Of all the bizarre forms of life that struggle to survive the oft-hostile subterranean world, the humble grotto gatherer has mystified many environmental scientists who have studied them. Although scientists lack many of the facts of their origin, they agree the highly adaptable creature is an apparent visitor to this part of the galaxy. It appears that its “seeds” are highly resistant to temperature and pressure, so it’s likely that, first, comets and, later, space transports carried it through space. Once the seeds hit atmosphere, if the combination of air, moisture, and gravity is within a certain tolerance range, the seeds begin to develop into new oozes, which immediately make their way to the nearest subterranean entrances. Most immature gatherers never make it. However, unlike other star tossed, circumstantial strangers to known space, the grotto gatherer seems to benefit its adopted worlds and has quickly adjusted to life on many alien worlds.
Typical Grotto Gatherer
Agility 2D: brawling 3D, dodge 2D
Strength 4D: lift 5D, stamina 5D
Knowledge 1D: intimidation 5D, survival 5D, willpower 4D+2 Perception 5D: con 6D; hide 7D, search 6D, sneak 5D
Strength Damage: 3D
Fate Points: 1
Body Points: 22
Character Points: 0
Wound Levels: 3
Natural Abilities: acid touch (damage 4D to inorganic materials only); nutrient-draining touch (damage +1 to organic material only); immune to mental attacks; small size (scale value 5)
The meal of choice for these minions of the netherworld is the delectable roots of subterranean planes, but they occasionally feed upon fungi. Their typical method of consumption is to invade their target by covering them. As time passes, they drain their food of moisture and available key minerals. Once the feeding has ended, the grotto gatherer uses its acidic properties to seep through the bedrock toward its next victim.
Grotto gatherers draw their name from the unusual side effect of their feeding habits. The residual slime they emit leaches minerals from their rocky environment and leaves an enriched residue in their wake. This allows plant life both an easier route for their root system and a source of nutrients essential for their growth. Thus, one finds gatherings of plants in places where this creature has fed for an extended period of rime, and vast root networks follow their path. Fortunately for the grotto gatherer, most subterranean plants grow quicker than the ooze’s rate of consumption.
Grotto gatherers are quite resilient despite their natural viscosity. Many researchers who have managed to capture a specimen have found – to their dismay – that their prize slipped free of its prison and escaped! The oozes can also use their uncanny control of form to resist damaging blows.
Some rare minerals react curiously to gatherers’ passing. developing elaborate and beautiful multicolored patterns that aren’t otherwise found in nature and can’t be replicated in a lab. These formations are highly prized by collectors, who call them “grottographs.” The pieces draw high prices on the market, with larger intact grottographs going for exponentially more money than smaller or broken ones. The largest complete one yet found was over 10 square meters, which earned its discoverer enough to start a large corporation. As a result of the potential rewards, entrepreneurs sometimes brave the dangers of subterranean exploration in hopes of finding formations that can be extruded.
The worst known effect of the gatherer’s slime is the possibility that they may wear away the stone foundation of a city. Places that know they are built on subterranean tunnels often hire people to keep the grotto gatherers in check.