Bunyips resemble large, muscular seals with jaws and teeth reminiscent of those of sharks, but can shift its form in subtle ways that make it harder to recognize, such as adding a serpentine tail or crocodilian legs. Their hides are usually brown or gray, although some specimens bear mottled patterns or lighter bellies.
Bunyips are ferocious ambush predators, and prey on anything smaller than themselves. They typically lurk in beds of kelp or seagrass, or in muddy water, where their coloration makes them almost impossible to see, and wait for prey to pass by. When a suitable target approaches, the bunyip lets out a powerful roar to panic and scatter its prey before rushing their prey. An attacking bunyip typically focuses on tearing off strips of flesh from its victims, killing them quickly through blood loss. The eggs and hatchlings of tidepool dragons are a particularly favored food source.
Bunyips need to eat their own body weight in food every week or so, making them rapacious predators and putting a significant amount of stress on the ecosystems they inhabit. They hunt both other aquatic animals and land-dwelling creatures they ambush at the waters' edge. A bunyip's diet consists chiefly of large quantities of creatures smaller than they are, such as fish and birds, but they also prey on larger creatures such as elk, dolphins, and humanoids when driven by sufficient hunger. They often compete for food and territory with other semi-aquatic predators, such as crocodiles, leopard seals, and walruses; although they are usually able to successfully compete with these predators, oceanic bunyips tend to be pushed into marginal niches by more powerful seagoing hunters such as sharks and orcas.
Bunyips are solitary creatures, and only seek each other out during the mating season. Female bunyips actively search out potential mates; males make mating dens with which to impress searching females, which they often have to defend from other males in violent battles for supremacy. After mating, pups are born in litters of four to six and only nursed for a few days before they are ready to head out on their own. Although most infant bunyips die before reaching adulthood, those that survive reach adult size in a matter of months.
Bunyips are highly adaptable creatures, and specialized variants exist in environments from tropical shallows to arctic seas.
- Arctic bunyips inhabit cold seas and are protected from the elements by their thick pelts and blubber. In addition, they possess sleek fur on their undersides to allow them to move more easily across icy surfaces.
- Muck bunyips live in areas of still or slow-flowing water, such as swamps and stagnant rivers. They are distinguished by their large tusks and diseased bites.
- Ocean bunyips inhabit marine coastlines and compete for food with powerful oceanic predators. Unlike other bunyip varieties, they possess sharklike fins upon their backs.
Bunyips are found in the Inner Sea where they hunt sharks and large fish near to the coast. They will even attack humanoids that trespass on their territory, and a brazen few have learned to hunt victims on docks and in small boats. They are particularly common in Varisia, especially in Bunyip Bay and in the Mushfens, as the shallow sea, marshy coasts, and low population of intelligent beings create an ideal habitat for them. They are also found among the rivers of the Mwangi Expanse, where they have fearsome reputations among the Zenj peoples and are occasionally captured and enchanted by necromancers that turn them into fiendish versions of their previous selves.
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