A hunting head is a malicious spirit creature, sometimes created by evil magicians from severed heads, but also summoned up from the Netherworld. They resemble a severed humanoid head, with pointed teeth and a pale-green corpse-light colour to the skin. Typically they have long, thick hair that they use for locomotion, either as spider-like legs or as tentacles like an octopus, allowing them to swim or climb with ease.
They are drawn to death, and feed upon the last dying life-force of living creatures. Normally they remain hidden until they can creep out and fasten their teeth upon the throat of a dying creature, killing it and absorbing the life-force. Some hunting heads are found naturally at sights of battle, or in areas where deaths are common such as near the lair of a dangerous beast or a difficult pass through mountains. Some appear spontaneously when a powerful being is dying. In this instance, typically one hunting head appears for every 2 Hit Dice of the creature dying.
In the Empire of Splendour these creatures are known drashudari and are often under the control of a tabusami magician or a Paper Lantern Gang, used to terrorise the local population. A hunting head created by a magician retains no memory of its former life, but it is rumoured that if one hears its true name, it is destroyed. For this reason they often have their ears stoppered with wax.
The Moa-Ruaki sea-nomads call these creatures onokawi. The stories say that onokawi live on beaches and feed upon the life-force of drowning sailors who have been washed up on shore, or they can float upon the seas like a coconut, and have often been mistaken for one by unfortunate fishermen.
Tiny Undead (Netherworld, Spirit)
Hit Dice: 2d12 (13 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. (10 squares), climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Armour Class: 17 (+2 size, +3 Dex, +2 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+1
Attack: Bite +6 melee (1d4 plus death knell) or hair +6 melee touch (grapple)
Full Attack: Bite +6 melee (1d4 plus death knell) and hair +1 melee touch (grapple)
Space/Reach: 2 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Death knell
Special Qualities Darkvision 90 ft., death sense 200 ft., undead traits
Saves: Fortitude +0, Reflex +3, Will +3
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 16, Con -, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10
Skills: Climb +11, Escape Artist +7, Hide +11, Move Silently +7, Spot +5, Swim +8
Feats: Weapon Finesse
Organization: Usually between 1-10
Challenge Rating: 1
Advancement: 3-6 HD (Tiny)
Level Adjustment: -
Combat: Hunting heads are lurkers, waiting until somebody nearby is dying, whereupon they sneak up and drain his life force. If attacked directly they will try to flee. Their hair gives them reach, but in order to bite they must move into an opponents's space, potentially provoking an attack of opportunity. They usually only bite immobilised opponents
Death Knell (Su): If a hunting head bites a dying character it gains 1d8 temporary hit points, +1 to all saving throws and the DC of its death knell attack increases by +1 for the next 10 minutes. The bitten victim must make a Fortitude DC 11 check or die. The saving throw is Charisma-based.
Death Sense (Su): Hunting heads can tell if someone is dying (i.e. is in the dying state) within 200 ft. of their position, and will know the general direction of that person. This ability is not blocked by any solid material but may be blocked by magical effects such as protection from spirits.
Skills: Hunting heads have a +8 racial bonus to Climb and Swim checks, and may always Take 10 even when rushed or threatened. Unlike many other swimming creatures they do not gain a run speed when swimming. They use their Dexterity modifier for Climb checks. Hunting heads have a +8 racial bonus to grapple checks.
Hunting heads can be created using the animate dead spell. The idea that their true name destroys them may simply be a rumour, or it may provide an interesting method of destroying the creatures, at the gamesmaster's choice. Hunting heads may also be called directly from the Netherworld by means of the summon monster I spell (or in greater numbers through the higher level versions, of course).
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