Monstrous Physique — Zerg Evolution, Part 3

Hello again! I’m not done with the Zerg, so I hope you’re ready to see more of these creepy critters over the coming weeks. This week, we take a look at one of my favorite new units in Starcraft 2, the explosive banelings! I have stats for the banelings, as well as their two variant strains. Let’s have a look!

As always, before we get started, here’s the zerg subtype for those who need it.

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.

Baneling

Banelings are an explosive strain of Zerg, derived from the zergling strain.

Baneling                                       CR 1
XP 400
N Small aberration (zerg)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10
DEFENSE
HP 20
EAC 11; KAC 13
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3
Defensive Abilities burrow, death burst, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Offensive Abilities acidic detonation
STATISTICS
Str +2, Dex +1, Con +4, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +10, Stealth +5
Languages Zerg
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Acidic Detonation (Ex) A baneling can rupture in an explosion of acid as a standard action. All creatures adjacent to the baneling take 2d4+2 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save halves this damage. A baneling can detonate while burrowing. Detonating in this way kills the baneling and does not trigger the baneling’s death burst.
Burrow (Ex) A baneling can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The baneling 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 baneling. While burrowed, the baneling gains blindsight (vibration) 30 feet.
Death Burst (Ex) If a baneling dies, it sprays acid around it in its death throes. All creatures adjacent to the baneling take 1d4 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save ignores this damage.

After a brief chrysalis phase, zerglings can mutate into a baneling. This new form loses the zergling’s signature claws and is filled with a mass of chemicals that fill its body. These chemicals stretch the baneling’s skin, creating large, bulbous sacs of the dangerous, acidic mix. These sacs are particularly volatile and are prone to explosive detonation. Once a baneling is close to an enemy, it can trigger an explosive reaction, setting off parts of its body to erupt. This eruption sprays most of the baneling’s payload of acid onto nearby foes. Even killing a baneling is not entirely safe, as the unstable chemical mixture still erupts upon the baneling’s death, albeit at a reduced capacity. Baneling swarms are notorious for rushing foes or enemy structures and reducing them to burning piles of melted mass in just a few seconds.

Baneling Strains

Banelings are capable of further modification during their chrysalis stage, allowing them to mutate into the leaping hunter baneling or the spawn producing splitter baneling.

Hunter                                       CR 1
XP 400
N Small aberration (zerg)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10
DEFENSE
HP 15
EAC 11; KAC 13
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3
Defensive Abilities burrow, death burst, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Offensive Abilities acidic detonation
STATISTICS
Str +2, Dex +1, Con +4, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +10, Stealth +5
Languages Zerg
Other Abilities leaping
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Acidic Detonation (Ex) A hunter can rupture in an explosion of acid as a standard action. All creatures adjacent to the hunter take 1d6+2 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save halves this damage. A hunter can detonate while burrowing. Detonating in this way kills the hunter and does not trigger the hunter’s death burst.
Burrow (Ex) A hunter can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The hunter 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 hunter. While burrowed, the hunter gains blindsight (vibration) 30 feet.
Death Burst (Ex) If a hunter dies, it sprays acid around it in its death throes. All creatures adjacent to the hunter take 1d4 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save ignores this damage.
Leaping (Ex) As a move action, a hunter can leap horizontally or vertically up to 20 feet. When leaping horizontally, a hunter 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 hunter can make a leaping attack. The hunter leaps up to 20 feet as normal and detonate at any point during its movement, as if using its acidic detonation ability. If it does not detonate while moving, it immediately detonates when it lands.

A hunter baneling’s unique mutations lead to stronger legs than that of a typical baneling. This development allows hungers to leap past enemy front lines and detonate in the middle of enemy forces where they can deal the most damage. Hunters make great ambushers, not only detonating while burrowed, but also jumping from cliff sides or out of trees to catch foes unawares.

Splitter                                       CR 1
XP 400
N Small aberration (zerg)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10
DEFENSE
HP 18
EAC 10; KAC 12
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3
Defensive Abilities burrow, death burst, fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Offensive Abilities acidic detonation
STATISTICS
Str +2, Dex +1, Con +4, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +10, Stealth +5
Languages Zerg
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or swarm (3–12)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Acidic Detonation (Ex) A splitter can rupture in an explosion of acid as a standard action. All creatures adjacent to the splitter take 1d8 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save halves this damage. A splitter can detonate while burrowing. Detonating in this way kills the splitter and does not trigger the splitter’s death burst. Once the splitter detonates, it creates two splitter spawn in its space.
Burrow (Ex) A splitter can burrow into the ground as a standard action. The splitter 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 splitter. While burrowed, the splitter gains blindsight (vibration) 30 feet.
Death Burst (Ex) If a splitter dies, it sprays acid around it in its death throes. All creatures adjacent to the splitter take 1d4 acid damage. A successful DC 10 Reflex save ignores this damage.

During mutation, a baneling can set aside a portion of its genetic material to create a miniaturized baneling. This small spawn remains in a suspended chrysalis phase, just on the verge of completion. When the splitter detonates, it completes the mutation of the spawn, releasing the miniaturized baneling to immediately attack a foe.

Splitter Spawn                                       CR 1/3
XP —
N Tiny aberration (zerg)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
DEFENSE
HP 6
EAC 9; KAC 11
Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +2
Defensive Abilities fast healing 2
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Offensive Abilities acidic detonation
STATISTICS
Str +1, Dex +0, Con +3, Int –3, Wis –1, Cha –2
Other Abilities swarming
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary or pair
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Acidic Detonation (Ex) A splitter spawn can rupture in an explosion of acid as a standard action. All creatures adjacent to the spawn take 1d4 acid damage. A successful DC 8 Reflex save halves this damage. Detonating in this way kills the splitter spawn.
Swarming (Ex) Splitter spawn are compact, allowing multiple splitter spawn to share a square without impediment. Up to 4 spawn can share the same square.

These terrifying creatures are able to slip past defenses to detonate. They take advantage of already damaged defenses to deal greater damage to structures and enemy lines. Entire waves of splitter spawn can overwhelm unprepared forces in an instant.

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.

Art of Starfinder

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