Covered with mossy growths and creeping vines, this towering creature glides effortlessly across the ground. A hood of damp moss and crusty bark conceals the monster’s face.
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Str 18, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 17
The moss monster can wrap a Medium or smaller creature in its vines as a standard action. The moss monster attempts a grapple that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and deals 1d4 points of Wisdom damage if the target fails a DC 17 Fortitude save. Attacks that hit the moss monster while it has a target enveloped deal half their damage to the monster and half to the trapped victim.
The moss monster can exude a cloud of poisonous gas in a 20-foot radius up to 3 times per day. Creatures in the area must succeed at a DC 17 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1d4 rounds and sickened for 1d4 hours afterward. This is a poison effect, and the save DC is Constitution-based.
Very little information is recorded about this creature, since so few have seen it. A handful of researchers enamored with studying monsters have written about the creature, though no two accounts agree on its true nature. Some think it to be from another world or dimension, while others believe it is a plant creature of magical sentience, akin to a corrupted treant or some dark, feystricken creature. Even the camp claiming otherworldly origin is split on the details. Some say the monster hails from the horrid wastes of Abaddon, and others insist the First World birthed this frightening creature. Both its form and behavior could easily suit either of these theories.
The monster never consumes its kills; it simply leaves charred corpses, twisted by fear, in its wake. Victims are found curled into a fetal position and burned so thoroughly they are barely recognizable to even their closest friends and relatives. Some speculate the creature feeds on strong feelings of agony, despair, and terror.
Most who encounter the monster are solitary travelers, miners, hunters, or farmers. This suggests the creature prefers to prey upon single targets, but a few stories tell of it attacking a wagon full of farmers returning from a day at the market or a trio of teenage boys playing around in the woods at night. Either way, as of late, most citizens don’t go out alone after dark for long.
Officially, the monster exists only in the minds of drunkards and those prone to fanciful daydreams. The sparse evidence of the creature has yet to compel the local militia to mobilize any significant hunting party to eradicate the creature, and authorities who are shown places scorched by the monster’s fiery jets write them off as merely small-scale wildfires caused by lightning or out-of-control campfires left by local hunters or miners. When would-be monster hunters show up, the locals have no shortage of stories to tell about the monster—usually heard from a distant cousin or a friend of a friend who claimed to have seen it. Several unscrupulous merchants in the area made a small industry of selling bits of slag supposedly resulting from the monster’s fire, or maps to various caves and lairs the monster might inhabit. With little credible information to go on, and the creature’s ability to fly making it impossible to track, most of the hunters give up the chase after having their purses lightened at nearby inns and taverns.
To date, no lair thought to belong to the creature has been found, nor have any tracks of the monster been accurately identified (just the scorch marks from its jets of flame). Sketches of the creature hang on the walls in taverns and inns, some drawn by those who encountered the creature and lived, and others sketched by those interested in the monster and the stories about it. All of these depictions are roughly the same, though some contain certain embellishments or exaggerations, such as extra appendages, varying color schemes, or inflated body size. Some inn owners sell these drawings to monster hunters for prices that fluctuate wildly, seemingly set only by how severely the inn owners think they can gouge any particular buyer. Just last fall, a group bought a skillfully drawn illustration of the monster from a tavern for 10 gold pieces, though it was little help to the group in finding the monster.
Though the monster has became a major nuisance only in the last 30 years, stories with details matching recent accounts of the monster circulated among wanderers as long as 600 years ago. These tales, told around campfires as a warning to the traveling people, hint that a creature like the monster—or even the monster itself—has been a threat in the region for a long time. No one knows what made the creature lie dormant for so long, and frankly, the frightened populace is merely waiting until this particular bit of local folklore fades into the past.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #61: Shards of Sin © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.