"God and other artists are always a little obscure." Oscar Wilde

Friday, November 16, 2012

Frightful Fridays! Cymothoa

Welcome to this week's Frightful Fridays! Thanks to a suggestion by Flash_CXXI, I've gone back to a creature from nature for inspiration. The Cymothoa Exigua (also known as the tongue-eating louse) is a parasite that replaces its fish victim's tongue with itself, apparently leaving the fish unharmed. Leaving victims unharmed is no fun, though, so I created the simply named cymothoa, an aberration that uses similar parasites to replace its victims' tongues for its own malign purposes.

With that, I wish American readers a Happy Thanksgiving! I've got my next monster lined up for Black Friday, and a few more beyond, but if you have any suggestions, please pass them my way. I'll be happy to make them part of the Frightful Friday! lineup.

Image provided by this aritcle.

This pale, six-legged, insectoid creature stands as tall as a dog. Pink, fleshy tongues seem to writhe within its mouth, and beneath spikes covering the creature's body.
Cymothoa           CR 6
XP 2,400
NE Small aberration
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13

AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 67 (9d8+27)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +7

Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +11 (1d4–1 plus infest and poison)
Ranged 2 spikes +11 (1d6 plus infest and poison)
Special Attacks infest, poison, self-destructing false tongue, stolen spells

Str 8, Dex 19, Con 17, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 18
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 19 (27 vs. trip)
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +12 (+16 when jumping), Knowledge (arcana) +13, Perception +13, Spellcraft +17, Stealth +23, Swim +14; Racial Modifiers Acrobatics (+4 when jumping), +4 Spellcraft

Environment any temperate
Organization solitary, pair, or flock (3–12)
Treasure none

Special Abilities
Infest (Ex) If a cymothoa hits with its bite or a spike, it implants its victim with a false tongue that travels to the victim's mouth in 1 round. The implanted tongue attempts to dissolve its victim's tongue (painlessly if the victim is still poisoned), requiring its victim to succeed at a DC 17 Fortitude save to keep his tongue. The round after it dissolves its target's tongue it adheres itself to its victim's mouth. A DC 15 Heal check reveals the false tongue. A character succeeding at a DC 20 Heal check can remove the tongue with no damage; otherwise, the false tongue self-destructs. A character who loses his tongue (and does not have an adhered false tongue) incurs a -4 penalty to all Charisma-based checks and a 20% spell failure chance when casting spells with a verbal component.
Poison (Ex) Bite (or spike)—injury; save Fort DC 17; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Dex; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Self-Destructing False Tongue (Ex and Su) A cymothoa exerts telepathic control over its false tongues, and it can direct one to self-destruct. If the tongue is in a victim, it deals 2d6 acid damage the first round and 1d6 additional acid damage the following round if the acid is not washed out.
Stolen Spells (Su) If a cymothoa successfully infests an arcane spellcaster with a false tongue, it can cast any spells the victim casts while he carries the false tongue. The spell must have a verbal component and cannot have an expensive material component, and the cymothoa must succeed at a Spellcraft check (DC equal to 10 plus twice the level of the spell cast) to gain the spell. It can only cast each spell it absorbs once, even if its victim casts the same spell multiple times.

A cymothoa looks like a large, spiky, white louse. It stands two-feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. Numerous fleshy protuberances resembling tongues crawl inside its maw and along its body, typically underneath protective spikes.

A cymothoa is a cowardly creature that attacks its victims in two phases. During its first attack, it attempts to infest arcane spellcasters with false tongues. It will attack other creatures and infest them as well, but only if the other targets present a threat. It then flees and waits until it can collect arcane spells from its victims' false tongues and then launches a second attack using its victims' spells against them. It will also detonate all false tongues it had implanted previously. As a cymothoa feeds on creatures it kills, it grows more false tongues it can use for future attacks.

Rarely, a powerful creature will employ a cymothoa to implant a false tongue that it can then use to hear anything the victim utters. Any measures preventing telepathic communication prevent the false tongue from relaying this information to the cymothoa, but the false tongue does not register as magical scrying. 


  1. Yay! I'm an inspiration for something...

  2. OK the tongue eating louse is just pure nightmare fuel. Seriously, even just typing in those words gives me the heebie jeebies... Basing a monster off of them that horrifically replaces your tongue to steal your spells - absolute genius. Well done :)