Bitterbeetle (3.5e Creature)
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|TN Medium Vermin
|+1/darkvision 60 ft.,; Listen +1, Spot +1
|20, touch 10, flat-footed 20
|30 (4 HD)
|10 ft. (2 squares)
|Str 22, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 1, Wis 4, Cha 4
A Bitterbeetle lives within a Willow, often called a Bitterwillow. It helps protect the willow from those that would consume it by excreting bitter, viscous fluid into the willow's branches and attacking those that would eat anyway. In return, it consumes a small amount of the willow's trunk, including a hole in the side, to give itself room. If the willow dies, instead of laying eggs in the willow the bitterbeetle moves to a nearby young willow and inserts eggs into it. It then protects the willow, consuming the old one until it runs out. The Bitterbeetle has hundreds of spiked tendrils extending out of it's bottom side. It uses these to whip the willow's branches around, hitting animals that would eat willow leaves. It also uses these to fling willow seeds far away to help the willow reproduce.
Bitterbeetles will try to remain undetected if possible, especially if there are no willows nearby to move to if their willow is killed. If the young willows grown from flung seeds are attacked, the bitterbeetle will immediately exit the tree and begin attacking. If there is no major threat to the young trees, and the main willow is being attacked, once the willow is at half health the bitterbeetle will drag itself out with it's tendrils and begin attacking, usually grappling the ones attacking or cutting the willow and attempting to crush them. It will also bite at enemies that get too close, or bring them closer when near-dead.
Tendrils: The Bitterbeetle's signature attack is its tendrils. They often grab assailants of the the host willow and crush them to death, using their bodies as fertilizer. A Bitterbeetle's tendrils have a reach of whatever the tree's reach would be, were it animate, and can either attack or grapple. When grappling, the bitterbeetle gets and extra +8 bonus to its grapple check (to a total of +14) and an additional +4 for each group of tendrils it devotes to one target. Each tendril group deals tendril attack damage and 1d8+3 crushing damage. The Bitterbeetle can also pull enemies closer with an opposed grapple check as a free action - however, if it loses the roll, it releases it's victim. Any free tendrils can be used to attack.
Bitterwillow: The Bitterbeetle's Bitterwillow is one of its greatest assets in combat. Treat it as a mindless, immobile Treant with twice the bitterbeetle's hit dice. The only way to pierce the tree and hit the bitterbeetle within is with a piercing weapon that reaches the bitterbeetle, and the first 5 points per hit die of the tree is redirected to the tree.
Stink: The Bitterbeetle's bitter fluid is incredibly noxious, making all within 60 feet of the willow Sickened (DC 16 Fortitude to negate, -2 DC per 10 feet away). In addition, anyone hit by a tendril or branch must make another DC 20 save or be sickened. The difficulty decreases by 1 per round exposed but increases by 1 when hit by a tendril.
Older Bitterwillows can be identified easily by the amount of skeletons around it. Originally, bitterbeetles had essentially no treasure, but some adventurers saw the bones and decided to try to loot them. This cause their loot to be left behind, and attracted more adventurers. Eventually, bitterwillows became profitable, albeit dangerous gold mine.
In addition, bitterbeetle's secreted bitter fluid has several properties. The most well known property is that if exposed to air, it makes a large area stink. A single dose of bitterbeetle fluid creates a 10 foot radius circle that Sickens those who fail a DC 10 fortitude save, lasting 1 round. By doubling the dose, you can increase the DC by 2, add 10 feet to the range of the stink and add 1 round to the duration of the stink. However, for every 10 feet away you are from the origin, the DC is lowered by 2, and for every round the DC is again lowered by 2 and the radius of the effect decreased by 10 feet. For example, 32 doses of the fluid creates and effect identical to the stink effect on the bitterwillow, but centered at wherever the fluid was released, for one round. In five rounds, it will be as effective as one dose of fluid.
A less known property is that if consumed, the bitter, syrupy fluid is supernaturally nourishing and healing. However, it is extremely difficult to eat due to it's horrid bitterness and noxious smell. When consuming a dose of bitterwillow, you must make a DC 20 fortitude save or immediately spit it out and become sickened. This doesn't apply if you are unconscious and someone else is feeding you. If you manage to choke down the viscous fluid, you heal 2d8+10 HP (as if a 10th level cleric casted Cure Moderate Wounds) and get a +8 alchemical bonus against poison for an hour. The fluid also counts as a day's worth of rations.
Each willow generally has 6d4 doses of bitter fluid, each worth 100 gp.