DESCRIPTION Before being worn this item appears to be a wondrous piece of magical jewelry; a DC 18 Knowledge (history) check reveals it is from the outskirts of Ravine. As soon as it is worn by a creature it transforms into a thick, rounded piece of ash that attaches to the wearer’s neck, transforming them into a mutant (if they are not already a mutant, roll once on the table below). [More on mutants tomorrow!—MM] Once the painful transformation is complete the wearer is under the effects of a permanent charm monster spell towards whomever attached the ashen choker and convinced via a suggestion effect that any attempts to remove it will result in instant death; these compulsions remain until the ashen choker is removed and the wearer does not receive a saving throw to negate either the charm monster or suggestion effects. After the ashen choker is removed, a transformed creature returns to their natural state after a number of days equal to double the number of days they wore the cursed item.
CREATION Magic Itemsnecklace of adaptation, necklace of fireballs, necklace of ki serenity
Ashen Choker Mutation Table
The wearer suffers the Ashen Death; roll on SL-2: Transgression Mutations. [Tomorrow!—MM]
The wearer’s skin sags, cracks, and becomes horned, resulting in a -2 to all Charisma-based skill checks.
One of the wearer’s legs expands, becoming a large slab of meat. The wearer can no longer be tripped or go prone but takes a -4 penalty to Dexterity.
Pus fills the wearer’s sweat glands giving the creature the stench monster ability (DC 15, 10 minutes). Unlike normal, this affects the mutant.
Large prongs extend from the wearer’s hands, making it so it can’t use manufactured weapons and suffers a 35% chance of failing to cast any spell with a somatic component. The wearer gains two claw attacks as secondary attacks as well as the attach monster ability.
The wearer’s eyes become large crystals that extend a few inches past their nose, granting darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision, but sunlight powerlessness as well.
GREGARIA SPHINX CR 8 XP 4,800 N Large magical beast Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +21
DEFENSE AC 21, touch 13, flat-footed 17 (+4 Dex, +8 natural, –1 size) hp 102 (12d10+36) Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +10
OFFENSE Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good) Melee 2 claws +15 (2d6+4, Crit 19–20/x2), sting +10 (1d6+2 plus poison) Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. Special Attacks pounce, rake (2 claws +15, 2d6+6) Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +16) Constant—comprehend languages, detect magic, read magic, see invisibility 4/day—dispel magic, legend lore, locate object, remove curse 2/week—symbol of fear (DC 20), symbol of pain (DC 19), or symbol of persuasion (DC 20)
STATISTICS Str 19, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 26, Wis 19, Cha 11 Base Atk +12; CMB +17; CMD 31 (35 vs. trip) Feats Alertness, Combat Casting, Hover, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Initiative, Iron Will Skills Bluff +14, Diplomacy +14, Fly +10, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (all) +12, Perception +21, Sense Motive +19, Spellcraft+16 Languages Common, Sphinx
ECOLOGY Environment any desert (Scorched Lands) Organization solitary, pair, or trio Treasure none
SPECIAL ABILITIES Gregaria Sphinx Poison (Ex) Sting—injury; save Fort DC 19; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; effect muted for 3 rounds; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based. Gregaria Swarm (Ex) When a creature is affected by a gregaria sphinx’s poison there is a 50% chance that small maggots are implanted into its body, taking control of the host’s physical movements as the dominate person spell (CL 12th). Unlike the dominate person spell no save is triggered by forcing the target to attack an ally, and a creature so dominated can only take a standard and move action each turn. When a creature dies while under the mental effects of a gregaria sphinx’s poison, a plague locust swarm bursts from its corpse the next round (DC 16 Will save negates).
GREGARIA SPHINX Large beast, Neutral Armor Class 18 (+4 natural) Hit Points 101 (12d10+36) Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft.
Saving Throws Con +6, Int +8, Wis +7 Skills Insight +7, Perception +7 Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17 Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons, psychic Condition Immunities charmed, frightened Languages Common Challenge 8 (3,900 XP) Gregaria Sphinx Poison. Description 1 Magical Strikes. All of a gregaria sphinx’s claw and stinger attacks are magical. Spellcasting. A gregaria sphinx is an 8th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 16; +8 to hit with spell attacks), though it can access two spells beyond the normal ken. A gregaria sphinx has the following spells prepared from the wizard spell list: Cantrips (at will): mage hand, prestidigitation 1st-level (4 slots): comprehend languages, detect magic 2nd-level (3 slots): locate object, magic mouth, see invisibility 3rd-level (3 slots): counterspell, dispel magic, remove curse 5th-level (1 slot): legend lore 7th-level (1 slot): symbol
ACTIONS Multiattack. The gregaria sphinx makes two claw attacks and one stinger attack. Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage. Stinger.Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. If its saving throw result is 5 or lower, the poisoned target is compelled to attack its allies for the same duration, or until it is relieved of the poisoned condition or an ally pleads for the poisoned creature to stop (prompting the poisoned creature to make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw to shake off the effect). The poisoned target can repeat the saving throw on each of its turns as a simple action, ending the effect on itself on a success.
LEGENDARY ACTIONS The gregaria sphinx can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The gregaria sphinx regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn. Claw Attack. The gregaria sphinx makes one claw attack. Activate Poison (Costs 2 actions). The gregaria sphinx may force a creature that has gained the poisoned condition from its stinger to attack one of the poisoned creature’s allies. Cast a Spell (Costs 3 actions). The gregaria sphinx casts a spell from its list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.
Seeking out two establishments where a PRANKSTER’s coin is present, the PCs don’t turn up any leads, but on the third try their luck pays off—seeking out the aid of the locals in Ravine and succeeding on a DC 18 Diplomacy check reveals that a large group of the criminals were spotted heading north towards the Sea of Shards. Failure on this check means traveling back to the Parched Pilgrim and utilizing Kara the Sun Flea’s connections to the same effect.
A 3 day trek across the Scorched Lands gets the PCs to the borders of the Sea of Shards, where the first of many ashen stalagmites rise from up ahead in the rolling dunes. If the party hurried or rushed out to the desert (without stopping to get aid from the Sun Flea) they arrive early enough to make a DC 23 Perception check and spot a group of two dozen P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings gradually headed away from Ravine. Otherwise after a day of journeying into the wastelands they start to find bodies of the ne’er-do-wells (a DC 15 Perception check every few miles); though some have been visibly slain with claws or some kind of piercing weapon, most appear to have dropped dead for no reason.
After another 3 days of tracking the criminals adventurers hear the din of combat near an area of the Sea of Shards known as the Sandy Gate. When they rush over the nearby sand hill they find 7 hirelings facing off with a trio of gregaria sphinx [Tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! —TS], two of which are unharmed (the last being at 46 hp). The creatures ignore the party until all of the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are dead or one of the PCs attack them.
When the monsters are dealt with any surviving criminals flee into the Scorched Lands, trying to escape from the party. The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. hirelings dash off into the Sea of Shards and if captured, may be coerced to reveal that the cabal is in league with some mutants from the fissures. The two groups were meant to meet and exchange a certain material with the transformed denizens of the wasteland, though what exactly they were to gather remains a mystery.
A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings. Use the “Bandit” statistics for the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings; there are a total of 18. A DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the corpses in the sands.