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Fun with Mindflayer tadpoles

Age of Worms Adventure Path


Let me put you in context. My players finished HoHR some sessions ago and one of the player (Female Human Fighter) decided it was a "fun" idea to catch one of the tadpoles from Zyrxog pool and put it into a potion bottle she drank before the fight with Zyrxog. Both her and her character doesn't really know what it is beyond it's squidly looking and probably vile and related to Mindflayer to some degrees. She's a relatively recent player and not that much into D&D lore and her PC doesn't have the knowledge to identify that kind of things.

Now even though she was open about it and said loud and clear that she was trying to catch a tadpole, and succeeded after a few tries, it didn't catch the attention of any of the 5.. no 4 other PCs. (One died during the fight with Zyrxog :) I guess they had their minds on other problems like: "How are we gonna get out of these sewers with our Ranger dead!!" and with 2 players complaining that they have cramps and they feel really sick and shouting that they want to get out of here (slow worms) or the better half of the party suplicating the cleric to do something about the viny growth, thanks to the Vrock's spores. So when she showed her catch to the rest of the party the only answer she got are grunting noises and "Magdala stop fishing and come help us." I guess they didn't realized what it was.

So she put the bottle in her backpack (wrote it on her character sheet) and kinda forgot about it. But I didn't and I don't want to just say "Sorry, it's dead, you forgot to feed it." when she'll remember about the "thing". Walking around with this is too great a source of trouble to "forget" about it.

I have a lot of crazy ideas myself but I would very like to get your input on that. Please share your ideas about "Fun things to do to a PC carrying a Mindflayer tadpole in a bottle and thinking it's a cute and exotic replacement for a goldfish".

:) Thanks!

Shadow Lodge


I would give the tadpole some mental type powers, perhaps suggestion, detect thoughts, minor image or perhaps something out of the psionics handbook. Now I wouldn't necessarily run these spells as written, but instead create something a bit unique, perhaps they only function on her when she is injured, or tired, or dreaming. At any rate, you could do any of the following to her:

(1) Have her roll spot and listen checks for no reason. Whatever the result, tell her she thought she heard something but it turned out to be nothing.
(2) Have her roll a listen check while sleeping. On a success, she wakes, certain she heard furtive noises in her room or from the hallway or whatever. Investigation shows nothing.
(3) This is one I used in HoHR: announce to the group that you have something important but private to tell one of them, and in order to maintain verisimilitude, you will be meeting with each one of them for a moment away from the table. Pull each person aside and have a brief smalltalk conversation with them, letting them know that they are not the person you needed to talk to, but that they cannot let any of the other players know this. This heightens paranoia in the group, as everyone becomes suspicious for no reason. Occasionally during one of these personal sessions, tell the player with the tadpole that she notices <whoever is most suspicious in the party> has been acting strangly, but is very adroit at covering it up, and either by luck or skill, her character has noticed the behavior (all the better if you have each player bring dice with them and make a few nonsense rolls while they are away). There is nothing to accuse the other character of yet, but something is *definitely going on*. Of course, said character is doing nothing wrong, the affected character only perceives it that way. This can be very nasty right after HoHR for obvious reasons. I can assure you it played havoc with my group in the final scenes of HoHR.
(4) The character has a sense of being spied upon or watched. Perhaps she is being scried upon....?

If your players are sticklers for the rules, they may expect to make Will saves for these effects or have you make them on their behalf. If that is the case, make the save for the character using all normal bonuses (set the DC to something they might make with a bit of luck), and if the character saves, let them know that they felt a strange assault upon their senses that rapidly passes.

The idea is to start to build a sense of paranoia over time with the character. Once the seeds are planted, follow up on the player's actions and use those as a spring board for further side conversations (Last time you told me you wanted to keep an eye on <the untrustworthy guy>. While you have not seen anything incriminating yet, you have noticed that he is now careful around you, as if aware of your intent. You also thought you saw him/her secreting something in his bedroll/tent/pack/whatever earlier today, but it happened quickly enough that you could not say for certain what it was).

If you wanted to be really nasty or once you feel the players have been through enough, you could give the paranoia a bit of time to sink in and then mention to the group in an offhand manner that while you are not a fan of intra-party conflict and you would rather see issues in the party resolved through peaceful discussion among the characters, you understand that sometimes fighting among characters is inevitable and that you are prepared to handle such an event. Refuse to answer any questions the players may ask and tell them to work it out in character. You may need to be careful with this one; I almost lost a PC at the hands of his friends due to paranoia in HoHR.


airsick wrote:

I have a lot of crazy ideas myself but I would very like to get your input on that. Please share your ideas about "Fun things to do to a PC carrying a Mindflayer tadpole in a bottle and thinking it's a cute and exotic replacement for a goldfish".

:) Thanks!

You know that an unimplanted Mind Flayer tadpole eventually grows to become a Neothelid, right? ;) Have you ever seen the movie "Little Shop of Horrors"?

Scarab Sages

If any of the other players later cry foul, just remind them that octopi are famous for being able to unscrew jars, and squeeze inside.
Or outside.....

The Snorting Tip-sniffer wrote:

If any of the other players later cry foul, just remind them that octopi are famous for being able to unscrew jars, and squeeze inside.

Or outside.....

That's true, octopi are able to unscrew jars from inside. Just go YouTube and see some videos about it.

First, some information to consider:

As far as i remember, the tadpoles are left in the pool for ten years before they're ready to undergo ceremorphosis.

This text taken from the Wikipedia: "In Complete Psionic, it was revealed that illithids have a step between larva and neothelid called a Larval Flayer, which looks like an overgrown tadpole. The existence of these beasts is a guarded secret among illithids, and it is considered impolite to speak of them".

This other text from the Wikipedia: "Occasionally Mind flayer communities are attacked [...] and their inhabitants must flee. This leaves the larvae unattended. Bereft of exterior nourishment, they begin to consume one another. The survivor will eventually leave the pool in search of food (i.e., brains). This unmorphed larvae is known as a Neothelid. If the neothelid consumes an intelligent creature it will awaken to sapience and psionic abilities and grow to immense size, while retaining its memories of savage survival".

This other text, again, Wikipedia: "Nerve Swimmers: Derived from immature illithid tadpoles, these entities are living instruments of torture and interrogation".

I don' t know the HoHR, so i don't know if the campaign ends near the tadpoles pool or not, so please, forgive my ignorance on that.

What i'd do is:

First: determine what kind of tadpole she caught. Did she take the tadpole from the pool? Was the tadpole OUTside the pool? Was the tadpole in a vessel before? Is it part of Zyrxog spawn? Is it part of an experiment?

I'd roll a die to determine it:
If it's caught in the pool, a 1d10 to determine its age, meaning how ready or not it is for ceremorphosis. Then i'd decide how evil vs stupid the creature is.
If it was caught outside the pool, chances are: it is a mature tadpole, a nerve swimmer, a very recently spawned tadpole he had no time to put in the tadpole, an experiment or a larval flayer.

Why bother with the d10? Just choose the possibility that makes it most interesting.

Perhaps have the tadpole break out of its jar as it grows larger (if the PC doesn't regularly check on it, he won't notice this growth until it is too late). It then either crawls through the backpack and burrows into the PC, infesting him and gradually taking over, or crawls away to infect an NPC. Perhaps it is captured by alchemically-gifted enemies of the PCs like Ilthane and transformed into a brand-new enemy.

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