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Dreaded Branch

by Colin Davidson

AC: 0
HD: 12**
Movev: 0 (120' (40'))
Attacks: 4 claws/1 bite
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d4/2d10
Number Appearing: 0 (1)
Save as: Fighter 6
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: Vx2
Intelligence: 1
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 2950

This enormous, carnivorous relative of the harmless stick insect so closely resembles the branch of a tree that in its woodland or jungle habitat it gains a +3 chance of surprising its foes (typically surprising on 1-5 on 1d6). It is not intelligent but possesses a rudimentary understanding of groups of prey, and will (from above) attack the last member of any passing group of creatures. Its enormous, muscular back legs provide an anchor point in the upper branches of a tree, from which it can swing up to 30' down to attack a victim. If 2 or more of its feet hit or its bite hit it can, in the same round, carry that victim off the ground to a height of up to 30', where it will either be attacked further in subsequent rounds or simply consumed. If seriously wounded, the dreaded branch will retreat to the upper branches of the tree, where remnants of its earlier prey (and any treasures they may have carried) will be found.
Thankfully the Dreaded Branch is a territorial and therefore solitary creature. Males are tolerated by females only long enough to mate, and are immediately driven away thereafter. Young (of which 4-400 are produced after mating) resemble large preying mantis insects, having 1hp and inflicting 1 point of damage on a bite attack, gaining 2hd on each moult and increasing bite damage potential (1d2, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 2d10) until they reach adulthood, and can only attack with claws in their latter two stages of life. Only adult dreaded branches dare attack human or demi-human sized prey.