|Climate/Terrain:||Lower Planes or any forest|
|No. Appearing:||1 (1-4)|
|No. of Attacks:||2-5 limbs and 1 bite|
|Damage/Attack:||2d4 (per limb), 4d4 (bite)|
|Special Attacks:||Surprise, entangle|
|Size:||H (15-20’ tall)|
There are layers of the Abyss where the plants’re just as dangerous as the tanar’ri. Travelers tell of vast, steaming jungles filled with poisonous blooms or flesh-eating fungi, of woodlands that appear normal but are laced with deadly killers, and other sinister threats. Ironmaws’re one of the deadliest of the whole lot. Worse yet, they’ve spread throughout the Lower Planes and even onto the Outlands. A body’s well-advised to be careful of where he makes his camp, or he might wake up in the dead-book.
In their natural form, ironmaws look like gnarled old oaks, leafless and dead, Their trunks and limbs are much thicker than they ought to be for the ironmaw’s height, but a basher who’s not familiar with the wilderness’d only notice something wrong with the ironmaw about 25% of the time. Bloods like rangers, elves, or druids spot an ironmaw in its natural shape with a single glance 75% of the time.
On closer inspection, some of the twisted limbs of the ironmaw are clearly much longer than they should be; the tree bends and contorts its striking limbs to conceal their true length. At closer range it’s also possible to spot the ironmaw’s jagged mouth, a 2-foot-long crevice in its lower trunk lined with sharp knife-edged ridges of bark. Normally, the ironmaw’s mouth is closed so tightly the crevice disappears into the normal folds and ridges of its bark. A cutter close enough to see these details gets a second roll to notice something wrong (see above), but unfortunately he might be within striking distance already.
With all that said about the ironmaw’s natural form, it’s worth mentioning that most of an ironmaw’s victims never see its natural form; the creature’s a master of disguise and can make itself look like almost any medium-size deciduous tree. Ironmaws use this ability to waylay travelers or prey on game trails, striking at animals that never even know they’re near.
Combat: An ironmaw’s camouflage ability allow it to slowly grow false leaves and change the color and texture of its bark to match the forest around it. It takes anywhere form 2 to 5 days for an ironmaw to match perfectly, but when it’s completely camouflaged the ironmaw’s victims suffer a -4 penalty to their surprise checks. (Victims who just don’t spot an uncamouflaged ironmaw suffer the same penalty.)
When an ironmaw strikes, it lashes out with its special attack limbs. Typically, these branches have a reach equal to the ironmaw’s height; an ironmaw’s got 2 to 5 of them. If the ironmaw scores a natural 19 or 20 with one of its limb attacks, it manages to wrap the limb around its enemy and can begin to drag the victim towards its mouth. The limbs are extremely tough - they’re AC -2 and require 15 points of damage from an edged weapon to sever. (This damage doesn’t count against the ironmaw’s total hit points.) A trapped victim could instead attempt a bend bars/lift gates roll to escape the limb’s grasp.
Trapped victims are dragged to the ironmaw’s trunk at a rate of 10 feet per round. Instead of escaping or attacking, a character can dig in his heels and try to resist by making a Strength check. For every point he makes the check by, he’s dragged 1 foot less. For example, a character with a 16 Strength rolls a 13 on his check, making it by 3, so he’s dragged only 7 feet that round.
If an enemy’s close enough to strike at the ironmaw’s trunk, or has been dragged there, he’s close enough to be bitten. The ironmaw’s bite is powerful and dangerous; if it scores a hit, it clamps down on its victim and won’t let go until either it or its prey is dead, automatically scoring bite damage each round. Once again, a successful bend bars/lift gates roll allows a character to pull free of the tree.
An ironmaw’s trunk and bark are nearly as dense as iron. It’s immune to damage from Type B weapons. Ironmaws do have one weakness: fire. Searing any limb with open flame causes it to release its victim, and menacing its trunk with a torch releases a victim hld io its mouth. An ironmaw won’t try to entangle a character wielding open flame, but it might still use its limbs to slap or strike at him in an attempt to keep the flame away.
Habitat/Society: Ironmaws aren’t social creatures; fully-grown trees normally uproot and destroy saplings nearby so that they won’t have to share their hunting grounds. However, in parts of the Lower Planes, it’s possibe to find several ironmaws clustered around a particularly rich area. Some fiends also try to plant ironmaws to guard passageways or other accesses to their lairs, but unless it’s well fed an ironmaw’s likely to wander off in search of food.
Ironmaws’re malicious and ill-tempered things that attack any creature that passes by. They’re surprisingly cunning, and often wait patiently for all potential prey to wander into strikeing range before attacking.
Ecology: Ironmaws prey indisriminately on all animal life. Their appetites appear to be nearly endless; ironmaws attack no matter how recently they’ve fed or how hungry they really are. They’re incapable of photosynthesis and rely on hunting to keep them alive; but a hungry ironmaw can survive on carrion. Although ironmaws gain no energy from sunlight, they’re much more active in daytime than they are at night.
Ironmaws appear to be parthenogenetic, and produce a bud every 3 to 7 years. The parent ironmaw plants its offspring near a recent kill and then abandons it. After it consumes this first meal (mostly while still a tiny sapling), the young ironmaw grows much like a normal tree for several years, producing true leaves and feeding via photosynthesis, before losing its foliage and beginning its predatory habits.
Last Modified: June 10, 2010, 11:59:40 GMT
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