Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creatures of Freeport: Deadfall Beetle

The deadfall beetle was inspired by a family trip to a state forest on the edge of the Arizona desert. Fallen trees scattered throughout the woods suggested bizarre, crouching monsters lying in wait for prey. I made a quick sketch then, and finished statting it up as soon as we returned home and I could consult my Bestiary.

I was finally able to use this creature in the most recent session of my Freeport game, which means that I can now share it here. Two beetles did not pose a serious danger to the party as a whole (who are now 8th level), but their bite was brutal enough to nearly take out the party ranger, who was unlucky enough to suffer a critical hit (which fell one point short of forcing my campaign's first save vs. massive damage!). I was quite pleased with my new beastie, who my players won't forget anytime soon.

What you first mistook for a fallen tree now stirs, revealing itself to be a gigantic insect with legs and mandibles resembling twisted, dead tree limbs or roots. It rushes forward to attack.

XP 2,400
N Huge vermin
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 21, touch 9, flat-footed 20 (+1 Dex, +12 natural, -2 size)
hp 60 (8d8+24)
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +2
Immune mind-affecting effects
Speed 40 ft., fly 20 ft. (clumsy)
Melee bite +12 (2d8+12 plus grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks trample (1d8+12, DC 21)
Str 26, Dex 12, Con 16, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 4
Base Atk +6; CMB +16 (+20 grapple); CMD 27 (32 vs. trip)
Skills Fly -6, Stealth +2 (+10 in forest or jungle); Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth (+16 in forest or jungle)
Environment warm or temperate forests
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure none

A deadfall beetle is an ambush predator who waits near game trails or water sources for prey to come within its reach. When motionless in forested areas, its excellent camouflage makes it appear to be harmless fallen tree with several large branches remaining more or less intact. This insect is also a scavenger, and will attack other creatures in order to claim a large carcass for itself. In general, it will attack most Large or Medium creatures that it encounters while hungry. Smaller creatures are usually ignored unless they attack the beetle first or bar its way to larger prey.

Deadfall beetles are territorial, and will drive off other monstrous vermin except during the brief mating season. If a displaced beetle has to travel a long distance to find a new hunting ground, its offspring (if any) adapt to match the new location's tree species within a generation or two.

Some sages claim that the deadfall beetle is actually a monstrous version of the walking stick insect, and not a beetle at all. Few adventurers concern themselves with this distinction when faced by what appears to be an full-sized tree rather than a mere twig or branch. 

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