The Questing Beast

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questing beast

The Questing Beast by: Arthur Rackham (Artist) from: The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, Abridged from Malory's Morte D'Arthur (Facing p. 220) -  1917 

 This bizarre creature is over ten feet long. Its body resembles that of a leopard, its haunches those of a lion, its feet are those of a deer, and its neck and head those of a serpent. Its long serpentine tail ends in a spiked ball. 

The original questing beast was created by a powerful sorceress to avenge the death of her lover, a giant slain by Sir Pellinore, one of the Knights of the Round Table. Its name comes from its unusual roar, which sounds like "thirty couple hounds questing." While the original questing beast could only be slain by those of Pellinore's bloodline, the means to destroy other questing beasts include specific weapons or powerful magic. A questing beast is 10 feet long and weighs 2 tons. A questing beast cannot speak, but understands Common and Draconic.

The Questing Beast is a monster from Arthurian legend, the subject of quests by famous knights like King Pellinore, Sir Palamedes, and Sir Percival. The strange creature has the head and neck of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion and the feet of a hart. Its name comes from the great noise it emits from its belly, a barking like "thirty couple hounds questing".

The first accounts of the beast has the Questing Beast appear to King Arthur after he has had an affair with his sister Morgause and begotten Mordred (they did not know they were related). Arthur sees the beast drinking from a pool just after he wakes from a disturbing dream that foretells Mordred's destruction of the realm; he is then approached by King Pellinore who reveals it is his family quest to hunt the beast. Merlin reveals the Questing Beast had been borne of a human woman, a princess who lusted after her own brother. She slept with a devil who had promised to make the boy love her, but the devil manipulated her into accusing her brother of rape. Their father had him torn apart by dogs, but before he died he prophesied his sister would give birth to an abomination that would make the same sounds as the pack of dogs that killed him. The beast has been taken as a symbol of the incest, violence, and chaos that eventually destroys Arthur's kingdom.

Later ithe Saracen knight Sir Palamedes hunts the Questing Beast. It is a futile venture, much like his love for Sir Tristan's paramour Iseult, offering him nothing but hardship. He finally slays the creature during the Grail Quest after he, Percival and Galahad have chased it into a lake.

Originally Posted by Shade of the En World forums.

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Questing Beast
Large Dragon
Hit Dice 10d12+80 (145 hp)
Initiative +10
Speed 50 ft. (10 squares)
Armor Class 25 (–1 size, +10 Dexterity, +6 natural), touch 19, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple +10/+24
Attack Bite +19 melee (1d12+10) or tail slap +19 melee (1d10+15)
Full Attack Bite +19 melee (1d12+10) and 2 claws +19 melee (1d8+5) and tail slap +19 melee (1d10+15)
Space/Reach 10 ft./5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks Breath weapon, improved grab, rake, swallow whole
Special Qualities Darkvision 60 ft., immunity to sleep and Paralysis, Low-Light Vision, regeneration 15, Spell Resistance 20
Saves Fort +15, Ref +17, Will +9
Abilities Strength 31, Dexterity 30, Constitution 26, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 14, Charisma 16
Skills Balance +27, Hide +23, Intimidate +12, Jump +27, Listen +15, Move Silently +27, Spot +15
Feats Cleave, Improved Multiattack, Multiattack, Power Attack
Environment Any land
Organization Solitary
Challenge Rating 13
Treasure None
Alignment Always neutral
Advancement 11-20 HD (Large), 21-30 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment -


A questing beast simply wanders the countryside, spreading death and destruction. Their preferred prey are canines, which they always attempt to swallow whole.

Breath Weapon (Su): 40-ft. cone, once every 1d4 rounds, 5d8 acid damage, Reflex DC 23 half. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a questing beast must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can rake.

Rake (Ex): Attack bonus +14 melee, damage 1d8+5.

Regeneration (Ex): No form of attack deals lethal damage to the questing beast. The questing beast regenerates even if it fails a saving throw against a disintegrate spell or a death effect. If the questing beast fails its save against a spell or effect that would kill it instantly (such as those mentioned above), the spell or effect instead deals nonlethal damage equal to the creature’s full normal hit points +10 (or 145 hp). The questing beast is immune to effects that produce incurable or bleeding wounds, such as mummy rot, a sword with the wounding special ability, or a clay golem’s cursed wound ability.

The questing beast can be slain only by raising its nonlethal damage total to its full normal hit points +10 (or 145 hit points) and using a limited wish, wish or miracle spell to keep it dead. Legends claim that specific bloodlines and weapons can also deal lethal damage to the beast. If the questing beast loses a limb or body part, the lost portion regrows in 1d6 minutes (the detached piece dies and decays normally). The creature can reattach the severed member instantly by holding it to the stump.

Swallow Whole (Ex): The questing beast can try to swallow a grabbed opponent of up to two sizes smaller by making a successful grapple check. The swallowed creature takes 1d12+10 points of bludgeoning damage and 8 points of acid damage per round from the questing beast's stomach. A swallowed creature can cut its way out by using a light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 15 points of damage to the gizzard (AC 13). Once the creature exits, muscular action closes the hole; another swallowed opponent must cut its own way out.

The questing beast's gizzard can hold 2 Small, 8 Tiny, or 32 Diminutive or smaller opponents.

Skills: The questing beast has a +4 racial bonus on Balance, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently checks.

Originally appeared in Legends and Lore (1990).

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