This month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme is a great one – “What’s in the hole?” This theme is both oddly specific and wonderfully broad. Metaphorically, the inside of a hole could be any place unknown! I’ve already written a few posts about the blank spots in the world of Exploration Age and how some people in the world want to adventure for profit, power, knowledge, or the sake of discovery itself. All those blank spots in Verda, Glacius, the Poles, The Damned Lands, and The Underdark are really just big holes. Heck even portals are holes to other planes.
Too bad I already tackled a lot of these topics before this theme was brought to my attention. Dang! So I decided to go less metaphorical and more literal with this one. What’s in the hole in Exploration Age? An enormous, hungry shark.
Remember the Icebreaker Shark?
Some of you may remember my post on Glacius and the Poles. It was there that I introduced the world to the icebreaker shark. A man-eating, cold water fish with bony protrusions on its head and tail used to break the frozen layer of ocean beneath the feet of unsuspecting prey. Its finely tuned senses allow the shark to feel vibrations of prey moving on the ice above. This allows the shark to weaken areas of the frozen ocean and prepare a killing ground into which unsuspecting victims will walk.
Thus the icebreaker shark of the North Pole has options. It can wait until the moment is right and then break the ice beneath the feet of its prey or it can prepare a trap and when a potential meal arrives break pieces of the frozen ocean around its victims, trapping them in a maze or on an island of ice. Big meals don’t come around for the shark often, so when it can it eats its fill, knowing the next big meal could be a month or longer away in the frozen polar climate.
The icebreaker shark eats mostly seals, polar bears, fish, and any other arctic life which crosses its path. They are solitary hunters, but do meet once every Winter beneath the ice to spawn. A typical icebreaker shark can is 20 – 30 feet long and weigh 2,000 – 3,000lbs. They are characterized not just by their enormous size, but by the bony growths on their faces and tails, which resemble that of Ankylosauruses. These growths are what the creature uses to smash through the ice and prepare it’s killing grounds.
If one listens very carefully, the smashing and ice cracking of the shark can be heard, but often this sound means it is too late for those hearing it. The howling winds of the North Pole often drown out these warnings for all but those with the keenest hearing.
Icebreaker sharks have been known to migrate South as far as Glacius, though such sightings are rare.
As far as holes and the RPG Blog Carnival theme go, icebreaker sharks make their own. Sometimes you don’t chose to go down the hole, rather the hole swallows you instead.
Here’s what I’m thinking the game statistics for the icebreaker shark will be. The math is subject to change with the release of the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.
The icebreaker shark is tough and clever. It believes in ambushing its prey in a prepared killing ground. Should its prey manage to get away, the icebreaker shark will stalk it for days or sometimes even weeks on end, waiting beneath the ice for its victims to drop their guard. It is rare to encounter more than one of these beasts at a time, unless an unfortunate victim unwittingly passed over their spawning grounds in the Winter. Woe to any who make this mistake, for they will find themselves the main course in a shark banquet.
Armor Class 17
Hit Points 158 (16d10 + 70)
Speed 0 ft., swim 60 ft.
Senses blindsight 60ft., darkvision 100 ft., tremorsense 100 ft.
Str 29 (+9)
Dex 14 (+2)
Con 20 (+5)
Int 2 (-4)
Wis 12 (+1)
Cha 4 (-3)
Aquatic: The icebreaker shark can breathe only while underwater, and being underwater imposes no penalty on its attack rolls or ability checks.
Multiattack: The icebreaker shark can make a bite and a tail attack, a bite and an ice smash attack, a tail and an ice smash attack, or two weaken ice attacks.
Melee Attack – Bite: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 36 (6d8 + 9) piercing damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or be swallowed by the icebreaker shark.
A swallowed creature takes 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage and 21 (6d6) acid damage at the start of each of the icebreaker shark’s turns until is escapes. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained, but it can use its action to cut its way free by dealing 50 slashing or piercing damage to the gizzard (AC 15). A creature that frees itself falls prone (or more likely finds itself afloat in the ocean) in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the icebreaker shark.
An icebreaker shark can swallow up to four medium or small creatures, and 16 tiny creatures at once.
Melee Attack – Tail: +11 to hit, reach 15 ft., one creature. Hit: 27 (4d8 + 9) bludgeoning damage and the creature is knocked prone.
Ice Smash: The icebreaker shark can smash adjacent ice in a 15-foot cube, creating a hole through which the shark can attack. Any creatures standing on the ice must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or fall through the ice. Any creature who succeeds on the save ends up in an unoccupied space adjacent to the smashed ice.
When the icebreaker shark uses this ability on a cube of ice adjacent to any weakened ice (see below) the weakened ice is also smashed. Any weakened adjacent to the smashed weakened ice is also smashed, and so on for any touching patches of weakened ice.
Weaken Ice: The icebreaker shark can weaken adjacent ice in a 15-foot cube. This ice counts as weakened for the purpose of its Ice Smash ability.
So that’s the icebreaker shark and it’s what’s in the hole. Does it sound terrifying? Would you use it in your game? Did I get the mechanics right? Let me know!
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