Monday, January 3, 2011

General Rules: Monsters - Swamp Strider Swarm

Swamp Strider Swarm (adapted from the Monster Manual III and Dragon Magazine #329)
Diminutive Vermin (Swarm)

Hit Dice: 9d8 (40 hit points)
Initiative: +9
Speed: 50 feet
Armor Class: 19 (+4 size, +5 Dexterity); touch 19, flat-footed 14
BAB/Grapple: +6/-
Attack: Swarm (2d6)
Full Attack: Swarm (2d6)
Space/Reach: 10 feet by 10 feet/0 feet
Special Attacks: Distraction, wounding
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, immune to weapon damage, swarm traits, vermin traits, water walk, wavesense
Saves: Fortitude +6, Reflex +8, Will +3
Abilities: Str 1, Int -, Wis 10, Dex 20, Con 10, Cha 8
Skills: Hide +21 (+25 in swamps or wetland terrain), Spot +4
Feats: Improved Initiative
Environment: Warm marshes
Organization: Solitary, fleet (2 - 4 swarms), or flotilla (11 - 20 swarms)
Challenge Rating: 5
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: -
Level Adjustment: -

Swamp striders are predatory insects whose physiology allows them to "walk" on water as easily as on land. They mob large creatures, piercing them with their dangerously long stingers, consuming the blood that leaks into the water. Despite the swarm's dangerous nature, humanoid races sometimes hunt swamp strider swarms, considering roasted striders to be a fine delicacy. An individual strider is 7 inches long and weighs ½ pound.

Like any swarm, a swamp strider swarm seeks to surround and attack any living prey it encounters. A swarm deals 2d6 points of damage to any creature whose space it occupies at the end of its move, plus damage from its wounding ability.

In order to attack, a swamp strider swarm moves into opponents' spaces, which provokes attacks of opportunity. It can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, since it crawls all over its prey, but remains a creature with a 10 foot by 10 foot space. Swamp strider swarms never make attacks of opportunity, but they can provoke attacks of opportunity. A swamp strider swarm’s attacks are nonmagical. Damage reduction sufficient to reduce the swarm attack’s damage to 0, being incorporeal, and other special abilities usually give a creature immunity (or at least resistance) to damage from a swarm.

Unlike other creatures with a 10 foot by 10 foot space, a swamp strider swarm is shapeable. It can occupy any four contiguous space and it can squeeze through any space large enough to contain one of its component creatures.

Distraction (Ex): Any living creature vulnerable to a swamp strider swarm's swarm damage that begins its turn with a swamp strider swarm in its space must succeed at a DC 14 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. Even after a successful save, spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swam requires a Concentration check (Dc 20 + the spell level). Using skills requiring patience and concentration requires a DC 20 Concentration check. The save DC is Constitution-based..

Wounding (Ex): Any living creature damaged by a swamp strider swarm continues to bleed, losing 1 hit point per round thereafter. Multiple wounds do not result in cumulative bleeding loss. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 10 Heal check or the application of a cure spell or other healing magic.

Water Walk (Ex): Swamp striders can move across water as easily as on land. This ability functions as the water walk spell, except that it is an extraordinary ability and the swamp strider swarm actually touches the water rather than floating above it. A swamp strider swarm that is submerged will rise to the surface (as per the spell effect), but if it is forced to remain underwater for 5 rounds or more, it must make a DC 15 Fortitude save every round thereafter or perish.

Wavesense (Ex): A swamp strider swarm notices and locates any creatures within 30 feet as long as they are in the same body of water as the swarm.

Swarm: A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernible anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. A spider swarm is immune to all weapon damage. Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or lower causes it to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent. A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells. A spider swarm is susceptible to high winds such as that created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a spider swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of Diminutive size. A swarm rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not reform until its hit points exceed its nonlethal damage.

Vermin: No Intelligence score, and immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects).

Skills: Swamp striders have a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks. Swamp striders gain a +4 racial bonus on Hide checks when in swamps or wetland terrain.

Spider swarms are extremely difficult to fight with physical attacks. They have a few special vulnerabilities as follows.

A lit torch swung as an improvised weapon deals 1d3 points of fire damage per hit.

A weapon with a special ability such as flaming or frost deals its full energy damage with each hit, even if the weapon's normal damage can't affect the swarm.

A lit lantern can be used as a thrown weapon, dealing 1d4 points of fire damage to all creatures in squares adjacent to where it breaks.

Swamp Strider Swarms as Familiars
Spider swarms can serve as familiars for characters eligible to obtain familiars including arcane engineers, hexblades, mind weavers, shadowsworn, sorcerers, and wizards. To do so, the character must take the Improved Familiar feat and be at least a 11th-level caster. Goblinoid spellcasters and other worshipers of Ninkurra often have swamp strider swarm familiars.

The swamp strider swarm becomes a magical beast swarm familiar. The swamp strider swarm gains an Intelligence score of 1. Swarm familiars do not gain the ability to speak with others of their kind, and neither the swarm nor its master gains the Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot) feat. Instead, the following special qualities are substituted for those standard familiar abilities.

Granted Abilities: In addition to special abilities gained as a result of standard familiar progression, swarm familiars also bestow the following abilities upon their masters. The swamp strider swarm's master gains immunity to her swarm's nauseating effect and its poison attack and can occupy the same space as her familiar without suffering penalties. Swarm familiar granted abilities replace the granted abilities listed for improved familiars.

Hive Mind (Ex): Swamp strider swarm familiars gain a hive mind that connects them to each other by the arcane power of their master. The master gains an empathic link and the ability to share spells with the hive mind of the swarm familiar.

Nonhealing (Ex): When a swarm takes damage, part of it is physically destroyed. Therefore, swarm familiars cannot be healed in the normal manner. Instead, new creatures much be summoned to the swam to replace those that have died. A summon swarm spell "cures" a swarm familiar by replacing dead creatures in the swarm at a rate of 1d6 hit points per caster level. The number of hit points healed in this manner cannot exceed the swarm's maximum hit point total. Only a druid or the wizard to whom the swarm familiar belongs can cure a swarm familiar in this fashion. Summon swarm spells used to heal a familiar create no other effect.

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