Bestiary

Szou

by B. Kellestine ©2017 v1.0

Summary

Creature Type: Animal (Mammal)
Diet: Omnivore
Activity: Diurnal
Disposition: Highly aggressive
Socialization: Females - Sounders; Males - Solitary
Special Talents: Immune to stun, fear
Special Attacks: Frenzy, Gore
Locality: The Burning Lands, The Tashri Desert

Longevity: May live up to 40 years.
Class Types: 75% of Szou are Berserkers. 25% are Paragon Berserkers.

Description

Szou, or the Great Desert Warthog, are roughly 10 feet tall at the shoulder, and weigh about 4500 lbs.  They have a dull grey-brown hide, and possess short, bristly hair that elongates down the spine, resulting in a stiff, brown crest that is longer and more impressive in males, and it is speculated that this crest is used to attract a mate.  Their heads are broad and flat, ending in a stubby, flat snout.  Two tusks that serve as the Szou canine teeth protrude from their lips, and males in addition have a pair of curved, bull-like horns.  Their eyes are small, and brown or black in colour.  Like most swine, they walk on cloven hooves, though theirs have broad fetlocks not unlike a horse.

Lore

Like Animalians and Gecola, the Szou simply did not exist on Imarel prior to the Cataclysm of D`Mir.  A result of the Chaotic Energies sweeping forth from D`Mir’s doom, it is thought that these creatures are the descendants of the common plains boar.  Difficult to kill, they do tend to serve as easy prey for animalian packs or sand drakes in the Burning Lands.  For humanoids, however, killing these ferocious swine is a challenge, given their thick hides and aggressive natures.  The males of this species are highly territorial, and its not unheard of for these beasts to attack a passing caravan unprovoked.  

Males of this species are solitary, only seen amongst others of their kind during mating season, where males will find a sounder - a group of females and young.  They will display their crest, and feud with rival males for the attention of a particular female.  After mating, the males will again wander off alone, leaving the sounder to raise the young.  The sounder will be headed by an alpha female, typically the largest of the group.  Though it is rare for another female to contest this role it does happen from time to time.  For the first few months after mating season, the sounder will remain in a fixed location, digging shallow burrows for their young to live in.  When the piglets are a few months old, however, the sounder will resume what is mostly a nomadic lifestyle.  Piglets are considered adult at age three, and the young adult males will leave the sounder at this time.

These swine will eat almost anything, whether it be grass, bark, smaller animals, carrion, or even their own dung.  It is likely fortunate that they are such easy prey for many of the Burning Land’s higher predators, else they might strip the landscape like locusts.  In times where there is little food, the Szou will even cannibalize their elderly or their young.

The Szou will typically engage a target head-on, and though they are clever, they are by no means intelligent.  Szou will typically begin combat with a full-on charge, and given enough space can reach a maximum running speed of 25 miles per hour in short bursts.This attack will be at +25% to hit, and will have a 10% chance of dealing catastrophic damage to human-sized targets if successful.  They will then attempt to gore and trample their targets using their massive strength (+30% to feats of strength), often flinging smaller targets away, so they land prone and the Szou can again attempt to trample them.   Due to their sheer size, they are capable of attacking as many as three humanoid targets standing in a row in this way.  After that, they will attempt to gore and/or stomp their enemies, and if they sustain enough damage, will whip into a frenzy, attacking anything and everything wildly, without fear of death.

Szou is a delicacy in Tashran, with tender if slightly gamey meat that is used in a variety of Tashrani cuisine.  Its thick hide can also be used to make sturdy (if unattractive) leather, and the fat for soaps or candles.  

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