Shedskin Hulk CR 5
A massive creature lumbers towards you, its thick shaggy skin peeling off its body in strips to reveal more skin below.
DEFENSE HP 95
EAC 17; KAC 19
Fort +9; Ref +9; Will +4
Defensive Abilities slough skin
Speed 30 ft.
Melee claws +14 (1d6+8 S), bite +11 (1d6+5 P, vile bite)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Slough Skin (Ex)
A shedskin hulk is uniquely adapted to deal with toxins and environmental hazards. As a move action, it can shed its skin to end the effects of all poisons, radiation, and diseases. It can use this ability once a day without cost. Any further uses before one day has passed inflict 2d6 damage on the shedskin hulk.
Vile Bite (Ex)
A shedskin hulk’s mouth constantly dribbles with its own melted flesh. A successful bite by a shedskin hulk forces the target to save against any poisons, radiation, and diseases the sloughskin hulk is currently suffering. The DCs of these effects is determined by their original source. A shedskin hulk’s bite always has the bloodboil poison by default, though it looses this for 24 hours if it uses its Slough Skin ability.
Environment inhospitable environs, forests, swamps
Organization solitary, pair, cluster (3-5)
Intheria is a blasted world, wracked by radioactive craters, toxic fogs, and storms of parasitic spores. To walk there without protective gear is considered a death sentence. Even it’s own creatures find it inhospitable and stick to smaller areas of relative safety, leaving barren stretches where nothing lives but towering spires of mutant growth gorged on radiation. It’s from this land that the shedskin hulk arose, mutating from the apex predators that ruled the world of old.
Survival demanded adaptation, a way to survive the many hostile conditions of the world, and the shedskin hulk responded. Examining the creature shows its skin is roughly an inch thick, padded with additional fat and living tissue, and barely connected to the flesh below. The cause of this becomes clear when the hulk rips its own skin from its body, revealing an untouched skin below clinging tighter to its frame. The shedskin is constantly growing entirely new layers of skin, each itself thick enough to pass as the outermost layer and slowly displacing the outermost skin. The outer skin serves as a buffer, absorbing radiation, taking in diseases, and rooting spores while preventing such hazards from penetrating further. With the outer layer saturated in these hazards, the skedskin then rips it off entirely, allowing it to essentially start from a blank slate. This process usually occurs every few days in the wild, both due to the caloric draw of needing to replace the skin and the length of time before such hazards begin to penetrate to the next layer. This unique and horrifying adaptation allows the shedskin hulk to survive for days or even weeks in areas no other creature would dare to tread.
Such an adaptation is not quite a perfect system, however. Weak points in its body still exist, primarily the eyes and mouth, but even such weaknesses have been worked around. A shedskin’s eyes are not true eyes, closer to the light sensory organs of insects and not set into sockets. The gelatinous growths are rooted entirely in the skin with only the barest nerve fibers linking to the brain through the successive layers of eyes on layers below and are disposed of with old skin to reveal new eyes below. More than one hunter has discovered this feature to their dismay, attempting to blind it only to find another eye beneath it. The mouth is larger problem as it still needs to breathe and eat, especially since its own contaminated skin is often the best source of nutrients to grow new layers. To get around this, the linings of its mouth, throat, stomach, and lungs are constantly dissolving and regenerating to stay fresh, with the liquid detritus constantly being expelled through the mouth so as not to expose its other organs to the contaminants by processing them. This slurry of flesh and contaminants drips constantly from its mouth, infecting the wounds left by its bite. Collectively shedskin hulks are often mistaken for diseased creatures, with their skin falling off, a hacking cough to expel their own melted lungs, and a constant stream of fluid pouring from its mouth. Such a mistake could prove fatal, as they are no less dangerous for their supposed weaknesses.
Shedskin hulks usually live in areas no other creature would go, using natural hazards to ensure their lairs remain undisturbed. Technically they can live in such areas permanently, but rarely do so due to lack of food. There are exceptions in places with durable plant populations or accessible sources of growth, but they usually hunt in less dangerous areas before withdrawing into the surrounding wastelands with their prey. Shedskin hulks are always hungry due to the caloric draw required to make new skin, an impulse that simultaneously makes them lazy so as to avoid burning more energy on a hunt. Many species have taken to exploiting this, leaving the bodies of their dead for as shedskin to eat and prevent it from hunting them. Explorers may notice this, but hanging around such an area may cause the hulk to mistake them for food when it comes for its meal.
Shedskins have been exported to other planets due to their high survivability in most environments. Their survival has been a mixed bag depending on the area. In areas without hazards they stop shedding their skin as often, dulling their hunger on more easily accessible food. At the same time, they are usually unable to compete with other predators in environs where natural hazards don’t work to their favor. As a result, they actually survive best on hazardous planets, more at home in areas of high radiation and deadly mold than temperate forests and grasslands.