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by James Mishler

Cohuetlacs are very powerful creatures; for many years, the various Orders of Inheritors have tried to ally themselves with these mystical creatures, but to date, only the Order of Crimson has had any success, and that only limited. If your party is prepared for a long, dangerous and yet fruitful relationship with one of these guardians of nature, feel free to use them; if the party is in any way opposed to the balance of nature, beware, for the Cohuetlac will know... and his vengance is as swift as the desert wind, and not as forgiving...

[As in my previous post detailing the Black Boars of Carnax, I will describe a unique individual of the cohuetlac species; Raziatlar is the most well-known of the cohuetlacs, at least to the Order of Crimson, with which he has openly allied himself. Unlike Daman Emrys in my other post, Raziatlar is not the king of the cohuetlacs, nor even the most respected among them; he is merely the one most likely to have open dealings with friendly characters].

Cohuetlacs [Raziatlar]

Clim/Terr: Terra Vermelha, El Grande Carrascal and The Badlands
Freq : Rare (Terra Vermelha), Very Rare (Elsewhere) [Terra Vermelha]
Org : Solitary
Activity : Any
Diet : Special
INT : High to Genius (13-18) [Genius (18)]
Treasure: F
Align : True Neutral
No. App : 1
AC : 3
MV : 9
HD : 13 to 20 [20 HD, 100 HP]
THAC0 : 13 & 14 HD: 7
15 - 20 HD: 5
#Attacks: 5-12 or Breath Weapon or Spells
D/A : 1-8 or Special
S/A : Breath Weapon, Spells
S/D : Spells
MR : 50% vs 1st level spells (-5% per level above 1st)
Size : H (13-20' at shoulder)
Morale : Elite (13-14)
XPV : 12,000+1,000 per HD above 13

Cohuetlacs are found only in the waste regions of the Savage Baronies. A cohuetlac has a superficial resembence to a hydra in that it has 5 to 12 snake like "heads" growing out from a central trunk; that, however, is the only commonality with the reptilian creature. The snake like heads only appear to be snakes; on closer inspection, they are revealed to have neither eyes nor nostrils, and the "mouth" has only razor sharp edges. The body of the cohuetlac is that of a giant, well muscled human, 13' to 20' tall at the shoulder (the snake necks are twice as long as the creatures body is tall). To further confuse observers, the cohuetlac has a perfectly human face right where it's torso is, with the eyes in the area of the chest, the mouth in the belly area, and the nose right in the middle. Cohutlac faces are all male in appearance, generally of middle aged appearance or older (the larger and more powerful the specimen, the more wizened the appearance). Most have mustachios, the larger specimens having long, flowing white beards. The only article of clothing worn is a pure white kilt; jewelry is rarely worn (and when it is, it is generally magical in nature). When a cohuetlac speaks, he speaks from his human face; the snake mouths are unable to articulate in any way, though they often sway in a somewhat menacing way toward the subject the cohuetlac is speaking to.

Cohuetlacs will have 5 to 12 snake "heads" (add 8 to this number to derive their hit dice). Cohutlacs are able to cast spells as a priest of a level equal to their hit dice; they have major access to all the spheres of a druid, and minor access to all other spheres. Some have been known to be able to use wizard spells as well, but only of the alteration, illusion/phantasm and enchantment/charm schools (they can use these spells as though they were priest spells of one level higher; a 1st level wizard spell would use a 2nd level priest spell slot). They are able to use any magical item usable by a priest or wizard.

Cohutlacs have a number of special powers, similar to the spells of the same name. At will, they can pass without trace, turn invisible and know alignment. Also, they can polymorph self 3/day, control winds 2/day and commune with nature 1/day. They are able to detect the presence of any being with a legacy or affliction within 1000 yards (number and type of legacy), as well as the presence, quantity and quality of any curse derived material (including cinnabryl, vermeil, steel seed, red steel, crimson essence and smokepowder); they can scan a 30' radius area in one round.

Combat: Cohuetlacs avoid combat if at all possible. Though they are capable of using weapons, they *never* do, prefering to use their spells and powers to avoid confrontation. They use their breath weapon only as a *last* resort, and use their snake bites only when confrontation is unavoidable. Their snake bites each cause 1-8 points of damage; the may target any opponents in a radius equal to their hit dice; all the "heads" may attack a single opponent or any number up to the number of heads. Each head can take a number of hit points of damage equal to the cohuetlacs hit dice before being severed; attacks and damage used this way *do not* effect the main pool of hit points.

The breath weapon of a cohuetlac is a cloud of noxious vapors which fill a radius of 60' (the cohuetlac is not effected by his own breath weapon, nor the breath weapon of any other cohuetlac). All those caught in this area must save vs. breath weapon; those who save will take half damage; damage is equal to the hit points of the cohuetlac at full strength. A second saving throw must also be made (independent of the results of the save vs. breath weapon) this time vs, death magic. Those who save vs. death magic are stunned for a number of rounds equal to the damage they took; those who fail are also stunned, and they also *immediately* begin the "Time of Loss" as described in the campaign book, as they will have aquired a new DETRIMENT. This effect will NEVER allow the character to acquire a new LEGACY. Randomly determine the region and the specific detriment that will affect the character; cinnabryl will help if applied in time, if applied as described in the campaign book. However... the breath weapon has one last, possibly lethal effect... all cinnabryl in the area of effect is *immediately* depleted a number of weeks value equal to the hit dice of the cohuetlac! Fortunately, the cohuetlac is able to use his breath weapon only once a day.

No cohuetlac has ever exhibited the ability to use a legacy, nor has any exhibited the affects of any detriment. However, this does not appear to give them any specific immunity to the powers of the legacies... at least, thus far...

Habitat/Society: Cohuetlacs are solitary creatures; for some reason, they seem to prefer the company of other races to their own. They reside in the deepest parts of the wastelands, generally in areas of high vermeil concentration (it is said that the greatest red desert winds are the "Cohuetlacs Wrath"). No cohuetlac will lair within ten miles of another cohuetlac; if one ever encounter another in the wilds, they will pass each other by with no acknowledgement. However, no matter what the distance, if a cohuetlac is ever killed, *every* cohuetlac will know of it, and will see the face of the killer (if the one killed saw it, that is). The killer of a cohuetlac will be hunted for the rest of it's life by all cohuetlacs; one will even hound the killer attempting to bring it to justice.

No living creature knows more about the nature of the red curse than the cohuetlacs. Over the centuries they have developed more ways to use and manipulate vermeil, cinnabryl and steel seed than the mortal races will ever know. The one variation that never occured to them, and which they abhor, is smokepowder. They will deal with no creature which has this item in their possession, nor with any other beings associated with such a one...

Cohuetlacs tend to have few dealings of a formal nature between themselves and other races; only one to date is known to have allied himself with anothers cause (Raziatlar the Deep, described later). The beings who have the most dealings with the cohuetlacs are those who share the cohuetlacs concern with the balance of nature and the responsible use of the "gifts" bestowed by the red curse; in this case, the Order of Crimson. As mentioned, Raziatlar the Deep is the only cohuetlac to openly ally with the Order, but other cohuetlacs have been known to assist, and sometimes even interfere in the affairs of the different orders (especially when balance has been swayed). So, while cohuetlacs are *supposedly* found only in the wastes, it is possible to encounter one elsewhere on the Savage Coast (usually in polymorphed form, and *always* on a specific mission). Also, on very rare occasions, assistance in the form of magical items or strange potions has been given to certain members of the other orders when they were struggling against overwhelming opposition form the opposing order (mysterious assistance like this is known as the "Cohuetlacs Boon" in the Savage Baronies, even if it is not necessarily from a cohuetlac).

Ecology: Little is known of the ecology of the cohuetlacs; where they came from; how (or even if) they reproduce; and what, if any purpose they serve is all a mystery. Even the most loquacious cohuetlac (Raziatlar the Deep) is silent on these issues. What is known is that they *seem* to function in much the same way in the Savage Baronies region as would a treant in a forested region; as nurturer, protector and general caretaker. Some believe that the function of the cohuetlacs is to bring about an end to the red curse; others believe that they exist to expand the power and area of the red curse. Whatever the truth of the matter, no cohuetlac has ever hinted at giving an answer to any such inquiry.

Some information that supports the theory that cohuetlacs exist to eliminate the curse is the fact that to all appearances, the cohuetlacs seem to subsist on vermeil. They have never been seen to eat any other substance; there are those who claim, however, that the vermeil is merely a necessary component of the cohuetlacs breath weapon. The cohuetlacs, of course, are silent on the issue, although it has been reported that Raziatlar enjoys receiving a gift of pure bottled vermeil...

Raziatlar is somewhat of a celebrity amongst the intelligencia of the Savage Baronies (and to a lesser extent, of the whole Savage Coast). His relationship with the Order of Crimson began with the Neutral Alliance, back when it was merely a merchantile consortium. One day, he stumbled on a group of weary explorers, most of whom were rangers or druids. Curiosity got the better of him, and he appeared to the group in the form of a dwarf, long of beard and deep red of face (this has since been his favorite form for dealing with the mortal races). Passing himself off as an itinerant miner and alchemist, he joined the group and followed them back to the area of the newly founded baronies (ca. early 900's). It was while he was exploring this region that he decided that a closer relationship with the mortal races could help to keep the balance in the region. Over the last 100 years he has used his influence and powers to keep any one barony from growing too great in power; he has also helped to bolster the strength of some of the weaker baronies as a balance against the stronger powers. Some of his handiwork, from *way* behind the scenes, can be found in, among other things, the "development" of Crimson Essence, the formation of the Signatory Council under the Treaty of Tampicos, and most recently, the establishment of Cimmaron County. Of course, he distances himself from all of these things... he is, after all, simply interested in maintaining the balance of nature in his little area of wasteland... To help maintain his influence, he has established a faction within the Order of Crimson. These agents do not know who their leader is, and seldom know more than two other members of the faction. Most of the upper levels of the Order, however, are members of Raziatlar's faction, and through their influence, most of the Order has maintained a very balanced, understated and orderly demeanor. Raziatlars main concern at the moment is the spread of the red curse beyond the region of the Savage Baronies; he is gathering information through all his sources as to the viability of the new situation; he will, eventually, determine whether or not the curse should again be reigned in; until he has the information he needs to make an educated decision on the subject, he and his faction will fight any attempt to bring the curse back to the old borders.

Notes: Raziatlar is capable of casting spells as a 20th level priest; he also has access to numerous wizard spells, especially of the enchantment/charm and illusion schools. In addition to the normal powers of a cohuetlac, he is able to use his polymorph self ability at will, as often as desired; his favorite form is that of an ancient, wizened dwarf. He is also able to fly 3 times per day (MV 9 in cohuetlac form, 18 in humanoid form). While he has numerous magical items (especially potions), the only ones he carries regularly are his Staff of Power, his Ring of Human Influence, and his Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location.

Raziatlar is a powerful and influential opponent; he can also make an excellent patron for a party of like minded adventurers, or even a disparate party, for short term adventures and specific missions.

What I'd like to know now are the "intended" origins of the creature (where it came from, why, how it was created, by whom, etc) and its true goals. BTW, does this monster draw its origins to published literature or mythology?

First the easy part: as far as I am aware, the cohuetlacs are entirely from my own warped imagination; the physical form is, of course, a mishmash of a hydra and a humanoid (the humanoid portion, BTW, is similar to a creature in the cartoon _Lightyears_; maybe I was influenced by that, I don't really know). The name "cohuetlac" itself is derivative of two native meso- american words: "Coatl" (snake), and "Hue" (old, if I remember my anthropology); I just mixed them up a bit, and added -ac at the end; it sounded sort of like something one might hear from and Oltec... so the word sort of means "old snake", which brings me to the origins of the cohuetlacs...

In 1700BC the Nithians colonized the Savage Coast region; over the next 200 years, the local Nithian nobility grew in power, and began to develop strange magics which they wished to use to wrest power away from their Pharoh. This plan was, in fact, part of the plot that Thanatos had concocted to destroy the Nithian nation. The magical energies that the Savage Coast Nithians were working with caught the interest of Eldar Dragons (a race now found only in the Hollow World); when the dragons investigated, they slowly became entwined in the diabolical plot of Thanatos, and over decades became one of the primary supporters of the Nithians experiments. Then, of course, everything blew up in their faces...

When the Immortals judged the Nithians, and found them lacking, special attention had to be taken to the group of allied Eldar Dragons; it was felt by the attendant Immortals that the Great One had already suffered enough at the hands of the Herathians in the Wallara Conflict, so the Immortals felt that some mercy should be shown to those allied dragons who showed remorse. Those few who saw the errors of their ways were allowed a way to repay their debt: they were altered at the hands of the Immortals and given the duty of guardianship over the cursed lands. There are perhaps no more than a dozen cohuetlacs living today of the thirtysome who chose to atone for their deeds some 1500 years ago.

The goals of the cohuetlacs are decided by each individually; the only charge that the Immortals gave to them was to be the "guardians" of the cursed lands. Each has interpreted this in his own way (all cohuetlacs, BTW, are derived from male Eldar Dragons; no female Eldar Dragon was weak enough to be caught in the snare set by Thanatos [Females are very dominant in the Eldar Dragon species]). Only Raziatlar, thus far, has taken an active part in the "guardianship" of the region as pertains to the various human and demihuman races. His concept of "guardianship", in this case, is seen as an attempt to limit the power of any group or groups that would use the resources of the cursed lands to their advantage. Thus, the goals of the cohuetlacs are, in fact, their own; their only limitations are the fact that they all truly feel remorse for the actions of their previous life, and this motivates all their actions.