Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Separating fauns from satyrs seems a bit of an odd move on the Bestiary 3’s part.  (Even odder is how they’re bred—that a willing copulation leads to a weaker, less magical species is problematic for all kinds of reasons.)  Nevertheless, it sets up some interesting contrasts: bucolic Arcadia vs. the trackless wilderness, pastoralia vs. Pan, high spirits vs. base desires.

The fauns of Pyrrim hold the secrets of beekeeping, which they share with no humanoid race.  If provoked, they use ghost sound to summon a wasp swarm to their aid.

The birth of a horned fey to the queen of Arbordale has caused a crisis of succession.  Her prince consort wants her sent to a nunnery for cuckolding him; meanwhile he sits on a throne that he has no claim to.  The queen says the child is a satyr forced upon her, and that she stayed silent to hide her shame.  But if the dale’s archdruid names it a faun, her story must necessarily be a lie.

In Thracia, fauns and satyrs are not separate species.  Rather, they are fey expressions of the two sides of hedonism.  In times of plenty, fauns frolic on the hillsides and give aid to their human neighbors.  But in lean times, under the influence of spoiled wine, or when driven to madness under the full moon, a band of fauns may morph into wild satyrs, kidnapping and raping as they please.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 114

Monday, January 30, 2012

Faerie Dragon

Part dragon.  Part faerie.  All adorable prankster, raised to the power of twee.

Swallowbright is on the run from a quickling who has sworn to have his butterfly wings for a cravat.  He begs aid from any good-hearted adventurers he comes across. Despite the very real danger he is in, he won’t be able to help playing practical jokes on any notably devout allies—clerics and paladins especially.

Remy is a catfolk thief, living among the city rooftops.  Lemuel is a faerie dragon who insists that he is Remy’s familiar, otherwise what would he be doing in such a filthy city?  This is patently impossible—Remy may have nine lives, but not a magical bone in her body.  Nevertheless, she is glad to have Lemuel around, as together they pull off ever more daring heists.

Most faerie dragons are benign tricksters.  Daggerflit is not.  When a local duke was prophesized to die at the hands of one of the Fair Folk, the lord sent hunters aided by magic after every fey in the forest.  Every dryad’s tree was chopped down, every grig’s legs plucked, every satyr’s hide flayed.  Only Daggerflit survived (his draconic nature shielded him from the hunters’ divinations), and he has turned cold and savage in his despair.  Now he seeks to kill any human who enters his forest, employing deadfalls, pit traps, magic missiles, and his power of greater invisibility to lethal effect.  His efforts have attracted a gang of atomies who are just as bloodthirsty, if less effective.

Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 9 & Bestiary 3 91

My first encounter with the faerie dragon was in the very first “issue” of Dragon Magazine I ever bought: The Best of “Dragon Magazine” Vol. III.   Maybe it was the same for you?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Faceless Stalker

Ugothols are the shapechanging bastard children of monsters.  Abandoned by their aboleth masters, they now prey freely in the swamps and coastal cities of men.

A serial killer emulates the methods of a vampire—poorly—in order to throw authorities off the trail.  His blood-draining efforts arouse the curiosity of a pair of real faceless stalkers looking to breed.

An aboleth artifact activates, lighting up a heretofore hidden pattern of glyphs.  The diagram—part writing, part map—calls faceless stalkers to it.  Unfortunately, the artifact lies beneath the papal seat of the Church of the White Aster, and the presence of so many aberrations alarms the lantern archons that guard the catacombs.

Home to a college of transmuters and frequented by druids and the fey, the small city of Lisdoonvarna has a casual attitude toward shapeshifting.  Wards built into the city walls announce the presence of doppelgangers, but a gang of faceless stalkers hunts with impunity.

Pathfinder Adventure Path 2 88–89 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 122

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I may have dissed the ettin in the cyclops entry, but that was only to prove a point about how ill treated cyclopes have been.  Taken on their own, ettins are great brutes to throw at players.  (I always want to cower whenever my GM dumps a two-headed miniature on the table, even when I should know better.)

To really have fun with ettins, fell free to fudge a bit.  For one thing, the comedy and/or menace of two heads (and potentially two personalities) is too good to miss—so if no one in the party speaks Giant, Goblin, or Orc, let the ettin speak some Common, if only so you get the fun of role-playing both heads.  And an ettin sorcerer able to toss out two spells at once (especially if they have area effects or offer no saves, like magic missile) can put a really nice scare into your players.

Gog-Mog is a fierce hunter.  Well, Gog is. Mog is an aspiring poet, quoting verses (and expecting thoughtful critiques from his audience) in pidgin Giant as Mog is attempting to brain that very same audience with twin flail strikes.

Ettins don’t mate for long—after all, it’s not like they need the company.  But when rangers kill one of their pet bears, a mated pair of ettins and their remaining bear companion level a small logging camp.

It’s said that no tax, real or imaginary, has escaped the grasping hands of Baron Vansen’s men.  Now the citizenry is up in arms, but they have no legal redress.  As for illegal redress…well, the baron did not get where he is without a healthy does of paranoia.  And his three ettin bodyguards sleep work in shifts to be sure he always has at least two pairs of eyes guarding him at all times.

Pathfinder Bestiary 130

It’s so nice to have a real entry here instead of the last five months’ placeholder text.  Also, I love finding weird things in stat blocks.  Check out the ettin’s Organization roster—who knew ettins loved bears so much?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Whenever a giant spider assault seems too carefully orchestrated, or the PCs fall prey to a deadfall in the deep woods, it’s a safe bet an ettercap is involved.

A mated pair of ettercaps is about to have their first brood.  With a full complement of giant spider pets, they lack only warm meat to feed their young, and have spent the week rigging extra spear traps and nooses to snag the unwary.

Not all ettercaps are devoted to spiders.  Certain advanced ettercaps in the East have been reported to be comparatively gentle shadowsilk-spinners who tend their beloved gloomwings.  Of course, the gloomwings’ tenebrous worm offspring are not gentle at all…and they are always exceedingly hungry.

Despite their low Intelligence, ettercaps have the woodcraft and the Wisdom to become druids.  Some are blight druids (Advanced Player’s Guide 98–99); all have giant spider companions (Ultimate Magic 36–37).  A rare gifted few are web savants, a variant of the menhir savant class that detects the magic of the ley lines via spider webs rather than standing stones.

Pathfinder Bestiary 129

Dragon 343 has “The Ecology of the Ettercap” by Paul Leach and Russel, diving deeper into ettercap origins and society, and serving up more traps and nasty variants that could easily be adapted from 3.5 to Pathfinder.

By the way, this was another post that sat languishing with this placeholder for too long:

A late night at work and drinks with some public radio friends have me up too late to be blogging.  I'll get to ettercaps and their spidery friends ASAP, but in the meantime, enjoy this cover story by my friend Bay about some climbers of a very different sort.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Originally the Greek Furies, in role-playing erinyes are Hell’s fallen and avenging angels.  It’s tempting to think of them as Hell’s succubi, but where the demonic succubi seduce sexually, erinyes prefer to seduce through love and virtue—and attendant sins like pride and self-righteousness and narcissism—tempting mortals with their old angelic forms. Usually, though, they prefer fighting and slaying to subterfuge.  They have hated mortals since the beginning of existence: As angels they hated mortals for the love and attention the gods showed their insignificance, and as devils for not having fallen as far as they, the erinyes, have themselves.

Just after retrieving a holy artifact, an adventuring party’s arcane archer is challenged to an archery competition by an erinyes.  It is a lose-lose proposition: If the archer loses, the erinyes claims the artifact from her, but if she wins, the erinyes grants her a boon which amounts to a curse in the eyes of her church (in addition to the sin of having wagered a holy item in the first place).  Choosing not to play is also not an option, for the erinyes did not come alone…

A cardinal’s fiery speeches are rewarded when a trio of angels lands in rafters of the cathedral.  They require him to bring priests of the faith to be judged—an order with which he complies happily, as do the priests themselves.  Those found wanting—priests of pure hearts, in actuality—are hauled away in ropes made of hair or pierced with flaming arrows, while the cardinal and his flunkies are blessed and encouraged to do more to rally—and cull—the faithful.

Most angels fell eons ago, but Pithrael, the spirit of invention, fell a mere three centuries past.  Since then, the progress of civilization has been slow, halting, and riddled with blind turns.  If the erinyes Pithrael could be redeemed, it would mean a renaissance for man- and dwarfkind.  But it could also mean that gunsmithing takes a great leap forward…and would that serve the interests of Heaven or Hell?  Now many angels are as desperate as devils to see Pithrael stay fallen, while some devils are joining angels in praying for her reinstatement—creating some strange bedfellows indeed.

Pathfinder Bestiary 75

F. Wesley Schneider’s Princesof Darkness has a bit more on erinyes.  Also, caught up on the duergar and eremite entries.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Kytons, as explored in the Bestiary 3, have the potential to be really interesting.  Feeding on fear and suffering.  Seeking transformation and transcendence through sadomasochism. Creatures of Hell who have embraced the Plane of Shadow.  Living in cities made from the very bodies of their victims.  That’s a lot of material to work with.  Speaking of which, no one knows how to incorporate good material like an eremite…

A planewalking wizard spends half a year in the Plane of Shadow among the d’ziriaks.  This year he arrives to his adopted city to find the inhabitants slaughtered and enslaved, their luminescent bodies used to create a glowing, domed city devoted to an eremite overlord dedicated to ritual inscriptions through scarification and tattoos.

A significant soul has gone missing from the Resplendent Queue that climbs toward Heaven.  A devil claims it is due him from a past bargain.  An astral diva refutes this, but refuses to cite what his scrolls say.  A daemon offers payment in adamantine for it, as do several night hags.  All the while, the true thief, an eremite, is wearing the soul as a cloak in preparation for stitching it to his body.

While in his realm a certain pit fiend can only be killed by the laughter of his bone keep’s original owner.  This is a problem, as the eremite who built the keep just removed his own mouth in his never-ending journey of physical and spiritual transformation.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 172–173

One of the problems with Paizo’s shrinking of the GreatWheel cosmology is there are not enough places to put all the neat new beasts like divs and demodands and titans.  But the Plane of Shadow does nicely enough, especially for devils that aren’t really devils.

Also, kytons are practically begging for feats from Monte Cook’s 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness.

By the way, happy Chinese Year of the Earth Dragon!  So would that be a blue, copper, crystal, or forest dragon?  Or maybe this one?

In the meantime, I’m totally losing my shizz to this.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Emperor Cobra & Giant Anaconda

What’s worse than Large snake trained to guard temples?  A Gargantuan one that can take down a dinosaur.

Clerics of the Kishri god of revenge trained emperor cobras to nest in the temple reliquaries, so that would-be thieves would know their god’s retribution all the sooner.  The priests are now huecuvas roaming the temple halls, but the cobras remain very much alive, having had no clerics to check their breeding.

Saving a jungle giant girl from a giant anaconda earns explorers the gratitude of the tribe, but the enmity of the girl, who feels insulted such tiny beings presumed to rescue her.  Furious, she finds an opportunity to set the tribe’s girallons on them.

Jungle orcs speak of One-Eye, a giant anaconda blinded by the thumb spike of an iguanodon, who has taken to capsizing canoes in the search for easier prey.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 252

You don’t need to roll initiative for the emperor cobra.  The first player who says, “Oh, I get it, because it’s bigger than a king cobra” is the one who gets attacked.  If he also said it with a wah-wah sad trombone sound, the snake crits.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elysian Titan

Elysian titans are like Marvel’s Asgardians—gods or near-gods of a fallen age, who still wield unimaginable power, but don’t quite relate in and to the modern world.  So they can be inspirational figures and even allies of plane-hopping PCs…but they also have the power (thanks to mass suggestion and bestow curse) to sweep mortals up into conflicts beyond their understanding or ability to cope.

An Elysian titan prophet longs for the glory days of the titans, and in his adventuring he heeds the call of the voices that exist in the seams between the planes and in the dark of space.  Now his spellcasting grows more powerful even as his control grows more erratic—unexpected overwhelming presence and cursed earth effects (Ultimate Magic 215 & 230–231) being two such symptoms—and he begins to rally mortals and celestials alike to a worlds-spanning crusade whose aims are unclear.

Adventurers find themselves on the wrong side of an Elysian titan after their ally, a haughty mystic theurge, offends him.  Demanding satisfaction, he insists upon a duel and nominates them as the theurge’s second, third, fourth and fifth.  After all, he is nothing if not fair.

Perhaps the most rollicking bar in the multiverse is the Swinging Leviathan, run by an Elysian titan, Friyelda.  Accessible only by flight or a rainbow bridge, the bar—carved into the rotting hulk of Brobdingnagian air whale—hangs by titan-forged chains from an outcropping over a void that leads to Limbo…or possibly nothingness.  Friyelda arm-wrestling patrons for a chance at free drinks is what causes the Leviathan to sway.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 266

Careful Table of Contents readers (is there any other kind?) will recognize that we’re skipping the Bestiary 3’s elk, since by our established format it will show up with the antelope when we swing back around to the “A”s.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elephant & Mastodon

AKA the oliphaunt.  Or the mûmak, if you want to be really awesome about it.

The green dragon Sistarkyl “farms” mastodons by digging water holes to alter their migration routes toward her territory.  She also scores the young with her claws so she can pick out any of “hers” that end up further afield in the wild…or in human hands (for which she of course enacts retribution).

Beneath their shaggy fur, the great woolly mammoths of the North have the wise faces of all elephants.  They may actually even be wise.  Frostbitten scouts tell of the beasts engaging in strange, silent dances with the region’s polar bears. 

Every society hates gremlins, but nowhere more so than the nation of Goresh.  Goreshi use elephants to harvest and haul teak, and pugwampis are fond of goading the elephants until they rampage madly—often right through town.  Logging companies are beginning to pay well for mahouts and guards who can control the beasts, and a hunter can live for a season on the price for a gremlin ear.

Pathfinder Bestiary 128

I wonder if Sirwat Province lies in Goresh.  Maybe? 

Also, I hope you did your part to protest SOPA and PIPA today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Electric & Giant Moray Eels

Reefs are valuable real estate, so giant moray eels don’t take kindly to intruders.  And electric eels are…yes, of course, shocking.

Disarming a trap in a wizard’s lair saves adventurers from a watery doom.  It also sets off a magical surge in the next room.  The surge manages to both trigger the decanter of endless water that was a component of the trap and kill an apprentice doing lab work.  His falling body breaks a tank containing electric eels, spilling them into the deepening cascade of water.  The party must now ford past the excited eels to shut off the decanter.

When their skiff capsizes, a party of explorers finds themselves in the midst of a death’s head jellyfish swarm.  A short half-swim/half-clamber will have them on the lee side of the reef, safe from the jellyfish but alarming a pair of giant moray eels.

A jungle temple complex turns out to be flooded up to waist-height thanks to the monsoon season.  This means negotiating tlachtli courtyards filled with zombie ballplayers and electric eels.  River drakes come to feed on both, and they interpret any action taken by humanoids against their meals, even in self-defense, as theft.

Pathfinder Bestiary 119

For me, electric eels were a childhood fascination—they always showed up in cartoons—but somehow I forgot about them as I grew up (in a way I never did with, say, sharks and lampreys).  Maybe it was the same with you?

I have a feeling the Hollow World inspired my zombie tlatchtli players.

Meanwhile, this article at Merriam-Webster is definitely GM-friendly.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Every cruel sultan.  Every treacherous vizier.  Every wish gone horribly wrong.  The efreet are the worst of geniekind—the living embodiment of every bad thing that ever occurred in a One Thousand and One Nights tale.  Still, unlike devils they are beings of fire, not evil, and their first loyalty is to their own power, pleasure, and luxury.  All of which means they can be dealt with—if one is very careful.  Indeed, they have a range of spell-like abilities (the ones that don’t involve fire, that is) that almost oblige them to interact with mortals—like wishes that do them no good and plane shifts that only effect willing targets— and their brazen cities are practically the only places worth visiting on their plane.  Of course, the very fact that they seemed tied to mortal life could be the very reason the proud genies hate it so…

When dealing with devils—or evil beings in general—it’s best not to do so yourself, especially if you have a soul worth keeping.  Efreet can be valuable go-betweens, for they have little to fear from the powers of the Lower Planes, and much in common with them.  When a group of azatas needs to negotiate the release of prisoners with some demodands, they turn to the efreeti Mubalak the Fixer.  But his rival Sim, another efreeti, is determined to both humiliate Mubalak and kill anyone he associates with—especially the mortal adventurers sent by the azatas to escort the prisoners.

An efreeti is trapped in a fresco on a mausoleum wall.  Freeing him turns every building in a half-mile radiance to bronze, and magma bubbles up from the sewers.  A magical iron ship-in-a-bottle in the local museum could re-trap him, but meanwhile he is busy using cowed slaves’ coerced wishes to reshape the city according to his tastes.

Not every efreeti seeks to be a malik.  Estar’s operation straddles two worlds, with a luxurious iron hotel and gambling hall on the Plane of Fire, and a mortal semi-secret crime family the controls three coastal cities.  A prodigious breeder and even more prodigious fosterer, Godfather Estar’s network of efreet, ifrits, jann, and mortal cutthroats and evokers continues to grow.

Pathfinder Bestiary 140

Last week Metafilter introduced me to the Tome of Awesome.  I’ve only skimmed a little, but so far I like the way the writers have handled monster societies.  Like we try to do here (if in a less snarky way), they quickly get to the heart at what makes each species tick and why you should care (or not).

Friday, January 13, 2012


Remember that creepy see-all-the-exposed-muscles mannequin in science class?  Turns out it has a name: an écorché.  And now that name belongs to one of the creepiest new undead to come out in a long time.  Any creature that can flay the skin off your body in combat, force you to watch it wear you (as you die of Constitution—and, one must presume, blood—loss), and hide in that form till it takes damage is definitely a memorable monster.

In an unprecedented move, a doppelganger king comes forward and voluntarily unmasks every member of his troupe in the city—revealing more than one minister, clergyman, fat merchant, and crime boss to be not what they appear.  It does this in order to earn enough trust to ask for a boon: help eradicating an undead incursion.  It turns out that ghasts have cleaned out the doppelgangers’ sewer hideouts, while three terrifying ecorches are wearing the skins of men the doppelgangers has planned to impersonate themselves.

A botched assassination attempt—crossbowman, barbed quarrel, contact poison—misses the queen but injures her lady-in-waiting, revealing her to be an ecorche.  The undead monster kills the assassin and rends the queen before being driven off.  Now the wounded monarch needs heroes who can put a name to not one, but both parties responsible for the assaults on her life.

Most ecorches are created, but in very singular cases one might spawn from a soul who dies in a state of intense yearning for or envy of another. Two years ago, a mousey shopgirl named Clarissa died by her own hand, after being belittled by one of the marchionesses she waited upon—and longed to be noticed by.  Coming back as an ecorche who preys on the noble class, she has spent the past 24 months alternately horrified by the bloated beast she has become, and revealing in the exquisite fabrics—and skins—she gets to wear.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 109

Our first Bestiary 3 entry!  And boy did we pick a doozy.  There have been a few skin/face/body-stealing/snatching creatures in RPGs, but the ecorche stands out for its brutality and ease of mechanics.  Also props to Paizo for naming it using a real word, rather than some string of nonsense syllables.  To put it another way: Who needs mind flayers when you can have just plain flayers?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Earth Elemental

In published adventures, it seems like the go-to elementals are air (for fouling flyers, especially in trap/tomb-type adventures) and water (any pool in any adventure on any world ever).  But in films and games—GalaxyQuest, Kingdom Rush, even Battle Chess for you oldsters out there), earth elementals win hands down (the hands, in this case, being crushing rock fists).  With the exception of dragons, no monster on screen looks as good as an earth elemental in full smash.

The badlands of the Meztal are so alive with the power of Earth that the animals in the area have turned to stone.  While they may have petrified, they haven’t remained still.  Visitors to the area can see earth elementals in the shapes of coyotes, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions bounding around the hoodoos with heavy, clattering footfalls—before turning, as if controlled by a single mind, to attack flesh-and-blood interlopers.

Gray elves live with time more than other elves, and the forests they love tend to carpet mountains and valleys.  So it’s no surprise they find strength and wisdom in stone—or that they guard their mountain passes with earth elementals.  The sight of a slender elf conjuror riding the shoulder of a stocky earth elemental would be comical, where it not for the elf’s ability to conjure various fog and cloud spells to confuse and trap the pair’s enemies just before the earth elemental wades into battle.

Dawn breaks to the sound of the local keep’s curtain wall collapsing.  The north wall was built on the back of a sleeping earth elemental, which awakes after 50 years’ slumber to a calling from his home plane.  The nearest portal sits at the crown of the well-warded local magus’s tower, and the elemental crudely reasons that if it can’t earth glide up the structure, it will have to smash the tower down.

Pathfinder Bestiary 122–123

For a brief glimpse of an earth elemental in fiction—as well as an underground-dwelling elf that is antisocial but definitely not a drow—look for the “dirt elf” in Michael G. Ryan’s “Time for an Experiment” in the excellent Dragon 176.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eagle & Giant Eagle

Giant eagles have been special ever since they saved Bilbo and the dwarves in The Hobbit.  And regular eagles have been special ever since Spirit showed up with one in G.I. Joe.  (Okay, fine, they were big in the Bible and Greek myths and Persian myths and the symbolism of the U.S. and shut your face-hole.)

A falconer lies dead in the king’s mews, and the king’s prize eagle is missing.  Find the eagle, and a party of detectives could will her killer.  At least, that’s the theory, until the eagle is found being tended by the monks of a nearby abbey, all of whom have alibis and not one a motive.

Oreads live far from each other, spread out across the mountain peaks they love.  Giant eagles serve as their mounts as messengers, glad of humanoid company that knows the value of silence and stone.

Giant eagles are known for their good natures, but the desert eagles of the Kral Expanse are not, attacking any humanoid who presumes to take to the air in their skies, from rogues on flying carpets to pegasi-riding paladins.  The giant eagles of the Kral are menaced from the south by expansionist derhii who see them as both rivals and game, and they fear the derhii will try to ally with any fellow flyers.

Pathfinder Bestiary 118

Today I got my delivery of the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, Mythical Monsters Revisited, and the Bestiary 3!  Even with a long weekend, I probably won’t be able to get through all three any time soon, but all three look impressive at first glance.  And I’ll be working in Bestiary 3 monsters in ABC order ASAP—I snuck in the derhii today, and we’ll have our first official B3 entry with the ecorche on Friday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


These glowing termite-like beings are among the more interesting races in the Bestiary 2—and that book also highlights their unusual talent with light, so strange for creatures of shadow.  Like aranea, d’ziriaks face the PCs as strange insectile beings who could as easily be allies as foes.

A renowned dwarf runecaster and scholar disappears from his mountain home.  After some false starts in giant country, the trail unexpectedly leads to the Plane of Shadow.  He languishes in a prison cell in a d’ziriak hive, accused of changing d’ziriak malcontents’ caste markings.

Neutral the d’ziriak may be, but they protect their own interests.  When a trade war breaks out between the merchants of the Plane of Shadow and the merchants of the stars, the witchwyrds, human societies get a disturbing reminder of how much their economies (and fates) are influenced by strange beings they know little about.  Even more disturbing is that the merchants of madness, the denizens of Leng, seem to be profiting even more than ever.

Not all d’ziriaks confine themselves to the Plane of Shadow.  Reports have surfaced from deep below the earth of a hive city of insectile artists positioned near an umbral rift.  News of any city in the deep not peopled by morlocks, drow, and worse would ordinarily be considered a blessing.  But these artists are said to be unusually fond of darkmantles (as pets, pigment ingredients, and canvases for their work) and trade primarily with the quite mad cloaker nests that dot that network of caverns.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 113

Following up on yesterday’s post, people seemed to like my thoughts over at Geekdad, but on Slog I’ve apparently roused some troglodytes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dust Digger

Bounty hunters beware: Pathfinder has a mini-sarlacc.

A blue crystal statuette, intended as tribute, never made it to its destination.  Its bearer was devoured in the wastes, and now the statuette sits in the crop of a dust digger.

Members of the Black Asp Monastery expect their initiates—and even their guests—to be light on their feet.  A common test before graduating to the next belt is a bout on sands that hide a dust digger.

Gnolls take fosterage seriously, especially the matrilineal tribes.  So a few adventurers in desperate straits have saved their skins (or, more accurately, their livers and hearts) by begging to be adopted rather than slain.  These adoptees are often furiously resented by their new “siblings,” and while the young gnolls will not kill the adventurers, they will often go out of their way to place them in peril—like forcing them to forage amid a colony of dust diggers.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 112

This post spent five months as a placeholder.  Specifically, this one:

Work still has me three days behind on blogging.  Sincere apologies!  In the meantime, check out my thoughts on the 5th Edition D&D announcement in the comments section over at Wired’s GeekDad column.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Similar to ghosts, there is an air of specificity about dullahans.  They are drawn to specific places, families, or even individuals (“Ichabod Crane!”).  So solving the reason for their manifestation can be an adventure seed in itself.  As well, they offer complicated moral choices for good-aligned PCs—since they often come for evil-doers, there exists a temptation to let them go about their bloody work…but they also claim souls who might otherwise have repented and reformed, and they slaughter any innocents who get in their way.

For more than a fortnight, a dullahan has stalked the streets of the city, claiming a head a night.  Survivors report seeing the dullahan wielding a foreign weapon: a nine-ring broadsword (Ultimate Combat 130–131, 132).  Deciphering the mysery of the blade may be the key to deciphering the dullahan’s fell purpose.

Once every twenty years, a Coach of the Silent comes to the castle at the heart of Linden, demanding the lord take a ride.  There is no refusing the magical call once uttered.  When the carriage returns before dawn, the lord reports having no memory of what has occurred—when the lord returns at all.  This year, through an accident of fate (picnic, lightning), the lord is only an infant, and the queen regent is determined her son will not heed the dullahan’s call.

Sometimes the boundary line between the fey and spirit worlds is fine indeed.  Gan ceanns are nearly identical to dullahans, but are unseelie faeries rather than true undead.  These dullahans have the fey creature template (Bestiary 3 116–117), but have DR 5/gold rather than cold iron—the touch of gold is an anathema to a gan ceann.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 111

If you saw what I did there, you’re going to do fine on your GRE.