April 28, 2011

Mythic Monsters-Xiuhcoatl

This is part of the A-Z Blog Challenge. Herein I am presenting a new monster that hopefully has not been seen before in any RPG game. This is drawn from stories and mythologies found in a variety of real-world cultures.


The ground was bereft of the living. Here and there were a few dried pieces of grass, brown and wilting, clinging to what little the grass could find for nourishment, but not much else. The ground itself felt warm to the touch, a warmth beyond that brought by the sun. And then something moved in the distance. At first it was small and low to the ground, but as it moved closer it was plainly to be seen as a large snake-like creature. Its scales shimmered in the heat. This is what they came here to find, that which had caused all this blight on the land. This is what they came here to kill.

A monster originating with the Aztecs, the Xiuhcoatl is a serpent. The name in Nahuatl (Aztec) means “turquoise serpent”, with a further meaning of “fire serpent”. It was the spirit form of the Aztec god, Xiuhtecuhtli, a fire deity. However, now when there are great conflagrations a Xiuhcoatl can be created spontaneously from the flames. Thus there are several of these in existence.

A Xiuhcoatl runs between 3-4 feet long and as expected is blue-green in color. Its eyes always are a bright red. Its body is segmented and its tail is pointed, though the tail is not used as a weapon. The haze of heat surrounding a Xiuhcoatl gives the creature a shimmering quality; this is an optical illusion only.

The creature is one of fire. Where it goes it brings drought and the scorching sun. It will despoil the land near a settlement, seeking either to weaken the community or drive the people from it. Thereafter it will hunt any stragglers. It is less a beast and more a force of nature. It seems to kill whenever it can; it will not face large groups of people. One theory is that the people it kills are automatically considered to be sacrifices to its parent god with no need of a more formal sacrificial ritual. This would help explain why it kills but does not feed.

As a side note: Similar to some other mythical monsters, the Xiuhcoatl name has been appropriated for military equipment. In this case, the FX-05 "Xiuhcoatl" is a rifle used by the Mexican army, first shown to the public in 2006.

-Fire: The Xiuhcoatl has an aura of flame around it. Every time it attacks it does extra fire damage and every time a melee attack hits it the attacker also takes fire damage. The Xiuhcoatl can turn this aura on or off, though if is anticipating a fight it will leave it on.
-Heat: All those anywhere near the Xiuhcoatl will feel the moisture and life being drained out of them. Anyone near the Xiuhcoatl (and near means within range of interacting with the Xiuhcoatl) will suffer a “to hit” penalty.
-Bite: The bite of a Xiuhcoatl is exceptionally strong. It is able to bypass armor.

-A cult that worships the fire deity from your world design have started setting fires in the hope a new Xiuhcoatl will be spawned. They have been setting smaller fires but the party stumbles upon plans for a huge inferno that will cover several blocks, destroying many buildings and killing many people. Can they stop the cultists in time?

-A Xiuhcoatl has been plaguing a town, with many burnt corpses of travelers found. In reality, this is the work of a cult dedicated to the fire god of your world; it may even be the same cult as above. This time, however, the cult is not an outside force, but rather made up of key townsfolk.

-A magician believes the eyes of a Xiuhcoatl can be used to see into the future, at least as far as potential fires; it can see the fires of the future. This would be a major boon for any large settlement. He is willing to equip the party with a lotion that will protect the characters from a Xiuhcoatl’s fire aura, allowing them readily kill one and take its eyes. However, the magician is really a cultist, similar to those in the other adventure ideas. The lotion, in fact, will cause the wearer to take more damage from fire. This is the magician’s way of sending sacrifices to the Xiuhcoatl.
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