The Creep

In Scorched Earth, the myriad of mutant plagues, environmental poisons, and radionucleotides have mingled to the point where, in regard to their impact on living beings, they are all the same global ailment. To the folks who roam the remains of the world, the effects of all the toxic goops and lethal pathogens are thought of as a single plague: the Creep.

In truth, the Creep can stem from nearly any source of radiation, man-made biological agents, or toxic substance. Immediate effects vary based on the substance encountered or environment braved, but the long term effects are the same: it’s all the Creep.

Creep accumulates in characters following periods of exposure to Creep-inducing agents. Although you may recover from the immediate effects of these agents, the Creep will almost certainly be with you until you die. As the Creep accumulates in your system, more radical effects emerge. In the short-term, some effects might seem beneficial (as any rad-worshipping cultist will tell you), but everyone with the Creep is ultimately heading to the same place.

Creep Contamination:

Repeated exposure to the Creep leads to sickness, mutation, madness, and (hopefully) death. Your cumulative Creep contamination is kept track of by your ‘Creep count’, while your body’s tolerance for the Creep is measured by his ‘Creep threshold’. As you pick up the Creep in the wastelands or blasted ruins, your Creep count rises. When it reaches your Creep threshold, your cumulative contamination level increases from ‘mild’ to ‘low’, and you begin to suffer permanent effects. When your Creep count reaches twice your Creep threshold, your contamination level increases to ‘moderate’, producing further effects. At even higher Creep counts it increases to ‘high’, then ‘severe’, and finally ‘lethal’.

There’s one important detail: as the player, you will not know your character’s Creep count. The GM keeps track of Creep points and informs you only when your cumulative contamination increases to the next level. There is no known method to decrease a character’s cumulative contamination level, even if his threshold somehow increases. Medical treatments can mitigate some of the effects of exposure, but the Creep is permanent.

Deermining Creep Threshold:

Your character’s Creep threshold is equal to his Endurance score (just like base hit points). You do not add any class bonus to your Creep threshold, and it does not increase with character experience. In Scorched Earth, there are very few ways to increase your Creep threshold.

Note: If your Endurance is drained, your Creep threshold will also decrease, leading to accelerated damage. (Temporary Endurance damage does not decrease the Creep threshold.)

Starting Creep:

Starting characters begin play with a Creep count of 1d6. For more powerful NPCs or characters starting at a higher level, add 1d4 Creep for each additional level. Remember – only you as GM will know the exact Creep count for each character.

Creep Effects:

After brushing up against a sticky, yellow slime while digging through wreckage, your hair fell out and never came back. Not long after, you ate some badly packaged nutrition bars in an abandoned gas station and your hands and feet went numb. Then you fell into a river of bubbling sludge at an old toxic waste dump, and now your blood lights up at night.

For many characters, Creep contamination leads to sickness and death. For mutants, however, Creep contamination leads to additional mutations. Most, but not all, of the mutations derived from Creep contamination are detrimental. You may find that some beneficial mutations may result from Creep exposure.

Creep Chain – Creep Sickness:

The more you are exposed to the Creep, the sicker and sicker you get.

Characters without the ‘morphic genetics’ trait use this Creep chain.

  • None (Creep count = 0): Don’t worry – this won’t last long.
  • Mild (Creep count < Creep Threshold): No ill effects.
  • Low (Creep count ≥ Creep Threshold): The character suffers 1d4 Endurance damage, one point of which is permanently drained. On the positive side, the Creep kills off any diseases or parasites that the character may possess.
  • Moderate (Creep count ≥ 2 × Creep Threshold): The character suffers 1d4 points damage to Strength and Endurance, of which one point each are permanently drained.
  • High (Creep count ≥ 3 × Creep Threshold): As moderate contamination; plus lesions and sores develop and hair falls out, resulting in a permanent -1 Charisma drain.
  • Severe (Creep count ≥ 4 × Creep Threshold): As high contamination, plus nerve damage inflicts a permanent -1 Agility drain. At this point, the character has a cumulative -3 to Strength, -4 to Endurance, -2 to Charisma, and -1 to Agility.
  • Lethal (Creep count ≥ 5 × Creep Threshold): As severe contamination. After reaching this level of Creep contamination, the character dies at the end of 1d4 agonizing days.

Creep Chain – Random Mutations:

Characters with the ‘morphic genetics’ trait suffer random mutations from Creep exposure.

For every mutation gained from this Creep chain, roll the percentile dice. On a result of 01-70%, the character gains a minor mutant flaw. On a result of 71-00%, the character instead gains a minor mutant perk.

  • None (Creep count = 0): Don’t worry – this won’t last long.
  • Mild (Creep count < Creep Threshold): No ill effects.
  • Low (Creep count ≥ Creep Threshold): The character gains a minor mutation.
  • Moderate (Creep count ≥ 2 × Creep Threshold): The character gains a medium mutation.
  • High (Creep count ≥ 3 × Creep Threshold): The character gains a major mutation.
  • Severe (Creep count ≥ 4 × Creep Threshold): Roll percentile dice for each mutation the character possesses. On a result of 01-70%, it remains unchanged. On a result of 71-00%, roll a new random mutation of the same type, replacing the original perk or flaw.
  • Lethal (Creep count ≥ 5 × Creep Threshold): The character’s body starts to mutate uncontrollably. Each day, roll the percentile dice for each mutation as per ‘Severe’ contamination. Unable to withstand the strain on his body, the character dies at the end of 1d4 agonizing days.

 
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