From the Journals of Krenn Elias, Court Anthropologist
It has been many months now since I began to journey around these fey lands, searching for elementals. Today I commence my last expedition with a heavy heart. As I depart my family estate, I leave behind a grieving aunt and the remains of my cousin, my former assistant. The knowledge that we gained of the hoarfroster will be of great interest to the queen. I know that she will reward the family for our sacrifice. That will be a small comfort to my aunt.
We are in the middle of the Palewood forests. Occasionally, we meet hunters and other forest dwellers. In return for news from court and tales of our travels, they give us information about the last elemental we seek. A race of creatures known among the fey as "Bile Wrapped in Beauty" and by some human barbarian settlers as "acid spitters" dwells beyond these forests, in the Palewood swamps to the west. Their true appearance is said to be horrific, but they allegedly possess the ability to hide their shape behind a pleasing form. Using this subterfuge, they get close enough to attack. The results can be quite deadly.
We ran into another party of hunters today. One had survived an acid spitter's attack. She told me it ruined her best sword. Then she showed me her back and arms. They were covered with large patches of shiny red skin, all shriveled and pock-marked where the acid had burned deep. The scars look very painful.
We are coming to the end of the forest. The trees grow farther apart, and moss and mold replace leaves. Occasionally, our path is blocked by water, murky and vile-looking, that forces us to carefully backtrack and find another way. The guide says that it is not safe to wade in these waters, and I am inclined to agree.
Being in this swamp day after day is making everyone a little nervous. We have been warned of other dangerous creatures besides the acid spitter: some sort of carnivorous serpent/insect hybrid called a chuul, which submerges itself in swamps to wait for victims, and a type of ooze that disguises itself as a puddle of water. Since we in a swamp, there are puddles everywhere. I find myself constantly staring around me, watching the water for movement. I will be glad to get out of this dank land.
We have wandered around in circles for days now, and still see no sign of an acid spitter. I know the creatures live here, yet I cannot find any traces of them. The little bits of information that have been recorded about them state that they are drawn to creatures of beauty. I have decided to test that theory. Tomorrow I will case a glamour spell on myself. I plan to sit in a clearing a few lengths away and play my flute. Perhaps the noise and the results of the spell with entice an acid spitter to show itself. My companions will hide nearby; keeping watch to ensure no harm comes to me.
Day 425 (Written in a different hand)
I am dictating these observations to my guide, O'raan. She has agreed to help me until my hands heal. While I eventually should regain full use of them, I fear I will always carry the scars of my journey in pursuit of knowledge.
My plan worked: I did encounter an acid spitter. Unfortunately, the meeting had unforeseen and painful results.
I sat in the clearing, playing my flute hour after hour. Around midday, I saw what looked to be a traveler walking through the swamp towards me. Our party had not seen another soul in several days, so I was a bit surprised and wary. I called to him in greeting. He responded in a friendly tone, answering me in Common. I recall thinking that he appeared a good-looking chap. A respectable fey. His clothes were shades of greens and browns, appropriate for a traveler.
I asked what he was doing in these swamps. He stated that he was looking for ruins, and had found a fascinating one a day's journey away. He held out something as he walked towards me. He said it was an artifact from the ruins. I walked towards him, still cautious but interested in seeing what a fellow explored had discovered. As I approached him, one of the guides ran into the clearing, screaming at me to stay back.
Before I could move, the hunter's guise fell away, and there stood a horrific creature, all mottled gray and purple. His skin seemed to drip with pus and other fluids. I tried to turn, but he lunged at me and grabbed my hand. Unbelievable pain shot through my body. I struggled to escape, but he gripped my arm, burning right through my clothing.
One of my guides hacked at the creature with a sword, which only caused the sword to disintegrate. Fortunately, O'raan had prepared for this possibility, and had several staffs and arrows ready to be lit. When the fire contacted the acid spitter's skin, he shrieked and let go of me. I managed to limp away and let the others finish the battle. Faced with the flaming weapons, the acid spitter chose to retreat back into the swamp. I was quite happy to see it go. I may not have discovered much about these creatures, but I do know that they should be left to fighters, not scientists.
My journey is ended, and I have presented my notes to the queen. She rewarded me generously. My house and matriarch are pleased with the notoriety my quest has gained our house. My sister should have no problems becoming a lady-in-waiting now.
I have decided that I am more suited to a life of scholarship, not exploration. I am not sure that rewards are worth all that I have faced on my journeys. I believe I will leave the next quest to a hardier, more gullible subject. I am content with my books, and my new position in the court.
Bile Wrapped in Beauty
Hit Dice: 8d6 (28 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 18 (+4 Dex, +4 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+6
Attack: Slam +8 melee (1d4+3 plus 2d6 acid)
Full Attack: Slam +8 melee (1d4+3 plus 2d6 acid)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Acid flesh, acid spray, improved grab
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/cold iron, immunity to acid, low-light vision, mending, reflective disguise, vulnerability to fire
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +10, Will +6
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 16
Skills: Bluff +14, Diplomacy +5, Disguise +14 (+16 acting), Escape Artist +15, Intimidate +5, Listen +6, Speak Language (Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Orc, Sylvan), Spot +11, Survival +11, Use Rope +4
Feats: Dodge, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Environment: Temperate swamps
Organization: Solitary, pair
Challenge Rating: 5
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: 3
A traveler in simple garb approaches.
Biles wrapped in beauty, also known as acid spitters, are thoroughly evil and wantonly destructive. They enjoy inflicting pain and suffering upon other creatures.
The origin of these creatures remains mysterious despite the efforts of several scholars to determine it. Many theorists dispute any connection between fey and the hideous acid creatures. Nevertheless, testing with bane weapons and cold iron show them to be very much fey.
In its natural form, a bile wrapped in beauty looks like a hideously deformed human covered with oozing sores. Clothing proves a challenge for a bile wrapped in beauty. Most materials rot and disintegrate after only a day or two's wearing. Special care and treatment with wax and herbal-infused oils or daily application of a mending spell can extend the utility of the item for up to a month.
Acid spitters speak Common. Though not exceptionally intelligent, they have an innate ability to learn languages (Speak Languages is always considered a class skill). Most learn several to facilitate their disguises.
A bile wrapped in beauty prefers to attack characters who wear light or no armor. It endeavors to use its reflective disguise ability to get close to its target and then initiates a grapple. If beset by multiple foes, it uses its acid spray ability to cause as much damage as possible. Vulnerable to fire, a bile wrapped in beauty often chooses to flee if confronted by open flames.
Acid Flesh (Ex): The skin of a bile wrapped in beauty oozes a highly acidic pus. Merely touching or being touched by the creature automatically deals 2d6 points of acid damage. A metal weapon that deals damage to a bile wrapped in beauty takes 4d6 points of acid damage with no saving throw.
Wooden, stone, and other nonmetallic weapons are unaffected.
Acid Spray (Ex): Once per day, a bile wrapped in beauty can spray acid in a 20-foot cone, dealing 4d6 points of acid damage to everything in the area.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a bile wrapped in beauty must hit a creature one size larger, the same size, or smaller than itself with its slam 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.
Mending (Sp): At will, a bile wrapped in beauty can use mending per the spell.
Reflective Disguise (Sp): At will, a bile wrapped in beauty can use reflective disguise as per the spell (see below).
Level: Bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Duration: 10 minutes/level
A reflective disguise spell causes any intelligent creature viewing you to perceive you as the same species and gender as itself, provided that its size category is no more than one away form your own. The viewer sees your clothing and equipment as they would normally appear; the spell changes only perceptions of race and gender. Reflective disguise does not give you any knowledge of the abilities or mannerisms of the reflected form, nor does it alter the perceived tactile (touch), audible (sound), or olfactory (smell) properties of your or your equipment.
A creature that interacts with the glamer gets a Will save to recognize it as an illusion. For example, a creature that touched you and realized that the tactile sensation did not match the visual one would be entitled to such a save. A creature with the scent ability automatically gets a Will save if you are within its scent range. Spell resistance also applies to this effect.
Reflective disguise was first published in Underdark.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel is a managing editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent work includes editing and additional development for the revised Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. Editing credits include Fiend Folio, Faiths and Pantheons, Oriental Adventures, and Magic of Faerūn. Design credits include the Book of Challenges and Dragon Magazine articles. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Also, check out the website she created for her husband, Andy Collins at www.andycollins.net.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry ten years ago. Since then she has worked for three game manufacturers and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.