Recently iO9.com posted a short story and video about an exploding whale.
No, not the famous Oregon exploding whale.
No, not the exploding whale of Taiwan.
This was a whale in the Faroe Islands that exploded due to a build up of gasses within its corpse, with the resulting explosion caught on film. While not as dramatic as the Oregon whale, who was blown up with a ton of high explosives, the Faroe Island footage is much more goopey. Warning, the link leads to a sceen that would make David Cronenberg proud.
Believe it or not, this got me to thinking about gaming. Specifically, the creature known as the gas spore.
The gas spore first appeared in the Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition. The creature is a fungus that looks just like a beholder. The idea is that an unwary party encountering what appears to be a powerful monster will launch into a surprise attack, hoping to kill the beholder before it can destroy them. But upon striking the gas spore, it explodes and covers the party with a choking cloud of fungus that will infect the characters and kill them within 24 hours, unless they can cure the infection. New gas spores grow within the victims’ corpses and drift off into the dungeon, waiting for more hapless adventurers.
In other words, the gas spore is one of those creatures that lives in a Gygaxian world for the sole purpose of letting a DM screw with the players. This is something I’m okay with. Fantasy worlds and faerie tales are filled with creatures whose existence makes no logical sense. I don’t understand why some gamers have a problem accepting the gas spore but have no problems with the beholder. Still, humans are pattern-seeking primates and I am no exception, so I came up with a new relationship between these two creatures.
Beholders are powerful beings, but not immortal. When a beholder dies due to age or sickness, its corpse undergoes a transformation. It continues to float mindlessly through the dark underground places, rotting inside and building up pressure until it is ready to burst. When an adventurer or monster strikes the corpse, it explodes and infects the attacker.
The mature gas spore is a beholder’s corpse. The new gas spores born from the bodies of fallen adventurers are the larval forms of new beholders. This forms a grotesque circle of life and death where dying characters become the birth place for all new horrors.