The three forms they can take during their life cycle are distinct enough to be confused for unique types of creatures, but they are all forms of a single species. Juvenile executioner's hoods take on one of two sexually dimorphic forms upon reaching adulthood: male lurkers above, and female trappers.1
All lurking rays are covered with sensory organs fine-tuned to sense vibrations in surfaces and within the air, and to smell with exceptional acuity. A lurking ray can track scents more than a week old and stalk prey for days at a time.2
Lurking rays communicate with each other by emitting scents, a trait most often used by trappers to organize actions by groups of nearby lurking rays.2
Most lurking rays are native to underground environments, and fear light and exposure.2 However, some seek to expand their hunting grounds into the surface, and trappers with this mindset encourage their young to overcome this fear.3
Executioner's hoods are the lurking ray's juvenile form.4
They resemble bags with markings that look like eyeholes, thus inspiring their name. They are about one foot long and weigh about five pounds, and though they lack any traits distinguishing their sex, they are sexually dimorphic once they reach this juvenile stage.4
Trappers spawn up to 30 protoplasmic young at a time, which begin life crawling to feed from their mother's underbelly regurgitations. After a week, they mature enough to feed on—and eventually hunt—small creatures offered to them by their mother. After a month, they mature into executioner's hoods and climb their mother to their own hunting grounds on the ceiling.2
An executioner's hood drops from its perch on a ceiling and wraps around its prey's head to choke it to death, then dissolves and digests it. Most develop sexually dimorphic traits as they age.4
In this juvenile form, a lurking ray is susceptible to its skin dissolving under alcohol, a vulnerability they outgrow as adults.4 Few survive to adulthood, since their small, vulnerable forms make them prey to other creatures as well as to lurkers above, who eat adolescent males and collect females for future mating.2 Some are themselves trapped and domesticated for use in torture; those that escape find comfortable enclosures, such as sewers and unoccupied structures.2
Lurkers above are the lurking ray's adult male form.4
Lurkers above are unintelligent hunters who use their gliding abilities to roam in search of prey. They consume smaller creatures, including male executioner's hoods.4
Habitat and society
As mobile hunters who gain little nourishment from minerals extracted from cave walls, lurkers above roam ceilings in search of hunting grounds and mates. They fertilize trappers' eggs by being consumed by the trapper.2
Each lurker above develops suction-tipped tendrils that allows it to attach itself to a ceiling and fall onto (preferably living) prey. These tendrils can also absorb minerals as sustenance, although lurkers above are less efficient at this than trappers and therefore hunt regularly. Their strong digestive acids can, however, consume any organic material and rapidly degrade metal objects.4
Their size and shape make lurkers above adept, silent gliders capable of cruising more than 100 feet for every few feet they descend.4 While capable of self-propelled flight, they avoid doing so as their flapping ascents are slow and awkward.2
Trappers are the lurking ray's adult female form, and are the only form capable of gaining sentience over time.4
Trappers, like lurkers above, can stretch from 15 to 30 feet in width. However, they are much larger and heavier, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. A trapper's shark-like mouth is near its mass's center and almost impossible to see from above until it opens to consume prey that crosses overhead.4
Trappers carve dens in the floor with their digestive fluids and exude partially digested organic materials from their pores and unused tentacles into this underbelly space. After breeding, this space fills with this nutritional fluid to feed infant executioner's hoods.4 Their forms can seal off surfaces and are internally soundproof to avoid disturbing their young while digesting struggling prey, and they fertilize their eggs by eating the male lurkers above.2
A trapper can project many types of sound, including ambient noise and footfalls, to help mask their presence and trick prey. They use their almost perfect memories to help camouflage themselves.2
Habitat and society
Unlike the younger and male forms, trappers are relatively intelligent lurker rays, though they lack complex philosophy and thought in favor of their comprehensive memory capacity. They can communicate with other creatures by remembering and simulating words used by creatures that they have observed or eaten, and sufficiently experienced trappers can negotiate agreements with humanoids to set up near settlement entrances or treasure troves in exchange for food, and to eat any creatures that attempt to intrude.2 However, these agreements are rarely permanent since lurking rays are driven so strongly by food and territorial expansion.3
One in about every 20 lurking rays is hermaphroditic and can breed on its own. The spawn of such lurking rays are less sensitive to light and more likely to roam onto the surface and into less secluded places.3
Lurkers below are aquatic lurking rays that closely resemble manta rays, and aquatic trappers use lures of false food or treasure to draw prey toward the reefs where they spawn their young.3
Trappers that have lived for more than a century are known as Great Mothers and represent the apex of their species. Some of these much larger trappers retrace their travels and return to where they spawned, and continue doing so through their generations until reaching a gathering of other Great Mothers. This gathering then tries to form an omniscient, god-like collective.3
Most lurking rays live near trading routes and settlements in the Darklands, where inhabitants either fight, form alliances with, or—in the case of unintelligent beings—worship and perform sacrifices to the creatures. Most avoid the surface world save for underground tunnels and sewers, though some work with surface powers (particularly Cheliax) as torturers or assassins in exchange for powerful alcoholic beverages. Lurking rays are even sometimes sold in Kaer Maga's markets, though the source for lurking rays put up for sale is unknown.3
- “Lurker” in Misfit Monsters Redeemed, 46–51. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Lurker” in Misfit Monsters Redeemed, 48. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Lurker” in Misfit Monsters Redeemed, 49. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Lurker” in Misfit Monsters Redeemed, 47. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Island of Empty Eyes” in Island of Empty Eyes, 31. Paizo Inc., 2012 .