Waterbringer Hare

Tiny Magical Beast Hit Dice: ½d10 (2 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (+2 size, +3 Dex), touch 15, flat footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/-11
Attack: bite -1 melee (1d3-4) or dehydrating touch -1 melee
Full Attack: bite -1 melee (1d3-4) or dehydrating touch -1 melee
Space/Reach: 2.5 ft/0ft
Special Attacks: dehydrating touch, water bringer
Special Qualities: darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +2
Abilities: Str 2, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 4, Wis 15, Cha 7
Skills: Hide +16*, Jump +7, Listen +13, Move Silently +7, Spot +2
Feats: Dodge, Endurance
Environment: Deserts
Organization: Solitary or Colony (6-30)
CR: ¼
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always Neutral
Advancement: -
LA: -

The form of this animal would have gone completely unnoticed as it blended in almost perfectly into the desert sand. The tiny black eyes, barely opened, are the only thing that might give away its position. A rabbit sits still, completely still, looking rather fat for a desert creature.

In shape and form, the waterbringer hare has the proportions of most any other rabbit. The fur of the hare has the appearance of the earthy desert sand, created by the chaotic winds, carefully making a visual emulation of both the color and texture of the desert. Touching the fur reveals it is quite soft. Jet black eyes rest under slitted lids that protect the lenses from the harsh environment. Like most rabbits, the waterbringer hare has very long ears. In addition, these ears have a full range of movement and are almost constantly twisting to focus on sounds that most other creatures fail even to perceive. The creature’s tail is a stubby thing less than an inch long that points straight up when it is excited. The hare is about sixteen inches in length, twelve inches in height and weighs four pounds. However, after using its dehydrating touch attack a number of times, its body bloats in all directions and its weight can rise above fourteen pounds. The bloated hare retains its basic form, but all of its body parts proportions become fat and the torso shape expands to resemble a ball. Even at its most bloated, the hare is still mobile and reasonably agile. Males and females of the species are identical without close inspection.

Combat
Waterbringer Hares are not predators and will run from almost any conflict, even if cornered. If a large group of Waterbringer Hares are together, they may fight off a lone predator by each using their dehydrating touch together to bring down a foe, but will flee if the foe does not quickly go down. They are intelligent enough to plan and usually have escape routes and tricks to elude pursuers already laid out and coordinated with other Waterbringer Hares.

Skills: Waterbringer hares have a +8 racial bonus to Listen checks. Waterbringer hares have a +4 racial bonus to Jump, Hide and Move Silently checks (*when in sandy areas, the Hide bonus increases to +8). They use their Dexterity modifier rather than their Strength modifier for Jump checks.

Dehydrating Touch (Su): A foe hit by a waterbringer hare’s touch attack must make a DC 10 Fortitude save. If the save is failed, the attack deals one point of constitution damage as an amount of water is drained from the victim’s body. The save DC is constitution based. This attack has no effect on constructs, undead or elementals with any subtype other than water. Each successful attack a waterbringer hare makes with its dehydrating touch fills the waterbringer hare’s body with 4 ounces of water.

A waterbringer hare may hold up to 160 ounces of water at a time. If the hare is storing at least 80 ounces of water, it suffers a -2 penalty to its dexterity. This penalty increases to -4 if it is storing at least 120 ounces of water. This power may be used outside of combat as well to procure water. Immobile plants get no save from the effect and waterbringer hares use the ability to extract water from them when it is otherwise scarce. The hare can also absorb and store water from a pool of any sort at a rate of eight ounces per round. The same limits to storage apply regardless of the source of the water.

Waterbringer (Su): As a full round action, the hare may release up to sixteen ounces of stored water out of its nose. The hare uses two ounces of water each day for maintaining bodily functions on an active day and one ounce on a relaxing day. While hibernating, this amount further decreases to one half an ounce.

Ecology and Society
While intelligent, the waterbringer hare has no means of vocal communication, and thus has no oral language. They communicate with each other through subtle nuances of body language. Living in colonies, the hares build shallow burrows in the desert sands to serve them as their homes, and live in family groups. They subsist primarily on scarce grasses and other vegetable matter. Their ability to draw water out is used to gain fluids for survival from cacti, dead animals, and any other normally inaccessible source. As their body can store great amounts of water, the hares tend to hibernate as food becomes scarce and can survive for an extremely long time before needing to eat or drink again. The Waterbringer power allows a single hare that is lucky enough to find a large amount of water to bring it back to his colony and share. The predators of the hare include desert foxes and birds of prey. Waterbringer hares are mammals. They mate for life and have litters of three to eight offspring. While protective of their children, predators and scarcity of food means very few make it to maturity in spite of their hardy nature. It takes a hare two years to reach maturity. The expected lifespan is twelve years, due to the hare’s hazardous environment, but if lucky or taken into captivity, they can live up to twenty-five.

Towns in regions with scarce supplies of water often have waterbringer hare colonies nearby, as both races require similar resources. Even through verbal communication with desert dwelling humans, elves and other humanoids is impossible for the hares, these creatures are adept at understanding body language and -from concealment- often learn a great deal about the habits of those around them. Some resourceful villages have learned to make simple deals with the hares, exchanging food for water. In addition, people often eat the hare itself and the service of removing the bodies of their fallen by others is seen as a favor by the waterbringer hares. This arrangement brings the additional boon of protection via proximity. This said, waterbringers are fiercely loyal to their families even if they are not brave, and they are extremely hard to befriend or train. Mere bribes of food are not enough: a favor must be done that benefits the hare’s family before it would consider traveling with a humanoid.

Many waterbringer hares live in smaller colonies in remote regions parts of deserts where their unique adaptations allow them to survive the landscape. A few lucky lost travelers have had their lives saved by finding one of these creatures and offering it trace amounts of food for the water they need to survive. Nomadic people often map the locations of their colonies and travel to them when the distance between oases is long.

Creation Story of the Waterbringer Hare
This tale is a popular myth explaining the mystery of how this creature came into being and expresses the appreciation desert dwellers have for this creature. Fudail the Foodbringer was under the evening sun, following the path that bore his name. He was in search of supper. Armed with his spear, he searched far and wide until the sand beneath his feet buckled and swallowed him to his neck. All of his powerful sorcery that could have sundered a mountain or felled a devil was useless as the weight of the shifting world held his arms in place beneath the merciless earth. Fudail was brave and faithful and lay there, perfectly still, so the sand did not engulf him further. He sat in thought and prayer as the sun sank below the horizon for the first time on his journey. As he sat there, his heart nearly stopped and his breathes were separated by an hour each. His patience was practiced from his hunting and he had no fear, as he knew that he would be rescued by his brethren.

Three more suns set before him and still he did not move. He had long since closed his eyes to protect them from the blinding sand. As the newest sun rose, Fudail felt a wet touch against him. He carefully opened the lids of his eyes and saw a simple hare looking at him, the kind he had killed and served to his brethren many times before. He was at this creature’s mercy. Fudail, who could speak the tongues of all creatures, tried to talk, but his mouth had grown too dry and only stale air escape his mouth. Fudail’s eyes stared plaintively at the creature and without making a sound the creature turned and ran. When the next sun rose, the hare had returned to where Fudail was trapped. Fudail stared at it, still unable to speak.

The hare bravely walked straight up to Fudail’s mouth and opened its own. A tiny drop of water came from it and onto Fudail's lips. The moisture vanished almost as soon as it touched them, but enough was there to allow Fudail to say one word. “Help,” he said, though even the hare knew that he needed help. The animal disappeared again.

The next morning the hare was back and brought another droplet of water to Fudail, which was just enough for him to say one word. "Dig,” he told it and the hare spent two minutes burrowing up sand. Fudail tried to lift his arm, but the earth was still too heavy. The hare disappeared again. The hare came back the three following mornings with the drop of water and each time Fudail told it to dig.

On that third morning, the weight of the earth was light enough, and with the expense of the energy he had wisely saved, he lifted out his arm. A quick wave cast a spell that caused the winds to swirl and the sand to part. The hare closed its eyes to protect them and when the ripping sounds of the air had settled, it saw Fudail in front of it, armed with his spear. The creature ran and though he was the greatest hunter, Fudail allowed himself to chase to animal rather than strike it down unerringly with his spear. He followed it one half of a day to a watering hole he had never known before. Dropping to his knees, he filled his body with the liquid.

The hare watched as he did this, unsure of its fate. The hunter rose and spoke in the language that all creatures understand: “All creatures on this world serve a role and yours, hare, is to feed people. For as long as I have lived, that has been the extent of your purpose. Yet, with such innocence you traveled many days between this water and me to free your entrapped master rather than let him stay buried. You have shown that you have much more to offer than this simple lot, which is shared by many other lesser creatures. As I have learned from this experience, providing water is even more vital than providing food. You too own this mantle, even though you were ill equipped to wear it. But, this shall change, as form changes to match function. I will cast my blessing on you and your children and provide you with a new role, to use as you please.”

With that, Fudail’s mystical energy leapt from his fingers and struck the hare, without any sort of pain. Nothing looked as if it had changed, but these things are subtle. As time passed, this hare’s children have succeeded and now its progeny can be found all over the desert, living alongside people or independent, but never hunted, as that is not their role.

Notes on Using the Hare as a Familiar
A waterbringer hare is a useful familiar for a spellcaster, particularly one who regularly travels through the desert. The creature’s ability to extract and store water is useful, as are its extremely keen ears. They are not particularly sociable with humans, but tend to prefer sorcerers over any other. They are known to be very independently minded, however, and while they are loyal, they sometimes do things their own way rather than listening. Having a waterbringer hare as a familiar can be an interesting twist on the “Magician and Rabbit” cliché or it can help to make spellcasters from a particular area more unique. A wizard with a waterbringer hare as a familiar gains a +3 to all Listen checks. Otherwise, all the usual rules for familiars apply.

Notes on Treasure
A waterbringer hare has no treasure, but the pelts of the animal have some value. In a market where the hares are normally inaccessible, the pelts are worth 1 gp each, as tailors use them to make coats. A DC 15 Craft check is required to make twenty pelts into a Medium coat, which sells for 50 gp. Coats of larger and smaller sizes vary in supplies and price accordingly.

Notes on Use in a Campaign
Besides simply having the very narrow application of adding the waterbringer hare to the list of options for familiars, the waterbringer hare can serve a number of roles in almost any campaign. First, the hare can serve as a background piece that gives life to the world. This animal has a very simple supernatural ability that makes evolutionary sense. Adding such a creature to a desert environment gives it more detail. Having a colony of waterbringer hares next to a village helps gives it a flavor of its own, as such a relationship between people and animals is rare and memorable.

Second, for parties that lack a renewable source of water, these creatures can be a lifesaver. An encounter between a waterbringer hare and a lost, dehydrated party can be interesting due to the animal’s intelligent, yet silent nature. Such a creature has power to save their lives, but may look more inviting as a meal than an ally. Such an encounter can serve to change the characters expectations about the creatures of the world. Third, the intelligent nature of the hares themselves can make them an alternate plot hook. A colony of them in trouble from a merciless predator can be an excellent way to draw the characters into a heroic plotline. Again, communication between the party and the creatures can be interesting as information can be exposed through scenes in the simple, yet cruel lives of the hares, rather than the more common NPC dialogue.

In all cases, a character with wild empathy or a spell to communicate with animals makes these communication issues easier. The idea is to use this animal to emphasize that when in a desert, the PCs are more likely than not out of their element. The hare serves as a potential ally and an example of a creature that has not only adapted to this environment, but excels in it. Having an example makes the place no more livable, but does give the impression that the desert is not a hopeless or a dead place.