Thursday, March 12, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Centipede, Giant (#50!)

This is my fiftieth Monster, and what better way to celebrate the half-century mark than scuttling back to give the Giant Centipede their due!

Being only about a foot long these actually have counterparts in the real-world, the Scolopendra gigantea can apparently reach a length of up to a dozen inches! I generally stick to this size in the table even if I tend to prefer them a bit bigger. For a really huge one, I would probably re-skin Caecilia, or for something truly titanic: a Purple Worm! As highly alien-looking arthropods, creatures like Centipedes definitely have a pretty high “squick” factor for some. I see two potentially neologistic names for the specific fear: Scolopendrphobia or Chilopodophobia, but avoiding the gratuitous use of Spiders when gaming with an Arachnophobic player is probably a much more common situation. As the intention at most tables is to have fun, purposefully unsettling Players that possess these kinds of phobias is far too boorish and crude for my tastes, but for a typical table the instinctive revulsion “creepy crawlies” can create is fertile and fair game.

Personally, I’m more than a little fascinated by the way they move about with all those spindly, synchronized legs, but seeing how I grew up in the distribution range of the agonizingly venomous and painfully gorgeous Giant Redhead Centipede, I don’t exactly go picking them up to play with them when I luck into spotting one.

I was intrigued to learn that Centipedes don’t technically bite their prey, but instead they use a pair of modified legs (called foripules) to pierce and inject their venom. I don’t think that does much to make them less menacing to part of our reptile brains though.

In one of the first games I ever ran, I hid a Giant Centipede in a treasure chest as a Trap, and through a less-than-thorough reading of the rules, I gave it a venerable Save or Die bite. One of the inaugural D&D deaths at a game I was running occurred thanks to this critter and my lack of experience DMing (sorry about that Glom the Mighty).

Reacquainting myself with the actual rules, the venom (I notice that it’s listed Poison in OSE, probably to cut down on confusion so it dovetails with the Saving Throw category) makes you sick for 10 days, with no physical activity possible except half-speed movement. That might as well be a death sentence in certain dungeons, but I’m fond of keeping players on their toes by giving my monsters a few unanticipated tricks now and then: so the first twenty entries in this table can be used to assign your Giant Centipedes some more unfamiliar forcipule aftermaths.

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