Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Frightful Fridays! Monster Mayhem! Dragonhead Caterpillar

Welcome back for day 11 of the Frightful Fridays! anniversary. I think this will be the last caterpillar for a while. I don't want this to become the "all caterpillar, all the time" feature. I've got to put some spiders in here and there, after all. The dragonhead caterpillar is a dragon's best friend and provides older dragons with a nice minion/trap for unsuspecting hunters.

I hope you enjoy the dragonhead caterpillar. See you tomorrow with monster number 12!

This green caterpillar has a head reminiscent of an adult true dragon’s head; a palpable wave of arcane energy washes off the insect.
Dragonhead Caterpillar      CR 10
XP 9,600
N Tiny vermin
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 24, touch 20, flat-footed 16 (+8 Dex, +4 natural, +2 size)
hp 127 (15d8+60)
Fort +12, Ref +13, Will +5
Defensive Abilities fluctuating energy immunity, improved evasion
Speed 20 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +13 (1d4 plus poison)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. cone, 10d6 variable [see text], Reflex DC 20 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds), poison
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +17)
   At will—maximized magic missile
   1/day—prismatic spray (DC 19)
Str 11, Dex 27, Con 17, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +11; CMB +17; CMD 27 (can't be tripped)
Feats Toughness[B]
Skills Fly +12
SQ draconic symbiosis
Breath Weapon (Su) A dragonhead caterpillar’s breath weapon deals energy damage of a random type (d4: 1—acid, 2—cold, 3—electricity, 4—fire) each time it uses its breath weapon. Regardless of the energy type used by the caterpillar, true dragons are immune to its breath weapon.
Draconic Symbiosis (Su) Despite its mindlessness, a dragonhead caterpillar obeys a true dragon’s commands. In the case of conflicting commands from more than one dragon, the dragons must attempt opposed Charisma checks; the dragon with the highest check commands the caterpillar for 1 round.
Energy Defense Suppression Poison (Su) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 20; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d4 Con and 1d4 Dex; cure 2 consecutive saves. A creature that takes ability damage from a dragonhead caterpillar’s poison also has its energy immunities and resistances reduced, regardless of the source of those immunities and resistances; a creature with immunity to energy instead has resist 30, and resistances are reduced by 10 (to a minimum of 0). These reductions last until ability damage inflicted by the poison is restored and for 1 minute thereafter.
Fluctuating Energy Immunity (Su) At the beginning of its turn, a dragonhead caterpillar gains immunity to energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic only) used in spells or effects it was targeted by, or it was in the area of effect of, regardless of whether it took damage from those spells or effects. If it was not subject to an attack that dealt energy damage in the previous round, it defaults to an immunity to a random energy type (d4: 1—acid, 2—cold, 3—electricity, 4—fire). A caterpillar starts combat with immunity to the energy used by the dragon with which it is associated (if there is no dragon, the immunity is random as above). The immunities last until the beginning of its next turn.
Magic Missile (Sp) A dragonhead caterpillar’s magic missile spell-like ability is always maximized as if it benefitted from the Maximize Spell metamagic feat.

Dragonhead caterpillars were parasitic creatures which fed off draconic energy and weakened dragons they infested. Many dragons destroyed the pesky caterpillars on sight, but some realized they could genetically engineer the vermin to have them work symbiotically with dragons. Thus, parasitic specimens are extremely rare, while the benign (to dragons) specimens thrive. Many true dragons bleed magical energy when they aren’t using it to defend their lairs, so dragonhead caterpillars feed on that and grow powerful in their own right. Dragons use the caterpillars to defend their lairs and provide a surprise counter to dragon hunters which stock up on defenses and attacks to specifically counter the dragons. The caterpillars have a gland that allows them to gain short-term energy immunity and randomizes the breath weapon they use.

Exposure to dragons has gifted dragonhead caterpillars with significant arcane might. Unless otherwise commanded by dragons, the caterpillars start combat with their breath weapon, followed by prismatic spray, and then magic missiles until they can again use their breath weapon. Dragons often command the caterpillars to physically attack opponents so the caterpillars’ poison can lower resistances to the dragons’ powerful breath weapons.

A typical dragonhead caterpillar measures 8 inches long and weighs less than 10 pounds. The color of its head matches the color of the dragon with which it shares a lair. If it doesn’t have a dragon host, the color of its head matches the light green of its body.

Parasitic Dragonhead Caterpillars

Parasitic dragonhead caterpillars are extremely rare and cost 10,000 gp to purchase from those who cultivate them. These caterpillars have the same statistics as typical dragonhead caterpillars, but they lose the dragon symbiosis special quality and their breath weapons deal energy damage based on an opposing dragon’s vulnerability (if any). Instead of its usual effects, parasitic dragonhead caterpillar poison reduces a dragon’s breath weapon damage (by 2 dice per failed save) and spell resistance (by 2 per failed save) until the dragon restores damage done to its ability scores and 1 minute thereafter, and dragons take a –4 penalty on saves against the parasitic dragonhead caterpillar’s poison.

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