Monday, January 15, 2018

Oolioddroo


(Illustration by Jorges Fares comes from GeekDad and is © Paizo Publishing.)

What, a moth psychopomp wasn’t mothy enough for you?  Then how about a moth demon, the oolioddroo?

From browsing Tumblr, I know a lot of Daily Bestiary fans are also fans of possession and body horror—so merry belated Christmas, kids, because this monster is for you. 

The oolioddroo’s party piece is using her thought-siphoning tongue—you know, the one that can slurp up memories, skills, spells, or Wisdom—to implant her eggs into the brain of a sleeping or helpless victim.  Eggs that then hatch as larva (still in that brain).  Which the moth demon can track across any distance in the same Plane (safely nestled in that brain).  And through which the demon can detect thoughts, modify memory, and cast suggestion (because brain). Worst of all, the oolioddroo can sacrifice the larva (and the victim’s brain—have I mentioned the brain?) in a kind of feeblemind bomb—a tactic that causes even the Bestiary 6 to break tone and refer to it as a “scorched earth” tactic.

That’s right: This is a monster so awful it makes even the rulebook itself stop and say, “Daaaaamn.”

An oolioddroo poses as a roving fortuneteller.  Her magical abilities give her plenty of fodder for predictions, and she leaves a trail of infected or feebleminded victims in her wake.  Normally such a humble disguise would be beneath the moth demon, but this particular band of rovers has long been welcome at a local magefair the oolioddroo intends to infiltrate.

Adventurers are asked to check on the niece of a patron.  The young woman was married off to a stern landholder in a distant county, and in the intervening months her letters have grown strange and evasive.  Should the adventurers take the case, they find the woman in decent spirits but acting oddly—as do many inhabitants of the local village and the surrounding district.  Further investigation reveals the truth: Much of the town is under the control of an oolioddroo.  But when the adventurers go to confront the demon, they find themselves ambushed by the village’s uninfected in habitants.  The entire town has willingly devoted itself to the moth demon, and the infected villagers were merely a lure to draw the adventurers into its clutches.

Among a certain truly decadent and thrill-seeking set, oolioddroo eggs are a delicacy akin to caviar.  The challenge is to consume and pass the eggs without falling under the moth demon’s sway.  And since such eggs can only be harvested from the brains of an oolioddroo’s victims, this delicacy necessarily involves appallingly risky chirurgery or a hefty body count.

The Worldwound 50–51 & Bestiary 6 86–87

That second adventure seed has a very Hellboy feel to it, if you ask me.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Omnipath


(Illustration by Yigit Koroglu comes from the PaizoBlog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

The last year or so has been pretty good to aboleths—their schemes are the focus of the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path, they got a full-fledged ecology in the same, and psychic monsters and psychic magic in general have been on the upswing since the release of Occult Adventures and the Occult Bestiary. 

One of OB’s contributions was the omnipath, the information-sharing/communications network (with a dash of spying and possession) of the aboleth race.  It was also one of our first indications that the race (known as othagu or alghollthus, depending on what source you’re reading) included more phenotypes than the tentacled fish form of the aboleths and the veiled masters.  Omnipaths resemble eels, but with a horrific set of multiple jaws nested inside each other, like something from the Alien franchise.  They have equally horrifying powers: an eidetic memory, the magic of a 15th-level psychic, a touch that can turn skin transparent and vulnerable, psychic tail rays (because why not), and a telepathic mesh that allows an omnipath to share sensations and possess victims with alarming facility.  They are, in short, bad news.

If you’re an aboleth fan, omnipaths make an excellent high-level contribution to the family tree.  If you’re not, they could still be useful in your campaign, either as one-off aquatic/subterranean monsters or as part of some other cabal.  Iku-tursos and siyokoys are both good options to pair omnipaths with in Pathfinder.  And in D&D (particularly 2e AD&D Spelljammer) the neogi race may have bred omnipaths to combat the threat of illithids, or developed them in some sick collaboration with the mind flayers.

The mysterious and seemingly utopian kingdom of Ildevania is protected by the Queen’s Mantle—a phrase meant as a metonym for her power and authority, but that also nods to the very real mesh of telepathic energy she shares with her trusted agents, the Footmen.  Adventurers discover that many of the Footmen are actually omnipaths and their thralls.  Is the country’s utopian peace worth the dark bargain the queen has made?

Adventurers manage to subdue the saboteur Renoir and shut the Cypher Gate, sealing in the dread energies he meant to unleash.  His capture also reveals the very real threat of the aboleth nation lurking far below the canals of Vinchenza, City of Spices and Spies.  Incensed that Renoir shattered the Calling Crystal that allowed Vinchenza’s fleet captains to speak over long distances, the Doge’s Council wants adventurers who can do the same to the aboleths—by gutting their omnipath network like so many eels.

A spiritualist unlocks a dark secret from an adventurer’s past: She was an omnipath in her past life.  Moreover, that omnipath’s mother is still alive…and seeks to make contact with her lost daughter, in whatever reincarnated form she now takes.  The adventurer must wrestle with what to do with this information, investigate what new insights or powers her heritage might unlock…and face the possibility that this is all a complicated aboleth plot.

Occult Bestiary 38–39 & Bestiary 6 204–205

I linked to the more recent (Bestiary 6) stats for the omnipath above.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Olethros


(Illustration by David Alvarez comes from CGR and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Wikipedia claims, “Olethros translates roughly in ancient Greek to ‘destruction,’ but often with a positive connotation, as in the destruction required for and preceding renewal.”  Which makes sense for the Greek personification of havoc (and a daughter of Eris in the bargain)…but it works even better for this Pathfinder monster, a powerful psychopomp associated with souls whose fates hang in the balance.

Olethroses are powerful agents of death, helping to preserve the proper course of fate (at least as they, the psychopomp ushers, and their goddess deem it).  This of course means they may come into conflict with adventurers, as PCs are notorious for wishing to bend fate to their own desires.  On the other hand, olethroses are rivals or enemies of a number of other fate-oriented outsiders and entities, including norns, lipika aeons, and sahkils, which may cause them to ally them with PCs. (Bestiary 6 actually goes into great detail about this, as well as their relations with their psychopomp kin).  Powerful olethroses can even become mothers (a rarity among psychopomps—and most outsiders, for that matter) when old fates fork and new fates reveal themselves, immaculately conceiving new olethroses to study the branching phenomena of destiny.

An olethros has been guiding the fate of a single family for generations, subtly ensuring that every birth, marriage, death, and important event falls in its course.  But when adventurers save the family from a fiery holocaust (courtesy of norn’s quiet influence), they upend a century of planning and earn the enmity of the powerful psychopomp.

The pit fiend Idvidicar the Sculptor has been pierced by no less than six arrows from an olethros's silkbow.  He refuses to remove the shafts, wearing them as badges to signify that no one but he is the author of his fate—or the fates of those under his control.  The olethros who shot Invidicar wants to retrieve the shafts, believing their long exposure to the pit fiend’s foul essence may have granted the arrows unique properties,

An olethros conceived a child, presumably according to some looming twist of fate.  Whatever the event was, though, it has failed to come to pass so far…leaving the gravid olethros in a state of horrible pregnant limbo, in terrible pain that is as much spiritual as it is physical.  As the months have stretched into years, the olethros has become desperate to end her condition…and if that means going rogue and forging a new fate for her child to study, so be it.  Adventurers might find themselves caught in the olethros’s schemes, or even be hired by other psychopomps to bring in the rogue mother.  There is also the question of whether her child will be born an olethros after so long, or if some far darker creature will erupt from her womb instead…

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 220–211

One last post out the door before 2018.  Happy New Year everybody, and have a great 2018!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Occult Dragon


(Illustration by Christina Yen comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Astral, dream, etheric, nightmare…occult?

At first glance, the occult dragon seems like a bad entry from a late-’80s anniversary issue of Dragon Magazine, following the usual recipe of “Add adjective and stir until dragon.” 

But upon closer examination, it actually fits.  Just as the other esoteric dragons have a transitive plane or dream dimension to call their own, occult dragons hail from the Akashic Record, a demiplane tucked away in the Astral that includes “a visual library of perfect psychic records of every moment in the history of the multiverse” (per Occult Adventures).

As such, it’s no surprise that these are essentially draconic librarians, researchers, and diviners—when your home demiplane is a library, that’s all to be expected.  They also make excellent appraisers and psychometrists, able to read the value and the history of an object (and use it, if it’s a magic item) with consummate skill.  For this reason, they are collectors and hoarders to a degree even other dragons find shocking (which is saying something), particularly when it comes to psychically charged objects.  Finally, they are also perhaps more urban (and urbane) than any other true dragons besides golds, happily moving in disguise through humanoid cities.

Interestingly, occult dragons aren't particularly strong.  Perhaps this is because they only hail from a demiplane…or perhaps it says something about the relative power of truth versus dreams…

Finally, even if esoteric dragons and the Akashic Record aren’t your thing, an occult dragon makes a good one-off encounter.  There are plenty of magical libraries or universities that might have a guardian that is, for all intents and purposes, an occult dragon, no matter how you re-skin it for your players.

Bruised and bleeding from more than a dozen sets of claw marks, a young occult dragon crashes its way into an adventuring party’s sanctum.  It gasps out that it has “the answer” for them, then passes out from its wounds.  What “the answer” is will remain a mystery unless the adventurers can heal the dragon…and defeat the pack of hounds of Tindalos that arrive hot on the dragon’s heels.

One of the more notable spy networks on Avilar is comprised primarily of occult dragons.  They spend much of their time in human or half-elf form, often selling their services as detectives and object readers (a convenient cover for their abilities that helps them forge connections to those in power).  They seem to be interested in knowledge for its own sake, but surely no one builds such a powerful network without an agenda of some kind…

Adventurers make their way to a library that appears to be perched on the edge of Infinity.  The library caretakers are a collection of clockwork beings, gnomes, and oddly civilized gnolls.  If they make trouble or wander into the Restricted Wing, they are met by the library’s real masters: a nest of occult dragons.  The dragons at this library specialize in knowledge relating to something called the Aeon War, which occurred long ago but, paradoxically, is about to occur for the first time (again?)… 

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 96–97

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

There are only about 60 minutes of Christmas left, but that’s still plenty of time to stream/download last Tuesday’s Christmas radio show!  Two hours of holiday tunes, from old favorites to ska covers and everything in between.  Enjoy y’all, and since I think I’m taking tomorrow off, I’ll have more tunes for you in the New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Obsidian Golem


Most golems are created to serve as security systems and tomb guardians.  They are built to last and built to crush—not always in that order. 

Obsidian golems, on the other hand, are made to cut people the hell up.

Obsidian is brittle, so it has a lifespan, as weapons (and constructs) go.  Obsidian also comes from volcanic areas, and people who live near volcanoes have to have a certain comfort with transience and uncertainty.  In other words, the mage who is making an obsidian golem is probably making it because obsidian is what’s handy, not what’s best or most durable. But that doesn’t matter, because the mage who’s making an obsidian golem has other things in mind than crafting an eternal protector. The mage who makes a golem out of volcanic glass intends that golem to be used—with all the bloodiness and pain of a macuahuitl. 

Don’t believe me? Look at those abilities: Bleed damage.  Jagged Body (Ex).  Obsidian Spray (Ex).  Death Throes (Ex).

Sure, Bestiary 6 says, “Obsidian golems often are used as deterrence against tomb robbers.”  But you can bet we’re not talking lonely pyramids far from civilization.  We’re talking tombs or mausoleums in active necropolises located in or near major cities.  Victims of an obsidian golem are meant to leave a bloody spectacle, and the few survivors are meant to have an agonizing tale of horror to recount to other would-be thieves.

The most famous authority on surgery in the last age was also a necromancer.  More cosmopolitan than his magical colleagues—and well aware of their propensity for grave robbing—his tomb relies on finely crafted constructs for protection, rather than flesh golems or the unquiet dead.  The obsidian golem that guards his corpse was actually his surgical aide during life, its sharp fingers serving as ideal scalpels during the necromancer’s lectures.

Having been caught sneaking into a forbidden temple, adventurers are forced to play ōllamaliztli for the nobles’ entertainment.  If they lose, they will be sacrificed.  If they win…well, the high priest has an obsidian golem positioned at the shrine at the entrance to the locker room to ensure that the blood price is paid either way.

A shaitan lent a portion of her power to aid in the creation of an obsidian golem.  Now she wants it back.  She hires adventurers to smash the construct and free the animating spirit shard inside.  In the intervening decades, however, the golem ended up being buried in ash after a nearby volcano erupted.  Amid the shattered remains of the lava-damaged city, two xorns of unusual size now regard the golem as theirs, and they are loath to give up their prize.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 141

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Oblivion


Spheres of annihilation suck don’t they?  (Facing one in combat, that is.  If you’re in control of one, wheeee!)

But…what if one of those spheres was somebody’s egg?

That’s what you get with the oblivion…a one-eyed, Colossal smoke cloud from the Negative Energy Plane that leaves a trail of annihilation, dubiety (man, that’s a good word), and enslaved servants of entropy in its wake…and which might, maybe, possibly have hatched from a sphere of annihilation.  Who’s to know?  You’ll already be dust and dubiety (woo!) before you find out.

Stat-wise, it’s pretty clear that the oblivion is meant to be the penultimate or even the final monster of a campaign.  It sneezes through damage reduction.  It disintegrates at will.  (Yeah, you read that right; disintegrate is a cantrip to this thing.)  You can’t banish it unless you’ve got an artifact or you’re a god…you get the idea.  Oblivions mean to deliver just that—oblivion, and the eventual end of the cosmos—and only the mightiest heroes have a prayer of stopping one.

Arcanist Aron of the Black Rod is the most famous mage of the age…perhaps of any age since the falling of the White Tower.  His vanishing in the Year of Lost Hope was met with alarm across the continent, and his return in the Year of the Shadowed Griffon was enough to turn back the orc horde at Karsum.  He has walked the worlds many times since then, each time becoming more powerful and more distant from mortal men.  His latest planewalk was once too many, however.  He fell to the touch of an oblivion, and the “Aron” that returned is a servant of entropy who is currently preparing a ritual to summon his dire master.

The oblivion known as the Dustsinger is responsible for the deaths of at least three planets: the Flesh Orb (now a spheroid lattice of bone and rotted tendons known as the Cage), the former forest moon of Nesserit (whose fey, driven mad with grief, are more undead than faerie), and Ossus.  This last planet put up the best fight against the Dustsinger, and it’s said that the cat-headed goddess Bastet helped her worshippers escape to another world—at the cost of one of her lives.

A band of adventurers has been mercenary, larcenous, duplicitous, backstabbing, and murderous…and that’s on their best day.  But they find themselves forced into new roles as heroes when one of their oldest allies, the sorcerer-magistrate Inwelm, unleashes an oblivion in the very heart of Singate.  With the White Rose paladins in exile (the adventurers’ fault), the High Prelate jailed in disgrace (ditto), and the duke dying of night pox (a coincidence, though they did raid his treasury), only Singate’s worst adventurers stand between the oblivion and the city’s—and then the world’s—destruction.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 202–203

Hi guys!  It’s The…Fortnightly Bestiary?  Sigh.  I’m trying.  But hey, I wrote an adventure seed for evil PCs!

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Obcisidaemon


Avatars of the darkest elements of war, obcisidaemons primarily serve that particular apocalyptic Horseman (Szuriel, if you’re following Pathfinder canon).  Resembling a cross between a man, a wolf, and a smilodon—plus wings, because of course it has wings—this daemon’s most singular feature is the misty cloak of stolen souls it wears around itself.  It can tap the power of this supernatural cloak to boost its weapon, pump its saves, or heal itself—consuming one of the poor souls, of course.  But don’t worry; it’ll get a new soul when it kills your character.  Which it will, because did I mention it’s CR 19?

The obcisidaemon represents the horrors of war stripped of all the trappings of honor, loyalty, and glory, and then taken to their logical extremes—in particular, genocide.  Mass graves, concentration camps, super-weapon test sites, razed cities, and similar locations may draw an obcisidaemon if the planar boundary with Abaddon is thin enough.  Adventurers who defeat a genocidal tyrant may later find their foe’s shade serving one of these creatures.  Worse yet, their foe might be reincarnated as one of these creatures.

Duergar manage to set off a volcanic eruption and guide the subsequent rain of ash and lava to destroy a surface city.  Their triumph is short-lived, as the devastation causes an obcisidaemon to manifest in their capital with a number or daemonic retainers in tow.  Adventurers who wish to bring the duergar high archonus to justice will first have to retrieve his essence from the cloak of souls the daemon wears around itself.

The Horseman of War has been felled by a coup.  Now rival obcisidaemons hope to claim her mantle, and an axiomite city finds itself in the no man’s land between the two monsters’ forces.

Adventurers befriend a dusk elf—a gray-skinned, half-drow exile from another world.  Good-hearted but suspicious and close-mouthed, he says little about his native land, other than that it was ravaged by war, genocide, and blood feuds that go back hundreds of years.  (Indeed, his very birth is the end result of a breeding program of half-castes meant to serve as guerilla warriors and irregulars).  Only when the adventurers’ own nation becomes torn apart by civil war does he open up.  His nation was turn asunder by armies led by obcisidaemons that had broken free of their foolish summoners.  Worse yet, the adventurers discover that one of these daemons has seeded his true name in their world as well…and their own nation’s generals have made plans to summon him.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 72–73

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