A leathery piece of skin stretched across a frame of joints and bony knobs beats awkwardly through the air. Eyes glare from the folds of its thick wings, writhing tentacles surround its sucker-like maw, and a long, thin tongue darts forth seemingly at random to lash the air around it.
A clawbat’s lengthy tongue whips around its body as it feeds, lapping up the blood from wounded creatures nearby. Every round a clawbat may choose either a creature it attacks or any creature it passes adjacent to as it moves. If the target is at less than full hit points, it must make a DC 11 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Environment temperate hills and ruins
Organization solitary, pair, or clutch (3–16)
Clawbats swarm forth from their shadowy dens to hunt by night, thirsting for blood, scavenging from the victims of greater nocturnal hunters and stalking those foolish enough not to fear dangers in the dark. Drawn by the scent of spilled blood, clawbats fearlessly follow deadly beasts, and more than one traveler has narrowly escaped a predator’s nearly lethal ambush only to find his luck change as a swarm of wings and eyes descend upon him. The span of an average clawbat’s dual pairs of wings stretches 3 feet wide, lifting aloft rubbery bodies weighing 2 to 4 pounds. Some tell of more monstrous clawbats, with wings that blot out the stars as they swoop away with children and small animals. Such overgrown clawbats might be constructed by making use of the giant creature simple template.
Clawbats are scavengers and opportunistic hunters. They rarely attack creatures larger than rodents or birds unless the creatures—or those traveling with them—have been weakened by a stronger attacker. Even the presence of such a hunter is not enough to deter an ever-hungry clawbat, which is drawn to attack bloodied creatures in the thick of battle. Clawbats are poor fighters; they prefer to fly past victims, strike quickly to draw blood, and then make pass after pass, aggravating their victims’ existing wounds with their ribbon-like tongues. This tactic rarely wins the scavengers more than a drop or two of nourishment per attack, driving them to harass a victim until it drops. when the wounds of clawbats’ prey prove too insignificant to fell it, clawbats attack more directly, circling to peel away strip after strip of flesh in wet grabs of their tentacular maws. After their prey has fallen to the pain of a dozen such wounds, clawbats land and vigorously lap up their meal until their bellies are bloated with gore. aiding clawbats in their hunts is their acrid saliva, a stinging milky-white fluid that possesses an anticoagulant quality, causing their bites to leave messy wounds that bleed until treated. This effect allows clawbats to surprise attack most Small creatures and wait safely out of reach until the prey collapses. Healthy larger prey can typically withstand the assault of a lone clawbat, but a whole clutch of the creatures might easily throw even a sturdy beast into panicked, bleeding terror. The freedom with which clawbat wounds bleed also serves to attract other clawbats in the vicinity, and a few scratches might potentially bring an entire clutch down upon even a slightly wounded creature.
Clawbat eyes are exceedingly abnormal, being nearly flat, yet still functional. As the creatures’ eyes are set upon their wings, the constant flapping gives the clawbats a constantly shifting view of the area around them, but particularly the land below—an experience which would seem terribly jarring to any creature not used to the experience. The eyes are one-sided, occupying only the inner part of their thick, fleshy wings, and are lidless, being constantly watered by ducts surrounding each eye. The profuse watering of these organs causes clawbats to fling a fine spray as they move, which often serves as a victim’s first warning of impending danger.
Other flying creatures, such as hawks, eagles, and owls, make up the clawbats’ natural predators. The sounds of these raptors can dissuade clawbats from attacking, even in the midst of a feeding frenzy, and will send them winging straight for their roost to avoid attack. Giant centipedes occasionally invade clawbat lairs, crawling up the wall or waiting for their prey at the exit. Clawbats have little natural defense against creatures with thick exoskeletons and avoid them when it is possible to attack an easier source of food. Clawbats can live up to 20 years, though most die earlier due to predation, accidents, or infighting.
Clawbats are found far from heavily civilized lands, though whether this is due to civilized efforts to stamp them out or because they prefer distant, half-wild places is open to debate. They live in clutches of up to 15 members, favoring dark places that offer easy aerial access to the outside world. Each of these places must have a roost that allows the creatures to drop the 15 feet necessary to begin flying; if a stationary clawbat attempts to start flying without sufficient drop, it glides to the ground and must mount to a higher point before it can launch again. This makes them skittish in claustrophobic spaces, for they do not like to be at a disadvantage, and this in turn leads them to infest places such as ruined structures, large, open caves, and fissures. New clutches of clawbats contain 4 to 6 young members, which depart a clutch once it has grown to exceed 15 members. The young fly 10 to 15 miles away, searching for a suitable structure or crag to shield them during the day. Once a group of clawbats leaves its original home, the members feel no loyalty to their former family and compete fiercely for resources. On numerous occasions, mages, druids, and barbarians shamans have attempted to capture and train clawbats. While the creatures’ awkwardness once they are brought to ground makes them relatively easy to capture—though frustratingly difficult to restrain given their flexibility and many squirming limbs— no documented attempt to train the beasts has ever succeeded. Even efforts paired with steady diets of blood typically end in the clawbat attacking its keeper just as often as availing themselves of the easier food source. This, and their regular attempts to feed even when critically wounded, have won the creatures a reputation for being dumbly vicious, a reputation that leads most thinking creatures to curse and move quickly to exterminate any clawbats that appear in their lands.
Section 15: Copyright Notice – Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing
Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing. © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.