by Edward A. May
The Shonisaurus of the Pacific Ocean is a large marine reptile that is found all the way up and down the west coast of the Americas and throughout most of the Polynesian archipelago. It appears to be a gigantic Orca or dolphin with a thin snout the far end of which is filled with teeth for latching onto prey. They breathe much in the same fashion as whales - BUT they have two nostrils located between and above their eyes. They are excellent swimmers, superb divers, and some of the most serious hunters in the sea.
The Shonisaurus was known to pre-cataclysm scientists as an ancient species of marine reptile that was believed to have gone extinct a few million years before the end of the Cretaceous period - long before the age of man. Whether or not this was true is completely irrelevant. What is, is that they are now here - and in significant numbers.
Alignment: Animal intelligence; Roughly equivalent to miscreant - while dumb they CAN hold a grudge especially if they have been injured by a specific race of people before.
Attributes: IQ: Medium animal intelligence, ME: 1D6+4, MA: 1D6, PS: 2D6+40, PP: 2D6+6, PE: 6D6+4, PB: 2D6+4, Spd: 2D6+20.
Size: Pups are born at 4 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 11 in. (1.3-1.5m.) in length. Adults though can reach an amazing 49 ft. 3 in. (15m.) in length.
Weight: Pups can weigh 200-300 Lb. (90.7 136.1kg.) while the largest adults can weigh in at 35-40 tons (31.81-36.36mt.)!
Horror Factor: 15.
Natural Abilities: Swim: 98%, bio-regeneration of 1D4x10 M.D. per 24 hour period.
Depth Tolerance: Maximum depth is limited to 18,000' (5,486.4m.) - they usually reside around 10,000-12,000' (3,048-3,657.6m.) during the day surfacing only to breathe. At night they are found in MUCH shallower waters usually coming to just within sight of land to hunt. Their metabolism is slow enough to allow them to go weeks between feedings.
Visual/Audio Perception: Unlike similarly sized whales this giant species of Ichthyosaur hunts exclusively using it's precise vision and it's exceptional hearing. It can hear sounds as quiet as 10 decibels up to 2 miles (3.2km.) away in the water. It can also see movement in the water up to 12,000' (3,657.6m.) away. Moving at extremely low speeds in the water and NOT making any noise makes it more difficult for the Shonisaurus to locate a person in the water. At ranges of 1,000' (304.8m.) or less even a racing heart beat and heavy breathing would be enough to reveal a person's location. Nightvision is limited to 500' (152.4m) in pitch-black conditions but extends to 1 mile (1.6km.) in areas where ambient starlight and/or moonlight is available.
Lungs: Although this creature is completely aquatic it breathes air like any other reptile. Despite this the Shonisaurus has developed large lungs and a slow metabolic rate permitting it to remain underwater for 1D4 hours at a time usually depending on the creatures' size and health.
Attacks Per Melee: Four.
Combat Maneuvers & Damages:
Leap in Air: The Shonisaurus is adapted to catching aerial prey as well as aquatic prey. Spying low flying Leatherwings (Off of the coast of California, as Leatherwings commonly roost in many of the California Coastal Ranges.) they will often leap out of water to grab them. Otherwise they will use this ability to pursue leaping fish out of the water. Height is limited to only a few feet beyond the maximum length of the creature.
Bite: The Shonisaurus only has teeth in the front of it's elongated snout and they are designed to capture rather than tear - Shonisaurus typically eat their prey whole. Damage is 6D6 Mega-Damage.
Tail Slap: Shonisaurus does not typically use this method of attack but occasionally it does inadvertently strike fish or other creatures underwater while darting after other prey. This is also a common occurrence when attempting to escape dangerous other predators. Damage for this is 1D6x10 Mega-Damage.
Speed Bursts: While paleontologists did not believe that Shonisaurus was capable of fast speed bursts due to it's sheer size and bulk the reality of the creature has undoubtedly thrown a wrench into that theory. The Shonisaurus is actually quite deadly because of its massive proportions and it's ability to dart in and quickly grab at prey. The Shonisaurus can double it's speed for 2D4 melee rounds, usually depending on how long it has been since it took a breath. Afterwards it must surface to breathe for a few moments to catch its breath.
Bonuses: +6 to initiative, +6 to strike, +2 to dodge,
and +3 versus horror factor.
Average Life Span: About 14 years. It would be
closer to 20 were it not for predators like Liopleurodon.
Market Value: Their meat tastes absolutely horrible
but is useful as chum bait, and also as a fertilizer. The hide is very tough and can be made into a mega-damage strength leather. A single layer of this fabric provides 12 M.D.C. The Haida occasionally use this to create the leather portions of their full armor suits. Generally speaking few ever intentionally go out of their way to kill a Shonisaurus - it's often self defense of the humanoids in question that winds up killing them.
Appearance: A two tone gray creature that is shaped
much like an oversized dolphin with a strangely reptilian head.
Prey: Most anything in the water can be prey
including humanoids, cetaceans (specifically
dolphins/porpoises), seals, sea lions, and all varieties of fish and cephalopods. If they can swallow it whole they'll attack it. Shonisaurus like all Ichthyosaurs prefers cephalopods over all other prey though.
Feeding Habits: These are flocking predators that
generally attack in small groups of 1D4+1. They will often approach a school of fish or pod of dolphins/porpoise or other prey from a distance and make their way into the waters beneath the school/pod - swimming slowly and leisurely. Once there they will rocket up into the schools and attack grabbing and gulping down as many as they possibly can. They will continually follow around favorite schools for weeks or even months feeding only once every few weeks.
Social Behavior: As a flocking reptile or schooling
aquatic creature they are social animals. They generally have a pecking order in which the largest and/or strongest male is the alpha in the flock. The flock leader always is the first to attack and is the one, which chooses which schools of fish it will be that they follow. They are loosely territorial - in the sense that they will not abide by other predators stalking "their" school of fish or whatever it is that they have chosen as prey. Thus it is not uncommon to see Shonisaurus battling it out with other predators to defend their prey. The one exception to this is Liopleurodon - the Shonisaurus never interferes in this creature's business because they are more likely to become this creature's meal than their school of fish they are pursuing! Shonisaurus breed once per year, always in early February - giving birth to one live young in mid July.
Habitat: This creature is most at home in deep water
during the day, but comes up to within view of shore at night to feed. They may be found all up and down the western coast of the Americas and across a thin band near South America leading to the Polynesian Archipelago. They are however very seldom found any further north than Cape Stout. Their territory is gradually expanding to include the Indian Ocean, the Eastern coast of Asia, plus the Northern and Eastern coast of Australia.
Note: The illustration provided is the creation of artist Ron Garrett, depicting a pair of Shonisaurus surfacing for breath in the seas of pre-historic Earth. All rights of this image are reserved by the artist, and is provided to SirTenzan's RIFTS Gallery with permission.
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