Elderkreepers | The Greater Tick


Jul 31, 2020
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Parasitic arachnids found in nearly every realm of the Deep Roads, the elderkreeper was a species of greater tick classified alongside the varying other species of Elder insectoids that roamed the Underdeep. Sharing common characteristics with surface ticks in bearing flat and oval bodies until fed, elderkreepers were, otherwise, far more horrific when compared to their coin-sized brethren from the surface. With both adult and nymph elderkreepers growing as large as wagon wheels, these ticks from the deep were uncharacteristically big for parasitic beasts.

Covered in flexible, leather-esque plates of crimson chitin, their spiked legs numbering eight—and almost resembling the legs of a king crab with how they looked to be barbed with prongs—an elderkreeper’s mandibles could only be found on the underside of their head, much like with a suckerfish’s, allowing them to more easily latch upon and lie dormant on a host's body and flesh.

Upon feeding from a host and having a blood meal however, elderkreepers nearly quadrupled in size. With their flexible plates of chitin stretching out in order to compensate for their growth, a well-fed elderkreeper could easily grow to become the size of a full-grown man, their bodies becoming bulbous and stuffed with blood upon such a happening. Associated heavily with the smell of iron—of blood—elderkreepers were much like sharks or piranhas of the Deep Roads, always searching for their next meal.

Able to live for up to ten years without a host body, an elderkreeper could otherwise subsist for as long as its host could.

RARITY 6 / 10
Though swarms—around a dozen or so—of elderkreepers without hosts were not all too rare to find, the true rarity of an elderkreeper varied wildly depending on the creature they were latched upon. For instance, a group of elderkreepers using a karazgûl as their host would be much more difficult to find than, say, a single elderkreeper latched upon the back of a bonefiend.

With the parasitic nature of an elderkreeper in mind, they tended to avoid direct confrontations, hiding within pockets of stone as they waited for larger creatures from the Deep Roads to pass them by in order to latch onto their forms as they moved. Commonly found in groups of a dozen or so rather than alone, moving with their brood—those that were hatched alongside one another at birth—elderkreepers were seldom found alone and estranged from others, though sparsely made up the ranks of other creatures in the deep.

Elderkoppers may, as an example, unknowingly host several elderkreepers within their ranks, and as a result, the elderkreeper may be best described as having a supporting role in the castes of other Deep Roads beasts, establishing symbiotic relationships where they went.

Capable of injecting a strengthening agent through a gland in its thorax and into the blood of its host, a chemical that also made their hosts feel lighter so that their presence was ultimately undetected, those that were plagued with elderkreepers would oftentimes not even realize that they were—up until they died, drained of their blood and precious nutrients.

Going as far as to coagulate and harden the siphoned blood of the host they occupied, so that they could secure themselves all the better to the flesh of their host, elderkreepers were but temporary boons to lesser creatures that could not produce more blood than they siphoned. In siphoning a host dry though, an elderkreeper would then proceed to lay its eggs within their dried corpse before finding a new host, the cycle then continuing as a new brood of elderkreepers was hatched therein. With the dried corpse serving as an initial sustenance for an elderkreeper’s hatchling brood, finding corpses beset with hundreds of tiny holes in their flesh was not uncommon in places of the Deep Roads where elderkreepers were commonly found.

To note, the blood-containing dorsal of an elderkreeper can secrete a substance akin to nacre of which is primarily responsible for the hardening of the blood within. In very rare circumstances, when foreign objects manage to make it into these dorsals, the secreted nacre can layer upon them to create crystallized chunks of blood—the blood being the host’s siphoned blood. Similar in nature to how oysters create pearls, elderkreepers were truly astonishing beasts, the Deep Roads able to churn out all manners of odd creatures.

Reliant on their hosts when it came to combat, elderkreepers without hosts were generally rather weak, though sometimes carried a number of diseases as a result of their feeding. Deadly when accompanied by their brood, an elderkreeper’s ability to strengthen its host, however, was a far deadlier asset; as a result, rather than being the main focus of any one combat encounter, elderkreepers were best used by the Event Team as supports to existing creatures, making them stronger or even weaker depending on the circumstances.

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When latched upon a host, an elderkreeper was able to harden and coagulate its siphoned blood to make its body as tough as steel, becoming difficult then to forcibly remove, dormant. With its primary body being resistant against slashing attacks and weak to blunt attacks, its dorsal—when filled with a host's blood—was particularly susceptible to piercing attacks, most effective in pimple-popping the elderkreeper. To note, the chitin of a standard elderkreeper, when not attached to a host, was only as durable as leather.

In siphoning blood, the elderkreeper was able to inject a strengthening agent into their hosts once per combative encounter, granting them the equivalent of a Draught of Vigor for three actions. If multiple instances of elderkreepers on a single host were to do this however, the host would instead become weaker for three actions every additional time they were injected, becoming sluggish and incapable of making use of their strength. These exact numbers are up for Event Team interpretation, and could really just change depending on the specific creature designated as a host; for instance, a creature as large as a karazgûl may be able to take several elderkreeper injections before finally weakening fully.

The wounds left behind by elderkreepers would, over the course of several weeks, begin to inflame and rash, burdening those afflicted with bodily pains and fatigue. Though curable immediately with certain potions and some medical treatment, those bitten by elderkreepers would find their movement speed lowered by five over the course of those weeks until cured, eventually being flushed out by the body after a year in roleplay, or a week out of character.

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Though elderkreepers may seem like the perfect source of blood for alchemists, the blood retained within an elderkreeper’s dorsal sac was tainted—diseased—and was unable to be used for much of anything as a result. That said, there were materials yet to harvest from them.

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Very rarely, one-in-ten elderkreepers, or even less, could be found carrying raw chunks of hardened, crystallized blood within their dorsal sacs. Capable of being cut down as one might expect a gem to be, these bloodied pearls were literal blood diamonds and blood rubies to be admired for their beauty when cleaned, made up of whatever blood they had been feeding on at the time.

Within the thorax of an elderkreeper, the gland that contained their strengthening fluids could be found. While useless if the elderkreeper in particular had used its host-strengthening ability before it was killed, the off-green bile within could be used to create an equivalent greater Draught of Vigor made through Lore Team crafting.

Only as durable as tough leather, though suitable in lining buckler shields and smaller pieces of armor, the crimson chitin of an elderkreeper certainly made for otherwise exotic-looking gear if nothing else with its striking color of red.

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Post art by GleamingScythe, found following: https://www.deviantart.com/gleamingscythe/art/Giant-Tick-146756106

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Apr 17, 2022
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Nara Le Guin / Baselaus Dawkins / Sírion
i rlly like andrs deep road deeplore because i think it mixes realisticness/realistic things with fantasy and um this makes me like the idea of deep roads


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