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TV to Tabletop: The Last of Us

TV to Tabletop: The Last of Us

TV to Tabletop is a series where we take ideas from popular fantasy TV and movies and translate them to D&D terms. Use them in your own game as is, rename them to hide your sources, or get inspiration for your own new ideas!

The Last of Us aired on HBO Max in 2023, based on the hit video game of the same name. It features Pedro Pascal who must escort a child, Ellie, across zombie-filled territory. These zombies are based on the real-life Cordyceps fungus, also known as the zombie-ant fungus.

The art in this installment of TV to Tabletop is a new sketch from a monster for Project Black Flag! Playtest Packet #1 for the game released yesterday. Get the packet and join the playtest!

Apocalyptic Fungus

This highly infectious fungus invades the bodies of humanoid creatures, taking control and using them as vehicles to spread their spores into other hosts. The fungus spreads through an infected creature’s system quickly, growing into the humanoid’s brain, taking control of the body’s motor functions. It then seeks out other humanoids, attacking them and attempting to bite them, allowing spores in its saliva to infect the bitten creature. The apocalyptic fungus has no real intelligence, only a drive to reproduce. Humanoids can be infected by the fungus through ingestion of contaminated foods or water, breathing the spores, or the bite of an infected host.

Humanoids infected by the apocalyptic fungus can go through four different stages of infection before dying. Most die before reaching the final stage, though the fungus in their bodies continues to grow, feeding on the host’s remains.

Should the host body sustain damage or deteriorate to a point where mobility is compromised, the fungus attempts to move into a dark, sheltered area, allowing the body to break down, while the fungus fruits and releases its spores. Sunlight kills the fungus and its spores. Indoors, or in areas without sunlight, Humanoids must make saving throws if they venture within 20 feet of a patch of fungus, as the spore content in the air is high enough to cause infection.

Other types of infected beyond the standard four are rumored to exist, but these four represent the standard life cycle of the apocalyptic fungus within a host body.

Spore-Mad. Infected Humanoids that reach this stage have had their brains invaded by the apocalyptic fungus, giving it control over their bodies within hours or days of the time of infection. They are driven to attack and infect other humanoids, often wildly running down a victim, bowling them over, and attempting to bite them in order to infect the victim with their spores. This wild, animal-like behavior leads people to believe they’ve gone mad, hence the name for them.

Creepers. Infected Humanoids that survive at least two weeks with the fungus begin to alter in appearance and behavior. Stalks of fungus break through the skull to crown the head, while patches of fungus break through the cheeks and around the eye sockets and random areas of the body. Creepers stalk or ambush potential victims rather than running them down. They are known to use cooperative tactics when encountered in numbers, such as herding potential victims toward other creepers lying in wait. Sometimes creepers enter periods of inertia, lying down or leaning up against a wall or tree and allowing the fungus to spread over them, only to burst out and attack when a potential target passing by.

Skullblooms. After a year, the continuous growth of the fungus cracks the cranium, growing out in masses that obscure or destroy the host’s eyes. To counteract this, skullblooms develop a form of echolocation to find prey, and their hearing is more sensitive. Hardened fungal growths on the host’s body defend against attacks, and the fortifying nature of the fungus infusing the body makes skullblooms harder to kill. Once a skullbloom is aware of prey in the area, it searches tirelessly.

Bloatblossoms. Infected Humanoids that remain alive for years become bloatblossoms. A riot of fungal growth makes the body broad and ungainly, with layers of tough, fibrous growth that protect it from damage. Bloatblossoms have better echolocation than the younger skullblooms, as well as nodules filled with mycotoxins that they can tear from their bodies and hurl at targets.

Apocalyptic Fungal Infection. A Humanoid that ingests food or water contaminated with the spores of the apocalyptic fungus, breathes in the spores, or is bitten by an infected creature, must succeed at a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become infected. An infected target can’t regain hit points and when it finishes a long rest, must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or gain two levels of exhaustion. When the infected target reaches the sixth level of exhaustion, it does not die, but instead becomes a spore-mad. The infection can only be cured by magic, such as lesser restoration.

Violent Reproduction. If a Humanoid infected with apocalyptic fungal spores is reduced to 0 hit points, it automatically stabilizes. The fungus is able to spread quickly through the infected Humanoid’s system, replacing injured tissue with fungal growth, and infecting the brain. It rises an hour later as a spore-mad.

Spore-Mad

Small or Medium Plant, Unaligned
Armor Class 10
Hit Points 13 (2d8 + 4)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
13 (+1)10 (+0)14 (+2)2 (−4)9 (−1)5 (−3)

Damage Immunities psychic
Condition Immunities exhaustion
Senses passive Perception 9
Languages
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)                    Proficiency Bonus +2

Fungal Strength. The spore-mad has advantage on Strength checks made to grapple an uninfected humanoid.

ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage. If the target is an uninfected humanoid, it must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw; on a failed save the target is infected with apocalyptic fungus.

REACTIONS

Instinct to Pursue. If the spore-mad becomes aware of an uninfected humanoid’s location, or hears a sudden noise (breaking glass, loud music, shouting, or similar sounds,) it can use its reaction to Dash in the direction of the triggering effect.

Creeper

Medium Plant, Unaligned
Armor Class 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points 26 (4d8 + 8)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)10 (+0)15 (+2)2 (−4)9 (−1)5 (−3)

Skills Stealth +2
Damage Immunities psychic
Condition Immunities exhaustion
Senses passive Perception 9
Languages
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)                  Proficiency Bonus +2

Fungal Strength. The creeper has advantage on Strength checks made to grapple an uninfected humanoid.

Keen Hearing. The creeper has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

Poor Eyesight. The creeper has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Stalker. The creeper has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is an uninfected humanoid, it must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw; on a failed save the target is infected with apocalyptic fungus.

Skullbloom

Medium Plant, Unaligned
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 39 (6d8 + 12)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)10 (+0)15 (+2)2 (−4)9 (−1)5 (−3)

Damage Immunities psychic
Condition Immunities exhaustion
Senses blindsight 20 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 9 (14 hearing-based)
Languages
Challenge 1 (200 XP)                      Proficiency Bonus +2

Fungal Strength. The skullbloom has advantage on Strength checks made to grapple an uninfected humanoid.

Keen Hearing. The skullbloom has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is an uninfected humanoid, it must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw; on a failed save the target is infected with apocalyptic fungus.

REACTIONS

Instinct to Pursue. If the spore-mad becomes aware of an uninfected humanoid’s location, or hears a sudden noise (breaking glass, loud music, shouting, or similar sounds,) it can use its reaction to Dash in the direction of the triggering effect.

Bloatbloom

Medium Plant, Unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 60 (8d8 + 24)
Speed 20 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
17 (+3)10 (+0)16 (+3)2 (−4)9 (−1)5 (−3)

Damage Resistances cold
Damage Immunities psychic
Condition Immunities exhaustion
Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 9 (14 hearing-based)
Languages
Challenge 2 (400 XP)                      Proficiency Bonus +2

Fungal Strength. The bloatbloom has advantage on Strength checks made to grapple an uninfected Humanoid.

Keen Hearing. The bloatbloom has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The bloatbloom makes two attacks.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage. If the target is an uninfected humanoid, it must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw; on a failed save the target is infected with apocalyptic fungus.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage. If the bloatbloom hits a Medium or smaller target with two slam attacks in a round, the target is grappled (escape DC 13).

Toxic Nodule. Ranged Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d8) poison damage and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Want more chilling undead or weird plants monsters? Tome of Beasts 3 has you covered!
Get over 400 brand-new monsters for your 5E DnD or Project Black Flag playtest games!


about Jeff Lee

Jeff Lee is a 10-year veteran of RPG freelancing. He has written a plethora of material for Kobold Press and other third-party companies. You might know him from Demon Cults & Secret Societies. You might also want to support his Patreon, where he writes things at patrons’ behest: https://www.patreon.com/jeffalee

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