Krelk CR 6
This pale humanoid seems frail and sickly, despite how it seems to shrug off devastating wounds.
NE Medium aberration
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13
DEFENSE HP 90
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +8; Ref +8; Will +7
Fast Healing 5
Defensive Abilities not quite dead, variable defense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +13 (1d8+8 B)
Ranged spit +16 (2d6+6 P)
Not Quite Dead (Ex)
When reduced to 0 hit points or lower, a krelk’s variable defense and fast healing will remain active for one minute, potentially returning them from “death.” Dealing damage to a krelk in this state disables both of these abilities for one round. Negative energy damage instead will disable them for one minute. This ability will not function if there is no body left.
Variable Defense (Ex)
Krelks have the unique ability to mutate their bodies in response to harm. Whenever they take damage or make a save, their defenses recalibrate to better protect against the most recent threat as a free action they cannot control.
They gain the following:
- DR 5 to the most recent type of physical damage they’ve taken ( bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing)
- ER 5 to the most recent type of energy damage they’ve taken (acid, cold, electricity, fire, force, negative energy, or sonic)
- +3 to the most recent save they’ve had to roll for (Fortitude, Reflex, or Will)
Organization single, cluster (2-15)
In most species, evolution has gifted them a particular ability meant to grant an advantage over specific circumstances or stressors they would face in order to better survive. This is not the case for the krelks. Rather than develop a single trait for a specific purpose they became an evolutionary jack-of-all-trades, capable of adapting as needed to survive. Every knife wound, gun shot, and poison they’re exposed to simply makes them better at defending themselves against it. As a result, krelks have gained a reputation for being ridiculously hard to kill.
The average krelk stands at about six and a half feet tall, with flesh so pale it appears nearly transparent. The specifics, however, tend to vary depending on how the krelk in question is currently adapted. A krelk adapted to defend against bludgeoning damage, acid damage, and Will saves may have chitinous subdermal armor, glands to quickly secrete neutralizing compounds, and a brain separated into multiple independent nodes, while one prepared against piercing damage, cold damage, and Reflex saves may have layers of shear thickening fluid between muscle and skin, chemical bladders that mix to create high heat compounds, and more efficient arrangements of muscles and tendons. Someone with enough experience with krelks can pick up on these differences to know what a specific krelks is currently adapted against, but to most the outward differences are distinctive but meaningless.
The reputation krelks have for being nigh unkillable is only partially deserved. It is most certainly true that few krelks die violent deaths, in large part due to their ability to bounce back from what should be mortal injuries. More than one person has thought a krelk dead and buried in a shallow grave only for the irate creature to dig its way out for revenge, though most will instead use such an opportunity to get away while any potential enemies still think they’re dead. However, their defense is drastically limited in two aspects. First, it functions defensively rather than proactively. Second, it can only defends against a single type of each category of damage. As such, those who’ve fought krelks more than once tend to be aware of this weakness. Because a krelk can only adapt to defend itself to a type of damage after it’s suffered a wound of the applicable type, its variable adaptation can be circumvented simply by never attacking with the same type of damage twice in a row. Such a tactic keeps the krelk on the back foot, relying entirely on its regeneration and armor class to defend itself. Their dependence on defense has also left them lackluster in the offense department, relying on their survivability to let them whittle down foes over time with their fists and needle-like spines fired from high pressure glands in their throats. As a result, the proper knowledge and tactics going into a fight against a krelk tends to end in decisive victory.
For their part, krelks are well aware of how their defenses can be overcome. Their culture depends heavily on their ability to survive, with fights to the “death” being a normal way to blow off steam and settle arguments, with the loser getting up no worse for the wear a few minutes later. Attacks and magic that prevent them from healing or manage to shut down their ability to come back from near-death are seen as the height of despicable behavior and even a rumor that someone has such capabilities will see every krelks who knows about it treating them with barely veiled hatred at best. This is less because of indignation that someone would dare be able to harm their kind and more a result of their intense drive for self-preservation. If possible, a krelk will always flee a situation it feels would be able to truly kill it. If such an option is unavailable to it or it has time to prepare for a situation, it will instead turn all of its resources to utterly annihilating whatever it feels poses a genuine threat to its life. This desire for survival also makes itself shown in their preference for magic and technology. Items meant to enhance survivability such as armor, healing spells, and resistance boosters are prized by krelks, with the second most popular items are powerful weapons under the mantra of “a good defense is a strong offense.”
Those who interact with krelks in a non-hostile environment will find them to be smugly self-satisfied with an undercurrent of cowardice. They believe their ability to survive and adapt to threats makes them more powerful than most other creatures, but that belief comes with a fear of anything or anyone who proves able to overcome this defense. A krelk who can’t simply run from such a person will quickly fall to sycophantic behavior in hopes of saving its own skin, all the while plotting to kill them and ensure the threat can never be a danger again.