An Aquatic Hazard for Pathfinder 2 and Earth Delta
Yeah, Like Anyone Plays Earth Delta
“Where do you get your ideas?” is something people allegedly ask authors. No one’s asked me that, that I recall, perhaps because “From low-budget movies, cheesy comics, pulp paperbacks, formulaic genre TV shows, and much better creators with the serial numbers filed off” is a pretty self-evident answer. In case the imaginary readers here were to ask that, I can now answer: Washing dishes.
See, it goes like this:
- Wash Dishes
- Notice very artificial sponge, lemon-yellow, with nigh-invisible pores.
- Think about more ‘natural’ sponges.
- Remember some educational film (shown on a reel-to-reel movie projector, cast onto a roll-down white screen) from Elementary School (circa 1975ish), about the primitive-but-brave people of Far Away Land, who dove for sponges and happily traded them to the Generous White Man.
- Think of the sponges attacking!
So, how do sponges attack, I wondered. Well, what do sponges do? Absorb liquid. But if they’re underwater, what do they absorb? Well, I seem to dimly recall from science class that they’re filter feeders, they suck in water and eat whatever hapless little things are swimming there. So there’s options there, like giant sponges which have super-suction powers, that can draw in oblivious PCs. But I wanted something a little more subtle — for sufficiently Lizardian definitions of “subtle” — so I decided to go with smaller, immobile sponges that drain blood. Vampire sponges! Bwahahaah! (And possibly a future desert variant that drains all liquid, leaving the victim a desiccated husk!)
(Singing: “Every act of creation is an act of love…”)
So, without further ado (or adon’t), here’s the first draft of the vampire sponge! Originally designed for Earth Delta, it is both mechanically and thematically perfect for any Pathfinder 2 game, except those overly concerned with “logic” and “plausibility” and other such meaningless shibboleths.
Stealth DC 28 (expert)
Description Sponges lurking in shallow pools have become quite lethal to anyone or anything that draws too near. They will usually grow in scattered patches in such a way as to make it difficult to simply circle around. They come in a range of shapes, and their color when “hungry” varies greatly, often mottled brown, grey, and/or ochre, but when “fed”, they become a bright scarlet. A mix of “fed” and “hungry” vampire sponges in a patch might tip off a knowledgeable explorer (+2 on Perception checks if the searcher is Expert in Nature, Survival, Underwater Lore, Fishing Lore, etc.)
Disable Survival DC 25 (expert) to carefully uproot the sponge; Fishing (or other appropriate) Lore DC 22 (trained) to distract the sponge by guiding nearby creatures to it to feed on.
AC 24; Fort +18; Ref +11
HP 58 Immunities critical hits, object immunities, precision damage; Weaknesses fire 5, water deprivation
Water Deprivation If the vampire sponge is surrounded by air somehow (a spell, draining an indoor pool it dwells within) it will take 10 points of damage per round at the start of its turn.
Blood Absorption [R] Trigger Someone moves adjacent to or swims over (within 5 feet) of the sponge patch. Effect The sponges stretch and extend, performing a blood drain attack. The target must make a DC 25 Fortitude save.
Success The target takes 1d4 persistent bleed damage.
Failure The target takes 2d4 persistent bleed damage and is drained 1.
Critical Failure The target takes 4d4 persistent bleed damage and is drained 2.
Blood Healing [F] (healing) Trigger A creature within 10 feet of the sponge takes bleed damage (regardless of the source). Effect The vampire sponge heals hit points equal to the damage taken by the triggering creature. This triggers only the first time a given creature takes bleed damage in a round, but may trigger multiple times in one round if there are multiple bleeders in range. If there is more than one sponge in range of a bleeding creature, randomly determine which benefits; only one can benefit from a given bleeder in a round. If a sponge is at full hit points when this ability triggers, see blood spawn.
Blood Spawn[F] Frequency One success per day. Trigger A fully-healed vampire sponge would benefit from blood healing. Effect The vampire sponge makes a flat check, with a DC of 10 + the amount of healing they would have gained. If the check succeeds, a new vampire sponge spawns in the nearest empty square (roll randomly if there are multiple potential spots). This “sponge spawn” has 20 fewer hit points than its “parent” and all stats (AC, saves, DCs, etc.) are reduced by 2. The spawn cannot spawn further sponges. If the flat check fails or if the sponge has already spawned today, it gains temporary hit points instead of healing.
Reset The vampire sponge’s spores will grow new sponges in 1d4 days if it is uprooted; if it is distracted, it will “refocus” and become dangerous again in 1d4 x 10 minutes. If it is killed outright, 10 minutes time and a DC 22 Survival check will prevent it from respawning by damaging rooting spots and scattering tiny fragments and spores.