Keches are jungle ape-humanoids, each as large as a man…and quite happy to devour a man as well. Of course, that hardly sets them apart from similar ape creatures, particularly the infamous charau-ka (from several Pathfinder books, including Pathfinder Adventure Path #40: Vaults of Madness, Heart of the Jungle, and The Inner Sea World Guide). So what sets them apart?
1) Their size: Medium, compared to the Small charau-ka and various Large apes such as dire apes. 2) Their coloration: a green-and-brown camouflage that actually shifts as they pass without a trace. 3) Their unique taboos and hungers: they won’t cannibalize other apes, but delight in forcing their humanoid captives to watch the keches eat their fellows. 4) Their druidic faith or worship of the Horsemen, evil gods, or elemental lords: most other evil apes are demon worshippers. Finally, 5) Their envy of other humanoids.
This last is a good role-playing/adventure hook. Remember King Louie from Disney’s Jungle Book? His burning (ha!) desire to learn the power of fire and emulate mankind? The keches are like that but worse. Other apes are happy to raid human villages and move on, but only keches move in. One can argue that’s sheer convenience—human villages have roofs and walls to shelter beneath, stores to deplete, etc.—but there is an element of (forgive me) monkey-see, monkey-do to the keches. They loathe humans and other humanoids…and yet feel compelled to not just take, but take over, their homes and lives.
Not all keches live in jungles. A hardy variety lives in the pine forests of the Obsidian Shogunate. Their camouflaged skins have inspired the techniques of at least one ninja clan, while their evil acts have caused the Obsidian samurai to outlaw and hunt down all monkey-men of any kind, including vanaras, and most druids of any species as well.
Most keches worship the green path of the druids, or revere a powerful evil or elemental figure. The keches of Geerwana, however, engage in a strange cargo cult. They scour their jungles’ rivers, beaches, and ruins for bottles, jars, and jugs of any sort, which they religiously gather up, clean, enshrine, and ritually rub. The genesis of this strange faith was a crashed airship in which a kech adept found several bottles with noble genies trapped inside. The resulting wishcraft made him an undying sage and changed Geerwana kech society forever. Their appetites remain unchecked, however, and they will still eagerly devour any humanoids they come across who cannot produce a mystical vessel of any sort.
Merriwynneth is princess of a magical elven isle, Most Evanescent Pa’ar, that floats along the waves wherever the wind propels it. (Upon landfall, it lingers for anywhere from a day to a month before moving on.) After aiding Merriwynneth, a cavalier earns a Pa’aran knighthood from her father, which (among other things) may be seen as the first step in a betrothal to her. This incenses a storm giant youth who has visited Most Evanescent Pa’ar on numerous occasions to moon over the princess. In a fit of rage, he opens his father’s bag of winds, sending a cyclone to blow Pa’ar to the vile lands of the Southeast. He and all the residents of Pa’ar come to regret his actions when the floating island beaches on a jungle peninsula peopled by nothing but violent, envious kech archers.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 3 167
Reader martyparty23 joined in today’s concepting, offering us three random rolls from the GameMastery Guide (Table 4-7: NPC rewards p.98; 7-57: Types of weather, p. 224; 7-50: Undiscovered islands p.216). His results: Offer the hand of a relative in marriage/Cyclone: a violent destructive storm/Floating island that travels wherever the wind blows.
Keep sending or Gmailing (dailybestiary [at] etc.) those random rolls!
By the way, an anonymous reader had more to share about yesterday’s kappa entry: Kappa are one of the most popular yokai, and you've absolutely hit on why: they can be comical, menacing or social depending on the story and the context. And a menacing kappa is very menacing indeed: their favorite food is the "shirikodama", a mythical ball of flesh found by sucking a human's intestines out through the anus. Fortunately, they're also quite fond of cucumber, hence the "kappa rolls" in sushi restaurants.
I don’t think charau-ka are in the Bestiaries, at least not that I recall. They have appeared in enough other Golarion supplements, though, and I’ve rarely seen a new fantasy race so vigorously and clearly portrayed.
Finally, this discussion of the keches is taking me back to Religion 101 and 302. Food taboos are one of the essential ways humans establish who we are…and in the absence of concerns such as health (among kosher and halal foods’ merits is that they avoid the parasites common to pigs, for instance) often the forbidden food is exactly what the tribe next door loves. We know we are not our neighbors—and indeed, know we are human, not animals—because we will not stoop to eat what they do…