KotM2 Fight! Horakh

KotM2 Fight! Horakh

horahkWelcome to the King of the Monsters 2 finals (see the list of finalists): the horakh is random finalist 3 of 10. These submissions are left almost entirely as they were received with the exceptions that all submissions are posted with an image and are standardized to KoboldQuarterly.com style. Let the fight commence!

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In the deepest recesses of dank dungeons and underground caverns, life is short and brutal. Hideous creatures are locked in an endless battle for survival. Only the most vicious species live to breed and fight another day. One of the most feared subterranean denizens is the horakh, an insectoid killing machine with a penchant for consuming the eyes of its victim.

Horakh have powerful rear legs that allow them to make bounding leaps. Sharp hooks at the end of powerful claws allow them to climb any surface and latch on to prey. Their heads are dominated by scooped mandibles that can shoot forward like a piston, shearing meat from bone. Their black, chitinous thoraxes are nearly flat and topped by a translucent digestive sac—often containing half-digested eyeballs of varying sizes, colors and species…

Horakh in Combat: Horakh silently skulk at the edges of larger groups of monsters, waiting to pick off the weak and wounded. Eyeless beasts, such as grimlocks, destrachan, and gricks, have nothing to fear from horakh and often tolerate losing some spoils of battle to them for the sake of mutual protection. When attacking, horakh leap from their hiding spots while making a deafening screech. Generally, horakh first attempt to grab their target with a double slash attack and follow up with eye scoop in the next round. Horakh are highly mobile on the battlefield. If threatened, horakh leap back into the shadows to attack again from a more advantageous position. Horakh never fight to the death and flee if the assault goes poorly. Horakh have been known to harry adventuring parties over the course of multiple encounters, looking for a chink in their defenses.

Lore (Dungeoneering DC 17): Even battle-hardened dungeoneers quiver at the mere mention of the horakh. The bloodthirsty insects travel in small packs and make lightning-fast attacks against the weak or vulnerable. Horakh have specialized scooping mandibles they use to rip out the eyes of victims. Some say that after blinding their prey, horakh will herd the blind like sheep until they are ready to consume them and even use them as bait to capture other creatures. Many an explorer has been ambushed, blinded and condemned to death in the bowels of the earth by these predators.

Horakh (Level 12 Lurker)

Small natural beast; XP 700
Initiative +17; Perception +13; darkvision

HP 90; Bloodied 45
AC 22, Fortitude 23, Reflex 26, Will 20
Speed 6, climb 6 (spider climb)

TRAITS
Implant Egg
If the horakh reduces a grabbed creature to 0 hp, it jams its ovipositor deep into the target’s eye socket and inserts a pebble-sized egg. The target contracts horakh incubation disease (see below).

Deafening Screech • Aura 3
All creatures are deafened with the aura.

STANDARD ACTIONS
[m] Claw Slash • At-Will

Attack—Melee 1 (one creature); +17 vs. AC
Hit—1d8+7 damage, and the target is grabbed; the horakh can only grab one creature at a time.

[M] Double Slash • At-Will
Effect—The horakh uses claw slash twice.

[M] Eye Scoop • At-Will
Requirement—The horakh must have grabbed the target.
Attack—Melee 1 (one creature); +15 vs. Reflex; the horakh attempts to scoop out an eye of the grabbed creature.
Hit—3d6+3 damage, and the target is blinded (save ends); on a critical hit, the target is blinded until the end of the encounter and permanently loses an eye.

MOVE ACTIONS
Unnatural Leap • Recharge 4, 5, 6
Effect—The horakh can move 10 squares as if it had a fly speed (it must end its movement on the ground or by clinging to a surface with spider climb).

FREE ACTIONS
Skitter • Encounter
Effect—The horakh can shift 3 squares.

Skills Stealth +18
Str 21 (+11)         Dex 25 (+13)       Wis 15 (+8)
Con 17 (+9)         Int 8 (+5)              Cha 11 (+6)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Horakh Incubation (Level 11 Disease)

Endurance improve DC 22 maintain 18, worsen DC 15 or lower

Once the egg hatches, the host organism is plagued by nausea and headaches. The hatchling will feed on the surrounding tissue and brain until the host dies:

  • You are cured.
  • Initial Effect—You take a −2 penalty to Will.
  • You suffer from constant, debilitating migraines. Creatures beyond 5 squares from you have concealment.
  • Final State—A horakh explodes from your head, and you die.

16 thoughts on “KotM2 Fight! Horakh”

  1. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I see this monster as a nuisance that keeps coming back. Spring a couple on the back line of the party in round 3 of a battle then have them flee. After a couple encounters and possibly a lost eye, I bet your players are screaming, “Somebody grab the f$%$#ing bug!”

  2. This would be a great monster to throw at players when they are thinking they are going to run into the same old orc, goblin, etc. encounter. =) Nice job!

  3. Nice!!!

    The actual eye-scoop effect seems a little weak to me (it needs to score two crits to actually take your eyes? I don’t see adventurers wandering around blinded from this; it sounds like they’ll probably kill you with the damage before that happens). But my lack of experience with 4e might be showing here.

    Regardless, this is pure gold for subterranean horror. Nothing says “the world hates you” like swarms of humongous bugs trying to pluck out your eyes and lay eggs in your brain.

  4. I gimped the eye harvesting on purpose. Permanently losing both eyes would seriously impact a player’s fun. But if you lose one eye, you get to wear a cool eye patch and you have an exciting story to tell at the tavern. A blind monk might make a cool character concept though…

  5. Dying outright also impacts a player’s fun. And I think it’s the threat of that that makes the game thrilling. But, yes, I hear what you’re saying; just a different view of the game. :)

    I have to reiterate that this is a really cool monster. “Implant Egg” might actually be the most horrible, cringe-inducing ability that I have ever read.

  6. These things are insidious! It is not some brute HP beast that are easily dispatched with overwhelming force. This adds a great dynamic to a dungeon adventure. Great work.

    While I would not wish for a full incubation on my char, I wouldn’t mind seeing some poor SOB NPC head split open at the local tavern after a dungeon romp… “Oh my horrible headache, moan moan…” Dinky the Dwarf lamented. Then boom. After the dust settles some other guy with a patch, “Yeah, thank goodness they got that egg out of me.” Then have the party head back into the dungeon to finish the quest with new respect for these, and I have use the adjective again, _insidious_ creatures.

  7. “it jams its ovipositor deep into the target’s eye socket and inserts a pebble-sized egg”

    ….but I’m not an alien.

    I have to admit -being a GM- I like monsters that permanently maim. That said what if the target of an eye scoop critical is an ettin or hydra? Would all the heads be blind?

    My only bit of criticism is from the style angle, and it only really springs to mind because I have been recently pouring over the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary where a number of monster write ups seem to be about the shock awe factor bordering on splatterpunk. Now I’m completely down with a little coerced-sexual liaison-before-consummating-it-with-a-grisly murder and sometimes even afterward (I mean really, who hasn’t had that Thanksgiving family get-together) but I don’t need to have all the individual sordid details spelled out for me. It just seems -to me at least- like the sort of sensationalism one finds on tabloid covers or in a Glenn Beck segment. Now obviously both those examples are popular enough to continue (and draw large support bases) but they leave little for my imagination other than the initial knee-jerk reaction.

    Again, this might just me. I’m a much older Great Green God than may avatar suggests.
    ::Descends from soapbox::

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