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Planetary Codex: Taozuno

This planet was featured in my home campaign "Storm of Stars", when the players crash-landed their starship in its jungles.


TAOZUNO

Storm-cloaked artificial jungle

Diameter: x4/5; Mass: x2/3

Gravity: Normal

Location: Azlanti Space

Atmosphere: Normal

Day: 19 hours; Year: 412 days

From space, Taozuno seems a desolate world, blanketed with severe thunderstorms that occasionally give way to pale white fog, but beneath the inclement weather lies a thriving

ecosystem of rainforests, rivers, and cloud forests. These verdant wilds are filled with all

manner of creatures. Some of these species appear to be endemic to the planet, such as the

bioluminescent nak-toh and the lamprey-jawed rasks, but others are quite similar to lifeforms known from elsewhere in the galaxy. Among these are three separate species of jungle drake and two species of yrthak, but most noticeable are the seventeen species of

pyrausta which illuminate the perpetual gloom with the pulsing of their burning hearts.

The draconic nature of these inhabitants is not a coincidence. Most scientifically literate visitors to Taozuno will quickly notice the fact that its ecosystem is essentially impossible. The plants, which are biologically similar to those found on other jungle worlds like Castrovel, seem to photosynthesize without ever being exposed to direct sunlight. Further adding to the oddities, the storms that cover its surface could never sustain themselves naturally given the world’s lack of any large seas or oceans. These

anomalies, combined with the fact that the soil gives way to a thick layer of dust, leads to the astonishing conclusion that the jungles of Taozuno are not natural at all.

In truth, up until only four years after the end of the Gap, Taozuno was a lifeless ball of dust and rock, so barren of resources that the Azlanti Star Empire had never even considered colonizing it. So when an ambitious dragon named Dr. Shandraka (LE female cybernetic mature adult Blue Dragon) approached the Aeon Throne with a generous offer

to buy the entire world, the deal was almost too good to be true. But in the following decades, Shandraka began the process of terraforming Taozuno using a combination of advanced technology and powerful magic. Within a century, the planet was transformed into the verdant wilderness it is today. Shandraka’s motives for this action remain unknown, but it has become clear that she is using the planet as some sort of enormous laboratory, studying the accelerated evolution of the life that has been seeded there

from her immense research vessel, the Stormspike. Whatever her goal is, it seems to especially concern the yrthak population, which she watches with great interest.

Shandraka and her minions, however, are not the only sentient creatures on Taozuno. Unbeknownst to the world’s draconic master, a small group of rebel fighters use an outpost in the planet’s southern hemisphere as a hideout and staging ground, using the cover of the storms and the planet’s out-of-the-way location to stage surgical strikes on the Azlanti. So far, the Aeon Guard have yet to realize that the rebels are located on Taozuno, but if they do it may bring them into conflict with Shandraka and her research team.

 

Anrigal

Anrigal CR 2

XP 600

LE Medium monstrous humanoid

Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision;

Perception +8

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DEFENSE

EAC 13 KAC 14

hp 23

Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +2

Defensive Abilities evasion

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OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.

Melee tactical spear +7 (1d6+2 P)

Ranged tactical spear +7 (1d6+2 P)

Space 5 ft. Reach 10 ft.

______________________________________________________________

STATISTICS

Str +2, Dex +4, Con +0, Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +0

Skills Athletics +13 (+17 to climb), Stealth +13

Languages Draconic, Tao’ozo

Gear tactical spear (3)

______________________________________________________________

ECOLOGY

Environment any (Taozuno)

Organization solitary, pair, or squad (3-8)


Anrigal are agile humanoids that resemble pale, unnaturally lean orcs with elongated limbs and large black eyes.

Although their simple clothing and weapons can lead travelers to mistake them for tribal natives, the anrigal are as artificial as the rest of Taozuno. Genetically engineered hybrids of orcs and the aberrations known as chokers, anrigal were created by Dr. Shandraka as minimally intrusive eyes and ears on the ground, able to sneak through the dense foliage without disturbing the creatures they are meant to observe.

Their primary function should not lead one to assume that the anrigal are nonviolent, however. Along with being spies, the anrigal function as Taozuno’s first line of defense against any who might disrupt Shandraka’s meticulous-and fragile-experiment. Most interlopers that stumble upon Taozuno are stalked by the creatures, which observe them for up to three days while Shandraka analyses whether the intruders present a threat to

her operation. If she determines that they are dangerous, the anrigal fall upon them silently in the night, spearing and dragging away their victims one by one before they are spotted.

Although they were created as mere tools, the anrigal have created their own society over the centuries. While this culture is centered around loyalty and worship towards their creator, in other matters the anrigal are surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent. Likely as a part of their conditioning, they are fastidiously neat and efficient, seeing any form

of waste as a terrible tragedy. Using any more than the bare minimum amount of resources is taboo.

In addition, the anrigal have developed their own language, Tao’ozo, in order to communicate among themselves. To an outsider, the vocabulary and grammatical patterns appear to be a haphazard pidgin of Draconic, Orc, and Undercommon, but like all things in anrigal society this combination is based around efficiency and communicating thoughts as clearly and quickly as possible.

An average anrigal stands just over six feet tall and weighs just under 200 pounds.

 

Pyrausta

Pyrausta Swarm CR 3

XP 800

CN Diminutive dragon (fire, swarm)

Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision;

Perception +8

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DEFENSE

EAC 14 KAC 16

hp 40; fast healing 1

Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +2

Immune fire, paralysis, sleep, swarm defenses

Defensive Abilities swarm defenses

Weaknesses heart of flame, vulnerable to cold

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OFFENSE

Speed 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (Ex., average)

Melee swarm attack (2d6 P&F)

Space 10 ft. Reach 0 ft.

Offensive Abilities distraction (DC 12), spark

_________________________________________________________

STATISTICS

Str -2, Dex +4, Con -1, Int +0, Wis +1, Cha +2

Skills Acrobatics +13, Perception +8, Stealth +8

Languages Draconic

_________________________________________________________

ECOLOGY

Environment warm forests (Taozuno)

Organization solitary or colony (2-4)

_________________________________________________________

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Heart of Flame (Ex) A tiny spark of flame that acts

as a pyrausta's heart beats within its chest.

Whenever a pyrausta swarm takes cold damage,

including damage from environmental cold, it must

make a DC 11 Reflex save or the little hearts of the

pyraustas stall. The swarm loses its fast healing, gains

the staggered condition, and takes 1 point of damage

each round. This continues until it is exposed to a

source of flame that would normally deal fire damage

or until it successfully uses its spark ability to reignite

its heart.


Spark (Sp) As a standard action, a pyrausta swarm

can produce a shower of sparks can make an

unattended flammable object of no larger than Tiny

size catch fire. This ability can also be used to

reignite the burning hearts of the swarm’s

constituents, as detailed above.


The diminutive pyraustas are the smallest known dragons, with even the largest individuals

measuring less than a foot long. A pyrausta’s natural fragility makes it reluctant to enter battle, and the free-spirited creatures are generally content to live moment-to-moment, using their fiery breath to create dazzling shapes in the air.

However, several species of pyrausta endemic to Taozuno have developed a potent defensive technique against the planet’s many predators: swarming. These swarms of up to one hundred dragons are capable of combining their numerous claws and jets of flame to take down animals more than fifty times their size. While these swarms almost always attack in self-defense, some particularly zealous groups may interpret friendly or neutral actions as hostile intent, and the mercurial creatures rarely stop to ask questions in such scenarios.

 

Wildlife

Taozuno is home to thousands of species, each made distinct from more familiar forms by the planet’s magically accelerated evolution.


Daskothol

Daskothols are agile and daring flying predators that navigate Taozuno’s dense jungles on wings made from elongated scales. They primarily feed upon the diminutive sap-sucking proscovoi, but a particularly desperate daskothol may aim for larger prey. A daskothol has the statistics of a Small predator (Alien Archive 2, pg. 102), though its size category is Tiny. It has a base speed of 15 ft., an extraordinary fly speed of 40 ft. with average maneuverability, and a talon attack that deals piercing damage.


Nak-Toh

Ubiquitous in the understory of Taozuno’s rainforests, the name nak-toh refers to a family of arboreal paravians which resemble monkeys covered in quill-like protofeathers, with

parrotlike heads. Most notably, nak-toh have a luminous third eye on their foreheads, which they blink open and closed to transmit signals to the rest of their troop in a sort of primitive morse code. A nak-toh has the statistics of an untrained squox (Alien Archive 2, pg. 118), but

cannot perform squox tricks.


Rask

Disturbing ground-dwelling predators, rasks are long, weasel-like mammals with circular jaws filled with several rows of teeth. Like a lamprey, a rask feeds by attaching itself to a prey animal and feeding on its internal organs. A rask has the stats of a Small predator (Alien Archive 2, pg. 102), though its size category is Tiny. It has a natural bite attack that does slashing damage, and the attach special ability.


Skriss

Skriss are small, swift predators that resemble brightly colored cats. In spite of their small size, they hunt in packs to take down prey much larger than themselves. A skriss is a Small predator (Alien Archive 2, pg. 102) with a bite attack that does piercing damage, darkvision 60 ft., and the ability to run or charge through difficult terrain in jungle environments.


Zarkhos

Among the largest predators on Taozuno, the zarkhos are immense eyeless suchians with tripartite jaws which sense their prey through electrical fields. A zarkhos is a Huge predator

(Alien Archive 2, pg. 102) with a base speed of 20 ft., a swim speed of 50 ft., a bite attack that does piercing damage and can grab onto prey, and blindsight 80 ft. (electrical fields). Particularly old individuals may use the Gargantuan stat block instead.

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