11 April 2016
• fetch & chew +15 (5d30)
• bludgeon +15 (2d24)
MV 100, fly 100
SP undying, dispersal, varying size
The Living Cloud is a marauder, roaming the land and collecting samples of everything it encounters. It is comprised of millions upon millions of impossibly tiny organisms, which can each act independently or collectively with a single thought process. These miniscule organisms can break away singly or in small groups, doing so for defense or to carry away samples collected.
The Living Cloud is dark grey in appearance, and while it can float and change shape as does a fog bank, to touch it is like touching something part way between a foam pad and a gelatin. The Living Cloud can also change consistency to a rigidity like iron or disperse completely into invisible nothingness, reforming elsewhere when it sees fit. It has an approximate volume of 30' cubed on average, though this very gradually reduces over time as small portions fly away with samples to unknown regions. It can compress down to a volume of 8' cubed, and expand to 100' cubed and still be visible and effective.
Whether the Living Cloud is animal, vegetable, magic, phantom or illusion, no man knows. The samples it collects are so small as to be unnoticeable (though were it to focus on a single item, it's multitudinousness could completely dismantle it; it could remove a lake, tiny droplet by tiny droplet, undetectably).
There is no discernible pattern to the Living Cloud's roaming. It can pass through a village or city in haphazard fashion and resume rolling over the countryside. There is likewise no pattern to the objects and beings it crosses over; it is as likely to pass through a blacksmiths as a bakery as it is a stable. There is in fact, only one known substance it seems to behave differently around: diamonds.
When discovering diamonds of any size, the Living Cloud will wrest the entire gem away, and a portion of itself will carry off the diamond. Lately, some climbers have found diamonds systematically arranged on the peaks of the highest mountains, but what significance this has no one has been able to determine.
If threatened, the Living Cloud will defend itself by grabbing at it's attackers with a pseudopod-like projection and pulling the attackers into itself. Generally, they are ejected seconds later with their bodies mangled and mashed together into a single mass. If attacking multiple targets who are reasonably close together, the Cloud makes a single attack roll, but divides its bonus among the targets equally, and rounds all fractions up. So if striking at three targets, its attack roll would be 1d24+5, vs. each target's AC.
NB: Stats are provided for those who wish to treat the Living Cloud like a creature that can be fought — while the intention is to treat the thing more like an alien force of nature. Large-scale effects may have some impact on the Living Cloud, as the Judge prefers, but a simple sharpened blade or projectile should have no discernible effect on the thing.
From Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men:
"...the cloud's progress ceased, and its outlines became vague and ragged. Fragments of it actually drifted away on the winds and dissipated themselves. Almost as soon as the message was completed, the cloud began to define itself again, and lay for a quarter of an hour at rest. A dozen bold young men from the town now approached the dark mass out of curiosity. No sooner did they come face to face with it, round a bend in the valley, than the cloud rapidly contracted, till it was no bigger than a house. Looking now something between a dense, opaque fume and an actual jelly, it lay still until the party had ventured within a few yards. Evidently their courage failed, for they were seen to turn. But before they had retreated three paces, a long proboscis shot out of the main mass with the speed of a chameleon's tongue, and enveloped them. Slowly it withdrew; but the young men had been gathered in with it. The cloud, or jelly, churned itself violently for some seconds, then ejected the bodies in a single chewed lump."