Encounter C4: The Hunter, from pg. 41 of Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, concerns a new creature and its mount:
A massive stag bears a humanoid-shaped rider wearing dark plate armor that is pitted with rust. The rider holds a lance at the ready, and a greataxe rests on the saddle in front of it. Most strikingly, the figure’s rune-etched helm floats inches above its shoulders, obviously and disturbingly detached from its armor.
While combat stats for the wild hunter and its magaloceros were provided on pg. 49, the full write-up for this duo is now provided below.
Wild Hunter CR 9
NE Medium fey
Init +8; Senses darkvision 90 ft., low-light vision; Listen +23, Spot +23
AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 19 (+3 Dex, +9 armor)
hp 110 (20 HD); DR 5/cold iron
Fort +8, Ref +16, Will +12
Speed 30 ft. in full plate (6 squares), base speed 40 ft., mounted speed 40 ft.; Ride-By Attack; rough charge, superior woodland stride
Melee ranseur +16/+11 (2d4+3/x3) or
Melee greataxe +16/+11 (1d12+4/x3) or
Ranged composite longbow +17/+12 (1d8+3/x3 plus 2d6 bow precision)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with ranseur)
Base Atk +10; Grp +13
Atk Options Blind-Fight, Mounted Combat, Spirited Charge, Trample
Special Actions horn of the hunt, rough charge, selected prey
Abilities Str 16, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 21
SA horn of the hunt, rough charge, selected prey
SQ master rider
Feats Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Track, Trample
Skills Handle Animal +28, Knowledge (nature) +25, Listen +23, Ride +32, Spot +23, Survival +23 (+25 in aboveground natural environ-ments)
Advancement by character class; Favored Class fighter
Possessions+1 mithral full-plate, composite longbow (+4 Str bonus), ranseur, greataxe, masterwork hunting horn
Bow Precision (Ex) A wild hunter is a deadly shot with its bow, dealing an additional 2d6 points of damage on every shot. Creatures immune to critical hits do not take this additional damage.
Horn of the Hunt (Su) As a standard action, a wild hunter can blow a terrifying blast upon its horn. Every creature within 60 feet, except wild hunters and their mounts, must succeed on a DC 25 Will save or be shaken for 1 minute. Creatures within 10 feet who fail their saves become frightened instead. Horn of the hunt is a sonic, mind-affecting fear effect. Whether or not the save is successful, a creature cannot be affected again by the same wild hunter’s horn for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Master Rider (Su) A wild hunter’s mount gains a deflection bonus to Armor Class equal to the hunter’s Charisma bonus (if any).
Rough Charge (Su) The wild hunter and its mount can charge across rough terrain and need not move in a straight line to do so.
Selected Prey (Su) Three times per day, as a swift action, the wild hunter can mark a single target within 60 feet as its prey by pointing at it. The hunter gains a +5 morale bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against its marked target for the next 24 hours. In addition, all critical threats made against that target are automatically successful, so every threat is a critical hit. The hunter may have only one creature se-lected at a time.
Superior Woodland Stride (Su) A wild hunter and its mount can move through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain at their normal speed without taking damage or suffering other impairments. This category includes thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are magically manipulated to impede movement.
Megaloceros (Mount) CR 6
Always N Large animal
Init +1; Senses low-light vision, scent; Listen +10, Spot +9
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 18 (–1 size, +1 Dex, +5 deflection, +4 natural)
hp 102 (12 HD)
Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +4
Speed 40 ft. (8 squares); Run
Melee gore +13 (1d8+7)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +9; Grp +18
Atk Options Powerful Charge, improved grab
Special Actions stampede, toss
Abilities Str 20, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 8
SA improved grab, stampede, toss
Feats Alertness, Endurance, Improved Toughness, Powerful Charge, Run
Skills Hide –3, Listen +10, Spot +9
Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a megaloceros must hit an opponent of up to Medium size with a gore attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can scoop up the opponent with its antlers and toss it aside.
Stampede (Ex) A frightened herd of megaloceroses can flee as a group in a random direction (but always away from the perceived sources of danger). The creatures literally run over any Large or smaller creature that gets in their way, dealing 1d12 points of damage for each five megaloceroses in the herd (DC 21 Reflex half). The save DC is Strength-based.
Toss (Ex) A megaloceros can vigorously shake any creature caught in its horns and fling it in a random direction. Resolve the toss as a bull rush maneuver (+9 check modifier), except that it does not provoke an attack of opportunity, since the megaloceros has already grabbed its foe before trying to toss it. The megaloceros does not need to move with its foe to throw it more than 5 feet. If the tossed victim wins the opposed Strength check, it remains in its current square, suffers no ill effects, and is no longer grappled. A tossed victim takes impact damage on landing as if it had fallen a distance equal to the distance it was tossed.
The wild hunter delights in hunting and killing—the more dangerous the prey, the more thrilling it is to chase. Each hunter rides a mount suitable for its environment, such as a megaloceros.
STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
The wild hunter initiates combat by blowing his horn. Then he selects a target, marks it, and attacks it with enthusiasm. In general order of preference, a wild hunter chooses mounted opponents, lightly armored and fast-moving prey, or a foe that has significantly injured him as a target. While the hunter prefers to pursue prey he has marked, he doesn’t take wild risks to get at it.
The wild hunter takes full advantage of his mount’s abilities and his own riding skills. In general, he feels no affection for his mount, considering it just another piece of equipment to be used as needed. Thus, although the hunter makes rea-sonable efforts to preserve his mount, he is nonetheless willing to place it in danger.
A wild hunter is usually encountered alone on a mount. On rare occasions, a hunting group forms to chase down excep-tional prey.
Lone Hunter (EL 10): The typical wild hunter encounter is just one hunter mounted on an advanced 12-HD megaloceros.
Flying Hunt (EL 12): Two wild hunters mounted on griffons provide an interesting three-dimensional encounter.
Like certain other kinds of fey, wild hunters have only one gender—male in this case. Formed from the primal energies sparking between hunter and prey, they don’t have a regular life cycle of conception, birth, life, and death. Wild hunters come into being fully formed in the Wilderness of the Beastlands. They neither age nor breed, and they live until slain.
Environment: Wild hunters are native to the Wilderness of the Beastlands and can be found on any of the three layers of that plane. Although they have no planar travel abilities of their own, wild hunters sometimes join other fey or outsid-ers for planar travel to locations that promise good hunting. When encountered outside the Beastlands, they have the ex-traplanar subtype.
Typical Physical Characteristics: A wild hunter appears as a male humanoid about 7 feet tall, weighing approxi-mately 180 pounds. It wears dark, pitted armor and is usually mounted. Its helmet floats a few inches above its shoulders but appears completely vacant.
WILD HUNTER LORE
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can learn more about wild hunters. When a character makes a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.
Knowledge (the Planes)
19 The rider is a fey creature mounted on a tough but otherwise ordinary animal. Both can see in low light.
24 Wild hunters are native to the Beastlands. Like other fey, they can be harmed only by cold iron. Their abilities focus on mounted combat.
29 A wild hunter can gain bonuses on attack rolls against a given target by marking it. The sound of his hunting horn inspires terror in nearby foes, and normal and magical terrain does not impede him.
Wild hunters are not people as much as forces of nature. They live to hunt, and the excitement of the chase and the thrill of the kill nourish and sustain them. They have no other motivations or passions.
A wild hunter uses his natural ability to handle animals to acquire a mount and upgrade it to superior mount whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Alignment: A wild hunter always has a neutral aspect to his alignment. Thus, an individual wild hunter can be lawful neutral, neutral good, neutral evil, chaotic neutral, or simply neutral.
Wild hunters don’t accumulate wealth. Each has one or two items of value—usually a high-quality weapon and/or suit of armor. This treasure is typically worth double the standard value for the wild hunter’s Challenge Rating.
WILD HUNTERS WITH CLASS LEVELS
Most wild hunters have little ambition beyond the immediacy of the hunt and the chase. Those that devote themselves to a class choose the path of fighter (their favored class), though some become barbarians instead. Few become rangers, since that class does not add much to their innate abilities.
WILD HUNTERS IN EBERRON
Native to Thelanis, the Faerie Court, wild hunters participate in court life, serving fey nobles as guards or simply enforcers. But most find Thelanis too quiet for their natural inclinations, so they travel to other coterminous planes. One legend tells of a band of wild hunters that prowls Shavarath, preying upon unwary travelers or stragglers from the armies massed there.
WILD HUNTERS IN FAERÛN
In the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, wild hunters are native to the Material Plane. They inhabit the less-populated areas of Toril where other fey dwell and spend their time avenging wrongs done to fey creatures. For example, they might hunt down the woodcutter who chopped down the dryad’s tree, or the adventurer who squashed the pixie for pulling one too many jokes. The philosophies and religious rites of the wild hunters blend the worship of Silvanus and Hoar in strange ways, revering nature while seeking retribution for harm inflicted on it. In addition to their normal weap-ons, a Faerûnian wild hunter carries two or three javelins of lightning.