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First, I'm excited to announce the release of my first e-book, The Tunnelers, which is a modern horror story with vaguely Lovecraftian overtones. However, the community has inspired me a lot over the years, and I couldn't share the good news without posting some Mystaran crunch, exclusive to the Piazza, to help incorporate these critters into existing campaigns. So, feel free to post questions and ideas!
Tunnelerby Geoff Gander
Armour Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4
Move: 90’ (30’)
Attacks: 2 claws or 1 bite or 1 hug
Damage: 1d8 x 2 or 3d4 or 1d6
Number Appearing: 1d4 (2d8)
Save As: F4
Treasure Type: M (lair only)
XP Value: 75
The Tunnelers are a race of ogre-sized subterranean city-builders who shun contact with other races – so much so that they will attack anyone intruding on their territory. They have adapted completely to life underground – their pebbled, leathery skin is almost white and they have no eyes, but their senses of smell, touch, and hearing are exceptional. Their hands are exceptionally thick-skinned and proportionally large, and have two broad fingers and an opposable thumb, with each digit ending with a long, thick nail. Although they are capable of building and using basic tools, Tunnelers employ their hands most often in digging. An adult Tunneler can dig through ten feet of densely packed earth, or chisel through half a foot of solid rock, in one turn.
By touching solid rock, a Tunneler can feel the vibrations made by creatures as small as a halfling, up to 50 feet away. Hairs on their bodies can also detect disturbances in air currents up to 20 feet away, and their noses (two slits just above their wide, toothy maws) can smell a creature up to 30 feet away. Consequently, Tunnelers can only be surprised under exceptional circumstances.
In combat Tunnelers slash their opponents with their claws, and will try to grab anyone close by in a bear hug in order to crush them. Anyone grabbed will take 1d6 damage per round, and must make a successful attack roll with a -3 penalty in order to break free. Tunnelers wishing to bite a captured opponent may do so with a +3 bonus to hit.
Tunnelers are hermaphroditic, and they are organised into loose clans dominated by the most powerful progenitor (a 7 HD monster). The ruler holds sway only as long as it, and its young, provide enough food to feed the rest of the clan and can effectively fight off threats from within the clan and from rival clans. Should the leader show weakness, a rival progenitor and its offspring will seek to usurp control. Such conflicts are extremely bloody, but short.
The average clan inhabits a network of tunnels that it has excavated, in which there are chambers for sleeping, growing fungus (although fresh meat is preferred), and keeping the young (who are raised collectively). Individual clan members often excavate their own chambers in which they store personal items (i.e., treasures that they find), and by unspoken agreement no one else enters them.
Each clan also has a 5 HD shaman capable of casting spells of up to 2nd level. While many clans worship the rock itself, some Immortals (such as Kagyar and Djaea) have seen potential in these creatures, and have recently been nudging some clans into more civilised directions. A significant number also venerate the Outer Beings – possibly due to influence from the Deep Carnifex.
As part of their life cycle, Tunnelers must go to the surface to reproduce. Once in the open air, they will seek out a spot frequented by their clan where they can lay their single egg. When laid, the shell is extremely soft, and would deteriorate in the moist conditions underground. The clan will guard the eggs aboveground until they harden sufficiently, a process that takes six hours. This is always done at night, and the shaman will often lead a religious ceremony to mark the occasion. Each clan has its own laying ground, and considers it sacred. Warriors visit it regularly, and intruders are attacked without mercy.
In ancient times the Tunnelers were common in the hills and mountains of southern Brun - especially in lands controlled by the Taymorans, but the geologic upheavals destroyed most of them. In modern times, Tunneler clans can be found under the Altan Tepes Range, as well as the Cruth Mountains. They have been known to attack homesteaders in Karameikos, southeastern Darokin, and northern Thyatis who encroach on their laying grounds. Competition from the glaurants has prevented them from expanding into the Five Shires.
Communities also exist in northern Davania - especially around the Izondian Wall and the Adakkian Mounts, but competition from the local dwarves in the former, and the Deep Carnifex in the latter, prevents them from becoming dominant.