The Life Cycle of the Couch Tiger

Red sofa

The coloring agent is actually blood you know.

The cubs start out as simple footstools, and typically hide in the corners, waiting to be fed with wood, and bits of metal, and fiber. If no more substantial furniture is available, they will graze on carpets and plant fibers – which is better than nothing. Still, too much of such junk food and they will soon become overstuffed, a condition which may plague them all their lives.

On a proper diet they will swiftly grow into upholstered chairs, unfolding a back and arms in the dead of night.

From there, the seat broadens, and they will become double-chairs, or “love seats”. At this point their fabric will begin to lose the simple patterns of childhood, and begins to develop the intricate embroiderings and brocades of adulthood. Now capable of pulling down and devouring wooden benches, tables, and other serious prey, it will not be long before the Couch Tiger molts it’s outer fabric – creating a layer of crudely degraded cloth often known as a “dust cover”. When it emerges from beneath that cover, it will have attained full adulthood as a sleek modern couch, capable of pulling down anything short of a full-grown banquet table.

As Couch Tigers age, they grow thicker layers of upholstery, and sometimes develop thick fabric callouses known as “slip covers” – further defenses against the wear and tear of their predatory lives.

Elder Couch Tigers may begin to seek out gold, gems, and similar ornamental materials as they age, incorporating them into their fabric and reinforcing it – and, incidentally, developing the magnificent coats for which they are justly famed. After a secondary molt-and-“dust-cover” stage, they may emerge as so-called “Antique Couches” – magnificent beasts with their curled, clawed legs, massive structure, and scarred finishes. There is no mightier predator to be found within the furnished world.

Sadly, even the mightiest of Couches will fade at last. While human aid can preserve the best of the breed for a remarkably long time, wear and tear will eventually accumulate, their vitality will fade, their joints will become old and creaky, and – finally – the remains of the best specimens may be restuffed to become museum pieces, their final flickers of vitality barely enough to remain standing.

Still, if well-fed and cared for, a Couch Tiger is readily domesticated, and will make a reliable companion, always ready to hold a few things for you – or to support you when you’re tired or are simply looking to relax with a friend.

All right then; the original question was about building “living” furnishings and household utensils – the sort of things you see in some cartoons – in Eclipse.

The quick-and-dirty way is pretty simple: I’ll call it the “Talking Teapot Template” (+0 CP and +0 ECL).

  • Select an animal with some vague resemblance to what you want. Want flying teacups? Bats or Birds might do nicely.
  • Remove it’s Constitution attribute. Whatever magic makes these things “alive”, it’s not any kind of normal metabolism. Since most animals have decent constitution modifiers (+2 or +4) after dropping the size modifiers this will save you 12 to 24 CP and provides a long list of immunities – even if it does often cost the larger animals some hit points. Coupled with the usual “converted character get a few bonus points” rule, call it 24 CP as a general template.
  • For larger creatures buy Advanced Finesse/Bonus Hit Points are based on Strength instead of Constitution. For smaller creatures just buy the size-based bonus hit points available with the “No Constitution” option. 12 CP either way.
  • Buy Universal DR 3/-, applicable to both physical and energy damage. That’s enough to let teapots sit over small fires without harm (after all, even peasants with 1d4 hit points tend to stay conscious after stepping into small fires or burning themselves on stoves – so such episodes can’t to too much damage in d20 terms) and to reasonably represent the durability of things like ceramics, thin metal, and jointed wood. That’s 6 CP.
  • Add some minor special talent worth 6 CP. If you want the usual talkative-but-not-too-bright candlesticks and utensils, add +1 Int. Since a lot of animals are Int 2, that gets you to the sentient-and-talking (if not too bright outside of their specialty) stage. Go ahead. Give that animated weapons-rack the equivalent of Combat Reflexes, or let that lumbering lion-stove generate the occasional small burst of flame or count it’s door as a shield or some such.
  • Shift their skills (and sometimes bonuses). If you’re making a classical Badger Teapot, drop the “Escape” skill and put a few points into Craft/Cooking. Let it boss the other utensils around and make your dinner. For a Couch Tiger change the stealth bonus from “hiding in tall grass” to “hiding in furnished rooms”.
  • Describe your creatures new look. That should be pretty easy. It’s motivations are usually pretty straightforward too; hungry Couch Tigers want to eat your gear. Well-fed Couch Tigers want to nap, usually in front of a nice warm fireplace. Teapots usually want to make and serve tea. Upset flying teacups may pour hot tea over your head and be REALLY REALLY ANNOYING as they complain at you in high squeaky voices.

Now that may be a few CP off in particular cases, just as any general procedure will have it’s exceptions – but these are typically going to be NPC’s, and being a few CP off really doesn’t matter all that much.

What, you want a lot of these things? “Leadership” is best if you expect to ride to battle on your banquet table (Elephant), accompanied by a pair of Couch-Tigers and a dozen or so Flying Knives (Hawks).

For background features – if you really want an animated teapot that makes tea in the morning before you get up – you can just “buy a trained animal”. If the GM makes you pay a point or two to know an artificer who makes these things – well, that is the GM’s privilege. It’s not like this is going to make a serious difference.

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2 Responses

  1. Also handy for killer gardens and lairs of ravids. Of course for the garden, the creature type is plant, except for gnomes, reflecting balls and such.

  2. […] ECL Talking Teapot Template: For creating animated utensils and […]

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