Desert Surakh Species in Istralar | World Anvil

Desert Surakh

— aghast explorer
  The Irkalla Desert, officially within Areshket's borders, is not known for its kind and friendly denizens, but the desert surakh may be one of the least friendly faces any traveller could encounter (short of the area's presiding demon lord herself). Originating from demonic experiments and possessing a worrying level of intelligence, the surakh is a violent and carnivorous magical beast plated in layers of stony scale. It hunts prey smaller than itself and prefers to gather in groups to then take down larger prey - no other life in the desert is safe from the threat of the surakh.   Thankfully, the surakh are a very emotional, warlike species with a strong territorial drive. Their hives regularly split into new factions and wage war upon each other, and the map of territory they claim shifts constantly. The populace throughout the Irkalla Desert is regularly culled by the region's brass dragon population, and make fantastic prey for the local blue dragons - not to mention functioning as sport for the region's strong demonic presence.

Basic Information


Sarenrae's teats, you don't pay me nearly fucking enough to get near that thing.
— scholar
  The issue in studying the anatomy of the surakh is that it seems to evolve too frequently. As intelligent magical beings, the surakh improve their own defences through their lives, often augmenting their armour or combat capability with enchantments stolen from adventurers' armour or integrating weapons into themselves. They seem to be able to alter their own morphology quite significantly with additions, perhaps a remnant of their demonic origins; indeed, it isn't uncommon to see a surakh that has grafted horns, swords, and fangs from fallen foes.   At base, however, the surakh is a scaled creature with incredibly sharp teeth and jutting horns. A strange red glow pulses through their arteries and veins at all times, giving their eyes a horribly demonic glow. This glow can be dimmed by a surakh through practice; those skilled enough to do so are able to hunt under cover of night whilst their brethren are forced to act only in the daylight.  


Surakh victims by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

A surakh is a terrifying foe. Not only are they skilled in combat from birth, possessing the ability to pounce on their opponents with surprising dexterity and grapple them in their sharpest scales, but they also possess a number of innate magical abilities.   Perhaps their most useful is their ability to petrify foes with their looming red eyes, similar to a medusa; this, they often surprise prey with to more effectively hunt. Surakh hives are often littered with petrified bodies as a result.   Killing a surakh is also incredibly hard. They possess an odd form of regeneration that can only be stopped with the bite of cold - something not common in the desert. If killed by standard means, a surakh will recover in a means of minutes and usually pursue its attacker, often loosing a volley of spear-like spines towards them if their petrification fails.   They also possess a number of elemental resistances towards acid and fire, and are immune to poisons, disease, petrification, and some forms of magic. Some of the strongest surakh have also strengthened their scales to reflect magic outright, making them a truly deadly threat to any spellcaster foolish enough to approach their territory.
Surakh by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Demonic ancestry
Conservation Status
Worryingly safe
Geographic Distribution
Creature Type
Magical Beast
Varies; usually Large
Darkvision, low-light vision, scent, tremorsense
Disease, petrification, poison, polymorph
Acid 10, fire 20
10 hp/round
What do you mean they're not dead? No, I know what 'not dead' means, you--   ...O-Our best fighters are statues now?! Of course I want them gone, you idiot-- I'm sorry, HOW MUCH?! ...For that much, I'll kill them myself!
— foolish fool
What the fuck do you mean there are more of them?!
— panicked adventurer
The surakh is a very hostile and territorial creature, but that does not mean it is a solitary one. Surakh often gather in packs, particularly in their mating seasons, though these usually shift constantly due to intense infighting. Despite their intelligence, the surakh retain a power-based structure in most cases; the few surakh packs that attempt otherwise are usually destroyed.   Solitary surakh do exist, and fall into one of two categories. Either they remain relatively peaceful and stay well away from the rest of their brethren, perhaps even allying with the other intelligent species of the desert, or they are so dangerous that even the largest of packs knows to stay away.   The latter are, unfortunately, more common - it often takes a petition to the brass dragons of the region, or to the mighty Areshkagal herself, to remove them should standard methods of hiring hapless adventuring groups fail.  

Surakh Hives

Surakh homes are known as hives, and are immediately identifiable by the amount of petrified skeletons and stolen treasures piled up in the area. The surakh leave signs of their presence in the open, but burrow into hivelike tunnels. Surakh tunnels are temporary structures kept sturdy by the surakh's magics and the residue of their scales; over time, should a tunnel be ignored, it will collapse back into the desert - eternally entombing the petrified prisoners inside.   Travellers have been known to confuse these with the Droning Caves due to the Caves' propensity for being covered with sand, and indeed, the occasional presence of surakh around the Caves. The mistake is unfortunate and usually quite deadly.   Sometimes, living prisoners are taken by the surakh. This is usually done to feed their young or to train the young surakh if other prey has been scarce; in these instances, the prisoners may be damaged to prevent their escape, or petrified only partially. Thankfully, most surakh do not have antimagic properties and cannot prevent a mage from escaping unless it is through a grapple.
Surakh victims by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Surakh hive by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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Jul 25, 2022 03:10 by Ademal Jacklyn

Conservation Status "Worryingly safe" seems very apt

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Aug 20, 2022 09:10 by Han

If it ever shifts over to "Excessively Safe" or "Horrifyingly Abundant", you *know* someone's having a fun time.

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Jul 26, 2022 13:22 by Austin

No desert holidays then. Yyyyikes.

Aug 1, 2022 22:04 by Cassandra Sojourn

Truly terrifying. The “foolish fool” doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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Aug 20, 2022 09:11 by Han

I have a feeling he was an ex-fool very soon after that!

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Aug 23, 2022 15:53 by E. Christopher Clark

These are so visually striking, and that's what grabbed me first, but the writing is top-notch too.

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