Friday, January 26, 2018

Ecology of the Derelicts (Sunless Horizon)

The Derelicts
The Derelicts are the core of Sunless Horizon. Broken, floating fragments of starships, they make the only resources available to the remnants of humanity. Each is filled with disintegrating components, volatile chemicals, and violent synthetics.

However, some things still manage to eke out a living in this lightless expanse.

Reactor Moss
Gathering energy from the barely-active nuclear materials inside of a derelict's reactor and food from any creature that steps into them, Reactor Moss grows as wide grey beds with hundreds of hooks, waving as if to wind until something comes within reach. When an organic creature comes within reach of the hooks, they grab it, draining the nutrients from the creature to replace what would have been gained from soil.

Reactor Moss reproduces using sticky, hardened spores that hibernate until reaching a survivable surface: generally another derelict.

Spitting Lily
The Spitting Lily is a rarer specimen, only growing on derelicts with available chemical stores. The Spitting Lily synthesizes those chemicals into a vicious acid it spouts at prey. Spitting Lilies have a wide, bulbous stem which tapers into a narrow hose, surrounded by acid-resistant petals.

Orion's Eye
The Orion's Eye is a more proactive predatory plant, rolling through the hallways of derelicts like an angry tumbleweed. Each of their springy branches end in spheres of sticky acid: while the adhesive is weak enough to allow the Eye to move, it's strong enough to catch insects out of the air. Unlike the Spitting Lily or Reactor Moss, the Orion's Eye is nothing more than an inconvenience to scavengers.

Bristlebeast
The horse-sized furred Bristlebeast is common on derelicts with Reactor Moss. Their face's brush-like set of bristles are vibrated by thousands of tiny muscles to scrub Reactor Moss off of its walls, to be picked up by the Bristlebeast's five barbed tongues. They have a disproportionately long, thick neck, in order to avoid bringing the body too close to Reactor Moss, and hopefully pull the head out in case of accidental contact.

Bristlebeasts are skittish, preferring to avoid combat, and cannot survive in space.



Sledgehammer Crab (this is a terrible name.)
The predatory Sledgehammer Crab secretes a sticky material and uses its claws to scrape metal off of the sides of derelict hallways to attach them to itself.

The Borer Fly drills into the shells they create, living off of small pieces of the crab. When their "nest" is attacked, they swarm out to defend it.
 

Borer Fly
The feathered Borer Fly has more in common with birds than insects, with a large, spiked beak to drill into Sledgehammer Crabs and through the walls of derelicts. They only fight if their living nest is under threat, returning to it when the threat is gone.

Nipper Fly
The Nipper Fly is an herbivorous insect with a conspicuously large set of mandibles, similar to a stag beetle. Similar to the Borer Fly, the Nipper Fly is covered in a layer of gray feathers. They eat plants, such as the Spitting Lily, by latching onto them and tearing pieces off through violent spins.


Harpoon Fly
The Harpoon Fly's most recognizable feature is its large, barbed stinger. While it is not poisonous, it is between 6 and 12 inches long, making up almost three quarters of the Harpoon Fly's body length. The barbed stinger is used to impale Borer Flies after they drilled into Sledgehammer Crabs. Because of the stinger's length, the Harpoon Flies have difficulty flying, commonly staying on the same crab for days at a time.



Morningstar Crab (also a terrible name)
The herbivorous Morningstar Crab, an evolutionary relative to the Sledgehammer Crab, eschews the sticky excretion and shell for a covering of spiny hairs. It burrows through metal, waiting for more violent creatures to pass before leaving to eat.

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth , Axis Mundi , HMS Apolly...