Endless Blue – Week 65 – Peel Eels: Passive Traps   Leave a comment

Zoology

Peel Eels — Passive Traps

Evolution is a marvelous process, systematically creating diversity in species so they can flourish in niches that would otherwise remain unused.  The peel eel is such an example.  A predator by descent, yet it lures the unsuspecting to it more like an opportunistic scavenger.

Peel Eel

Small Animal (Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 1d12 +2 (8 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 30 feet (6 cubes)
Buoyancy: Shoals (adjustable)
Armor Class: 0
Base Attack/Grapple: 1/-
Attack: Bite (1d4 points of damage)
Full Attack: Encompass (see below)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Encompass
Special Qualities: None
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will -2.
Abilities: Str 17, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 4, Wis 5, Cha 5
Skills: Disguise +12, Hide +10, Swim +9, Search +6
Feats: Alertness, Improved Grapple
Environment: Ocean floor (Shore, Shoals, Shelf)
Organization: Solitary or mating pairs.
Challenge Rating: 1 (varies)
Treasure: Non-digestible parts of prey
Alignment: Always neutral.
Advancement: Medium (2HD),  Large (3HD), Huge (4-5HD), Gargantuan (6-10HD),  Colossal (11-20HD), Tremendous (?), Immense (?)
Level Adjustment:

Peel eels are a common species in the oceans of Elqua, and can be found in any area where life is abundant.  Favoring reefs and kelp forests, they tend not to cluster together.  Instead, they will spread out, giving each other ample space in which to passive lurk for food.  Their coloration varies by natural habitat and diet, and can appear anywhere along the spectrum from gaudily colored to neutrally grey.  In either case, their coloration serves to help them camouflage themselves in their surroundings.

Labelled anguilliformes regurgitorum by Resurrectionist anatomists, the animal garners its strange colloquial name by the method of procuring prey.  The peel eel splits down its ventral edge, unfolding the muscles of its body and exposing its internal organs.  As the creature rests on the bottom of the ocean and unfolds, its colorful organs float slightly above the spine and neck.  The floating organs appear much like an aquatic plant or a random carcass.  The natural processes of the organs, like the heart pumping and the release of waste products, attracts prey.  Mistaking the floating organs as chum or perhaps aquatic flora, when a target starts to nibble, the peel eel flexes its spine muscles, slapping the two halves of it body together and trapping the victim.  Unable to escape, the peel eel’s stomach opens up and envelops the prey, slowly digesting it alive.

Like all anguilliformes, peel eels reproduce by laying eggs.  This clutch of eggs are small, round, and milky white, covered in a protective layer of mucus that slowly wears away due to the surrounding water’s level of salinization.  A mated pair will take turns guarding the gestating offspring, but will abandon the young to their own survival immediately upon hatching.  The larvae of the peel eel are aided in their survival due to their transparent bodies, which slowly become opaque as they feed.  Their coloration is influenced by the types of prey digested.  Packbreeder experimentation has shown that peel eels from the same clutch can eventually appear utter different in coloration, solely because of their diet.

Peel eels, like many fish, never stop growing throughout their lives.  They continue to increase in size as they age, and potentially there is no limit to the proportions they can achieve.   It is rare that a specimen can evade predators long enough to grow beyond Huge size, but folklore tells tales of peel eels of Gargantuan and Colossal scale, with even more primitive lore from Source worship of “a serpent with a tree growing from its belly”.  Despite such mythology, peel eels are a well known and truthfully minor threat to settlements, more akin to wild delphiz harassing the edge of a no mer’s seas settlement.

COMBAT

The tight musculature along the eel’s spine pulls the ribs apart and locks them in a convex shape with the “organ blossom” at the apex.  As unsuspecting fauna approach the blossom for a nibble, a signal is sent down to the spine muscles, triggering an near instantaneous snapping close.  It is the flexing of these muscles that pinch the convex shape into a concave one, and the natural elasticity of the eel’s musculature draws the halves together so quickly.

Encompass (Ex):  Similar to being Grappled, peel eels snatch their prey with their stomachs then snap the sides of their bodies closed suddenly, enveloping the surprised victim within themselves.  This does not preclude the peel eel from making actual Grapple attacks by wrapping its elongated body around a target.  While inside a peel eel, the victim cannot breathe and must hold its breath as it struggles for freedom, eventually slowly suffocating.  A successful Grapple check is needed to push the sides open enough to allow water in to breathe.

Improved Grapple (Ex):  The speed and special method utilized by peel eels to encompass their meals prevents themselves from being grappled in response.  The grappling peel eel does not incur an attack of opportunity, save in cases where the eel has been previous spotted and the adventurer uses the hold action to respond.  In other words, waiting until the peel eel springs.

Creature Lore
Common:  A lurking peel eel can be distinguished rather readily by anyone that has knowledge of their unique method of hunting.  A successful Spot check can be attained by anyone capable of Taking 10 on their roll.
Uncommon:  The meat of a peel eel is bland and flavorless, but edible.
Rare:  Right after the Kraken fell and devolved into the Ceph, peel eels were used as perimeter guards by the hiding Ceph as an early warning system they were being hunted down.
Obscure:  Obscure Yaun-Teel poetry from the pre-Kraken Occupation era makes an analogy between the sentient Yaun-Teel and the animalistic peel eel, emphasizing the “secret from within” — a veiled reference to the secret of Yaun-Teel reproduction.

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