Withered, fleshy leaves the color of dried blood lie like armored plates across the top of this imposing creature’s bulbous form. Thick, serpentine strands run the length of its rigid, fibrous skin.
Bloodplate Burster CR 9
hp 119 (14d8+56)
Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +7
Immune acid, plant traits, sight-based effects
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft.
Melee 2 tentacles +18 (1d8+9 plus hydraulic surge and rupture)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks awlspines
Str 28, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 4, Wis 12, Cha 7
Base Atk +10; CMB +21; CMD 33 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Perception +24
Once per minute as a standard action, a bloodplate burster can supercharge its circulatory system to forcefully project keratinous dorsal spines, dealing 6d10 points of piercing damage to adjacent creatures (Reflex DC 20 half) and applying its hydraulic surge ability to creatures that take damage from the attack. Mud, soil, and similar materials do not block line of effect or provide cover from awlspines. When burrowing as a move action, a bloodplate burster can make an awlspines attack at any point during the move. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Hydraulic Surge (Ex)
A bloodplate burster that deals damage to a target with an awlspines attack or a tentacle attack forces pressurized fluids into its prey, dealing 2d8 additional points of acid damage and sickening the target for 1d4 rounds (Fortitude DC 20 negates). Further applications of this effect extend its duration. The save DC is Constitution-based.
A bloodplate burster’s hydraulic assault can raise its prey’s internal pressure to catastrophic levels. Creatures slain by the bloodplate burster’s hydraulic surge ability explode, dealing 3d8 points of acid damage (Reflex DC 20 half) to other creatures within a 15-foot-radius burst of the slain creature. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Environment temperate or warm deserts or plains
Organization solitary, pair, or frenzy (3-4)
Fearsome subterranean predators, bloodplate bursters are naturally armored rhizomes that resemble long and tapered ginger roots. A hunting adult’s bulbous back is covered by shingled layers of withered, spade-shaped leaves. Thick sheets of fibrous growth coat its lower body, from which sprout hundreds of pale, finger-width cilia. Vines like the rigging of a ship run from its sightless “head” toward its posterior, and fist-sized stomata peek from leaves and appendages across its form. Bloodplate bursters are known for their sudden, terrifying appearances. The first sign of a burster is often a pack animal’s panicked cry. The monster’s hissing emergence is usually followed shortly by its target’s viscerally explosive death.
An average adult bloodplate burster is over 6 feet tall and 12 feet long and weighs around 6,000 pounds.
Bloodplate bursters are ruthless predators at the top of their food chain. Acidic secretions allow quiet, cilia-driven passage through softened earth while the plants use their keen senses to assess the size and health of prey and threats from underneath the ground’s surface. A bloodplate burster’s lateral sensory nodes pick up vibration in a wide swath around it as it burrows, and its olfactory system is highly attuned to the smell of blood-injured prey attract particular attention, and a burster generally tracks and isolates the largest possible meal that is the easiest kill. The plant maintains a complex internal system of pressurized caustic fluid, regulated by an internal gas bladder that aids in circulating the acid through numerous stomata. This exchange produces a constant, characteristic hissing that intensifies when the bloodplate burster first attacks its prey. In a wet, sibilant rush, the bladder can exert tremendous hydraulic force to push thick spines through the burster’s opened dorsal stomata. The spines pierce flesh to inject pressurized fluid whose caustic nature cauterizes the wounds, causing pressure to build in the victim’s body. The burster then surfaces to lash prey with its thick lateral vines. When brought into forceful contact, the vines’ reinforced stomata adhere to flesh and inject further bursts of fluid that build up excruciating pressure over repeated blows. The burster relentlessly strikes its prey with its vines until its barrage of spines drives the victim’s internal pressure to uncontainable levels and the victim explodes in a shower of gore and shredded flesh.
With its hunt complete, the massive plant settles into the ground beneath its kill to feed. The absorbed blood turns the burster’s dozens of dry armored plates into ballooning leaves that remain above the soil and absorb the sun’s rays, aiding the creature’s metabolization.
Habitat and Society
These itinerant plants prowl deserts and grasslands. Vigilant shepherds, trade caravans, and army patrols-especially those mounted on heavy-footed elephants-listen carefully for bursters’ trademark hissing and look for knee-high clusters of glistening ruby fins.
Though rightly feared, these creatures are infrequently encountered. Ingesting a kill’s blood is a months-long process during which a bloodplate burster remains dormant unless roused. Its vital fluids are more caustic while feeding, but it exudes moisture and warmth. These secondary effects of blood metabolization can even make the burster the center of a temporary microclimate: birds adapted to its acidity feed on its engorged leaves, and the seeds they carry sprout into plants and wildflowers that attract other organisms- soon, what began as a blood-soaked graveyard flourishes with new life. Even in death, a burster becomes a home for other creatures as rodents carve dwellings from the remnants of its fibrous husk.
When not hunting or feeding, these territorial beings patrol their expansive holdings. They mark their perimeters with boluses of acid deposited in the soil. The enzymatic compositions of these clusters repel other bursters, and the slightest vibration near a marker triggers a seismic signal. Bursters react to this information according to their hunger or territorial need. Two juveniles may share territory thanks to a tacit instinctual agreement, or an elder burster may repel a younger creature’s invasion. Those too weak to defend their territory use their flagging blood reserves to bud the next generation; the resulting dog-sized offspring consume the organisms attracted to the senescent burster.
Some daring opportunists find good reason to risk their lives with the aggressive plants; the creatures’ untriggered perimeter markers eventually condense into pearlescent ovoids with supposedly wondrous properties, and the singular composition of bursters’ plated leaves makes them well suited for use in crafting armor and durable textiles.
Despite a bloodplate burster’s solitary, territorial disposition, travelers have occasionally had no choice but to face multiple bursters at once. The seismic disturbance of a marching army, wagon train, or herd of migrating beasts can provoke multiple bursters, leading to the formation of a temporary, semicoordinated pack. Ashen-faced traders speak of hundreds of bison torn apart in a frenzy of cresting plants and rupturing hide, leaving clouds of bloody mist drifting for miles on prairie winds.
Feeding Bloodplate Burster While a bloodplate burster is hunting, its scalelike leaves serve as armor, but the plant’s natural causticity is reduced. However, once a burster has set to feeding, its leaves expand and fill with its internal corrosive enzymes. A feeding bloodplate burster has only half its usual natural armor bonus, and the DCs of its hydraulic surge and rupture abilities are reduced by 2. A feeding burster also gains fast healing 2, and creatures that hit it with natural attacks or unarmed attacks take 2d6 points of acid damage.
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.