STR: 8 (120) — WPR: 8 (120)
DEX: 3 (45) — PER: NA
AGL: 4 (60) — PCN: 5 (75)
STA: 5 (75) — PWR: 130
ATT: 1/98% — WND: 15 MV: L 75†
*Experience is awarded for eradicating the creature entirely. If all of the creature is not wiped out,no experience is granted. This thing could absorb the world, there are no half-measures.
“You see, what we’re talking about here is an organism that imitates other life forms, and imitates them perfectly. When this Thing attacked our dogs, it tried to digest them. Absorb them. And in the process, shape its own cells to imitate them. This, for instance, that’s not dog. That’s imitation. We got to it before it had time to finish.”
The contagious metamorph is a shape-shifter, capable of infecting and assimilating other life-forms. Once absorbed, the creature can reproduce the biological forms of its victims in any way it desires, becoming an exact duplicate, or a hideous amalgam of different physiologies according to its needs. Each cell of the creature is capable of infecting and subverting a host, eventually becoming another part of the creature as a whole. Further, the metamorph absorbs the memories and skills of its host, allowing it to flawlessly mimic them. While physically powerful, the metamorph prefers to operate by stealth, gradually assimilating a population until it has enough of an advantage to act openly. The creature is intelligent and cunning, and is fully capable of using (and building) advanced technology.
All parts of an contagious metamorph are effectively the same creature, sharing the same mind and memories. While not in telepathic contact with each other, all parts of the creature will automatically recognise each other, as well as those who are unknowingly infected. Each host retains its own memories and intelligence in order to maintain its charade.
Having absorbed a host and their memories and skills, the metamorph is virtually undetectable, and will only reveal itself if there is no choice. Metamorphs can be detected though blood tests, and through the use of the Sense Things paranormal talent. The Read Thoughts paranormal talent will only reveal the surface thoughts of the creatures “disguise”, as it uses their absorbed personality to further its pretence, and the creatures own thoughts are too alien to detect. If discovered, the creature immediately transforms and attacks in an attempt to infect those around it.
The cells of the metamorph are highly contagious, and even the briefest flesh to flesh contact carries a chance of infection, increasing dramatically if the victim has any open wounds. If direct contact is made with the creature, the victim must make a basic LUCK check to avoid infection (LUCK/2 if they have any open wounds or the creature does Armed Combat Damage). If they fail, they are infected, and will be completely assimilated by the creature in 1d10 hours minus 1 hour for each wound they have suffered, during which time they are unaware what is happening to them. Kindly CMs may rule that the infection may be purged from a victim before completion through the use of alien science, paranormal talents, electrocution, or magic (if it exists in your campaign). Once a character has been fully assimilated, they are dead, and their appearance and memories are just a mask for the creature to hide behind. They become an NPC under the control of the CM, though the CM may choose to take the player aside and explain what has happened, then allow them to continue to play the character and continue the cycle of infiltration and infection.
The creature prefers to infect by stealth, and will take steps to achieve this by contaminating food, water and medical supplies whenever possible. Consuming contaminated materials leads to immediate infection, as above, with complete assimilation in 1d10/2 hours.
As what is effectively a colony creature composed of robust cells, the metamorph is extremely difficult to kill. While it is affected by normal damage, every part of it must be destroyed to prevent it from surviving in some form. Attacks such as fire, ionising radiation, acid and electrocution will destroy the viability of the cells sufficiently that the creature cannot survive, but even then care must be taken that the metamorph has not secreted a small part of itself somewhere to allow it to continue. The metamorph is vulnerable to extremes of temperature, and cold conditions will slow down its cellular activity enough that the creature becomes dormant – a state in which it can survive for thousands of years.
The stats above apply to the creature regardless of its form. Until a host is fully assimilated, it uses the hosts stats. The creature can move at its full speed across any surface, including walls and ceilings.
Contagious Metamorph Powers
Absorb Flesh: The metamorph can use the tissue of other creatures it is touching to heal itself. This ability takes 1d10/2 rounds,and has a flat cost to the metamorph of 10 WPR. Absorbing the body of a creature will restore the metamorphs wound score to maximum. Once the tissue has been absorbed, the metamorph can assume its form. If the victim was alive, the metamorph will now possess all their memories, instincts and skills (and paranormal talents if they had any). If the victim was already dead, the metamorph can still take their shape, but will not have any of their memories, instincts, skills or paranormal talents (for example, it could absorb a dead bird, and take on its form, but would not know how to fly) and is detectable on a basic PCN check. The creature can only absorb tissue in this manner (i.e. flesh, bone, hair and nails). Clothing, dental fillings, prosthetics, jewellery and implants will be left behind and must be disposed of.
Colony Creature: Every part of the metamorph can become an independent creature in its own right. The metamorph can choose to separate parts of itself in order to escape or provide a new infection vector at a cost of 10 WPR per separation. This takes 1 round, and the metamorph will normally try to conceal wha it is doing. Separated parts are effectively new metamorphs, and share the same stats as the original though their initial wound score is only 25% (rounded up) of the original metamorph, but they can increase this by using the Absorb Flesh power. Typically, separated parts will attempt to either infect a new host or flee the area as fast as possible. Small amounts of cells (such as those contained within a blood sample) are too small to reason, and will instinctively flee any threat.
Merge: Different parts of the metamorph can merge together to create a larger form when necessary. Normally the creature will only do this under extreme threat as it cannot remain disguised in this form. When it does so, the basic stats of the creature remain the same. However the creatures Wound scores and Penetration Bonuses are added together, to reflect the robust nature of the combined form. Merging costs 10 WPR per creature.
Rapid Regeneration: The protean nature of the metamorph allows it to heal damage from any attack that does not destroy the cells (acid, heat/flame or radiation). The creature automatically heals at a rate of 1 wound per round, and can double this at will, for a cost of 10 WPR per round.
Unnatural Weapons: The metamorph can transform parts of its body at will; growing claws, tentacles, fangs or other natural weapons as required. This transformation takes 1 round, and costs the creature 1d10 WPR. Once transformed attacks by the creature do Armed Combat Damage, and incur a risk of metamorphic infection.
The contagious metamorph is an alien nightmare, a creature that hides within us, turning friend against friend and using our own fear and paranoia to defeat us. It is cunning, ruthless and dedicated to its own survival above all else. First encountered in Antartica in 1982, there have been no reports of the creature since, but others of its kind may lie dormant beneath the ice, waiting to be freed by global warming or the probing of unwary scientists. Worse, they may already be free in the biosphere, creeping unseen around the planet like an unsuspected disease, waiting until it has enough of mankind in its grasp before abandoning the charade. Some have speculated that the creature may be the reason we have yet to detect alien civilizations, and that it has infected every inhabited world we might reach. If this is true, then our future may be to become nothing more than a passing disguise for a sapient alien disease.
Sources: Who Goes There? (Novella, John W Campbell, 1938), The Thing (Movie, 1982), The Thing (Movie, 2011)
Writers Note: Use this Thing at your own risk! I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible to the source material. As written, it’s an almost certain TPK in a box, so don’t use it with characters your players are fond of. There’s a very good chance none of them will make it out alive, or uninfected. You have been warned!