Dark Sun



Climate/Terrain:Sandy wastes, stony barrens
Activity Cycle:Day
Intelligence:High (13-14)
Treasure:O,M (B)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:2-12 (2d6)
Armor Class:4
Movement:18, Br 6
Hit Dice:5
Leader: 7
Nest mother: 13
Leader: 13
Nest mother: 7
No. of Attacks:2 or 1
Damage/Attack:1-4/1-4 + grip or by weapon
Special Attacks:Possible spell use
Special Defenses:Nil
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:S (4’), Nest mother L (10’)
Morale:Elite (13)
XP Value:650
Leader: 1,400
Nest mother: 8,000

Psionics Summary


Psychometabolism – Science: animal affinity; Devotions: biofeedback, chameleon power, enhanced strength, mind over body.

Telepathy – Sciences: mind link, psionic blast; Devotions: conceal thoughts, contact, inflict pain, mind blank, mind thrust, thought shield.

Animal Affinity: Lizards.

Scrabs are small, three-sectioned, insect-like men who live in nests in the desert. They are highly intelligent, and some of them are even able to cast spells. No small group of travellers is safe in the vicinity of a scrab nest.

Scrabs have a thick, white, sectioned shell over most of their bodies, with lengthwise grooves separating the shell into three distinct parts. A pair of arms ending in pincers frame a small mouth. The scrab has hundreds of tiny legs running along the length of its body. The pincers have two squeezing or grasping sections, with a small opposable thumb-like appendage that allow them to use weapons or manipulate items. They occasionally carry small weapons like daggers or knives; only rarely will they use larger weapons (a spear or short sword).

Scrabs speak their own language. Leaders have a 35% chance to speak the elven tongue as well.

Combat: Scrabs are small, but they use their psionic powers, spells, and intelligence to their advantage in combat. When attacking, scrabs have a standard strategy. One half of them charge in and begin melee while the other half try to establish psionic contact with the foes. Once contact is established, the victim is attacked via one of the psionic attack modes or by means of their most feared power, inflict pain.

If they have surprised a small party or caravan in the wilderness, the scrabs selected for melee take the time to prepare themselves using enhanced strength. This lets them attack as though they had an 18 strength, allowing a +1 attack roll bonus and a +2 bonus to damage. They also use biofeedback, which improves their Armor Class to 3 and causes all hits upon them do two points less than the actual total (minimum of zero).

If there is any evidence that potential prey is around, all of the scrabs use their conceal thoughts and chameleon power to blend in with the surroundings. They are expert at scuttling forward and then freezing in place. In such a case, the DM need only make one chameleon power check for the whole group of scrabs. Success means that they have gone unnoticed, while failure means that one party member has noticed something moving, but he is not sure exactly what. Only if a 20 is rolled on the power score can a potential victim spot the scrab for what is really is. If this power works, victims of the scrab receive a -4 penalty to their surprise roll. If they achieve surprise, the scrabs have gotten close enough to get a free round of attacks against their opponents.

In melee the scrabs are able to attack with weapons. If they are carrying knives or daggers, they usually carry one in each pincer. They favor using weapons on large creatures (half-giants included) because their small pincers do not grip these large creatures easily. They are also able to use their pincers to deliver a pair of attacks, each attack doing 1d4 points of damage (plus a possible bonus for enhanced strength). If either attack roll is a modified 18 or higher, the scrab has gripped a limb (against a man-sized or smaller creature). This allows it to do an automatic hit each round with the gripping member and gives them a +4 attack bonus with the other pincer. An open doors roll is required for the victim to break free, and that is the only action possible for that round.

Scrabs are encountered in groups of up to a dozen. If the encounter roll indicates more than five, a leader type is present. If 10 or more are encountered, two additional leader types, called sub-leaders are also present. Leaders and sub-leaders have seven Hit Dice, and their pincers do an extra point of damage with each attack. The leaders also have 78 PSPs to start, and sometimes (50%) have the additional psionic powers of ego whip and expansion. A leader with time to prepare for combat uses his power to expand to four times his original size. While this gives him no bonuses in combat, it does allow him to grip the limbs of anything of up to large size.

Those leaders who do not have additional psionic powers are spellcasters. Such leaders are defilers of 7th level A typical spell list for a leader scrab includes burning hands (burning pincers?), chill touch, magic missile, protection from good, detect psionics, invisibility, scare, web, hold person, non-detection, and psionic dampener. This list may vary, but scrabs do not favor area of effect spells, since these would almost always catch some of their own nestmates. A leader with spellcasting abilities and surprise tries to detect psionic activity and then use its psionic dampener spell to prevent the foe from using his psionic powers in combat.

If encountered in their nest, from 13-24 adult scrabs are present (1d12+12). There are 1d6 leaders and sub-leaders, and there is always one nest mother. From 10-40 eggs or newly hatched scrabs are also present. These young scrabs have 1 HD, a THAC0 of 20, and do one point with each pincer. They cannot grip limbs or weapons, for the pincers are not large enough.

Scrabs have a deep hatred of elves, and psionic attacks as well as melee attacks are usually directed towards them first. If the scrabs come upon a lone elf, they attempt to grip all four limbs, and then another scrab uses his inflict pain on the elf repeatedly, until the elf passes out. The elf is then carried off to the nest for a prolonged session of torture. If the scrabs are able, elves are always carried off alive, for to see an elf suffer is one of the few things that makes a scrab happy.

Habitat/Society: Scrabs live in large nests tunnelled under the sand. They produce a spittle that solidifies the sand. Because of the ever-present sandstorms, the scrab nest is usually located 10-15’ under the surface. If available, a rocky outcropping is used to hide and protect the entrance. Scrabs are excellent tunnellers, and if the nest collapses on them they just dig it out again. A scrab can hold its breath for up to an hour under sand and even gets a bit of air from the surrounding sand. This is due to the long gills through which scrabs breath. These gills are located all along the grooves in their shells. (A scrab’s small mouth is used only for eating the small bits of meat that its pincers cut up for it.)

Scrabs prefer elf flesh above any other kind. If no elf is available, a half-elf does just fine as a substitute. In fact, anything with pointed ears is likely to be identified as an elf. The scrabs’ hatred of elves extends far beyond their use as food; an elf may be kept alive for weeks, even months, just to be tortured. An elf rescued from a scrab nest after a few weeks isn’t worth much, as scrabs love to inflict pain on elves and are very good at it. Physical, psionic and magic torture are all combined to make an elf suffer as much as possible. If they can, most elves will risk anything to escape capture by scrabs.

The main reason that scrabs hate elves lies in history. Legends of both elves and scrabs say that there were once actual wars between the two races. Of course, both sides claim that the other started the wars, and both sides blame the other for many unspeakable atrocities perpetrated on innocent victims of their race.

Scrabs live to about 25 years, if they survive to maturity. A nest mother may live for as much as 40-50 years. A clutch of eggs is laid every two years. The eldest male present is allowed to mate with the nest mother. Up to 100 eggs are laid within a week, and they are carefully tended for the three months which pass until they hatch. When hatched, the young are extremely hungry; fewer than half usually survive the cannibalistic feast that follows hatching. A scrab matures in only two years, gaining an additional Hit Die every six months.

Only males which develop additional psionic abilities or spellcasting powers grow into leaders, and only females with clerical abilities can become nest mothers. 75% of the eggs hatch into males, but only 5% of these males will become leaders. Only one in a hundred of the females is able to develop spellcasting abilities and become a nest mother. This means that an average nest mother produces a potential rival every eight to sixteen years. Scrabs do not show their extra abilities until they have reached adulthood. When a potential nest mother realizes her powers, she is likely to take one or two of the smaller males and leave to set up her own nest.

Scrabs collect treasure and may even negotiate with someone for needed supplies. Of course, merchants who deal with a nest of scrabs are wise to come with plenty of guards (and a few psionicists or spellcasters to boot). Magical items not usable by scrabs are usually the first thing they try to trade away. This makes plenty of merchants willing to deal with them, in spite of the risks.

Ecology: Scrabs live in the sandy wastes, or in the sandy areas of the rocky barrens. They need little water, perhaps 1/20th of what a human needs. Scrabs also seem to get all of the liquid they need from the blood of their victims. A scrab’s niche in the environment is strictly that of a predator, although scrabs are also preyed upon by the larger creatures that inhabit the wastes.

Part of the scrabs’ hatred of elves stems from the fact that elves use every part of a scrab they have defeated. The shell can be used to fashion acceptable breastplates, which provide protection as good as scale mail. These breastplates weigh only half of what scale mail does and are a mark of accomplishment for elves as well. The sharp parts of the pincers make decent polearms, when mounted, and an single elf can survive on the meat from one scrab for days. Scrab shells can be sold for 10 cp per section, double that to a tribe of elves. One of the best ways of proving oneself to an elf is to rescue a member of their tribe from captivity by scrabs. The fact that the elf is probably not going to survive makes no difference; it is the mere fact of risking one’s life against this hated enemy that counts.

Nest Mother

Nest mothers are the rulers of the nest. A nest mother is a large version of a normal scrab. She is very bloated, and has a movement rate of only three. Nest mothers have an intelligence of 15-16 and are able to cast priest spells as though they were priests of 9th level. Such spells are always drawn only from the sphere of the cosmos (nest mothers worship no specific elemental plane). They do not receive any of the other benefits of a priest; they are unable to turn undead, gate in elements, or ignore the presence of an element. A nest mother is also a powerful psionicist, generally of 10th level with 120 PSPs (particularly old ones may even surpass this). The nest mother has all of the powers of a typical scrab, as well as flesh armor, intellect fortress, id insinuation, probe, and tower of iron will. In addition, the nest mother will have one science and five devotions from the discipline of clairsentience.

If the opponent chooses to melee, the nest mother is capable of attacking with both of her strong pincers, which do 2d1 points of damage each. She is able to grip her opponent with a roll of a modified of 17 or better, and a Bend Bars roll is required to break free. Nest mothers never use weapons.

Last Modified: March 24, 2014, 21:49:47 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

◆ 1728 ◆