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Template Grafts | Universal Monster Rules

Shipkiller Bulb

Source Alien Archive 4 pg. 108

Shipkiller Bulb CR 18

XP 153,600
N Gargantuan plant
Init +0; Senses gravity sense 300 ft., low-light vision;; Perception +31


HP 415
EAC 30; KAC 32
Fort +21; Ref +19; Will +16
Defensive Abilities void adaptation; Immunities plant immunities


Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 120 ft. (Ex, average)
Melee tendril +32 (13d6+29 S)
Ranged gravity pulse +29 (6d10+18 plus entangle)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
Offensive Abilities crush (13d6+29 B)


STR +11; DEX -1; CON +8; INT -4; WIS +6; CHA +0
Skills Acrobatics +31, Athletics +36, Stealth +31
Other Abilities spaceflight (Acrobatics), stellar stealth, wall smasher


Environment any sky (gas giant) or vacuum
Organization solitary

Special Abilities

Entangle (Ex) After a shipkiller bulb’s gravity pulse hits, it entangles the target with gravitational pressure (Reflex DC 23 negates). An entangled creature can escape as a move action with a successful Acrobatics check (DC 37) or Strength check (DC 16). The entangled effect otherwise lasts for 2d4 rounds.
Gravity Pulse (Ex) The shipkiller bulb can weaponize gravitational distortions as an attack with a range increment of 60 feet; this is a force effect.
Gravity Sense (Ex) A shipkiller bulb can detect the gravity signatures from the mass of larger creatures and objects. This functions as blindsense except that the shipkiller bulb can sense only Small and larger creatures, as well as objects whose bulk is 3 or higher. The plant can detect powerful gravity events (such as weaponized singularities or a control gravity spell) at a range of 1 mile.
Stellar Stealth (Ex) A shipkiller bulb can foil technological sensors, using Stealth to hide even if it lacks cover. The Stealth check DC equals 10+ the starship science officer’s Computers modifier to perform the scan action, including any modifier granted by the starship’s sensors.
Wall Smasher (Ex) A shipkiller bulb can break a barrier such as a door or wall as a swift action, and if it spends a standard action to break a barrier, it gains a +30 circumstance bonus to the Strength check. When used against a wall, wall smasher affects a 20-foot-by-20-foot section.


A massive species of spaceborne plants inhabits the rocky rings of gas giants throughout the galaxy. Known to Pact Worlds scientists as greater ring roots, these creatures resemble immense, hirsute tubers bristling with gnarled tendrils and alien eyes. However, countless tragedies since the Gap have earned the infamous plant its more common name: the shipkiller bulb.

Like most plants, a shipkiller bulb subsists on a combination of minerals and photosynthesis, both of which are difficult to secure in their habitat. Many gas giants’ great distance from their respective suns leave the bulbs relatively starved for light, so when the plants orbit along their planets’ sun-facing sides, they unfurl their compact leaves into huge panels that catch as much light as possible. For water, the bulbs capture the rings’ ice crystals or draw frozen water out of debris, and they break apart the minerals in ring dust or descend into upper atmospheres to secure the necessary gases. In ideal circumstances, a shipkiller bulb takes root in an asteroid, slowly drains the rocky mass of essential minerals, and then discards the crumbling debris before seeking out a new host.

Not only do shipkiller bulbs possess extraordinary patience, but they have exceptional gravitational abilities as well. Much of the bulb houses a specialized organ cluster which allows the plant to manipulate gravity, using it to push its body through space and drag in comets to consume. Gravity control is also critical to the bulbs’ propagation, as the plants combine their orbital momentum with their own telekinetic push to hurl seeds at tremendous speed across space. Most of these seeds are clones formed intermittently throughout its life, though each bulb blooms in a massive display of petals about once per century in order to reproduce sexually. These events draw opportunistic pollinators from the gas giants, and the resulting fruit clusters (known as brethebeans) are both delicious and among the most expensive produce in the Pact Worlds.

Shipkiller bulbs are generally quite peaceful. When starships enter or exit the Drift near a bulb, however, the resulting gravitational disturbances vex the plant like nails on a chalkboard. Disoriented and angry, an irritated shipkiller bulb acts erratically and often violently. In the best case, this involves fleeing the area or hurling nearby debris in frustration—a response that often inadvertently embeds the bulb’s seeds in any starships within range. But when the Drift event is especially close or the bulb is starved for nutrients, the plant earns its epithet. With a combination of powerful tendrils and pulses of gravity, a shipkiller bulb can tear open a starship’s hull within seconds. In its rampage, the plant preferentially attacks living creatures, though it will still deal massive structural damage. A shipkiller bulb wrecks its target until it loses interest, is chased off by powerful defenses, or is sated by draining the starship’s energy reserves, yet even a victorious crew might have to evacuate a vessel too damaged to repair. If left alone, a shipkiller bulb often lingers around the wreck for months, leeching nutrients from the hull until only a fragile shell remains.

Fortunately, a concentrated burst of starship weapons fire is often enough to discourage a riled bulb. The catch is that shipkiller bulbs are extremely difficult to detect, as the same gravitational fields they use for feeding also interfere with most forms of starship sensors. As a result, the first sign of a plant could be the sound of it tearing apart a vessel’s bulkhead. At least one specialized scanner design developed by the Xenowardens can reliably detect shipkiller bulbs, though the technology is neither widespread nor easy to integrate into fully technological starships. Foraging vessels that harvest the rare brethebeans are often equipped with specialized gravity scanners that have limited use beyond picking up the plants’ unique signatures, but the technology’s price and power requirements make it impractical for most vessels.

Thanks to their stealth, longevity, and far-flung seeds, shipkiller bulbs can theoretically appear anywhere in the galaxy, especially in debris fields, asteroid belts, and planetary rings. The population around Bretheda has largely been exterminated following violent Drift incidents, though rogue bulbs periodically resurface around the gas giants or in the Diaspora. A seed even lodged in Absalom Station’s Spike district, growing to the size of a car before being found and removed. Absalom Station and similar settlements periodically organize bulb patrols designed primarily to uproot any shipkiller seeds while simultaneously serving to sniff out any other parasites or lurking dangers within the space stations’ less trafficked regions.