I like undead that can function in the living world. Spectres/wraiths/devourers/etc. have their place, but it’s nice to have some undead besides liches that aren’t compelled to murder every last thing they see. (Over the long term, motive is always more interesting than mayhem.)
Which doesn’t make witchfires benevolent by any means. It just means that when they kill, they kill by choice…or at least out of habit. (A lifetime of fricasseeing babies is hard to shake.) These are hags with unfinished business, and they’re not about to let something as trivial as death get in the way. They may resent and even hate the living—including their former sisters—but the obsessions that called them back to unlife come first.
Of special note are the powers a witchfire grants to her coven, which tap into both her undead state and the witchflame that surrounds her. Using fire storm on targets already covered in witchflame is a favorite tactic. These covens are likely to have ghoul servitors as well thanks to create undead. (That’s if you’re following the rules, which say the spell functions at 9th level. You can easily rationalize that a rite that utilizes certain sacrifices and takes longer than create undead’s standard one hour—say, over a month or so—might serve up more powerful undead.) And that’s in addition to the will-o’-wisps the witchfire can summon on her own, or that naturally follow in her green flaming wake.
A swamp is filled in to expand a city, disturbing the bones of a long-dead hag. Now a figure limned in green flame flits through the cobbled back alleys, trying to come to terms with the passage of centuries and the loss of her beloved marsh. She trails a string of will-o’-wisps equally consternated by the change in scenery but happy to feed on the drunks and indigents they find.
Havelin is thrilled to have reincarnated as a witchfire. After a lifetime of ugliness (which for a hag is very ugly and very long indeed), the return to the lithe form of her youth is intoxicating. The annis hag in her coven is less amused, and seeks ghost touch enchantments so she can gut the vain and frustratingly incorporeal undead.
Changeling Thistle Bloodheart is on the run from her dead mother. Emma Bloodheart’s coven was close to opening a portal to the Verdant Planet when adventurers slew her and drove away her hag spellsisters. Emma returned to existence as a witchfire, determined to get Thistle to take her place in the coven before the next planetary alignment. Tired of running, Thistle will cling to the most powerful adventurer she can find. If necessary, she employs her roguish charms—or her witch charms.
—Pathfinder #5 84–85 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 284
Though mayhem has its place…
I still need to get to your comments—a lot of fantastic Polynesian monster suggestions, as well as some other great contributions—but I’m walking out the door for a flight to Boston for Easter. Will do my best to tackle ASAP.
Also, I recently discovered the Know Direction podcast because I was interested in their discussion with Wes Schneider on incorporating LGBTQ characters into Golarion. I let Ryan and Perram know about this blog, and they were nice enough to give us a shout-out as they closed out the live episode last night. Doesn't look like the link is up yet for that particular episode, but here are links to the full archive and Facebook page for you to check out.