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Shrike Worm

Iridescent spines cover the back of this enormous, long-legged worm. Writhing tentacles sprout from its throat, below a circular, toothy maw dripping with luminescent spittle.

Shrike Worm CR 15

Source Pathfinder #114: Black Stars Beckon pg. 90
XP 51,200
NE Huge aberration
Init +7; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +29
Aura impossible form (100 ft., DC 27)

Defense

AC 29, touch 11, flat-footed 26 (+3 Dex, +18 natural, –2 size)
hp 231 (22d8+132)
Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +17; +6 vs. illusion
Defensive Abilities illusion sense; DR 10/magic; SR 26

Offense

Speed 30 ft., air walk
Melee 2 claws +24 (1d8+9), 6 tentacles +22 (1d6+4 plus grab)
Space 15 ft., Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks impale, phantasmal slime (DC 27, once every 1d4 rounds)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +21)
Constant—air walk
3/day—hallucinatory terrain (DC 20), persistent image (DC 21)
1/day—scintillating pattern (DC 24)

Statistics

Str 28, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 7, Wis 19, Cha 23
Base Atk +16; CMB +27 (+31 grapple); CMD 40 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Following Step, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Lunge, Multiattack, Step Up, Step Up and Strike, Toughness, Weapon Focus (claw), Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Perception +29, Survival +29
Languages Aklo (can’t speak)

Ecology

Environment any land or underground
Organization solitary, pair, or delusion (3–5)
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities

Illusion Sense (Ex) Shrike worms can sense illusion magic, rendering it less effective against them. A shrike worm gains a bonus on saving throws against illusion spells and effects equal to its Charisma bonus, and it does not need to examine or interact with an illusion in order to attempt a saving throw to disbelieve it.

Impale (Ex) If a shrike worm begins its turn with a creature grappled with its tentacles, it can attempt a grapple combat maneuver check as a free action to try to impale the grappled creature on one of the spines on its back. If the shrike worm succeeds, the grappled creature takes 6d6+18 points of damage and is pinned. Once a creature is impaled, it loses the grappled condition and the shrike worm can use all of its tentacles without penalty. A shrike worm can have up to six Medium or smaller creatures impaled on its spikes at a time. An impaled creature can remove itself from a spine by succeeding at a combat maneuver or Escape Artist check as normal. A creature that is removed from a shrike worm spine (either by its own efforts, those of its allies, or magic) takes 3d6 points of bleed damage and is sickened for 1d4 rounds.

Impossible Form (Su) Any creature within 100 feet of the shrike worm that can see it must succeed at a DC 27 Will saving throw or become fascinated for as long as the creature remains within range of this ability. A creature that fails its save believes the shrike worm is a hallucination or an illusion; the shrike worm’s approach does not constitute an obvious threat and does not break this fascination effect. The fascination effect ends as normal if the shrike worm attacks or interacts with the affected creature or its allies. A creature that saves against a shrike worm’s impossible form aura is immune to it for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Phantasmal Slime (Sp) As a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, a shrike worm can spew from its mouth a 30-foot cone of scintillating color that infects the minds of those it touches. This functions as per phantasmal web (DC 21), except that a creature that fails its save believes it is caught in threads of sticky, luminous slime infested with diminutive shrike worm larvae. The shrike worm can use this ability once every 1d4 rounds. A creature that realizes the slime is illusory gains a +4 bonus on saves to resist subsequent uses of this ability.

Shrike worms are insidious creatures from the edges of reality, and are able to blur the boundary between what is real and unreal in order to take their prey by surprise. Also known as hallucination worms, they are most often called shrike worms due to the method by which they kill their prey. When a shrike worm catches a creature in its tentacles, it then impales its victim on its iridescent back spines, pinning the creature in place in order to prolong its prey’s suffering as much as possible.

Shrike worms grow to over 25 feet long and, despite weighing upward of 16,000 pounds, carry themselves about with surprising grace on their long legs. This lends their movements an unearthly quality, which is further enhanced by their magical abilities.

Ecology

Shrike worms are superficially similar to mundane velvet worms, though they are much larger and exhibit a cruel intelligence that their mundane cousins lack. Much like velvet worms can spray sticky slime to capture prey or fend off predators, shrike worms can emit phantasmal slime, which entangles and sickens the weak minded. Shrike worms use this ability when overwhelmed or surprised, trapping potential aggressors in their own delusions until the shrike worms can either regain the upper hand or flee.

However, shrike worms’ primary hunting tool is their bizarre appearance. Shrike worms are so strange looking and so suffused with illusion magic that they appear to be illusions to most creatures. The worms take advantage of this trait to keep potential prey from fleeing or attacking before the worms can move into an ideal attack position. A worm’s victim realizes its error only in time to feel the worm’s grasping tentacles lifting it toward the terrible spines along the creature’s back.

Much like shrikes, shrike worms impale their prey because they have trouble consuming fresh corpses. Their mouths are small and poorly adapted to chewing through skin and bone, so they impale their prey on their back spines and wait for it to decompose and soften. This can take some time, particularly as creatures may not die immediately upon being impaled—but the shrike worm is capable of going without food for long stretches of time and does not mind waiting for its dinner to ripen. Even when more palatable food is available, shrike worms prefer to hunt hardier creatures, for they savor the suffering that comes with the creatures’ prolonged and painful deaths.

Shrike worms do not reproduce sexually and have no gender. When a shrike worm achieves sufficient size, it splits itself, producing two identical offspring. These two spawn shrike worms are ravenous upon formation, and usually part ways so as not to compete for food as they mature. However, sibling shrike worms often seek each other out once they’ve reached adulthood, almost as though they feel incomplete in each other’s absence.

Habitat and Society

Though they are often encountered alone due to their rarity, shrike worms are not overly solitary creatures. They seem to enjoy each other’s company, although it isn’t clear whether, or to what extent, they can communicate. Their fondness for company may be a matter of hygiene, as groups of shrike worms preen each other, picking pieces of bone and rotting flesh from the gaps in their carapaces. In this way, shrike worms display their social hierarchy, with the oldest and strongest worms being the recipients of the most attention from their peers.

Shrike worms lair in remote places, often seeking out areas exposed to powerful or long-lasting illusions. For example, permanent hallucinatory terrain or large illusory wall effects attract shrike worms like moths to a flame. Shrike worms are also often found in areas afflicted by legacies of madness, such as abandoned insane asylums or villages destroyed by plagues of mental illness. Some believe that shrike worms are actually responsible for such bouts of insanity, claiming that repeated exposure to the sight of the impossible worms can shatter minds and drive people mad.

While shrike worms enjoy each other’s company a great deal, they treat almost all other creatures as mere food. They understand Aklo and are willing to deal with wicked fey or other powerful tricksters, but they never offer their services to such creatures for free. Those who wish to employ a shrike worm’s abilities must pay, usually by providing the worm a steady supply of victims.

Derros are an exception to this trend. As creatures of madness, derros attract shrike worms whenever they dwell in one place for too long or build large communities. While some shrike worms simply devour the derros en masse, cleverer worms take advantage of their ability to dominate the smaller creatures and instate themselves as false gods among the derros. These shrike worms use their illusory magic to answer their subjects’ prayers and to relay their commands, and they tend to grow fat and lazy as the derros supply live sacrifices to placate their strange and impossible gods.