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Black Shuck

This enormous hound has a single, glowering green eye, and its flanks are matted with hair soaked in filth and gore.

Black Shuck CR 7

XP 3,200
CN Large magical beast
Init +11; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 13 (+7 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)
hp 85 (9d10+36)
Fort +10, Ref +13, Will +5
DR 10/cold iron or magic

OFFENSE

Speed 40 ft., swim 15 ft.
Melee bite +13 (1d8+5 plus disease and trip), 2 claws +13 (1d6+5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks green-eyed gaze
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +11)

3/dayblink, fog cloud, misdirection

STATISTICS

Str 20, Dex 24, Con 18, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 15
Base Atk +9; CMB +15 (+17 trip); CMD 32 (38 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Iron Will, Stealthy
Skills Acrobatics +7 (+11 when jumping), Bluff +11, Escape Artist +9, Perception +12, Stealth +17, Swim +13
Languages Common
SQ change shape (human; alter self)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Disease (Ex)

A black shuck’s bite inflicts a wasting disease on those lucky enough to survive its initial attack.

Shuck’s Kiss: Bite-injury; save Fort DC 18; onset 1 day; frequency 1/hour for 6 hours; effect 1d4 Con and 1d4 Str damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Green-Eyed Gaze (Sp)

Those who meet a black shuck’s accursed eye can find themselves changed by the experience. Three times per day, a black shuck can cast its gaze upon a creature within 30 feet. The target must succeed at a DC 16 Will save or be struck with a curse as though affected by a bestow curse spell (CL 9th). The type of curse is fixed and unique to each black shuck, and once assigned, it can’t be changed; thus, one particular black shuck’s curse might reduce an opponent’s Strength score by 6, while another’s might inflict a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks. Whether or not a creature fails its save against a black shuck’s green-eyed gaze, that creature can’t be affected by that black shuck’s gaze again for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.

ECOLOGY

Environment temperate coasts or marshes
Organization solitary
Treasure none

Black shucks are monstrous hounds that haunt the countless footpaths and byways threading through lonely coastal regions and sweaty fens. Some say black shucks are grotesque children born of witches who consort with forest demons, while others believe them to be the remains of witches burned alive in marshy terrain. These theories are likely born of the undeniable affinity the dog-creatures have with witches, and the hounds often masquerade as lonely travelers, lost and afraid in the wilds, thanks to their ability to take on the form of such woebegone souls. However, some tales contradict this entirely, telling of black shucks that take care of travelers who cross wild places alone and take vengeance on those who would harm defenseless wanderers. Many suspect that these latter stories are spread by the monstrous canines themselves when in human form and desperate for a meal.

Many black shucks live lonely lives, shunning civilization and those who hunt at its fringes, but others are found in the company of hags and witches, and some are able to leech greater powers of witchcraft from long association. Sometimes a coven attaches itself to a black shuck and uses it as a guide or hunter, or it might unleash a black shuck on a small coastal village as a distraction from some grander scheme.

Ecology

Often mistakenly identified as barghests, black shucks are magical beasts that are encountered in breeding pairs only in extremely rare circumstances. Habitual loners, they are foul and dirty; they resemble the most neglected of their mortal kin while embodying the most feral aspects of wild dogs. Dwelling for the most part in rank bogs or brine-soaked coasts, black shucks often drive out other animals with their mere presence, leaving their territories even more bereft of noise and life than would usually be the case. Black shucks have ravenous appetites and can readily clear a large area of prey, leaving only their own foul droppings and scent-marks behind. Even well-coordinated efforts to drive a black shuck from an area often fail, as the creature can compound the difficulty most humanoids have navigating its favored terrain by using its ability to create dense banks of fog. Combining this with its intimate knowledge of its territory and a well-hidden lair, a black shuck can evade even the most determined militia for a nearly indefinite period, even picking off careless hunters who wander too far from their group.

Habit And Society

Black shucks are natural loners; thus, barring the outside influence of a cover, they rarely form bonds with any other creatures, even of their own kind. However, black shucks develop a particular affinity-and even affection-for particular paths and byways, often using the same such routes over and over again, and sometimes even forming their own paths through gradual wear. So great is the creature’s bond to its homeland that forcing it to leave its chosen territory often causes a black shuck to wither and die of homesick longing.

Black shucks maintain lairs that they return to during the day when they rest; they hunt only at night except in times of desperation or on the foggiest of days. A shuck’s primary lair is almost always somewhere well hidden or difficult to reach, whether in the center of a tangled gorse patch, among the loose stones at the foot of gravelly cliffs, or within the briar-infested corners of long-disused graveyards. Occasionally a black shuck keeps several lairs spread across a larger territory, which allows it to prey on travelers for longer stretches of time without raising too much suspicion in any one community. Black shucks often take advantage of the camaraderie of travelers, changing into human forms and luring lone wanderers further into a foggy moor with promises of a cache of food, a comfortable camp, or simple companionship. Once a victim is in a black shuck’s preferred killing ground, the beast transforms into its true form and viciously ambushes the poor soul, whose picked-clean remains are almost never found, having sunk into the moist ground to join countless others.

Rarely, a black shuck develops a curious benevolent edge to its hunting, watching over lone travelers along a particular path or swampy stretch instead of attacking them. Such hounds prefer to prey on robbers and thieves who attempt to victimize those in their territory, and they sometimes even take on the form of vulnerable and lonely human travelers to attract villains to them. Those who have found themselves aided by such a shuck often claim its eye was colored deep blue, not green.

Variants

Old Shuck The black shuck’s close association with witches and witchcraft has led to countless local variants of the hound, as foul rituals have changed the already-fearsome creatures into even more nightmarish beasts. One of the most commonly encountered variants is that known as an old shuck, a beast often formed when a coven of witches or hags adopts a black shuck and adapts it to their needs. These leaner, more brutish versions of a black shuck have 13 Hit Dice and the ability to cause storms in their home territory. Once per day, by spending 10 minutes pacing its territory in a specific pattern, an old shuck can call forth a storm as per control weather (CL 13th). The type of storm created and its effects depend upon the prevalent climate and season. In addition, once per day when a target fails its save against the old shuck’s green-eyed gaze, the target must succeed at a DC 18 Will save or perish. The save DC is Charisma-based. Old shucks are CR 10 creatures.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Adventure Path #129: The Twilight Child © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Ron Lundeen, with Patchen Mortimer, Andrew Mullen, Richard Pett, F. Wesley Schneider, and David Schwartz.