New 13th Age monster – the Uchawa

AnimalTileby Ryven Cedrylle

The Uchawa (taken from the Old Gnomish Uczaáła “sand-borer”) is a gigantic crustacean found beneath the sands of many of the world’s deserts. Uchawa have a yellow-orange carapace, a dozen short reddish legs protruding from the underside and four forward-facing arms, each ending in a three-pincered claw. The claws are capable of grasping even mostly rounded objects and can close tightly to create a sort of shovel or chisel. The arms are stacked two to a side, one above the other. The uchawa’s carapace is light and sturdy. It contains no nerve endings so the creature is not hurt if the carapace is damaged.

The strangest thing about the uchawa is its dietary habits. It surfaces by day and basks in the sunlight, which provides enough energy for normal activity. Small herds of uchawa can regularly be seen lounging around in the heat. At night it burrows back underground to seek water. About twice a year, however, an uchawa needs to molt as its carapace becomes too small for the rest of its body. During this time it becomes strictly and abundantly carnivorous, devouring whatever animals or humanoids it can to build up reserves from which to build the next carapace.

Wild uchawa are nearly impossible to tame, but those raised in captivity can be used as mounts and tunnelers. There is a thriving business around raising and loaning out uchawa to travelers who must traverse desert for a long period of time. The skin and carapace are also useful for a small number of rituals and are highly prized by cults to various sun gods and goddesses.

 

Uchawa Juvenile (4th molt)

2rd level wrecker [BEAST]

Initiative +1

M: Claw Cutter  +7 vs. AC—10 damage

16+: Deal 5 damage to an engaged enemy.

M: Claw Clamper +6 vs PD—8 damage

  Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).

Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 10 damage to a grabbed enemy.

C: Heat Burst +5 vs PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—8 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 14 damage to characters in heavy armor

Limited use: 1/battle.

Burrowing: An uchawa juvenile can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.

Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.

Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.

Nastier Specials

Improved Coordination: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.

AC 19

PD 17                HP 38

MD 12

 

Uchawa Adult (17th molt)

5th level wrecker [BEAST]

Initiative +4

M: Claw Cutter  +10 vs. AC—20 damage

16+: Deal 10 damage to an engaged enemy.

M: Claw Clamper +9 vs PD—18 damage

  Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).

Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 20 damage to a grabbed enemy.

C: Heat Burst +8 vs PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—18 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 28 damage to characters in heavy armor.

Limited use: 1/battle.

Four Arms: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.

Burrowing: An uchawa adult can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.

Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.

Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.

Nastier Specials

Burning Up: Any enemy engaged with the uchawa takes 6 fire damage at the start of its turn.

AC 23

PD 21                HP 88

MD 15

 

Building Battles

Uchawa make excellent war mounts for large creatures or groups of small ones. WIld uchawa are generally only dangerous during molting season, though when that is exactly is unique to each individual. An uchawa who has turned on its master or riders also makes for a surprising and fearsome encounter.

Uchawa and the Icons

The Diabolist loves uchawa. They dig caves and pits quickly, they dispose of dead flesh thoroughly and those insulated shells are just ideal for hatching demon larvae. What’s not to like? If you see an unattended uchawa somewhere bizarre, there’s a good chance the Diabolist’s associates are nearby.

The Orc Lord also has a solid appreciation for uchawa. Rather, he appreciates discarded uchawa shells. The smaller abandoned carapaces are decent instant platemail when supplies run low, but they don’t fit well and eventually become brittle. The better thing to do is load the carapaces into catapults; the bigger the better. Old uchawa shells shatter and fragment on impact, making them excellent anti-personnel pieces against organized waves of the Emperor’s troops.

The Dwarf King has tried on previous occasions to put uchawa to work in his mines. Unfortunately for him, the lack of sunlight drives them to needing meat and that just never ends well for anyone.

The Archmage has sponsored research into isolating the components of uchawa skin that make them gather energy from the sun. So far he has not succeeded.

 

Things Uchawa Carry

Most of the time, uchawa aren’t carrying anything. Domesticated uchawa might be obviously carrying a rider or some gear, but that’s about it. A few brave individuals will try to hide their valuables inside the uchawa’s carapace. Even an uchawa you raised from an egg won’t take well to its shell being invaded. The odds of finding random useful items in a wild uchawa shell are almost zero. The odds of finding something useful in a domesticated uchawa shell depend on how desperate or insane the owner happened to be.

Adventure Hooks

1) A famous crafter wants to incorporate uchawa carapace into a special set of armor. It would be easier to find a molted carapace than trying to get the material from the live creature but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

2) From time to time, desert settlements just disappear – people, structures, the whole shebang – lost into a sinkhole created by active uchawa. Relatives come themselves or send others to seek out the lost. Treasure hunters and explorers soon follow behind to see what can be salvaged and what new finds might be unearthed.

3) No one’s quite sure how you steal a herd of uchawa out from the stables of the Glittergeld Golden Dune Company, but apparently it’s possible because it’s been done. Time to round up some crab rustlers.

 

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