A crown of rough gems encircles the top of this sleek, orangebrown glob as it rolls forward, the detritus of the forest churning within.
Ambergrim CR 6
An ambergrim can preserve a creature paralyzed by its swallow whole ability by spending 1 hour motionless to harden the soft resin shell into a gemlike case. A creature can attempt a DC 21 Fortitude saving throw at the end of the hour-long process to avoid being preserved; if successful, it remains entangled, but the ambergrim must start the process anew to preserve the creature. Dead and nonliving materials are preserved as if under the effects of an unguent of timelessness. Living creatures are held in stasis, unable to move and no longer needing to eat, drink, or breathe. A living creature can survive in this state for 1 day for each point of Constitution it has, after which it suffocates but remains preserved indefinitely as if by a gentle repose spell. Each day, a preserved creature can attempt a Strength check (DC = 10 + the ambergrim’s Constitution modifier) to break free of the amber shell. The shell has hardness 8 and 20 hit points; submerging it in strong alcohol for 1 hour can also dissolve the shell.
Swallow Whole (Ex)
An ambergrim can use its swallow whole ability to swallow a creature of its own size category (usually Medium) or smaller. A swallowed creature is entangled, but instead of the Dexterity penalty normally imposed by the entangled condition, it takes a cumulative –1d6 penalty to its Dexterity score each round as the ambergrim coats it in thick resin. If this penalty exceeds the creature’s Dexterity score, it is paralyzed until the resin is removed.
An ambergrim normally spits out paralyzed prey so it can target a new creature. A paralyzed creature outside the ambergrim that is not affected by its preserve ability can attempt a Strength check (DC = 10 + the ambergrim’s Constitution modifier) each round to free itself, but the entangled condition remains as long as any Dexterity penalty persists. The Dexterity penalty decreases by 1 every hour as the resin becomes brittle, or vanishes completely in 1d4 rounds if the resin is doused in strong alcohol.
Environment any forest
Organization solitary or cluster (2–4)
Creeping masses of honey-colored slime, ambergrims are scavengers and collectors of the forest, rolling up unwanted bits of undergrowth and unsuspecting animals to preserve for later in timeless stockpiles hidden throughout their domains. Little more than aggressive, human-sized globs of sap and resin, they hunt by the twin graces of surprise and their incredibly sticky bodies, which naturally adhere to other creatures and draw them deeper into the ambergrims’ bulk. The oozes’ name describes both their rich, warm coloration as well as their ability to immobilize their prey within soft, amber-like capsules, which they can harden into tough cocoons to preserve food for later. Anything from rabbits to unwary human travelers is fit fodder for these oozes’ endless hunger.
Ambergrims vary immensely in size and coloration depending on their environment and parentage, but the most common are roughly 4 feet across and weigh around 200 pounds.
Ambergrims are aberrations born from a relatively common blight that infects a variety of temperate and arctic trees. The fungus creates large, resinous bulges in the trunk, but upon infecting a treant or similar ambulatory plant, the growth inherits some measure of its parent’s mobility and eventually hatches into a newborn ambergrim. Already full-grown and hungry, it wanders away—often ignored by its relieved, erstwhile parent—to begin hunting immediately.
Ambergrims do not reproduce, making them rare except in cases when blight-obsessed druids cultivate them or groves of treants grow them as guard beasts.
Each ooze is effectively immortal, living and hunting until it is destroyed or slowly starves to death.
With every movement, ambergrims leave a film behind, slightly diminishing themselves with every undulating motion. To make up for this continual loss, they are ravenous, feeding slowly on twigs, leaves, and insects as they creep through the underbrush, but they prefer larger prey. They digest what they can, but in times of plenty they eagerly engulf and preserve additional creatures to store for leaner periods. This hoarding leads many to assume ambergrims possess some rudimentary intellect; however, much like squirrels, the oozes simply stockpile as much food as possible, increasing their odds of coming across a cache months or years later. Desperate wanderers in the forest may be blessed to stumble into an ambergrim’s territory and discover its ample stores of food—providing they can escape the notice of the hunter.
Ambergrims’ bodies are made of a sticky, sap-like substance, making them natural grapplers. In quiet times, they hunt passively by sitting motionless and attracting insects and small animals to the sweet scent they exude, trapping such creatures in their adhesive mass. These oozes’ cytoplasm hardens into an especially dense crystal, allowing them to coat prey in an impenetrable shell for later consumption. Bits of an ambergrim’s surface harden from ordinary exposure to the air when the ooze remains still, forming tough crystalline protuberances that stud its surface.
Ambergrims use these as rudimentary teeth to “bite” and hold prey as they attempt to engulf it. These same gems also focus light, forming simple eyes that grant the ambergrim unsophisticated vision rarely possessed by other oozes. Able to identify colors and movement, they are among the few oozes that actively hunt, attacking sleeping or otherwise motionless prey that would be invisible to predators that rely wholly on blindsense to locate and target potential meals.
Habitat and Society
Treants show a variety of reactions to an ambergrim infection, though most are as repulsed by them as any human might be by a parasite. Many attempt to remove the warty growths before they burst open, but this is a painful process that creates deep and easily infected scars. Rare groves of treants instead form a symbiotic relationship with ambergrims, letting the oozes reproduce in their bodies and using them to keep the treants’ forest homes clear of smaller parasites and predators. These groves are then free to engage in to long periods of quiet introspection akin to hibernation, depending on their ambergrim pets to defend their territory as the treants quietly muse and communicate with one another and the trees around them.
Ambergrims are unintelligent and solitary creatures born by circumstance, but they attract strange attendants.
A variety of scavengers follow in their wake, preying on the preserved leftovers the oozes stash in their gemlike cases. Human scavengers flock to ambergrim territory as well, selling the creature’s preserved sap as true amber—though it has none of the magical or alchemical properties of true amber—or harvesting those preservative cysts as a valuable ingredient in tanglefoot bags and alchemical glue. Some scholars find use for the ambergrim’s preservative powers, either using captive subjects to preserve valuables or else extracting humors from the creatures to mix elixirs and poultices to extend life. On rare occasions, sickly or aging druids or fey actively seek out an ambergrim, hoping its preservative cocoons can sustain them in hibernation to offset their inevitable demise. Though a creature preserved in an ambergrim’s preservative gems typically suffocates within a few weeks, the safety of the gem preserves its remains well enough for the creature to be easily resurrected—provided the ambergrim does not return later to make a meal of it.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #116: Fangs of War © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Ron Lundeen, with John Compton, Adam Daigle, Crystal Frasier, Michelle Jones, and Mark Moreland.