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Thrushmoor Angler

Razor-sharp teeth line the huge mouth of this bloated, slimecovered amphibian. A glittering, luminescent organ suspended by a fleshy tether hangs like a lantern above its head.

Thrushmoor Angler CR 8

Source Pathfinder #111: Dreams of the Yellow King pg. 88
XP 4,800
CN Medium magical beast (aquatic)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +15

Defense

AC 22, touch 11, flat-footed 21 (+1 Dex, +11 natural)
hp 105 (10d10+50); fast healing 5
Fort +12, Ref +8, Will +7
Resist acid 10, cold 10

Offense

Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +16 (1d8+5/19–20 plus grab), 2 claws +15 (1d4+5)
Special Attacks swallow whole (2d6 acid plus 1d6 slashing damage, AC 15, 10 hp), tantalizing lure

Statistics

Str 21, Dex 13, Con 20, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +10; CMB +15; CMD 26 (34 vs. trip)
Feats Ability Focus (projected victim), Ability Focus (tantalizing lure), Improved Critical (bite), Iron Will, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +4, Perception +15, Stealth +14, Swim +26
Languages Aklo
SQ amphibious, projected victim

Ecology

Environment temperate forests, swamps, and water
Organization solitary, pair, or cloister (3–8)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Projected Victim (Su) A Thrushmoor angler can project an illusory image of the last humanoid victim it consumed in order to lure additional prey into its jaws. This ability functions as project image using the Thrushmoor angler’s Hit Die as its caster level, differing in that the Thrushmoor angler can produce only an image of its last consumed victim with that victim’s voice, it does not require line of effect, and it can project the image a maximum of 200 feet from itself. Creatures interacting with the projected victim can recognize the illusion with a successful DC 20 Will saving throw. Should the Thrushmoor angler then consume another victim, any subsequent use of its projected victim ability replicates the appearance of this most recent victim. The Thrushmoor angler can communicate through its projected victim with its own language or those known by the represented victim. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Swallow Whole (Ex) A Thrushmoor angler can unhinge its jaws and partially distend its barbed esophagus, allowing it to swallow creatures of up to Medium size.

Tantalizing Lure (Su) A Thrushmoor angler can lure prey toward it with powerful compulsions. All humanoids within 60 feet and with line of sight to the Thrushmoor angler must succeed at a DC 20 Will saving throw or be fascinated and compelled to take no other action than to approach the Thrushmoor angler each round until attacked. A target that succeeds at its saving throw or breaks free of the fascination effect cannot be subject to the same Thrushmoor angler’s tantalizing lure for 24 hours. A Thrushmoor angler can suppress or resume this ability as a free action. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

The Thrushmoor angler, named for the Ustalavic town of Thrushmoor around which it can be commonly found, is a bizarre and voracious semiaquatic predator. Preferring to feed on intelligent humanoids, it lurks at the edges of swamps and by marshy riverbanks, using an illusory lure that assumes the form and even the voice of past meals to draw hapless victims into its massive jaws.

At home in deep water and only partially adapted for land, the angler resembles a great, human-sized deep-ocean fish with mottled, slimy skin. The creature’s flesh exudes a thick coating of slime, allowing its awkward, bulky body to slide with relative speed through underbrush and along drier surfaces, propelling itself forward by the combined action of multiple powerful but misshapen limbs.

A female Thrushmoor angler is typically 5 feet tall and weighs 250 pounds. Males of the species generally grow no larger than 1 foot in length and weigh less than 30 pounds.

Ecology

Thrushmoor anglers are not natural creatures, but their true origin remains as murky as the waters they call home. First encountered in the marshes surrounding the Ustalavic city of Thrushmoor in 4683 ar, the creatures have spread further in the decades since. They now primarily dwell within the waters of northern Avalon Bay between Thrushmoor and Illmarsh. The anglers have also moved upstream, colonizing the Danver and Destach rivers, including the latter river’s source, Lantern Lake. Despite their expansion, however, the creatures remain most common in and around Thrushmoor itself, and their spread appears oddly selflimited, given that there are ample nearby regions rife for colonization. This suggests that some unknown factor artificially limits the extent of their outward push—a blessing for Ustalav as a whole—or more fiendishly, that something or someone is actively calling out and organizing them, like a shepherd gathering his sheep and not allowing them to run too far afield.

The Thrushmoor angler is most feared for its method of hunting, in which it actively lures prey, not by simply attracting targets to a glimmering light like some lesser pelagic, piscine predator, but by far more insidious means. Would-be victims report seeing recently lost or missing persons calling out for help, floundering in deep water, or motioning them deeper into swampy overgrowth to retrieve a stuck cow or even to help recover a buried treasure. These visages of the dead are only illusory figments conjured forth by the Thrushmoor angler to draw more victims to where it waits, hidden and with its jaws yawning wide. Once an unfortunate soul steps close enough to the creature, the sight of the iridescent lamp-shaped lure suspended above the angler’s misshapen head clouds victim’s the mind and draws her to simply walk in a daze toward the angler. The beast prefers to swallow its impassive victims whole, its backward-angled teeth drag them screaming down its gullet.

Commonly thought of as ignorant beasts capable of communication only via their illusory methods of luring in prey, Thrushmoor anglers actually speak a dialect of Aklo. Scholars increasingly posit that the first of their kind were introduced into Ustalav from elsewhere, perhaps flushed into the waters of Lake Encarthan in the waste bilge of ships dumping ballast near port. Others, however, claim the anglers originate from some other plane or planet, or else were created by creatures from such a place, wherever it might be. Such concerns are largely academic, though, to the fisherfolk, trappers, and travelers who most often run afoul of the creatures’ appetite for warm and intelligent flesh.

Habitat and Society

The description above applies only to female, as this species displays stark sexual dimorphism. By comparison, a male Thrushmoor angler is roughly the size of an adult carp with skin covered in slime rather than scales. They are exclusively aquatic (until attached to a female) and rise only just above animal intelligence. The males have vestigial limbs unfeasible for traveling on land, plus a tiny glowing lure useful only for attracting smaller prey such as minnows, frogs, and small rodents.

Female Thrushmoor anglers prefer to hide themselves in dense brush, thick stands of river reeds, or within marshy shallows just out of easy reach of the shore. Fully amphibious and having lungs as well as the ability to breathe through their skin when submerged, they return to water only periodically, either to moisten their porous flesh, to digest larger prey, or to spawn. Given the females’ protracted periods away from deeper water and their relative rarity, male anglers use a form of sexual parasitism in which they latch onto and literally fuse with their larger partner’s body. What at first appear to be a scattered number of atrophied limbs are in fact up to a dozen males grown onto and feeding off of their mate, moving and wriggling as needed to aid in her ambulation and producing much of the slime coat that makes her movement out of water possible.

Lone hunters reliant on ambushes and luring humanoid prey, with half of their species driven by little more than base instinct, Thrushmoor anglers would seem to have relatively little society. Yet the female anglers speak fluent Aklo, and they converse and sing when they undergo their rare spawning periods in deep water. During these times, dozens of their kind gather together and fill the swamps with a dread burble and wail, made all the more eerie by the flickering ghost lights of their deadly lures and not-infrequent invocations to the Great Old One, Bokrug the Water Lizard. Mingling with the anglers’ calls and religious cries are the jarring sounds of their illusory lures, as the beasts take pride in showing off their most recent meals and reenacting victims’ screaming deaths—displays met by their fellows’ hideous laughter.