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Template Grafts | Universal Monster Rules


Vermelith

Source Alien Archive 2 pg. 130

Vermelith Tier 9

N Huge starship magical beast
Speed 4; Maneuverability poor (turn 3); Drift
AC 25; TL 22; Immunities EMP, radiation, vacuum
HP 200; DT 5; CT 40
Shields none
Attack (Forward) gravity gun +13 (6d6), bite +13 (8d6 plus EMP and swallow starship)
Attack (Turret) tail whip +13 (8d6, ripper)
Skills Engineering +17, Piloting +18
Power Core vermelith heart (150 PCU); Drift Engine none; Systems mk 5 defenses, mk 8 armor; Expansion Bays swallow starship;
Other Abilities encyst, extreme resistance, living starship, void adaptation

Crew Actions

Engineer (1 action) Engineering +17 (9 ranks)
Gunners (2 actions) gunnery +15 (9th level)
Pilot (1 action) Piloting +18 (9 ranks)

Ecology

Environment any vacuum
Organization solitary

Special Abilities

Bite (Ex) A vermelith can use its bite only against a ship in an adjacent hex. If the vermelith deals damage with this attack to a ship of its size or smaller, it holds that ship in place. As an action, the pilot of the bitten starship can attempt a DC 28 Piloting check to break free of the jaws. While holding a starship in its jaws, the vermelith can’t move, turn, or use its gravity gun, but it can make tail attacks or attempt to bite or swallow the same starship. The vermelith and the ship it is holding take a –2 penalty to AC and TL and to Piloting checks to determine movement order in starship combat.

Encyst (Ex) A vermelith can coil up and, over 6 hours, exude a rocky layer that resembles an asteroid. An encysted vermelith can take no actions, but it increases its AC and TL by 5 and its DT by 10. A creature that succeeds at a DC 28 Mysticism check can identify an encysted vermelith as a creature. A vermelith can remain encysted indefinitely. If awakened during starship combat, a vermelith bursts out of its cyst during the engineering phase and acts normally.

Extreme Resistance (Ex) A vermelith gains a +4 bonus to its AC against direct fire weapons that have the EMP special property or use gravity, and its DT against such weapons is 15. A vermelith has a +5 bonus to Piloting checks it attempts due to gravity, such as escaping a tractor beam.

Living Starship (Ex) A vermelith is a living creature that can engages only in starship combat. It has no crew, but it can still take engineer, gunner, and pilot actions using the skill bonuses, ranks, and level listed in the Crew Actions section above. Modifiers for its size, speed, and maneuverability are already factored into its statistics. Use the table below when the vermelith takes critical damage. The vermelith’s brain can’t gain the wrecked condition.

D%SystemEffect
1–30Weapon arrayCondition applies to all gunner actions
31–60Gravity centersCondition applies to gunner actions with the gravity gun and all pilot actions
61–90HeartCondition applies to engineer actions except patching or repairing the heart
91–100BrainCondition applies to all actions

Swallow Starship (Ex) If a vermelith is holding a starship smaller than it in place, it can swallow that vessel by making a successful bite attack against it. A vermelith’s gullet can hold one Large ship, two Medium ships, four Small ships, or eight Tiny ships. A vermelith can take an action during the gunnery phase to crush starships inside it, dealing 4d6 damage (divide this damage equally across all arcs, starting with the forward arc and proceeding clockwise) and applying the EMP special property. A swallowed vessel can still attack. The vermelith’s interior has AC 21, TL 18, and DT 0. However, starship weapons deal half their damage to the firing ship through a combination of blowback and the vermelith’s physical reactions. If a swallowed starship deals 50 damage to the vermelith’s interior, the ship blows a hole in the creature big enough to attempt to fly through. During the helm phase, the pilot of a swallowed starship can attempt to fly free with a Piloting check (DC 28, or DC 33 if the vermelith has no hole in it). On a failure, the starship remains within the vermelith.

Tail Whip (Ex) A vermelith can use its tail whip only against a starship in an adjacent hex. This attack has the ripper special property.

Description

Vermeliths are silicon-based worms of various sizes, but the titanic, starship-eating variety commands the most attention. These worms are lithotrophs that eat rock and metal. They dwell in asteroid fields, comet heads, dust clouds, and small moons.

Growing slowly but constantly, vermeliths live thousands of years, taking centuries to mature. They’re adapted to zerogravity and vacuum, but they can tolerate gravity, so they inhabit moons and planetoids, with or without atmosphere. Vermeliths can also perceive and manipulate electromagnetic and gravitational fields, including their own internal fields, which the worms use to move through space, rend objects, and find food by sensing the density of nearby materials.

Vermeliths begin life as egglike cysts, which are smooth, rocky orbs 5 feet across, drifting through space. The worm remains quiescent until its cyst drifts near a mineral-rich body. Once it finds such a prize, the worm dissolves its cyst and uses gravity manipulation to land. The young vermelith burrows in, gorging on the minerals. When the vermelith exhausts its food, it travels to nearby sources. If no such target can be found, the worm launches itself into space and encysts again, awakening when a chance encounter brings it near a new potential meal.

These star worms lead solitary lives and react aggressively to any interlopers in their territory, whether they are starships or other vermeliths. If an adult vermelith ventures near another mature specimen, both release a cloud of gametes before the stronger vermelith drives the weaker one away. These gamete clouds mix and form dozens of eggs, propagating the species. The reflective nutritive dust released with the gametes also forms vermeliths’ natural defensive countermeasures.

Adult vermeliths spend much of their time asleep, conserving energy and digesting. A sleeping vermelith poses little threat to explorers unless something awakens it. While tall tales tell of ships that accidentally landed inside a sleeping vermelith with its mouth agape, deliberate exploration can also prove lucrative. The cavernous innards of an adult vermelith can enclose an entire ecosystem, including diverse life-forms. Moisture and gases from the vermelith’s digestive processes fill this internal cavity, kept in place by pressure and the vermelith’s bizarre internal gravity. Derelict ships and ancient technology that survived digestion can be found inside, sometimes thousands of years old. Some vermeliths even have breathable atmospheres inside them. Inhabitants of these ecosystems aid their host’s digestion or feed off the vermelith, while others are opportunistic survivors from destroyed vessels or smaller asteroids the worm swallowed. No two vermeliths house the same internal ecology.

Mature vermeliths average 1,200 feet long, but these worms continue growing throughout their lives. Truly ancient vermeliths can be Colossal and threaten the largest starships.

Vermelith Starships

A slain vermelith’s shell makes an excellent starship frame, with a hull that mitigates deleterious electromagnetic effects and provides a distinctive starship profile. A frame derived from a vermelith uses the head and a portion of the body, so this structure is smaller than the full worm. Larger vermeliths can provide materials for larger frames.