The muscles beneath the spotted fur of this sleek feline tense, poised to pounce. Its long, sinuous neck stretches over twice the length of its body, ending in a snarling leopard’s head.
Serpopard CR 7
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +14 (1d6+4/19–20), 2 claws +14 (1d4+4 plus grab)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks dune step, limber neck, pounce, rake (bite +14, 1d6+4; 2 claws +14, 1d4+4)
Str 19, Dex 21, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 17
Base Atk +9; CMB +13; CMD 28 (32 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +10 (+14 when jumping), Bluff +9, Climb +8, Knowledge (geography) +5, Perception +10, Stealth +15, Survival +8; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics when jumping, +4 Bluff, +4 Stealth
SQ far wanderer
Three times per day as part of a move action, a serpopard can instantaneously leap from one dune to any other dune within 1 mile as if by dimension door. The serpopard must begin and end this movement in an area of dunes. Using this ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
A serpopard can use its long neck to make bite attacks as part of a rake attack against grappled opponents. In addition, a serpopard doesn’t take the usual –2 penalty on attack rolls when it makes a bite attack while grappling.
Environment warm deserts or plains
Organization solitary or pair
Avistani naturalists named this creature serpopard because they saw it as possessing features of both a leopard and a serpent.
Though rare, serpopards are naturally occurring beasts native to the deserts. Superstitious folk who believe that the gods’ hands touch everything beneath the blistering sun see the serpopard as a cursed creature, marked with snake-like features and forced to wander eternally through the desert, never to find rest or sanctuary. On the other hand, carvings on ceremonial plates, on uncovered artifacts, and in ruined temples make it clear that god-kings once kept serpopards as pets or servants, as depictions of these creatures in the oldest of ruins often show them chained or collared, bowing obediently to human masters.
Serpopards stand approximately 3 feet tall at the shoulder; when their necks are fully extended, they can measure up to 20 feet long from nose to tail. Serpopards weigh anywhere from 150 to 200 lbs.
Some sages hypothesize that the most powerful or ancient serpopards can cross greater distances with their dune step ability, and thus travel through it to distant deserts. Such experts say it’s therefore likely that all deserts hold populations of serpopards, though they may be few in number or very isolated.
Serpopards are largely nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night when they can use the cover of darkness to approach prey undetected. When hunting, they rely on their speed and powerful claws to take down large quarry, and then use the additional reach provided by their unusually long necks to defend their kills from scavengers and competing hunters. Serpopards are not averse to eating intelligent beings, and hunt humanoids if the opportunity or need arises, but they aren’t cruel— serpopards gain no pleasure from such acts beyond the satisfaction of a fresh meal.
On average, serpopards have a lifespan of about 50 years, but rumors exist of serpopards living much longer than this. One town claims a single serpopard has visited its outskirts once every decade for the past 100 years.
Serpopards are mainly solitary creatures. Very rarely do they travel in pairs, and then only during mating season or in the case of littermates who chose not to separate at adulthood. When living as mated pairs, the father stays only until the cubs are able to run, but the mother stays with the cubs much longer, teaching them how to hunt and use their special ability to travel between the dunes.
Mothers also pass on to the cubs their understanding of the land, instructing them as to which areas are good for hunting or exploring, what kinds of places to avoid, and how to find fresh water. Young serpopards separate from their mother individually, leaving as soon as they mature and feel confident navigating their way through the desert alone.
When traveling, serpopards range anywhere from 50 to 100 miles per day, stopping only to hunt, rest, or (more rarely) explore some aged ruin. No one knows what fascination these ancient works hold for the serpopards, but the creatures’ interest in such locations is undeniable.
Serpopards are clever liars and frustrating conversationalists, and hold a reputation among other races as skilled deceivers. Despite this potential untrustworthiness, many people still seek the aid of serpopards.
Few creatures know the deserts as well as serpopards, and for the right price many are willing to guide groups of people across the desert. It’s usually best to ensure the serpopard is well fed before undertaking such a journey, however, for a hungry serpopard may turn on its traveling companions if it thinks it can make a quick meal out of them. Serpopards have little use for gold and rarely accept it as payment for their services, though some apparently take a liking to jewelry, as travelers report the creatures as frequently wearing necklaces and bracelets when encountered.
Food and hospitality are always acceptable payments, for those two things are in short supply in the harsh expanse of the desert. For those wishing to earn a serpopard’s true faith and loyalty, however, one form of compensation stands above all others—divination magic. Serpopards are unceasingly curious about what their futures hold, and put great stock in the words of those who can tell fortunes or predict events to come.
Serpopards attack most sphinxes on sight, often fighting at least long enough to get in a few solid blows before retreating between the dunes to safety. The only exception to this is androsphinxes, which most serpopards fear for some unknown reason. Only the bravest or most desperate serpopards face down such creatures in combat without aid; most flee immediately once they spot these mighty sphinxes. Sphinxes are aware of this antipathy and treat serpopards accordingly.
Perhaps as a consequence of their antipathy toward sphinxes, serpopards also hate riddles and word games, and prefer to twist their words with lies and omissions rather than making a game out of conversation. Ignorant travelers who confuse the two creatures and try to engage the serpopard in a bout of riddling can find themselves in a dangerous predicament.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #81: Shifting Sands © 2014, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Richard Pett, with Benjamin Bruck, Adam Daigle, Thurston Hillman, Michael McCarthy, Patrick Renie, Amber E. Scott, and Russ Taylor.