Shrieking Barker :

Shrieking Barker :

Shrieking Barker :

(See my undead foliage Front for setting details)

Townsfolk (and the occasional unaware adventurer) who foolishly wander into the Forest Blight take Barkers for Ents at first.  Smallish Ents, only about three spans tall, well into their Fall or Winter season.  No Ent makes the noise a Barker does.

They lack throats, or lungs, or vocal cords.  When they move, and a shambling awkward gait is their eternal lot, the shards of bark from which they’re made rub, and crack, and shriek the way ice does just before giving way. 

Their cores have been removed, leaving only the (undead) sheath of (un)living bark that used to be a young tree.  They’ll ignore non-plant persons in favor of traveling onwards to find new places to infect.

Shrieking Barker : 8 hp, 2 armor, 1d6+2 damage, solo or clustered-but-independent

Instincts : Spread contamination, Defend itself

Special Abilities:

A ‘slain’ Barker is no longer a physical, clobbering threat to non-plant life, but its remains continue to display all the characteristics of contaminated plant unlife.

Any hit to (or from) a Barker exposes everything ‘reach’ or closer to the effects of the contamination.

Piercing weapons travel straight through the target, dealing only one point of damage.  They are highly vulnerable to flame.

As a Front component, the Barkers cross roads, follow pollen, and will attempt to avoid fire, granting the Blight more mobility than it would have without them.  There aren’t many of them, but if ignored they’ll trump the ‘mankind beats the Blight with fire and ditches’ stage of the Grim Portents and allow the Blight to take the whole continent.

There’s a four-fold reason for a GM to incorporate these into a game featuring the Blight.  Bonus points to anyone who wants to guess them.

7 thoughts on “Shrieking Barker :”

  1. I can see Front elements, but I’m not sure how they’d mechanically cross over into rolled moves.  How do you mean?

    (Also, good luck on the 200 word comp!) 

  2. Thanks!

    From my understanding, which may be completely wrong, a monster’s instinct is the what and why, while their moves are the how. You don’t usually roll monster moves; they’re what you do with the monster when you make a GM move.

    It looks to me like “To spread (contamination)” is the instinct, as it’s what the monster wants to do. “Crossing roads” and “following pollen” seem like the how to me.

  3. Okay, I can see that.  Most of the instincts are a sub-set of the “To Spread” one.

    I’ve interpreted it as instincts are “What do they work towards / want to do?” and the defining feature of a move is (and here’s where we differ) it makes available a GM soft / hard move, enabled by the presence of the character. 

    So, like, the Barker probably won’t find and cross a road or pick up a pollen trail because of a failed player roll – if the players are nearby, the timeline for action is too minute for such a long-term goal (find a roadway and cross it, pick up a pollen trail and find the source) and if the players are elsewhere there’s no causality to tie the failure / mitigated success roll with the NPC/monster action. 

    It is a How, and might be a consequence move if the players take on the roll of marshalling and distributing guards / military forces to protect the roads or some similar massive group endeavor, but that’s treating them as a Grim Portent or Front element more than a monster.  Which, they are too…

    Either outlook seems servicable – we know what they ‘want’ and what they can do. It might just be whether we’re treating them as an individual monster or a Front threat.

  4. I think that’s my issue. Crossing roads, following pollen, avoiding fire, and defending itself are monster moves, just not very exciting ones. Some of them feel like Grim Portents. I would probably separate these monsters into their Front and individual forms.

  5. Instinct: To corrupt plant life

    Moves: Sense plants, Relentless drive, Release spores

    Special qualities: Vulnerable to fire; 1HP from piercing; Becomes puff ball when dead

    I have the image of one of these relentlessly (and noisily) pursuing the party across the desert simply because they’re carrying some raw carrots for their stew.

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