For me part of the fun about reading/listening to discoveries about the natural world is you get to run across so many interesting things and ideas. Then of course I get to try to stat them out for playing with them in a game style setting. It doesn’t always work but half of the fun is in trying.
There are quite a few tropes in the various media gamers like for inspiration. One of which is the beast/insect themed man. Ranging from DC’s symbolic, barely linked, Batman to the movie character in the Fly to hundreds of other characters I could mention there is little more inspiringly different from normal man than incredible biodiversity we currently have and study.
Drawing upon years of keeping my senses sharpened by having been born in a suburban information rich environment here are some interesting ideas culled from my notes where they were generally placed under the broad auspices of Animal/Plant powers.
Animal/Plant Powers: the character has for whatever reason special abilities inspired by the fauna and flora of this world or another. Typically a single organism is selected and appropriate advantages are chosen giving the character a theme for his character concept. Often times this will be enhanced by other powers if the character possesses any, as a part of aiming for a unified and iconic concept. Some additional ideas for variations on this power may be found in the Body Power Suggestions (and vice versa). If a real organism is selected a reasonable amount of time researching the creature could result in many ideas for ‘improvements’ to the human base form.
A: Since many creatures have evolved incredibly diverse attacks the list of potential abilities are truly huge thus the character could have claws like many beasts, horns for harming opponents, the size/weight and/or strength of large animals, poisons/venoms, quills to hurl like porcupines, generate electrical fields like an electric eel, etcetera these abilities where they are not simply changes to the physical stats generally attack as strikes though the list is incomplete. Some attack effects behave like poisons and are altering combat effects, others could be secondary attacks and some creatures with sonic or electrical based abilities may use those attack columns for those effects.
B: As a counter to the diverse attacks there are also wide arrays of defense options to choose from starting off with things as simple as having thick/scaly skin or heavy fur to various kinds of immunity, resistance or adaptability such as a bears capacity in dealing with cold environments, the shells of shellfish to protect from many types of attacks, a mongooses resistance to cobra venom, lizards re-growing lost body parts to even something as simple as underwater breathing or resisting the great depths of the sea can be a real life saver in the right situation. Unusual bone, muscle or tissues for a normal human can result in several interesting possibilities for a humanoid shape, resulting in far too many to mechanize here.
C: As a consequence of evolution granting to the winner of any competition (including the competition of movement) success in the form of propagation the animal world has developed a variety of possible movement forms ranging from the ability to cling to walls like geckos, gliding or flight in a wide variety of species, burrowing claws, vast jumping capacity, aquatic adaptations like fins or jets for propulsion, etc. means that there is no lack of forms of movement to benefit the characters with concepts from speedy animals.
D: Since there is also a definite advantage to having differing sense capacity (depending upon the local environmental niche occupied) this has also led to an interesting selection possible sensory variants senses like bats with echolocation, a fly’s ability to sense air pressure changes, a Sharks electrical field sense, infrared vision, lowlight vision (cats’ eyes for instance), etc. this power can grant a great deal in the form of additional information or sources of information for the character. For plants there may not be the same variety but the senses might be stranger, ranging from the triggering abilities that activate attacks or defenses reflexively to understanding the earth, time or space in a different way.
Examples of Animal/Plant Powers (1d20 +1d4-1)
-Aloe: in this case the character has some healing or curative benefits in addition to the some of the interesting benefits of being part of a plant. The Aloe derivative character has Uv protection, and some sort of triangular serrated leaves. The serrations can be used in combat adding +1/+2 in HTH combat. The leaves out of combat have much more interesting properties for 1 pr per minor use this can heal 2 points of damage from fire/radiation sources. for 4 pr the character can coat themselves in a protective layer that will reduce the damage dealt by fire, some bacteria and fungi and necrotic effects by 1 point per die prevented (as a sort of limited invulnerability) and administrating the matter to all wounds doubles the healing rate the next day for earth based organic creatures by being able to speed blood circulation through the applied area and preventing cell death (necrosis) around a wound as well as properties that are deleterious to some bacteria and fungi.
-Better Beast: The character has adaptations from several apparently distinct beasts rather than a single unifying creature. Though the character can now have all sorts of different abilities (even some plant and animal and alien simultaneously) this does somewhat relate the character to multiple odd characters frequently seen in fiction or perhaps the Platypus concept. The character could feel as if they are the result of a randomly designed character especially those without bilateral symmetry, steps should be taken to intelligently design the character unless the designer was a bit mad or cursed.
-Cadaverine mushrooms: Though always pungent, In combat these mushroom based powers can intensify their scent that attracts creatures that eat on dead things (a natural part of the life cycle and reproductive system for the mushrooms). In game benefits, may include setting off someone’s frenzy or bloodlust, forcing people to choose between leaving an area or reducing combat effectiveness (Ed20 Save between turns each round or else take a -1/-2 in Hth combat he penalties stack only as far as their Natural [or Innate] Weaponry levels are +1 level thus a character with +3/+6 if they failed 4 saves would have a total of -4/-8 in penalties resulting in a net -1/-2 which is the maximum penalty)
-Cape Buffalo: For this character, not only do they have Horns for dealing +1/+2 in HTH but they gain -1 to be hit due to their tough hide and a weight increase of up to 450% (1d100x4.5%). Though impressive the most interesting thing is that the character’s urine is so flammable that it can be used to fuel fire. Though using this as a tactic is a bit… unorthodox in most combats, this ability could be very useful as a hidden ability.
-Cat Whiskers: Though not possessing several standard Cat abilities the character has sensations in his whiskers (or hair) that tell him how to contort his body to pass through small openings, often at high speed. The character gains the ability to evade for the cost of movement only at an additional +(-2) and does not slow down their movement when going around corners or avoiding obstructions. This also grants a +3 on most d20 Saves (including attempts to avoid a fall) and +10% on d100 Rolls where applicable in the GM’s view.
-Chubby Bunny: the character has not only a bigger mouth than normal but the character can unhinge their jaw nearly painlessly enabling a few interesting advantages like being able to devour things much bigger than they normally would be able to as a typical human, which would be considered cheating in the . The character also is not restricted to containing/digesting over a few hours or days because much like a Python which is the Super Digestion Athlete of the animal world the character can go for months without food because it is still slowly digesting meals resulting in no restrictions on power or health recovery due to missing food for
-Crab Hand: For 1 action, the character can expend 4 PR to Absorb HTH damage ‘dealt’ to the chitinous Hand and Deal in return to the weapon that struck the blow an amount = (the damage the weapon would have dealt + The Crab Hand owners basic HTH damage and any relevant bonuses) often ‘reflexively’ breaking the weapon attacking them.
-Crayola Katydid Defense: the character is so brightly colored that no natural creature will attack him, automatically assuming that the creature is highly poisonous. The character should be even more brightly colored than typical four color characters perhaps eye watering plaids, painfully bright patterns or the results of a tie dying shirt truck running into a colored chalk truck. Against non-animals
-Daphinia: Drawing upon having a huge genome the Daphinia inspired character can apparently turn parts of the genome off and on resulting in a great deal more flexibility than humans. Some examples of this usually tiny creature’s ability to alter it through responses in order to adapt to the widest variety of environments possible are listed below. Transparent: in its typical state the Daphinia is transparent it allows the character to gain most of the benefits of being invisible but the accuracy and damage modifiers do not increase beyond +/-2. Grow Blood: useful for surviving in low oxygen however gaining hemoglobin colors the creature, removing the transparency option. Grow Armor or Lances: their ability to alter their genome enables them to operate offensively or defensively if they choose to. Offensively they can Grow Lances: the character can grow a natural blade like instrument per limb for 4 PR that deals HTH +1d6 but breaks into uselessness if the maximum HTH damage is rolled and must expend 1 PR to grow another implement for that limb taking 1 turn. Defensively they can grow armor for 1 PR per 10 points of armor but this reduces their overall movement by 1” per 10 points grown. Given an action to prepare the character can also utilize the adaption defense in most situations for 2 PR per hour by altering the genome sequence.
-Frog Skin Secretions: Like real Frogs the character breathes through their skin (making them amphibious, nigh impossible to choke, but have difficulties in avoiding gaseous or liquid toxins suffering a -2 penalty to saves that are based on these conditions) but their secretions may cause a wide variety of special effects. One type of Secretions has an adverse effect upon Viruses in most cases (including HIV), While another produces a substance that is 200 times more powerful than Morphine. Oddly enough like the African Clawed frog when it touches human females it can tell if the Human female is pregnant by reacting to the injection.
-Human/bug: The Human/bug power set of abilities can take a wide variety of forms, for this example however the character is modeled upon the praying mantis gaining in combat -2 to be hit in HTH when aware, and gains +2 Accuracy/+2 Damage in HTH and having a 50% chance to take -1 damage per die with a minimum of 1/die rolled. For movement, the Man/Bug alterations increase jumping distance by x3, or x5 if he is willing to extend some primitive wings (generating a penalty of +1 to be hit in combat and a bonus of 5% to others ability to detect hidden or Detect danger against the Man/bug if those wings are in use).
-Kitrid Fungus: this Fungus prevents the natural Chemical transfers by frogs and other Amphibians that occur on their skin. This fungus may cause an adverse reaction with other Chemovores including those who do not have normal skin chemical transfers
-Large Antennae: With these additional sensory organs, the character suffers no penalties in darkness and can expend up to 2d6 per day in 1 point increments on d20 or 5% on d% saves or 1″ bonuses to leaping.
-Man-Mole (though the example is male, never fear! females do occur with similar abilities): This character is gifted with many of the natural attributes and penalties of this strange burrowing creature he takes his name from. He can burrow through anything softer than hard metals (SR of 9 or less) with his claws at a movement of 1/3rd of his current movement rate. He can turn these claws upon his opponents to deal an additional 1d8 points of damage per successful HTH attack and striking at +2 to hit while using these offensively. Though nearly blind without his contacts (doubled range penalties for vision related abilities) he has an incredible sense of smell and hearing enabling him to sense most things within 5” of his current location even though many barrier types.
-Millipedial Defense: Like a Polyxenus Fasciculatus the character has a tail with dozens of hooked bristles when swung at an opponent these detach and lodge in the targets body. As the creature struggles it becomes entangled and may die from the efforts. These bristles are replaced by molting but the character typically has so many it rarely matters. The character with this ability uses his HTH damage (and all appropriate modifiers) against the targets HTH damage, every failure the target character has reduces his damage roll by one while it takes two successes to free themselves from the grapple. Milliped the Massive swings his tail at Journeyman in the middle of a bank Robbery. Milliped has 1d12 HTH +2 from Agility while Journeyman deals 1d8 + 2 From Natural Weaponry and +1 from training with his fists. First attempt Milliped rolls well and deals a whopping 10 points of damage. Journeyman rolls only 7 point of damage and loses one point from his maximum damage. Now only rolling 1d8+3 -1 he rolls well and gets a 10, he has one success and only needs one more or else he will be stuck there until someone else can get him out.)
-Mongoose Edge: Though the character is known for being quick (+1d6 to initiative), and hard to strike (+[-1d4] to Evasion) the blood transfusion that powered this remarkable change provides a limited immunity to venom providing “charges” of defense, the target can take up to Ex2 hits of poison per day before the effects of poison begin to kick in and have an effect.
-Oak: Drawing upon the properties of a Scrub Oak known for wiry toughness, the character gains x3 basic hits (from being made of hard wood) the character gains 1d6 Strength and Endurance but suffers from ½ the total gained (rounded down) to those two stats as a penalty to his Agility score. Some versions may allow the character to gain additional arms but this won’t allow a reduction in the PR cost per attack for attacks beyond the first. In drought (or areas of low ambient water) conditions the character will take +50% damage from fiery attacks.
-Reptilian Ectotherm: Using reptile efficiencies this character has the environment to cool or heat their body, beneficially the character can slip past several kinds of detection, and either food lasts twice as long or the character can go twice as far on the same nourishment as other characters. In some campaigns these may be slight advantages to compensate for some large challenges to the characters continued play or survival. Situations wherein extreme temperature changes are expected the character takes 10% less damage from Heat or Cold based attacks (rounded to the nearest whole point). The reptilian takes 1 point of power loss per hour in an environment where the character cannot regulate their temperatures and no normal modes of healing or Power recovery may occur during these periods either.
-Rocket Boosted Leopard Speeds: Though not as fast as the cheetah versions but still quite blazingly fast these are an example of nature inspired mechanical type alterations the Character when activating this ability (limited to 60 minutes of use in full minute applications) the character can choose to cover 6 miles per minute (360 miles total distance possible) or activate high speed combat prowess abilities resulting in +2d10 to roll for initiative each round, +1d4 to hit and +1d2 Steps to damage, +1d10x.1 to KO% rolled for at the beginning of each attack but that burns the fuel on a per turn rather than per minute basis.
-Spiny Devil Defense: Every time the character is attacked in HTH approximately 1d4-1 spines get in the way dealing 1d3 damage to the attacker as well as making the character harder to hit by 5%. This requires no power, activation or support of any kind but this may also cause issues out of combat or in social situations (much like a porcupine themed character).
-Startle display: the character can defend themselves by the use of distractions save on d 20 vs. Charisma or else lose one action, only usable once per combat per idea (if the character is particularly inventive this could be a very effective as well as entertaining power)
-Swarm/Flock/herd/school sense: the possessor has an instinctive mimicry awareness of other members of a group and/or its own personal space. This enables the sensitive character to easily navigate and avoid crowd related problems (typically movement and certain kinds of attacks). The Character can duplicate defensive skill concepts of those on their same side as long as they are within 2″ of the active skill user and expend +1 PR per round so used in addition to any other costs.
-Woodland Shaman: Fungi are nature’s apothecaries producing powerful chemicals linked to magic and the spirit world of medicine men that can kill and heal; they’re treasured for their pharmaceutical properties, especially antibiotic and psychotropic. This Character supports colonies of myconoids (how innately depends upon the character concept) drawing upon them as needed for various applications both Magical/Alchemical and mundane. Various ideas for the character include adding a 1d8 poison secondary attack to any sharp weapon by spending 1 turn and 4 PR anointing the sharp instrument (anything from thorns to non-retractable claws because retractable claws may poison the retractor!). granting a very limited version of Astral Travel (much like the power) costing 20 PR to the Shaman and regular costs for the user of the Astral Travel power as well as occupying the shaman with much chanting and spellcasting that is quite dangerous if interrupted (to either party). Double the healing rate of members in the party overnight if a successful Inventing % check is passed. And the character develop more abilities following the inventive or other magical spell like ability gaining processes in the campaign.
The attached image is based upon one of my Gamma World Characters: a mutant swamp grass/bobcat Symbiont called Lillie Joon part of the Professional Rescue Operators (PRO for short).
This time I have two questions:
- What are your favorite sources of looking for information in the animal world?
- What is your favorite Animal to get inspiration from?