Its pointed tail flicks back and forth, a glowing orange liquid dripping off the creature’s plump red body. A deep rumble, like thunder yet somehow more alive, sounds in the distance. The creature’s wings beat at the air causing small stones to shift on the ground as it hovers in place. And then, like a dog after a bath, it begins to shake itself off, liquid lava showering the nearby rockface with a hiss. Dr. Gearbox turns to Botley and whispers, “Have you ever seen anything so magnificent?” Before Botley has a chance to reply, the deep rumble in the distance grows louder and louder and suddenly, over the crest of a nearby hill, comes a torrent of lava. A molten magma river spewing forth from the crevice that had just minutes before been the site of a core-sample experiment. Dr. Gearbox turns to Botley and utters the only word he can think of at a time like this, “Run!”
Perhaps ‘Fly!’ would have been a more appropriate command, considering Botley’s mode of transport is typically via his quad propulsion rockets which allow him to soar through the air. Regardless, the creature they encountered that day was, of course, a Flickerwhip. Dr. Gearbox stumbled upon some incredible scientific marvels at his Kalapana, Hawaii-based research center before it was shuttered due to the catastrophic volcanic eruption; none more so than the elusive Flickerwhip. This seemingly gentle flying critter might look like a baby to our human eyes, but in actual fact is over 100 years old. A full-grown adult would be a sight to behold, but thus far none have been sighted in the region. Perhaps they’re unable to fit through the portal, or maybe they’re just waiting for an opportune moment to make their grand entrance. Dr. Gearbox believes the latter and has marked your map with the location of his first sighting with the phrase, “Here Be Dragons.”
One downside about adventuring in the desert - besides the heat or the sand - is the snakes. You’re constantly looking towards the ground for something sleek, slender and scaly that might sneak and slither in your path. Of course, if you’re always looking at your feet, you might not notice one if it were standing right in front of you. But that’s ridiculous because there is no such thing as a … a standing snake? And surely if there were such a thing as a standing snake, it wouldn’t have a ragged rack of rugged antlers ready to ram right into you. Only there it is - some kind of strange hybrid that is half serpent and half jackalope - getting ready to charge at you with full force. You’re going to have to act fast - this misfit is particularly quick, and its horns are particularly sharp. But you’re sharp too! So get ready to use your brain to outwit the Snelk by sidestepping this stomping evolutionary oddity!
It had been over three weeks since the first portal was spotted back in Kerhonkson, NY. By now, Botley had estimated that there could be hundreds more, with a particularly high concentration in Mohave County, Arizona. Using patented sonar technology, Dr. Gearbox’s pioneering Underground-Wondersounder™ produced highly detailed maps of the subsurface. What he found was shocking: a sophisticated network of tunnels stretching across the desert - which he later dubbed the “Diplus Complex.” Of course, being a genius who knew many facts about many things, Dr. Gearbox knew that many creatures adapted to live underground in hot, arid climates. But these tunnels were huge - large enough for a scientist and his trusted robot companion to comfortably explore. At least in theory; they never quite made it down there.
Just as Dr. Gearbox tied the laces of his spelunker boots and mounted the lamp mod onto Botley’s attachment port, a Diplus came bursting out of a borehole that had just opened up beneath them. Tumbling to the ground, Dr. Gearbox barely had time to look up and see the strange, shovel-headed creature before it dove back down, drilling itself into solid earth.
Wiping the dirt off his pants he asked, “Did you get that my ferrous friend?” “Affirmative!” replied Botley. “Wonderful, let’s analyze the footage in the lab.” He replayed that footage many times, carefully studying it to understand any natural adaptations in case he could apply them to his own inventions. Perhaps you should study it too. After all, even if you don’t have any plans to design your own robot with a drill bit mounted on its head anytime soon, you may need to know more about the Diplus next time you’re adventuring in Mohave.
Dr. Gearbox is always fond of saying, “be careful of what you go digging up… because sometimes what you look for comes looking for you! That’s why dinosaur fossils are usually a safe endeavor.” Artifacts of past creatures are a mere shadow of life and an approximated glimpse into the past. You can be impressed or intimidated by a fossilized claw, sharp teeth, or predator build… but time has kept them all safely away from us.
But as the dry desert winds blow sand across your face, you realize just how wrong things seem. If this adventure has taught you anything, it’s that you can never make assumptions, even “all dinosaurs must be extinct.”
What started as excitement upon discovering a huge reptilian footprint has now become a cause for concern. This footprint is not fossilized, it’s fresh! And whatever made it must be close, because you can hear it growling!
This large green beast, with a huge horn and big teeth, was not found safely encased in the dirt at all. It’s not separated from you by millions of years, either. It’s a living, breathing, hungry, lizard-like creature that is standing way too close for comfort. For a second you question if you too are cold-blooded, as your blood drains away with the profound realization that this creature must have come through a portal, and there may be more!
All told, Dr. Gearbox pulled dozens of core samples from the glacial ice during his research expedition to Jasper. His analysis led to several breakthroughs in our understanding of climate change during the last ice age, the geometry of ice crystals, and what kinds of ice cubes chill a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day the fastest. His favorite discovery - his “pet theory” if you will - came when he discovered several perfectly preserved frozen dog treats in the pouch of an ice age hunter he uncovered deep below the surface. After some analysis, he concluded that humankind must have domesticated the first wild dog in this region around 30,000 years ago. “There’s an important lesson in that,” he once said to his grand-daughter Jessica, but when she asked what the lesson was he couldn’t quite remember. “Something about… survival...” he said.
Now that you’ve made it to Jasper, you may need to learn that lesson for yourself. With a powerful, if clumsy bound that might almost be adorable in a less gigantic creature, the Wimplo lunges into the field in front of you. Resembling a dog but larger than a horse, the Wimplo is an imposing sight. After stopping to shake the snow off of its shaggy blue and white coat - looking rather goofy in the process - it eyes you and shows its crooked, oversized teeth. Is that a snarl? Or a smile? With its awkward gait and playful attitude, something about this creature makes you almost want to smile back. In your adventures, you’ve learned how to defend yourself against all sorts of unusual foes, but perhaps there’s something else to be learned. In a world full of opponents sometimes it’s good to find one that could be a potential ally, and perhaps this creature can be tamed. You reach into the pocket of your Jasper armor and pull out a snack, and hold it out to the Wimplo. Cocking its horned head, it eyes you suspiciously and sniffs the air. It steps forward, shakes its shaggy head, and snaps back to attention. Is it about to attack? But what’s that? Its tail is starting to wag. It looks like you’ve made a new best friend.
As you and your party leave the field and press deeper into Jasper, you wonder what Gearbox’s ancient ice age hunters would think if they could see you now: the young adventurer in the bear suit, the huge, happy puppy, the hovering bot. In this snowy world, it’s enough to warm your heart.
Fun in the snow one snowball at a time. The Snelgrim are not the worst obstacle but their throwing arm and precise combat style can make even a seasoned adventurer think about taking a different route. The problem is that these small yeti-like critters like to toy with creatures they see as inferior to their intelligence. And in their world view that means much of the world’s population. Being alone in the snow they get to practice their art of attack and defense on a daily basis but they often don't encounter a target. But when they do they wade in with relish and enjoy the barrage and even the counter attacks, it keeps them entertained. So watch out for incoming snowballs and creatures playfully stalking you as you traverse the snowy landscape of jasper. Smart and self assured the Snelgrim is a foe that can irritate anyone they encounter, but when they are outsmarted and beaten they show you respect but then learn from their defeat and come back for more. So be alert, stay warm and keep a snowball handy.
When you have a mind like Dr. Gearbox’s - a mind that’s awash with scientific facts and boiling over with brilliant ideas - sometimes the most precious memories sink deep below the surface. But when he first saw Cowlick, with its pinkish proboscis and puff of purple fluff, one of Gearbox’s fondest memories came bubbling up to the surface.
...he’d returned to take a certain someone to an amusement park in Calgary, where they’d shared a puffy poof of purple cotton candy together. Ah yes, the woman who would one-day become the future Mrs… now, what was her name? He’d have to ask Jessica who she was.
That’s the trouble with memories when you have a mind like Dr. Gearbox’s. Just when one has floated up to the surface it slips back down again, and you find yourself nose-to-nose (or nose-to-trunk) with a most unusual specimen. Oh yes, Cowlick! Interesting how its adorable, long-lashed eyes on their eye-stalks seem to be narrowing into a kind of menacing glare. One might say they’re vaguely threatening. And what’s that? A tail? Or perhaps some sort of anatomical water-cannon? Yes, it seems to have adopted a more aggressive stance… a kind of attack posture. Botley, I think it’s time to run!
Mischievous, bothersome, and willing to engage in combat at the drop of a … well, at the drop of a rock, Rock Goblins can be found throughout the woodlands of Kerhonkson. You might see them playfully tumbling through the leaves and gathering stones to juggle or toss with their friends. But watch out! If they feel threatened by a larger creature who has stumbled into their domain, Rock Goblins are quick to turn a game of catch into a game of Pelt-the-Interloper! Given the chance, you might try to ask one what part of the forest she considers to be her home, to which she’s likely to reply “glurp glog, nub knock” (roughly translated: “Everywhere, silly”). More often than not though, the first indication that you’ve entered Rock Goblin’s turf is a well-thrown rock flying across your path. Followed by a few more. They’ve been known to group together to drive off larger creatures, although once the foe is beaten they often resort to throwing rocks at each other. Smart, devious and with a great pitching arm, the Rock Goblin maybe more of a challenge than players expected form such a small green ugly package.
A mischievous little creature, her tail sways like a reed to act as camouflage in tall grass or freshwater habitats. Mandiphyll hops on the balls of her feet to nimbly navigate along the water’s surface atop water-lilies and protruding stones. She can see a spectrum of color imperceptible by the human eye. Where human eyes have a red cone, blue cone, and green cone to derive color from; Mandiphyll’s eyes contain sixteen color-receptive cones.
Solitary and territorial by nature, the Gorshroom can be a tough opponent when protecting its turf. If a Gorshroom thinks you might be a threat, you can bet that it will quickly abandon its loner attitude and form a pack with others of its kind. With a mushroom-like growth on the top of its head you and a thick, stony hide that resembles the volcanic rock found throughout Kalapana, the Gorshroom’s natural camouflage allows it to avoid unwanted contact with other creatures. But be careful where you step, when roused into action the Gorshroom can attack with its noxious spore-belch!
You spot a solitary box of matches lying abandoned on the black rock face as a small red Hawaiian woodpecker hops over to inspect them. He tap, tap, taps the matchbox with his beak, trying to get inside. Nearby, a low hum echoes off the rocks. The woodpecker turns toward it, head cocked to the side, little red mohawk bristling. It picks the matchbox up in its beak and hops toward the noise. The hum rises in intensity until the air is filled with the buzz of an electromagnetic charge and then POOF! You take cover behind a rocky crag as a blue vertical light splits the air, rotating in place, stretching, widening, lengthening until it’s nearly ten feet tall. A portal of some sort.
It reaches down to the ground where the matches and woodpecker were just a moment ago… but they’re both gone. In their place is a pack of three-foot tall matchsticks, and they’re hopping about like birds. What?! Their eyes blink curiously, mouths fixed in a frown. As they move away from the portal, taking in their new environment, one of the little matchsticks is bumped by another and almost topples over. Its eyes draw together in anger and it begins tap, tap, tapping its head off the ground in frustration. Then, in a burst of energy, it scrapes its head off the black rock and ignites into flames, replete with blazing mohawk and two little flaming hands! The other matchsticks look at it in surprise and then follow suit. Within seconds there are dozens of little flaming mohawked matchsticks hopping off into the wilds of Kalapana… and they’re still out there waiting for you to find them. But be careful about playing with fire – these Flamehawks have a temper matched only by their ferocity in battle!