Curious Creatures- The Jaculus

Fat Goblin is moving right ahead with their new book for Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures.
Check out the update, a sneak peak at one of the creatures in question (The Jaculus), here:
https://fatgoblingames.com/blogs/castle-falkenstein/curious-creatures-enters-editing

Curious Creatures Enters Editing!

Hello! Welcome to Falkenstein Friday!

I am thrilled to share this news. Curious Creatures, the first product of the revived Castle Falkenstein line, has passed through the gauntlet provided by our beta readers and has now entered the final phase. From here it will proceed to a critical drubbing by the men known only as the Janitor, the most glorious of Bastards, and finally the Fattest Goblin himself. After that, a layout and an inspection by the masters of R. Talsorian and the book shall be ready for your perusal!

However, why wait? Perhaps you would like a preview in advance of what lies ahead? If so, may I present an entry from the bestiary portion of the book, the JACULUS! While still in need of a bit of editing, this entry will is more or less as it will appear in the book itself (though it will be prettied up a bit!). It begins with the name of the creature and its type (either native, faerie pet, or from Beyond the Faerie Veil), a quote of interest, and a short summary or what the creature is and where it might be found. From there we move onto the observations and thoughts of Doctor John Dolittle on the creature. Finally, Captain Olam provides us with statistics we may use in the Great Game itself as well as an idea for an adventure incorporating the jaculus.

JACULUS

Native

“The jaculus hurls itself from the branches of a tree, so that it is not only dangerous to the feet, but flies through the air like a missile from a catapult.”
Pliny the Elder

In Brief

A leaping snake capable of striking a prey and knocking them senseless.

Where it Might be Found

In forests throughout New Europa but especially in the western part of the continent.

—–

Despite every illustration I have ever laid eyes upon, the jaculus, also known as the javelin snake, does not have wings nor is it capable of flight. In most other ways, past accounts are accurate. The jaculus had adopted a hunting strategy in which it climbs up into a tree and rests there, in a coil. When prey passes beneath the tree it propels downward itself with powerful muscles and strikes with uncanny accuracy. A hard, thick, bony plate built into the top of the jaculus’ skull allows it to harm its victim without suffering damage itself. A well struck blow can break open the prey’s head or snap its neck, essentially clubbing it to death. Should the jaculus miss or not deal a killing blow it quickly slithers into the undergrowth or back up a tree and out of reach.

The jaculus has dark brown scales on top of its body which allow it to camouflage itself against the bark of a tree and a lighter, more yellowish underside. The jaculus’ head seems particularly bulbous due to the thickness of the bone at the top of the skull. The average specimen measures five feet in length although some few have been recorded as reaching a startling eight feet from tip to tail when fully stretched out. They are native to Eastern New Europa but in recent decades have migrated to other regions and can now be found spread across the continent.

As with many serpents, the jaculus has a dietary preference for rodents. Their size and unusual hunting method allows them to subdue and eat larger rodents such as marmots, river rats, beavers, and rabbits. Occasionally, they will propel themselves into a low flying bird such as a hawk or owl, knocking it from the sky and stunning it. There exist tales of them attacking larger creatures and even humans but, since they could not swallow such a kill whole, I suspect if such a thing happened it would only be because the jaculus believed itself to be in danger. As with most animals, the jaculus will not attack an enemy much larger itself unless it feels it has no choice.

I know of a castle gardener in Bavaria who had trouble with invading marmots devouring his prized flowers before they could fully blossom. No solution he tried could drive away the menace to his beloved plants. At his wits end, the gardener paid for several jaculus to be imported. With great care he brought the shipping box of them into the center of his garden and released them, then watched as the serpents slithered and climbed up into the trees surrounding it. Within a month his marmot problem was solved but a new problem emerged. Without a steady supply of marmots to eat the jaculus took to hunting other prey. A number of small dogs of the type in favor with court ladies at the time vanished, never to be seen again.

Jaculus

Suggested Pet Ability Rank: Great.

Typical Abilities: Athletics [GR] • Perception [GD] • Stealth [GR]

Size: Small [5 Health]

Bite: A jaculus’ bite does damage as a Small creature.

Leaping Bash: The jaculus can propel itself through the air nearly twenty feet as part of a clubbing attack that does damage as a Medium creature.

ADVENTURE SEED

The diabolical mastermind Count Rugen has taken refuge in an old Rolandian border fort surrounded by a forest infested with jaculus. While these unusual serpents are normally little threat to anything larger than a rabbit, Count Rugen has employed his Sonic Projector to broadcast a frequency which drives the jaculus into a frenzy ready to attack anything which might move on the ground below! Reaching the Count in order to bring him to justice won’t be easy.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed.

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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