I have to admit, I was stumped. This month’s RPG Blog Carnival themeStar Wars. Don’t get me wrong, I love (the original) Star Wars. I’ve played many a Star Wars RPG, read many a Star Wars book, been Luke Skywalker many a time for Halloween… The list goes on. Heck, I even produced Star Wars! The Musical when I was in college.

Still, l just could not come up with a way Star Wars related to what was going on over here at World Builder Blog. I thought and thought and then gave up. Maybe I was just going to be a disappointment to the RPGBA and bow out this month. I felt like a lameo.

Then I realized I had to stop being so literal. Star Wars is in space. Exploration Age is more of a medieval fantasy world (though Space Exploration Age sounds incredible! Hmmm…) So what ? Story is story and fantasy is fantasy. There are so many things in all of our games that could be inspired by Star Wars. The posts I’ve done on mounts, the empires of Bragonay and Parian, airships, and more share aspects with Star Wars. Heck there’s more to come that has yet to be revealed relating to smugglers and ancient orders and who knows what else! Star Wars has all that a bag of chips. So I was a fool.

Well today, I’m going to talk about my favorite Star Warsian beast and how I can fit it into Exploration Age. It’s not the rancor, though he is a close second. This beast is native to Tatooine, one of the greatest places in the Star Wars universe. I’m not speaking of banthas or Jawas. No, no! I’m speaking of the sarlacc.

What are Sarlaccs?

Nom nom nom.

According to Wookiepedia, sarlaccs are essentially large, plant-like omnivores that grow downwards into the earth and outwards forming ever deeper and wider living pits of teeth. They live for 20,000 to 50,000 years, but their Exploration Age equivalent will have immortal lifespans.

The sarlacc has crazy tentacles that can grab a creature and pull it toward it mouth. Since the sarlacc doesn’t move it doesn’t need to eat terribly much, but it can fit a lot into its huge stomach and will eat anything it can which happens to approach because in the desert who knows when your next meal will be?

The beaked, snake-like tongue doubles as its mouth opening. The sarlacc devours pray through its tongue. Once a victim is in the stomach, spines laced with neurotoxins paralyze the victim so it sarlacc can digest in peace over the course of 1,000 years.

Why Sarlaccs Rock

Sarlaccs are ferocious, hungry, and torturous. They slowly digest victims over the course of 1,000 years after devouring them in the grossest and most horrific way possible – via strange snake-y tongue. In terms of tabletop roleplaying, the sarlacc scene in Return of the Jedi is one of the best designed set piece encounters ever! Sarlaccs are like an enormous desert Venus flytrap that eats several people at once. Suck it, Audrey II.

Also, if we look at Expanded Universe lore, sarlaccs can be escaped, but only if you’re a BAMF like (non-canonical spoiler alert!) Boba Fett so sarlacc s are terrifying, but not wholly insurmountable villains.

Sarlaccs in Exploration Age

A look at the entirety of a sarlacc. Gross.

Ok, so how do I work sarlaccs into Exploration Age’s story? First, they’re going to need a different name, because copyright. How about gaping maws? Get it? Because their mouths are… Of course you get it. It’s painfully simple. For that same copyright reason and for fun and simplification, I’m going to change a few other details here about the sarlacc. The gaping maw is inspired by the sarlacc, not an exact copy.

Well Canus is already a world full of interesting horrors, which includes many an ancient aberrant creature. Gaping maws certainly seem weird enough to be aberrants. There’s plenty of deserts on Canus, so maybe these creatures have taken root in the desert and when their brethren went underground they could not follow as they were too rooted in their pits. They did not represent much threat to the dragons, so they didn’t bother to kill the gaping maws.

The older a gaping maw is the bigger and deeper it is. They are stationary creatures with spiked tentacles that whip around and drag prey into their tongue mouths. They digest their prey very slowly, killing them over a slow and torturous digestive period which can last months.

Gaping maws are tough. The best way to kill a gaping maw is to attack it it from the inside, which is difficult since the noxious gases created by its stomach acids can paralyze a creature. Creatures swallowed by the gaping maw may resist its noxious stomach gas and try to attack it from within. The gaping maw may try and crush the creature using its stomach muscles if it attacks, but this is a last resort. It prefers to digest slowly and conserve its energy.

Gaping maws are asexual and reproduce every 100 years by releasing spores which burrow into the sand and take root, growing into young, then adult, then ancient gaping maws. Not many gaping maws get to mature however, since as babies they can easily be dug from the earth and devoured by various desert animals.

D&D Next Statistics

Using the last public playtest packet, here’s how I’d represent gaping maws in my game.

Gaping Maw, Young

Huge Aberration

Armor Class 14

HP 52 (7d10 + 14)

Speed 0 ft.

Str 18 (+4)

Dex 10 (+0)

Con 14 (+2)

Int 3 (-4)

Wis 9 (-1)

Cha 8 (-1)

Alignment unaligned

Languages 

Traits

Damage Resistance: The gaping maw is resistant to all nonmagical weapons.

Grappler: The gaping maw has advantage on attack rolls against a creature grappled by it.

Magic Immunity: The gaping maw is immune to spells of 3rd level or lower, and it makes saving throws against spells of 4th level or higher with advantage.

Regeneration: At the start of each of its turns, the gaping maw regains 5 hit points. If the gaping maw takes damage from a creature it has swallowed, this trait doesn’t function on the gaping maw’s next turn. This trait ceases to function while the gaping maw has 0 hit points.

Actions

Multi-Attack: A gaping maw may make four tentacle attacks or two tentacle attacks and one bite attack.

Melee Attack – Tentacle: +5 to hit (reach 20 ft.; one creature). Hit: 10 (1d10+5) piercing damage and if the target is Large or smaller, the creature is grappled. While using a tentacle to grapple a creature, the gaping maw can make that tentacle’s attack only against the grappled creature.

Melee Attack – Bite: +5 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 15 (2d8+6) piercing damage.

Melee Attack – Crush: +5 to hit (all swallowed creatures). Hit: 12 (1d12+6) bludgeoning damage.

Swallow Whole: While grappling a Medium or smaller creature, the gaping maw can make a bite attack against the creature, and if the gaping maw hits, it also swallows the creature. A gaping maw can swallow 16 Tiny, 8 Small, 4 Medium creatures at a time. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained.

Swallowed creatures must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. Failed Save: The target is paralyzed for 24 hours. At the end of this period if the creature is still swallowed by the gaping maw they save again or remained paralyzed for another 24 hours. If the creature does save but remains swallowed it is subject to another saving throw 24 hours after the successful one. A swallowed creature’s maximum HP is reduced by 1 for every day it is swallowed. When it’s max HP is reduced to 0 the creature is completely digested and dies. A swallowed creature may attack the gaping maw. When attacked from the inside the gaping maw loses all resistances and immunities.

Encounter Building

XP: 340

Gaping Maw, Adult

Gargantuan Aberration

Armor Class 15

HP 88 (11d10 + 33)

Speed 0 ft.

Str 20 (+5)

Dex 11 (+0)

Con 16 (+3)

Int 3 (-4)

Wis 10 (+0)

Cha 8 (-1)

Alignment unaligned

Languages 

Traits

Damage Resistance: The gaping maw is resistant to all nonmagical weapons.

Grappler: The gaping maw has advantage on attack rolls against a creature grappled by it.

Magic Immunity: The gaping maw is immune to spells of 5th level or lower, and it makes saving throws against spells of 6th level or higher with advantage.

Regeneration: At the start of each of its turns, the gaping maw regains 10 hit points. If the gaping maw takes damage from a creature it has swallowed, this trait doesn’t function on the gaping maw’s next turn. This trait ceases to function while the gaping maw has 0 hit points.

Actions

Multi-Attack: A gaping maw may make six tentacle attacks, or four tentacle attacks and one bite attack.

Melee Attack – Tentacle: +6 to hit (reach 25 ft.; one creature). Hit: 12 (2d6+5) piercing damage and if the target is huge or smaller, the creature is grappled. While using a tentacle to grapple a creature, the gaping maw can make that tentacle’s attack only against the grappled creature.

Melee Attack – Bite: +6 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one creature). Hit: 21 (3d10+6) piercing damage.

Melee Attack – Crush: +6 to hit (all swallowed creatures). Hit: 18 (2d12+6) bludgeoning damage.

Swallow Whole: While grappling a Large or smaller creature, the gaping maw can make a bite attack against the creature, and if the gaping maw hits, it also swallows the creature. A gaping maw can swallow 32 Tiny, 16 Small, 8 Medium, or 4 Large creatures at a time. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained.

Swallowed creatures must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. Failed Save: The target is paralyzed for 24 hours. At the end of this period if the creature is still swallowed by the gaping maw they save again or remained paralyzed for another 24 hours. If the creature does save but remains swallowed it is subject to another saving throw 24 hours after the successful one. A swallowed creature’s maximum HP is reduced by 1 for every day it is swallowed. When it’s max HP is reduced to 0 the creature is completely digested and dies. A swallowed creature may attack the gaping maw. When attacked from the inside the gaping maw loses all resistances and immunities.

Encounter Building

XP: 3,920

Gaping Maw, Ancient

Colossal Aberration

Armor Class 16

HP 142 (15d10 + 60)

Speed 0 ft.

Str 23 (+6)

Dex 13 (+1)

Con 18 (+4)

Int 3 (-4)

Wis 12 (+1)

Cha 8 (-1)

Alignment unaligned

Languages 

Traits

Damage Resistance: The gaping maw is resistant to all nonmagical weapons.

Grappler: The gaping maw has advantage on attack rolls against a creature grappled by it.

Magic Immunity: The gaping maw is immune to spells of 7th level or lower, and it makes saving throws against spells of 8th level or higher with advantage.

Regeneration: At the start of each of its turns, the gaping maw regains 15 hit points. If the gaping maw takes damage from a creature it has swallowed, this trait doesn’t function on the gaping maw’s next turn. This trait ceases to function while the gaping maw has 0 hit points.

Actions

Multi-Attack: A gaping maw may make eight tentacle attacks, or six tentacle attacks and one bite attack.

Melee Attack – Tentacle: +7 to hit (reach 30 ft.; one creature). Hit: 15 (2d8+6) piercing damage and the creature is grappled. While using a tentacle to grapple a creature, the gaping maw can make that tentacle’s attack only against the grappled creature.

Melee Attack – Bite: +7 to hit (reach 15 ft.; one creature). Hit: 32 (4d12+6) piercing damage.

Melee Attack – Crush: +7 to hit (all swallowed creatures). Hit: 24 (3d12+6) bludgeoning damage.

Swallow Whole: While grappling a huge or smaller creature, the gaping maw can make a bite attack against the creature, and if the gaping maw hits, it also swallows the creature. A gaping maw can swallow 64 Tiny, 32 Small, 16 Medium, 8 Large, or 4 Huge creatures at a time. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained.

Swallowed creatures must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. Failed Save: The target is paralyzed for 24 hours. At the end of this period if the creature is still swallowed by the gaping maw they save again or remained paralyzed for another 24 hours. If the creature does save but remains swallowed it is subject to another saving throw 24 hours after the successful one. A swallowed creature’s maximum HP is reduced by 1 for every day it is swallowed. When it’s max HP is reduced to 0 the creature is completely digested and dies. A swallowed creature may attack the gaping maw. When attacked from the inside the gaping maw loses all resistances and immunities.

Encounter Building

XP: 20,010

So let me know what you think! Does it feel sarlacc-y and do you want to use one of these for your game?

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Comments
  1. joelastowski says:

    And here I thought a “gaping maw” was my mother when she saw the extent to which I’d ripped up the garden with my bike when I was 10. Soon followed by later evolutions of Screaming Maw, Wooden Spoon-Wielding Maw, and Chasing Maw.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. icksy says:

    Pretty cool, James. I can already pictures an encounter in progress. This opens up a whole industry of specialist extermination crews with special suits that protect against the paralysis gas so the maws can be killed more easily. There could also be people farming the spores to plant around their fortresses for defence… That’d be a nasty surprise any intending burglar.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not the sort of creature I’d want to run in to, but I can see the uses of it in a static trap.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I wonder what interesting concoctions could be made with Sarlacc digestion juices? Immortality perhaps? Something keeps the poor victims alive for 1000 years…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] final entry came from James Introcaso and his worldbuilding blog I take my hat off to him for doing something unexpected by taking an interesting concept and […]

    Like

  6. icosahedron says:

    Okay, so I was reading this and I thought, “How do they excrete waste products?” Don’t ask me why I thought that, but that did give me an idea.

    Gaping Maws are transplanar. Their mouths are on this plane, but their exit orifices are on another plane, such as the Abyss. IF you survive the journey through, you have quite a journey home. Otherwise, your soul is in the plane of its exit orifice.

    Weird? Yeah, but then again, look at the monster we’re talking about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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