Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Short-Legged Man-Mimic Lizard

A friend and coworker of mine gave me an old drawing tablet she no longer uses, as a gift. I haven't used drawing tablets all that much, mostly because when I was younger I just sorta bounced off of the only one I had ever attempted to use, not quite able to wrap my head around drawing without looking at my hand holding the pen. This time, it has come much easier to me; I guess I just needed time to grow and improve or whatever. Anyway, here's a monster I drew (in MSPaint) with that drawing tablet the day I was given it.

Short-Legged Man-Mimic Lizard
Number Encountered: 1d3
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 2 claw (1d4) + 1 bite (1d6)
Armor: as leather + shield
Morale: 6
False Face: The short-legged man-mimic lizard sports a false human face on the underside of its neck, which, in low-light conditions, vaguely resembles a real human face. Human beings will recognize that it isn't a person, but non-humans and animals may be tricked by it.
Mating Display: Male short-legged man-mimic lizards create elaborate, almost sculptural, structures to entice females during their mating season; these often incorporate large collections of pearls collected from the insides of their prey, deliberately placed in pillars of dried lizard waste and mud. These courtship structures will contain 3d6 pearls worth 2d4*5 gold [or silver if using a silver standard] each.
Toe Pads: The short-legged man-mimic lizard has subtly hooked scaly pads on the underside of its feet, allowing it to climb walls and ceilings.

A true result of the intertwined ecosystems in subterranean dungeons, the short-legged man-mimic lizard is an active, skittering predator that prowls dimly lit halls and cavern tunnels in search of its prey. Its method of hunting: subterfuge. These reptiles feature an uncanny imitation of a human face on the pale green underside their necks, complete with bumps that resemble a nose, ears, and the folds of the cheeks and brows, a crescent moon of scarlet a la lipsticked lips, and large orange and white eyespots that, in low light conditions, would look like a human's eyes, wide in shock, to any dumb beast of the underground. One might assume the man-mimic lizard uses this facsimile to ensnare human prey, but this couldn't be further from the truth: the short-legged man-mimic lizard isn't a man-eater, but an eater of man-eaters!

Dungeons are full of monsters that have taken a liking to the taste of human flesh, namely soft-bodied invertebrates and cartilaginous creatures like Ropers, Trappers, Lurkers Above, and Cloakers. Coming upon one such man-eater, the man-mimic rears its neck, inflates the red wattles so that they sway about like hair in nonexistent wind, and positions itself right in front of its quarry's beady little eyes. When the Roper ensnares it in its tentacles or the Trapper curls its stiff body around the lizard, the man-mimic begins its vicious struggle, its needle teeth and razor claws slicing through mollusc and cave-ray flesh like butter. While sometimes the man-eater wins out, most often the man-mimic lizard leaves with a belly full of slimy flesh and its prey's green ichor blood strewn all across the dungeon floor.

Adventurers have nothing to fear from short-legged man-mimic lizards; they generally (unless under the influence of a spell or disease that addles the mind) do not engage with human or demihuman interlopers, and tend to avoid adventuring parties. The man-mimicry won't work half as well if there's real humans right next to them! They will attempt some resistance if, during their mating season, adventurers attempt to pilfer their courtship structures. Embedded in the guano and mud daub pillars of their elaborate courtship nests are pearls, little marbles of glimmering white, torn from the gullets of Ropers and Lurkers Above; these can be valuable collections for enterprising dungeon delvers. If these dungeon-pearls are large enough, they can fetch high prices from jewellers and collectors up top!

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