Cave Creeper CR 6
A chittering shriek echoes though the tunnels as something rushes forward on six scuttling legs, acid spraying from its gaping fanged jaws.
CN Medium magical beast
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, blindsight (scent) 10 ft.; Perception +18
DEFENSE HP 80
EAC 18; KAC 19
Fort +5; Ref +7; Will +11
Speed 30 ft., climb 10 ft.
Melee bite +14 (1d6+11 P + acidic maw)
Multiattack 2 claws +12 (1d4+8 S), bite +12 (1d4+9 P + acidic maw)
Offensive Abilities acidic maw
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)
Str +5; Dex +2; Con +0; Int +3; Wis +0; Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +13, Athletics +18, Intimidate +13, Sense Motive +18, Stealth +18
Languages Common, one other language (can’t speak)
Other Abilities compression
Acidic Maw (Ex)
The mouth of a cave creeper constantly drips with acid, making their bites even nastier. Whenever a cave creeper successful hits with a bite attack, it makes an additional attack against the target’s EAC at +12. On a hit, the target takes 1d8+6 acid damage.
Environment caves, cities, space stations, other environments with many small passages
Organization single, infestation (3-10)
Pests are an unavoidable part of life in any situation. From the primitive clay huts of a race still figuring out agriculture to self-contained cities floating in the void of space, there will always be something that manages to live in the cracks and holes. For the most part, such creatures are either harmless or something easily dispatched by exterminators. This is not the case for cave creepers. When standing on their hind legs, a cave creeper can be up to eight feet tall, though they spend most of their time crawling on all six of their limbs. All six limbs end in clawed appendages that are primarily used to grip and climb sheer surfaces but are equally useful to gut prey. Their entire bodies are covered in a durable exoskeleton, save for their semi-exposed joints and clusters of eyes.
Cave creepers evolved on a world where the surface was fraught with radiation from a dying star and a toxic atmosphere, leaving the caves the only place shielded from the glare of the sun and filled with the heavier breathable atmosphere. In such environments, megafauna had no opportunity to evolve, as a large size would be a detriment to survivability in the cramped spaces. Instead, life developed on a smaller scale, filling with a wide variety of smaller animals. Cave creepers rose to the top of the food chain, larger than both their prey and their competitors. However, even this average size would be an encumbrance, so they adapted around it. Rather than regress to a smaller scale, their exoskeleton developed a series of hidden seams and joints to allow the cave creepers to compress themselves and squeeze through smaller openings that a solid exoskeleton could not. This adaptation came in useful when they encountered the first exploratory starships to their world, allowing them to hide in much smaller spaces in the cargo hold, between bulkheads, and in air circulation vents. These stowaways remained hidden long after the ship returned to civilization, making their way to other ships and spreading all over inhabited space. By the time they were discovered and traced back to their homeworld, full-scale colonization was already underway and many thousands had managed to make their way to other worlds in the many ships going to and from. Now they’re a persistent menace, capable of hiding nearly anywhere and preying on anything that catches their eye.
Despite their animalistic origins, cave creepers are actually highly intelligent. This is not, however, a fact they advertise. They use their understanding of language and telepathic abilities to evade capture and outsmart hunters who think them merely dumb beasts, but they very rarely do anything that openly displays their intellect. More than one exterminator has cursed dumb luck that the cave creepers never seem to be where they look when in actuality the creepers have been listening to their conversations and their thoughts to stay one step ahead. This intelligence also comes into play if they deem a threat too large to simply evade or ignore, setting themselves to turn the tables and kill their would-be killers. Their mental powers allow them to keep in constant communication and hold to a level of cohesion and cooperation that even trained soldiers couldn’t hope to achieve. Using their skill at stealth, abilities to move through small spaces, and power to quickly spread information through the whole group, they set up entire encounters and skirmishes to manipulate their prey into an arena that best suits them. Such encounters typically begin with an opening barrage of mental blasts to weaken their prey, followed by a few skirmishers should that fail to finish them off, quickly withdrawing if it looks like they’ll recover. Anyone who’s ever hunted cave creepers before will make it a point to avoid following them when they retreat, as this is often a trick to lure the would-be hunter into a cramped passage where the cave creepers can attack unimpeded while the prey is stuck.
This intelligence does not apply solely to battle, but also in culture. The cave creepers have no name for themselves, as their telepathic method of communication means they simply refer to themselves as something most easily phrased as “all-us.” They also have no technology of their own, as they never had the need to develop weapons or armor. Despite this lack of independent technology, they can easily pick up the basics of any technology shown to them. If given the choice they often eschew learning computers or weapons in favor of medicine. They seem fascinated by being able to heal wounds and diseases, though some will prefer to learn to use computers or firearms. This teaching is rarely given but rather stolen as the cave creepers observe the technology’s use from hiding while using their telepathy to learn their function from the operator’s mind.
Besides technology, they also have a religion based on their innate ability to call on the spirits of the dead to make their corpses babble. They do not view this as calling on the spirits of the dead, but rather invoking an entity they call the Speaker Beyond to talk to them through the medium of the dead. They will save the bodies of any being capable of speech, forcing the corpse to babble so that they may hear their god’s words. For some this curiosity consumes them, leading them to gather around corpse for hours and force it to speak over and over so that they may hope to glean some deeper meaning from its voice. This is occasionally exploited by the cruel or cunning, whether by using disposable accomplices as sacrifices to distract the cave creepers with their bodies or by offering bodies in exchange for an alliance. Several sects exist among the creepers based on how best to entreat their god. One believes in gathering many bodies at once to speak in unison, with deeper truths only being revealed through the chorus of the dead. Another believes that by consuming the body’s lungs and voice box as it speaks, a creeper can take the voice of their god into themselves and gain a fraction of its power. Others are more pragmatic, using bodies as simply a source of information on what the body knew in life, nothing more. Some cave creepers will take a liking to certain bodies, tearing off their heads to carry with them like favored pets. Such creepers tend to consult their collective heads on matters of importance, reading into the frenzied babbling as portents to guide them.