Introduced all the way back in Paizo’s 3.5 era, urdefhans sprang from the pages of Into the Darklands to help people the lowest of Golarion’s subterranean realms. Creations of the daemons—ironically, to be their allies in destroying all mortal life—urdefhans are now native to the Material Plane, eager to drain the blood of or otherwise murder all of existence.
An urdefhan has lots to recommend it as a creepy bad guy—transparent skin, an iconic sword (take that, githyanki!), a bite that drains blood and strength (and makes the skin around the wound translucent!), and, when push comes to shove, the ability to commit suicide by activating its daemonic pact, bursting in an explosion of negative energy as if it had triggered a giant supernatural lysosome. Oh, and riding giant undead bats doesn’t hurt either. Plus while urdefhans are only CR 3, given how far they are below the surface, you can imagine most acquire class levels to deal with their equally dangerous and horrible neighbors.
So all in all, a worthy new race of evil to stow beneath your campaign world. Since they want to extinguish all life, coming up with encounter motivations isn’t hard—nine times out of 10, they want to kill the party.
That said, if you’ve got a group that likes in-character role-play, it’s worth it to find an excuse for them to ally with or otherwise coexist among urdefhans, just to you can spend some time with them at the gaming table. (There’s precedent in the Serpent Skull Adventure Path, in fact. If anything, urdefhans are easier to deal with than drow, once you prove you’re no victim, because they might actually keep their word for a while.) Because these guys are weird, and trying to imagine what their society is like is fascinating. How do you live in a culture that explicitly serves death? Where daemonic half-fiends are probably a common sight and undeath is probably considered a viable career option—perhaps even a preferable one? How does a society balance the desire to constantly war against the difficult of propagating the species with a nearly sterile population? Do they rush into battle madly or carefully husband their lives and resources? Do they serve all the horsemen equally or favor one over the others? (Or do they mourn the lost Fifth Horseman that created them?)
I have so many questions.
But hey, if your party never gets to that level of intimacy with the urdefhans, don’t stress it. There are rhoka swords to clash with, after all!
The werebat Axiol Snub-Nose promises to help smuggle a party of surface adventurers out of a drow mushroom plantation. The plan is to hide the overlanders in sacks of morels, then load them onto giant bats for shipping. But urdefhans net the bats, intending to use them for more skaveling breeding stock, and round up Axiol and the party as well. Is the werebat a victim or was this his plan all along?
An urdefhan colony long devoted to the Horseman of War was recently decimated after a protracted war against the caulborn of the Sunken Spine. This caused an upswing in the colony’s worship of the Horseman of Pestilence, whose followers moved into the religious and political vacuum. The remaining urdefhans have already begun to chafe under the new order—though they honor the Lingering Demise’s end goals, they resent the foulness and discomfort of living constantly surrounded by—and infected with—corruption and disease. This time of upheaval creates excellent opportunities for an alliance with one faction or the other...or perhaps to wipe the colony out altogether…
Crusaders have been abducted! Worse yet, they’ve been taken over the border into Charon’s Rest—a land like no other, where urdefhans walk in the surface world, ruling over a terrified populace with their half-daemon, vampire, and ghoul allies. Interestingly, the urdefhan Captain of the Gates has no knowledge of the abduction and will give any would-be rescuers leave to enter. (Or course, whether other urdefhans will honor the passport is another story entirely.) And following the trail will lead to another mystery: moon-beasts and other aberrations are gaining a foothold in Charon’s Rest right under the urdefhans’ translucent noses…
—Into the Darklands 60–61 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 276
We’re back to adventure seeds! Are you excited? I’m excited. But man, last week was fun for me! (Mmmm…sourcebooks.) Hopefully for you, too.