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Conventional monsters won't cut it. They whine and cry too much when fighting, they give up and go down too easily, mostly because of malnutrition since Jimmy, The Dark Lord, forgot he can't grow potatoes in Mordor. There are also the usually successful coups, targeted at Jimmy, that ruin the adventure for the "heroes".

To provide a close-approximation to the archetypal RPG monsters, the NRTZ (naruto-running titan zombie) class was created with several flavours, including: Jeff, the game ender; Toot-Toot Head; Ben and the obligatory skinwalker. It's not like there's a big difference between them, but I thought it was worth noting.

NRTZs are not as strong individually as conventional monsters, in exchange, they can be grown insanely fast, like some kind of a weed. When an NRTZ goes down, its body rapidly decomposes and thus "returns" to the earth, from which a new, identical NRTZ gets formed. Basically, they're hyper-agressive sandcastles: they aren't tough but no matter how many times you trample them, that weird girl, with the closed eyes, always comes and diligently rebuilds them.

In order for NRTZs to work effectively, they have to, at any given point in time, outnumber the nearest settlement's population 10:1, which is rather hard, considering the NRTZs' nature.

This would likely mean a lot of spare NRTZs and a lot of energy to maintain their activity. Now, I want to minimize that, but I'm unsure how to do that.

How can I put NRTZs into "standby mode", what's the most realistic biological way, given the already established facts?

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  • $\begingroup$ I really like the idea for the monster, but this seems like a very broad question. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Boil them into primordial soup and just rebuild them at their destination? You haven't given enough details about the physiology (i.e., size, composition) to get a more detailed answer. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:27

2 Answers 2

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Hibernation

If the idea is to reduce their food intake until the moment they attack, just have them hibernate. And make sure it's true hibernation, where they can't wake up unless they're brought out of it (usually by a rise in temperature). Like a woodchuck: it's heart goes from 80 BPM to just 4 or 5 during hibernation!

Another way is to steal be inspired by the acid-blood from the Alien franchise. Some Alien fans theorize that the Alien gets it's energy because it's blood reacts exothermically with other chemicals in it's body, reducing it's need to eat to practically nil.

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NRTZ are basically Tree Ents

A plant can not sustain nearly as much physical activity as an animal but based on your needs, that may be okay. 99% of the time they just sit there like a forest doing what forests do until Jimmy needs an army. Then they rely on the energy stored in their fruit/sap/tubers/whatever over the course of the past few years to give them a couple of really good days of activity. Just enough to crush an army of would be hero folk or dark lord back stabbers.

The good thing here is that Jimmy does not need to know how to make potatoes grow in Mordor because these things grow themselves. In fact, the overpopulation of nutriente sucking tree people would make for an interesting explanation for why Mordor is so desolate. Because they kill all other plants that try to vie with them for resources, and once an area of soil is spent they move on to find more land to ruin leaving giant swaths of wastelands behind them. They grow like weeds because they literally are weeds. You hack one up, and it just drops its seeds on the battlefield where a whole copse of new NRTZ will grow up next year.

The last detail to conquer here is your "zombie" like description. Personally, I like my Tree Ents more tree like; however, it's not uncommon to see them depicted as almost indiscernible from zombies. This makes no sense as a permanent appearance since no leaves means no photosynthesis which means no moving monsters. But, the good news is that trees IRL don't always have leaves either. How I would address this is that during spring and summer, the NRTZ look like a nice healthy and happy forest. They are easy to ignore at this time of year because they are happy to ignore you, but when winter comes they lose their leaves, and wake up to migrate and wage wars. After all, blood spilled in the winter makes for great fertilizer come spring.

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Why do they need such great numbers? We think of wood as being pretty tough stuff, and compared to us fleshy humans it is, but compared to steel axes and platemail, their natural wooden claws and armor are not really all that impressive. Humans also have city walls, fire arrows, and a number of other significant tactical advantages. They also cannot be as rigid as most trees and still move; so, their wood would by necessity have to be much softer (more like a banana tree) meaning you could generally slice through them with a single good sword strike.

An attack by wood zombies against unprepared villagers would tend to go very poorly for the villagers, but properly equipped human armies would have the technology, tactics, and experience to deal with them en mass.

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