Sandstalker CR 2
What looks like a cross between a scorpion and a lizard bursts from the dunes, sun glinting off its dark carapace and the stinger already arcing over its back.
N Huge animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, blindsense (movement) 10 ft.; Perception +7
DEFENSE HP 25
EAC 13; KAC 14
Fort +6; Ref +6; Will +1
Resistance fire 1
Speed 40 ft., burrow 15 ft.
Melee pincers +7 (1d6+7 S, grab), stinger +10 (1d6+5 P, fleshrot venom)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Str +5; Dex +2; Con +2; Int -5; Wis +1; Cha -1
Skills Athletics +12, Stealth +7, Survival +7
Fleshrot Venom (Ex)
A sandstalker’s stinger is loaded with a nasty payload of acid and venom. On a successful stinger attack, the target must make a DC 11 Fortitude check or be injected with fleshrot venom. If afflicted, this venom requires a DC 11 Fortitude save every turn. Every failed save causes it to progress one step down the Constitution poison track. Curing this affliction requires either three successful saves, which need not be consecutive, or one dose of antivenom derived from sandstalker saliva. The antivenom can be created using at least one bulk of saliva and a successful DC 10 Medicine check. A sandstalker’s body can be harvested for 1d4 bulk of saliva and 1d2 doses of fleshrot venom, each requiring a DC 13 Survival check to harvest.
Environment deserts, dry grasslands, any arid environment
Organization single, pair
Deserts are harsh places, no matter the world. Too little water and extreme temperatures make death an ever-present shadow, the kind that comes not from violence but from the inalienable failing of one’s own body. Weather conditions are unforgiving, ranging from scorching sunlight during the day to arctic temperatures during the nights. One can spend days wandering only to die without having seen another living creature in all that time. Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing living there. In such conditions, the war for survival between species is catapulted to extremes. Hiding from predators and the environment becomes a top priority, while those whose size makes that impossible instead fall back on being the deadliest thing in its immediate area. The sandstalker is an example of a creature that has taken both routes.
Sandstalkers originate from the sunward side of a tidally locked planet, far enough from the sun that the hemisphere became a scorching desert rather than a land of roiling magma and stone. On average, sandstalkers are around thirty feet long. Half of this length is their tail, which is curled up over their body in preparation to strike whenever they are aware of another creature nearby. Their bodies are covered in thick segmented carapace which serves as both armor against threats and a shield against heat, with coloration covering a wide variety of colors, mostly for camouflage or to offset the heat from the sun. Despite their insectile appearance, sandstalkers have only two pairs of legs. The back pair bears a set of broad claws, which serve both to help the sandstalker burrow backward into their boltholes and to provide additional stability on shifting sand. Their forelimbs are a pair of thick crushing pincers which are used to walk and dig as much as they are to attack prey. A sandstalker’s head is dominated by a set of beak-like mandibles that cover its piercing mouthparts, with several small beady eyes ringing it that nearly blend into the exoskeleton of its head. All along their back, sides, forelimbs, and tail, a sandstalker has several rows of chitinous projections that almost resemble a fish’s fins. These serve to break up the smooth carapace of their body and allow sand and dirt to more easily settle on top f them without sliding off.
Sandstalkers are the apex predators of their native environments. Their preferred hunting method is to simply burrow beneath the sand and lie in wait for prey. When they detect something passing by with their tremorsense, they burst from the sand to seize it in their pincers and sting it repeatedly. They will do their best to hold onto the victim and get in multiple stings, but one sting is all they really need. Some will even let prey go after delivering the first sting, avoiding wasting energy by struggling to hold onto the prey and simply following it until the toxin fully sets in and they die. It’s a curiosity that a sandstalkers venom actually acts more like a virus than any poison or toxin. The substance is composed of two parts, an acidic base and a specialized series of cells suspended within it. Once injected, the acid breaks down the flesh f the victim, which the cells quickly consume as raw material to replicate at an incredible rate. As a side effect and as waste products, the cells produce more acid, which damages more of the body, which lets the cells reproduce more quickly, and so on until the victim is melted from the inside out.
To avoid this fate themselves, sandstalkers have evolved a counteragent in their salvia to neutralize the acid and kill the cells. They tear open and drool onto any prey they kill with their venom in order to help cull the intensity before they eat it, increasing the likeliness that the saliva in their mouths will kill all of it. Sandstalkers are likewise adapted to prevent this process from growing out of control in the venom glands on their tail. Acid is regularly excreted to prevent build-up, causing their stingers to appear to be constantly dripping venom and garnering them a reputation as incredibly venomous creatures. Cells are likewise expelled alongside acid when their population grows too high or fed transferred nutrients if they begin to die off. A severe injury to the tail is as good as a mortal wound to a sandstalker, as damage in the right place will sever the nerves necessary to automatically control the levels of toxin in their stinger. Rather than risk their own toxin multiplying out of control and consuming them they will completely sever their own tail, leaving them without their greatest weapons and often dooming them to a slow death by starvation.