Shards

Shards

 

 

Shards are awful "amalgams," artificially altered elves or men who incor­porate enchanted organic features akin to those found in constructs. Im­ mortal but unable to reproduce (as are all artificial beasts), these heinous creatures are haunting arboreal spirits. Nothing surpasses them in speed or agility, and few entities possess their fetish for unrestrained terror.

Shards look like tall, featureless men. Their entire body is covered with a sort of greenish hide, a thick skin which resembles tight clothing. This covering extends over their entire body, including the face. On the feet, it is an inch thick and permeated by bizarre mole-like protrusions, "gripper­ lik/e" soles designed to accentuate their already-stunning traction. Their hairless heads are also adorned with a second outer skin. Extending down from a heavy bone brow which surrounds the shard's skull, this semi­ transparent layer flaps down over their lower head, obscuring the creature's facial features. Shards pull the skin up when eating, but retreat behind its light-shielding protection at all other times.

Shards normally live in "lats" of six: five lesser led by one greater. Om­nivorous, they reside in dark "nests" and live on tree products, but retain a quaint fondness for raw meat, particularly fresh brains. Their diet is ideal given their peculiar routine, for shards are active less than an hour a day. Although they are capable of moving about for up to six hours, they prefer to rest.

This is no doubt due to the fact that they never move at speeds under 1000'/rd  (a shardic "walking pace"). Shards either stand still, or they burst about with alarming velocities; they travel 5000'/rd when dashing. Effortlessly leaping distances of up to 100', they move along tree limbs with the ease of a skilled (and hyperactive) monkey, hurling forward in a blur which defies the most excited  of  imaginations.  When at  rest, they spread their arms to their sides and stare forward in a rigid pose as if statue. This absolutely immobile form of relaxation has led many an unwitting victim to believe  he was surrounded  by sculptures, only to later discover ·that his brain was missing.

Shards must also remain still when attacking. Using but a fraction,.of a second's momentum, a shard st.rikes by swinging its arms back along its side, up behind its back, over its shoulders, and then down until pointing straight forward. This wheeling motion brings their head down and upper body forward, and pulls two natural bone discs out of the shard's interior chest reservoir. These sharp, 2"diameter discs travel along an exposed bone track on the shards inner arm; then they are flung forward at amazing speed. Deadly missiles, they are coated with a fluid of diluted shard blood, which serves as a third level nerve• poison. Such attacks are always preceded by at least one round's movement, for the shard must generate momentum. With a dull reserve of fifty discs (which are actually the shard's waste matter), a shard can initiate twenty-five dual attacks over the course of fifty rounds (supply renews at rate of 3/hr).

While the Lesser shards rely on their hideous missiles, greater shards have another enchanted means of assault. Truly blind they have magical gemstone eyes which pierce their facial covering. These emit bolts of power even when the creature is (and has been) motionless; making greater shards exceptionally deadly. Unfortunate adventurers who take them for statues and attempt to steal thei.r valuable eyes (500 gp) usually find the experience to be an unwelcome climax to their journey.

Still, the best way to attack a shard is while it is motionless. When it moves, it is virtually unhittable (unless caught In a confined area, when DB drops). Fortunately, since shards must decide where to start, turn, or stop seconds ahead of time, they can be ambushed.even while moving. One need only know their exact path. Once the shard stops, of course, any readied at­ tack will serve quite well. With a successful orientation roll, an adventurer can react to the shard's pause. Then, assuming the dauntless warrior does not swallow a disc or two, he can fell the pitiless creature.

Shards

The Praise of Old Men Ancellus Ancellus