Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dangerous Encounter: The Walls Have Ears

At some time during their travels through the Mutant Future, the PCs will likely be in need of some vital piece of information: the location of a long-hidden bunker; the hiding place of a sought-after foe; the whereabouts of a needed medical vaccine; etc. At this point, a helpful NPC should tell the PCs of “Deeproot the All-Knowing.”

“If Deeproot don’t know it, nobody does,” he’ll say.

Deeproot is a mutant plant that lives in a shaded glade deep in a hard-to-access forest. The woods leading to Deeproot’s lair are filled with a cross-section of nearly every dangerous mutant plant found in the Mutant Future: Zap Vines, Morningstar Plants, Glue Flowers, Burrow Tubers, and Kernel Plants to name but a few. However, none of these aggressively deadly plants will make any kind of move toward the party as they venture toward Deeproot's lair. (But the party should feel as if they’re being observed as they approach.) Upon reaching the glade, the PCs will find it empty except for a rope-like vine with small yellow-white flowers which drapes every surface. While investigating, the PCs will hear one of the flowers ask “What is it you seek?” This formless, all-encompassing vine is Deeproot.

When the PCs talk to Deeproot, they will find that it seems to have an uncanny amount of knowledge about the area and its people, including many unknowable secrets. Much of the information Deeproot has could only have been gained by physically being in the same room the conversations took place in. The PCs may assume Deeproot is psychic. In actuality, Deeproot is a very large sentient Ventrilovine (MF rulebook, page 100), which is spread out over many, many square miles. Deeproot can “hear” through its vine system.

Ventrilovine (Deeproot) (AL N, MV None, AC 9, HD 6, #AT None, DG None, SV L3, ML 12, mutations: plant control)

Deeproot has managed to sneak its flowered vines into every inhabited nook and cranny throughout the area. It is through this floral "eavesdropping system" that Deeproot knows so much about what’s happening. Every whispered conversation or off-the-cuff comment is heard by Deeproot who remembers everything.

When the PCs finally ask their question, Deeproot becomes silent for bit before answering: "Before I answer, you must perform a task for me. Bring me Good Food from The Provider." Deeproot will remain deliberately vague as to who (or what) "The Provider" is. (It's planning to test the PC's inventiveness.) Deeproot will only explain that "The Provider" lives in a cave at the end of a path he point out, and that the "Good Food" it provides will nourish Deeproot for months at a time. Deeproot demands that the PCs not harm The Provider as nothing else produces the Good Food Deeproot likes. The mutant plant will then become silent, refusing to talk further until the PCs succeed in their retrieval mission.

"The Provider" is a Vile Slasher (MF rulebook, page 100) that has taken up residence in the cave. The “Good Food” is its excrement, which Deeproot covets as a most-delicious fertilizer. As is commonly known, a Vile Slasher is one of the most dangerous creatures in the Mutant Future, and it is up to the PCs to determine the best way to safely collect as much of the Slasher’s droppings as they can manage without hurting it or getting killed themselves. (This is a role-play exercise for both the PCs and the Mutant Lord.)

Vile Slasher (1) (AL C, MV 180' (60'), AC 3, HD 12, #AT 4 (2 claws, tail, bite), DG 1d8/1d8/1d6/2d6, SV L9, ML 12, mutations: natural armor)

If the PCs think to check, they'll see Deeproot’s vines scattered around the Vile Slasher’s lair. Deeproot is listening in and will know if the creature has been injured or killed. If this happens, Deeproot will not offer up any information he knows. he will also demand that the PCs leave and never return. If anyone attempts to attack Deeproot, they will find it a difficult task. Deeproot can only be harmed if his rootball is attacked, and this “nerve center” is hidden several miles away. (Deeproot doesn’t interact with visitors at the same location he keeps his weak spot.) Hacking at Deeproots’ many vines will not harm the mutant plant. Several Null Plants (MF rulebook, page 87) are scattered around the glade, making mental mutations useless too. Finally,  Deeproot has the ability to control plants, and all of the dangerous plants seen earlier will target the PCs as they try to leave the area. In other words, confronting Deeproot will be an exercise in futility...and it could become deadly as well.

However, if the PCs manage to secure a pound or two of Vile Slasher droppings without harming it or getting themselves killed, they will effectively impress Deeproot, and they will have access to a powerful source of underground information. In fact, Deeproot may become an oracle NPC, offering advice and guidance to the characters. Deeproot's information may also become the springboard for future adventures.

1 comment:

  1. I like it, and I like the fuller thinking it represents too. Looking at the landscape as a fuller whole and thinking through the connections isn't always necessary, but the benefits here are clear.

    There's a creature similar to Deeproot at Hereticwerks, the Fungal Tyrant:

    Both could be central to a large area or even a whole campaign. Being more or less ever-present, all-knowing and all-powerful through the control over other lifeforms, they could be very nearly a minor deity for that world.