When it comes to monsters, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I like the simple stuff: undead, goblins, dragons. This week’s new Exotic Encounters looks at a primitive draconic creature with more avian features. The skyhunter is a terror in any skyscape, with massive powerful wings, the ability to spit clouds of lightning, and magical features to challenge players and provide a nice award for would-be dragon hunters.
This humongous draconic creature is covered in bright plumage in a variety of startling colors, ranging from ghostly white to shining coppery hues. Its claws are short and stunted, though it has a pair of wicked talons on its powerful hind legs. Its tail gracefully supports it in flight, and its toothy maw is filled with dark lightning.
SKYHUNTER CR 19
N Gargantuan dragon
Init +12; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +30
AC 34, touch 15, flat-footed 25 (+8 Dex, +1 dodge, +19 natural, –4 size)
hp 362 (25d12+200)
Fort +24, Ref +24, Will +18
DR 15/magic; Immune poison, sleep, petrification, stunning, lightning, SR 30
Speed 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (average)
Melee bite +30 (3d6+13), 2 talons +30 (2d6+9 plus grab) and 2 wings +30 (2d8+9)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks lightning cloud, razor wings, magical feathers
Str 28, Dex 26, Con 26, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 19
Base Atk +25; CMB +38; CMD 57
Feats Ability Focus (lightning cloud, razor wing), Dodge, Flyby Attack, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (bite, wing), Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Fly, Perception)
Skills Appraise +27, Fly +36, Knowledge (arcana) +27, Perception +36, Survival +30
Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic
Lightning Cloud (Su): The skyhunter can spit a roiling, lightning-filled cloud at a distance of up to 100 feet. The cloud fills the area in a 20-foot-radius spread. Any character that starts its turn within the cloud must succeed on a DC 32 Reflex save or suffer 10d10 points of electricity damage and be staggered for 1 round. A successful save halves the damage and negates the staggered effect. The cloud persists for 1d4 rounds, which is the same amount of time the skyhunter must wait between uses of this ability.
Magic Feathers (Sp): A skyhunter’s feathers carry the potent arcane magic that lies within all dragons, but in a more unstable, readily mutable form. These feathers can be manipulated by the skyhunter to use spells at its discretion. Up to 3 times per day, a skyhunter can pluck a single feather from its body as a standard action and imbue it with spell power. Doing so allows the skyhunter, or another character in possession of the feather, to draw on the power of the feather to cast a single spell from the sorcerer/wizard list as a spell-like ability. The spell must be chosen when the skyhunter plucks the feather, and may not later be changed. This ability can only be used once, and the feather immediately loses its potency after the spell is cast.
Once imbued with spell power, these feathers retain their magical potency for 24 hours, after which time they become mundane, though beautiful, feathers. The caster level for any spell cast in this way is 25th and uses the Charisma modifier of the creature casting the spell to determine its saving throw DC.
When a skyhunter dies, its magic is collected in a handful of its feathers, which begin to glow within 1d4 rounds of its death. 1d3 of these feathers function like the skyhunter’s normal magical feathers, with a random spell of at least 6th level being imbued within them. However, these feathers these do not lose potency until the feather is used to cast the spell stored within it. Another 1d20 feathers become imbued with magical power and function as feather tokens of a random type.
Razor Wings (Ex): A skyhunter's wings are razor sharp and it treats its wing attacks as primary natural attacks. Additionally, whenever it confirms a critical hit with its wing attacks, the target must make a DC 32 Fortitude save or suffer an additional 2d8+9 points of bleed damage.
The feathered skyhunter is a primeval ancestor of modern dragons and is thought by some to be the progenitor of draconic sorcerous power. Others claim the multihued creatures are common ancestors to all dragons. Massive aerial predators, skyhunters lack much of the subtlety and cunning of their modern ancestors, instead are driven by animalistic survival instincts. They are more likely to attack a creature to sate their hunger or defend their territory than for some more personal reason.
In antiquity, skyhunters were hunted almost to the brink of extinction by early mages looking to harvest their power. Some scholars believe that the modern scaled dragons emerged around this time as a mutation that denied poachers their prize and secured the dragons’ place in the future, but evidence to support this theory is somewhat lacking. Other scholars note some superficial similarities between skyhunters and couatls, though with the later being an outsider and the former a mortal creature, most dismiss the idea out of hand. For the rest, the exact relation between the creatures is cause for some debate, with many believing that the couatls actually begat the much more powerful skyhunter.