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Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters (Dune Hunter)

Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters (Dune Hunter)

DunesWith their punishing climate and near-total lack of precious water, deserts are one of the most hostile environments in existence. Those who spend enough time among the desert sands know that some monsters can thrive even in these hellish wastes. Such creatures are feared and respected by wise adventurers, for they are invariably predatory and deadly—a consequence of evolving in a place where the most reliable source of life-giving water is a fresh corpse.

Dune Hunter

Natural and magical beasts are not the only monsters that adventurers may encounter in the desert. Artificially created monsters also roam the dunes, many of which are as deadly as any native beast. Of these desert-dwelling constructs, one of the most vicious is the dune hunter, a massive creation of sand and toughened glass that has terrorized desert travelers for centuries.

Many victims of the dune hunter never see the monster, because it hides beneath the desert sand and is thus difficult to spot before it attacks. Its segmented, serpentine form is over two dozen feet long and twice the height of a human. Constantly shifting sand covers its body, broken only by its mouth and five ruby eyes arranged in a circle around the top of its head. Its massive maw is easily big enough to swallow three horses walking abreast, and razor-sharp glass teeth fill its mouth. Similar teeth line the monster’s throat and stomach, each one with enough articulation to slice apart anything the hunter swallows.

Those who fight the dune hunter quickly discover that the construct’s sandy skin hides a framework of glass tough enough to repel most weapon strikes. They also discover that its cavernous mouth is not its only weapon, because it can siphon sand through pores in its underside and superheat it by unknown means, spitting out the resulting glass spikes with lethal accuracy.

No one knows the dune hunter’s origin. Theories range from a mad, solitude-seeking wizard creating it as a guard dog to an ancient civilization designing it (and possibly more like it) as a powerful weapon. Equally mysterious is why the dune hunter kills and eats prey when it, as a construct, has no need for food. Some say that it’s powered by the souls of those it devours. Others say that this behavior proves it was once a guardian, and that it’s following its master’s final instructions. Still others theorize that the hunter is simply mimicking the resident natural beasts’ adherence to the brutal law of the desert: kill to survive.

Dune Hunter     CR 10

XP 9,600
N Gargantuan Construct (Earth)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +9

DEFENSE
AC 23, touch 8, flat-footed 21 (+2 Dex, –4 Size, +15 Natural)
HP 144 (13d10 + 73)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +8
DR 10/bludgeoning; Immune construct traits, fire; SR 20

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., burrow 20 ft.
Melee bite +22 (2d8 + 13 damage plus grab)
Ranged glass spike +17 (60 ft., 1d12 + 9/x3), shard storm (30 ft. cone, Reflex DC 16 for half, 6d10 damage, usable every 1d3 rounds)
Space 25 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks swallow whole (4d6 piercing damage, AC 17, DR 10, 14 hp)

STATISTICS
Str 28, Dex 14, Con –, Int 1, Wis 18, Cha 1
Base Attack +13; CMB +26; CMD 38 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Alertness, Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Rapid Shot, Stealthy, Toughness
Skills Perception +9, Stealth +14

ECOLOGY
Environment hot deserts
Organization solitary
Treasure none

TACTICS

The dune hunter begins the encounter buried underneath the sand, with its five barely visible ruby eyes the only clues to its presence. After something passes over its location, the hunter bites its prey and attempts to swallow it, emerging from the sand as it does so. It then uses shard storms to eliminate as many adventurers as possible, resorting to glass spikes on any adventurers attempting to retreat.

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