"Sorry. I'm dead."
This insidious slithering predator hunts by mimicry of a decomposing corpse, ambushing creatures that fail to detect the danger and actively luring those that may seek carrion or the many treasures typically found therein. Its constant, repetitive psychowave suggestion that it is "rotting, rotting, rotting" is more than enough to instill most interlopers with a degree of uncertainty, but the suggestion is all but irresistible once it pops open its colorful mucous membranes and vents forth a hot, humid miasma of reeking bacteria and narcotic fungal spores. It is even capable of adjusting its coloration to match the complexion of a dead body under varying environmental conditions, and flawlessly imitates the sound of buzzing flies as its breathes.
At the first safe opportunity, the Hoaxidermy strikes with the paralyzing talons of its powerful posterior eye-stalk. When prey is fully immobilized, it wraps itself around its meal and begins to feed, slowly, with the radula concealed under its bulbous head.
In addition to its vocal insect mimicry, the Hoaxidermy's body cavities are often colonized by natural carrion insects, which not only enhance its illusion but keep its membranes clean of microbial overgrowth, provide it an emergency food supply, and exchange pollen-like reproductive packets with other members of its kind. Once fertilized, a Hoaxidermy can produce up to nine simple, egg-shaped larvae.
The Hoaxidermy is known for its devilish sense of humor, so tickled by the ignorance of its victims that the realistic stuttering and wavering of its insectile buzz is in fact no more than its own amused snickering, and can have difficulty resisting a psychic screech of "BOO!" or "TAH-DAH!" when it drops the facade and springs to action. In the uncommon event that a target successfully resists or escapes the delusion, however, its good-natured attitude quickly gives way to a spiteful, obsessive need to "get" the subject with some other act of trickery.
When not devising vengeful pranks against some petty nemesis, the Hoaxidermy spends a great deal of time "refining its act" through the careful study of natural putrefaction. Wherever it may travel, it can often be found luring, slaughtering and scattering local fauna for prolonged observation, memorizing new combinations of scent, sound and color tailored to the subtlest environmental variables. It especially relishes the challenges presented by more extreme conditions, taking extra time to "get into character" as a sun-baked husk, recently frozen remains or freshly dredged bog mummy. Whether these efforts affect its results to any meaningful degree is debatable, but most Hoaxidermy dismiss this concern as entirely beside the point.
The Hoaxidermy was originally designed as a hunting beast, attracting simple-minded scavenging animals with its odor and appearance alone. Over time, a mix of intentional improvements and spontaneous mutations produced the Hoaxidermy as it is known today, powerful enough that even its own trainer may begin to mourn its demise well before a battle has concluded. There is even a risk of an overworked Hoaxidermy succumbing to its very own ploy, refusing to do anything but lie still and "rot" like it "ought to."
Besides its obvious uses in trapping and killing, Hoaxidermy are experts on all subjects pertaining to the decay of flesh and the precise identification of even the most heavily deteriorated, incomplete remains. They have also seen some use in private entertainment, especially for children's birthdays, delighting partygoers when a seemingly ordinary decorative carcass performs a surprise acrobatic feat and spews the crowd with fungus-based edible confetti.
CARRION MIMICRY: A mix of psionic and biological manipulation convinces most other creatures that the monster is indisputably bereft of life.
NEUROTOXIC STING: The monster's forked eye stalk delivers a paralyzing venom.
Contents copyright Jonathan Wojcik