Janet was a lot different after the procedure. Those first few months were tough, and I hate to say that. You’re torn between being overjoyed that they survived, but the side effects are really troubling. The memory gaps, that odd feeling of detachment, that blank stare and lack of facial expressions. It’s like, “congratulations, your wife beat stage IV pancreatic cancer and now here she is, except she barely remembers who you are, who anyone is, and cognitively most of her brain has gone into reset mode.” Sorry. Yeah, it was hard, but she learned to walk again, learned to read again, remembered more and more about her life, remembered me. Is she the same woman I married? No. Oddly in a lot of ways she’s better. To be honest, but I’m not the same man she married either. Life, in general, changes you, and something like this, being so close to death and then saved by this miracle treatment, yeah, expect some big changes.
Actually a form of proto-shoggoth, symbiotic shoggoths are the creations of experimentation. They are a hybridization of shoggoth protoplasmic matter and human tissue, originally designed to seek out cancer cells in a human body and destroy them. After countless failures, a variety of these specialized cells (named Recaptive-28) were created that did, in fact, remove all traces of cancer from a human body. What no one, not even the scientists who created this treatment understand, is that what most consider “side effects” are actually a new state of being.
When Recaptiv-28 is injected into a cancer patient it is usually done as a last resort, when the disease has spread uncontrollably and no other options for survival are left. This causes an incredibly high fever, during which time the patient is often packed in ice and put into a medically induced coma to shield them from the pain. Even then, the treatment fails about 70% of the time, resulting in either death or brain death while completely eliminating all cancer cells from the subject.
In those 30% of cases where the patient does survive, the Recaptive-28 cells do something unusual which, to date, no one in the scientific community is even aware of. The cells form a hive consciousness—a single entity traveling throughout the body via the nervous system. While doing so, they absorb the patient’s nervous system and replace it with more of its own cells. Eventually the entire nervous system is replaced, including the brain and optic nerves (including the eyes). The hive consciousness then incorporates all of the information stored in the patient’s brain. At this point, the person the host was is technically brain dead, their bodies now controlled by an alien entity which is slowly processing its memories.
Once the patient wakes up, they slowly begin to recover as it learns new things and processes the information it absorbed from the host. This forms a new personality, a mix of the newly experienced, the remembered, and the cold alien consciousness at the root of it all. Emotions come slowly, as does empathy, compassion, and facial expressions to the symbiotic shoggoth. They never really understand these things, but do learn to mimic them in order to put others at ease. However, at their core, symbiotic shoggoths remain cold, calculating, and ruthless survivors, defending their host bodies, violently if need be, without regard for anyone else. If their host bodies die so do the Recaptive-28 proto-shoggoth cells, and they know this.
Once accepted by the host, these creatures begin making changes to their new, rather fragile form. Symbiotic shoggoths often begin exercising, practicing a healthy diet, and leading a more active lifestyle. They also manipulate the body, through the new nervous system, to improve reflexes, heighten endurance, build muscle mass, boost coordination, and enhance stamina. Symbiotic shoggoths have perfect memory as well, able to recall, without fail, anything they’ve experienced. To most, it seems the recovered patient has been given a second chance at life and is doing the most with it. Within a year of recovering, a Recaptive-28 survivor becomes a nearly perfect human specimen, with Olympic level physical abilities and a photographic memory.
Symbiotic shoggoths make use of their new, nearly perfect, human body. Many study forms of marital arts to better defend themselves. They shun weapons, either melee, missile, or firearms for some reason, much preferring the purity of form over technology. If truly pressed, they can strike out from the body, forming a pair of three-foot-long protoplasmic tendrils, whose tips can harden into sharp boney tips for stabbing. These emerge from the only place the nervous system has open access to the outside world: the host’s eye sockets. The symbiotic shoggoth can see perfectly fine through the tendrils, and quickly re-absorb them into the skull and reform them into the host body’s eyes. When injured, symbotic shoggoths recover very quickly, regenerating 1 hit point every half hour, although this requires a great deal of food to maintain for more than an hour.
It is unclear if symbiotic shoggoths understand what they are. Many become highly skilled specialists in various fields of science and technology (fields involving art or human interaction don’t come easy to them). Some form into groups, meeting secretly, to discuss and enact mysterious agendas. Strangely, some of these groups seem to be working against one another, with some intent on replacing humanity as the dominant form of life, others wanting to trigger a societal collapse, while other are trying to protect mankind from its own dark nature and other hostile symbiotic shoggoth groups, and a few are trying to restore balance to the environment. Some form deep, and possibly real, emotional attachments to humans, such as their children, friends, and relationship partners, but even they don’t understand why.
(4D6+4) × 5
(4D6+6) × 5
(4D6+2) × 5
(2D6+12) × 5
(3D6+3) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5
(2D6+6) × 5
(2D6+12) × 5
Average Hit Points: 18
Average Damage Bonus: +1D6
Average Build: 2
Average Magic Points: 12
Attacks per round: 1 (physical attack) or 2 (stabing tendrils)
Symbiotic shoggoths can attack using their heightened physical forms or with tendrils emerging from their eyes.
Fighting (Brawl) 75% (37/15), damage 1D3+DB
Stabbing Tendrils 75% (37/15), damage 1D4+DB
Dodge 60% (30/15)
Climb 70%, Jump 80%, Listen 75%, Spot Hidden 80%, Stealth 70%, and any 3 personal specialty skills between 66–85% (65%+1D20).
Armor: none; regenerates 1 hit point every half hour (death at zero hit points).
Sanity Loss: 1/1D6 Sanity points to witness a symbiotic shoggoth employing its tendrils.