Seasonal Beasties – The Applejack

In the days of questionable water safety, man developed alcoholic beverages as a way to hydrate without also succumbing to any of a number of horrible diseases and parasites. In colonial America, for example, far more apples were turned into cider and applejack than were baked into pies or eaten raw. Unfortunately, in a fantasy world magic often enters the picture.

Some halfling witch of antiquity, miffed at not being invited to the moot, concocted a devilish plan. She invented a magical parasite that could withstand the fermentation process and introduced it to an apple orchard. While only a very few of these parasites managed to actually survive fermentation, the result was devastating. The parasites survived past the witch’s curse, and now appear seemingly at random in apples all over the fantasy realms. The parasites enter the body through the digestive system when an alcoholic apple-based beverage is consumed, and then go to work on body and brain. After ingesting a parasite, a person (non-humanoids are unaffected by the parasites) must pass a Fortitude saving throw or begin a startling transformation.

The victim, usually nicknamed applejacks, gets a wild look in his or her eye and falls to the ground, writhing about while they are transformed into a monstrous version of themselves. Their skin becomes a deep crimson, their eyes bloodshot, their lisp curl back to reveal their teeth and the hair all over their bodies grows thicker. The applejack then springs from the ground and begins attacking everyone in sight. The transformation and violent behavior last about 1 hour.

The applejack has the same number of hit dice of its host, plus five. The applejack stats below assume the base creature is a 0 HD human being.

An applejack primarily attacks with fists and feet. The victim of the creature’s attack must pass a Fortitude saving throw or be knocked backwards 1d4+4 feet and stunned for 1d4 rounds. After the stunning wears off, the victim must make an additional Will save or be confused – in essence, they act as thought inebriated.

The applejack does not appear to be interested in killing, only knocking people about and committing as much property destruction as possible. Non-magical wooden weapons that strike an applejack must pass an item saving throw or break on contact, and non-magical shields employed against an applejack must pass an item saving throw every other round or likewise be destroyed.

When a person finally comes out from under the influence of the parasite, they fall into a deep sleep and transform back to normal, though they retain a ruddy hue to their faces and their additional hair remains for a few days before finally falling out. They rarely remember the experience, but about 1 in 20 do remember, and gain the ability to go into a berserk rage (per the barbarian class) once per day for about 30 days.

Applejack, Large Monstrous Humanoid, Low Intelligence: HD 5; AC 17; Atk 2 fists (1d6 + knock back and stun and confusion); Move 40; F12 R11 W12; AL Chaotic (CE); XP 500; Special – Knock back, stun, confusion, break wooden weapons and shields, insensitive to pain, weapon resistance, immune to mind-affecting spells.

Image found HERE