|Hit Dice:||9 (52 hp)|
|No. of Attacks:||1|
|Special Attacks:||Deydration; psionics|
|Size:||M (6’8” tall)|
Psychometabolism – Sciences: complete healing, shadow form; Devotions: aging, cause decay, displacement, double pain.
Several years ago, the Mists of Ravenloft reached out to the strange and alien land of Athas. Moving across burning sands that stretched endlessly beneath a smoldering crimson Sun, the Dark Powers settled over the city-state of Kalidnay. There, a terrible magic was being worked by the twisted templar Thakok-An. His spell failed, and he and his city were drawn into the Demiplane of Dread (the details of this tragedy are presented in the Forbidden Lore boxed set). Most of the folk of Kalidnay and the neighboring town of Artan-ak died that day, but some survived and rebuilt the city-state under Thakok-An’s guidance. Unknown to the templar, however, the Dark Powers brought other foul horrors of Athas into Ravenloft with him, one of the most dangerous of whom is Palik.
Palik is a thrax, one of the most terrible creatures to be found on Athas. From any distance more than a few feet away, he looks much like a mul – the unique hybrid of dwarf and human found only under the dark sun. His skin is dark and ruddy, a trait not uncommon in Kalidnay, and his ears are pointed like those of an elf. His body is greatly muscled, indicating a tremendous strength that would give even the greatest wrestler pause. His pale blue eyes shimmer like a desert oasis; when not maddened by his all-consuming thirst, they reveal him as a rational, intelligent being.
A closer look at Palik, especially an examination of his hands, will reveal his inhuman nature. Palik’s fingers are unnaturally long, fanning out at the tips to end in disgusting suckers. It is this vile adaptation that marks him as a predator of the sands.
The Thrax speaks the language of Kalidnay, but knows no other tongue. He can neither read nor write.
Combat: Palik tends to stalk his prey in shadow-form, for, while this reduces him to a movement rate of 6, it makes him both difficult to detect and attack. In this state, he cannot cross open, well-lit areas, but he is impossible to detect without magical or psionic means. He cannot be attacked while in shadow-form, but neither can he himself strike at an enemy. Once Palik has found a victim, he resumes his normal form and attacks with his incredible speed.
If Palik’s chosen target wears armor, he will use his psionic ability to Cause Decay in an attempt to destroy it. This requires him to make an attack roll, for he must touch the armor to affect it. A successful use of this power (as described in PHBR5, The Complete Psionics Handbook) causes the armor to corrode into useless debris instantly unless it passes a Saving Throw vs. Acid.
If the victim has no armor, or after his or her armor has been destroyed, Palik moves in for the kill. Palik’s great blows inflict 2-12 (2d6) points of damage each. An unarmored victim who is successfully hit must make a Saving Throw vs. Petrification. Failure indicates that Palik has attached his deadly suckers to the victim’s exposed flesh and can begin to drain away the water in his or her body that same round.
If the target’s armor has survived Palik’s psionic attack, or if the victim has Armor Class bonuses due to dexterity or magical items (e.g., a ring of protection), then there is a chance equal to 10% times the target’s AC that the thrax will make contact with bare flesh (thus, Palik has only a 30% chance of using his special attack against someone in plate armor). Anyone with an AC of 0 or less is safe from Palik’s water-draining attack, but such a person might still be beaten to death by the enraged thrax.
Once his suckers are attached, Palik begins to feed by absorbing the water from his victim’s body. It takes roughly 1 minute per 20 pounds of body weight for a victim’s body water to be drained away. Thus, it takes Palik roughly 10 minutes to fully absorb the moisture from a 200-pound man.
The absorption process is extremely painful for Palik’s victim. At the end of each round, the victim loses 1/5-th of the hit points he or she had when the feeding process started and must make a Saving Throw vs. Death. Failure indicates that the pain has been too great and the victim loses consciousness. As the process continues, the victim suffers a cumulative -2 penalty to the save each round after the first. Any attack or other action made by a character who is currently being drained by the thrax suffers this penalty as well. Once the draining process is 75% complete, the victim always loses consciousness due to the severe dehydration. The pain of Palik’s feeding is so great that it is impossible for his victim to cast spells or employ psionic powers while his suckers are doing their evil work.
Those who die from Palik’s attack become dried-out husks. From a distance, they look withered and mummified. At the slightest touch, however, the body crumbles away into fine, powdery dust. Once the integrity of the corpse has been broken, resurrection is impossible.
Those who escape from Palik’s deadly attack after he has tasted the fluids of their body are in a far more deadly danger. Such persons must make a Saving Throw vs. Death or become a thrax. The transmutation of a living man or woman into a thrax is terrible to behold. The process takes 2-4 (1d3+1) weeks, during which time the victim is driven almost mad with thirst and pain. A remove curse spell cast upon the victim during this period will instantly end the process. Once the change is complete, however, nothing short of a wish can save the victim. Only humans can be transformed into thrax; all other races are immune to the process.
Habitat/Society: When Thakok-An and the city of Kalidnay were drawn into Ravenloft, Palik was stalking a wandering merchant near what is now called Bleak Knoll. He was about to strike when the young man cried out in pain and toppled over. Indeed, Palic himself felt a brief instant of agony. Curious, the thrax moved nearer to the body and examined it. He had clearly been robbed of a victim, for the fellow was dead, but the cause of death was impossible to determine. Palik shrugged and set the matter aside as he drained the corpse of water, leaving a dried-out and withered body.
After feeding, Palik stood and looked around. To his horror, he saw that the entire landscape of Kalidnay had changed. No longer could he see the splendid stone spire of the Great Spear to the north or the low, jagged ridge of the Cracked Spine to the west. Now, the city was an island at the heart of the Sea of Silt. What terrible magic might have caused this he could not imagine.
In the years that have passed since Kalidnay became a domain of Ravenloft, Palik has watched the population of the city grow from the handful that survived the mysterious transition into a great host. He has managed to survive and to keep his presence fairly secret by feeding on escaped slaves, lone travellers on the road to Artan-ak, and the occasional adventurer. Secrecy and concealment are utmost in his mind when he is hunting.
He has learned something of the nature of Ravenloft from encounters with outsiders. He has decided that he must escape the close confines of Kalidnay and travel through these other lands. He believes, correctly, that there are few (if any) of his kind in this strange demiplane besides himself. This anonymity would enable him to move freely about and hunt openly again, something he desires more than anything else.
Ecology: Palik’s kind have long been known and hated on Athas. As such, he knows that a concerted effort will be made to destroy him if the people of Kalidnay learn of his existence. Because of this, he is always careful to destroy the bodies of his victims and to make certain that no one he attacks escapes to tell the day. On the latter note, he is also very careful not to allow the creation of another thrax.
Last Modified: February 05, 2014, 19:48:00 GMT
◆ 1980 ◆