Archive for July 9, 2019

I know give this beauty a flash-bang! Cooool! Heh-heh-heh!

© 2019 G.N. Jacobs

A panther or other Big Cat upgunned with stun grenades? Yep, my mind at work. But, only if I grok enough fake biology to make it seem plausible. But, first a potentially typical encounter…

A particularly striking black cat lounges out on a slight rise nursing her four cubs watching for danger. The young squeal and mewl for their turn at the milk. The breeze shifts the direction of wave of the brownish knee-high grass. Her mate roams the edge of their territory; she smells him coming back.

With the shift in the wind comes a shift in the sounds carrying across the plains of this interface zone between savanna and the nearby forest. Ears twitch. Footsteps across the soft earth. And suddenly the taste of the milk changes. Cubs instinctively stop feeding allowing the mother to reach for them with her prehensile tail placing her bulk between her children and the majority of the hostile smells approaching from upwind.

The hunting party edges closer spears at the ready. Slowly spreading out on the crawl. They have a beautiful pelt for the wall just within grasp. The mother raises her tail straight up, a last warning. The hunters crawl closer. And then a hatch of flesh opens up on her flanks and…

…with a quick flick of her tail, she lobs an object much like an ostrich egg but perforated like a wiffleball into the largest concentration of hunters. KER-BANG! At least a million candles of white light join about 170 decibels of ear splitting painful noise. The hunters blink trying to clear vision and hold their ears uselessly against the raging tinnitus. Minutes later…

We will stop to acknowledge a natural pause point in the narrative where an appropriately aggressive novelist or DM has a decision to make. Does the stun-cat use the distraction described above to grab her babies for the ride on her back in order to skedaddle to an alternate lair? Or does she step down hill silently like the bobcat/panther/tiger she’s basically built like and start eating or slashing throats? I have an opinion discussed below, but once this post goes up stun-cat ceases to be purely my thing. Mayhem will vary.

Okay first, how did what looks like a majestic black pelted panther or like another locally appropriate Big Cat pretend-o evolve the extra firepower of a naturally occurring stun grenade aka flash-bang?

In the pen draft of this post, I envisioned a creature with a lifecycle almost as complicated as the Xenomorph from Alien, at least since giving the movies back to Riddley Scott. I will attempt to summarize.

The female stun-cat mates usually after a chase she initiates while describing the result as noisier than alleycats in a rumble. The fertilized embryo is moved not to the uterus but to one of twelve of her grenade pouches where the embryo forms the wiffle-egg structure with an inner layer of metallic magnesium and ammonium perchlorate. When threatened, instinct opens up the egg pouch with the thickest layer of flash-bang mix. The cat reaches in with her prehensile tail and makes the lob.

To basically anticipate the hecklement from the joker in the back (a kindred spirit most days), I made rules. Two-year gestation with four phases. The first three are egg phases that either last seven months or until the mother needs the egg to defend herself. For the last phase, the embryo is shunted back to the uterus for a standard live birth.

An egg that is detonated early is swallowed and held in the next stage longer until the next normal detonation time. Eggs must be blasted on or before the seven months are up. If an egg goes through all three bangs before the 21-month period is up, the mother’s body shunts the embryo to the uterus for a longer than normal regular pregnancy to the usual potentially slight detriment to Mama. Whenever an egg reverts back to being an embryo in utero, the female stun-cat ovulates the exact number of eggs to keep her grenade pouches filled. The Circle of Life.

Other than that I didn’t see the stun-cat as very much more ripped than whatever Big Cat they’re going as for Halloween. Enhanced smell. Excellent vision including low-light. A stalk and pounce predator. Craftiness to recognize when prey is trying to spot them. You’ve watched National Geographic, so have I.

It seems to me that the flash-bang should be enough mayhem for most DMs to nail players for reading ahead in The Monster Manual. Personally, my opinion on whether the stun-cat attacks or flees after lobbing her child is that in most cases she flees. Looking at the paragraphs above, the long gestation period and limit of twelve egg chambers pretty much creates a built-in ammo problem.

A stun-cat that attacks after throwing the first device might have to throw another grenade. And another. Monsters/creatures/hungry animals tend to evolve behavior that keeps them alive. Fleeing in this circumstance seems smarter. But, assume she’s hungry enough and who knows how Raw Dwarf on the Half-shell will taste? Mayhem will vary.

Other random thoughts about stun-cats.

What does the male do?

I assumed a fanatically bonded pairing. So I figured that if he senses the threat first, he growls a certain way, puts out a changed pheromone cocktail while stroking his mate’s back. She opens up a hatch and he makes the throw. Everything else proceeds normally. After that what does a male leopard do?

What do they look like?

Whatever Big Cat is most appropriate to the environment. If the similar terrain on Earth gives you tigers, stun-cat comes to the party in orange or white with stripes. Or spots. Or that shiny black pelt. And if her home planet is mostly pink? Meet the pink stun-cat.

I personally would add the caveat that the cheetah with the extra speed might be unbalancing for the purposes of a game. To have the stun grenade, the basic camouflage and hunting instincts of a Big Cat and cheetah speed might be too much in one beast. But, you know your players and readers best. Mayhem will vary.

Which leads to the last three questions.

How do you defeat them?

The same way you hunt lions: upwind, good cover and a trusty projectile. If you can see it in the tall grass you can shoot it with a trusty Winchester. Or you need lots of people wearing earplugs and welding goggles to get in close for the mass sword whack moment. In game terms, let’s call it between five and eight or so hit dice and natural armor of the pelt more or less like a suit of stiff leather.

Can I make them into people (player characters)?

Sure, why not? Just because I didn’t think that far ahead, doesn’t mean you can’t take the ball to advance my fumble. Certainly giving Larry Niven’s Kzinti the extra oomph of a long standing cultural-biological imperative for liberally tossing around flash-bangs…yeah I see those possibilities.

It’s just that the post for stun-cats as PCs and other characters seems likely to go three times as long describing an actual culture and the average individual’s relationship to that culture. I don’t have that kind of space on this blog.

You do realize this whole post is probably biologically impossible and that there are few cases where such a creature could eat the precursor chemicals to make the magnesium powder and ammonium perchlorate described in the egg’s reactive layering, right?

See what I mean by anticipating the heckle from that wonderful guy in the back of the room? The egg thing is pretty much what it has to be looking up STUN GRENADE on Wikipedia. As for how do you eat the right chemicals out of prey animals or the local carrots or something, I’m just goofing around with the basic premise of – “yeah, give a panther a flash-bang!” – all without sparking up a single fatty. Pretty much, I just played my hole card – “suspension of disbelief, Ducky!” – a good way to end any post.