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Death Crab Swarm (Dread Codex Monster)

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Death Crab Swarm
Size/Type: Tiny [[SRD:Undead [Swarm] Type|Undead [Swarm]]]
Hit Dice: 10d12 (65 hp hp)
Initiative: +5
Speed: 25 ft., swim 25 ft.
Armor Class: 16 (+2 size, +1 Dex, +3 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/—
Attack: Swarm (3d6 plus energy drain)
Full Attack: Swarm (3d6 plus energy drain)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Distraction, Energy Drain, Soul Trapping
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/-, Darkvision 60 ft., Fast Healing 1, Group Mind, Half Damage from Slashing and Piercing, Swarm Traits, Tremorsense 60 ft., Turn Resistance +2, Undead Traits
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +9
Abilities: Str 3, Dex 12, Con —, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 14
Skills: Climb +10, Hide +15, Listen +6, Move Silently +10, Spot +12
Feats: Alertness, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (swarm), Weapon Finesse
Environment: Any coastal or aquatic
Organization: Solitary or legion (2-4 swarms)
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: None
Level Adjustment:


A pitch black blanket of crabs scurries together along the ground. The only distinguishing feature on each creature is a single splotch of crimson atop their carapaces.

Despite their power, death crab swarms are at the bottom of the intelligent undead hierarchy. When ghouls and other lesser intelligent undead types are destroyed, what is left of their spirits is automatically stored between the material and negative energy planes. When 300 or so of these twice-slain souls are amassed, they reenter the material plane near a coastal area as death crabs. The swarm represents the final effort by the spirits to hold onto life itself as their energy drain power indicates.

Combat Edit

Death crabs are driven by their hatred of all living things, and they attempt to destroy any living creature they encounter. The swarm possesses a communal intelligence, driven by the merged anger and evil impulses of the spirits trapped in the swarm. As a result, it is capable of making intelligent tactical decisions and responding to the capabilities of its opponents. It takes full advantage of its surroundings, lurking in areas that require multiple victims to come together in a narrow space where they can all be hit by a single swarm. While it prefers to attack the maximum number of opponents it can, it is intelligent enough to target the characters who pose the greatest threat to the swarm — usually clerics, wizards, and other spellcasters. A death crab swarm is amphibious, but it cannot swim. A swarm searches for surroundings that limit an opponent's ability to escape by swimming towards the surface. a death crab swarm inflicts 3d6 points of damage on any creature whose space it occupies at the end of its move, along with energy drain.

Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with a death crab swarm in its space must succeed at a DC 18 Fortitude save or be Nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Charisma-based and includes a +1 racial bonus.

Energy Drain (Su): A death crab swarm that has at least 1 hit point per Hit Die (or 10 hit points, for a standard death craw swarm) can drain the life from its victims. At the end of its move, the death crab swarm bestows one negative level on all creatures whose space it shares. A creature must succeed a DC 17 Fortitude save to recover from a negative level; the save DC is Charisma-based. For each negative level bestowed, the death crab swarm gains 5 temporary hit points.

Group Mind (Su): A death crab swarm that has at least 1 hit point per Hit Die possesses a group consciousness, giving it an Intelligence score of 6. If it is reduced below this hit point threshold, it becomes mindless.

Soul Trapping (Su): When a death crab swarm kills a living creature, it draws the spirit of its victim into the shell of one of the crabs. The victim cannot be restored to life by any means until the swarm has been destroyed. The victim is not truly conscious while his spirit is part of the swarm; his thoughts are subsumed by the violent, angry impulses of the group mind.

Skills: A death crab swarm has a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks and a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks.

Treasure Edit

None — Once a body's spirit is added to the swarm, it moves away from the corpse. Characters battling a swarm can hope only to free the spirits of the damned. Treasure is simply nowhere to be found.

In Your Campaign Edit

When a soul becomes trapped within the swarm, there is a 20% chance that its knowledge is not subsumed, but rather is assimilated by the swarm. This knowledge can be used to guide the swarm to the slain creature's home community (and thus more souls) or simply to expand the swarm's knowledge of the surrounding region. Only bare facts are assimilated in this way and not the emotional ties which might have been present in the slain creature. PCs that have recently lost an ally to a death crab swarm might be quite surprised when the swarm anticipates their most common tactics!



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