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Spectral Hydraby James Mishler
Introducing the smaller cousin of the Spectral Dragon... and the biggest, baddest Hydra of all, the Gargantuan Spectral Hydra!
Spectral Hydra (Gargantuan Spectral Hydra)
Frequency : Very Rare (Unique?)
Organisation : Solitary
Activity Cycle : Any
Diet : Carnivore
Intelligence : Semi- (2-4)
Treasure : Nil (Special)
Alignment : Neutral
No. Appearing : 1
Armour Class : 5
Movement : 9 (18)
Hit Dice : 5 (20)
THAC0 : 11 (attacks as a 10 HD monster) (5)
No. of Attacks : 5
Damage/Attack : 1-6 (4-24)
Spec. Attacks : See Below
Spec. Defences : Nil
Magic Resist. : Nil
Size : G (30')(120')
Morale : Average (8-10) (Elite (14))
XP Value : 3,000 (19,000)
Spectral Hydrae are a variant species of Hydrae developed over 3000 years ago by rogue Necromancer-Kings of Taymor for use in the civil war that ended the Empire of Eternal Night. They were developed by the Cult of Spectral Shadow, one of the vampiric cells created by Thanatos; the leader of the cult, Nennaya-Sherat, brought the long dead Maitarashteret, the Spectral Dragon who was slain while challenging Pearl for the leadership of Chaotic Dragons in the Elder Draconic Pantheon, back to the land of the Unliving. After taking control of the cult, Maitarashteret taught her servants how to create the Spectral Hydrae as guardians and servitors (the secret for controlling the Spectral Hydrae is long lost). A fair number of Spectral Hydrae survived the downfall of Taymor and spread throughout the Known World and beyond.
Spectral Hydrae always have five heads: one each black, blue, green, red and white. Each head looks like a cross between that of a normal hydra and a Dragon of its respective colour. The coloration extends from the head, down the neck and into the forequarters where it merges into a murky grey-brown to dark brown; the underbellies are light yellow or tan.
The Gargantuan Spectral Hydra is known only from myth and legend, and is said to guard the palace of its creator, Gargantua. As no one has ever returned alive from that fell residence, it is difficult to say whether the rumours are true. If the Gargantuan Spectral Hydra exists, it would be comparable in size and physical power to a Spectral Dragon, though due to its lack of intelligence it would not be a true match for any such opponent. Combat: Spectral Hydrae always have 8 hit points on each of their Hit Dice; all five heads must be severed before the Spectral Hydra will die. A Spectral Hydra can bring up to four heads into action against a single foe, biting once with each of them. Spectral Hydrae attack as monsters of twice their HD due to the infusion of Spectral Dragon blood that runs through their veins.
Each head of a Spectral Hydra is able to utilise a breath weapon twice per day; the breath weapon is similar in form to that of the respective Dragon type (black = acid, blue = lightning, green = chlorine gas, red = fire, and white = frost); all breath attacks take on the form of a jet or stream 5' wide and 20' long, affecting all in the area. Each breath attack does 8 points of damage, halved if a save vs. breath weapon is made.
Each time a Spectral Hydra takes 8 points of damage or more from a slashing or piercing weapon, one of its heads is assumed to have been severed or otherwise put out of commission; blunt attacks cause no damage, and slashing and piercing attacks of less than 8 points of damage are shrugged off. When one of the heads is severed a natural reflex seals the neck arteries shut to prevent blood loss. Regardless of the number of heads a Spectral Hydra has lost it will continue to attack as a 10 HD monster. Attacks on the body have no effect unless a single attack inflicts damage equal to the Spectral Hydra's original hit points. Heads will regenerate over a period of several months.
The Gargantuan Spectral Hydra's heads each have 24 hit points, though only 8 points of damage or more are required to injure it (24 total points are required to sever or put the head out of commission; damage to each head is assigned randomly unless a "called shot" is made). Its breath weapons take the form of a tight cone rather than a line; a width of 5' at the mouth and 30' at the base, with a range of 80'; each breath causes 24 points of damage, save vs. breath weapon for half. each of its heads may breath only twice per day. Habitat/Society: Spectral Hydrae are solitary creatures who prefer to lair in dismal surroundings. They gather only to mate. Rumours to the contrary there is no evidence that the Alphatians have learned the secret of breeding Spectral Hydrae in captivity, though there are several Alphatian wizards who have tried, and learned the hard way that such simply is not possible without the ancient magics of the Necromancer-Kings (which Gargantua seems to have acquired, though only used to a very limited extend). Ecology: Like their natural cousins, the Spectral Hydrae are often preyed upon by Dragons, especially Spectral Dragons, who feel that the mere existence of the Spectral Hydrae are an insult to their species.
Spectral Hydrae are much sought after by Necromancers and Evil Priests, as the teeth of Spectral Hydrae may be used to create animated skeletons. 1d3 teeth may be gathered from each of a slain Spectral Hydra's heads; when they are to be used the teeth must be stuck point down in the ground and sprinkled with Unholy Water. An Animate Dead spell is then cast over them, at the end of which Human skeletons will grow from each tooth, one per each tooth placed in the ground, 1d3 skeletons per round.
These skeletons, each of which has 8 hit points and fight as though they had 2 HD, appear armed with swords or scimitars and armoured with shields; they are otherwise treated as normal skeletons in all respects. They will last until destroyed, and they are, of course, controlled by the caster of the Animate Dead spell. The Spectral Hydra teeth take the place of the normal material component for the Animate Dead spell (i.e., no skeleton is required for the casting). There has been much speculation among necromantic circles as to what would spring from the teeth of the Gargantuan Spectral Hydrae; some believe that Giant skeletons would be created, while others theorise that Dragon skeletons (albeit small ones) would result...