The Uncommon Uses of the Common Zood

My first post commissioned via Ko-Fi, this one is for you Furtive goblin!
Well hi there little buddy!

On the Khokhantipa Mudflats there lives a native people who eek out a living on the whims of the tides, scavenging upon the broad stinking morass of low tide and riding the waves of the high tide. While the people themselves are worthy of a post or two of investigation, the focus of this is upon their ever present companions, the industrious Zood.

Now I’m sure many of you have heard of the Water Bear, a sort of microscopic organism that looks like the midway point between a leech and an obese bear, and doubtless you’ve heard of their nigh invulnerability. Of course being around .02 inches in size means that though they might be able to survive the void of space, being deep frozen for centuries, or extreme radiation, you still probably kill them in the dozens any time you pick up some moss. Okay, now I want you to imagine this same thing, but make it sixteen to twenty feet long and weighing more than an African Elephant. This is the Zood, and the Khokhantipians have spent, apparently, thirty by thirty generations domesticating and living along side these bizarre beasts of burden.

I am sure that you, being likely of the OSR mindset, immediately hear this and want to add it to your game. But what, pray tell, can you possibly do with such a lumbersome beast? Well adding them to your beastiary is perhaps the least interesting thing, but I’ll provide you stats anyways. No, these creatures are central to a people’s lively hood and thus are multipurpose creatures which could provide a variety of resources to your average adventurer.

Oh shit it spotted us.

Zood: It would be difficult for an outsider to buy a Zood off of a Khokhantipan, as these creatures are precious to their way of life. However you might be able to rent one of perhaps you are gifted a young one for a great service done to the people of the Mudflats. The Zood is a ponderous filter feeder that spend the vast majority of their waking life sucking mud from the mudflats or siphoning plankton from seawater. As such, they are not terrible effective mounts outside of the Khokhantipan mudflats due to their dietary needs. That said, they are next to impossible to sink, don’t seem to ever actually sleep, having the hauling power of an especially persistent elephant and can home in on the mudflats better than a homing pigeon can find home.

10 HD Zood
Appearance:  A 16′-20′ 5 ton, 8 legged water bear
Wants: Siphon mud, mate, act as pack animal
Armour: Chain- Threre is a lot of fat to get through
Move: 1/4 Normal, 1/2 normal in water
Morale: 12- Too dumb to run away
Damage: 1d6 Stylet, can only attack every other round. 

The Zood is immune to radiation, can survive both boiling and freezing temperatures, and as far as we know, survive the vacuum of space.

Zood Blubber: A large percentage of a Zood’s bodymass is made up of vascularized blubber. Composed primarily of triglycerides, comparable to baleen whale fats, Zood Blubber is both an excellent source of nutrition and a viable fuel when processed into oil. A pound of Zood Blubber can provide 1 ration and can be eaten raw, tasting oily and somewhat nutty. Preserved Zood Blubber tends to be pickled and will last upwards of six months. Oil processed from Zood Blubber can be used to make an effective soap as well as burnt as a light source, though it gives a rather potent low tide smell. A single average five ton Zood can be fully flensed and processed to produce 1400 gallons of Zood oil or about 3500 pounds of blubber. Zood, however, molt on a yearly basis and their moltings can be scrapped for 10% of a full harvest.

In the style of the Monster Menu-All:
Flavour: extremely oily and nutty, similar to bear meat but it melts in your mouth if eaten raw. Will be extremely chewy if the skin isn’t removed.

d10 Result
1 Gas Pocket. A pocket of Zood Gas has formed within the Blubber. Save or begin to asphyxiate.
2-9 Nutritious. Act as Normal Meat
10 Lubricated. Your esophagus and digestive system are highly lubricated for the rest of the day, allowing you a +4 against swallowed poisons as they quickly run through you before being absorbed. Also terrible diarrhea.

Zood Ambergris: The Zood, as previously mentioned, only molt once per year. They also, dear god, only excrete once a year, leaving their…well waste behind in their molted cuticle. This waste is made up of all of the detritus siphoned up from the mudflats that could not be processed into pure fat or nutrients, usually various particularly dense shells, stones, and non-organic matter. While stewing in the guts of the Zood for a year, these accumulate various waxes and curious organic biles, resulting in a particularly vilely marine smelling greenish grey substance. Unlike whale ambergris, which can age into a rubbing alcohol-like scent and fixative useful for perfume manufacture, Zood Ambergris only seems to become more potent and almost cheesy over time. The Khophkantipans consider Zood Ambergris a delicacy, but it takes a hardy stomach to handle it. As a wax-based sealant, however, Zood Ambergris is highly sought after. A thin layer of processed Zood Ambergris can waterproof anything for decades, although it leaves a permanent smell somewhere between salt marsh and foot odor. Sailing vessels, which smell like fish anyways, and Alchemists, who smell enough sulfur on a daily basis anyways, both would pay a pretty penny for the Ambergris. The Khohkantipans tend to use it to water proof their clothing when they are not eating it.

In the style of the Monster Menu-All:
Flavour: like old fishheads wrapped in fermented seaweed then covered in mildewed cheese wax

d10 Result
1-5. Hideous, vomit and loose all benefits of the meal
6-9. Acquired Taste, as normal meat plus low-tide halitosis for a week.
10. Aphrodisiac. You literally ooze sex, all creatures within smelling range of you that could be sexually attracted to you must Save or act in accordance to their lust.

Zood Gas: The Zood are incredibly buoyant creatures, not only due to its fat content but also for a rather significant amount of gas that fill its innards. Due to the Zood’s curious digestive processes, the Zood is unable to easily dispense with the build up of gases. Luckily for the Zood, it has developed a number of specialized balloon-like organs that store the gases until they can be released during the molt. The Khohkantipans collected these…well Zood farts during the molt via specialized sacks, often the preserved gas collection organs of dead Zood. They usually use these as buoys for navigation or marking out crab pots. Alchemists studying the Zood Gas found it to actually be a very potent fuel source, but its gaseous nature makes it rather difficult to handle. A single Zood Gas balloon, if set on fire, can explode and deal damage comparable to alchemist’s fire.

You looking at me?

Zood Stylet: The Zood’s mouth is something between a filter and a proboscis, which is uses to siphon up the nutrient rich mud of its tidal home. When it comes across a particularly bothersome patch of mud, it can extend a pair of hard sharp stylets to pierce and mix the morass. These, like so much else of the Zood, molt yearly and are regrown by a pair of glands on either side of the creature’s mouth. During mating season, the Bull Zood will use these stylets in a form of combat termed, by an Ivory Tower University Grad student I’m sure, “Snoot-Jousting.” This involves two Bull Zood waddling until they are face to face and then repeatedly retracting and extending their necks so that their faces bash together. As this area contains the feeding apparatus and the creatures’ eyes, it is among the few places on the Zood that is actually easy to harm. But enough about Zood sex rituals. The being little else but mud on the mudflats, the Khohkantipans use the shed stylets in a number of ways such as awls and needles or in scrimshaw or as the points of their driftwood fishing spears. As a spear, the stylet acts as fragile Medium weapon but requires no processing or expertise to make thereby costing less than half of what an equivalent steel weapon would cost.

Zood Skin: Fresh skin can only be harvested from dead Zood and is thus usually only acquired from hunting wild Zood or from domesticated Zood that have passed on. A single Zood possesses, on average, about 350 square feet of skin. To put this in some sort of scale, an average human has about 22 square feet of skin which could cover an average door way. A single Zood skin is enough to make a 14′ tall tepee with enough space to fit a family of four. The Khohkantipans use these skins and other materials to create something of a floating yurt. They rest easily on the mud flats during low tide and float when the tide comes in via a combination of driftwood and Zood gas filled bladders along with sinew and rock anchors to keep the home from drifting away. The Zood skin can also be tanned to create a variety of clothing and footwear or be turned into cord for fishing nets. The skin is highly resistant to both water and radiation, allowing the Khohkantipans to avoid the worst of their shadeless watery home with relative ease. Wizards and alchemists have been known to use Zood leather gloves for their more esoteric experiments when lead shielding isn’t enough. Zood skin can be used to make Leather Armor that gives Advantage to rolls resisting radiation.

Zood Cuticle: Once a year, Zood undergo a molting process in which their outer layer of skin hardens and they slide out from it fresh and new. This is also when Zood mate and evacuate their waste. The left over shell or Cuticle is used by the Zood themselves to leave their waste and to lay their eggs into. The small amount of adipose tissue and feces serve as the base nutrients for the Zooglings once they have hatched. With human intervention, a certain amount of the Cuticules are taken before they can be used as nests. These are cleaned and treated with Zood Ambergris to waterproof and preserve them. Cuticle can be used to create bulky armor equivalent to plate, but this is only seen in the collections of museums and eccentrics. More often, they are used to create slightly transparent canoes that allow the Khohkantipans to watch for fish beneath them during their fishing expeditions. Zood Cuticle can also be layered and laminated to create an equivalent of a wooden shield.

Zood Blimp: Let’s be clear, the Khohkantipans do not do this, they are a people of the silt and sea and the idea of lifting off into the sky is completely outside of their idea of a good time. This was the result of the efforts of an Ivory Tower University grad student with something to prove. By harvesting the skin of about ten wild Zood to create a canvas of about 3385 square feet and capturing the Zood gas from as many, the aforesaid student along with a team of undergrads created a one man hot air balloon capable of sustained vertical lift off capable of lifting about 200 pounds. Said “Zood Blimp” got the grad student a diploma and a professorship while the Blimp itself made the rounds as a sort of spectacle. There are those who consider it might have value as a scouting device, however the trouble with capturing and processing the Zood en masse have proven to be difficult and the Khohkantipans have, understandably, resisted all efforts from foreigners to harvest the Zood.

Cue Jaws Theme

 

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