A PC making a successful Nature check (DC 20) learns the exact nature of the fungus.
Standard Actions
Spore Cloud ♦ At-Will
Attack: close burst 1; each creature in burst; +5 v Reflex,
Hit: 1d6 +5 damage and the target breathes in the spores of the fungus, becoming the host.
Parasitic Traits
Fungal Teleport
Stage 3 (initial): When the host uses an Action Point or a Strength based skill check, they make an Endurance check (DC 15). If they fail, they are teleported d8 squares in a random direction, some spores are expelled from the host and the track moves to Stage 2.
Stage 2: As stage 3, but replace “d8” with “d6”, and “Stage 2” with “Stage 1”.
Stage 1: As stage 3, but replace “d8” with “d4”, and “Stage 2” with “Stage 0”.
Stage 0: The spores have all been expelled. The parasite has left the host.

Wizardbane Leech
These purple hued leeches are noted for their long blades, which grip close to the bone making it extremely hard for them to be removed from their victims. True to their name, they are drawn to magic users, latching onto them and soaking up arcane energy, weakening the effects of spells.

Wizardbane Leech
Tiny, parasite
Level 8
350 XP
HP 70; Bloodied 35 Initiative +8
AC 24; Fort 24; Ref 23; Will 21 Perception +5
Speed 4 Low-light vision
Standard Actions
Attach ♦ At-Will
Attack: Melee; +11 v Fort
Hit: 2d8 +5 damage and the leech grips onto the target, which becomes the host.
Parasitic Traits
Energy Absorption
Stage 3 (initial): Any arcane attack made by the host has its range reduced by 5 and the size of bursts and blasts are reduced by 2.
Stage 2: Any arcane attack made by the host has its range reduced by 3 and the size of bursts and blasts are reduced by 1.
Stage 1: The size of bursts and blasts for arcane attack powers are reduced by 1.
Stage 0: The Wizardbane Leech is satiated and detaches itself from the host.
After each encounter the host makes an Endurance check (Dc 19):
Success: The track decreases one stage.
Failure: The track increases one stage.
Arcane Presence (constant trait)
A Detect Magic skill check made by the host is positive and no further information can be ascertained.
Str: 12 (+5)
Con: 16 (+7)
Dex: 18 (+8)
Int: 8 (+3)
Wis: 12 (+5)
Cha: 10 (+4)
Alignment Unaligned

Ear Seeker
This insect lives in wood (including dungeon doors) until an unsuspecting creature gets close, when the insect will try and slip into the creature’s ear, travelling to the brain to lay eggs. Once hatched, the offspring eat brain cells causing irrational behaviour, such as attacking indiscriminately or babbling incoherently.

Ear Seeker
Tiny, parasite
Level 13
800 XP
HP 130; Bloodied 65 Initiative +14
AC 27; Fort 26; Ref 28; Will 24 Perception +9
Speed 4 Low-light vision
Standard Actions
Ear Entry ♦ At-Will
Attack: Melee +16 v Fort
Hit: 3d6 +5 damage and the ear seeker slips into the ear of the target, which becomes the host.
Parasitic Traits
Erratic Behaviour
Stage 3: When the player declares an attack they make a saving throw. If they fail, the DM chooses the target of the declared attack.
Stage 2 (initial): When the player host uses an action point they make a saving throw. If unsuccessful the action point must be used to make a basic attack.
Stage 1: When a combat encounter begins, the player makes a saving throw. If unsuccessful the host is surprised.
Stage 0: The parasite leaves the body.
After each short rest the host makes an Endurance check (DC26):
Success: The track decreases one stage.
Failure: The track increases one stage.
Garbled Speech (constant trait)
When making a Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate check, the lowest bonus of these skills is used.
Str: 17 (+9)
Con: 18 (+10)
Dex: 20 (+11)
Int: 10 (+6)
Wis: 14 (+8)
Cha: 12 (+7)
Alignment Unaligned

Blood Spiders
Despite being smaller than a fingernail, just one blood spider can be responsible for killing a Hill Giant. These spiders live in woodlands, where they find mammals to lay their eggs inside. The eggs hatch in the bloodstream, allowing newborns to engorge themselves on blood until they can survive outside. They then make their way to the skin, bursting through all at once. The sudden appearance of dozens of red flecked black spiders is a disturbing but wondrous sight.

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Blood Spider
Tiny, parasite
Level 19
2,400 XP
HP 140; Bloodied 70 Initiative +16
AC 33; Fort 36; Ref 37; Will 35 Perception +14
Speed 4 Low-light vision
Standard Actions
Laying Eggs ♦ At-Will
Attack: Melee +22 v Fort
Hit: 3d8 +5 damage and the spider slips into the target, which becomes the host.
Parasitic Traits
Lifecycle
Stage 3 (initial): The accumulated damage begins at 4d10.
Stage 2: The host feels the spiders slowly moving around.
Stage 1: The host feels the spiders moving through muscle.
Stage 0: The blood spiders bust through the skin, inflicting the accumulated damage on the host.
After each extended rest, the host makes an Endurance check (DC 27): Success: The accumulated damage is reduced by 1d10 and the track is decreased one stage. Failure: The accumulated damage increases by 1d10. If the accumulated damage reaches 10d10, the track moves to stage 0. Distraction (constant trait) Enemies attacking the host score critical hits on 19 and 20. Str: 19 (+13)
Con: 20 (+14)
Dex: 22 (+15)
Int: 14 (+11)
Wis: 18 (+13)
Cha: 12 (+10)
Alignment Unaligned

Omico
Omico are similar to Mimics, but usually masquerade as a weapon or a piece of armor. As soon as they sense an opportunity to touch a creature, they change into their natural gooey grey form and absorb themselves through the skin. They then drain the warm water from the host, excreting a liquid that gradually hardens, petrifying the body. Usually found in dungeons, a tell-tale sign of the presence of Omico are statues of their victims, such as Goblins or adventurers.

Stage 3: When the host rolls a 1 or 2 on an attack roll, they are Dazed until the end of their next turn.

Omico
Parasitic Trap
Level 23
5100 XP
COUNTERMEASURES
A PC making a successful Nature check (DC 27) learns what the piece of equipment is before they come into contact with it
Standard Actions
Dissolve ♦ At-Will
Attack: Melee touch; +26 v Reflex
Hit: 4d6 +17 damage and omico is absorbed by the target, which becomes the host.
Parasitic Traits
Slow Solidification
Stage 5: The host is permanently Petrified
Stage 4: When the host rolls a 1 or 2 on an attack roll, they are Petrified until the end of their next turn.
Stage 2 (initial): When the host rolls a 1 or 2 on an attack roll, they are Immobilised until the end of their next turn.
Stage 1: When the host rolls a 1 or 2 on an attack roll, they are Slowed until the end of their next turn.
Stage 0: The omico leaves the host.
Each time the host uses a healing surge, they make an Endurance check (DC 30):
Success: The track decreases one stage.
Failure: The track increases one stage.

3 comments

  1. symatt (@symatt)

    ohbthese are clever. the ear worm is the worst I think. Everyone listens at a door. gross.

  2. paulbaalham

    I can’t take credit for thinking up the Ear Seeker. Somebody told me about it being in a previous edition of DnD and suggested it would fit in well with the other parasites.

  3. Russell

    Very cool.

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