The Lonesome Road • Shawn Mulder
|Climate/Terrain:||Populated areas (Richemulot)|
|No. of Attacks:||3/2|
|Damage/Attack:||2d6+1 and 2d6+1/5d4+3|
|Special Attacks:||Infection, Fear|
|Special Defenses:||Weapon Immunities, Spell Immunities, Animate Dead|
|Size:||M (5’ long)|
Hey… Do you smell that? It’s coming from that beggar over there… Are you okay, my son?
Most people react with revulsion and even fear when they consider the fate that awaits their physical bodies after death. The inevitable decay of the mortal coil is a horrid thing to contemplate: vermin feasting on one’s decaying flesh, millions of unseen organisms devouring the stuff of life and transforming it into so much dust. However, such processes are the way of the natural order, where deaths serves to feed life. In Ravenloft, however, the natural order has been corrupted. The tiny living things that feast on death, buried for centuries in the tainted soil of the Demiplane, have themselves become tainted. A pair of evil spellcasters from another world twisted one particular variety of fungus so that it became symbiotic with the foul undead. This microscopic creature found the Demiplane particularly hospitable, and has spread throughout the places of the dead in Richemulot.
A moldling is doubly deceptive in its innocuous form. It appears to be a mundane mold possessing a dense, flat network of hyphae and short-stalked fruiting bodies. To the naked eye, it resembles a blackish-brown patch of spongy scales, carrying the sickly sweet smell of desiccated flesh. However, moldlings are always encountered while inhabiting a host, usually the long dead body of some unfortunate individual. The mold animates the corpse, giving it the appearance of a fungus-covered zombie. Unlike magical mold creatures that physically move cadavers (see “Dusanu” in the Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix), however, the moldling actually creates and controls undead. Thus, while some perceptive monster hunters may realize that the fungus is the true foe, few understand how intelligent and unnatural that foe truly is.
Combat: Moldlings “think” only of reproduction through infection of the living with their spores. A moldling will normally attempt to conceal itself from prey by utilizing its hide in shadows abilility (50%) to tail a victim. Its first attack is the moldling’s most devastating weapon, but it is used only when the chance of success is quite high, such as when the victim is engaged in melee combat with the host. The moldling issues forth a cloud of spores from the mouth of its host, which forms a roughly 10’×10’×10’ cube. This cloud moves forward at a rate of 20’ per round, as if propelled by a magical wind, though it can be dispersed by other winds. Anyone witnessing this attack must make a successful Horror Check or be frozen on the spot in fear. Such victims are considered stunned and receive no saving throw against the cloud’s effects.
Those caught in the cloud must save vs death magic or become infected with the moldling’s spores. The moldling takes up to two weeks to mature fully once infection has begun. During this period the victim loses 1d8+3 hit points per day, as well as one point of Strength and Constitution per day, as the fungus spreads throughout his or her body. The victim’s flesh begins to pucker and wilt, as patches of mold overwhelm the body’s immune system. The victim also emits a horrible stench, reminiscent of a rotting corpse – which it is, in a sense, as the body is experiencing subdermal necrosis on a microscopic scale. All who meet the victim while he or she is infected must save vs spell or be affected as if by a fear spell. Those who knew the person already when he or she was infected are immune to this magical fear.
Once a victim loses all their hit points, Strength or Constitution, they will be transformed in 1d3 days into ju-ju zombies under the control of the moldling. Fortunately, this condition can be reversed, although such a feat requires powerful healing magic. Heal and then exterminate (see The Complete Necromancer’s Handbook) must be cast on the victim. This not only destroys the moldling but also restores the victim to life, including his or her hit points and ability scores.
Once the moldling has transformed its victim into a ju-ju zombie, its opponents are subject to its energy draining abilities. The moldling has complete control of its victim after the transformation. In addition to all the normal characteristics and abilities of a ju-ju zombie, moldlings possess other potent powers. Those who are hit by the moldling’s brutal physical attacks must save vs spell or lose 1d4 experience levels. Victims also have a 30% of being infected by the moldling’s spores. Moldlings are completely immune to all spells from the wizard school of Necromancy as well as any spell involving Negative Energy. Healing spells, however, do damage to the moldling equal to what would normally have been healed. Moldlings are also immune to illusions, charm and sleep spells. Unlike most undead, moldlings are vulnerable to biological spells. Though they require oxygen, cutting of the corpse’s air passage cannot asphyxiate moldlings. They take double damage from spells utilizing fire, but take no damage from cold spells whatsoever. Because of its alien mind, mental contact with a moldling – whether magical or psionic – warrants a Madness Check. In all other respects not listed, moldlings in host bodies conform to ju-ju zombies.
Once a moldling has absorbed twenty energy levels through its zombie host, it must move on to another body, much like a hermit crab that has outgrown its shell. Oddly enough, the ju-ju zombie is liberated from the moldling’s control once it infects another living being. The creature is then free to terrorize the local populace on its own, provided the newly infected victim and his or her allies do not destroy it.
Habitat/Society: Moldlings have no particular society. Though they are intelligent, they seem to ignore their own kind. Their only desire seems to be reproduction. Moldlings seem to be indigenous to the domain of Richemulot, and are currently found nowhere else. They are suspected to be the ruined experiment of an insane druid and his necromancer sibling. Though they seem to come from outside Ravenloft, moldlings have adapted well to the Demiplane, and are becoming a disturbingly frequent phenomenon in the sewers and abandoned buildings of Richemulot.
Ecology: Though they no doubt once played an important role in the cycle of organic substances, moldlings have long since been transformed into unnatural creatures which prey upon the living and their essence. They are reviled and feared by all sane Richemulosie.
© 1999 Shawn Mulder
The Lonesome Road
Last Modified: February 06, 2014, 14:10:12 GMT
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