Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Murderous Menagerie: Headless Howlers

Combine this tentacle head...

Deep within the honeycomb caverns that permeate Krül, creating a vast underworld, bizarre creatures have adapted to the monster-choked underground wilderness. The Headless Howler is one of these specimens, a foul scavenger which 'arranges' its meals by ensuring that predator and prey find each other.

Headless Howlers are strange-looking beasts, possessing a roughly humanoid torso with six muscular arms which it employs for locomotion, scuttling like a crab. Lacking a head, the Howler instead has a muscular tentacle in its place which is used for gripping tools and objects. In the center of the Howler's chest is a large cartilaginous ridged cavity which constricts with every breath. When in its natural state, the flesh of the Howler is a transparent, jelly-like substance, revealing organs and bones beneath. Few, however, see it in this form. Most only become aware of the Howler when they hear its piercing, reverberating cry before all hell breaks loose.

This transparent flesh...

Headless Howler

No. Enc.: 1d3
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
Attacks: 1 (head whip)
Damage: 1d6
Save: 0 level human
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: I (XIII)
XP: 10

... And these finger-mouths,
and you've got a pretty good idea what this
thing looks like.

Headless Howlers are natural climbers, capable of moving effortlessly across sheer surfaces as their fingertips (four on each of their six hands) end in tiny mouths filled with serrated, rotating teeth. While useless in combat, these mouths possess an iron grip and can quickly devour carrion. When feeding, a Headless Howler's mouths resemble both blender and vacuum, liquefying corpses and slurping them down with a frightful efficiency.

Possessing a chameleon-like ability to adapt to their natural surroundings, the Headless Howler is nearly impossible to spot (5 in 6 chance to surprise) once they have blended into their surroundings (requiring one turn). They will often wait, motionless, in high-traffic areas of the underworld while in this chameleon state, awaiting victims.

When a creature comes within 60' of the Howler's "hunting ground", the Howler (which detects movement by vibration) will generally approach by crawling across the ceiling. Once in place above the creature, the cartilaginous cavity begins to rapidly vibrate, creating a piercing wail that echoes throughout the dungeon. It will continue to do so for 1-3 rounds (or until struck). Each round the Howler cries automatically triggers a wandering monster roll. Once it has done so, the Howler quickly retreats through a combination of climbing and leaping (covering distances of up to 20' with ease). It does not engage in combat unless cornered. Instead, the Howler will return in approximately one turn to feed upon the dead. 

Adventuring parties who explore Howler habitats will likely find nothing but piles of picked-clean bones when retracing their steps, and those which repeatedly delve in the area may find these creatures constantly dwelling at the edge of their torchlight, happily awaiting their next meal... or ensuring it, if not regularly sated.

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