Yellow eyes briefly flicker from a hole in a nearby maple tree. Suddenly, a large reptile leaps out, as green as the surrounding foliage and at least six feet in length. It has a dragon’s head filled with sharp teeth, and two arms ending in grasping claws. A cloud of greenish vapor wafts from its gaping maw.
Tatzlwyrm CR 2
Str 14, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 11
Base Atk +3; CMB +5 (+9 grapple); CMD 17 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Nimble Moves, Stealthy
Skills Climb +14, Escape Artist +5, Intimidate +4, Perception +8, Stealth +10 (+16 in dense vegetation); Racial Modifiers +6 Stealth in dense vegetation
A tatzlwyrm’s breath contains a poisonous vapor. While grappling, instead of making a bite or rake attack, a tatzlwyrm can breathe poison into its victim’s face. A tatzlwyrm must begin its turn grappling to use this ability—it can’t begin a grapple and use its poison gasp in the same turn.
Environment any forests
Organization solitary or nest (2-5)
Tatzlwyrms are thought to be primeval relatives of true dragons, having branched off the line millennia ago and evolved in a way that sets them notably apart. Undersized compared to their larger cousins, tatzlwyrms are nonetheless ferocious in their own right. And while tatzlwyrms are hardly impressive specimens when put beside their notorious relatives, most other reptiles can’t compare to them mentally. They understand Draconic, though other languages are beyond most tatzlwyrms’ limited comprehension. Nevertheless, tatzlwyrms are deeply cunning, building complex lairs and rudimentary traps.
Tatzlwyrms are quite rare, and only a few particularly curious and lucky adventurers can claim to have seen a living specimen. Reports do agree on some basic features, however. About the size of a full-grown human, tatzlwyrms have only two limbs and no wings, and possess a weak poisonous breath similar to the breath weapons of their true dragon relatives. An adult tatzlwyrm is 6 to 8 feet long, including its winding, organless tail, and it weighs between 400 and 500 pounds. A tatzlwyrm’s scales give the creature limited camouflage, ranging through various shades of green, brown, and gray.
Most knowledge of these smaller dragons comes from folklore local to areas with active nests. Peasants use tatzlwyrms as a sort of bogeyman, an excuse used any time a villager goes missing—“the tatzlwyrms took ‘em!” Often, when hunters fail to nab their quarries, tatzlwyrms become the scapegoats—“I would have had that elk, but a tatzlwyrm grabbed him before I could take my shot.” Some of these stories probably do have merit, however; tatzlwyrms are notoriously vicious, particularly to any creatures invading their territories, and those on the wrong end of their bites rarely survive.
Like true dragons, tatzlwyrms are strict carnivores. They spend most of their time hiding, waiting to attack any prey that ventures too near. They consume their food slowly in the dark security and seclusion of their lairs. Tatzlwyrms have a remarkable knack for ambush and camouflage.
Tatzlwyrms are capable of rudimentary trapping. They exhibit a surprising knowledge of appealing foods to use as bait for their prey. For example, a tatzlwyrm female may leave a fresh rabbit carcass or a pile of fruit outside its lair. When a larger animal approaches, the tatzlwyrm takes advantage of the creature’s vulnerability while eating and pounces from a privileged vantage point. Then she drags the body into her lair to be consumed at her leisure.
Tatzlwyrms detest open spaces. They inhabit solely out-of-the-way locales that are full of obstructions to better facilitate their ambushes. Locations rife with weakened obstacles such as rotten or fallen trees or other difficult terrain are especially preferred, as they act as natural traps.
While there are a several varieties of tatzlwyrm, all breeds have a few universal traits. Every tatzlwyrm has a row of long spines running from the top of its head to the end of its tail. They also possess dewlaps of spikelike scales hanging under their necks. These spikes and spines give the creatures a larger appearance, frightening away the few predators capable of causing tatzlwyrms significant harm, and also offer limited protection to vulnerable spots.
Able to see in pitch darkness, the tatzlwyrm’s daylight vision is full-color; they are quite capable of sensing movement at long distances. Their vision is heavily triggered by bright colors and rapid motion, this being a tool they use to better respond to food and threats. They also have limited sense of smell, responding strongly to chemicals and pheromones. Creatures in heat are bound to draw unwanted and potentially fatal attention from any nearby tatzlwyrms.
Tatzlwyrms live between 20 and 30 years if allowed to survive to old age, reaching full size after only 6 months of rapid growth.
Habitat and Society
Nesting is core to a tatzlwyrm’s day-to-day existence. Natural burrowing is beyond their basic capabilities, and laziness prevents them from complex and timeconsuming tasks like constructing more elaborate lairs, so tatzlwyrms nest in naturally hollow areas such as large trees, caves, or under overhangs, where they can make dry nests.
Tatzlwyrms retain the hoarding instincts of their draconic relatives, maintaining dens full of bones and various items torn from their prey, though tatzlwyrms have little concept of the value of such objects. They have a special interest in shiny things, and tatzlwyrms usually have a disproportionate number of small gems and other glittering trinkets (both worthless and valuable) in their small hoards. In many cases, tatzlwyrms dedicate more time to hiding their hoards than building their nests.
Female tatzlwyrms attract males with scent signatures, inviting them into their dens. After mating, the female hibernates for upward of a month during gestation until she produces eggs, while the male guards the nest. During mating season, tatzlwyrms maintain small, temporary family units, but hatchlings only stay in the nest for a few months before being driven out. Afterwards, the mated pair breaks up, often violently. Vicious in mating as in all things, nearly half of all tatzlwyrm pairings result in the death of one or even both participants. Tatzlwyrms average between one and three surviving whelps out of an annual clutch of eggs, so they rarely multiply rapidly.
The various breeds of tatzlwyrm owe distinction primarily in their preferred habitats. The vast majority dwell within deep forests, living amongst dead trees and bogs. The rarest breeds have a preference for volcanoes, and bear a natural resistance to fire.
While generally quite patient, tatzlwyrms have tempers beyond compare. Once provoked, they fight to the death. Their jaws are powerful, and they refuse to let go until an enemy is dead. Against most targets, this means snapping their jaws around a victim’s neck and shaking until blood loss or a broken neck ends the struggle. A tatzlwyrm’s poison, while not particularly potent, helps subdue enemies less capable of resistance. Unlike many animals, a tatzlwyrm’s killer instinct doesn’t end with the death of the creature in its jaws. Often, if other creatures are moving in the vicinity of a kill, the tatzlwyrm pursues them as well once it has dealt with the threat at hand.
In History A creature of Austrian, Bavarian, and Swiss decent – related to the German lindwurm or Scandinavian linnorm – real-world Alpine legends describe the tatzlwyrm (“clawed worm” in German) as a giant salamander lacking rear legs and some times exhibiting a feline head. Widely believed in throughout the Middle Ages due to the proliferation of corroborating descriptions and, later, artistic depictions (though the verbal and illustrated reports hold little in common), even Marco Polo described the beast in the account of his travels, Il Milione. Although far less common than centuries ago, sightings of tatzlwyrms are still reported today.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3, © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Jesse Benner, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, James Jacobs, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, Chris Sims, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.