Have a COW (Creature of the Week) #17: Dread Harvester

A few folks have asked about the Dread, so I thought it was time to talk about them in a bit more detail. We cover a number of Dread varieties in the book — The Monarch, Queens, Brutes, Soldiers, Lords, Harvesters, and Hollows. Though we cover them at a high-level, we really only provide stats for Hollows and Soldiers.

This post should begin to fill in a few of the gaps.

Design Thoughts

When designing the Dread, I definitely had the classic Giger Alien in mind, but I wanted to expand it into something with more of a hunger. Sure, Face Huggers are fantastic and horrifying, but they really don’t have much intelligence beyond a strong will to survive and implant their tiny horrors in some silly person who thinks the Easter Bunny would ever leave those eggs lying around for fun…

So where the Queen is the traditional Alien monarch on a particular world, it’s the Harvester that bridges the gap between her and her Hollows. Hollows are fun because they can truly change dramatically from one world to the next. But Harvesters like to stay in the background, working alongside their queens to create a disposable work force she can have her Brutes and Soldiers deploy wherever they are needed.

My playtesters only encountered one Harvester in their travels through the A&A universe, and it was definitely a busy little bee on that world…

Creature – Harvester

Like Queens, there is but one Harvester per hive and it has one job – to drain the life essence of any being with a basic intelligence and store it for consumption by the Monarch on her Progress through a decimated galaxy. Harvesters prefer to stay in the shadows, protected by the hive with their cache of sacs filled with the glowing life essence of a being.

As a Harvester’s “bank” of sacs of “batteries” is collected, it is treated almost like a holy place by the Hollows, Soldiers, and Brutes. They will protect it at all costs, creating barriers out of their own bodies if needed.

I have envisioned these creatures like giant mosquitoes, prodding their long, needle-like proboscis into a poor unsuspecting victim held by a pair of Brutes, Soldiers, or Hollows. The victim’s life essence drains into a detachable sac at the other end of the Harvester. When full, the sac drops off and is placed in the Dread bank to be guarded — and a new Hollow is created as part of the hive.

These creatures can also, when needed, inject additional traits into Hollows to make them more formidable.

  • Dread Harvester (High-level): Attribute 13, Traits: Legged (10m), Proboscis Thrust (d6+2), Acid Blood (sprays acid blood when cut, d6+2 damage, 2 points ongoing each round until removed), Tough Bastard (doubles HP), Tough Hide (AR2), Tactics (+1 Education, will direct Hollows and Dread to swarm opponents), Drain (Drains 1d3 points of Presence each turn), Enhance (can add a Trait to a Hollow after draining), Hivemind

A few notes about the Harvester:

  • The larger the creature’s sense of self (i.e Presence), the more attractive it is. Tiny creatures hold no interest, but creatures with intelligence and the capacity to feel emotions are sought out. The larger the mind, the more life energy can be drained for the Monarch.
  • If larger creatures are not available, they will begin creating swarms of smaller ones.
  • If few creatures are available, they will use their time to enhance Hollows to aid the Soldiers and Brutes in searching for more victims and protecting the hive.

These are crafty creatures willing to do anything to protect the hive, the Queen, and the Monarch’s mission. There may be only one in a hive, but don’t underestimate them!

Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the Creature of the Week series!

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