The Studying of the Mimic
Chest with tongue and teeth.

The Mimic is a curious (and dangerous) creature to most minds but few know, or care to know, that there are actually several related species of Mimic, divided into two groups: a larger, “killer” variety that is of lesser intelligence, attacking all nearby prey, and does not speak; and the more intelligent, eloquent species which will often bargain for food, has a curious (as yet unfathomed by me) language of its own, and often speaks orcish, the common tongue, dwarvish, or other tongues used in the vicinity of the individual creatures hunting ground.

The Mimic gains its name from its ability to alter not only its body shape but the color and texture of the outer surface as well. The color and texture changes are accomplished by the shifting of pigmented liquid between interior and exterior body cells, so that the creature resembles wood or stone in color and texture depending on whether this pigmented liquid is brought to the outer surface of the creature’s body or stored internally.

A Mimic is naturally gray in hue, with a smooth, very hard outer skin that gives it the stone-like appearance. The pigmented liquid, brownish in color (often revealed to adventurers when a Mimic is wounded in battle), is held within the body in large, muscular organs that serve as both bags and pumps. When these organs are squeezed by the contraction of the cavity wall muscles, they squirt their contents rapidly into the outer skin layer, filling many capillaries that lie just beneath the skin surface. These capillaries then stand out, brownish and wrinkled, in a pattern resembling wood grain.

A treasure chest with sharp teeth and tongue.
Mimic

Reversing the process, from the wood-grain appearance to the natural state, requires a sort of external contortion; a Mimic appears to wriggle and twist all over as it empties its capillaries of the liquid. (The creature can, as we all know, alter the external configuration of its form at will, within the limits imposed by the actual volume of its form.) The mimic grows replacement layers of skin beneath the outer one, which is constantly being worn away by the ravages of movement, battle, and feeding.

The Mimic is amorphous and moves in the same way it attacks: by extending strong pseudopods, which exude a sticky “glue,” and pulling themselves along. A Mimic can “unstick” its own glue at any time, and it never sticks to itself.

Reputedly, this glue is sticky enough that only the strongest of adventurers has a good chance of breaking the Mimic’s hold without killing the creature first. Some adventurers claim to have pulled themselves free from a Mimic’s glue, but such tales are rare and often their veracity is doubtful: to simulate the possibility of breaking free in game terms, held characters may be allowed to attempt an “open doors” roll based on their strength. Repeated attempts to break free may be made, but no other action – attack or defense – is possible by the victim during the round of attempted escape.

Mimics are interested only in personal safety and an endless quest for food. “Killer” Mimics will attack any living creature, regardless of the number of adversaries or their powers. The more intelligent variety often prefers to bargain with an enemy initially Š but the creatures have no moral standards as we know them: If an enemy is sufficiently weakened after a bargain has been struck, a Mimic will “change its mind,” always seeking a meal first and foremost.

Mimics have very sensitive “eyespots” (patches of pigment that are sensitive to heat; light, and vibration) all over their skin. Bright sunlight overwhelms these sensory spots, effectively blinding the Mimic; thus, the creatures are almost always found below ground or in other areas where the sun never reaches. Mimics of all sorts are immune to the deleterious effects of alcohol (but will absorb it if offered, to make use of the inherent nutrients and sugar) and are also unaffected by slime (including green slime), molds (including the brown and yellow varieties), and the corrosive secretions of creatures such as the black pudding, gray ooze, ochre jelly, stun-jelly, and gelatinous cube.

It should be remembered that Mimics can travel on walls and ceilings as easily as they can on floors. Those of the more intelligent sort are most adept at “hiding” by assuming the shape of a partition wall, overhanging arch, or rough rock wall if they feel threatened.

One famous, if somewhat extreme, example: A Mimic somehow came into one of the busiest market squares of Waterdeep and assumed the shape of a statue. It remained undetected for two winters, until the chronic disappearance of street derelicts in the square on every dark night prompted an investigation. A sewer beside this strangely unfamiliar (to the sculptor who had “done” the square) statue was discovered to be filled to a depth of more than 60 feet with human and animal bones. (Even after this fact was discovered, the “statue” ate two members of the City Watch who prodded it carelessly with their spears, not expecting to find anything.)

Although the details of the concoction are not known by this scribe, it is generally said that the skin of the Mimic is useful in the making of a polymorph (self) potion. Also, further investigation is needed to determine the range of travel of an individual Mimic over a lifetime, and the precise efficacy of the creature’s detection organs, which, based on casual observation, appear to “see” up to 90 feet in subterranean (not total) darkness, and up to 30 feet in the gloom of night, or in darkened areas above ground.

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