Erudite Strangler Creature (CR +2)

No creature truly benefits from learning things it was not meant to know. It always must pay a price of some sort, usually its sanity, its loved ones, or both. A creature which accepts a strangler symbiote in response to its promises of knowledge and power pays a price as well, but one it strangely enjoys. The symbiote carefully chooses a bloodthirsty, savage creature upon which to bestow its gifts, and, in exchange, that creature commits murder of the most personal sort: strangulation. First, an erudite strangler slays all its kin and fellow tribespeople, then it makes its way into genteel society as an example of a "reformed" creature. By day, the strangler shows off its vast intellect to curious onlookers, all while choosing its next victim, and, by night, it prowls for its marked victim. The nature of its "gift" ensures it travels frequently to avoid suspicion, but eventually someone pieces clues together and confronts the strangler—lethally. By this time, the true architect of the murders has found a new savage to fill with its ancient knowledge and thirst for death.

Creating an Erudite Strangler Creature

“Erudite strangler” is an acquired template that can be added to any intelligent corporeal creature. An erudite strangler creature uses all the base creature’s statistics and abilities except as noted here.

CR: +2

Alignment: Change the creature's alignment to any evil.

Armor Class: An erudite strangler gains preternatural senses from its symbiote. This grants the creature a +2 insight bonus to armor class and replaces any shield bonus with an additional insight bonus equal to the shield bonus.

Defenses/Qualities: The creature gains uncanny dodge and the following defenses:

  • Cloak of Madness: The symbiote's constant dark whispers inure an erudite strangler to madness. The creature gains a +8 bonus to saving throws to avoid mind-affecting compulsion effects.
  • Genteel Veneer: An erudite strangler always exudes an aura of gentility, and observers cannot help but believe the creature is civilized and intends no harm. The creature benefits from undetectable alignment, if it has fewer than 15 HD, or mind blank if it has 15 or more HD. This effect may be dispelled, but an erudite strangler can restore it as a free action.

Attacks: An erudite strangler retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature. However, it eschews manufactured weapons (except those it can strangle victims with, or to wear down a victim first) in favor of grappling and garroting.

Spell-Like Ability: The creature gains the following spell-like ability with a CL equal to the creature's HD (minimum 7):

  • 3/day – quickened black tentacles

Special Abilities: The creature gains the following special abilities.

Stunning Knowledge (Su): An erudite strangler's symbiote possesses wide-ranging knowledge, including deeply personal information about the foes it faces. Once per opponent, per combat, as a free action, the creature may speak a dark truth about the opponent. The target must make a Will saving throw, whose DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the strangler's HD + the strangler's Charisma modifier, to avoid becoming stunned for 1 round. A target benefiting from protection from evil or a similar effect is immune to this ability.

Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +6 (+3 to attack and damage, +3 to Climb and Swim skill checks, +3 to Strength and CMB checks, +3 to CMD), Dex +4 ( +2 to Ranged attack rolls; AC and touch AC, Initiative, and Ref saves; +2 to Acrobatics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks, add +2 to any of the base creature's Dexterity-based DCs), Con +4 (+2 hp per HD and Fortitude saves), Int +10 (+5 extra skill points per HD; +5 to Appraise, Craft, Knowledge, Linguistics and Spellcraft skill checks; +5 to any of the base creature's Intelligence-based DCs; 5 bonus languages), and Cha +4 (+2 to Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device; attempts to influence others; Channel Energy DCs; and any of the creature’s Charisma-based DCs).

Feats: Gain Deep Study, Improved Garrote and Improved Grapple (or Greater Grapple/Garrote, if the creature already possesses Improved Grapple/Garrote) as bonus feats even if it does not meet the prerequisites.

Skills: An erudite strangler gains Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (dungeoneering), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (planes), and Knowledge (religion) as class skills. It must put at least one rank provided by its increased Intelligence into each of these skills. The creature also gains a +8 racial bonus to Perception checks.

Environment: Change to any urban.

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