Across the known universe, countless resources have been spent to ease the fears of emperors and paupers alike as governments seek to protect their precious holdings from those who covet them. Their vast war machines purchased with the blood of the masses prowl through the silent void of interstellar space and stand as mobile monuments to the prowess of their masters’ military might. Indeed, most would be foolish to challenge such formidable forces. The mere presence of these juggernauts stands as a bloodless preemptive strike aimed at the hearts of those who would conquer them.
Unfortunately for many would-be defenders, the battle has been already lost without a single volley from their devastating arsenal ever having been fired. Their stealthy conquerors have no need for armaments nor the ability to directly assault the fleets of their intended victims. The minute, marauding, parasitic creatures have found a far more insidious method of subtlety subduing their prey. Indeed, many of their victims fall before their power without even knowing they had come under attack. Such is the incredible power of the Elnari.
Typical Elnari Unhosted Scout
Agility 5D: brawling 5D+2, dodge 5D+1
Strength 1D: stamina 2D, swim 3D
Knowledge 2D: survival 3D, willpower 5D
Perception 5D: hide 8D, search 5D+1, sneak 7D
Strength Damage: 1D
Fate Points: 0
Character Points: 0
Body Points: 13
Wound Levels: 3
Natural Abilities: burrowing (through organic matter only; does no damage outside of a small scratch); possession (once inside a sentient being, will try to take over the host body with a contested willpower roll; failure on the host’s part means that the parasite has control of the body and becomes a hosted Scout): infravision (negates up negates up to 4 points of modifiers for dim or dark conditions) breathes water; may not reproduce unless take a host; small size (scale value 15)
Elnari Hosted Scout/Aberrant Package
An Elnari-possessed being gains the following characteristics (while retaining the host’s attributes, skills, and other aspects).
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R4), must eat a full meal every two hours or lose 6 Body Points or one Wound level
Special Abilities: Accelerated Healing (R2), +2D to natural healing attempts; Immunity (R3), +3D to Strength or stamina checks against illness or poison; Infravision (R2), negates up to 4 points of modifiers for dim or dark conditions; Iron Will (R2), +2D to all willpower rolls and +6 to standard interaction difficulties; Longevity (R1). All Special Abilities have Burn-out (R3}, parasite dies and host loses all Elnari-added Disadvantages and Special Abilities when exposed to a sonic attack with damage equal to the host’s Strength – host rakes half of sonic attack as damage
Note that takes a Difficult willpower roll to resist linking to the hive-mind and becoming an Arcanix. Scouts may not reproduce.
Elnari Arcanix Package
An Elnari hosted Scout transformed into an Arcanix substitutes the following characteristics for the ones gained in the Scout form:
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R3), take +3D additional damage from Metaphysics attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R3), cake +3D additional damage from sonic attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R4), must eat a full meal every two hours or lose 6 Body Points or one Wound level; Devotion (R3), to survival of hive
Advantages: Contacts (R3), hive
Special Abilities: Accelerated Healing (R2), +2D to natural healing attempts; Immunity (R3 ), + 3D to Strength or stamina checks against illness or poison; Infravision (R2), negates up to 4 points of modifiers for dim or dark conditions; Iron Will (R2), +2D to all willpower rolls and +6 to standard interaction difficulties; Longevity (R1); Omnivorous (R1); Uncanny Aptitude: Racial Memories (R3), +9 to Knowledge-related and know-how skill totals related to memories of previous Hive Wardens in lineage
Note that at this phase, the parasite cannot be removed. Arcanix may not reproduce. After one year; the character makes a Difficult willpower roll. Those who fail become Ravagers; those who succeed remain Arcanix.
Elnari Ravager Package
An Elnari Arcanix transformed into a Ravager substitutes the following characteristics for the ones gained in the Arcanix form.
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R3), take +3D additional damage from acid attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R3), take +3D additional damage from sonic attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R4), must eat a full meal every two hours or lose 6 Body Points or one Wound level; Devotion (R3), to survival of hive; Employed (R3), to hive
Advantages: Size: Large (R1), scale value l; Contacts (R3), hive
Special Abilities: Increased Attribute: Strength (R9), +9 to related rolls, including natural healing, damage resistance, and Strength Damage; Infravision (R2), negates up to 4 points of modifiers for dim or dark conditions
Note that at this phase, the parasite cannot be removed. Ravagers may not reproduce. After the Arcanix initially becomes a Ravager, make a stamina roll against a difficulty of 18. Those who fail die and are eaten by the other new Ravagers.
Elnari Hive Warden
An Elnari Arcanix transformed into a Hive Warden substitutes the following characteristics for the ones gained in the Arcanix form.
Extranormal attribute gained: Metaphysics 10: sense 90
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R3), take +3D additional damage when exposed to cold (below zero degrees Celsius) or cold attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R3), take +3D additional damage from sonic attacks; Achilles’ Heel (R4), must eat a full meal every two hours or lose 6 Body Points or one Wound level; Advantage Flaw (R2), cannot gain any other Metaphysics skills or useMetap1iysics to influence other living beings or to control non-Elnari; Devotion (R3), to survival of hive
Advantages: Authority (R3), over hive; Contacts (R3), hive
Special Abilities: Accelerated Healing (R2), +2D to natural healing attempts; Immunity (R3), +3D to Strength or stamina checks against illness or poison; Infravision (R2), negates up to 4 points of modifiers for dim or dark conditions; Iron Will (R2}, +2D to all willpower rolls and +6 to standard interaction difficulties; Longevity (R1 ); Omnivorous (R1); Uncanny Aptitude: Racial Memories (R3), +9 to Knowledge-related and know-how skill totals related to memories of previous Hive Wardens in lineage
Note that at this phase, the parasite cannot be removed. After eight months in this form, the Hive Warden reproduces. Arcanix bring new hosts for the larval parasites.
A Rise to Power
These creatures were once little more than an obscure link in the ecosystem of a minor, nearly forgotten world. In their natural environment, the Elnari managed to eke out an existence as mere bottom feeders who had nor yet been mutated by fate. Sadly, like many of life’s tragedies, the universe owes the rise of Elnari power to petty greed of thoughtless souls – in particular, the larcenous nature of unlicensed mineral hunters who cared little for proper decontamination protocols. After all, such things slowed down the pursuit of profit and kept them from feeding precious vices! Their haste would give birth to a terrible intergalactic terror.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that the Elnari originated in a small system on the edge of civilized space. Contact with their initial humanoid host triggered the creature’s alpha mutation chain reaction and by the time their victims docked at the nearest starport, the Elnari had them firmly in their grasp. It was here, in this cesspool of humanity, that the creatures developed, multiplied, and searched for new hosts to infest. The emerging life form char spread out across the cosmos retained the hive mentality of their ancestors but could now partially rewrite sentient DNA.
All Elnari start their existence in the Scout form, a tiny worm known in some scientific circles as the base parasite form. These worms pass from the hosr in which they spawned into a fresh host by crawling out of the skin of one and burrowing into the skin of another. They travel through the body until they reach rhe brain stem. Getting to this point (which can take days or weeks, depending on where the parasite entered the body) is a rush for the Elnari. It causes the host to lie dormant for about 48 hours as the parasite fights for control of the body, eliminating any physical and mental resistance of the host and killing any other Elnari within the organism. During this phase, the host crean1re may appear to have perished. On occasion, parasites have been accidentally put to death when their hosts’ friends attempt to perform burial rituals on their fallen comrade.
Once at the brain stem, the parasite attempts to dominate its prey. If the victim fails to resist, the parasite begins to alter their DNA to suit the purposes of the hive and the initial mutation begins. Hosted Scouts who fail to take over their victims perish in three days. Their host bodies then isolates the invaders in benign cysts.
As only one Elnari may live in a host at a time, any Scouts who don’t have a readily available target host quickly seek the nearest water supply, preferably one filled with bacteria and other nutritious “contaminants.”
Ir takes one to six months for them to fully integrate themselves into the new body, during which time, the new host could move away from the birching area.
These are the most free willed of their kind because the hive mind has yet to completely form and rake hold of their consciousness. Thus, they have to rely on instinct to survive in key situations.
After they’re well established in the body, a hive-mind begins to emerge among all of the Elnari in a one-kilometer area. Each scout begins to feel a desire to join the hive-mind and forsake their free will. Those who refuse the call of their species are called Aberrants. These creatures emerge as free-thinking fugitives who flee from their former comrades. The outcast abominations are hunted down by the remainder of their hive-serving brethren, who spare no effort to see to their destruction. The pursuit of the dangerous offshoots dominates the attention of the budding collective intellect of the local hive and further evolution beyond the Arcanix phase ceases until the flaw is removed from existence and the defect in their mutagenic plan has been thoroughly examined. Once the hive is assured rhac the flaw has been eradicated and will nor replicate further, the evolution of their species resumes.
Those who join the hive-mind are called the Arcanix. At this stage, the Elnari are fully integrated into their hosts and have begun to alter the bodies’ DNA for the next mutation. They also gain access to their species’ racial memories. These creatures are tasked with finding a suitable home for the emerging hive and beginning its construction. It’s not uncommon for several potential hive sites to be developed simultaneously, with the final one being chosen during the development process. This is done to give the intruders the best chance for surviving planetary resistance and to lay groundwork for expanding the hive mind. The Arcanix phase may take up ro a year to complere, and alternate hive locations that survive are later developed as part of the hive network. This is a crucial step in the parasites’ world-domination agenda.
Once the hive locations have been started, nearly all of the Elnari Arcanix experience their final mutation as their hosts undergo drastic changes. The end result is a creature with fantastic strength that can readily resist damage. These minions of d1e hive-mind are known as Ravagers. The hulking dreadnaughts are utilized to complete the hive’s construction and defend their homes. Once construction is completed, they may be mobilized to crush local resistance or be deployed as the hive sees fit.
A fraction of the Arcanix do nor survive the transformation, and they perish before becoming Ravagers. The fallen are eaten by the new Ravagers.
As the hive nears completion, it finally becomes time for the parasites to come fully into power. One of the remaining Arcanix rises above their brethren to fulfill a higher calling. This special Elnari assumes responsibility for the hive once their creature’s final eight-month metamorphosis is complete by becoming the Hive Warden. The emergence of the dominant Elnari often seals the doom of the original population of their chosen world because these creatures are a font for future Elnari generations. They are attended by the remaining Arcanix and the Ravagers, who assist with birthing operations by bringing new victims for implantation. The Hive Wardens also serve as a conduit that links the central hive with the alternate sires to coordinate planetary domination.
Care and Feeding
The feeding requirements of the Elnari vary depending on their current form. Those who are without a host revert to the instincts of their species. They sift nutrients from their chosen world’s waterways and survive as scavengers. Hosted Scouts eat whatever their victims prefer, but in greater quantities than normal. Arcanix and Hive Wardens are omnivorous foragers who draw nourishment from all forms of organic matter as they build the needed energy to spark their next mutagenic phase or create new life. Ravagers subsist solely upon fresh meat, and small herds of fast-breeding animals (and sometimes sentient beings) have been found in sundered hives. These hapless creatures arc kept parasite free because they are destined to serve as cattle for the voracious Ravagers.
Fortunately, the parasites have severe weaknesses. Survivors of Elnari infestations have found that all varieties of the invaders appear to be susceptible to sonic attacks. There are other weaknesses, but they vary depending upon which type of creature one is facing. Arcanix have difficulty resisting metaphysical blasts, Ravagers give pause when acidic weaponry is used against them, and the Hive Wardens seem to fear cold-based attacks. A parasite can be ousted from the Scout form with sufficiently deadly sonic attacks.
Only at the Scout or Aberrant stage is there any hope for survival of the host. Due to their small size, doctors must use cellular imaging or telepathic probing to ensure the eradication process has been successful. Unfortunately, not every locale is equipped to facilitate such testing, and many host victims that could be saved by the gift of science are needlessly put to death.
As can be expected, whole campaigns can be centered around the Elnari. Heroes could find evidence of alien’s arrival on their world through extreme or subtle means. They could stumble across a hosted Scout who has just arrived upon their planet, be viewed as a threat to be eliminated by an Arcanix, or find themselves trying to repel a Ravager assault. Arcanix may be in positions of power or great importance, such as a military general, charismatic figurehead, or national ruler.
An Elnari Aberrant might also seek them out to enlist their aid to repel their brethren in a desperate bid for freedom. The characters could also become embroiled in an interstellar conflict when aliens who have encountered Elnari hosts have come to their world to exterminate all life.
Experienced players may choose to play Elnari Aberrants if this would not be something that would unbalance the group. Such heroes would spend a good deal of their rime attempting to move under the radar of Scouts, who relentlessly search for them.