Eighteen segmented legs support this long arthropod’s jet-black carapace, the front two of which are scythe-like claws, and its slender antennae end in glowing green bulbs.
Chitikin CR 4
As a standard action, a chitikin can rub its antennae together to emit a terrifying scream. Each creature within 50 feet must succeed at a DC 12 Will saving throw or become panicked for 2d4 rounds. Whether or not it succeeds at its save, the creature is immune to the chitikin’s shriek for 24 hours. This is a sonic, mind-affecting, fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Environment temperate or warm forests or underground
Organization solitary or pair
Stalking the edges of civilization, this chitinous predator uses a unique strategy to attract prey: it mimics the screams of its intended victims. When a curious or valorous creature investigates, the chitikin erupts in ambush, amplifying its shriek to terrify its meal.
Villagers have countless stories revolving around a lonely traveler who hears someone screaming in pain, either in a cave or otherwise off the beaten path, only to investigate and find this horror waiting for him.
At a glance, a chitikin might be mistaken for a giant black centipede, with its 15-foot body resting on 18 spindly legs. But unlike its smaller, simpler cousins, a chitikin also has a stinger dripping with venom and two large scythe-like claws. Above its hinged jaw are two glowing bulbs on constantly flicking antennae.
A full-grown adult chitikin is 15 feet long and weighs 2,000 pounds.
A larval chitikin at first appears to be nothing but a large centipede. It grows quickly, and within a few weeks it wraps itself in a cocoon-like casing, soon emerging several times larger. This process repeats periodically during a chitikin’s life cycle, and at later stages, its cocoon might be mistaken for that of the rare giant blue moth; a potent alchemical ingredient. An alchemist who attempts to harvest such a chrysalis often finds he has made a fatal mistake when the chitikins emerges from its cocoon in a ravenous frenzy. The typical adult chitikin molts four times in its life, but there are rumors of a gargantuan specimen that underwent a fifth molting to grow to a fearsome size.
Chitikins lure their prey by rubbing their antennae together, producing a sound not unlike the incoherent wailing of an innocent in desperate pain. When their prey gets closer, chitikins rise up and emit terrifying screams intended to unnerve their victims. Sages debate whether this behavior evolved naturally, but many layfolk who have survived encounters with the monsters claim they recognized their loved ones’ voices and therefore suspect something more sinister at work. Some scholars hypothesize that some of the folktales in small towns warning travelers not to stop to help an injured stranger are cautionary stories based on chitikin attacks.
Chitikins are careful hunters, preferring to ambush prey they have lured to their lairs. The creatures’ multitude of legs and large claws grants them the ability to climb with ease, and they use this mobility to their advantage, clinging to cavern ceilings with most of their legs and reaching down to slash at prey below. In forests, chitikins scramble rapidly between tree trunks and sting targets with their tails, paralyzing the victims long enough to efficiently dismember them.
Despite their brutal hunting methods, chitikins seem to have a compulsion with cleanliness. They suck away every trace of blood and entrails from their kills, leaving bones that they then crush with their mandibles until even the bones disintegrate. When not hunting or lying in ambush, chitikins repeatedly groom their antennae, claws, and mandibles, and polish their carapaces until they are a bright, gleaming black.
This grooming behavior becomes more pronounced when a chitikin is ready to lay its eggs. First, it lays them on a wall, dangling off a tree, or in some other elevated location where they remain in stasis. At this stage the egg sac looks almost like a bag of marbles or gems, and the eggs emit a faint blue luminescence. The chitikin cleans the sac constantly, protecting it from scavengers and hunters. If the egg sac touches the ground, the chitikin flies into a rage, attacking any creatures nearby and sometimes chasing them for several miles, her brood forgotten. After this lengthy aerial incubation, the chitikin brings freshly killed prey to its nesting site and carefully implants its eggs in the corpse. After about a month, the eggs hatch and the chitikin larvae feast on the liquefied remains.
Habitat & Society
Chitikins lead mostly solitary lives at the fringes of civilization, close enough to lure prey but not so close that they attract undue attention. Their nests are often in thick forest canopies, mountain crags, and shallow caves. It’s not uncommon for towns near swaths of wild territory to be terrorized by a chitikin for months as it skitters around the periphery, luring unsuspecting townspeople to their doom.
While its appearance can be unsettling, the most terrifying aspect of this predator is its ability to emulate humanoid screams. The particular scream a chitikin produces is influenced by what it hunts; a chitikin that preys on human villagers sounds much different from one that scours caves for goblin victims. On rare occasions, chitikins living near larger cities learn to mimic the cries of domesticated pets or livestock rather than people, as imitating the latter has the undesirable consequence of summoning city guards, who often prove too troublesome as prey.
While chitikins are rarely found with others of their own kind, except for brief encounters to mate, they do appear to have an odd fondness for the giant spiders that frequently share their environs.
Accounts exist of chitikins grooming such spiders, and the arachnids seem to tolerate the attention.
Ettercaps have also been known to share larger lairs with a chitikin, though they do not appear to get the same attention—and when a chitikin is ready to lay eggs, it drives away or eats any ettercaps in the vicinity. Likely thanks to these uneasy truces, adventurers have found webs so often in chitikin lairs that it’s widely believed the creatures are capable of spinning the webs themselves, but the closest a chitikin comes to making a web is vomiting up the sticky brown goo it uses to make its cocoon just before molting.
Chitikins prefer damp, dark places for their lairs. Caves are preferable, but they also live in forests and jungles under the darkest parts of the canopy. The creatures’ restless pacing eventually reduces any soil or dirt to very fine powder, and their fastidious nature means there is no blood or gore to betray their presence. A chitikin lair in a forest is often marked by a copse of trees whose trunks are marred by rings gouged into the wood at a variety of heights—a result of the creature’s constant movement and a telltale sign of a chitikin’s presence to the knowledgeable or wary.
Chitikin hunting methods inevitably cause the vermin’s territory to become less and less fruitful as locals learn to avoid the paths and places from which few lone travelers return. As a result, chitikins move their lairs every few years, migrating by night until they find a suitable new location. Creatures sharing a chitikin’s lair sometimes come along on these nocturnal migrations, forming a nightmarish convoy with spiders large and small that ride on the monster’s back or scrabble alongside. It is often during these migrations that chitikins encounter another of their kind. If the two are not a mating pair, they fight to the death in a vicious, screaming battle.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #130: City in the Lion’s Eye © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Mikko Kallio, with Eleanor Ferron, Mike Headley, Joe Kondrak, Kalervo Oikarinen, and Liz Smith.