- "The Al Saurim were drawn up for battle with the horned beasts to the fore. These charged into the approaching enemy. Behind them, but spaced between the monsters were the cohorts of Al Saurim. These charged next, after the monsters had plundged deep into the enemy ranks, throwing them into disarray. Thus the Al Nehekharan were destroyed and they collapsed into heaps of skulls and bones strewn across the deserts."
- —Ibn Jellaba's Expedition to Zlatlan, circa 1150 IC.[2a]
Stegadons are mighty horned reptilian beasts that have dwelt within the primeval jungles of Lustria since long before the coming of the Old Ones. They are bulky creatures whose heads are covered by armoured crests, out of which project massive horns. With bony scales and spikes shielding their bodies, there are few predators that dare challenge them. Territorial and highly aggressive, Stegadons will charge any creature that intrudes upon their habitat. Other creatures stay well clear of these herds, for fear of being trampled or gored.[1a]
Even the Lustrian jungle appears to part for their formidable girth; trees are smashed to splinters or swatted aside as the Stegadon stomps through even the densest foliage. It is said that the only beast in all of Lustria that can make a Stegadon alter its course is the colossal Thunder Lizard, although a bull Stegadon sufficiently riled might well offer challenge, and in its fury may even drive the enemy off.[1a]
- "Never have we seen such a creature; it is mighty, even in death. After the beast's rampage was eventually stopped, it was killed and dismembered, but its great heart beat for long hours thereafter"
- —Logbook of the Black Ark, the Tower of Dread.[3a]
Stegadons roam throughout the Lustrian continent in herds ranging in size from a handful of related beasts to great migrations of many thousands. Some of these groupings have distinctive colours and markings, such as the tan striped beasts that dominate the cracked earth of the Huahuan deserts, or the green-spotted Stegadons that live in the hidden Gwangee Valley. Stegadons will feed upon almost anything they come across — devouring lush vegetation or the flesh of any creature foolish enough to get in their way. It takes great quantities of food to sustain such behemoths, and they grow so large and heavy that their footsteps have been known to split stone into peddles and treetrunks into splinters.[1a]
Most Stegadons, however, vary in colouration, ranging from pale blue-greys to rich greens, browns and reds. As the bony plates that cooer their thick hides age, they become much harder as well as lighter in colour. Young Stegadons can be quite brightly coloured, and those within a few decades of having hatched are often heavily mottled or otherwise camouflaged. As the monstrous reptiles grow older, they usually lose some of these contrasting patterns and become more evenly coloured.[1a]
This is not always the case, however, as shown by the brilliant diamond-backed patterns exhibited by some Stegadons of the Piranha Swamps - notorious beasts that can wallow in the deepest swamp channels, where they lie hidden in ambush. Older Stegadons, particularly the largest bulls, leave their herds and strike out on their own. Such rogues establish farther ranging territories, and challenge any of their kind that dares trespass. These head-clashing bouts can last for days and can flatten swathes of jungle. It is not unknown for striking and colourful markings to appear on the crests of these elder beasts, signalling that these are the most powerful of their kind.[1a]
- Ancient Stegadon - Ancient Stegadon are amongst the oldest and most ferocious of their entire species, powerful behemoths that have endured the harshest life possible for any creature living within the hazardous jungles of Lustria. Covered in scars that criss-cross its entire body, this shows to all that this monster has fought, bled and killed everything the jungle has sent against him, and it shall do so again.[1a]
Since the earliest days, the Lizardmen have used Stegadons as beasts of burden, to smash roadways through the jungle and to drag huge blocks of stone to build temples. They are also used for devastating shock attacks in times of war, and to add serious fighting heft to far-ranging ground patrols. These creatures are reared by teams of Skinks who stay with them throughout their lifetimes, and the Stegadons grow to become very protective of those Skinks they have known since their days as hatchlings.[1a]
Large howdahs are attached to the beasts’ backs, and from this protected vantage point, the Skinks can hurl a storm of poison-tipped javelins in battle and fire huge arrows from the mounted great bows known to the Skinks as ‘Sotek’s Curse’. On the attack, a Stegadon lowers its horned head and charges into combat. For all its awesome bulk, the Stegadon’s short but powerful legs can drive it forward at such a pace that its momentum is nothing short of devastating. Foes not slain outright by the impact of its charge are crushed to bloody pulps by its sheer bulk or speared upon the ends of one the Stegadon’s imposing spikes.[1a]
- These Stegadons are not to be confused the real-life Stegadons, which were elephant relatives, found in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, and Southeast Asia.