Often the Great Old Ones are described as beings outside mortal comprehension. For instance, a Great Old One doesn’t usually communicate directly or even indirectly to worshippers in the way that gods do. Rather, its dreaming consciousness just happens to brush against mortal minds, driving them mad and calling them to its service in a perverse stimulus-response exchange.
If that’s true, vespergaunts play an interesting role. As servants, heresy oozes provide more coherent recruitment and instruction than mad dream calling allows. As granters of wishes, they offer great, seductive power to those in their service, or they can slowly remake reality to suit themselves on their own. And as emissaries, they translate the prayers and requests of mortals for the Great Olds Ones…kind of like a scientist explaining what a bee’s dance means to some grant foundation or corporate sponsor. By offering a pathway of understanding, however tenuous, between the mortal world and the dark places of the universe, vespergaunts accelerate the doomsday clock that ticks down the seconds until the Great Old Ones return.
Colleges of necromancy are small, isolated affairs, with traditions and syllabi that vary greatly according to the interests of the individual faculty members. The College of Black’s Calling feels more religious than most, with an emphasis on evening meditations and astronomy rather than the usual dissections. Many of the staff are mystic theurges as well. And on the night of the new moon, everyone is required to attend vespers—where a vespergaunt presides over the evening observances. The vespergaunt is all too happy to siphon away he spirits of any trespassers and undercover agents posing as students who would threaten the college.
Finding the Lamasery of Leaving is difficult—it means traveling to a certain city, wandering certain streets at night until a certain hour when you stumble upon a doorway to a second more and yet less real city, from whence you set out into the foothills and up a dark mountain range. There amid the black rocks you will find the Cells of Shedding Night—a monastery built into the peak tended by vespergaunts, penanggalens, and evil contemplatives who have left their bodies behind.
Solus has eight planets. Every schoolchild knows that. So when Professor Casomir proposed a ninth based on wobbles in the ellipse of the Pegasus, he was called mad. But the adventurers he gathered around him are forced to admit he is right when the now-visible jet-black planet looms below them. Oddly, the planet seems to welcome their voidship, lighting up in green and blue arcs that might be ley lines, language, or runway guides. The black tentacled things that come to meet them, however, are far less welcoming…
—Inner Sea Bestiary 58
James Sutter created vespergaunts for the Inner Sea Bestiary, though in Pathfinder their home is far from the Inner Sea: they hail from the far planet of Aucturn. And since Aucturn is described as being almost a living thing, perhaps vespergaunts are something more—part of the nerve center or immune system of that nightmarish place.
By the way, if you’re looking for the venomous snake, it’s all the way back here. If you’re looking for several venomous snakes, they’re here.
A folkier show than usual this week—Pete Seeger’s death was on my mind. But if you’re the sort of person who can fit bluegrass and IDM into the same night, you’ll roll with the shifts in mood anyway. Download and enjoy!
(If the feed skips, Save As an mp3 and enjoy in iTunes. Link good till Friday, 2/7, at midnight.)