Rotjaws are quadrupedal therapsids about the size of buffalo. They have pronounced nasal structures, powerful jaws, long limbs and short, stubby tails. These carnivores have evolved an immunity to almost all diseases. This allows them to cultivate bacteria in their mouths which they transfer through bite like how a komodo dragon actually doesn’t as it turns out.
When they hunt, their goal is not to kill their prey outright, but to infect a victim then retreat into the underbrush. As such, they are relatively slow-moving and well camouflaged with dark scales. Their powerful sense of smell is fine-tuned to detect disease at a range of one mile (weather permitting), allowing rotjaws to follow the infected creature for days if necessary. Once the illness has finally rendered the victim helpless, the rotjaw catches up and eats the creature alive, because intense fear and pain triggers the production of delicious hormones.
Sometimes, rotjaws that pick up the scent of other rotjaws’ victims are hungry and desperate enough to challenge the original hunter for the kill. Infected prey are often forced to watch, paralyzed, as two or more of these creatures do battle for the right to devour them. These contests rarely go to the death, with participants often retreating after they’ve sustained a single hit. The scars possessed by most rotjaws are a testament to the frequency of these battles.
Rotjaws build nests in caves one mouthful of mud at a time, in which they bury clutches of 4-8 eggs. The parents spend two weeks taking turns guarding the nest while the other goes hunting, then abandon it and go their separate ways once the eggs have hatched. Hatchlings start out the size of an average housecat and grow into full adults within a month; at least one or two out of every clutch usually makes it.
Rotjaw bites spread what’s known as rotjaw fever, even though it’s less a single disease than a blend of all the nasty microbes that the animal’s been able to cultivate. Rotjaw fever always drains the strength of the victim, but other symptoms can vary widely from case to case.
AC: as leather
Movement: 1/2 unburdened human
Attack: bite (1d6 + disease, save to avoid)
Baseline Rotjaw Fever
Duration: 3 days
Incubation: 1 hour
Increment: 2 hours
Effect: Save or lose one point of strength. A strength of less than 3 means total paralysis. Infected creatures also emit a stench of decay that attracts rotjaws but repels most other predators. This scent also temporarily decreases the victim’s charisma to 3, an effect which lasts as long as the infection does.
Rotjaw Fever Variations
Roll 3d12 on the following table when a character catches rotjaw fever. If you roll the same number twice, don’t re-roll it; that just means this instance of the fever displays one less special quality than usual.
1 Completely unaffected by healing magic.
2 All disease related damage is permanent, even if the disease itself is cured.
3 Lose dexterity at the same rate as strength.
4 Lose two strength points every interval instead of one.
5 Periodic hallucinations (last for 1d10 minutes at every interval).
6 Constant hallucinations, unless the most recent save vs. disease succeeded.
7 Lose constitution at the same rate as strength.
8 Disadvantage to saving throws against rotjaw fever.
9 Deduct 1d4 maximum hit points every increment.
10 Full-body cramps that cause total paralysis for ten minutes every increment.
11 Increments and incubation time are half as long as usual.
12 Duration is twice as long as usual.