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Pest Drake Swarm

These songbird-sized drakes declare their territory with an insistent chorus of shrill chirps.

Pest Drake Swarm CR 9

Source Pathfinder #141: Last Watch pg. 84
XP 6,400
N Diminutive dragon (swarm)
Init +11; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +8

Defense

AC 23, touch 21, flat-footed 16 (+7 Dex, +2 natural, +4 size)
hp 115 (11d12+44)
Fort +12, Ref +14, Will +9
Defensive Abilities swarm traits; Immune acid, paralysis, sleep, weapon damage

Offense

Speed 15 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee swarm (3d6 acid plus blistering slime and distraction)
Space 10 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks blistering slime, caustic cloud (10-ft.-radius burst, 8d6 acid, Reflex DC 20 half, usable every 1d4 rounds), distraction (DC 18)

Statistics

Str 3, Dex 24, Con 16, Int 3, Wis 11, Cha 14
Base Atk +11; CMB —; CMD
Feats Ability Focus (caustic cloud), Alertness, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +12, Fly +24, Perception +8, Sense Motive +8, Stealth +13, Survival +11; Racial Modifiers +4 Survival
SQ homing

Ecology

Environment any urban
Organization solitary, pair, or rampage (3–5)
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Blistering Slime (Ex) A creature that leaves a pest drake swarm’s space becomes coated in acidic slime. A creature coated in acidic slime takes 3d6 points of acid damage at the end of its turn each round. As a full-round action, an affected creature can attempt a DC 18 Reflex save to clean off the slime. Dropping and rolling on the ground grants a +4 bonus on this save. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Caustic Cloud (Su) The dragons making up the pest drake swarm can coordinate their acidic breath together to create a caustic cloud as a standard action. The pest drake swarm can create a caustic cloud once every 1d4 rounds. All creatures within a 10-foot-radius burst, including creatures within the swarm’s squares, take 8d6 points of acid damage (Reflex DC 20 half). The save DC is Constitution-based.
Homing (Ex) As a standard action, the pest drake swarm can determine its approximate distance from its home as well as the direction it must travel to reach it. A pest drake must spend 1 week in a new location to designate the new location as its home.

Description

Roosting on statuary and eaves, pest drakes are the bane of masons and carpenters across Golarion. By itself, a single pest drake is a tolerated nuisance, eating insects and other vermin in the city. Its distinctive song-like chirp greets passersby and thanks those who throw it scraps of food. When pest drakes gather, however, they become much more dangerous. The little wyvern-like dragons erode the stone where they nest and grow territorial in large groups, becoming deadly, acid-spitting flocks when agitated.

Some of the smallest dragons, adult pest drakes are just under a foot in length and weigh 1–2 pounds. They live approximately 10–15 years.

Ecology

Centuries ago, a wizard who was jealous of his colleague’s bond with a pseudodragon captured a clutch of pseudodragons, determined to create his own draconic familiar. He drained his family’s fortune in countless experiments to create a less intelligent and more obedient dragon. His experiments routinely failed, with many of the resulting offspring unable to properly bond as familiars or so frail they died within days of hatching. Decades later, a young paladin of Apsu discovered the wizard’s atrocities against dragonkind and confronted the wizard. The wizard’s daughter, who had cared for the failed experiments all of her life, released them from their cages, attempting to spare them from her father’s magic and the paladin’s ire.

Not long after the paladin left the wizard’s mansion, the drakes returned to their pen. The daughter, intending to grant them freedom, released them further and further away from her home, only to discover them back in her courtyard each time she returned. Unable to “free” the drakes, she instead created a messenger service with them in an attempt to recover her family’s fortune. Her plan did not work quite as intended. The drakes became a decades-long fashion fad that spread like wildfire across Golarion’s nobility, especially after it was discovered that the creatures could be easily bred to exhibit a variety of colors, spikes, and frill styles. By the time the drakes fell out of fashion, they had become too embedded in their urban homes to ever be fully removed.

Unlike their draconic cousins, pest drakes are highly fertile and mature quickly. Mated pairs lay clutches of two to three eggs each year in the spring and fall. The eggs incubate for 2 months, and a hatchling reaches physical and sexual maturity within 5 months. A mated pair of pest drakes remains together while incubating eggs and raising the hatchlings, but they often find new mates within the flock after those young mature. Each adult in the flock takes at least some role in a hatchling’s growth, often teaching it which places to frequent for food and which to avoid due to danger. Some smaller flocks have been known to follow people who feed them, even as those people age and move to different homes within the city, passing the tribal knowledge of previous kindness from one generation of pest drakes to the next.

Pest drakes are not as vicious as their drake cousins, and they rarely attack creatures larger than themselves. They are omnivorous, subsisting primarily on berries, seeds, insects, and small rodents, though those that inhabit cities get the majority of their diet from scraps dropped by the city’s inhabitants. Many pest drakes perch patiently in parks where citizens are likely to rest and eat, waiting for a dropped scrap or the opportunity to steal an untended meal. Some pest drakes have learned that chirping, dancing, and other displays often delight the local populace, leading to the drakes getting more scraps of food.

Habitat and Society

Pest drakes are social, communal creatures that exist almost entirely within cities. Flocks within cities tend to claim sections of the city as their territories and defend these territories from outside menaces, whether those menaces are other flocks of pest drakes, an invasion of stowaway rats on the docks, or new construction in the nobles’ district that disrupts their nests. Flocks of pest drakes found outside of cities still frequently gravitate toward humanoid settlements, latching onto tribes or villages. Pest drakes communicate with each other through a mixture of body language, chirps, clicks, and whistles. They can understand basic words and simple commands in the languages of the humanoids around them, but they lack the ability to fully understand or speak a language.

Masons despise pest drakes. The drakes’ acidic biology eventually permeates their roosting places, slowly eating away at the structure beneath. Their acid erodes details on statues, inscriptions on walls, and designs on column capitals. Buildings and statuary made of marble or painted in lighter colors are particularly susceptible to this corrosion, as it slowly darkens the stone and dissolves the paint. Once established, these pests have proven difficult to remove, as they are often too numerous and too prolific to fully exterminate, especially when the local populace so regularly feeds the friendly creatures. In poorer areas where vermin are more prevalent, the citizens often encourage the habitation of pest drakes to help keep the populations of other pests down.

Many minor nobles still collect and breed pest drakes for racing stock due to their innate ability to always find their way home. Some pest drakes are bred for speed, others for endurance. These races are collectively referred to as “Rainbow Races” due to the bright streaks of color that fill the sky when the pest drakes are released. Owners keep racing drakes in housing that limits the drakes’ ability to form a bond with others of their kind. Current Rainbow Races have regulations limiting how many pest drakes can be raced at the same time after the Great Drake Disaster in Taldor, in which thousands of half-starved pest drakes were released for a race and subsequently bonded into a flock that decimated the nearby farmland.