Desert Rollers «Crumbleweed»

Reported By: unknown contributor in Dragon Magazine 108

Role: Monster
Base Stock: Tumble mustard

MCC Stat Block: Crumbleweed 'Desert Rollers' (1): Init -3; atk see description; AC 20; HD 1D5 hp 3; MV 100' ; 1d20; SV Fort -3, Ref -3, Will -3
Mutations: Invisibility (special), spore cloud (variant), and size increase

Number Appearing: 1
Morale: 0
Hit Dice: HD 1D5
Armor: 10 (AC 20)
Size: Huge 12m in Diameter

Movement: MV 100'

Attack: See Description

MS: 3   PS: 3
IN: 3   DX: 3
CH: 3   CN: 3

Frequency: Rare
Organization: None
Activity Cycle: All
Diet: Does not eat
Habitat: Deserts and drylands
Tech Level: 0 - 0
Artifacts: Unknown

Description (Initial Observations): The crumbleweed grows from a tiny spore-like seed into a spherical bush as big as a house. Crumbleweed secrete a substance not unlike that which renders a blight invisible. However, this coating is unaffected by water, and it leaves a blurry outline that can be seen at short distances, so that creatures seldom walk into a crumbleweed by accident. This invisibility, coupled with the weeds lack of a distinctive smell, turns it from what would be a very prominent part of the desert landscape to a fairly obscure species all the more so since it is poisonous (Intensity Level 16) and totally non-nutritious, and therefore not sought after by any creature.However, the plants means of propogation has made it well known to experienced desert travelers. Crumbleweed spends its life attached to the ground by a very thin and fragile stalk, which dries up and breaks readily in a moderate wind once the plant has pollinated itself and borne seed. The wind blows the dead plant along the desert floor while it crumbles into a fine powder of seeds and dry plant fibers. Each irregularity in the ground causes more of the weed to crumble off, until finally it is all gone, having left a trail of seeds which might, under the correct conditions, grow into new crumbleweed.One irregularity which a crumbleweed might roll over and dust with seeds would be a living creature or a party traveling on the desert. The dust is an irritant, affecting creatures as Intensity Level 14 poison, causing sneezing and choking for one Action Turn for every die of damage that would be done by normal poison (treat D results as 4 + Turns of choking, going down the matrix and adding one for every D). Victims are totally incapacitated until they stop choking, but they suffer no further ill effects.Characters surprised by a crumbleweed encounter are always rolled over and all take full damage from the dust. If the party is not surprised (normal chances on the dice), they see the weeds blurry out- line just in time to try to jump aside, which requires a special DX check. The GM should roll a d6 to determine how much of the crumbleweed has already crumbled away (a 1 indicating full, 12-m size, a 6 indicating little larger than man- size (2m)) and multiply each characters DX by the result for the check. To have any chance of evading an oncoming crumbleweed, characters must jump aside as soon as they see it i.e., players must not hesitate in announcing their PCs actions. Small crumbleweeds are, of course, easier to evade than large ones.Even the largest crumbleweed wont crush any characters it rolls over, since the weight (a maximum of 250 kg) is distributed over such a large area. Most attacks have no effect on a rolling crumbleweed which is already dead, after all. Physical attacks with weapons or body parts doubles the duration of the sneezing and choking. Firey attacks of any sort cause the crumbleweed to instantly disintegrate into blazing cinders, which vanish into ash within seconds doing no damage to anyone.Heightened smell wont detect an oncoming crumbleweed, while heightened hearing picks up a faint, wispy crunching sound that does not sound dangerous to anyone who has not had experience with crumbleweed.

Reactions: No known interactions

Behavior: Behavior modeling incomplete

Behavior: Behavior not recorded

Society: Anthropological studies incomplete