Stem Louse (3.5e Monster)
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|Hit Dice:||3d8+9 (22 hp)|
|Speed:||30 ft, climb 30 ft, swim 40 ft|
|Armor Class:||18 (+3 dex, +3 natural, +2 size), touch 15, flat-footed 15|
|Attack:||Bite +7 melee (1d3+3, 20/x2)|
|Full Attack:||Bite +7 melee (1d3+3, 20/x2)|
|Space/Reach:||2 1/2 ft/0 ft|
|Special Attacks:||Blight Spray, Grab On, Implantation|
|Special Qualities:||Darkvision 60 ft, Directed Blindsense 120 ft, Illithid Slave|
|Saves:||Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +4|
|Abilities:||Str 16, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 3, Wis 13, Cha 17|
|Skills:||Hide +11, Jump +20, Move Silently +9|
|Organization:||Solitary, Pair, or Nest (3-8)|
|Alignment:||Often Lawful Evil|
|Advancement:||4-6 HD (Tiny), 7-9 HD (Small)|
The corpse had the top of its head missing, down to its nose, with its skin covered in acid burns and its eyes and brain missing. As you study the corpse, you look up to see another mutilated body shambling towards you and the top of its head replaced by a bulging tumor covered in tiny red eyes.
Creatures created by the illithid as a servitor race (known to them as Exiguacephalons), these aberrations inhabit the bodies of the recently dead and pilot them to their will. They were created with the intent of using the empty dead bodies of those whose brains were eaten by the illithid themselves. Appearing to be part squid and part insect, the tentacles have been transformed into stubby hooks when embed themselves into the heads of humanoid creatures, and it possesses a snake-like tail which it uses for locomotion, and to devour and replace the brain stem of those it inhabits, tipped at the end with a lampray-like mouth. It's "head" is a large and mottled lump of flesh covered in beady red eyes, a dome like "face" of bone, and a protective thick skin, the hooks below it aiding in its movement.
Encountered outside of the body, the stem louse is an ambush predator. It waits until a prey is weak, then finishes the job. Once it has found a corpse which is still intact and hasn't begun rotting too much it will use its acrid saliva to melt away the top of the head and brain, then sit in the bowl-like remainder of the skull and replace the brain stem, a process which only takes 10 minutes. After connecting, it restarts the body to almost full functionality, but all of the creature's nervous system is now a slave to the stem louse.
It is rumored that the stem louse is not merely some bio-engineered creature, but actually an illithid tadpole which has grown too old and has begun transformation into a neothelid. Rather than terminate it before it becomes self-aware, the tadpole undergoes a traumatic chemical transformation to turn it into a stem louse, then bombarded with psychic energy to make them pliable to the illithid's demands. Thus many stem louses are loyal unquestioning slaves to the illithids, using the bodies of other more physically useful races. But once in a blue moon, it is said one resists the retraining, loses their Illithid Slave traits, and becomes as smart, cunning, and dangerous as any illithid but with all the advantages of being able to change one's body.
The stem louse is about the size of a human head and brain stem, covered in dark purple skin with black, brown, or purple scales, especially around its bulbous head. It weighs about 10 lbs and doesn't speak, but understands Undercommon.
A stem louse works in ambush, hiding away until the time is right to strike and tries to pick off a creature, or lead them into greater dangers. While not smart, they are cunning enough to make use of pre-existing traps and hazards.
Blight Spray (Ex): Stem louse saliva is a hazardous brew of chemicals which they can spray from the mouths at the tips of their tail, raised up to attack like a scorpion. They can make a ranged touch attack against creatures in 60 ft, dealing 1d4 acid damage per HD (3d4 for the above example), and the creature must make a DC 14 Fortitude save or become blind for 1d4 rounds, or until one can wash out their eyes with water (a standard action). They cannot use blight spray while they are implanted in another creature's body.
Directed Blindsense (Ex): The stem louse has a hardened plate on its "face" which it uses as a sort of active echolocation, using frequencies impossible to hear. It can see in a 120 ft cone as if it had blindsense. Using it is a swift action to see with it for 1 round.
Grab On (Ex): The stem louse is a surprisingly good grappler, with strength behind their flexible table and flesh digging claws. They take no penalty to size on grapple checks, and they may make a jump check (moving up to their move speed) and make a grapple check against one target without provoking attacks of opportunity of either movement or grapple attempt. If they fail they land in the nearest empty space, otherwise the target is considered grappled while the stem louse is not (but cannot move as they are in the target's square). Once a round as a free action at the beginning of the stem louse's turn, grabbed targets take their blight spray damage and blindness. It gains cover to the creature it is grappling, and ranged attacks against the target have a 50% chance of hitting the victim instead.
Illithid Slave: The stem louse has been bred to obey. They take a -4 penalty on Will saves against illithids.
Implantation (Ex): A humanoid or monstrous humanoid corpse within one size category of medium size may be implanted within by the stem louse. The process of converting a corpse takes 10 minutes of work, but at the end of the process the stem louse buries inside the creature's head and takes place of the creature's brain and brain stem and brings the corpse back to life. The revived creature keeps everything (BAB, hp, HD, and so forth) except for its mental ability scores, Will save, skill points, and class features. It uses the stem louse's mental ability scores, Will save, and skill points instead. While implanted, the stem louse is considered part of the revived creature and cannot be targeted. If the revived creature is slain, the stem louse immediately disconnects landing in the nearest square and acts immediately in the following initiative, usually to run away.
Skills: The stem louse has a +20 racial bonus to jump checks.