The creature in the distance moves with grace and speed, bounding across the blackened earth like a comet through the nights sky. As it draws closer you can see its body is composed of thick magma and hard rock, smoke and flames constantly issuing from its body. It is only now that you realize the beast is not running along the ground at all but is some how darting across flowing lava, like a human sized water-strider moving across the surface of a running river, made of melting stone.
Magna Graphia (Lava Strider) CR 4
CN Medium outsider (earth, elemental, fire, native)
Init +7; Senses Thermalsight (60 ft.), Perc. +9
AC 17 (+3 dex, +4 natural armor)
hp 30 (5d10+5)
Fort + 8, Ref +10 , Will +4
Immune Elemental traits, fire
Weakness Vulnerable to cold
Speed 50 ft.; lava walk
Melee slam +7 (1d8+2 plus burn)
Special Attacks Powerful charge (slam, 2d6+4 plus burn); burn (1d4, DC 13)
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 4, Wis 12, Cha 11
Base Atk +5 ; CMB +7 ; CMD 20
Feats Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (slam), Run
Skills Acrobatics +11 Jump +15, Perception +9
Thermalsight (Ex) This ability functions like Blindsight but is based on the Lava Striders ability to sense minute differences in temperature and air pressure. While it is possible to effectively “blind” a Lava Strider using spells or abilities that generate heat and cold only those that have a duration longer than 1 round are sufficient to disorient a Lava Walker and must completely obscure any heat signatures (such as a Wall of Ice surrounding the entire party).
Burn (Ex) A lava strider deals fire damage in addition to damage dealt on a successful hit in melee. Those affected by the burn ability must also succeed on a Reflex save or catch fire, taking the listed damage for an additional 1d4 rounds at the start of its turn. A burning creature can attempt a new save as a full-round action. Dropping and rolling on the ground grants a +4 bonus on this save. Creatures that hit a burning creature with natural weapons or unarmed attacks take fire damage as though hit by the burning creature and must make a Reflex save to avoid catching on fire.
Lava Walk (Ex) Lava striders are able to move across lava as if it were solid ground, so long as they make at least one move action per round. Otherwise they begin to drown as normal and must pull themselves free of the lava before they may use this ability again.
Environment Temperate desert, plains
Organization Solitary, pair, pack (3-12)
Life is perhaps the last word that comes to mind when one thinks of the Scorched Lands, the blasted and cracked earth punished by the Shard of the Sun, and yet still life persists even here. Learned sages refer to them as Magna Graphia but are more commonly known as Lava Striders. These four legged elementals have found a home in a rather unlikely place, but they seem perfectly suited to the harsh environment they now inhabit.
Lava Striders are similar in a number of ways to magma elementals but have adapted to living in the material world and as such are no longer true outsiders. The four legged creatures are built for speed and power, their bodies composed equally of hardened rock, flowing magma and gouts of fire. Atop the rounded back flames arch and fly into the hazy air while a series of six protuberances spread equidistant around the creatures fiery hump constantly spew smoke and long streams of flame. The beasts heads consist of little more than a rounded stump of flowing magma, broken shards of dark slate pushing backwards to reveal bright molten rock. Long strands of dripping lava lash and dangle about the body and head, sending droplettes of quickly cooling lava flying into the air. Lava Striders are usually 5 feet tall at the shoulders and weighs 150 pounds.
Though clearly of elemental origin Lava Striders now call the material plane home and as such they must eat and sleep like other mortals, though what constitutes feeding and slumber for the Lava Strider may not follow conventional wisdom. They gain the majority of their sustenance from mineral deposits which they slowly subsume into their bodies but have a strong preference for worked or precious metals when available, making them a menace to adventurers in an already dangerous land. The process of melting and then consuming worked metal takes too much time to be effective in combat but unless protected from fire even magical items will eventually succumb to the heat.
Lava Striders are usually solitary hunters, their ability to move swiftly across flowing lava allows them to reach mineral sources even other creatures immune to the intense heat may not be able to reach. Packs of as many as a dozen Striders have been sighted but only at fresh volcanic eruptions or when bringing down dangerous prey (like a party of adventurers wearing delicious metal armor). Even in such circumstances their tactical behavior varies little, preferring to use their Power Charge to rush foes before fleeing swiftly and then charging again until their prey or they are dead.
HABITAT & SOCIETY
Though the vast majority of Lava Striders are found along the Scorched Lands they do exist in other regions, especially those with frequent volcanic activity but require extreme heat and rich minerals to sustain themselves. This often leads to interactions with other elemental and fire based creatures, but only those who use or require metal and minerals see much reason in bothering with the simple minded Striders. Red dragons have a particular hatred for the beasts, as they have been known to slip into the dragons treasure hordes and devour precious coins and magical equipment. A red dragon that spots Lava Striders in its domain will sometimes fly out to kill them directly, usually with spells and claw, or by sending out minions to at least chase the swift elementals away.
The reproductive habits of Lava Striders are not well known but scholars who have dared the Scorched Lands brutal terrain claim that the creatures bifurcate after consuming large quantities of minerals and precious metals. Young Lava Striders grow quickly when food is plentiful but show no more connection to their “twin” than they do any other of their species. There have been reported cases of Lava Striders consuming particularly powerful magical items made of metal and taking on strange arcane powers or growing to fantastic sizes, the fact that the creatures leave very little behind and that the mysterious energies seem to fade from their bodies with time make it difficult to confirm such reports.
Magic Infused Lava Strider (+2 CR): When a Lava Strider consumes a magical item with a value of 3000 gp or more it temporarily absorbs some of that objects energy. For the next 2d4 days the Lava Strider gains a +1 deflection bonus to AC, its natural attacks are considered magical for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction and deal an addition point of damage (arcane or divine depending on the nature of the item) with each successful hit. The Lava Strider also gains SR 14 and becomes extremely aggressive towards those carrying magical items.
Magna Graphia (Lava Strider) by Jordan Kirk Ferguson (Mr.DTwenty)
Art by Nicholas Cloister