Fish, Subterranean

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WattleyLemon FishIrridescent Pleco
Climate/Terrain:Underground pools, streams, and riversUnderground pools, streams, and riversUnderground pools, streams, and rivers
Frequency:RareUncommonVery rare
Activity Cycle:AnyNightAny
Intelligence:Semi- (24)Non- (0)Animal (1)
No. Appearing:10-401-310-100
Armor Class:869
Movement:Sw 18Sw 24Sw 12
Hit Dice:14 to 91-1
THAC0:194 HD: 17
5-6 HD: 15
7-8 HD: 13
9 HD: 11
No. of Attacks:1 + paralysis2 (bite/tail)1 + disease
Damage/Attack:1d24-6 HD: 2d4/4-6 hp + poison
7-9 HD: 2d6/7-8 hp + poison
9 HD: 2d8/9 hp + poison
1 hp
Special Attacks:ParalysisPoisonDisease
Special Defenses:NilStun cloudNil
Magic Resistance:Nil40%Nil
Size:T (6”-1' long)S-M (24' long)T (6”-2' long)
Morale:Steady (11)Steady (11)Elite (13)
XP Value:354 HD: 270
5-6 HD: 420
7-8 HD: 975
9 HD: 1,400

Although many fish species are uniqque to subterranean fresh waters, three varieties in particular pose problems to creatures that pass through Undermountain's waterways: they are the wattley, the lemon fish, and the iridescent plecos. These fish are found in bodies of water where luminous lichen or other sources provide a setting that approximates natural lighting. They particularly thrive in the underground caverns of Undermountain where the forest streams of Wyllowwood and the River Sargauth flow.

While not as vicious as barracuda or piranha, these fish are carnivorous and enjoy the taste of flesh, attacking creatures of rat size and larger (even larger than themselves) when they are hungry. They can subside on creatures smaller than that but they must eat a large amount to provide a good meal. The fish are docile and nearly harmless if they have fed recently.


Perhaps the most beautiful of the subterranean fish, wattleys are oval-shaped, looking like near-circles with sharp, tiny teeth and lacy fins. The fish are from one to three inches thick. Brilliant stripes cover their bodies, and have caused sages to believe there are several varieties of wattleys. Green-, blue-, and brown-striped fish have been caught, and rare solid blue and green wattleys have been seen.

These are clearly the most intelligent of the subterranean fish. In schools led by a single fish, usually the largest and oldest (delivering 1-4 points of biting damage because of its size), they congregate in groups of 10 to 40 where they will be safer from predators. At night, schools come together in larger groups for even greater protection, sometimes numbering as many as 300 fish altogether.

Wattleys are voracious, consuming at least their weight in food every three days. The bite of a wattley contains a paralytic venom. AU creatures of 2 Hit Dice or fewer are automatically paralyzed if bitten by one of these fish. Creatures of greater Hit Dice must make a successful saving throw vs. poison or fall unconscious for 3d6 rounds, minus a number of rounds equal to their Hit Dice. A saving throw must be made for each bite. An entire school hunts, using their paralytic bites to bring down large prey so all members can feed.

Unsuspecting adventurers wading through underground rivers and streams have found themselves floating helpless in the water after a single bite from these fish. Creatures not able to breathe water often drown before the paralysis wears off. Wattleys mate for life, and each pair produces 10-100 eggs every three months, with 10d4 surviving to reach maturity.

Despite the danger, wattleys are hunted by humans and demihumans traveling underground. These hunters throw small animals and fresh meat into water inhabited by the fish. When the fish eat and become sated, the fishermen wade into the water and net as many fish as possible before they flee. The flesh of wattleys is delicious, and their organs, properly prepared, can be used in the creation of paralytic poisons and salves. In addition, their scales are used to decorate clothing and jewelry. Live wattleys can be sold for 2-12 gp apiece (depending on size and coloration) to wealthy surface dwellers who stock the fish in ponds and indoor tanks. In captivity, wattleys live 2-4 years, opposed to 15 years in their normal habitat. Wattley eggs are delicacies, commanding as much as 1,600 gp per pound (roughly 800 eggs).

Wattleys' major predators include drow and duergar (who use the fish as a source of food and poison), and lemon fish, which prey upon the smaller schools. The fish are also prized because of the treasure sometimes found inside. The wattleys are drawn to shiny objects, and larger specimens can swallow pearls, small gems, and other tiny valuables. The objects become lodged inside the fish, and the fish must be gutted to retrieve any valuables. Only one in 20 fish (1 on 1d20 roll) has swallowed some small thing of value (DMs choice).

Lemon Fish

Named for the bright yellow scales that cover much of their bodies, lemon fish are among the most vicious predators in subterranean fresh waters. They vary widely in size, with adults ranging from 2 feet to 6 feet long. Unlike other fish, the size of a lemon fish is not indicative of its age. The strongest of the fish feed more often, and therefore grow to become stronger still and vastly more dangerous.

Lemon fish are pleasing to the eye. Those looking through the water at them have said they resemble living gold pieces. The dorsal fin, tipped with black like all the others, resembles that of a shark when it breaks the surface of the water. The tail is covered with yellow and black barbs, with a thin spike extending up to 2 feet beyond the tail. Its eyes are black saucers that close when the fish moves forward for a kill. The damage of a lemon fish's bite is proportionate to its size, the largest inflicting 2-16 (2d8) points of damage with its double rows of teeth.

Regardless of its size, the lemon fish is able to attack twice per round a vicious bite and a tail slap that causes points of damage equal to the fish's Hit Dice. For example, a 7 HD lemon fish has a tail slap that inflicts 7 points of damage each time it hits. The damage is caused by the needlelike spike and the barbs. Those struck by the tail must save vs. poison or suffer 1d6 points of damage per round for as many subsequent rounds as the fish has Hit Dice (an attack by a 7 HD lemon fish causes 7 points of tail slap damage plus 7d6 points of poison damage across 7 rounds).

Lemon fish also possess a special defense that comes into play when the fish's body is punctured. The injured fish instinctively releases a filmy liquid that expands into a sphere twice the diameter of the fish's length (e.g., a 2-foot fish creates a 4-foot spherical area of effect). Those caught in the sphere must save vs. poison at 4 or be stunned for 1d4 rounds, often allowing the bleeding fish to flee. If other lemon fish are swimming with the injured one, they usually attack the stunned creature, since they are immune to their own poisons.

Lemon fish are usually solitary, and never more than three are found together. Generally, these fish are of 7 HD or fewer. The largest of the fish always hunts alone.

The flesh of a lemon fish is tough and generally inedible, though the organs of the fish are tasty and prized by duergar and drow. The fish's toxicity is lost after its death, so consuming the animal poses no threat. Lemon fish lay eggs up to four times a year, with each yielding 100-600 eggs. Only ten out of 100 young survive to reach adulthood. The eggs of the lemon fish are edible and command up to 400 gp a pound, (roughly 600 eggs).

Iridescent Pleco

These beautiful fish are shaped similarly to barracudas, their long, tapered bodies covered with shimmering scales; their graceful movement along the bottoms of shallow streams and ponds reminds onlookers of long streams of sparkling diamonds. They are often found in schools of 10 to 100, though some fishermen claim to have spotted larger schools. Their diamondlike scales lure many humans and demihumans into the water to catch the fish, though few of these return.

Iridescent plecos range from 6 inches to 2 feet long and can be quite deadly. The fishes' teeth are little more than a dull bony ridge; the bite of a pleco inflicts no damage, regardless of its size, as it uses its mouth to hold its prey. However, under each pleco's chin are spiked barbels: whiskerlike tendrils. On a successhl bite, the barbels pierce the victim's skin around the bite, inflicting 1 hit point of damage and injecting a violent venom. Creatures injected with pleco venom save vs. poison with a -4 penalty. Those who are successful suffer no ill effects. Creatures failing the save suffer a debilitating disease that sets in within two hours. An affected character loses 1 point of Strength and Constitution each per day until death (when one of the scores reaches 0). The disease can be cured up to 72 hours after injection; after that time, the damage is irreversible and fatal. Victims with the venom in their system for more than three days literally wither away.

Iridescent plecos are non-aggressive. They attack primarily in self-defense, such as if stepped on or if a creature is trying to catch them. Bottom feeders, the fish scavenge rotting flesh and plants and objects thrown into the water; they do not go after live prey. Ofttimes their food is tainted or rotten, making their flesh inedible. Some believe this is also what causes their venom to be so potent and virulent.

Iridescent plecos have few predators. Humans and demihumans have tried to preserve their glistening, gemlike skins to no avail; the lustre leaves the skins upon death, and the fish itself is malodorous. The only profit gained from encountering this fish is its eggs, from which some assassins can prepare a debilitating poison.