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Wretched F*cking Bugs: Cymothoa Sanguinaria

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  • Wretched F*cking Bugs: Cymothoa Sanguinaria

    Hello all, and happy holidays. I'm hopefully not about to ruin them!

    We over at NMD Productions are getting ready to release Better Feared: Nosferatu. That should be out in early January (keep your eyes peeled), but I wanted to offer up a little preview. This is an update of Cymothoa sanguinaria, the awful, disgusting, icky parasite from Night Horrors: Wicked Dead;isopods give me the creeps, as you might have guessed. This is a fairly no-frills conversion, and mostly intended for NPCs, but feel free to use it as a starting point if you want something a little more in-depth or player-facing.

    I've labeled this a Night Horror (since they are, after all), but these guys don't actually appear in the Night Horror chapter of the book! What do they have to do with the Nosferatu? Why aren't they in the antagonists chapter? You'll have to check out Better Feared to find out...


    Night Horror: Cymothoa Sanguinaria




    Cymothoa sanguinaria is a vampiric isopod, endemic to Iceland, Japan, parts of the American Southwest, and (more recently) Mauritania. While they share certain qualities with Kindred, they aren’t supernatural, as far as anyone can tell, but are rather the result of Mother Nature’s own sick sense of humor. Unlike their close relative, the tongue-eating louse, these parasites eschew fish for mammals — especially humans.

    Usually found in hot springs and other humid, watery environments, the parasite’s tiny larvae infect hosts by crawling up the nasal cavity, then hollowing out a chunk of the tongue as their victims sleep. Concealed within the organ, they periodically release hormones and psychotropic chemicals to turn their new meat suits into mindless, blood-seeking thralls.
    Symptoms of C. sanguinaria infection are similar to the Bestial Triad, a quality that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Kindred scientists, but whether these wretched bugs have any connection to true vampires remains an open question.

    Systems

    All Cymothoa sanguinaria hosts suffer from the Fugue Condition. The effect of this Condition is triggered in two ways: Whenever a host goes to sleep, and whenever they suffer a breaking point, the latter being all the more likely under the parasite’s influence.

    While dominant, the parasite forces its host to seek out fresh blood in order to progress its life cycle: It might invest its host with a murderous rage, or just an overwhelming urge to mate. The more blood the host collects, the more eggs the parasite can lay in his digestive track, withering his intestines as they sap away nutrients.

    The parasite consumes blood by extending from the host’s tongue. Use the system for the Assault on p. 94 of Vampire: The Requiem. Its jaws are more powerful than its size would suggest, and it can inflict lethal damage to vampires with its bite.

    Infected characters gain Unseen Sense: Vampires upon infection; both C. sanguinaria and its hosts fall into this category. Once fertilized, the creature will view other parasites as competition, and may force its host into violent encounters over territory, including with Kindred.

    Infection moves through three stages. A host enters the first within a week of infection, and progresses through subsequent stages as the parasite grows and devours their tongue. Storytellers can time this progression as they see fit, though if a player character becomes infected, one or two weeks per stage works as a rule of thumb, depending on how much blood the parasite gathers.

    Treat the associated Conditions at each stage as persistent, with the usual resolutions as Beat criteria; only removing the parasite can resolve them. However, while C. sanguinaria is in control, these Conditions go dormant, and the host is immune to Disciplines like Dominate, Majesty, and Nightmare.
    All Attribute modifiers are cumulative.

    Stage 1

    At stage one, the parasite is large enough to start hunting. As such, the victim gains a boost of endurance and well-being, gaining a +1 to all Physical Attributes... and ignoring the numbness in his tongue, as well as other mysterious injuries. However, he also feels less inhibited, even “frisky.” Friends might dismiss this as a midlife crisis, but they won’t be able to ignore it for long. At this stage, the host gains the Wanton Condition.

    Stage 2

    The parasite takes its full adult form, and the victim’s lust for life twists into a superiority complex, reflecting the creature’s aggressive desire to mate. The host now takes a +2 to Presence and Wits, as his cutthroat attitude makes it difficult to challenge him. However, he also suffers a –2 to Composure, blowing up at even minor hassles or setbacks. This applies to breaking points and resisting the Fugue Condition. At this stage, he gains the Competitive Condition, ending Wanton.

    The creature is now mature enough to mate. It can inseminate itself, but it prefers its own kind, and will seek out other hosts. Sometimes the parasite mistakes Kindred for hosts, and this can lead to unpleasant and/or violent encounters.

    Stage 3

    By the final stage, the parasite has replaced most of the victim’s tongue. The host takes an additional +2 on all Physical Attributes, but a –3 on Intelligence actions, and his Composure penalty increases to 5. All failed Mental Skill rolls become dramatic failures, but he also no longer suffers wound penalties. At this stage, the host gains the Bestial Condition, ending Competitive. If he ever dramatically fails a roll to resist Fugue, the parasite gains permanent possession of his body.

    When the parasite takes final control, it seeks out a brooding pool. Once it finds one, it sets off an agonizing spasm in the host’s bowels, expelling most his intestinal tract along with the eggs. It then forces the host to protect the pool for the rest of his brief life. Unable to eat, the human soon starves, and his corpse becomes a meal for the parasite’s young.



    Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

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    Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
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  • #2
    ...You had to bring THAT back to 2e, didn't you?

    (great job. I hate it because I am terrifyed from parasites since I was a child, but it is still an horror game so great job :P)


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    • #3
      Originally posted by LostLight View Post
      ...You had to bring THAT back to 2e, didn't you?
      <Professor Farnsworth voice> Oh my, yes.

      Edit: Actually, Second Chances gets the blame for this one, I just crunched the numbers.
      Last edited by Yossarian; 12-29-2020, 07:24 PM.



      Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

      Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
      Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
      Storytellers Vault: Author Page

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      • #4
        Originally posted by LostLight View Post
        ...You had to bring THAT back to 2e, didn't you?

        (great job. I hate it because I am terrifyed from parasites since I was a child, but it is still an horror game so great job :P)
        I'm a Biology teacher. Yes. Yes we did.


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        • #5
          Note that Cymothoa predates Last of Us by far. The night I found out about the real life species in which they are inspired, I couldn't sleep properly.

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