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Bezel-De

This article originally appeared in issue #004 of the downloadable PDF magazine.

Players' Information

A large trapper native to the equatorial and temperate regions of Winston, the Bezel-De (the term is Darrian for silent demon or quiet demon) remains hidden along the trunks and branches of the forest until its prey comes within striking distance. A Bezel-De will attach itself with dozens of short, claw tipped legs to the underside of a stout branch and along the trunk or bole of a tree. The animal's tough carapace closely resembles the bark and foliage of the trees in which it lives further assisting with this camouflage.

When a potential meal wanders close enough, the Bezel-De will launch itself with amazing speed from a prepared place of hiding; a 'hunting stand', and an attempt to land on and stun any prey. Stunning usually works but the many clawed legs and sinuous body can also slash and thrash quite effectively. A Bezel-De attack comes without warning and is over very quickly.

Once its prey is dispatched, the animal will carry the carcass back into the tree to feed. Although most prey is swallowed whole, the Bezel-De will crudely dismember larger prey and then feed on some portions while leaving others for later.

Little more than a long cylinder of muscle, adult Bezel-De can reach ten meters in length, over 30 cm in diameter, and 200 kg. As noted, the animal’s dorsal carapace is tough, closely resembling tree bark in both texture and color. The number of leg pairs seems to depend on the creature’s size with a pair of stubby, muscular, claw tipped legs every fifty cm or so. The mouth is a tough, muscle-lined orifice with dozens of short, inward sloping barbs or spines. Whatever ends up in a Bezel-De’s mouth cannot be pulled free except at the risk of great damage.

The Bezel-De is a solitary creature with each marking and defending a specific hunting territory. The creatures mark their territory by clawing trees; spoor and other bodily secretions are also used. Neighbors rarely fight one another, preferring to shake trees or produce eerie moans in dominance displays. The creatures are rarely seen on the forest floor; they much prefer to remain in the lower branches. They are seen on the ground usually only after an attack, when driven from their territory, or when crossing between distant ‘hunting stands’.

Hermaphroditic, they exhibit no true mating season. When both neighboring Bezel-De are willing, they will mate over a period of several planetary days with each leaving to raise their brood. A litter may produce as many as a dozen young that the parent cares for and feeds. They are fed with pieces of their parent’s latest kill and kept in rude nests of twigs in the boughs of trees. Young Bezel-De hang next to their parent in the ‘hunting stand’ and follow them when they attack. Once they reach a certain size, their parent drives them out of its territory eating any that fail to escape.

GURPS Stats:

ST: 14 Speed/Dodge: 2/5 Size: 8
DX: 10 PD/DR: 2/2 Mass: 200
IQ: 3 Damage: Slam, Claws 1D-1 cutting
HT: 15 Reach: C  

CT Stats:

Animal Weight Hits Armor Wounds/Weapons  
1 Trapper 200kg 16/10 jack 10 claws A0 F7 S1

Basic Stats: Adults range up to 10m long, 30cm wide, and weigh 200kg. Young can vary between human arm and leg in size. All have rough dorsal carapaces, several pairs of stubby clawed legs, eye clusters at one end, and a sphincter-like mouth that can open to a disturbing diameter.

Notes for GMs

The Bezel-De is a combination boa constrictor, millipede, and walking stick (a delightfully camouflaged insect). The creature will construct a few ‘hunting stands’ within its territory, usually along game trails, near water sources, or mineral licks. While a Bezel-De will defend a territory of a few square kilometers, the hunting stands are normally close spaced so that the animal can move between them along the forest canopy. The need for any territory to hold a few prospective hunting areas in close proximity to each other; less than 100 meters or so, limits the species’ presence within any region.

Because the Bezel-De carefully selects and then further modifies these ‘hunting stands’, xenobiologists refer to it as a trapper instead of as a pouncer. The creature will choose a large, mostly horizontal branch or limb over hanging the target area. It will carefully strip any other smaller branches from the main limb in order to give it better purchase and a clear path for leaping. To help it hide better, the Bezel-De will leave any small twigs and foliage in place that it can, even bending them into various positions for greater effect.

The creature will attach itself to the cleared limb and tree trunk in a lazy L position; most of the creature will be hanging from the limb with the portion containing the head and sensory organs clinging to the trunk. When the creature attacks, it uses this forequarter to violently push away from the tree and thus leaps rather than falls onto its prey.

The Bezel-De has both a fore and hind brain, with the hind nearly equally in size to the fore. A very flexible ‘spine’ runs along its length and supports the ribs. The circulatory system uses several two-chambered hearts and respiration is handled by many small lungs linked to various stoma along the creature’s flanks.

The Bezel-De has several eyes mounted dorsally on its forequarter. The animal’s vision is poor, relying more on sensing motion than color. The visual range is limited too, extending into the infrared and perhaps reaching the bottom quarter of the standard human visual spectrum. The creature ‘feels’ rather than ‘hears’ sounds with sensing organs associated with the breathing stoma along its entire length.

Other than an attack, the PCs’ first glimpse of a Bezel-De may be of the creature clambering back into its hunting stand to feed with the hindquarters wrapped around its prey and the rest of the body undulating up the trunk of the tree. Bezel-De can more rarely be encountered on the forest floor, usually either marking its territory or clearing the area beneath its hunting stand of its own excrement.

Quite naturally, the local on Winston loathe the Bezel-De and kill them at any opportunity. None of the creatures will normally be found within a day’s walk of the many, small human communities scattered across the Boan continent. Hunters, trappers, guides, and pack traders will gladly share any information about the Bezel-De with anyone who asks, including how to spot the creatures’ hunting stands at a safe distance. Bezel-De ‘ivory’; the throat spines, claws, and ribs of the creatures, is a minor trade item among Winston’s people.

Although cleared of the creatures during the pre-Maghiz colony period, the now abandoned Eski Toprak (Sol-Turkic for ‘old lands’) has been reclaimed by these horrid trappers. Expeditions travelling to the centuries old ruins of Winston’s pre-First Conquest cities would be well advised to pay special heed to any advice concerning the Bezel-De.

Design notes

I sprang (pun intended) the Bezel-De on my PCs many, many years ago with great effect. The idea for the dratted things came to me during a hike when several tent caterpillars fell from a tree onto my head, neck, and shoulders. I performed an impromptu “Skeeved Out Jig” that brought peals of laughter from my fellow trampers.

I had made up the CT stats on the fly during a session in which the PCs were slogging through the Winston back country trying to find a grav scow lost in the Eski Toprak. Being kind hearted, I allowed the PCs to witness a Bezel-De attack on a deer-like creature first. I then watched them do the “Skeeved Out Jig” every time a tree rustled for the rest of the session. Laugh at me, will ya!

One particularly memorable scene involved the PCs finding young Bezel-De dropping out of the forest canopy all around them quickly followed by an angry Momma. While the Bezel-De weren’t interested in the PCs at all; Momma was just finishing the weaning process, the effect on the PCs was notable. Let’s just say any thoughts of fire discipline were quickly lost...