[Runequest] [RQIII]Razor Shells

Robert Hoffman iquinn at surewest.net
Thu May 7 02:32:20 EST 2009

I like it!  If the movement is so slow I would imagine the encounter would
rely on the player unexpectedly coming across one, which would then
translate to a mine field type situation where something like 3D4 of the
creatures are spaced through out a lake bed and the players may "trigger"
one by chance.  I mention this because if this is the nature of the threat
you may want to suggest some form of luck roll to indicate when such an
encounter would be triggered, since by the description it sounds like the
creature would only have that one initial attack in an encounter unless the
player chose to engage it (ie a mission to collect X number of them).


-----Original Message-----
From: runequest-bounces at rpgreview.net
[mailto:runequest-bounces at rpgreview.net] On Behalf Of Tony
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 8:06 AM
To: runequest at rpgreview.net
Subject: [Runequest] [RQIII]Razor Shells

I read a write up about a D&D sourcebook regarding wastelands, deserts,
dried up seabeds etc in a magazine the other day. Well my sometimes
overactive imagination kept me awaye that night. What kind of wierd little
creature could I spring on my group in a dried up sea bed. Apart from
petrified forests of coral, perhaps dangling tentacles of mutated
symbiotic irikanjis (SP). Then it came to me, the razor shell, one that
does not just look like a razor:

The nicely formatted article is on my site at
but below is the description. I made most of it up, checked out what
wikipedia said about normal razor shells and reference the ammonite in
mythworld for some tips:

Razor Shell (Ensis arcuatus incognitus)

Not your regular razor shells that are often fished for in the sea bed and
make a tasty shellfish treat, but a rather more sinister variety.

In the desolate wastes of a dried up sea bed lurk the razor shells. These
are close descendants of the more mundane razor shells found under the
seas sands, but have been forced to evolve as their habitat dried up.

The shells still eke out an existence beneath the harsh wastelands of the
dry seabed and have managed to do so via some remarkable adaptations.
Their original cylindrical, cut throat razor, shaped bodies have grown
longer. The bottom most section which is deepest in the sand sports long
barbs, which help anchor it in place, but still allow it to burrow forward
(downwards). A denser and harder shell protects the organism from heat and
water loss, allowing it to go for long periods without water, while also
providing internal pockets wherein moisture can be stored in times of

Its most remarkable and devious adaptation however is the means whereby
the shell is able to sustain itself. Where its ancestor filtered the water
for tiny organisms, no such contemporary nourishment now exists. Instead
the shell has had to become a devious ambush predator. The upward facing
portion of its body has developed a barbed harpoon tongue of razor sharp
hard mother of pearl. This harpoon is held inside the shell waiting for
pressure from above, the Razor Shell having positioned its top end just
below the ground level. When sufficient pressure is applied, coiled
muscles shoot the harpoon upward. This action is similar to that employed
in the nematocyst of the hydra polyp or jellyfishes stingers.

The razor is not as subtle in subduing its prey as a jellyfish however as
it has no poison. Instead it relies on the devastating damage its harpoon
does as it pierces its preys flesh. This is where the Razors length and
anchoring barbs, as well as its extremely strong muscles, play their role.
The part of the shells body that is attached to the harpoon can stretch to
double its normal length. With the harpoon anchored in place, its prey is
unable to escape and eventually succumbs to exhaustion, blood loss and
shock. This does not mean that the Razor Shell waits for its prey to die;
indeed thin feeding tubes extend through a small hollow at the tip of the
harpoon and start to dissolve and devour the preys living flesh moments
after the harpoon strikes.

While Razor Shells can grow up to a meter long and project harpoons that
could be lethal to larger animals, their primary prey is smaller animals.
However they do not appear to be able to distinguish potential preys SIZ
and often cause a nuisance as they lacerate feet or damage horses inner
hooves and cause lameness. Most shells encountered are a more manageable
size of roughly thirty centimetres, although there are always travellers'
tales of monstrously sized shells that have skewered horses from beneath
the ground.

Razor Shell
Characteristics			Average
STR		2D6 (6D6)*		7-10 (25-30)*	Move		1
CON		2D6			7-10		Hit Points	10
SIZ		1D6 + 2		5-6		Fatigue	19
INT		2			3
POW		1D6 + 4		8-9
DEX		1D6			4

Hit Location		Melee (D20)		Missile (D20)
Lower Shell		01-05			01-02			6/3
Upper Shell		06-18			03-19			6/3
Harpoon Tongue	19-20			20			6/5

Weapon	SR	Attack %	Damage
Harpoon	1	75+10		1D4 + 2 (1D4)#

Note: The shell lies in wait just below ground level and will shoot its
harpoon directly upwards as soon as it perceives pressure from above. As
such it has a very high probability to hit. Due to its position in the
ground it will only be able to strike the lower limbs of large prey,
whereas small prey can be struck in most logical hit locations.
# Damage is always impale damage. Treat as a regular impale but also note
an additional 1D4 damage per round that the harpoon remains in the wound
where the Razor Shell still lives and starts digesting its prey.
* The higher STR score is to represent the shell anchoring itself in the
ground should its victim try to match STR on the resistance table in order
to pull the shell from its burrow.
Skills: Hide 100%
Armour: 6 point shell armour.

Runequest mailing list
Runequest at rpgreview.net

More information about the Runequest mailing list