Dungeons & Delvers: Cave Whelks (Formerly Piercers)

I'd actually been avoiding converting the piercer for a few weeks because it's a pretty goofy monster, even by D&D standards. But then I got almost everything else on the monster docket done, and I resigned myself to the fact that at some point I'd have to address it, so...might as well get it over with now.

Piercers are a monster that appear to be stalactites, and when you walk underneath them they try to fall on you. Like I said, pretty goofy.

In 2nd Edition the damage varied by the piercer's size, from a lowly 1d6 to a pretty decent 4d6. I've never used them or saw them in use, but if you go by the number appearing (3d6) I'm guessing that they might have taken out more than a few low-level parties that hadn't been exposed to the plethora of monsters that look like other things.

I couldn't find official stats for them in either 3rd or 4th Edition (gee, wonder why?), but apparently they made it into 5th Edition, where they're described as a larval form of the roper. They still just try to fall on you, but this time they inflict a set 3d6 damage per hit, and their mouths make them look even sillier than before.

Regardless of edition, if a piercer fails to hit you, fails to kill you (or at least knock you unconscious), or the entire party isn't incapacitated by them, they're incredibly easy to kill since they have to very, very slowly try and inch back up the walls, then across the ceiling so they can try to fall on you all over again.

While thinking of a way to make the piercer less...silly, for some reason I thought about these glowworms in New Zealand. They make these nests out of dangling silk strands covered in droplets of mucus. When other insects get stuck, the glowworms reel the strand in and chow down.

This then reminded me of barnacles from Half-Life 2 (can't remember if they were in the first one), which are an alien lifeform that you find attached to ceilings throughout the game. Their tongues droop out, almost all the way to the ground. If you touch it you get stuck, and the barnacle pulls you up and begins chomping on you if you don't kill it fast enough.

My idea was to do something similar, but make the piercer more active. What I came up with is that when a piercer senses creatures approaching it quickly excretes a patch of mucus onto the ground; if a creature gets stuck beneath it, it then begins spitting a paralyzing acid. Once the creature is incapacitated or dies it extends a kind of feeding tentacle/siphon to suck up the liquefied remains.

Its waste is a mixture of mucus, undigested remains, and minerals absorbed from its environment (often the acid dissolves part of the stone, which it also consumes along with everything else). The, ahem, "results" look similar to stone, and when it dries is also quite solid. This helps conceal the aftermath of the piercer's meal, though since metal is unaffected others might spot glinting objects seemingly embedded in the "stone", and when they go to dig it out the piercer gets another shot at food.

Of course since the piercer never actually falls off to try and stab anything (an atrocious method of hunting, really), I'm also changing its name. I came up with cave whelk, but am open to other suggestions. Here are the stats:

Level 2 Medium Beast
XP 24
Speed 5 feet; spidercliming

STR +0 DEX +0 WIS +0
CON +2 INT -4 CHA -4

Perception +1 (blindsense 60 feet), Stealth +1

AC 12 (DR 2)
Fort +3 Ref +0 Will +0
Immune acid, blind
WP 10 VP 4 Total 14

Paralyzing Acid The cave whelk vomits up a glob of paralyzing acid: creatures underneath it must attempt a DC 13 Reflex save. On a failure they suffer 2d6+2 acid damage and are Corroding (1d6), and on a success they only suffer half damage.

If this attack or the Corroding damage inflicts WP damage, the creature must also succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be Paralyzed for 1d4 minutes. Paralyzed creatures must continue to make Fortitude saves each time this attack inflicts WP damage, increasing the duration by 1 minute each time they fail.

Mucus Trap Cave whelks can excrete an adhesive substance that collects beneath them in a patch covering roughly a 5-foot by 5-foot area. Creatures that step onto it must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be Immobilized. Immobilized creatures can attempt a Strength check on their turn to break free, and other creatures can attempt to pull them free.

Camouflage The shell of a cave whelk allows it to blend in with its surrounding and even change its texture, mimicking the appearance of nearby stalactites and cave walls.

cave whelk shell (1d6 sp); 50% chance for cave whelk acid (2d6 sp); 50% chance for cave whelk mucus (2d6 sp)

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want (the PDF is also on sale on DriveThru)! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

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  1. Shouldn't there be a chance of treasure pile treasures too?

  2. Ooooh, good catch. Yeah prolly. Not always since not everything they eat will have valuable loot. Prolly do 10-20% chance for stuffs.


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