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Tesso, By Toriyama Sekien - source URL, Public Domain,
By Toriyama Sekien – source URL, Public Domain,

This wizened humanoid resembles a cross between an ancient Monk and a giant rat. Long yellow incisors peek from between his thin lips, and his ears swivel above a bald pate. His thin naked tail drags on the ground, peering from beneath homespun robes.

Source Demiurge113
Originally posted on Probing the Membrane of Science

The ascetic humanoids known as tesso consider themselves to be the guardians of magical lore and ancient martial traditions. Their own histories trace their ancestry from a human Monk who was so incensed about his poor treatment by a rival monastery that he transformed into a swarm of ravenous rats in order to destroy the libraries of his enemies. Tesso continue this tradition of viewing Knowledge as an exclusive commodity; those temples and monasteries whose standards of archiving and maintaining sacred tomes and scrolls fail to meet a tesso’s expectations are likely to fall victim to tesso seeking to either steal or destroy those works.

Tesso maintain their own hidden temples high in the mountains, where they are happy to allow those pilgrims who make the journey to access their lore—for a price, of course. The tesso’s affinity for text extends to magical scrolls, and these are favored payments for use of tesso libraries. Tesso occasionally take humanoid pupils, and the most skilled monks may boast of years spent under the watchful eye of rat-like masters.

A tesso stands nearly five feet tall and is rangy and thin, weighing little more than a hundred pounds. Their lean muscles are as strong as iron and they are remarkably quick despite their apparent decrepitude. Tesso vary in coloration as rats do and grow grey with age. The oldest and most skilled tesso eventually turn pure white. Tesso have life-spans that extend into the centuries.

Tesso CR 10
XP 9,600

LN Medium monstrous humanoid

Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Perception +20, Scent
AC 25, touch 18, flat-footed 17 (+7 Dexterity, +7 natural, +1 Dodge)

hp 123 (13d10+52)

Fort +8, Ref +15, Will +12

Defensive Abilities evasion
Speed 40 ft., Climb 30 ft.

Melee unarmed strike +20/+15/+10 (2d6+4), bite +15 (1d6+2)

Special Attacks spell sunder   Spell-like Abilities CL 10th, concentration +14  

At will – read magic  

3/day – summon swarm (rat swarm only)
Strength 19, Dexterity 25, Constitution 18, Intelligence 15, Wisdom 18, Charisma 12

Base Atk +13; CMB +20 (+22 disarm); CMD 35 (37 vs. disarm)

Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Improved Disarm, Improved Unarmed Strike (B), Power Attack, Stunning Fist, Weapon Finesse

Skills Acrobatics +20 (+24 jumping), Climb +12, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (history) +15, Perception +20, Spellcraft +16, Stealth +23

SQ monastic training, scroll master, swarm form
Environment temperate mountains

Organization solitary, pair or dojo (3-6)

Treasure standard
Monastic Training (Ex) A tesso deals damage with its unarmed strikes as a Monk of a level equal to the tesso’s Hit Dice. Monk levels stack with a tesso’s Hit Dice to determine its unarmed strike damage.  

Scroll Master (Su) A tesso can use any scroll as if it were a spell on a tesso’s spell list. The DC of any spell a tesso casts from a scroll is determined by its Wisdom modifier and the level of the spell.  

Spell Sunder (Su) As a standard action, a tesso can make a single unarmed strike at its highest attack bonus. If this attack hits, it affects the creature struck as a targeted greater dispel magic (CL 13th).  

Swarm Form (Su) As a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, a tesso can discorporate into a swarm of Tiny rats. In this form a tesso drops all of its gear and has a space of 10 feet and a reach of 0 feet. It gains all swarm traits and a swarm attack that deals 3d6 points of damage. It can reform its body as a full-round action as long as it has 1 hit point.
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