Friday, March 1, 2013

Frightful Fridays! Guest Designer...Now with More Vermin!



Greetings, Ramblers! Paris Crenshaw, here, with a new creature to liven up your Pathfinder RPG campaign. I'm stepping in for Mike Welham this week, while he works on something that I think you'll really like. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my offering for this installment of Frightful Fridays.

I recently stumbled across information about this wonderfully horrid creature from real life: the armored ground cricket. Several species of this cricket are found throughout the plains of Africa, and its numerous defensive adaptations have fascinated scientists for many years. Of course, I saw those adaptations as a wonderful opportunity to turn a small nuisance into a crawling, chirping horror. (RPG design does have its perks, after all.)

Photo courtesy of mantidboy via Flickr

Loud chirping precedes the scraping of clawed feet over hard ground, just before a cricket the size of a hunting dog scurries into the open. Its greenish-blue exoskeleton sports numerous spikes, and its long antennae wave through the air and touch every surface in search of food.

GIANT ARMORED GROUND CRICKET CR 2

XP 600
N Small vermin
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent; Perception +0
Aura noxious blood (30 ft., DC 13, 10 rounds, when wounded or autohemorrhaging)

DEFENSE

AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 15; (+1 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 19 (3d8+6)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +1
Resist acid 5; Immune mind-affecting affect


OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft., climb 10 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d4+3/19-20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks 
breath weapon (15-ft. line, 1d6 acid damage plus nausea, Reflex DC 13 for half damage, usable every 1d4 rounds), disturbance stridulation (DC 13), powerful bite, spiny armor

STATISTICS

Str 15, Dex 12, Con 14, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 5
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD +6
Skills Climb +10, Acrobatics +2 (+10 when jumping)
SQ bile coating, vermin traits


ECOLOGY

Environment warm plains
Organization solitary, orchestra (3-8), swarm (11-100)
Treasure none


SPECIAL ABILITIES

Autohemorrhaging (Ex): Armored crickets can squeeze their noxious blood out of seams in their exoskeletons, creating a stench aura as if they have been wounded.
Bile Coating (Ex): Armored ground crickets spit their acidic bile onto their forelimbs and spread it over their entire bodies. This coating makes them taste horrible to predators and deals 1 point of acid damage to anyone who strikes them with unarmed strikes or natural weapons. Anyone grappling with an armored cricket takes 1 point of acid damage per round.
Breath Weapon (Ex): Once every 1d4 rounds, as a standard action, a cricket can expel a 15-foot line of acidic bile that deals 1d6 points of acid damage (DC 13 Reflex save for half damage). Targets struck by the stream must also make a DC 13 Fortitude save or become nauseated. Both save DCs are Constitution-based.
Disturbance Stridulation (Ex): Crickets use vestigial wings beneath their shield-like carapaces to make a variety of sounds, both to warn predators and attract mates. When they are surprised or threatened, they can, as a swift action, unleash a powerful blast of sound, causing all creatures within a 30-foot radius to become shaken as a sonic, mind-affecting effect. Creatures within 10 feet are also deafened for 1d4 rounds. A DC 13 Will save negates the shaken condition. A DC 13 Fort save is required to negate the deafened condition. Each overlapping area from additional crickets increases the save DC by +2. A creature that saves cannot be affected by that cricket’s stridulation for 24 hours. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Noxious Blood (Ex): An armored cricket’s blood smells so disgusting that all living creatures (except other crickets) within 30 feet of a wounded cricket must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be sickened for 10 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the same cricket’s blood for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonus on their saving throws.
Powerful Bite (Ex): An armored ground cricket’s bite attack always applies 1-1/2 times its Strength modifier on damage rolls and threatens a critical hit on a roll of 19–20. When the cricket bites an object, its bite treats the object as having a hardness of 5 less than the object's actual hardness rating.
Spiny Armor (Ex): An armored cricket’s exoskeleton is very strong and studded with spikes that deal 1d4 points of piercing damage to any creature striking it with a non-reach melee weapon, an unarmed attack, or a natural weapon. Any creature that grapples a cricket takes 2d4 points of piercing damage each round the grapple persists.

In lands where the seasons are extremes of long, hot dryness, broken by annual rains that awaken dormant seeds into brilliantly flowering life, armored ground crickets are usually nothing more than pests. Their natural defenses protect them from most predators, but their penchant for cannibalism and inability to fly helps keep the population under control.

On rare occasion, however, terrifyingly large specimens are encountered on the arid plains. A single giant cricket is not too dangerous, but when the population explodes and food gets scarce, they swarm, forming a marching army that seeks to consume every plant and animal that gets in its path.

4 comments:

  1. This is a great monster, Paris! Thanks for stepping in this week. :D

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  2. Thanks, Mike! It was fun. Thanks to you and Theo for giving me the opportunity to contribute!

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  3. "The size of a large hunting dog." That's almost exactly what Elaine Cunningham said of the giant cricket that attacked Music and Mayhem in Elfsong, which I reread during my recent convalescence. I knew this was coming, and I thought, "Thank Ao they weren't facing Paris' armored cricket and all its vile powers."

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  4. I suppose that would be an example of "things can always get worse." ;)

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