Predatory Universe: Beast Plots [The Vault #21]

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The wild hungers.  It's driven by blood, hot on the tongue, thick on torn flesh and spattered on the ancient bones of the earth. Countless lives have passed unremembered into the maw of annihilation. When the veneer of civilization is stripped away by the primordial laws of nature, who will survive?

This week we offer you some plots to use with the "Beast" encounter type. Unlike every other type used thus far, beasts lend themselves less to dialogue or other interaction other than physical conflict (unless you endow them with speech and intelligence, as in Narnia--which we suggest in some plots below). We recommend these be paired with exotic locations and numerous Tracking, Notice, or Survival checks, for natural environments are not the home of civilized men.  Outside the cities, the beast holds the native advantage.  Face the Predatory Universe in these 20 Beast-based Plots:

  1. _The Maw of Winter_ (#Maw) Starvation is the true foe during an extended trek through tundra. The native beasts are particularly interested in human food.
  2. _The Lost Boys_ (#LBoys) Children are being taken alive by a beast, but where to? Will a brave adventurer consent to having their shape shifted to that of a small child and then allow their own abduction? 
  3. _Natural Enemies_ (#Nat) The adventurers witness two groups of beasts at battle, only to discover they can now understand their speech. Can they reconcile the two warring animal clans? How did they gain this ability, and more importantly, why?
  4. _Call of the Wild_ (#Call) A secret society has invited the adventurers to undergo their Initiation Ritual. If successful, much status, treasure, and prestige will be theirs. If they fail they may die. > Begin play without :loot: and only 4 abilities (no draft play). 
  5. _The Boar Hunt_ (#Boar) The liege lord of the adventurers has invited them on a jovial hunt for boar. There is much drinking. Are you seeing double the boar, or are there really two of the deadly beasts?
  6. _The Cursed Span_ (#Span) An invasive species of shrieking eels has crossbred with flying fish. Now the most magnificent bridge in the known world--one vital for trade and commerce--has become a nightmarish killing ground. Can the adventurers transport cargo across the cursed span?
  7. _Bounty_ (#Bounty) A bounty has been placed on dangerous game. Eventually, though, the adventurers will discover the collector of specimens has intentions that aren't in anyone else's best interest.
  8. _Ratcatchers_ (#Rat) An outbreak of deadly plague necessitates culling the booming rat population. Even a tiny bite could prove fatal, but someone must do the deed and the prince is paying handsomely...
  9. _From the Deeps_ (#Deep) Legend tells of a creature lured into an old mine years ago, when villagers could not kill it.  Now children who were playing around the shaft have gone missing. Can they be found and saved before the creature devours them?
  10. _Uprising_ (#Uprising) Wherein dangerous floods drive hordes of rats and vipers to higher ground, and rising waters aren't the only peril facing the party. 
  11. _Endangered Species_ (#Species) A hideously wealthy noble hires you and another adventuring group to accompany him on a "hunting expedition". Only later does the party realize their employer wishes to kill the last members of an endangered species.  Will they become complicit in the extinction or contend with their employer and his other bodyguards? 
  12. _Hawking with Friends_ (#Friends) A leisurely hunt gets real when the adventurers' hawks return, enlarged by magic, and dropping other beasts that attack.  Who has played this deadly prank, and what lengths will you go to in order to restore your birds to proper size?
  13. _Big Game_ (#Game) A group of intelligent, speaking animals has deprived the adventurers of arms and armor, then subjected them to the indignities of a deadly hunt. Will they be able to regain their scattered gear in time to turn the tables on the deadly predators?
  14. _Bearbaiting_ (#Bear) The most popular (and illegal) gambling enterprise in the city is an underground bear-baiting ring. When tasked by the authorities to find it and bring its organizers to justice, the adventurers may run afoul of bandits and beasts alike. And what will they do when one of the beasts speaks to them in human tongue? 
  15. _The Familiar_ (#Familiar) A wizard contracts the adventurers to recover his animal familiar alive, only to find the creature doesn't want to return and has learned some magic of its own along the way.   
  16. _Trappers_ (#Trappers) The adventurers receive a commission to stop illegal poaching in the King's Forest. The beasts are anxious and riled, but the greater threat may be the profusions of traps, snares, and human hunters.
  17. _Skin Trade_ (#STrade) Under threat of dire snowstorms, the adventurers resolve to outlast the ice and sleet at a camp of fur traders known to them.  They arrive only to find a bloody shambles and that the deceased traders' own skins have been taken. Will they stay in the blood-slicked shelter in spite of the ominous holes leading to caverns underneath the camp or risk the fury of the storm?
  18. _Gaia's Revenge_ (#Gaia) Long having tolerated the irresponsibility of humankind, with one will and surprising cunning, all the creatures of the wilds have risen against men. Packs of bears and wolves rampage through streets, making it as likely one will be trampled by the panicked as fall by tooth or claw. 
  19. _Of Beasts and Men_ (#Beasts) Fighting for their country on a distant field of war, the adventurers contend with fell beasts under thrall of the foe's potent Archmage. Will they show mercy and restraint when battling the compelled creatures or slaughter them without thought, plunging the ecosystem of the region into imbalance? Can they win through to stop the Archmage and break the enchantment?
  20. _Red of Tooth and Claw_ (#Red) A powerful circle of druids has awakened from ancient slumber and cursed all humankind. With each kill the adventurers slowly turn into the predatory, bloodthirsty animals their actions reflect. Can they confront the druids and break the curse before the metamorphosis is complete? > Create a simple chart with body parts assigned to number rolls. After each kill, change some bodyparts into animal features. Deprive them of abilities as appropriate (certain #melee when they lose hands, #magic if they lose speech, etc.).