Cave Hermit

From Into the Black, published by Bastion Press

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Cave Hermit

Large Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: 8d8+24
Initiative: -1 (Dex)
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft (4 squares)
AC 20 (-1 Dex, -1 Size, +12 Natural), touch 8, flat-footed 20
Base Attack / Grapple: +8 / +16
Attack: Gore +12 melee (2d6+4)
Full Attack: Gore +12 melee (2d6+4)
Space/Reach: 10 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Sneak Attack +3d6
Special Qualities: Acid burst, darkvision 60 ft., shell
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +6
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 8, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
Skills: Appraise +8, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Hide +5*, Search +2
Feats: Endurance, Negotiator, Skill Focus (Appraise)
Environment: Any underground
Organization: Solitary, or family (2-4)
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: Standard + 50%, no coins (all magic or gear)
Alignment: Usually chaotic neutral
Advancement: by character class
Level Adjustment: —

Despite the absence of sprawling marketplaces and wagon trains of commodities and goods, merchants still ply their trade even in the deepest depths below the surface, selling rare and valuable products to travelers and the indigenous residents. The enigmatic cave hermit tops the list of these intrepid subterranean businessmen, inspiring glorious words of praise in some circles and outright scorn in others. Adventurers view them as an oasis in the desert, while natives perceive the eclectic salesmen as greedy, amoral charlatans solely concerned with making a hefty profit. The creature’s solitary nature and irritable, unpleasant, demanding personalty effectively reinforces the latter opinion.

Cave hermits appear as grotesquely hunchbacked humanoids with reddish-pink flesh, and a fiendish-looking face equipped with a set of dangerous horns. The enormous weight of its hunchback  often forces the creature to walk on all fours, using the knuckles of its padded hands for added support. In actuality, its hunched back is a hollow, hard shell containing its assorted goods and belongings. Often covered in rags, sacks, pockets, and pouches, the carapace is obviously made of bone which protrudes from its shoulder joint and extends about two feet beyond its terribly bowed legs. The debris attached to its shell makes it appear like a massive trash heap whenever the creature lies flat on the ground.

Cave hermits stand 8 feet tall and weigh 500 pounds, including all of the gear stashed into its hollow carapace. Cave hermits speak common and Undercommon as well as a smattering of other languages to aid them in their business ventures.

Combat

Despite their abrasive demeanor, cave hermits do not relish violence and abhor any physical confrontations with customers. Nevertheless, the creature’s obnoxious nature only goats individuals looking for a fight or an easy mark to rob. Under these circumstances, they usually withdraw into their shell, melting the equipment of any creature threatening them as a last resort. Cave hermits short of marketable goods sometimes ambush weaker opponents, lying in wait along well-traveled routes before springing out from a concealed position and unleashing a surprise attack.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Any time the cave hermit’s target is denied a Dexterity bonus, or when it is flanked by the cave hermit, the cave hermit deals an additional 3d6 points of damage on a successful melee attack.

Dissolving Burst (Ex): In dire emergencies , cave hermits spray acid through tiny pores in their shells, filling a 10 ft. radius around the creature. The corrosive substance deals no damage to living matter, but wreaks havoc on equipment and other inanimate objects. The acid deals 3d6 points of damage to all unattended objects within the area of effect. Creatures in the midst of a spray receive a Reflex save (DC 17) to avoid the acid; otherwise, any objects on their person also take damage from the corrosive. It takes the cave hermit one hour to replenish its supply of acid; therefore, cave hermits rely upon this special ability only as a last resort.

Shell (Ex): Cave hermits can withdraw into their shell and seal it tight as a move action. This action provides a +8 cover bonus to AC but prohibits the cave hermit from moving or attacking. A sealed shell is airtight, allowing the cave hermit total protection against gases and other airborne attack forms and giving the cave hermit buoyancy and a ten minute supply of air. A destroyed shell regenerates in one month.

Skills: Cave hermits in their shell gain a +6 racial bonus and a +4 competence bonus to Hide checks.

Habitat / Society

Cave hermits are intensely solitary beings, perceiving others of their kind as business rivals. Cave hermits are territorial, driving off competitors while killing weaker creatures traveling through their specified domain. The opportunistic carnivores proverbially kill two birds with one stone by stealing the items from their prey for resale while devouring the hapless creature for sustenance. Cave hermits often lair in close proximity to powerful monsters that draw the interest of adventurers and subterranean travelers. Although they usually strike up a tenuous business relationship with with these potent underground denizens, they are not averse to selling items and equipment to adventurers seeking to slay their benefactors, either. Because they are often the only merchants in a wide area, their prices are exorbitant, sometimes as much as two to three times more expensive than the costs of obtaining similar items on the surface. Typically, cave hermits possess 2d6 of the substances, devices, equipment, and magic items described in this supplement as well as a bevy of other materials determined by the GM.

Despite their gruff personality and distrust of their kin, cave hermits feel the primordial urge to procreate every five years. Physically hermaphrodites, they still require another cave hermit to complete their mating ritual. After copulating, the pair immediately separates, laying 1d4 eggs that each stores within its shell. When the eggs hatch, squiring, gibbering larvae emerge that cling to the creature’s skin and slough off gradually over the course of several days, practically left to fend for themselves. Cave hermits despise potential business rivals, including their own offspring.

Campaign

  • Along the route to the lair of a powerful subterranean monster, the adventurers encounter a cave hermit plying its wares and information in exchange for a hefty profit.
  • Armorsmiths can convert the creature’s shell into the carapace of the deep, an armor described in Chapter 6.

 

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