This lobsterlike creature stands as tall as a human. Coils of reaching, pink tendrils slither from within its jaws.
Chuul, Lesser CR 4
Speed 30 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +8 (1d8+5 plus grab), tendril +3 (1d4+2 plus staggering tendril)
Special Attacks staggering tendril (DC 15)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with tendril)
Str 21, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 5
Base Atk +3; CMB +8 (+12 grapple); CMD 20 (24 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative
Skills Perception +11, Sense Motive +8, Stealth +10, Swim +13
Languages Common (Undercommon instead for many subterranean variants)
Staggering Tendril (Ex)
A lesser chuul’s long, searching tendrils are coated in a mildly paralytic secretion. A creature struck by a lesser chuul’s tendrils must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or be staggered for 1d4 rounds.
The save DC is Constitution-based.
Environment temperate swamps
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–6)
Long before the aboleths uplifted humanity, these deep-sea-dwelling entities experimented on other aquatic life forms, perfecting the art of genetic manipulation and developing entities that would become their unyielding servants. The creatures known as chuuls today (a derivation of their alghollthu name, “chu’ulothis”) were little more than aggressive crustaceans prior to aboleth meddling. Only after successive generations of guided evolution were chuuls transformed into the hulking monstrosities they are today, and their keen intelligence likewise came from their aboleth masters’ uplifting.
The larval form of a chuul most closely resembles an oversized lobster. A typical chuul nest usually contains 6–8 rocklike eggs, though only half of the larvae survive hatching, as these vicious creatures’ first meals are the weakest of their clutch mates. Upon hatching, a larval chuul lacks the paralytic tendrils and claws of its mature form, but instead has the capability to spray digestive fluid in a wide cone. Larval chuuls predigest their meals and are engineered to crave the cerebral tissue of intelligent creatures.
Only through feeding on the brains of intelligent creatures do chuuls develop their own intelligence and linguistic abilities. A chuul unable to feast on cerebral tissue of a creature with an Intelligence score of 8 or higher within the first year of hatching never becomes a mature chuul, though it continues to grow in size. Larval chuuls can be represented by larval chuuls with the advanced creature and giant creature simple templates. The more intelligent members of their species loathe these creatures and destroy them whenever they are discovered.
After a yearlong maturation process that requires the larval chuul to digest up to five brains of Medium or larger creatures, the larva undergoes a slow molting process over the course of a month. During this time, the larval chuul grows to Medium size and loses its bite attack. When the chuul sheds its larval carapace, it gains two claw attacks and the paralytic tendrils of its mature form. A lesser chuul’s tendrils are fully grown at this stage, though they appear enormous on the lesser chuul’s smaller body and allow for surprisingly long reach. A lesser chuul’s paralytic secretions are not as strong as the adult form’s, but retain some of the acidic qualities of the larval chuul instead. These tendrils are used for capturing and eating prey and for easy access to cerebral tissue (typically acquired by forcing a tendril into an eye socket or nasal cavity). A lesser chuul’s appetite for cerebral tissue is largely vestigial at this point in development, and tapers off entirely by the time it reaches maturity.
Two years after its hatching, a lesser chuul enters a second month-long molting stage from which it emerges as a fully grown adult chuul. Due to the relatively slow development cycle of larva to adult (with regard to aboleths’ patience), these creatures are often bred in enormous numbers to mitigate any loss of adult chuuls that may be suffered during the service of their deep masters. Rumors persist of deep, calm coves on remote islands that host hundreds of chuul young. If such legends are true, no one has ever survived making such a discovery to report the exact location of their find.
Habitat and Society
Within aboleth society, chuuls are seen as a slave race and, despite their intelligence, are rarely regarded as more than cattle. The ulat-kini (also known as skum) are the alghollthus’ preferred servitor race, and chuuls within aboleth society are brutally conditioned to accept their prescribed inferiority. Outside of aboleth society, chuuls are largely independent and curious creatures with an innate cruelty bred into their species by their aboleth creators. Even larval chuuls have this inherent sense of malice, further developed through inflicting suffering on other sentient creatures.
Rare chuuls that have existed for generations outside of aboleth society may be of chaotic neutral alignment rather than chaotic evil, though these creatures still require the cerebral tissue of intelligent creatures to develop their own sentience, making a chuul clutch’s ultimate shift away from inherently evil tendencies unlikely. Aboleth-serving chuuls typically destroy these independent groups as soon as they are discovered, though some find refuge in the deepest and darkest corners of the oceans where not even aboleths tread. These chuuls make alliances with deep merfolk and other inhabitants of the lightless reaches of the deepest oceans.
While the majority of all chuuls are represented by the statistics presented in the , some unique variants were created or modified by aboleth masters to serve specific roles in far-reaching plans, or have evolved different physiologies in response to vastly different environments.
Arctic Chuuls: Arctic chuuls were designed to inhabit the freezing waters at the top of the world. These cold-dwelling creatures have cold resistance 10 and a burrow speed of 20 feet usable only in snow or ice.
Deep Chuuls: A deep chuul is dusky gray to midnight blue in coloration and bears a glowing antenna that sheds light like a torch, much like an anglerfish’s lure. Deep chuuls can use this light to fascinate creatures as per the hypnotism spell (CL = the chuul’s Hit Dice).
Psychic Chuuls: Chuuls that feed on the brains of creatures capable of casting psychic magic sometimes develop inherent psychic magic abilities of their own in the form of spell-like abilities, but they are destroyed on sight by aboleths who encounter them. Rumors persist that psychic chuuls are capable of evolving into a new state beyond that of the adult chuul form.
Sand Chuuls: Rarest of all chuul breeds, sand chuuls inhabit parched wastelands and deserts, and were intended to serve as shock troops of a land invasion force. When the aboleths’ plans failed to come to fruition, these specially engineered chuuls were largely forgotten. Now native to blasted regions, sand chuuls lack the aquatic subtype, the amphibious special quality, and a swim speed. Instead, a sand chuul has a burrow speed of 30 feet and tremorsense out to a distance of 30 feet.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #122: Into the Shattered Continent © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Robert Brookes, with Ayla Arthur, Adam Daigle, Lucas J.W. Johnson, Robin Loutzenhiser, Ron Lundeen, and Mark Moreland.