Postfest V, Part III: Beaverduck (Giant Saltmarsh Platypus)
Date: Sun, September 11, 2005
Topic: Monsters of Greyhawk
Take the tiny homely platypus and notch it up for Greyhawk and you get … well, something not as dangerous as an owlbear, but something dangerous nonetheless: the Beaverduck! No really, it is dangerous, I promise.
Beaverduck (Giant Saltmarsh Platypus)
Used without permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 6” / 12” (1”)
HIT DICE: 1+1
% IN LAIR: 50%
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-3 / 1-3/ 1-2
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below, stun and spurs, 1/1 damage plus venom
SPECIAL DEFENSE: See below, camouflage
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Good
SIZE: S (3' – 4' in length)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
ATTACK/DEFENSE MODES: Nil
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: 90 + 2/hp
Native to the coastal regions of the Hool Marshes, the Beaverduck, also known in scholastic circles as the Giant Saltmarsh Platypus, is thought by many to be a mystical beast in the nature of a chimera or owlbear. It combines the forms of a beaver and a duck, in a flat body three to four feet long, with the abilities of a venomous snake, electric eel and, to a lesser degree, chameleon. In truth, it is of completely natural origin.
The animal is comfortable in both salt and fresh water, preferring tidal areas where the two mix. It lives in extensive burrows and mounds that it excavates along the banks of streams, small rivers and coastlines where it finds its food, small mammals, lizards, frogs, fish, eggs and similar prey. Because of its duck-like bill, it is generally not capable of eating anything larger than it can swallow. However, it has been known to attack and kill larger animals in defense. It in turn is preyed upon by even larger animals such as crocodiles, sharks and occasionally panthers hungry enough to risk the water or actually catching one. Beaverducks tend to have very good relationships with dolphins, which they are more likely to encounter than one of their own kind, and the two animals will sometimes play together or join in a mutual attack upon a lone shark.
Its beaver-like tail, along with its webbed feet, is used to facilitate swimming and it can hold its breath underwater for up to an hour. Although shaped like that of a duck, its bill is not hard or toothless. Rather, it is covered with a leathery, furless skin. Its teeth, in multiple rows, are very small and effective mostly for gripping and discharging electricity it uses to stun its prey. Any such victim must save at +2 or be paralyzed for 1-2 rounds.
When attacking, the Beaverduck will attempt to bite and electrify as well as slash with its front claws, which are long, strong and sharp for digging and climbing. Rather than also attacking with its back claws, it additionally attacks with spurs located on its back ankles. Spur attacks require two successful claw attacks, a successful bite attack or that the victim be stunned or otherwise holding the Beverduck close. Although these spurs do little damage themselves, they inject potent venom that does 2d4 points of damage each, save for half. The Beaverduck is capable of delivering three shocks per day, as well as two venom injections per day from each spur, aside from the small discharges used in hunting.
The coloration of the Beaverduck is also unique. Its thick hide is covered with fully three coats of fur with different lengths, densities and textures; tan, brown and white. It is capable of manipulating these to appear either tan or with innumerable striped patterns so as to camouflage itself with ninety-percent effectiveness in many settings, including seafloors, underbrush and grasses. Its bill is usually tan, but when threatened out of water and not hiding it displays bright blue with red stripes. At such times, the Beaverduck’s long broad, almost quill-like, tan hairs will stand on end doubling the animal’s apparent size; its tail will present vertically swaying side to side; it will claw the ground; and it will bark aggressively with trails of electricity snapping within its mouth.
Beaverduck young are highly prized by lizardmen as at that age they may be domesticated and trained as guard and companion animals that are safe with children. However, because they are very rare, because the young tend to stay in their burrows, and because of their ability to camouflage themselves, such pets are extremely rare.
|"The Beaverduck" artwork provided by Mortellan
These are Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition statistics.
In order to keep the module U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh fresh, having played it several times, I developed this creature to replace the pseudo-dragon pet of the lizardmen aboard the ship Sea Ghost. The special abilities of the Beverduck were suggested by those of the actual duck-billed platypus. The duck-billed platypus, about the size of a small housecat, has venomous spurs that can kill a dog and uses electrolocation to find its food underwater. Actually, only the male has such spurs beyond infancy, which could justify dimorphism for the fantasy creature along with a name a little more formidable, Dire Beaverdrake. Platypi have teeth only when very young. Their closest living relatives, the echidna, have thin beak-like mouths and some of those have spiny hair like porcupines. Such spines, together with the fact that platypi have some of the most waterproof fur in the world, having two layers, suggested camouflage.