T is for Tarasque

Image Attribution: ScottRoller, DeviantArt. Used with permission.
Image Attribution: ScottRoller, DeviantArt. Used with permission.

The dragon was called of them that dwelled in the country Tarasque and it did make its abode about the wood bordering the Black Lake, because about there the forest be shadowous and black. It came thither by the sea, from ‘tween Mannahem and Landfall, engendered of the congress of leviathan and a great beast.

It has teeth as sharp as swords  and horned flanks. The head of a savage cat, the tail of a serpent, and the wings of a dragon. No stone or sharpened blade may easily pierce its hide, and it has the strength of twelve aboars or great bears. The dark green lustre of the scale on its back blends with both leaf and wave, such that when lay hidden and lurking it might cause to perish both hunter or merchant ship alike.

And yet, if pursued with strength of number and faith, it casts out of its belly behind ordure that spreads across an acre of land, bright as glass and burning as the hottest fire.

Reports of the nature and appearance of the Tarasque vary as much as the spelling of the name – Tarrasque, Tarask, Tarasc – but none dispute the veracity of the terror and damage left in its passing. Those who survive to tell the tale tell of the horrible fury and the gut-wrenching stench.

For certain, the Tarasque appears to possess some distant ancestry in the Lindworm. They both have a fearsome serpentine aspect, but the development of the Lindworm has eschewed the need for arms or legs, while Tarasque have as many as six limbs and a pair of wings.

Why would anyone risk their life and choose to face the ferocity of this bestial menace? Well, the chance to return the dead to life would seem as good as reason as any…

Tarasque

Race  Amphibious
Resistance  Mighty (580)
Traits  Amphibian *, Armored (III/60), Brimstone Ordure (III/60, see below), Crushing Embrace (III/60) **, Diseased (III/60) ***, Long-lived, Natural Weapon (III/60), Robust (III/60), Weakness – Holy *****
Accurate 12 (−2), Cunning 5 (+5), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 7 (+3), Quick 9 (+1), Resolute 16 (−6), Strong 18 (−8), Vigilant 10 (0)
Abilities  Beserker (master/60), Exceptionally Resolute (master/60), Exceptionally Strong (master/60), Herculean (novice/10) ****, Wings (adept/30)
Weapons  Claws 5 (long), Crushing Embrace 4 (ignores armor), Brimstone Ordure 6 (3 if target avoids with [Quick←Resolve] test) – Robust +4, one melee attack per round, Berserker +3
Armor  Thick Scales and Knarled Leathery Hide 4 + Robust 4 + Berserker 2
Defense  5
Toughness  23   Pain Threshold  9
Equipment  None
Shadow  Cold blackness like the belly of the ocean (corruption: thoroughly corrupt)
Tactics  A Tarasque has no wish to expend unnecessary energy and will avoid direct conflict where practical. However, the creatures taste for human flesh means that appetite often beats common sense. In these instances, the Tarasque will either lie in wait beneath the surface of a cloudy lake or weed-choked river or dive down from a high perch, seeking to grab prey by surprise. Once latched on to a victim, the Tarasque will crush the life from their bodies and seek escape to feast on them, spraying any remaining enemy with gouts of flaming ordure.

Brimstone Ordure (III)

Effectively identical to the Wizard spell Brimstone Cascade, the Tarasque sprays a cone of ordure for “the space of an acre of land“. The attack works exactly like the chained assault of the Master level Power – but the fire continues to burn with an oily insistency.

The player should roll a die each round thereafter. If the character uses an action to put out the flames, roll 1D6 with 1–3 causing that much additional damage, without benefit from armor, and a result of 4–6 extinguishing the flames. Otherwise, if the character acts without attempting to put out the flame, roll 1D4 and suffer the damage rolled, without benefit from armor.

Appearance  While physical form varies, as discussed above, most Tarasque have a predatory feline head, robust bodies mounted with dragon-like wings, six muscular limbs terminating in paws with vicious claws, and flesh covered with thick, green scales that extend all the way to the end of their powerful lizard-like tails. Other variations exist, roll 1D6 for alternatives:

  1. Bear-like body with scales like iron scabs
  2. Serpent-like body that extends into a slug like tail, slick with a viscous, but benign, slime
  3. Leonine head bears a human-like face with uneven rows of jagged fangs
  4. Bulbous frog-like head with an obscenely large mouth lined with gnashing ranks of grinding teeth
  5. Front pair of limbs appears like bear claws, with three rear pairs like segmented scorpion legs
  6. Six powerful arm-like limbs like a mighty gorilla, each with wicked dew claws and human-like fingers

Environs  Within the lands covered by the Symbaroum Core Book, Tarasque dwell in the depths of Dark Davokar, but might venture further afield if lured by hunger. The lake Volgoma might prove a viable hunting ground, suitably deep and wide to allow the Tarasque to prey on the unwary close to shore, then drag them out to the center. The lake west of the Ravens and north of The Marshes would also suit, as would the Black Pitch Mire. Further afield, Tarasque might be found out at sea or lurking in ambush around brine-crusted peaks and cliffs.

Predation and Treasure  Tarasque consume human flesh, preferring mouthfuls of struggling, warm, living meat where practical. If forced to feast on the dead, the Tarasque will eat sparingly and seek fresh food in brief sorties, like a lion hunts and sleeps. Closer to civilisation, the beast preys on travelers, farmers, poachers and children. If it can catch one, it consumes priests and other clergy with particular relish. Theories on the attitude of the Tarasque toward those of faith vary wildly and almost certainly bear no resemblance to the truth.

While the consumption of human flesh means most sites of predation have common treasures like arms and coinage, the greatest prize comes from the Tarasque itself. In the hands of a Master Alchemist in possession of half forgotten lore, Tarasque blood, combined with rare herbs and distilled, can revive the deceased, apparently driving out the corruption that results in the Sleepless.

* Note on Amphibian: Featured in Symbaroum – Adventure Pack I, the Monstrous trait allows a creature to function and fight in water without harm or impediment.

** Note on Crushing Embrace: Featured in Tomb of Dying Dreams, the Monstrous Trait allows a creature to grasp and crush enemies (see ToDD p39).

*** Note on Diseased: Featured in the post Coughs and Sneezes.

**** Note on Herculean: Featured in the Player’s Handbook, but referenced briefly in the post Blood Host.

***** Note on Weakness: The creature benefits from only half listed armor versus holy artifacts, weapons and powers. Versus holy armaments carried by a person of faith, a Tarasque’s protection weakens further still – and will invariably choose to flee if given the opportunity. Faced by someone with Theurgy, half armor and then deduct the level of ability (−1 for novice, −2 for adept, −3 for master).

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