Jord: Dawn of a World
Floodhounds, referred to by some simply as “rain beasts”, are a feral canine lifeform native to the Plains of Gurgaron. Floodhounds roam in packs, and are a constant threat to travelers and settlements of the Plains. Careful long-term observation has revealed specific ways to avoid them, though these methods are not foolproof.
Floodhounds are essentially canine, with purplish-black skin and a ridge of long, coarse fur running atop the length of their back. An average Floodhound stands 36 inches at the shoulder, with an arched, horse-like neck providing an average of 6-8 inches further height. Instead of paws, Floodhounds have long, opposable digits, creating an unusual sort of “hand” at the end of their legs (see image at right).
Floodhounds have inconspicuous earholes and no optical organs, relying almost entirely on their finely tuned sense of smell to navigate. These olfactory senses are so preternaturally accurate that Floodhounds are often said to have a sort of “blindsense”, allowing them to “see” basic shapes around them for distances of up to 60 feet (100 if upwind).
The best option for avoiding Floodhounds is to stay a healthy distance downwind from them. However, their dark coloration gives them a sort of natural camouflage in the near-constant gloom of the rain-filled Plains.
Floodhounds spend much of their lives in the Plains’ rains, and even seem to gravitate towards wet areas when hunting. However, they prefer higher and drier areas for habitats. These creatures can often be seen resting atop large rock outcroppings or perched in low-hanging trees, which they climb easily using their “hands.” Keeping an eye out for elevated areas likely to be Floodhound habitats is a basic rule of traveling the Plains of Gurgaron.
The greatest weakness of the Floodhound is its aversion to deep water. Though they are almost constantly wet, and may even traipse through knee-deep water, Floodhounds have a deep aversion to water deep enough to reach their torso. This is due to a unique aspect of Floodhound reproductive physiology— Floodhounds have a “floating” birth canal, devoid of associated musculature. Labor is induced and progressed by a liquid-activated reflex located near their abdominal muscles. When the underside of the torso is submerged in liquid, the reflex activates, and contractions occur along the length of the underside of the torso, similar to a swallowing motion. When a Floodhound is not pregnant, however, this can instead cause violent convulsions and dire internal damage. For this reason, the creatures prefer not to cross standing water with a depth of greater than 1.5 feet. Since Floodhounds are hermaphroditic, this is an aversion common to all adults of the species.
Strategies for eluding Floodhounds
Keep an eye out for rock outcroppings, low-hanging trees, and abandoned buildings. High, dry places are where Floodhounds like to rest.
Keep noses sharp for smells like wet musk— that means a Floodhound is near. You can spot a Floodhound long before it can smell you, but that won’t help if you’re upwind.
Follow the Black-backed Redfrogs. Anywhere a Redfrog can swim is deep enough for a Floodhound to avoid.
Travel during Jatul’s Mourning, as the rivers’ substantial floodplain makes ship travel more viable, and Tallwalker caravans safer. Be wary traveling soon after the Mourning, as Floodhound populations are likely to have increased.
If traveling in rural areas, dig a foot-and-a-half deep moat around the campsite to prevent overnight attacks, and erect barricades to prevent leaps over said moat. Alternatively, the Malvolian Seekers are known to create such camps and leave them for other travelers to use; if used, it is common courtesy to clean and re-prepare these camps before leaving them.
Be warned that these tactics do not work on Runehounds, a similar species.