Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Introduced in Pathfinder Adventure Path 42 (both in Mike McArtor’s “Children of the Void” and that issue’s “Bestiary,” akata are bona fide space aliens.  Their number of unique features and liabilities—the ability to survive the void of space, deafness, vulnerability to saltwater, skymetal (noqual) cocoons, and bloodsucking-zombie-producing breeding habits—make for evocative sci-fi boogeymen that nevertheless fit a fantasy setting.

The druid Aspenleaf sees hunting akata as twice the victory: he culls a dangerous invasive species from his lands, and gains the noqual to arm himself against the undead and constructs he loathes just as much.

A strange metal voidship orbits the skies above, throwing court astrologers into consternation.  One of them, of a starsoul  (Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide 140) or void-touched (Ultimate Magic 73) bloodline, is convinced he could both lead a small party to investigate and protect them from the rigors of the journey.  He is unaware the ship’s hull is filled with cocoons.

Liln is a small world lightly peopled by humans and halflings, who farm, tend their flocks, and sail the warm, shallow seas.  In the wilds, bugbears haunt the forests, silver dragons and flame drakes are occasionally sighted, and giant nautiluses are common.  This bucolic setting comes at a price that explains the sparse population: Liln’s lazy orbit takes it through an asteroid belt that rains akata-packed meteors over the landscape.

Pathfinder Adventure Path 42 80–81 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 23 

1 comment:

  1. With the exception of Spelljammer (which I never played or owned but caught fascinating glimpses of in Dragon articles, the novels, and the Andy Collins 3.0 Dungeon reboot), I'm not a big fan of putting sci-fi in my fantasy. I'm not dogmatic about it—the "sheen" articles in Dragon were great, but I read other folks' fond remembrances of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and go, "Really?"

    That said, I think McArtor and the Pathfinder crew did an excellent job with the akata—it's as monstrous and fairy tale-esque as anything else, alien without screaming "Science!"

    And yes, Liln is a tiny bit of a Pern homage, because I was a rapt middle-schooler once.