Calvert Thome—a successful rancher until his prize cows began to mysteriously disappear—approached the field where his herd grazed. While he braced himself for more bad news, he did not expect the sight that greeted him. Next to the mutilated carcass of another cow, the smallest of his cows was digging a grave, using claws rather than hooves. Glancing up, the “cow” shrugged its shoulders and bared 2-inch-long fangs at the revolted rancher.
Lunging for its new victim, the beast reveled in his final screams of pain and terror, then turned to slaughter the rest of the cattle. Its butchery complete, it transformed into an innocuous rabbit and hopped away, leaving the corpses to rot.
Charnel cows hail from the lower planes, where the denizens hunt them for food or sport. While they are clever compared to their earthly counterparts, they can’t escape most daemons, demons, or devils. Occasionally, one (or an entire herd) escapes through a portal to the Material Plane to wreak havoc on mundane herd animals and their owners…
Charnel Cow (CR 5)
NE Medium outsider (evil, extraplanar)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 17 (+1 Dex, +7 natural)
hp 51 (6d10+18)
Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +2
Immune bludgeoning damage
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +10 (2d6+4), 2 hooves +5 (1d8+2)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)
At-Will—beast shape I (land-bound herbivores only; Strength and natural armor bonuses included in statistics)
Before Combat A charnel cow appears plain and unassuming to catch weak prey unaware or to avoid notice by stronger creatures. If it can catch a single enemy unaware, the cow ambushes the creature and changes shape or trots away to throw suspicion off itself.
During Combat Against a weaker foe, a charnel cow toys with its victim, frightening it and then wearing it down, taking its time to finally slay the unfortunate creature. When combating stronger competition, it breathes a malodorous cloud to incapacitate its enemies to give it time to change shape and run away.
Morale If reduced to 10 hp, the charnel cow tries to escape. If any lower planar denizens (real or illusory) enter the combat, the creature flees immediately.
Str 19, Dex 12, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 10
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 21
Feats Deceitful, Improved Initiative, Intimidating Prowess
Skills Bluff +11, Disguise +11, Intimidate +13, Perception +6, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +10, Survival +9
SQ unassuming mien
Environment any (any lower plane)
Organization solitary or herd (3–6)
Unassuming Mien (Ex) A charnel cow mimics herbivorous creatures flawlessly. It gains a +10 circumstance bonus to Bluff and Disguise checks when aware of observers.
In their home planes, charnel cows true appearance is that of runty, leprous bovines, and they dwell at the bottom of the food chain. Millennia of torment and hunting have made them into bitterly cruel creatures, so an opportunity to escape and torture unsuspecting victims pleases them immensely.
Outside their native environment, these creatures sadistically kill everything they can get away with. They hide their activities as well as they can, usually by attracting other predators or staging accidents.
Habitat and Society
Charnel cows provide sustenance for many residents of the lower planes. Getting killed and eaten in their home planes doesn’t destroy charnel cows, since they are cursed to reform in a week’s time. Oddly, though, they can be destroyed on the Material Plane. Despite all these creatures have endured, charnel cows do not work together at all and, instead, purposely slow down others of their kind when escape presents itself. This behavior turns violently competitive whenever a herd escapes to the Material Plane, with each cow increasing its barbarity to a sickening degree in a display of superiority to the others.
Charnel cows love surprising and terrorizing intelligent prey, which in their minds improves the taste of the meat. An animal’s fear closely approximates an intelligent being’s fear, appeasing these evil bovines until a better meal presents itself. They are consummate bullies who flee at the first sign of strong resistance, and they never stick around when a daemon, demon, or devil shows up.
These creatures would rather die than return to their natural habitats, so a desperate cow will throw itself off a cliff or find a convenient paladin to avoid that fate.
Creatures who eat meat from a charnel cow risk contracting charnel fever. Evil outsiders are resistant to the disease and gain a +8 circumstance bonus to their Fortitude saves. Afflicted creatures become violent as parasites attack higher order brain functions. Eventually, the fever’s victim is irrevocably insane, rampaging and spreading the disease.
Type disease, ingestion or injury; Save Fortitude DC 16
Onset 1d3 days; Frequency 1/day
Effect 1d6 Wis damage, victims reduced to 0 Wis become insane (per the spell insanity); Cure 2 consecutive saves