I decided to use eevee this time. It got a bit slow when I added in the volumetrics, but was surprisingly fast as long as I left all of the vertex-dense instances unealized.
When I said vertex-dense, I really meant it! The hard surface modeling was done with sdfs, so it required a moderately high resolution to maintain a high quality. If this were a normal project, I’d retopologize it, but this is nodevember. I actually did try to shrinkwrap a uv sphere onto it to give it a better topology, but it ended up slowing it down, and the effect was barely noticeable.
I used a raycast setup to keep the legs on the terrain. This was probably the most challenging part to get right. The effect takes place before the curves are converted to a mesh, so it works dynamically with any number of points.
Here’s the free project file: