Leucrotta, Greater

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd EditionCampaign Setting Logo

Leucrotta, Greater
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Very (11-12)
Treasure:Nil (D,Q×3)
Alignment:Neutral evil
No. Appearing:1-3
Armor Class:4
Movement:18, or as current form
Hit Dice:8
No. of Attacks:1; see below
Damage/Attack:3d6; see below
Special Attacks:See below
Special Defenses:See below
Magic Resistance:10%
Size:M or L (variable)
Morale:Champion (15)
XP Value:2,000

Greater leucrotta, also commonly called changesteeds, are ugly in looks and temperament in their base forms; like the common leucrotta, the changesteed is 7 feet tall at the shoulder and is 9 feet in length, with the body of a stag, a badger's head, a lion's tail, and the cloven hoofs of a goat. Whereas the leucrotta is tan and black in coloration, the greater leucmtta is covered in gray fur that darkens to black along its shoulders and head; its teeth are razorsharp and are a revolting shade of greenish-gray, while its eyes are milky-white and empty of any emotion or heart.

This monster can, like a regular leucrotta, imitate a range of noises and voices (like human adults, children, or animals in pain) to lure prey into approaching within attacking distance. With this ability, greater leucrotta can speak commcm, their own language, and at least one other language if exposed to it regularly.

Combat: Changesteeds, in their base forms, attack with their ferocious bite for 3d6 points of edged damage; once it bites down, it can either let go and bite other foes, or it can maintain its bite, ccmtiouing its 3d6 points of damage until it relinquishes its hold or is killed. (Pulling free of a greater leucrotta's bite only requires a Strength check at a -2 penalty, but doing so still inflicts damage equal to its normal bite.) If the greater leucrotta successfully bites someone with a shield, the target must roll a saving throw vs. crushing blow for the shield or the shield is rendered useless, fully bitten through. Once the shield is gone, checks are made for any armor on later successful bites.

The ability that gives the changesteed its name allows it to alter its shape into any quadrupedal creature of size M or L that it has observed for more than one turn. Most greater leucrotta only shapechange into horses or stags, but some can change their forms into watchdogs, griffons, hippogriffs, and even owlbears. During these shapechanges (which take one round each), the changesteed's base form is visible for about 15 seconds between one form and the next.

While in altered forms, the greater leucrotta appears like the animal it imitates in all ways save one: Its teeth remain the same (as does its bite attack THAC0 and damage). In all other respects, the changesteeds strength, speed, AC, and movement style changes to reflect the form it wears; this allows it swifter escapes than normal, either with a horse's running speed or a griffon's flight. ...

Most animals do not react to the presence of greater leucrottas, but cats somehow sense that something is amiss, and actively avoid them in any form. Spells that check intelligence or alignments (like true seeing) and psionics can detect changesteeds in any forms; however, few check to see that animals are what they seem (suspecting trouble only from people).

Habitat/Society: With the added abilities to camouflage itself among normal creatures, greater leucrotta can be found in nearly any temperate areas rather than just secluded ruins. It also works with creatures rather than just preying on them; one most effective alliance has greater doppelgangers and greater leucrottas wandering in the midst of a great city disguised as paladins on war horses.

The eating habits and lairs of changesteeds are far better than normal leucrotta; while they still prefer freshly killed meat, changesteeds take care to keep the charnel stench of carrion from their breath and their lair (as it would nullify any disguise).

Ecology: With their added intelligence and shapechanging abilities, greater leucrotta are not considered or treated as outcasts like the normal leucrotta. If changesteeds are flattered and carefully swayed with sound motivations, they can become good allies for intelligent thieves or other less-than noble types. Greater leucrotta only allow folk to ride them as steeds when they feel they are equal or greater partners in any bargains; their allies play this up often, since the monsters seek only food (leaving the treasures to them).

Like the leucrotta, changesteed hides are useful in creating boots of springing and striding; in addition, their shapechanging abilities grant the hide special properties that can, with proper preparation, duplicate those of a cloak of elvenkind. Lastly, greater leucrotta hooves are especially sought after as heels for boots of varied tracks, allowing wearers to create prints of dogs, goats, horses, stags, and wolves.