Spire Archives: The Deathbreather

Hey folks! If you watched this week’s episode of Chronicles, you’ll know that it featured a monster called a ‘deathbreather’ – if you want to use one in your game, you’re in the right place! — Jake

Raisa, I’ve combed the archives for all traces of this Scalar ‘deathbreather’ snake you were asking about but this is all I’ve been able to come up with. Hopefully it has the answers you’re looking for, although references to it are scarce enough that I can’t help wonder if it isn’t an old fairy tale. Gleman mentions a similar snake in his books on the Evergreen – are you sure this is worth the research time you’re giving it? I’d hate to see a promising scholar like you wasting your abilities.

— K

‘Deathbreather’ is a colloquial name ascribed by the villagers of Orriss to the great ebon snake that took up residence in their mines, so named for its seeming immunity to the harmful effects of the whitedamp gases in the lower cavern that knock a scalar dead in a matter of minutes. These gases – and those the deathbreather produced itself – could be harnessed by the snake in order to incapacitate its prey, and fog the minds of victims lucky enough to escape.

K: There are plenty of recorded cases of whitedamp causing short-term memory loss in those exposed – quite the biological convenience if the snake could harness it. Hunt what you can and anything that survives or sees you won’t remember!

Unusually for snakes, the deathbreather was stated to have been able to burrow through solid rock, creating a maze of connecting tunnels in its den. Though mentions of the beast are few, it’s recounted to have been some thirty to forty feet in length, and a foot and a half in diameter. How such a thing came to be that size without being noticed before is impossible to say.

K: Perhaps it fed off the gases? The tunneling seems somewhat far-fetched however, perhaps it had particularly abrasive scales or could distill the gases into some form of acid?

The snake is understood to have had a carnivorous diet, incapacitating its prey with its gaseous breath before digesting them slowly. If the gases failed, it’s likely it would have used its prodigious size to constrict prey for later consumption. Based on the Orriss ledgers for that period which show kalakar losses, it seems it ate about once a week (one kalakar would be about equivalent to a mainland cow). The Orriss reports mention finding a half-digested miner, suggesting it would eat meals over a period of time, rather than in one go as with many snakes.

K: That’s about where the information ends. Fascinating beast – if it was real. Its amnesia ‘aura’, for lack of a better term, could of course mean that other incidents could be the work of one of these snakes, but I’m not in the business of speculating without evidence. I can certainly imagine the sort of havoc one could wreak though – it’s entirely possible one could prey on a settlement and the citizens think it the work of a serial killer or dark magic, and a beast that can burrow into the earth like that would prove extremely difficult to flush out of its nest if they ever figured it out.

Imagine if one got into a town water supply!

The Deathbreather

Large beast, unaligned

Armour Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 199 (21d10 + 84)

Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., burrow 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
17 (+3)15 (+2)19 (+4)5 (-3)12 (+1)6 (-2)

Proficiency Bonus +4

Saving Throws Con +8, Str +7

Skills Stealth +6, Perception +5

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities prone

Senses darkvision 60 ft., blindsight 30 ft.

Languages

Challenge 10


Aura of Amnesia. The gases that accompany the deathbreather cloud other creatures’ minds, causing them to forget the deathbreather’s appearance.

Deathbreather. The deathbreather is immune to harmful effects from natural gases.

Actions

Multiattack. The deathbreather makes one constrict attack and two bite attacks.

Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d12 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d8 + 3) poison damage.

Miasma (Recharge 5-6). The deathbreather exhales a gout of poisonous, hallucinatory gas. All creatures within a 15 ft. cone must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw, suffering 45 (10d8) poison damage on a failed save and becoming stunned for 1 minute, or suffering half as much damage on a successful save with no stun effect.

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