I tell ya, boys, we’ve fished up and down this coast for years and never seen anything like ’em. We’d found what was left of Ol’ Patch and his crew — washed up on the shore there, all picked apart to bones and gristle. It was bad enough seeing ’em like that, and worse when crabby legs and claws popped out of the skulls and skittered toward us.
The damn critters knew what they were doin’, too. Thinkin’ on it, that’s the scariest part — they worked like wolves, and they waited for the tide to come in to trap me and my boys. Cutlasses barely hurt ’em — just bounced right off skull-shells. Hell, I was lucky I lost just three fingers…
Voracious scavengers, bone crabs live in seaside crags and coves near busy coastal communities, where they use their specialized chelae to crack open the skulls of washed-up bodies and feast on the decaying brains within. Centuries of such feeding have given the vermin an acute collective intelligence, a hive mind that serves bone crabs very well indeed.
Bone crabs inhabit the salvaged skulls of humanoids, into which they can retract their spiny legs for protection and concealment. The scavengers are specially suited to their ecological niche, and their foraging makes the crabs carriers of a dangerous disease, as many an unfortunate and hungry sailor has discovered. Those lucky enough to survive their attacks often succumb to high fever, consumption and delirium.
Bone Crab CR 2
N Small vermin (aquatic)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +5 natural, +1 size)
hp 19 (3d8+6)
Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +1
Speed 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee 2 claw +3 (1d4)
Special Attacks Disease, leap (2 claws +3, 1d4)
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 4, Wis 12, Cha 4
Base Atk +2; CMB 0; CMD 12 (16 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +7, Swim +8
Environment any aquatic
Organization solitary or pack (2–20)
Disease (Ex) White ghost shivers: Claw—injury, ingested; save Fort DC 12; onset 1d3 days; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Con damage and 1d3 Wis damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Leap (Ex) Bone crabs have incredibly powerful legs and can leap up to 10 feet straight ahead or backwards as a move action. This counts as a charge attack.
Hive Mind (Ex) All bone crabs within 100 ft. of one another can communicate perfectly. If one is aware of danger, they all are. If one in a particular group is not flat-footed, none of them are. No bone crab in such a group is considered flanked unless all are.
Home of Bone (Ex) When a bone crab hides in its adopted home it resembles a discarded skull. An observer must succeed with a DC 20 Perception check to notice the bone crab.
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Art by Hugo Solis
Open Game License for Bone Crabs