Carp, Giant

Kara-Tur (Forgotten Realms)Campaign Setting Logo

Carp, Giant
Climate/Terrain:Tropical, subtropical, and temperate fresh water
Organization:Solitary or school
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Animal (1)
No. Appearing:1-4
Armor Class:6
Movement:Sw 18
Hit Dice:8-12
THAC0:8 HD: 13
9-10 HD:11
11-12 HD: 9
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Swallow whole
Special Defenses:Nil
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:L (20-30' long)
Morale:Average (9)
XP Value:8 HD: 3,000
9 HD: 4,000
10 HD: 5,000
11 HD: 6,000
12 HD: 7,000

The giant carp is a game fish favored by many races. It lives in all types of freshwater lakes and rivers.

A relative of the goldfish, the giant carp has golden scales evenly covering its plump body. The scales of some varieties are shiny enough to resemble tiny mirrors, while the scales of others are extremely thin, and look more like yellowish skin.

The giant carp has a single, broad dorsal fin centered on its back. A wide caudal fin, which extends from its thickly muscled tail, helps propel the fish through the water. Its paired pectoral and pelvic fins are often shredded or gone entirely, owing to the carp's tendency to poke among sharp rocks in search of food.

Combat: Giant carp are usually docile, harmless creatures. However, some have reportedly surfaced to attack small boats or swimmers. Others allegedly have taken the bait of a simple fishhook, much to the fisherman's surprise. If the carp are feeding, they will attack any creature who disturbs them. Females are especially touchy when spawning.

Giant carp attack by biting, inflicting 2-20 (2d10) hit points of damage with their sharp, curved teeth. Additionally, if an attack causes 12 or more hit points of damage, the carp may swallow its victim whole. The carp's ability to swallow large victims increases with its Hit Dice: at 8 HD, it can swallow a victim the size of a dog; at 9 HD, a large dog or colt; at 10 HD, a small man; at 11 HD, a normal-sized man; at 12 HD, a small ogre or oni.

Victims who have been swallowed suffer normal damage from the attack. Each round thereafter, they suffer 1 hit point of damage from the carp's digestive juices. A swallowed victim also has a 5% cumulative chance per round of suffocating.

To escape from the carp's stomach, a swallowed victim can cut his way free if he has a sharp-edged weapon. He also may be rescued by someone cutting or tearing at the carp from outside. When the carp has lost 50% of its hit points from such attempts, the victim can break free. A character on the inside suffers no penalty when making these attacks. Rescuers on the outside make attacks with a -2 penalty to their chance to hit, because they are attempting to aim a series of blows at the same area. Thrusting and stabbing weapons have a 20% chance of striking the swallowed victim.

Habitat/Society: A giant carp has no lair as such. It spends most of its time scavenging for food on the oozy bottom of a lake or river, and seldom strays far from the area in which it was born. A female carp lays thousands of eggs when spawning, though the vast majority of these are never fertilized. A carp becomes sexually mature between 10 and 20 years of age, and lives about 50 years.

Ecology: Giant carp eat any decayed matter they find in the muck and ooze. In addition, they swallow the eggs of other species of fish, as well as the fish themselves. Giant carp also feed on worms, weeds, frogs, snakes, crabs, and plankton.

Peoples of many races enjoy eating giant carp. A single fish can supply the needs of a village for quite some time. In spite of the dangers, the hunt for giant carp is often considered worth the risk, and fishermen sometimes organize expeditions specifically for catching these creatures. Giant carp can be eaten fresh or smoked.

In many places in Kara-Tur, the giant carp is considered a symbol of wealth, owing to the creature's golden scales. It also symbolizes perseverance, since the fish stubbornly persists in its chosen niche regardless of adversity. Wealthy nobles sometimes build tanks or pools in the courtyards of their temples, specifically for keeping giant carp. The nobles believe the fish will protect their fortunes.

Some primitive tribes believe a mystic link exists between particular species of fish, such as giant carp, and particular species of birds, such as peacocks and ravens, since both types of creatures lay eggs and both are associated with foretelling the future. These tribes believe that during certain times of the year, giant carp sprout wings and acquire the ability to breathe air. Though these rumors persist, no evidence of flying carp has been verified.