Thursday, September 6, 2012


Jackalweres have always stood apart from other lycanthropes.  Their abilities suggest a supernatural origin not tied to the other weres’ moon curse.  And jackalweres are beasts first, humans second, no matter what shape they take.

Delphinium the Jackal’s lovely first name is at odds with her wicked nature.  The slinky young madam is actually a jackalwere.  Her sleep gaze subdues potential girls for her brothel.  Those who resist their new employment discover the truth behind Delphinium’s other moniker.

Demigod Papa Loumasa is a trickster spirit among the folk of Udi Island.  Unfortunately, his jackalwere children are not so benign.  A series of customs and taboos (leaving a bit of meat and some rice out by the front gate, never drinking papaya juice at night, receiving the blessing of a locathah priestess in midsummer) protect the Udi locals, but foreign sailors, treasure hunters, and evangelist paladins are not so protected.

Scavengers are scavengers—even supernatural ones—and the available resources dictate how amicably they relate.  Located on a fertile delta, the vast desert metropolis of Carthus provides ample indigents and corpses alike, and so the city’s ghuls and jackalwere packs are happy to coexist, occasionally even aiding each other in fending off nosy do-gooders.  On the other hand, citizens of the more sparsely habited Relic City of Demopolis sometimes awake to the shrieks of warring hyenas and jackals, and those in the know shiver at the shapechanger war taking place just outside their doors.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 154

I was stunned to find that the jackalwere dates all the way back to the original Monster Manual.  Now I want to know what Gygax was thinking.  Did he base it off of a mythological creature, as its special abilities suggest?  Or was it a typo, the way the thoul was—did he accidentally type “were” in the wrong place and create a backward lycanthrope to go with it?  And why a jackal—was he designing an Egyptian-style adventure?  I want to know these things, but even WoTC doesn’t seem to have the answers.

My first exposure to the jackalwere, by the way, was in the first Forgotten Realms novel I ever read, Shadowdale.  That novel made me fall in love with the Realms—I was getting tired of Dragonlance’s lockstep Manichaeism, though of course I didn’t have that kind of language on board at the time to say so, and the Realms were a breath of fresh air.  Sadly, I re-read it recently, and the Avatar Trilogy didn’t hold up nearly as well as it had in my memory.

Finally, markwitharingrat was nice enough to write (regarding the iron cobra): “Perfect! Exactly what I needed to open my next game.”  This made my day.  If you use one of these ideas, let me know about it!  Please leave a comment or email (dailybestiary at Gmail, etc., etc.…I’m not typing the full address to avoid spam spiders, but you all are clever folk; you can guess the rest).

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