How do Denevan Neural Parasites work?

I was considering running a published adventure (won’t name it in case of accidental spoilers) featuring everyone’s favourite flying pancakes, but looking at their statblock in the Core book, they don’t actually have an Attack listed - just the Attach special rule. There’s also a sidebar in the adventure itself referring to adding a Neural Pain complication to a character if they take 2 or more Stress from a parasite’s attack, except I can’t find a clear way for them to inflict Stress damage.

So how would you handle having swarms of the things attacking, damaging and attaching to/controlling player characters?

My current plan was to have the Parasites make melee attacks as usual using Daring/Security (both scores are pretty low, but that makes sense for beings that fly clumsily, almost like puppets on strings :wink: ), and roll damage dice based solely on their Security score, as they lack the limbs required for a proper Unarmed Strike. Player characters taking 2 or more Stress would be hit with Neural Pain, and if an Effect is rolled, the parasite Attaches. Once Attached, it would start making Control or Presence/Command checks, opposed by the character’s Control or Fitness/Command to exert control over the character’s actions (uncontrolled Supporting Characters may just switch sides and become NPCs, because drama).

Of course, the other option would be to leave the Parasites themselves out of the action scenes and instead have their controlled victims attacking the player characters, with the Parasite statblock being mostly for if someone tries to phaser or yank one off a victim. But I really like the imagery of an away team desperately fighting off a swarm of weird flying brain cells :wink:

What are your thoughts? Or are there extra rules covering this that I overlooked somewhere?

I do not see where you could have overlooked something. I think the rules you came up with are very coherent. So I’ll just make some general remarks for fine-tuning:

You could decide that an attached neural parasite automatically controls the victim, be it player or (uncontrolled) supporting character. And you could also use Threat to inflict an attachment or render a victim helpless against the parasite’s commands (both via a trait/complication).

Removing a parasite should cost Momentum/Determination, if you ask me. :slight_smile:

Since there are no rules laid out that specify how attaching works, I’d say it is a simple Advantage (from the parasite’s point of view) or Complication, so the parasite would do a Create Advantage Task or it would automatically attack as a result of a Complication. I believe this would also be more in line with what we saw if the episode. It wasn’t really so much of a melee scuffle. Rather the parasites dropped from the ceiling or flew directly at the victim who could then dodge (i.e. avoid the Complication).

I’ve actually thought about this. Yet, I’m not sure how players would react to this “damage without rolls”.
Unrelatedly, I’d think about using ranged instead of melee attacks as the parasites control is so much better than its daring.

This, only I’d recommend against them automatically controlling a PC; there are a number of mostly-useless talents on resisting coercion (Dauntless, Proud and Honourable) that almost never see the (five) light of day, and should here.

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Thanks for all of your feedback, friends. It all ended up a bit moot - only one parasite managed a successful attack roll on a player character during the final battle scene, who resisted being coerced. But the threat of what they could do was certainly still an effective motivation!

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