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Onyx Path: Monsters of the Deep! [They Came from Beneath the Sea!]

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They Came From Beneath the Sea! art by Larry Blamire

In advance of the release of They Came from Beneath the Sea! and its upcoming stretch goals, please enjoy these aquatic menaces from Monsters of the Deep!

Dire Sea Sponges

I think a need another sponge.”

—    Doctor Jamil Paval

All-natural sea sponges have been a luxury item in many homes for the past century. Divers in the Mediterranean and North America pull these exfoliating delights up from coastal reefs and sea floors for pampered enjoyment and profit. As with all luxury items, demand increased, and synthetics just weren’t cutting it. Divers went all over coastal areas finding new supplies, but governments were wary about over-picking these natural filters.

Acme Company, determined to edge out competitors, performed experiments on increasing the reproduction rate of ordinary sea sponges. Soon Acme Company had the most sponges on the market. Everyone agreed their sponges were the best, so good in fact that everyone wanted more than one for their shower needs. To say they were successful is a misnomer. They did indeed create a sea sponge with rapid reproduction and growth rates, but in doing so, they introduced a high level of mutation and fast evolutionary processes.

The results of Acme Company’s meddling are Dire Sea Sponges. These sponges are larger, faster-growing, and faster reproducing than the average sea sponge. Additionally, the Dire Sea Sponges have developed minimum sentience and an incredible psychic ability. Dire Sea Sponges emit a low-frequency wave that is strikingly similar to deep sleep brainwaves in humans. With these waves, Dire Sea Sponges have been able to implant deeply seeded messages and commands within the human mind, effectively brainwashing them.

All of Acme’s top leadership are completely brainwashed by the sponges. Acme sponges are sold in a salt-water container, and instructions indicate that the sponge must always remain moist. Engineers under Dire Sea Sponge control are working to engineer newer and better sponge habitats as well as helping the sponges achieve greater sentience.

Right now, the sea sponges are barely at survive-and-reproduce stage. People who buy one sponge invariably buy a second and place them together. Then they miraculously have three to four sponges in a matter of weeks. They gift these to friends who then have even more sponges. And while the commands to help the sponges reproduce are not a danger in themselves, the implication that even more people are under the influence of a rapidly mutating species’ mental control is horrifying.

Sponge reproduction rates are already getting out of hand, leading divers and Acme employees to dump extras back into the sea at an alarming rate. Unchecked, sponges could overtake a home or place of business in just a few months. Rapid reproduction in the sea could cause catastrophic issues for marine habitats, especially since there are few natural predators to the sea sponge. With their rapid expansion and ease of mental control, sponges are positioning themselves to be a staple in every shower across America. It’s only a matter of time before their cognitive levels make them dangerous beyond hope.

Goals

A Dire Sea Sponge’s primary goal is to reproduce. Though scientists and those monitoring the situation believe secondary goals are freeing non-dire sea sponges from captivity and eventual death, overtaking human communities, and eventually eradicate the human plague on Earth.

Story Hook

Janice Langstrom was the first in her women’s group to buy an all-natural sea sponge. The Acme salesman was very convincing. And she loved it so much she needed more. And soon it was all the rage to have two or more sea sponges. When Janice’s husband was found dead in her backyard drowned by the garden hose, everyone was sad and blamed Janice for killing him. Which she fully admitted to doing. When it happened to Harriet and Adelle’s husbands, the officials stopped the presses from reporting on it. Now the community is in a lock-down, but people are still dying under mysterious watery circumstances.

System

A single Dire Sea Sponge is a trivial threat to deal with. Even dozens of Dire Sea Sponges pose no physical threat to a person. The real threat is their ability to control people. Anyone could be under the sway of a Dire Sea Sponge to protect it. The following statistics are provided for any mind control abilities it might use.

Skills: Persuasion 5, Survival 3

Attributes: Intellect 1, Cunning 1, Resolve 2; Might 0, Dexterity 0, Stamina 1; Presence 0, Manipulation 2, Composure 0

Special Rules

Subsonic Mind Control: By emitting subsonic waves, the Dire Sea Sponge can exert mental control over a human. To use this power, roll the sponge’s Persuasion + Manipulation against a Difficulty equal to the victim’s Resolve. Each additional sponge in the vicinity adds 1 Enhancement (to a maximum of 5 Enhancement) to this action as they collectively brainwash their victims. Once controlled, a sponge can send simple commands to their minions as a reflexive action as long as they are within 10 feet. Most sponges insist their minion carry at least one or two of them around to ensure their controlled victims do exactly what they want.

Jelly Men

That man over there in the jacket is giving me the heebie-jeebies. He hasn’t done anything except motion for me to come over, but I swear he isn’t wearing any clothes under that coat.”

—    Josh Hardy, beachgoer in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Stories of the Jelly Men started circulating around ten years ago. It started as an urban legend, or a bit of a spoof story. All along the coastal region in the Gulf of Mexico, from Florida to Yucatan, stories sprang up of a mysterious man walking alone on the beach wearing a trench coat. If anyone approached this man, he would give them a hug which would follow quickly with a terrible sickness which often lead to death. Witnesses state that the man would walk into the sea and disappear.

Versions of this story made their way up and down the east and west coasts of North America stretching even into South America by way of beachgoers in Brazil and Venezuela. Sometimes it was a woman in a black gown, sometimes a surfer who was signaling for help. Regardless of location, the story always described a deadly illness that followed contact. Anyone who heard the story wrote it off as stories told to spook swimmers and get a laugh. Clearly anyone on the beach in a trench coat or a gown is part of a hoax, as everyone knows proper swimwear is trunks or a bikini.

Yet, these stories are not a hoax, nor a joke. Jelly Men are aliens that look like large jellyfish. More than a decade ago, the Jelly Men first attempted contact with humanity. They had been watching swimmers and fishermen for some time and attempted to blend in during their first attempts at contact. They came ashore wearing whatever cast-off clothing they found adrift in the oceans, often oversized canvas jackets from rain-lost ships. Jelly Men communicate through psychic impressions passed through electrical transmissions. In the water, these transmissions can conduct a few feet away and reach their intended target, but without the aid of salinized water, the Jelly Men must come into physical contact with whomever they wish to communicate with. They had no idea that their touch would be so deadly to humans. They don’t cause disease, instead the toxins in their skin are so poisonous to humans that just a small dose is enough to lead to fevers and destruction of internal organs. If left unchecked, the victim usually dies.

After the few attempts went so awry, the Jelly Men became cautious of communication attempts. They tried all sorts of methods to send their psychic impressions to humans without also killing them, but without physical contact, their attempts were fruitless. The harder they tried, the more stories spread. Before long, coming into contact with a human was an endeavor in itself, as people would run away from the slow-moving not-quite human-looking man in a trench coat trundling along the beach.

While communication seemed impossible, the Jelly Men did learn something valuable from their experiences. They finally had a way to combat the humans who were in the seas polluting their home and killing their brethren. Jelly Men attacked fishing vessels, military vessels, and pleasure boats across the Gulf Coast, targeting those doing the most harm, in their eyes. With a single touch, a human would fall ill and without proper medical attention would die shortly after. Those rare few who received medical attention drew the Jelly Men’s attention, which usually led to more touches and eventually everyone dies.

Goals

Communication is still the Jelly Men’s main goal. Defending against humans responsible for making the seas unsafe for marine life is a secondary goal, and not one that all Jelly Men agree on how to handle. Killing them is easy, but if only they could communicate maybe the humans would stop on their own.

Story Hook

Dr. Lolly Humperdink is the head of the marine lab in Destin, Florida. Three nights ago, she reported a suspicious man hanging around her lab to the police. The report indicated that he seemed to want to come in, but he kept to the shadows. She tried to call out to him, invite him in for coffee or cake, but he refused to speak. He did though try to reach out to her for a hug, but since she had barely met the man, she refused. She was worried that he might be disoriented or homeless. Last night, Dr. Humperdink fell ill with a terrible fever. The police refuse to release information about the incident, though she told a reporter that the man is responsible for her fever, and he just wanted to talk.

System

The stats below indicate an average Jelly Man.

Skills: Athletics 4, Close Combat 3, Empathy 3, Integrity 2

Attributes: Intellect 3, Cunning 3, Resolve 5; Might 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 2; Presence 2, Manipulation 3, Composure 3

Health: 7

Special Rules

Stinging Tentacle: The Jelly Men’s flesh produces a potent toxin which acts like a jellyfish sting. This toxin has a damage rating of 4 with the Continuous (hour) and Deadly tags. If the contact site receives proper care, such as a good washing or antiseptics, then it no longer affects the victim.

He Just Wants a Hug: The Jelly Men are adamant in their attempts to communicate with humans, and so each time they touch one they send a simple message, “Please do not be afraid, we want to be your friends.” This message comes in the form of psychic impressions of friendliness, safety, and a warm embrace. In water, the Jelly Men’s psychic impressions may reach their target with a successful Empathy + Presence roll against a Difficulty equal to the target’s Composure.

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