||Blood-red spines run the length of this frightening creature, which resembles a lobster in the front and an eel in the back.
Reefclaws are vicious predators. They possess greater intelligence than animals, but rely mainly on their strength and instincts to survive. They hunt fish, giant crabs, dolphins, and even land-dwelling creatures that come within a hundred paces of the water.
In populated areas, reefclaws prey on beachcombers, divers, and fishermen, sometimes abandoning their usual solitary nature and coordinating attacks with other reefclaws. The creatures must be wary, however, because in some regions, these abominations find their way to the dinner plate. Brave fishermen troll bays and coastlines infested with reefclaws, baiting the creatures with fresh meat and then harvesting their powerful claws with axes.
Reefclaws cannot speak, but the creatures understand the languages used by humanoids near their hunting grounds. They use this knowledge in order to avoid fishermen and coordinate attacks. Reefclaws keep no treasure, instead savoring the taste of flesh and crunch of bone and shell as much as a miser covets his gold.
A typical reefclaw reaches approximately 3-1/2 feet long at adulthood and weighs 70 pounds. Females gather to breed once every 2 to 3 years, engaging in a predatory hunt for a male and leaving him shredded to pieces.
Ferocious hunters, reefclaws terrorize both coastal waters and major rivers, feeding voraciously on fish, crustaceans, dolphins, and even land mammals come to riverbanks to drink. Once a reefclaw latches onto a victim it stays attached until either it or its prey is dead.
Reefclaws were originally created to act as guardians in moats and rivers but they occasionally escaped their servitude to become legendary terrors of coastal villages.
Reefclaws understand the most prevalent language used near their lairs (usually Common), but they lack the ability to speak and they cannot normally read.
Although they were created unnaturally, reefclaws fill the niche of ferocious high-end aquatic predator. Since their creation more than 10,000 years ago, reefclaws have spread widely. Less picky than jigsaw sharks and more powerful than violin crabs, reefclaws pose a danger to any who work along or in coastal and river waters. More pearl divers die each year to reefclaws than to every other predator combined.
Reefclaws mostly live as solitary creatures, although females sometimes gather in groups called harems. These harems form among females ready to mate (which occurs once every 2 or 3 years). When a harem finds a male ready to reproduce, the group descends on the lone male and rips him open, forming a cloud in the water through which the females swim multiple times. When they finish their flurry, the females then feed on the rest of male’s body. A harem repeats this process four of five times over a month’s period, then disbands while the impregnated reefclaws gestate. After 3 months, a female lays tens of thousands of eggs, less than 1% of which make it to adulthood.
Reefclaw meat is considered a delicacy in many cities, although many more discerning folk argue that the consumption of reefclaw is immoral, as these creatures are far from unintelligent. These arguments typically fall on deaf ears—enough so that reefclaw fishing remains a profitable, if dangerous, career.
The classic method of catching reefclaws requires at least two fishermen. A hook at the end of a heavy chain is baited with a haunch of meat and then thrown over the side of a boat and allowed to float a few feet off the sea floor. When a reefclaw clamps onto the meat and attempts to retreat to its lair, the chain jerks and one fisherman can then winch it up, pulling the reefclaw alongside the boat’s edge. The second fisherman then hacks off the reefclaw’s claws, which remain affixed even in death to the bait, allowing the body (whose meat is generally considered to be unpalatable) to drop back into the sea. Skilled reefclaw fishermen can catch a dozen reefclaws on a single side of beef over the course of a single day of fishing, although just as many hopeful fishermen loose hands of their own to the dangerous creatures.
When a reefclaw is killed, its body spasms horrifically. Immediately upon dying, the reefclaw makes a full attack against a creature it threatens. If more than one creature is within reach, roll randomly for each attack to determine the target (which may be another reefclaw).
Potency: END of reefclaw
Onset time: instant
Duration: 4 rounds
Conditions: the victim loses 1d2 STR per round for the duration
Antidote/Cure: Can be ameliorated with the Healing skill, or a successful save is made.