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

Friday, January 4, 2013

Scroll-Eating Moth

For the second installment of today's Frightful Fridays!, I turn from the immense, mind-boggling entity that owns the dark tendrils to a tiny critter that will still make your characters' lives miserable--especially if they carry arcane scrolls. Flash pointed me to this real-life creature, the Venezuelan Poodle Moth, and I figured that it should have something cooler than just its good looks. Riffing on the cloth-eating tropes associated with moths, I decided to give it the ability to "eat" scrolls it detects with its continual detect magic. Really mean GMs could have this creature destroy an entire supply of scrolls without anyone noticing, considering the moth's high Stealth bonus, but I can't imagine there are any GMs like that out there.

Thanks for your patience with me during my skipped week. I will definitely be back next week with a new installment of Frightful Fridays!

This moth looks like a cross between a normal moth and a poodle. It sits on a scroll, the scroll’s runes disappearing while the moth’s feelers twitch wildly.
Scroll-Eating Moth CR 4
XP 1,200
N Diminutive magical beast
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, detect magic; Perception +10

AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +4 size)
hp 37 (5d10+10)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +3
Immune chosen energy

Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (good)
Melee bite +13 (1d2–3 plus 2d6 chosen energy)
Special Attacks arcane burst, scroll eating

Str 4, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 12 (20 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Perception), Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Focus
Skills Fly +18, Perception +10, Spellcraft +2 (+14 when absorbing a scroll), Stealth +23; Racial Modifiers +12 Spellcraft when absorbing a scroll

Environment temperate or warm urban
Organization solitary, pair or milling (3–12)
Treasure absorbed spells

Special Abilities
Arcane Burst (Su) A scroll-eating moth can detonate itself as a last resort. It deals its chosen energy damage equal to 2d6 times the number of stored spell levels it has remaining.
Chosen Energy Immunity/Damage (Su) At the beginning of its turn, a scroll-eating moth chooses an energy type; it gains immunity to that damage and deals 2d6 damage of that energy type when it successfully bites an opponent. If it absorbs energy or deals energy damage it loses a stored spell level. When the moth chooses a new energy type, it loses the benefits from the previously chosen energy type.
Scroll Eating (Su) A scroll-eating moth constantly detects magic, and it is particularly drawn to arcane scrolls. If the moth starts its turn within 5 feet of an arcane scroll, it can absorb its energy at a rate of spell levels equal to its Wisdom bonus (minimum 1). It must remain within 5 feet of the scroll long enough to drain all the spell levels, or it must start the process over again. If the moth drains the scroll, the scroll becomes blank, as if the spell contained within were cast, and the moth adds the spell’s level to its stored spell levels, up to a maximum of its Charisma modifier times Hit Dice (15 levels for a typical moth). When a scroll-eating moth starts an encounter it typically has a number of stored spell levels equal to its Hit Dice. The moth cannot drain energy from a divine scroll.

Originally intended by their creators to be a weapon against rival wizards, scroll-eating moths bred true and now present a threat to all arcane spellcasters, especially those who rely on portable scrolls to augment their might. A scroll-eating moth is a mere 4 inches long and weighs 8 ounces (moths laden with arcane energy can weigh up to 2 pounds).

A scroll-eating moth possesses sophisticated senses that allow it to find the meals it most desires. The moth does not starve if deprived of arcane scrolls; it resorts to eating nectar, cloth and paper like moths of its original stock. Once it discovers a scroll, it flies directly to it and attempts to surreptitiously absorb the arcane energy permeating the scroll. The creature possesses a surprisingly high intelligence and long lives (up to a 50-year lifespan), so it knows how to avoid the scroll’s owner since it takes several seconds to digest the scroll’s energies. Only when it is caught and feels threatened will it attack—adding whatever energy type it instinctively feels is the most appropriate (usually fire).

Either intentionally, or as a weird side effect of their scroll absorption ability, a scroll-eating moth retains knowledge of the spells contained within the scrolls it drains. It does not have the intelligence to use the scrolls, but someone who captures a moth can extract spells contained within the moth and place them on new scrolls. This requires a Spellcraft check with a DC equal to 20 + the spell level, and spells such as identify reveal the spells the moth holds.

Creatures who hunt arcane spellcasters employ scroll-eating moths, ensnaring the creatures first by laying out attractive scrolls and then finding a way to communicate with the moths and convincing them of a greater bounty. Rumors persist of offshoots that can absorb divine spells, spells from spellbooks or magical energy from cloth magic items; the weirdest rumor holds that a “moth of holding” flies around eating items it then stores within its extradimensional space.

1 comment:

  1. I love seeing the directions you take with the pictures I show you Mike. Another awesome job! :)