Creature Feature: Skinshriek

Skinshriek CR 14

Skin rips and unravels, revealing a distorted skeleton barely anchored to the sheets and strips of skin that writhe around it.

XP 38,400
CE Large aberration
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +25


EAC 28; KAC 30
Fort +16; Ref +16; Will +14
Defensive Abilities stitched hide


Speed 60 ft.
Melee slam +27 (8d6+22 B)
Multiattack 2 slams +23 (4d8+22 B), 1 bite +23 (4d6+22 P)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 15 ft. 
Offensive Abilities flense


Str +8; Dex +3; Con +6; Int +1; Wis +1; Cha -2
Skills Stealth +30,  Athletics +25
Languages Aklo
Other Abilities snaring tendrils


Flense (Ex)

When a skinshriek is grappling a creature, it may attempt to rip the creature’s skin off. The grappled creature must make a DC 20 Fortitude save against this ability. On a failure, the creature becomes staggered and loses 1d12 hit points every round. This effect lasts until the creature is targeted by greater remove condition, mystic cure 6, or regenerate. It is similarly removed if the target dies and is resurrected. On a successful save, the target suffers no negative effects. This ability automatically succeeds against dead bodies.

Snaring Tendrils (Ex)

A skinshriek can extend long strips of its skin to snare protrusions in the terrain and pull itself towards them. A shinskriek’s movement can be in any direction regardless of footing, including though the air high above the ground, so long as it ends its movement within reach of a solid surface. If the surface is not underfoot, such as a wall or ceiling, it must make an Athletics check to cling to it with a DC determined by the climbing table applicable to the surface. Otherwise, the skinshriek does not need to make Athletics checks to climb surfaces when it uses this ability.

Stitched Hide (Su)

A skinshriek can add skin to itself, increasing its own mass and reach. The skinshriek can add the skin of a small or larger creature to itself as a full round action, gaining DR 1 and 10 temporary hit points for every skin added. This ability can stack with itself as it adds more skins, though the DR granted from this ability cannot exceed 10. Any attack that deals 25% of the skinshriek’s base health, looking at the post-DR amount rather than the original amount, destroys a single skin and removes its bonuses from the skinshriek.


Environment Any inhabited environment
Organization solitary or pair

The universe is filled with a great variety of horrible monsters, from parasitic fungi that grow within vital organs to half-corporeal titans who mangle whatever they pass through. But even among such monsters, the skinshriek is a thing of horror. Typically standing at least ten feet tall, a skinshriek looks like a patchwork collection of skin arranged in a gaunt humanoid form. Larger sheets of skin wrap and curl over the bones at the core, while longer ribbons of skin hang free, wrap around limbs like bandages, or serve as external pulleys to move the frail body hidden below the skin. From a distance, they are commonly mistaken as some kind of aberrant mummy, as their longer strips of skin mimic such wrappings as they wrap around the body and dangle from limbs and torso. It’s the constant shifting that usually gives them away, the “bandages” twisting in some unseen wind and groping towards the prey the creature senses.

A skinshriek is not entirely skin, though the vast majority of it is. Those who’ve managed to bring down and dissect one have found a skeleton beneath the many wrappings, bones stretched and gaunt to the point of frailty, too thin to support the weight of the skin they bear. The musculature only enforces this, withered and practically useless growths clinging to the bones. The ribcage lacks connections, simply a collection of curved bones the organs nest within simply by coincidence. Even then, the half-functioning organs are in sheaths of skin part of the larger collective rather than a cohesive system. Overall, it’s clear that such parts are not the major parts of the creature, but simply vestigial structures. Only the skull truly sees use, its single eye peering out through gaps in skin while its needle-like teeth snap at anything they can reach when the skin over the mouth tears open.

On the subject, biologists are quite certain that skinshrieks are collections of skin with unnecessary adaptations. Those who hunt them often make the mistake of thinking them weak because of this, but nothing could be further from the truth. Without a need for bones to support it, and with moving swathes of skin supplanting muscle for movement, a skinshriek can shrug off massive wounds simply because it has so few parts that are truly vital. There are recorded cases of skinshrieks being caught in shockwaves or thrown from great heights, only to walk away with a  clearly shattered skeleton. Truthfully, breaking their bones is not difficult due to their frail structure, and simply forcing them to support their weight on their limbs rather than skin can do the job. However, it is not unusual to see a skinshriek using longer strips of skin as pulleys to turn a broken bone into an extra joint without care for the pain it causes, making such a wound largely meaningless.

Were they simply horrible to look at skinshrieks would perhaps be left to roam free, but their behavior make such a possibility impossible. Skinshrieks hunt living prey exclusively, skinning their meal before cocooning it and drawing it into the core of their body. There, specialized swaths of skin secrete acid to break it down and absorb the nutrients, essentially a stomach capable of disassembly. This process is less efficient than a specialized organ, so skinshrieks must hunt often. While some will live their whole lives in the wilderness preying on natural creatures, those who encounter sentient beings invariably come to hunt such beings exclusively. The exact reason isn’t clear and attempts to ask them outright have failed, as skinshrieks prefer to communicate with each other through intricate patterned movements of skin strips and rarely learn traditional language. Theories range from a biological imperative meant to make them weapons of war to simple sadism. What is known is that they always skin prey after catching it but only eat one at a time, leaving the others to bleed out while the skinshriek watches impassively. As a result, reports of a skinshriek near a populated area are always met with hunting parties and kill teams.

About nwright

A freelance writer for the Open Gaming website who looks forward to building plots out of monster entries for you to enjoy as a player or DM.

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