The crabman was a creature appearing in second edition Dungeons & Dragons. What follows is the information taken directly from the second edition Monstrous Manual, followed by the updated stats for fifth edition.
What are crabmen?
Crabmen are man-sized intelligent crabs. They walk upright on two pairs of legs. The small pincers tipping the short arms above their legs are used for fine manipulation. The two long arms end in large claws. Two slender eyestalks bob above the beak-like collection of mandibles which makes up the crabman’s mouth. Male crabmen are often brightly colored and females may be reddish-brown, green, or black.
How do crabmen fight?
Though generally peaceful, crabmen will fight back with their large claws if attacked. Males of certain subspecies (Aldani) have an enlarged claw on one side which is stronger than the other side. Crabmen have never been known to wield weapons.
If severed, a crabman’s limbs and eyestalks will grow back in 1-4 weeks.
At certain times, population pressure and food shortages will cause crabmen to voraciously hunt other creatures. Most such attacks are directed towards other tribes of crabmen or other coastal inhabitants. However, they will occasionally raid coastal towns for food, attacking anything that moves. Such savage frenzies last only a few days, during which the crabman population is generally reduced back to a tolerable level.
What are a crabman’s habitat and society like?
Crabmen live as simple hunter-gatherers, subsisting primarily on carrion and algae. Much of each crabman’s day is spent hunting, filtering algae, or scavenging along the shore. Crabmen often gather large amounts of sand into their mouths, suck out all the organic material, and spit out fist-sized pellets of sand and dirt. These hardened pellets betray the presence of a nearby crabman lair.
Crabmen generally live in coastal caves. Some tribes dig extensive burrows in seaside cliffs. Within a burrow complex, each crabman has an individual lair, situated near a large, central meeting area.
Males and females are found in approximately equal numbers in a tribe. They mate at irregular times throughout the year. The female produces about 100 eggs within two weeks. They are laid in the ocean, where they hatch into clear, soft-shelled, crablike larvae. In six months they molt, develop a stronger shell, and begin to dwell on land. The eggs and larvae are delicious, and predators greatly reduce their numbers before they reach adulthood. Larvae are almost defenseless, with AC 8, 1 HD, and weak claws which do only 1 point of damage per hit.
Crabmen continue to grow and molt throughout their lives, and specimens as tall as 10 feet have been reported. A crabman can live for up to 20 years.
A crabman tribe seldom has commerce with other tribes, and almost never with other intelligent races. They produce few artifacts, primarily seaweed weavings, driftwood carvings, and seashell constructions. Though these are often impermanent, some are quite beautiful. Though details of crabman religion are unknown, most artifacts are believed to be religious in nature and are jealously guarded.
Each tribe appears to be led by a dominant, elder male or female. These leaders have maximum hit points but are otherwise unremarkable.
Crabmen speak their own language, which consists mostly of hisses and clicks. The crabmen’s xenophobia and the extreme difficulty of their language make it virtually impossible for humans and similar races to learn to speak the crabman tongue. Those few sages who know anything about the language know only a few basic words.
Crabmen are attracted to shiny metal, particularly silver-colored metal, though they seem unable to differentiate between silver, platinum, and steel. Crabman lairs often contain piles of these metals, with many pieces worked into sculptures. If the metal has rusted or tarnished, it is sometimes scraped to reveal the shine again, but often simply thrown into a refuse pile.
What is a crabman’s ecology like?
Crabman artifacts can sometimes bring good prices from collectors, though they are often fragile, and readily decompose if made of plants.
Crabmen are rumored to be very tasty, especially their legs and claws. Primitive coastal inhabitants, particularly sahuagin, consider them a delicacy and often raid crabman villages. Their shells dry out and become brittle soon after they are removed or molted so they cannot be used as armor. The claws can be used as passable clubs.
Medium monstrosity, neutral
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 18 (4d8)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Abilities Str 13 (+1), Dex 15 (+2), Con 11 (+0), Int 7 (-2), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 8 (-1)
Skills Stealth +4
Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 10
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
Amphibious. The crabman can breathe air and water.
Multiattack. The crabman makes two claw attacks.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 11). The crabman has two claws, each of which can grapple only one target.
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