Previews07/06/2006


Previews for July and Beyond



REDSPAWN FIREBELCHER

A red-scaled, dragonlike creature lumbers toward you with surprising speed. As it opens its fearsome jaws to roar, you can see fire flare within.

Redspawn Firebelcher CR 6
Always CE Large magical beast (dragonblood, fire)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +5, Spot +6
Languages --
AC 18, touch 8, flat-footed 18
(-1 size, -1 Dex, +10 natural)
hp 84 (8 HD)
Immune fire, paralysis, sleep
Fort +11, Ref +5, Will +2
Weakness vulnerability to cold
Speed 40 ft. (8 squares), swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +12 (2d6+6 plus 1d6 fire)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +8; Grp +16
Atk Options Power Attack
Special Actions belch fire
Abilities Str 19, Dex 8, Con 21, Int 1, Wis 11, Cha 6
SQ Tiamat's blessing (fire)
Feats Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Focus (ranged touch)
Skills Jump +8, Listen +5, Spot +6, Swim +12
Advancement 9-16 HD (Large); 17-24 HD (Huge)

Belch Fire (Su) A redspawn firebelcher can belch fire up to 60 feet as a standard action. This is a ranged touch attack (attack bonus +7) with no range increment. An opponent hit by this attack takes 6d6 points of fire damage. Creatures adjacent to the target take 3d6 points of fire damage; a DC 19 Reflex save reduces this damage to half. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Tiamat's Blessing (Fire) (Su) All spawn of Tiamat within 5 feet of or riding on a redspawn firebelcher gain immunity to fire.

Skills A redspawn firebelcher has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line. Ferocious but stupid, redspawn firebelchers serve Tiamat's more intelligent spawn as mounts. When left to their own devices, they live like crocodiles, lounging around pools of lava instead of water.

Strategies and Tactics

Redspawn firebelchers immediately attack any creature that comes within charging distance, except other spawn of Tiamat and chromatic dragons. A redspawn firebelcher begins combat with its best form of attack: belching fire. It then charges the nearest foe and bites at it savagely, all the while looking for another opportunity to belch fire. It can use this special ability against enemies up to 60 feet away but is content to burn those within reach, especially if they are clustered together.

When used as mounts, firebelchers follow the commands of their riders. Although they are powerful swimmers, they prefer lava and avoid entering water unless ordered to do so.

Sample Encounter

Firebelchers can be encountered individually, but most of the time they form hunting groups of three to twelve. They also serve other spawn of Tiamat as mounts or guard beasts.

Hunting Party (EL 12): A party of twelve blackspawn raiders (see page 130) have commandeered a colony of redspawn firebelchers to serve them. The raiders are looking for a sect of dragon shamans (detailed in Player's Handbook II) dedicated to emulating silver dragons, but they readily attack other creatures.

The spawn divide into four smaller groups, each containing three raiders and a firebelcher: One blackspawn is mounted while the other two stay within 5 feet of the firebelcher at all times to gain immunity to fire. The spawn attack from four directions, with the riders first ordering their mounts to belch fire. The group then closes. In melee, the blackspawn raiders on foot try to flank enemies while staying adjacent to the redspawn to avoid damage from splashing flames.

Ecology

Redspawn firebelchers prefer extremely hot locales, particularly volcanic areas. They spend most of their days basking in the sun or sliding slowly through lava flows. This languid life belies the creatures' predatory nature and surprising speed.

When hungry, firebelchers explode into the countryside, setting fires as they incinerate anything larger than a rabbit that crosses their paths. Sometimes they ride the lava flows of volcanic eruptions, using these upheavals as an excuse to hunt and add to the destruction. Although firebelcher attacks are devastating, the nearby environment adapts to them, as it might to a volcano that periodically erupts.

A firebelcher consumes roughly its body weight in meat at one sitting, then returns to its lair. With a metabolism like that of dragons, it can survive up to two years on such a substantial meal. Redspawn firebelchers inherit red dragons' penchant for cruelty, though, and kill far more than they can eat.

Other, more intelligent spawn of Tiamat capture and train redspawn firebelchers as mounts. Although difficult to tame, firebelchers are receptive to the commands of other spawn -- often after eating a few. Such mounts are not allowed to eat their fill; hunger keeps them ferocious and prevents lethargy. Redspawn arcanisses (see page 152) most commonly use redspawn firebelchers, but blackspawn raiders and even greenspawn sneaks have been known to ride them into battle. No one has reported whitespawn riding firebelchers, but this is more likely due to their conflicting environments than to innate hostility.

Adult female firebelchers come into season once every three years, near the height of summer. Several males vie for the privilege of mating with a single female in conflicts that are bloody but rarely fatal. Once the female has conceived, she drives away the victorious male. She then lays a clutch of six to eight eggs, each about a foot long and weighing around 25 pounds. She conceals them with small rocks and debris and guards them against all intruders, including other firebelchers.

After a couple of weeks, the baby redspawn firebelchers break out of their shells, ravenously hungry. They eat anything they can see and overwhelm, including their siblings. Usually only one hatchling out of a clutch survives. The mothers and surviving young then go hunting. Young firebelchers gorge themselves on fresh meat and grow at a stupendous rate. They reach adult size after ten days, although they do not become fertile for another two years.

Environment: Redspawn firebelchers most commonly inhabit warm hills and mountains, but they can be found in any area with volcanic activity.

Typical Physical Characteristics: A redspawn firebelcher measures about 12 feet from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail. It is solidly built and weighs about 3,000 pounds.

Alignment: Redspawn firebelchers are stupid and destructive, embodying the worst traits of red dragons. They are always chaotic evil.

Typical Treasure

Redspawn firebelchers don't hoard treasure, and their fiery digestive systems destroy any small items of value they might consume.

For Player Characters

Redspawn firebelchers make interesting if challenging mounts. They are exceptionally ornery creatures and difficult to train. Only a very skilled trainer's rearing one from infancy has resulted in successful domestication. For all but the spawn of Tiamat, Handle Animal DCs with redspawn firebelchers increase by 10 and Ride check DCs increase by 5.

Because of the time and effort involved, a domesticated firebelcher mount costs 35,000 gp.

Carrying Capacity: A light load for a redspawn firebelcher is up to 350 pounds; a medium load, 351-700 pounds; and a heavy load, 701-1,050 pounds.

Redspawn Firebelchers in Eberron

Redspawn firebelchers live in the Menechtarun desert and the Skyraker Claws mountains of Xen'drik. Scholars speculate that they might once have been beasts of burden or guardian beasts for fire giants long ago, when giants were cultured builders.

Redspawn Firebelchers in Faerûn

Redspawn firebelchers inhabit many of Faerûn's mountainous areas, often in volcanic caverns hidden beneath snow-covered peaks. Many large colonies of firebelchers exist in the Crags near the Neverwinter Wood and in the Smoking Mountains of Unther. The creatures can also be found in a few areas near civilization. For example, Thraxata, a young adult red dragon, resides at the top of the Blood Horn in Deepingdale and encourages redspawn firebelchers to live near her lair.

REDSPAWN FIREBELCHER LORE

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about redspawn firebelchers. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Those who recognize the creatures' ancestry can also use Knowledge (religion) to learn more.

Knowledge (Arcana)

DC Result

16 This creature is a redspawn firebelcher, a ferocious magical beast related to red dragons. This result reveals all magical beast traits.

21 Redspawn firebelchers are vulnerable to cold and immune to fire, paralysis, and sleep. They live in volcanic areas but periodically leave them to hunt.

26 Redspawn firebelchers spit gobs of fire and have devastating, fiery bites. They possess the chaotic evil nature of red dragons and kill more than they can eat.

Knowledge (Religion)

DC Result

16 Redspawn firebelchers are some of Tiamat's spawn.

21 Redspawn firebelchers are used as mounts and guard beasts by other spawn of Tiamat.

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