Thursday, July 16, 2015

Behold! The fearsome lava guppy!

The real fish still looks pretty damned fearsome! is running an article about tiny, fanged fish that can actually live in underwater volcanic rifts.  Per usual, this made me want to design a monster.  I know that lava-spitting fish aren't terribly original (hello Metroid), but sometimes you just feel the urge.

There were a lot of things that I found really cool about this fish from the article, like:
  • We don't know if this is an adult fish or just a larva;
  • Everyone thought the coastal cousins of these undersea volcanic-based fish were just getting swept into the open ocean and dying;
  • They thrive in acidic waters (I was tempted to give my version some acid resistance, but decided that with being immune to fire--how else do you swim in magma?--this would be overkill.  That said, change the damage types and it still works.)
  • There are also volcanic lobsters!  You could also flip the Cold-based template from the first Reign of Winter AP to make some of these as well.
Honestly, I like these guys more as traps than I do as combatants.  Imagine that the PCs need to cross a small bridge across a lake/river/other liquid body of lava/magma.  Suddenly, the lava guppies surface and begin pummeling dripping blocks of magma at the PCs.  Those PCs will either have to run like hell to get across the bridge or do some real creative thinking about how to freeze the lava and take out their enemies.  I guess a really nuts barbarian might just charge in.  Hopefully even through his rage he'd run out after burning himself on the molten lava.  Stats for both 13th Age and Pathfinder are below.

13th Age 
Lava Guppy
A waxy red fish pokes its head out of the magma.  Opening its mouth, a dark red glow illuminates a row of razor-sharp teeth from within.

2nd Level Archer [(magical) beast]
Initiative: +4

R: Firespit +7 vs. PD, 7 damage
   Miss: 2 points fire damage
   Natural even hit: Magma sticks.  Target must use their standard action to clear off the magma or take another 7 fire damage on its next turn.

C: Spiky Teeth! +9 v. AC, 10 damage

Resist Fire (18+): Fire attacks against the lava guppy must roll an 18 or higher or do only half damage.

Nastier Specials
Acid loving fish: Underwater volcanoes have acid as well as magma and this fish love both.  These fish switch between fire and acid resistance as a quick action.
Once bitten: With a successful spiky teeth attack,

AC 18
PD 16               HP 36
MD 12

(c) Unknown
Archmage: Are lava guppies a natural creation or a magical experiment gone horribly wrong?  If the Archmage knows, he's not telling.  Either way, their magma-producing glands can be used to empower spells for throwing fire or for heating the Archmage's floating islands and the upper reaches of Horizon.  But what happens if the Blue or the Lich King finds a way to turn those glands into flying fire-spitting fish?
Crusader: Word has it that when the Crusader reclaimed one hellhole into one of his fortresses, the lava guppies transformed into golden fish that sing.  The Prince of Shadows could find a buyer for one of those.  In fact, he could play several buyers off against each other.
Diabolist: Rivers of magma guarded by lava-spewing fish.  Check!
The Three: Rumor has it that the Red uses a specially-trained school of lava guppies to clean him when bathing.


A waxy red fish pokes its head out of the magma.  Opening its mouth, a dark red glow illuminates a row of razor-sharp teeth from within.
Lava Guppy CR 1
XP 400

Neutral Small Magical Beast
Init +4; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +4

AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 11 (+4 dex, +1 size, +1 dodge)
hp 13 (2d10+2)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +0
Vulnerable cold
Speed swim 40 ft.
Melee bite +1 (1d4-1 plus sharp tooth)
Ranged firespit +6 (2d6 plus magma)
Special Attacks sharp tooth
Str 9, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 15
Feats Dodge
Skills Perception +4; Stealth +8;Swim +7 Racial Bonuses +8 Swim
Languages none
Environment magma
Organization solitary, dual, school (3-12)
Treasure None
Special Abilities
Fire spit (Su): As a ranged attack, a lava guppy can spit a blob of magma with a range increment of 30 ft.  Creatures hit by the blob must make a DC 14 Reflex save to avoid the liquid sticking to them.  Those who fail take damage as exposed to lava (Core Rulebook 444).  Pouring water on the affected person or fully immersing them ends the effect immediately.
Sharp tooth (Ex): On a successful bite attack, the victim must make a DC 9 Fortitude save or be subject to bleed 1.  A successful DC 15 Heal check (costs a standard action) or receiving magical healing ends the bleed damage.

Descended from fish that acclimated to living in oceans near volcanic rifts, lava guppies have evolved to swim in rivers of magma.  Lava guppies are frequently placed as guards by those immune to their fiery spit and who have access to rivers of lava, trusting in intruders inability to attack their magma-based guards from land.  Born as tiny tadpoles, lava guppies grow to measure 2 feet long and weigh 35-50 lbs. as adults.