The Tunnel Dwellers are a race of psychic and possibly sentient lizard like creatures which inhabit a series of tunnel networks underneath the wastelands. They are carnivorous in nature, and occasionally venture out of the wastelands into human settlements.
The average Tunnel Dweller stands at just under half the height of an average human. They have off-white scales, which are impervious to ordinary weapons and require high-tech armour piercing rounds to penetrate effectively. Earlier experiments show they are highly resistant to cold, being able to function at temperatures well below freezing. However, a Tunnel Dweller is particularly vulnerable to fire, as it burns away the fungus which is responsible for the prowess with Spiritual Will.
They also appear to have a symbiotic life with a certain type of fungus which naturally occurs on some types of tunnels. It is normally a dark red in colour, which has often been described as the "colour of dried blood", which grows upon the scales of a Tunnel Dweller. The fungus is responsible for their psionic abilities for reasons unknown. The fungus also excretes a highly potent neurotoxin able to kill a healthy human in just under a minute if is comes in contact with their skin or is drunk. In return, the fungus drains any blood which falls upon it, and gives the Tunnel Dweller a mutated, bloody look. If a Tunnel Dweller enters a large body of water, the fungus releases spores and toxins which are a red colour. Naturally, the spores are immune to the toxins, and they grow into a skin covering the water, awaiting the next Tunnel Dweller to immerse in it.
Occasionally, a small group of Tunnel Dwellers will dig new tunnels underneath a human settlement. When this occurs, every last Tunnel Dweller must be killed and afterwards buried in the tunnel they dug. Otherwise, other groups of Tunnel Dwellers will be drawn towards the killings and the psionic traces of the Tunnel Dwellers.
If an infestation is driven out early, the settlement can continue to exist. If the infestation existed for several years prior, it is quite common for most of the settlement's water supplies to be poisoned by the Tunnel Dweller's toxins. If that happens, the settlement will require water to be imported from another location, or it will be wiped out in a slew of dehydrations unless it has access to an extremely advanced filtering system.
The psychic abilities of the Tunnel Dwellers largely involve healing. In battle, if a Tunnel Dweller is badly wounded, then they often use their powers to heal the injury. Bones regrow, flesh restitches, major organs are replaced and blood regenerates. It also has the unfortunate effect of ageing the Tunnel Dweller with each use, as the use of the powers speed up cell division.
A secondary, and rarely used, power is telepathic communication between other Tunnel Dwellers. Mostly, they use this power to communicate with other Tunnel Dwellers if one finds a large source of food, however, it is also used to alert other Tunnel Dwellers of an intruder into their tunnels as well as alerting other Tunnel Dwellers if one dies.
Variations of Tunnel DwellerEdit
Not every Tunnel Dweller is created equal, and these are the known forms of others.
The so called "Tunnel Node" is something similar to a hive queen. The Tunnel Node is responsible for controlling all Tunnel Dwellers in its particular tunnel, as well as laying eggs which will hatch into either more Tunnel Dwellers or the much-feared Tunnel Guard.
The Tunnel Guard is a rarely-seen creature which guards a partucularly large "family" of Tunnel Dwellers. Standing at a height of seventeen feet, the Tunnel Guard lives outside the tunnel which the Tunnel Dweller families call home. They resemble a spider, in that they have eight legs, many eyes, an external carapace which offers better protection than the standard scales, and they have two large fangs which store neurotoxins. Their eyesight is notoriously poor, and they substitute this for an enhanced sense of smell. Anything smelling like a Tunnel Dweller will be ignored, but anything smelling like another organic lifeform will be killed and eaten. Because of this, it is common practice to have soldiers paint themselves with the blood of a Tunnel Dweller to bypass these creatures and kill the other monsters within. A Tunnel Guard is capable of functioning, although without its psychic powers, without a head for six weeks, when it dies of dehydration, or has another Tunnel Dweller regenerate it.