Monstrous Physique — Zerg Evolution Part 1

It was almost two years ago that I began a large series on the various units from one of my favorite games, Starcraft. At the time, I had only played through the first game in the series, so my stat block coverage only included units from that first game. Since then, I took the time to play through all three parts of Starcraft 2 to both experience the games and become familiar with the newer units to the series. One of the cool things that the new game did that I quite liked was to take existing units and provide new strains to give them unique abilities. Seeing as I’ve always wanted to take the time to stat up the rest of the units, I thought I would start by taking some of the stat blocks from the first wave and tweaking them to represent these new strains. So, I’m officially kicking off a return to the worlds of Starcraft, starting with upgrades to the zergling and hydralisk. Let’s take a look!

Before we get started, I think I should present the Zerg subtype!

Zerg
Zerg are a collection of creatures integrated into one collected hive mind by a being known as the Overmind. They are capable of metamorphosis into a variety of creatures via a shared repository of genetic information.
Traits: Fast healing 2; Zerg with a fly speed do not suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.

Zergling Strains

The zergling is the common foot soldier for the zerg. As the zergling is particularly common, it was inevitable that the zergling be mutated into alternate strains with specific functions for the battle field. The raptor is a highly mobile strain of zergling and the swarmling is designed for greater cooperation for its overwhelming numbers.

Raptor                                       CR 1/2
XP 200
N Small aberration (zerg)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
DEFENSE
HP 13
EAC 10; KAC 12
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2
Defensive Abilities burrow, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee sickle +6 (1d6+2 slashing)
STATISTICS
Str +2, Dex +3, Con +1, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Acrobatics +4, Perception +9, Stealth +4
Languages Zerg
Other Abilities leaping
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Burrow (Ex) A raptor can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The raptor cannot attack or move while burrowed and is treated as invisible. Any abilities or effects that can see invisible creatures or dispel invisibility reveal a burrowed raptor. While burrowed, the raptor gains blindsight (vibration) 30 feet.
Leaping (Ex) As a move action, a raptor can leap horizontally or vertically up to 20 feet. When leaping horizontally, a raptor automatically leaps over any Medium or smaller creatures, but it cannot leap over any creatures larger than Medium. This leap does not provoke attacks of opportunity. As a full action, a raptor can make a leaping attack. The raptor leaps up to 20 feet as normal and immediately makes a sickle attack against a creature within reach. This attack deals 1d6+5 slashing damage instead of the normal amount.

The raptor strain of zergling is entirely focused on battlefield mobility. A raptor’s wings allow it to jump great distances. This allows a raptor to leap over enemy front lines to both reach back line troops and also to flank those in the front line. A raptor can also use its wings to leap up on cliffs or onto buildings, which is particularly useful for ambushes. Many troops have met their end due to these great leaps, as soldiers accustomed to fighting zerglings are caught off guard by this extra mobility.

Swarmling                                       CR 1/2
XP 200
N Small aberration (zerg)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
DEFENSE
HP 13
EAC 10; KAC 12
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2
Defensive Abilities burrow, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee sickle +6 (1d6+2 slashing)
STATISTICS
Str +2, Dex +3, Con +1, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Acrobatics +4, Perception +9, Stealth +4
Languages Zerg
Other Abilities swarming
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Burrow (Ex) A swarmling can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The swarmling cannot attack or move while burrowed and is treated as invisible. Any abilities or effects that can see invisible creatures or dispel invisibility reveal a burrowed swarmling. While burrowed, the swarmling gains blindsight (vibration) 30 feet.
Swarming (Ex) Swarmlings are compact, allowing multiple swarmlings to share a square without impediment. Up to 6 swarmlings can share the same square. Swarmlings gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls for every other swarmling that shares its space, up to a total bonus of +5.

Zerglings use their great numbers to overwhelm their enemies and swarmlings are exemplars of this tactic. Swarmlings have a greater innate connection with each other, allowing them to weave in and around each other without interfering with each other’s movement. Swarmlings move in mobs that appear shift and roll as they move. This movement makes it difficult to anticipate any given swarmling’s attack and thus, makes them particularly dangerous.

Hydralisk Strains

Hydralisks swoop in after zerglings and serve the zerg as medium assault troops. Compared to the zergling strains, hydralisk strains create greater deviations from the base hydralisk. These strains are more focused to attacking from hidden positions underground. The lurker is focused attacking large numbers at once while the impaler dedicates itself to attacking single targets, but with deadlier power and precision.

Lurker                                               CR 5
XP 1,600
N Large aberration (zerg)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +16
DEFENSE
HP 70
EAC 17; KAC 19
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +6
Defensive Abilities burrow, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Space 5 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Offensive Abilities subterranean spines +12 (1d6+4 piercing)
STATISTICS
Str +5, Dex +3, Con +2, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Perception +16, Stealth +11
Languages Zerg
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Burrow (Ex) A lurker can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The lurker cannot move while burrowed and is treated as invisible. Any abilities or effects that can see invisible creatures or dispel invisibility reveal a burrowed lurker. While burrowed, the lurker gains blindsight (vibration) 60 feet.
Subterranean Spines (Ex) A lurker can fire a 30 foot line of spikes as a ranged attack. The lurker rolls once for all creatures in the line. It can only attack with these spines while burrowed. A lurker can only attack creatures in squares on the ground. Flying creatures in squares above the ground or creatures on higher ground are unaffected by these attacks.

Lurkers act as heavy defense troops for the zerg. They were created by further development of the hydralisk genus. The mutation pushed the hydralisk body into something more resembling an arthropod. The hydralisk spines become reinforced with a thick chiton and grow attached to the lurker’s body with elastic tissue and membranes. These supra-dense spines are capable of piercing though almost all forms of earth to impale a lurker’s enemies. A lurker can only emit these spines while underground, however, and a lurker is especially vulnerable while above ground. As such, most lurkers act as defenders of zerg hive clusters.

Impaler                                               CR 5
XP 1,600
N Large aberration (zerg)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +16
DEFENSE
HP 70
EAC 17; KAC 19
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +6
Defensive Abilities burrow, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Space 5 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Offensive Abilities impaling spike +12 (1d8+4 piercing)
STATISTICS
Str +5, Dex +3, Con +2, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Perception +16, Stealth +11
Languages Zerg
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Burrow (Ex) An impaler can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The impaler cannot move while burrowed and is treated as invisible. Any abilities or effects that can see invisible creatures or dispel invisibility reveal a burrowed impaler. While burrowed, the impaler gains blindsight (vibration) 60 feet.
Impaling Spike (Ex) An impaler can fire a powerful spike as a ranged attack with a range of 60. The spike ignores up to 5 points of damage reduction or hardness. It can only attack with this spike while burrowed. An impaler can only attack creatures in squares on the ground. Flying creatures in squares above the ground or creatures on higher ground are unaffected by these attacks.

Much like their lurker cousins, impalers are heavy troops for the zerg. While they can also function as defensive troops, they excel as assault troops. An impaler possesses a larger, denser spike that can pierce through even the toughest of armors to deal devastating damage. Impalers have only a few spikes however, and thus they can only effectively attack individuals. A mass of impalers are a force to be reckoned with, however, as they can focus all of their attacks on large armored troops or important structures and destroy them in an instant. Like lurkers, impalers can only attack while underground and are completely exposed while above ground. When not actively deployed to combat, many impalers are tasked with defending choke points.

That’s it for this week! If you end up introducing the zerg into your game or you have any request for a future Monstrous Physique, please drop me a line at KnowDirection@hotmail.com.

Luis Loza

Luis Loza is a developer at Paizo, working on the Pathfinder World Guide line and formerly on Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines. He's done freelance for Paizo Inc, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and more third-party publishers. His hobbies include gaming both tabletop and video, making jokes, obsessing over time travel, taking naps with Nova the cat, and walks with heather the wife. He is eternally plagued with a hunger for tacos.

PaizoCon 2019: Little Changes, Big Impact

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