Previews05/03/2007


Previews for May and Beyond



Kuo-Toa

These fishlike beings of the Underdark and the deeps inspire terror with their alien appearance and psyche. The cold, unblinking stare of their bulbous eyes and the horrific reek of decayed sea life that always hovers around them bring a chill to the spine of the most stalwart warrior. What goes on inside the inhuman minds of these cold-blooded creatures defies contemplation, and what ancient horrors they consort with in the deepest chasms of the world are better left unknown.

Whip

The scaly armor of this threatening creature only emphasizes its fishlike features. It wields a long staff equipped with a set of toothy pincers, and electricity crackles around the weapon's haft.

Whips are priests of Blibdoolpoolp, the Sea Mother, and devote their whole being to her worship. They lead kuo-toas in daily worship, ritual sacrifices, and military actions.

The whip presented here had the following ability scores before racial adjustments and Hit Die ability score increases: Str 12, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 14.

Strategy and Tactics

In battle, whips typically lead from the rear, rallying the kuo-toa soldiers and coordinating their movements. They use their spells to defend themselves, to augment their troops, and especially to watch for enemy spellcasters. Once they have identified spellcasting opponents, the whips immediately dispatch troops -- usually led by the fiercest monitors -- to attack them directly, thus providing a distraction that allows the whips to gain an advantageous position. Whips expect their followers to fight to the death if necessary to accomplish this end.

Once within range, whips coordinate to cast silence on the entire area containing enemy spellcasters. The sudden quiet signals the soldiers to disengage. The whips next start pummeling the enemy position with lightning bolts. After the initial barrage, they send their underlings back in to mop up the remaining combatants and close themselves to ensnare any still-living casters with their pincer staffs. They prefer to take captives alive if possible for their sacrifices to the Sea Mother.

Monitor

A scaled, fishlike being leaps at you, its webbed hands and feet thrashing in a blur of deadly motion.

Monitors are special kuo-toas trained as monks from the time they leave the fingerling pool. A rigid system of discipline and privation hardens their bodies and psyches to create emotionless guardians of the race.

The monitor presented here had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, Hit Die ability score increases, and equipment bonuses: Str 12, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 13.

Strategy and Tactics

Monitors are whirlwinds of fury in melee combat. An individual monitor attempts to quickly overcome his foes under an onslaught of attacks, using Paralyzing Fists when feasible. In battle, monitors serve as the field captains who command the troops, coordinating their movements with the tactics of the whips. Groups of monitors lead kuo-toa warriors in charges and attempt to stun, paralyze, or otherwise distract enemy commanders and spellcasters in order to soften them up for the whips' spells and lightning bolts.

Sample Encounters

Patrols of kuo-toas, led by whips and monitors, protect their hidden cities. Larger groups mount attacks against other Underdark dwellers.

EL 8-12: A typical patrol contains two to four kuo-toa warriors led by a whip. A squad might have up to a dozen warriors under the command of several monitors and whips.

EL 10: The whip described above leads a patrol of four kuo-toas to defend the precinct of the Sea Mother's temple.

EL 13+: Bands of twenty to fifty kuo-toas and their commanders raid other subterranean communities for slaves, sacrifices, and treasure.

EL 16: Two whips, four monitors, and forty kuo-toa soldiers (including five 3rd-level fighters acting as sergeants) form a raiding party.

Ecology

Once a dominant race in a time before the coming of the soft, warm-blooded peoples, kuo-toas have been in a millennia-long decline. As their numbers dwindle, they retreat ever farther into the world's roots. There they cultivate temples to Blibdoolpoolp in sunless, hidden lakes, plotting a glorious return to power.

Behind their bulging, emotionless eyes lurks an ice-cold fury. Dreams of vengeance against the soft ones fill kuo-toas' thoughts, and a thread of insanity runs deep through the psyche of the race. Its source could be the kuo-toas' long history of setback and decline, dark dealings in primordial times with beings of power and madness, or simply a recessive trait that occasionally surfaces. Whatever the cause, psychopathic episodes break out from time to time among kuo-toas, usually in the form of homicidal rages.

For some unknown reason, despite their animosity toward most humanoid races, the kuo-toas treat the drow as friends -- or at least useful allies. Only drow are allowed free access to kuo-toa temples and settlements, and they are virtually the only people the kuo-toas don't attack on sight. Likewise, kuo-toas are among the few races that the drow do not openly try to enslave. Despite this cautious peace, animosity does lurk below the surface between the two races, fueling a low-grade cold war that has gone on for centuries. Each side quietly attempts to undermine the other's power, and both lay claim to ancient Underdark sites. Lone drow or kuo-toas had best beware when among those of the other race, especially if their disappearance is unlikely to be noticed.

Environment: Kuo-toas prefer watery environments, although they can breathe air and water with equal ease. They hate bright light, so their settlements are at the bottoms of oceans or deep within the Underdark. They are cold-blooded, like the fish they resemble, so they prefer temperate climates.

Rumors persist of tribes of kuo-toas that have infiltrated humanoid communities by cross-breeding. These offspring resemble their humanoid forebears and blend into surface societies until they reach maturity, when they join the kuo-toas in the depths.

Typical Physical Characteristics: Kuo-toas look like bizarre hybrids of humanoids and fish. They have pallid, luminous eyes that bulge out at the sides of their heads, giving them exceptional peripheral vision. A mucous slime keeps them moist and also makes them extremely slippery, and they stink of rotting fish.

Kuo-toas spawn like fish, rearing their young in communal pools for the first year of life, until the fingerlings can breathe air.

A typical kuo-toa stands about 5 feet tall and weighs about 160 pounds. Its normal color is a silvery green, but it flushes deep red when angry and becomes very pale when surprised or frightened.

Alignment: Cold and cruel, kuo-toas would tend toward lawful evil alignment were it not for the taint of madness that infects the race. Like drow, the tension between their regimented society and individual ferocity leads them to be usually neutral evil.

Whip CR 9
Female kuo-toa cleric 5/Sea Mother whip[Und] 2
NE Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., keen sight; Listen +10, Spot +16
Languages Aquan, Drow, Kuo-Toan, Undercommon
AC 23, touch 13, flat-footed 21
(+2 Dex, +4 armor, +1 deflection, +6 natural)
hp 44 (9 HD)
Immune paralysis, poison; slippery
Resist electricity 10
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +16
Weakness light blindness
Speed 15 ft. (3 squares) in scale mail, base speed 20 ft.; swim 30 ft. in scale mail, base speed 40 ft.
Melee+1frost pincer staff +9/+4 (1d10+4 plus 1d6 cold) and
bite +3 (1d4+1)
Base Atk +6; Grp +8
Atk Options Combat Casting, punish the infidels, smite 1/day (+4 attack, +5 damage), smite nonaquatic creatures 1/day (+4 attack,7 damage)
Special Actions lightning bolt, rebuke undead 5/day (+4, 2d6+7, 5th), rebuke water creatures 5/day (+4, 2d6+7, 5th), spontaneous casting (inflict spells)
Combat Gear 3 potions of cure moderate wounds, potion of magic fang
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 7th; 1d20+9 to overcome SR):
4th -- control water[D], divine power, poison (+8 melee touch, DC 19)
3rd -- contagion[D] (+8 melee touch, DC 18), cure serious wounds, deeper darkness, prayer
2nd -- bear's endurance, hold person (DC 17), fog cloud[D], silence (DC 17), sound burst (DC 17)
1st -- cause fear (DC 16), deathwatch, divine favor, entangle[D] (DC 16), entropic shield, shield of faith
0 -- create water, cure minor wounds (2), detect poison, guidance, light
D: Domain spell. Deity: Blibdoolpoolp. Domains: Destruction, Water, Watery Death[Und]
Abilities Str 14, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 20, Cha 14
SQ amphibious
Feats Alertness[B], Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Great Fortitude, Spell Penetration
Skills Concentration +11, Escape Artist +6, Knowledge (religion) +11, Listen +10, Move Silently +1, Search +5, Spot +16, Swim +6
Possessions combat gear plus scale mail, +1 frost pincer staff, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, mother-of-pearl holy symbol
Keen Sight (Ex) A kuo-toa whip can spot a moving object or creature even if it is invisible or ethereal.
Slippery (Ex) Unaffected by natural and magical webs.
Light Blindness (Ex) Sudden exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds this kuo-toa whip for 1 round. In addition, she takes a -1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks when in bright light.
Pincer Staff (Ex) If this kuo-toa whip hits a Small to Large opponent with her pincer staff attack, she can attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If she wins the grapple check, she establishes a hold and deals 1d10+4 points of damage each round the hold is maintained.
Punish the Infidels (Sp) All foes within 30 feet who can see and hear this kuo-toa whip are affected as if by a doom[Und] spell (Will DC 16 negates); CL 2nd.
Lightning Bolt (Su) Two or more kuo-toa whips can generate a stroke of lightning every 1d4 rounds. The whips must join hands to launch the bolt but need merely be within 30 feet of one another while it builds. The lightning bolt deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per whip; a successful Reflex save (DC 13 + number of whips) halves the damage.
Skills Kuo-toas have a +8 racial bonus on Escape Artist checks and a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks.
A kuo-toa 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 when swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.

Society

The worship of the Sea Mother permeates kuo-toa society, and every community has at least one great temple to Blibdoolpoolp. The high priests of the Sea Mother wield absolute authority. Just below them are the dreaded whips, who enforce the will of the priest-nobility. They administer the temples and shrines and watch over pilgrims. The whips are also the planners of the race, managing long-term relationships with the drow, concocting plots against surface dwellers, and questing after long-lost, forbidden secrets of the lightless depths. Their influence prevents all-out war with the dark elves, fostering the strained alliance for the whips' own sinister purposes.

Kuo-Toa Lore

Characters who have ranks in Knowledge (nature) or Knowledge (religion) can research kuo-toas to learn more about them. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (nature)

DC Result

12 This is a kuo-toa, a fishlike being of deep waters and Underdark caves. This result reveals all monstrous humanoid traits.

17 Kuo-toas have excellent vision and can even notice the movement of invisible things. They are unaffected by paralysis and poison, and they are resistant to electricity.

22 Kuo-toas once controlled a vast empire, but their power waned as other races outnumbered them. They retreated into the oceans and the Underdark, where they now plot revenge.

Knowledge (religion)

DC Result

15 Kuo-toas worship Blibdoolpoolp, a terrible deity they call the Sea Mother.

20 The high priests of the Sea Mother completely dominate kuo-toa society. Clerics called whips enforce the Sea Mother's will and can produce lightning bolts by working together.

25 The Sea Mother's rites are unspeakably vile and cruel. The goddess especially delights in sacrifices of spellcaster by slow drowning.

War is only one strategy of the calculating kuo-toas. After many centuries of decline, they have learned the lessons of attrition and the dangers posed by the more fecund races. Thus, whips prefer to defend their communities through stealth, misdirection, isolation, and secrecy. Many kuo-toa settlements try to exist beyond the knowledge of the races living around them. However, when battle is forced upon them -- whether to further the agenda of the Sea Mother or defend the holy places from interlopers -- kuo-toas fight with a cold-blooded savagery.

Monitor CR 7
Male kuo-toa monk 5
LE Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., keen sight; Listen +8, Spot +12
Languages Aquan, Kuo-Toan, Undercommon
AC 25, touch 19, flat-footed 22
(+3 Dex, + 4 Wis, +1 deflection, +6 natural, +1 class)
hp 42 (7 HD)
Immune normal disease, paralysis, and poison; slippery
Resist electricity 10; evasion
Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +11 (+13 against enchantments)
Weakness light blindness
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares), swim 60 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +8 (1d8+3) or
+7/+7 (1d8+3) with flurry of blows and
bite +3 (1d4+2)
Base Atk +5; Grp +7
Atk Options Combat Reflexes, Paralyzing Fists, Stunning Fist 5/day (DC 17), ki strike (magic)
Combat Gear 2 potions of cure light wounds, potion of jump, potion of shield of faith +2
Abilities Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 11
SQ amphibious, slow fall 20 ft.
Feats Alertness[B], Combat Casting, Deflect Arrows [B], Great Fortitude, Improved Unarmed Strike[B], Paralyzing Fists*, Stunning Fist[B]
Skills Balance +7, Climb +7, Diplomacy +2, Escape Artist +11, Jump +4, Knowledge (religion) +2, Listen +8, Move Silently +7, Search +6, Spot +12, Swim +10, Tumble +8
Possessions combat gear plus amulet of mighty fists +1, ring of protection +1
Keen Sight (Ex) A kuo-toa monitor can spot a moving object or creature even if it is invisible or ethereal.
Slippery (Ex) Unaffected by natural and magical webs.
Light Blindness (Ex) Sudden exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds this kuo-toa monitor for 1 round. In addition, he takes a -1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks when in bright light.

The monitors are the police of kuo-toa society. They combat the destabilizing influence of the race's streak of insanity and enforce the social mores and practices of their ancient culture. These disciplined kuo-toas are generally not susceptible to the embrace of madness. Their training techniques are not always successful, though, and some of the most dangerous kuo-toas are monitors who have succumbed to insanity or teeter at its brink.

A primary duty of monitors is to locate and neutralize kuo-toas who have gone mad and to do so as quickly as possible. When they spot a kuo-toa who appears to have gone insane, they do not pause to ask questions to be sure. A monitor quickly overtakes a fleeing quarry and then attempts to paralyze the target by raining blows down on it. He then performs a coup de grace against the helpless individual. Insane kuo-toas are never allowed to live, for fear that they might further taint the tribe.

Typical Treasure

Kuo-toas have standard treasure for NPCs of their Challenge Rating. Whips are armed with their signature pincer staffs, usually magic, and carry potions and other magic items to enhance their command ability. Monitors favor magic items to protect them in combat, since they usually lead the assault. A temple to the Sea Mother is lavishly decorated with pearls and other gems, as well as with spoils taken from defeated enemies.

Kuo-Toa as Characters

See MM 164-165 for more information on kuo-toa society and characters, and Underdark 16 for a list of racial traits.

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