I got this one out of a darkmantle.
Awakened Darkmantle (if few in existance)
Darkshroud (if a reasonably common species)
STR +6, DEX +0, CON +2, INT -2 (int averages 9 in awakened animals), WIS +0, CHA +0
Small. (+1AC, +1ATK, +4hide) [ECL -1]
20' land speed
30' fly speed, poor maneuverability. Not able to fly if carrying more than a light load. [ECL +1]
Given their preferred method of hunting, it's natural that Darkshrouds have an affinity for ceilings. They're generally akward and uncomfortable on the ground.
A Darkshroud has 8 major & 8 minor tentacles (the latter tend to serve as opposable thumbs), but requires at least two of each to use an object as though in 'one hand'. In any event, it can't coordinate more than eight tentacles towards manipulating objects at any given time (effectively two-handed, without improvement feats). Darkshrouds are radially symmetrical and do not display handedness. If wielding two weapons, the lighter or less complex one is treated as the off-hand weapon, or choose randomly for same-size weapons.
Natural armour +5 [ECL +1]
May not wear additional armour due to physiological constraints. A darkshroud can wear robes and other clothing, but armour needs to stay firmly in place to be effective. [ECL -1, since magical armour becomes increasingly important as the game continues]
Able to use darkness once per day, as a spell-like ability with CL5. This ability doesn't improve as the Darkshroud gains levels in a spellcasting class. [ECL +1]
Blindsight (sonar) 90'. The Darkshroud gains a +4 bonus to all listen & spot checks unless its blindsight is negated (as by a silence spell). [ECL +1]
Light blindness - When abruptly exposed to bright lights, the Darkshroud is blinded for one round, and dazzled for any subsequent rounds. Its blindsight compensates when not within a silence spell or the like, but the Darkshroud is unable to read, write, or perform any other tasks with a substantial visual component (i.e. "Cut the red wire!") during the round of blindness.
+4 racial bonus to hide checks in natural or dark surroundings. The Darkshroud has chromatophores much like terran octopi, and has a limited ability to disguise itself.
Slam, 1d4 bludgeoning (in line with one-handed melee weapons for small characters)
Improved grab - On a successful slam attack vs. opponents of Large size or smaller, the Darkshroud may attempt to grapple its opponent as a free action, without provoking attacks of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, the Darkshroud is able to wrap around its opponents' head and may begin constricting on the next turn.
Constrict, 1d4 bludgeoning. Requires a successful grapple check. [+1 ECL]
Total: ECL +3
A 4th level human barbarian, fighter, or paladin is clearly superior to a 1st level Darkshroud with any of those classes.
2nd level characters are much more in line with the Darkshrouds' abilities.
Final ECL: +1
Favoured class: Barbarian (would be fighter, except for the armour thing)
Does this look balanced to you guys?