The beetles wore golden bridles and carried huge leather sacks of stone and guano. The line of them marched without stopping; dozens, even hundreds, bringing fresh earth to the white fungus trees of the great forests. Their claws skittered with a sound like horseshoes slipping on stone, but their multiple legs ensured they never fell. The air around them singed the nostrils with the taint of acid.
Carrion Beetle CR 5
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares), burrow 20 ft., climb 10 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d8+4), 2 claws +6 (1d6+2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (1/6 rounds, 30 ft. line, Reflex half DC 17, 3d6 acid damage)
Environment any, underground
Organization solitary, cluster (2–6), colony (7–12), or herd (10–40)
Carrion beetles are powerful beasts of burden with strong jaws and the ability to both climb and burrow. With a wide back, serrated spiky forelegs, and a narrow head, the carrion beetle is too large to ride on comfortably although it makes an excellent platform for ballistae and howdahs. Its thick exoskeleton varies in color from drab brown, tan, and black to shimmering blue green, purple-green, and a highly prized yellow-orange. The largest carrion beetles make a distinctive wheezing sound when their spiracles are stressed; this noise creates a hum when multiple beetles run or charge on the field of battle. War beetles are often armored with protective strips of metal or chitinous armor fused to their exoskeletons, increasing their natural armor by +2 while reducing their speed to 20 ft.
Carrion beetles have little society of their own. They rarely gather in groups larger than a breeding pair and a small nest of offspring in the wild. The domesticated varieties travel in large herds of 20–40 to feed on fungal forests, scavenge battlefields, or devour cave lichen and scour sewage pits. The larger caravan beetles and giant lizard mounts are always antagonistic. When breeding season hits, they feast on the bodies of large animals. Many species in the deep underworld consider carrion beetles food and their exoskeletons as useful materials for shields and armor (though too brittle for weaponry).
Purple worms are their major predators. Worms are said to swallow entire caravans when they find them.
Carrion beetles live a complex life. They begin as simple pack animals, the strongest being trained as war beetles. War beetles often carry ballistae and harpoons fitted with lines for use against cloakers and other flying foes. In late life, their acid digs tunnels. After death, their exoskeletons are used both as animated scouting vehicles (ghouls hide within the shell to approach hostile territory) and as armored undead platforms for howdahs packed with archers and spellcasters.
Midgard Bestiary for Pathfinder RPG, (c) 2012 Open Design LLC; Author: Adam Daigle with Chris Harris, Michael Kortes, James MacKenzie, Rob Manning, Ben McFarland, Carlos Ovalle, Jan Rodewald, Adam Roy, Christina Stiles, James Thomas, and Mike Welham.