Welcome to Blog or Treat, a Halloween Special conspiracy concocted by a secretive cabal of GURPS bloggers. Here at Octopus Carnival, I will present to you two particularly scary monsters! One you see below, the other will grace your screen tomorrow.
The Snake-Maned Lion
This horrible beast is a nightmare made flesh, a huge lion with a dozen venomous snakes growing out of its black mane. Some sages proclaim it comes from the darkest faerie realms, while others ascribe an infernal origin to it. What they do agree on is that he creature makes its home in places haunted by evil. It hunts at night, drawn to the scent of fresh blood, the cries of small and helpless things, or any light sources.
The snake-maned lion possesses animal intelligence, but it’s clever enough to adapt its tactics to the strength of its potential prey. When faced with a weak or helpless victim, it delights in striding boldly into view and letting out an intimidating roar followed by a frontal attack. When faced with a group of more capable opposition, it will attempt to strike from ambush, targetting isolated stragglers and using its roar to drive others away before dragging its victim off. In either case, it prefers to attack by biting and hanging on, letting the snakes finish the job and helping them along with its claws.
The monster is solitary in that it’s rarely seen together with others of its kind, but its choice of hunting ground means it’s often encountered alongside a group of undead or demonic creatures. It seems to have a natural tendency to leave these monster types alone, and they in turn don’t bother it. Sometimes, a more powerful villain such as a lich, dark fey lord, or demon will manage to tame one of these beasts.
ST 20; DX 13; IQ 5; HT 12
Dodge 10; DR 1 (Tough Skin); SM +1
Will 10; Per 12; HP 20; FP 12
Speed 6.25; Move 6.
- Terrifying Roar (-) : Anyone who hears it must make a Fright Check at -2. Usable once per fight.
- Bite (15): 2d cutting. Reach C. May grapple the target on a hit. Parried as a weapon.
- Talons (15): 2d cutting. Reach C, 1. Parried as a weapon.
- Serpent Mane (18) (x4): 2 points impaling + follow-up 1d toxic (HT-1, plus -1 per additional bite, to resist; 5 cycles; 1 minute per cycle). Often aimed at the face (-5) or neck (-5) if those are unarmored.
- A Thousand Bites (-): A Bite aimed at the torso followed by four Serpent Mane attacks aimed at the grappled target’s torso, face, or head.
- Horrid Onslaught (-): A Rapid Strike combining a Talons attack and a Bite aimed at the torso, followed by four Serpent Mane attacks aimed at the grappled target’s torso, face or head.
Traits: Combat Reflexes; Extra Attack 4 (Serpent Mane only); Fearlessness 5; Night Vision 7; Penetrating Voice; Quadruped; Restricted Diet (Fresh Meat); Sadism (9); Wild Animal; Terror 2 (Roar).
Skills: Brawling-15; Stealth-15; Wrestling-15;
Notes: Animal spells which affect hybrids work on the lion.
Fighting the Snake-Maned Lion
As you can see from its stats, getting into melee combat with the snake-maned lion is a very bad idea. Through a combination of high skill, Rapid Strikes and Extra Attacks it has a very good chance of damaging its chosen victim at least once per turn.
The beast should be fought at a distance, with ranged weapons or magic. Of course, it will try its hardest to force a melee confrontation by sneaking in close before its initial pounce, and it might disrupt the efforts of any ranged attackers with its roar. If keeping away is not an option, distracting it with numbers and flanking it is the next best bet.
The sound of the lion’s roar is audible over a mile away, so unless the PCs take precautions like plugging their ears in advance, they will be inside its area of effect at the ranges in which the monster likes to use it.
The Snake-Maned Lion has some similarities to mythological beasts such as the Chimera or the Manticore, and might fulfill similar narrative roles. According to this Wikipedia article on the Chimera, chimerical figures appear in medieval art as deceptive or even satanic embodiments or raw nature.
The base creature above is well-suited to this, but if you don’t think it’s scary enough you can try these variants:
Armored: This variant is covered in reptilian scales instead of leonine hide. Raise DR to 4 and remove the Tough Skin limitation.
Intelligent: This variant is smart enough to understand speech and come up with really clever ambush setups. It’s also no longer affected by Animal spells, requiring Mind Control magic instead. Raise IQ to 8, Will to 12, and remove Wild Animal.
Demonic: A materialized spirit from hell set loose in our plane! Change its class to Demon and add Injury Tolerance (Homogenous), which makes it a lot more resistant to most ranged weapons.
These variants can stack with each other and with any of the generic monster prefixes from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1.