Creatures of the Xilos jungles
The recent launch of The Battle for Xilos narrative supplement was accompanied by an online campaign. The supplement contained a plethora of exciting, additional rules, scenarios, units, and much more being added to the game. One set of rules, to be expanded upon in subsequent supplements, is that dedaling with hazardous fauna – the deadly creatures of Xilos.
Deadly? Absolutely. The world of Xilos is home to a vast variety of arthropod-like fauna of which only a tiny fraction has been encountered by the Ghar Empire occupation army or the various expeditionary and task forces that followed it. The primordial jungles are infested with all kinds of creatures both large and small, some of which are highly predatory and dangerous even to well-armed explorers. The long-abandoned subterranean ruins of the Builders have become the lairs of many of these creatures, and some even appear to have evolved to take advantage of this considerable ecological niche in the bowels of Xilos.
The creatures that inhabit the jungles, mountains and seas of Xilos most closely resemble the kinds of creatures classified as arthropods. They have segmented bodies and shells, some of which are hard casings, others are soft and leathery. Their internal organs are supported by a network of internal ligatures. They have no equivalent of lungs, but breathe through vents in their bodies, and oxygen is dissolved into their blood stream by means of osmotic membranes surrounding their vessels and major internal organs.
Using Xilos Creatures in your games
There are a number of different ways to incorporate Xilos Creatures (as well as other dangerous flora and fauna) into your games…
- You can include a dedicated ‘Creature Player’ to take control of an army of Creatures in a traditional force-on-force battle
- You can include a ‘Creature Player’ to take control of the Creatures as a ‘third party force’ to interfere in a battle between two other forces
- You can simply add them as ‘Random events’ similar to the Rogue Drones from the core rulebook, by including a different coloured Order Dice into the dice bag during a standard force-on-force game
There are many options – all outlined across pages 72 and 73 of the ‘Battle for Xilos’ supplement. Now – let’s take a closer look at the beasties up-close!
Gulpers are among the largest Xilos arthropods, although it’s rather hard to tell how big they are because what is seen of them above ground is only the fore-portion of a much longer and bulkier burrowing creature. Although the visible part of their segmented bodies appear worm-like, this is merely the front or ‘neck’ part of a complex arthropod, similar in its general anatomy to smaller Snappers. The entire creature has countless tiny legs that propel it through the tunnels it excavates beneath the loose jungle floor. The upper body usually sits just below the surface, and the creature waits for a victim to pass overhead before lurching upwards to grab it. The unfortunate prey is pulled down, held fast by the Gulper’s three huge mouths, and consumed.
Not much is known about the habits of Gulpers because they mostly go unseen. They can certainly grow very large, but exactly how big no one knows. The very largest may be referred to as Giant Gulpers, but there is no exact standard for measuring such things. The Gulpers favourite habitation is the loose soil of the Xilos jungles. Although they are plainly not adapted to live in the rocky interior of Xilos, the Builder ruins and system of interconnected tunnels has provided a suitable niche to which at least some Gulpers have adapted. Those that have adapted to tunnel life are generally smaller, perhaps because the size of the tunnels is a limiting factor, and are sometimes known as Cave Gulpers.
Gulpers are deadly to all forms of life and have even been known to cause serious damage to combat vehicles and drones!
It is rumoured that gulpers and other dangerous creatures of Xilos have been seen on worlds other than Xilos, either having been taken there in the distant past or by disreputable Freeborn traders seeing an opportunity and running rogue – under the very noses of the Oszoni!
Snappers are fairly small arthropods that live in great numbers both in the jungles and among the ruins of Xilos. The explorers dub these creatures ‘snappers’ because of the noise they make as they scuttle about in search of food. To date no attempt has been made to fully categorise the fauna of Xilos and the creatures commonly referred to as Snappers represent a diversity of different species, some of which are entirely harmless while a few are more aggressive and potentially deadly.
Snappers are communal animals that live in burrows in the ground, among leaf litter, and sometimes within the rotting carcasses of the world’s tree-like flora. They are common in the Builder ruins where they dig among the debris and prey upon other small animals as well as scavenging the carcasses of larger creatures. They are creatures of simple instinct with only a rudimentary sense of self-preservation, and this in itself makes them dangerous in large numbers. They can dig their way through even hard rock, and over time their burrows have come to riddle the Builder ruins themselves.
Drummers are large, solitary arthropod predators, one of the most deadly creatures of the Xilos jungles. The explorers dub these powerful hunters ‘Drummers’ because the noise they make when they attack is like a staccato of drum beats. It appears that this noise confuses the creature’s prey or perhaps even stuns the Xilos creatures that make up its diet. Drummers appear to be a single species although they vary considerably in size. Whether this polymorphism reflects the age, gender or some other as yet unknown factor is anyone’s guess.
Unlike the various kinds of Snappers, Drummers are always found alone and it has been observed that when two Drummers meet they either warily avoid each other or fight, with the loser either scuttling away or – often – being killed outright. Fortunately, the percussive noise of two Drummers fighting is so intense that it drives all other creatures away and serves as a general warning to all. While Drummers are essentially creatures of the jungles they can also be found deep in the subterranean ruins, where they squeeze along the passages made by smaller creatures such as Snappers.