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Ash Crawler

by Jamie Baty

DMR2 12
Small Magical Beast (Fire)
Hit Dice: 3d10+3 (19 hp)
Initiative: +3 (+3 Dex)
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares), burrow 20 ft. (4 squares, ash only)
Armour Class: 16 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +2 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/ +0
Attack: Tail +7 melee (1d2 +1)
Full Attack: Tail +7 melee (1d2 +1) and Bite +2 melee (1d4 +0)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Improved grab, rake (1d4 +1/1d4+1)
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60ft., low-light vision
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +0
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 8, Cha 5
Skills: Hide +9*, Listen +2, Move Silently +5, Spot +2
Feats: Alertness, Improved trip (B), Weapon Finesse
Environment: Warm Mountains, underground
Organisation: Solitary, Pair, or Family (2-5)
Challenge Rating: 2
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 4-6 HD (Small); 7-9 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment: -

This peculiar creature always dwells near a permanent source of fire, where it may lie nearly buried in the ash, awaiting the unwary visitor. Its sooty grey skin flakes and sheds weekly in ash like sheets. Its body measures about 2 feet long from its hog-nosed snout to its rear, followed by a naked tail that is 4 feet long and prehensile.
Ash crawlers favour warm areas with an existing fire source. They dwell in caverns, deserts, and mountains near places of volcanic activity, or even in human ruins, provided there is a ready source of fire. They always protect the source of fire and attack any invaders.
Ash crawlers feed most commonly on rodents, birds and other small creatures that pass near or fall into the ash. Feasting occurs in the colder months, when many creatures are drawn to the ash crawler's warm lair for shelter.
Ash crawler lairs are carpeted with 2 to 4 feet of fine ash and shed skin through which the creatures can burrow rapidly. Often the lair smells of seared flesh and wood smoke, and the air is hot and difficult to breathe. These creatures dislike water and curl over their fire source to prevent it from being extinguished.

Ash crawlers have two favoured tactics. The first tactic is to attempt to trip a foe with its tail attack. It will attack any tripped foe with its bite attack, attempting to latch onto them and rake the victim with its back claws.

Improved Grab (Ex): If an ash crawler hits with its bite attack, it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If the grapple succeeds, the ash crawler may hold the victim and inflict bite damage automatically each round. After the hold is established, it may rake the creature in any following round with its back claws.

Rake (Ex): An ash crawler that has successfully grappled a foe with its bite attack may rake the opponent with its two back claws, causing 1d4+1 damage each.

Fire Subtype: An ash crawler has immunity to fire. It has vulnerability to cold, which means it takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from cold, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.

Skills: *An ash crawler receives a +8 racial bonus to all hide checks made while it is burrowed in ash.

Ash Crawler Hides:
Any character with Craft (Leatherworking) may attempt to use ash crawler hides to create fire resistant leather armour. The character must succeeds on a DC 20 skill check, or the hide peels away and crumbles to useless ash whenever it is first exposed to flame, or within ld4 weeks at most. A successful check creates a suit of leather armour that grants Fire Resistance 5 and reduces the armour check penalty by one. Four hides are required to create a suit of leather armour for a small-sized creature, and eight are required for a medium-sized creature.