Okay, so if you don't know what Plopup are, they are aptly explained in this link here. Plopup are a particular problem, as their speed, durability, regenerative capacity, and shapeshifting abilities allow them to effectively infiltrate human villages, even mimic adventurers, so while they're rare they're also a massive threat.

So, what is the goal medieval people have concerning Plopup? Same as dragons; for most everyone to survive, even if that may mean sacrificing a maiden or two. However, this problem extends beyond Plopup merely eating people. As intelligent, malevolent beings, they want to have their preferred food accessible, in large quantities, and to be protected from harm.

This means Plopup tend to seek positions of wealth and power (as this makes them "untouchable") and/or isolation. I realized a particularly scary scenario thanks to the answer to this question, namely that Plopup could steal money, use it to obtain orphans, and then raise them into a veritable army of fanatically loyal followers that they can use for food.

Even worse, there is the possibility of a Plopup using their abilities (and powers of persuasion) to become a religious leader, even pose as a divine entity (such as a demigod).

So, the problem? Medieval people must defend themselves from Plopup. However, in order to do so, they must recognize the threat. So my question is, How Can Medieval People Defend Themselves Against Plopup? Specifically, against Plopup eating them, conquering them, etcetera, etcetera.

Question Specifications:

  1. I understand complete protection against Plopup may not be possible, so instead I am asking for the optimum defense strategy, one that medieval Europeans can both come up with and actually execute. This strategy could range from the typical MDS (Medieval Dragon Safety) strategy, namely sacrificing maidens to the monster, or to simply create a secure perimeter and let nothing from the outside in at all costs.

2. The best answer will list the worst Plopup scenarios (ie. potential threats) and come up with strategies that fit the specifications in #1 to deal with them. These worst scenarios would be: 1, a Plopup gaining a position of power and/or great influence, 2, a Plopup successfully posing as a divine entity (similar to but distinct), and 3, if possible, a strategy to prevent Plopup turning orphans into fanatic followers. Why? I know 3 will be hard to stop, but if a Plopup accomplishes it, it will also be enabled to evolve into a Bloatup, making it even closer to invincible.

Good luck, and thanks for your input!


Stories and testing

Many stories have similar enemies and can provide an answer. Demons cannot stand silver, or cold iron. A simple test is used to determine this. They need to touch the weakness.

Two things flow from this. How do they know the weakness of these demons and what us the weakness of plopups?

Stories and songs are perfect. They stick in the mind and can convey this information over hundreds, potentially thousands of years. Especially if the stories are used to effect, the true stories will be augmented and remain the most told. This way, everyone knows how to look for a plopup, as well as how to deal with it.

Though a plopup can mimic, it isn't terribly smart. That alone makes it vulnerable. If people act like a plopup, gathering power and potential food, they can be subjected to a simple test. Locked in a cage, flammable oil over them or other way they can quickly kill a plopup, they administer the test. Plopups have great regenerative abilities. This can already form a suspicion, but if they are cut and near instantly heal, they are definitely a plopup. All that is required is the smallest cut.

The test can become a standard for positions of power. A public display of non danger to the public. That'll prevent most plopups from ever attaining more power than they ever should. Together with a general dislike to bad creatures in an already hostile world, it is unlikely that anyone willingly allies with a plopup. Besides, the momic ability as described seems to make the plopup readily identified by their shape already. If not that, their apparent unwillingness to suppress natural urges can make them grow too quickly, makingbit more obvious.

As for scenarios where the plopup gathers followers and become truly horrifying, I would ask how? An octopus is smart, for an animal. They might be able to do some impressive things in some areas, but there's a ton of other areas they just don't compare to humans. Then they need to have the charisma (and suppressed urges not to eat) to convince orphans to join it. Yet where does it find so many orphans? It isn't like orphans aren't cared for, or at least put together in a safe (ish) place. To gather an army of any human they'll have a very, very hard time.

There you have it. General fear of the hostile world outside of humans, pervasive stories and a culture of checking for plopups will allow all scenarios to be close to impossible. In addition, the strange shape, low intelligence and difficulty suppressing urges will make it hard for it to even start infiltrating. If it tries to amass a following, they will have a great difficult time to start, most ending in failure. If they do get a start, they'll likely grow too much in populwtion size before being noticed by normal people, who will try to stop the plopup. If plopups go further afield to be undiscovered, it immediately reduces the chances of gathering a large following.

Stories, fear and testing are all you need.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, so it looks like it's actually too easy to stop Plopups! Good grief....these were supposed to be boss-level creatures.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jun 29 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, thanks for your thorough, clear answer! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jun 29 at 22:49

My read is that there's not much danger of a Plopup infiltrating human society and then wielding power in a harmful way, because Plopups aren't sophisticated enough.

Humans are very good at noticing oddities. Forget about full-body shapeshifting and the ability to parrot speech: it wasn't that long ago in real life that a worldly person could tell someone's place of origin with startling accuracy based only on their accent. The "uncanny valley" is a result of us humans failing to be fooled by sophisticated CG that is very true-to-life that is nevertheless not quite perfect. In order to become a leader of men, the Plopup would have to be flawless.

No, I suspect the real danger is that a Plopup could become leader of a group of less-intelligent humanoid creatures, like kobolds or goblins. For one, those groups might lack the knowledge-socializing strategies that Trioxidane describes. For another, mimicking those creatures might be easier, and they probably won't have the attention-to-detail that humans do. They're also more easily impressed, so several of the Plopup's natural abilities might be useful in getting itself installed as some kind of shaman. The protagonist of Connecticut Yankee had to predict a solar eclipse to become The Boss, and then work some minor miracles with fireworks to entrench his power; a Plopup might just have to survive a fire or rockslide to convince the kobolds that it's the immortal champion their war-songs prophesied. From a position of power, it could then use its army of marauders to secure everyone's preferred fare: succulent, scantily-clad damsels.

Another danger is that an unscrupulous human might manipulate a semi-captive Plopup into doing the kind of mimicry you suggest. I don't get the sense a Plopup is smart enough on its own to really scheme at the level of powerful humans (e.g. nobles' backstabbery), but might be very effective with the aid of a human conspirator, who could move freely among society and contrive a series of controlled appearances. Concretely: a Plopup might not be able to pose as the local Baron on its own, but the Baron's jealous nephew might be able to kill his uncle and then use a Plopup to masquerade as the Baron at a few public events (from a safe remove). Since a Plopup is so driven by its basic urges, and those urges are presumably well known, the rich nephew would find it fairly easy to entice it to participate. Although, he would always have to worry that the Plopup might lose patience and turn on him for immediate gratification. But, that's a classic trope, and possibly a rich vein for plots. And, given that Plopups seem to thrive around urban settings with lots of unused corners -- such as the subterranean labyrinths beneath a castle, or the long-abandoned "spooky" wing of a decrepit manor -- it's not hard to imagine that some desperate semi-noble might naturally cross paths with such a useful... pet.

So, how would humans defend against this?

In the first case, "defense against kobolds," the answer is the classic answer: when the townsfolk finally tire of being repeatedly raided by a particular group of kobolds, they scrape together some bounty money and put out the call for daring adventurers.

In the second case, "Plopup as doppelpet," the challenge is that society doesn't really know there's a problem. Presumably, the human schemer is focused directly on the challenge of keeping their scheme off the radar. But, since extant human traditions didn't originate with the goal of concealing a noble's secret identity as a monster, any such scheme is nearly guaranteed to be confronted with a series of predictable high-difficulty events. The humans won't know it, but these events are their best chance to discover the scheme.

Consider the King's Evil, which is a real, bizarre tradition where all the town's sick people come before the lord so he can physically touch them and cure their sickness. This is a real thing people did! This is a case where the Plopup has to "pass inspection" up close and personal with very many witnesses. In addition, the lord is likely surrounded by a few aides and other courtiers, and while they might rotate their duties, the lord has to sit through the whole thing. The Plopup risks detection every moment, not just from being observed, but because it must physically touch every single commoner who presents him or herself... without eating them. It will be a grueling day. And, undoubtedly, some of the afflicted will also be very tempting morsels.

Lords also give speeches, make proclamations, are called upon to decide legal cases, etc. These tasks are hard work for a human, but they pose no risk of being discovered as imposters. Not so for the Plopup.

Knowing all of this, the evil nephew will probably try to change all of these customs in order to minimize the risk of detection.

So, in the case of "evil Pet Plopup," society's best defenses are to resist any changes to their traditions. Whether or not the current ways are the best ways, one thing they have going for them is that they make no special accommodation for a crude, carnivorous predator in disguise.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, good points on the lack of sophisticated mimicry (I'm thinking about improving that) and I love your idea that Plopups could become a leader of goblins or kobolds! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jun 29 at 23:33

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