Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hellhound on My Trail

art by Alan Davis
Of all the dangers in the Zuran Expanse (and there are many), perhaps none provoke as many nightmares the hellhounds or fury hounds. Though there are less than twenty of these monsters in existence, they’re reputed to have decimated small cities and forced the destruction of entire habitats in an effort to keep their threat from spreading.

The hellhounds are synthetic beings, sophont weapons of mass destruction; though if the tales are to be believed, they were originally created for a very different purpose. Allegedly they were once the playmates of  lonely prelapsarian princeling in an isolated habitat. Though their basic minds only mimicked sapience, the canny princeling improved their programming, possibly by using elements of his own neural structure.

The princeling grew to a psychopathic adulthood. He hosted sadistic games for the amusement of his courtiers (mostly mind-copies of himself) in which victims were hunted by his former toys, evolved to a more suitably vicious form. In time, the creatures had outgrown this roll, but by then it was too late for their master to stop what he had thoughtlessly begun.

They still hunt, but are generally undiscriminating: Anyone and everyone are fair game. They aren’t mindless beasts; in fact, they're quite erudite and likely to attempt to engage their prey (or at least taunt them) with allusions to and quotations from pre-Great Collapse works of art before the kill.

The hounds are the size of earthly great cats and appear as vaguely canine in form, but with triangular heads more reminiscent of birds of prey or perhaps serpents.  Their faces are much more expressive than an animal's would be. Their bodies are made of computronium sheathed in a quicksilver smartmatter skin. Their limbs can contort or flow in surprising ways, and they can squeeze themselves into smaller spaces than might be expected. They regenerate damaged; a fist-sized portion of their substance can regrowth the entire creature with time, an energy source, and a material substrate. They can survive for indeterminate periods in hard vacuum.

They hunt in packs.

No. Appearing: 1-4
AC: 4
HD: 7
Saving Throw: 11
Attack Bonus: +8/+8/+6
Damage: 2d4/2d4 claws, 1d8 bite
Movement: 40’
Morale: 10
Special Abilities: Their hides provide a -2 penalty to hit with laser weapons. They regenerate 3 hit points per round, starting after 2 rounds of combat. They have the ability of total cellular regeneration similar to the biopsionic power Nine Lives. 


satyre said...

Warwolves for the win! Got to love old school Excalibur.

Nice to see a nanotech version of the hell hound as well. :)

Tallgeese said...

Yet another tragic instance of Daystrom's Folly. So here's a question: I doubt fire does the trick in interrupting this creature's regeneration. So what weapons, powers, or materials are effective - if any?

Trey said...

@satyre - Thanks!

@John - Daystrom's Folly--I like that! As to effective ways to interrupt the regeneration, obviously anything the more or less destroys them before they can (nuclear weapons, powerful particle beams, large nonnuclear explosions), but also things like nanotech malware or using particle or directed energy weapons to chop them (quickly) into sufficiently small pieces and then disengrating them. Extreme cold would also slow it pretty darn effectively.

The Angry Lurker said...

These are the boys who won't take a slap on the nose with a newspaper to quiet down!

Trey said...

Nope. They're bad doggies.

bombasticus said...

Nasty, nasty. Thankfully it seems like any targeting systems they once had are lost so someone could provide a distraction or just run.

Trey said...

True. For the most part they don't much care who they kill.

bombasticus said...

I'm sure there are stories of people making deals, offering to locate more tempting snacks on other planets, changing their lives to become less interesting in order to throw the trail. Nice wrinkle. Makes them a lot more interesting than the terminators of tindalos. It'd actually be a fun anthology series.

Trey said...

I'm sure people try all kinds of things. Sometimes, it may even work.

Chris C. said...

The princeling grew to a psychopathic adulthood.

I believe it is a scientific fact that this is the natural life-cycle progression of all princelings. ;)

Trey said...

I could believe it.

Blue Tyson said...

Computronium hunter-killers is definitely nasty.