The Neurological Aberration
There are reports of a strange behavior from some creatures in the underground…
[Tags: Mutations, Blueprints, Leveling, Mindwipe, Mind Control]
Disclaimer: This was an Aberration submision and it was totally designed to fit the map in all ways. As The Center features huge underground sections, this creature can be readapted to fit this map, though it was meant, designed and crafted with my heart focused on Aberration. Enjoy!
It’s like if something else controlled their minds and bodies…
Mushrooms/Fungi can do amazing stuff in real life. Most of these proposals are based in modern species with special focus on cordyceps, the mind controlling parasite! It can turn insects into literal zombies! Though a prehistoric mushroom won’t be limited to only bugs and mind control, right? It a has a wide arsenal of neurological abilities!
Modern-day cordyceps can control its victims’ brains and them kill them once they server their purpose.
Each Prototaxites comes with a single, yet random type of spore that is defined once it’s tamed. Each spore has a different ability. The ability is determined by the Aberration zone you got your mushroom from. All of them are useful, though the best ones are in the most dangerous places.
Active and Passive Spores
Passive spores work when something enters in a Prototaxites or a Neural Network range (we will explain Networks later). The Spore Range and its spores work even through walls, and it can be increased by leveling a Prototaxites exclusive stat. All Prototaxites have a spore range even if they have no passive spore effects. Their range can be increased by leveling their Range stat.
This is image is only to show how the spore range works. Both Prototaxites and their Spore Range are huge in comparison with a survivor.
Active spores are produced from time to time and must be gathered from your Prototaxites inventory to be used later. The better the type of spore, the longer the production time. Each time you use an active spore, it will cast a Spore Cloud. Depending on the spore, the cloud could apply the same effects it produces if consumed.
Consumption and Spore Cloud
Active spores never spoil, as real-life ones can survive thousands of years, and if frozen they can survive millions of years. For cosmetic purposes, the Spore Cloud makes a gas grenade sound.
Some types of Prototaxites produce passive spores, other ones produce active ones. Some of them produce both.
Fungi can connect their mycelium with plant roots to allow them to transmit nutrients in real life. This keeps alive huge forests. Fertilization Prototaxites produce spores that continuously fertilizes and irrigates any crop. It will also increase the shooting cadency, damage and range of any Plant Species X in their Spore Range. In addition, it produces rare mushrooms, rare flowers and random Aberration mushrooms in its inventory.
[Passive] Allied crops in the Prototaxites Spore Range.
Fungi are capable to kill bacteria and other dangerous organisms in real life. That’s how penicillin works and saves millions of human lives. Bactericide Prototaxites produce spores that remove any negative status effect such as Diseases and kill small organisms such as Reaper and Rhyniognatha larvae, Meganeuras, Leechs, Bog Insect Swarms, among others.
[Active] Creatures and survivors that consumed the active spore.
[Active] Allied creatures and survivors in the Spore Cloud.
[Passive] Allied creatures and survivors in the Prototaxites Spore Range.
Fungi can produce their food from almost anything, including metal and plastics. They also can help to feed several plants, animals and even humans. Nutrition Prototaxites produce spores that any entity will love to eat. This spore can be used instead of any taming food, working as an Extraordinary Kibble. It can also replace any imprinting food and Rhyniognatha cravings. This will work only once per creature. It will also feed all allied creatures and survivors in its passive Spore Range.
[Active] Creatures being tamed, baby creatures asking for imprinting, Rhyniognatha cravings (it works only once per creature and must be consumed.)
[Passive] Allied creatures and survivors in the Prototaxites Spore Range (fills the Food stat only.)
Levelizer Prototaxites produce spores that can help wild creatures to reach their full potential by modifying their brains and bodies to get better, faster and stronger. You can consume this spore near to any wild creature. If the creature was in the Spore Cloud, its base level will be increased by 40%. This can only be used once per creature and it’s capped up to the server’s maximum level (usually 150, and 190 for Wyverns and Deinonychus).
[Active] Wild creatures in the Spore Cloud.
Fungi can directly affect the nervous system and disable vital functions, and add some hallucination in the process to defend themselves. Mindwipe Prototaxites produce spores that wipe the victim’s brain and memories, resetting all they have learn until now to zero. The infested target will keep their gained experience and levels to be spent again, but if this is applied to an enemy, they will have to wait around a minute to regain their experience and unspent levels. In both cases, this comes with an acid-like visual hallucination. If used on a bred creature, they will forget their imprint and they will believe it was you, gaining that imprinting instead of the original survivor.
[Active] Creatures and survivors that consumed the active spore.
[Passive] Enemy creatures and survivors in the Prototaxites Spore Range. Instead of applying this in the entire passive Spore Range, this will be shot just like a Plant-X turret would do it, if it has Mindwipe Spores in its inventory to use as ammo. It can be adjusted to attack specific targets like an Auto Turret would do it.
Somniferous Prototaxites produce spores that make anything sleep, almost instantly. For balance reasons, creatures put to sleep this way can’t be tamed. As a neuronal effect, Fortitude won’t help to resist it, but a Gas Mask or a Tek Helmet can protect from this. Its active spores can’t be consumed, but they can be planted as a Plant Species Y Trap.
[Active] Enemy creatures and survivors affected by the planted trap.
[Passive] Enemy creatures and survivors in the Prototaxites Spore Range. It works on Tek creatures, as they also have a Torpor stat.
There are poisonous Fungi in real life. The symptoms can reach liver failure and death and there is no antidote. Neurotoxin Prototaxites produce spores that decrease the target’s health. The spores can’t be consumed, but they can be thrown like a Plant Species Z Fruit. For balance purposes, it decreases only 10% of the targets’ health and It can’t be stacked with itself. The damage percentage and its speed can be increased by leveling the Neurotoxin Prototaxites Toxin stat. The percentage on survivors is always 100%, but Gas Masks and Tek Helmets protect from this effect. The damage ignores any kind of armor or natural armor, except for Gas Masks and Tek Helmets.
[Active] Enemy creatures and survivors hit by a thrown spore (percentage damage.)
[Passive] Enemy creatures and survivors in the Prototaxites Spore Range (passive damage until they leave the Spore Range.)
Fungi can erode, rot and decay even metal and they are a huge risk for real-life buildings. Corrosive Prototaxites produce spores that can be planted anywhere, even structures. This works by throwing it like a Plant Species Z Fruit. Once planted, they will infest the hit structure and the adjacent ones and quickly decrease their health until they are destroyed. This process can’t be stopped.
[Active] Structures where the active spore was thrown. It works on Tek structures.
Fungi can communicate an entire forest and their life forms as a unique organism. They share information like brain cells to help each other. Experience Prototaxites produce spores that contain all the knowledge of the organisms that have lived and died in these lands. This way your creatures can gain that knowledge in the form of levels. Normally, a consumed spore increases a creature’s level by 1. This can be increased by leveling the Experience Prototaxites Experience stat. Survivors can’t consume this each 24 hours, and it will always increase their level by only 1.
[Active] Creatures and survivors that consumed the active spore.
Crafting Illumination (Active)
Experience Prototaxites produce spores that enhance and illuminate your mind in order to achieve mastery in the art of crafting. You can drag the spore to any weapon, tool, armor, gear or saddle. This will destroy the item, but in the process your survivor will learn all of its secrets, learning how to craft it again, and producing an exact blueprint of the lost item. This never includes crafting bonus, but it works on Tek stuff.
[Active] You on a craftable item.
Experience Prototaxites produce spores that interact with your creatures’ neural systems at a point that it temporary reprogram their AND in order to achieve new levels in their offspring. If one parents consumed this spore, their next newborn is guaranteed to have a random mutation. They can only get 1 mutation even if both parents consumed the spore. Also, if you fed the Experience Prototaxites Element, they will produce enhanced spores, which guarantee a random mutation, and also that the offspring get the best stats from both parents. It works even if the creature already reached 20/20 in the mutation counter.
[Active] Creatures that consumed the active spore and their next offspring.
Mastermind (Passive Spores)
Real life cordyceps can literally control minds. Mastermind Prototaxites are the only ones that allow you to apply this on your opponents. It’s not as effective as a Noglin, though. Once the spores were breathed by an enemy creature or survivor because they entered the Mastermind Prototaxites passive Spore Range, mushrooms will start to grow from its insides, slowly. Once they are visible from the outside, the infected target will obey your orders. They can control all Tek or mechanical creatures a Noglin can control. This state is not reversible, and controlled creatures’ health will slowly decrease until they die. Infected creatures also spread spores when they are killed into nearby creatures.
Mastermind Prototaxites are also very special as they can start a Neural Network. This means they can connect the ranges of any adjacent Prototaxites, no matter the type. Their ranges must be adjacent between them to become a part of the Neural Network. They can be connected between themselves and not necessarily directly connected with the Mastermind Prototaxites. All Prototaxites have a range, even if they don’t have passive spores or effects. The entire Network gains the passive effects of any Prototaxites connected to it.
E. G.: if you have a Nutrition Prototaxites connected to a Network, the passive food effect will work on the entire Network. The same for any other Prototaxites; if you have a Somniferous Prototaxites connected to the Network, the entire Network will gain the somniferous passive effect. BUT passive effects can only be applied once per Network, even if there are 2 or more Prototaxites of the same time connected. Each Network requires a Mastermind Prototaxites.
Neural Network and how it works. The passive effects of all Prototaxites connected will work in the entire Neural Network.
This is inspired by real life mycelium (a mushroom’s actual, underground body). They connect each other to form huge “neural systems” in huge areas of nature to “sense” and “overwatch” entire forests.
Mastermind Prototaxites also grant special effects for your creatures if they are in its spore range.
Noglin: Your Noglin can remotely control any enemy creature or survivor in the Neural Network (but only one at a given time). This is via an RTS-ish screen available from your Noglin if it is in a Mastermind Prototaxites spore range. This allows your Noglin to control enemies without exposing itself to the danger.
Parasaur: Your Parasaur’s alarm mode will detect any enemy that enters in your Neural Network and each alert will have a different color for enemy survivors, tamed creatures and wild creatures.
Rhyniognatha/Yutyrannus: If they taunt or roar (both to scare and to buff) while in the Mastermind Prototaxites range, any enemy creature in the Neural Network will suffer/gain the effects. This works on tamed creatures and those with a rider.
Real life fungi can grow almost anywhere, even metal and plastic (IN SPACE!). Prototaxites would be able to be “planted” anywhere, including metal and Tek structures.
Fungi can eat almost everything. Plants, animals and even stone, plastic and metal. Prototaxites would be being able to be fed by anything and. Some rumors say Element has special effects on them.
Some mushrooms can produce light. All Prototaxites emit light to defend against Reapers and Nameless. They also can charge Tek Stryders in their range, as they can transmit electricity.
As a cosmetic detail, Prototaxites and their zombified creatures would occasionally make “clicker” sounds, obviously inspired by The Last of Us infected. Prototaxites would also make unintelligible and scary whispers, inspired by Gravemind’s whispers from the Halo saga. You can hear some examples here:
Clickers (00:15, 00:55): https://youtu.be/jzDMlxV7Y9k?t=11
Wild Prototaxites can only have one the following abilities (the ability is defined randomly):
1) Quickly sleep anyone who gets into their range.
2) Turn into zombies anyone who gets into their range and make the zombies to attack you.
3) Gradually kill anyone who gets into their range.
Their tamed abilities (listed before in the post) are defined randomly once they are tamed, and they will get it randomly based on the Aberration zone they were found from. Each Prototaxites has only one ability.
Green Zone (Tier 1): Fertilization, Bactericide, Nutrition.
Blue Zone (Tier 2): Levelizer, Mindwipe, Somniferous, Neurotoxin
Purple Zone (Tier 3): Corrosive, Experience, Crafting Illumination
Surface (Tier 4): Mutation, Mastermind
In order to make it more interesting and a total gamble, each tier can include any ability from the lower tiers, making more difficult to get the one you want.
Did you imagine you’d have to tame a “plant”? Let’s go! Prototaxites have awesome abilities, so they are meant to be hard to tame. It doesn’t matter what type of wild ability they have (sleep, zombify or kill), all of them are tamed almost the same. You’ll have to sacrifice creatures in order to do it. The Prototaxites’ level and your creatures’ level will define the number of creatures you’ll need.
You must send your creatures into the Prototaxites’ range for them to start to apply their effects on them until one of your creatures falls asleep, death or they get turned into a zombie. After that, the taming process will start. You must repeat the process with several creatures until the Prototaxites decides you are worthy. Then, it will require a proper additional creature in order to parasite it with a spore. The original Prototaxites will “explode” into spores to be breathed by your creature. It must be close to the Prototaxites during the explosion and it will turn into a carrier.
Don’t worry about the Prototaxites, it didn’t die. It just fulfilled its labor. Its actual body is in the underground, under the whole map. That part will grow again at some point.
At the beginning, your creature won’t have any noticeable changes. The spore need time to mature, and this could take a long time. Once it matured, a preliminary fungus will emerge from within your creature. This won’t be pretty as your creature will die. Its health will remain, but its brain is already death.
Now the preliminary Prototaxites controls its body, which will be still standing an able to do everything your creature was able to do while alive. It will follow your orders, though the taming process is not done yet. The body won’t last long as it will start to decay (its health will slowly drop to 0). The taming process will stop if the creature dies before that.
Cryopoding the creature won’t kill the Prototaxites. Real life fungus spores can’t be killed even with extreme temperatures, that just deactivates them. They will return to activity once the temperature returns to normal. This can be used to transport the infected creature, but it will pause the process.
Once your creature’s health reaches 0, your creature will “die” a second time and it will spawn a matured, floating spore to be picked by any survivor. This moment is when the tamed Prototaxites ability is defined, so it will be a surprise until you pick it. This spore works similar to a plant seed, but it can be planted anywhere, just like real life fungi. Think where you want to place it as it can’t be moved.
At this moment, you will have to make your gardening skills to shine. The growing Prototaxites will ask for different things in order to grow. Failing this would kill it in order force players to take responsibility. This could include something similar to imprinting foods or Rhyniognatha cravings, but it would mostly ask for specific tamed creatures to slowly kill them and gain its nutrients. The Prototaxites should ask for creatures from the map it is growing, to avoid problems with previous and subsequent maps. The better the type of Prototaxites, the better things it will ask for. E.G.: A green zone Prototaxites would ask for a Stegosaur and Aberration mushrooms while a purple zone one would ask for a Reaper and Element.
For obvious reasons, Food Prototaxites active spores can’t replace whatever the growing Prototaxites is asking for.
Once it fully grows, it will activate its passive range and to produce active spores to be used (if its ability produces them). Also, once grown, its range will connect with Neural Networks.
To make it interesting, I wouldn’t make them “breedable.” What’d also give players a reason to go to Aberration. Though you can “re-tame” them to transport them or move them. You just have to use their menu and use the “Liberate Spore” option while one or your creatures is close enough. This will infect your creature just like when you tame a wild one. The challenge is to make the spore grow again, but it will keep its ability and you will be able to plant it somewhere or in other maps.
This time, there’s no saddle!
That’s all folks! I hope you like my creature!
If you do, please vote to bring Prototaxites to this awesome game! I know some abilities couldn't make it into the final version, but I just hope de Mutation, Blueprint and Experience features are kept!