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Hodag

Spikes cover the body of this vaguely reptilian creature. Its fearsome face features dagger-sharp teeth and glowing red eyes.

Hodag CR 6

XP 2,400
N Large magical beast
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +7

DEFENSE

AC 19, touch 11, flat-footed 17 (+2 Dex, +8 natural, -1 size)
hp 60 (8d10+16)
Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +5
Defensive Abilities ferocity

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft., burrow 15 ft.
Melee bite +11 (1d8+4), 2 claws +11 (1d6+4), tail slap +11 (1d4+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks spiked tail, toss

STATISTICS

Str 19, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +8; CMB +13; CMD 25 (29 vs. trip)
Feats Iron Will, Multiattack, Power Attack, Vital Strike
Skills Climb +10, Perception +7, Stealth +2, Swim +8
Languages Common (cannot speak)
SQ trackless

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Spiked Tail (Ex)

A hodag’s tail spikes allow the creature’s tail slap to deal both bludgeoning and piercing damage. A hodag’s tail slap is a primary attack.

Toss (Ex)

A hodag charging 20 feet or more that damages a foe with an attack can throw its foe with a special combat maneuver check. The opponent must be corporeal and at least one size category smaller than the hodag. If the combat maneuver check succeeds, the hodag’s opponent is thrown 10 feet through the air in a direction chosen by the hodag and falls prone. The hodag can only toss its opponent in a straight line. If an obstacle prevents the creature’s movement, both the creature tossed and the object struck take 1d6 points of damage, and the creature falls prone in the space adjacent to the obstacle. A hodag can also toss an opponent 10 feet up into the air. The victim lands in the same square it started in, falls prone, and takes 1d6 points of damage.

Trackless (Ex)

A hodag sweeps its tail behind itself in a way that obscures its tracks. Attempts to track a hodag have their normal DC increased by +10.

ECOLOGY

Environment temperate forests or marshes
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental

As stout as a bull, with a reptile’s scaly, spiked body, hodags are fierce forest predators hunting along the edges of civilization in the thick woods. Green, gray, and black scales cover the beasts, helping them to blend in amid the underbrush, and sharp spikes stand along their backs and run down their powerful, dangerous tails. Loggers share stories of being followed by hodags and seeing their glowing red eyes in the oppressive darkness of the thick forest. In the wintertime, when snow and ice blankets the region, hodags grow a foul-smelling coat of greasy, dark brown fur, sprouting in tufts from between their scales and helping them blend in with dead vegetation. Males sport large curving spikes on their heads that look like forward-facing horns.

Many believe that hodags are not true-breeding beasts but rather a unique and specific terror that has lived and hunted certain woodlands for ages. Many regional people living near such wildernesses consider hodags a myth, nothing more than the sort of tall tale that is typical of excitable rural folk. Some go so far to use “hodagger” as a derogatory term for the more rustic and simple people working the forests and rivers.

Folklorists say the first hodag rose from the charred remains of an ox sacrificed to cleanse foul spirits. The ritual failed on the seventh day of burning, and this foul beast climbed from the pyre and devoured those performing the rites as a putrid smell spread through the forest like a rancid fog. Superstitious lumberjacks refuse to work when similar fogs hang thick in the woods, even though many who don’t know or don’t care about such tales claim such fogs are perfectly natural or mere swamp gases. The oral tradition passed down from the people living in regions hunted by hodags tells that the name comes from the combination of “horse” and “dog,” two of the beast’s favorite meals.

A typical male hodag measures over 10 feet from the snout to the tip of the tail and 4-1/2 feet at the shoulder, though when they rear back on two legs, they reach far more intimidating heights. Females tend to be a foot or more smaller but are stockier; both male and female hodags weigh around 700 pounds. Female hodags also lack horns (female hodags have no gore or toss attack and are CR 4).

Ecology

Hodags do not typically seek out creatures to hunt. Rather, the unpredictable beasts wander the forest and countryside in the hope of something crossing their paths. If a hodag becomes interested—something that seems to depend wholly on the appeal of a being’s scent or appearance—it will follow and stalk a creature, unwilling to stop until it has fed upon its prey. Hodags sometimes stalk their prey for weeks, some say to fill victims with fear and panic, making them thinner. They tend to prefer lean meals that provide considerable crunching sounds as they are consumed. Some tales claim the beast doesn’t feed upon the actual bodies of its victims but rather on the fear of those about to be consumed and the pleasure of the crunch. The scene of a hodag attack appears to back up this claim, as the beast dismembers and shreds its victims, throwing viscera and body parts about the area and consuming very little actual meat. This is actually due to the eating habits of the creature. While they enjoy killing at any time, hodags gorge themselves only once every 3 months. During these feasts, they can eat an entire herd of horses, consuming thousands of pounds of food in one attack.

Habitat and Society

Extremely secluded and territorial creatures, hodags are rarely seen together. During mating season, hodags expand their usual hunting grounds and wander farther from their dens on the chance that they may find a mate. The courtship is abrupt and to the point, and after the act of breeding, the two hodags depart in opposite directions. The female hodag finds an isolated place in the forest and digs a den in which to birth her young. Despite their reptilian appearance, hodags do not lay eggs but rather give live birth to a small litter of no more than three or four young. Sibling rivalry is strong and play is often rough. Not all young hodags survive this competition, ensuring only the strongest of the litter make it to maturity.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

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.

Pathfinder 32: Rivers Run Red. Copyright 2010, Paizo Publishing LLC. Author: Rob McCreary