I knew nothing about the aoandon before I sat down to research it. Now I’m so deep down the Wiki wormhole I might never crawl out.
The essentials, as the Bestiary 4 notes, are that the aoandon is “an incorporeal outsider formed from the spirit of a woman who died pursuing some ill-fated relationship [who] waits for her chance to seek revenge on those who wronged her in her mortal life.” Awesome!
(Side note: Specifically female spirits often walk that line between “woman as the alien Other”—or even woman as the vengeful bitch—and “woman representing uniquely female concerns.” So I think it’s the GM’s or the adventure writer’s job to make sure the latter facet gets more screen time. Plus, in a magical medieval society a women might find agency in death that life denied her…manifesting as an aoandon might provide a very valuable, if bloody, counterpoint to male disregard and abuse or her overbearing family’s shame. Or you can say screw it and toss aoandons’ gender out the window—men can certainly pursue life-ending ill-fated relationships as well.)
Not just awesome, in fact, but terrifying…because a 10d6 touch attack from an incorporeal creature should have most PCs soiling their kimonos, even before fear effects are applied and special abilities are applied.
And there’s so much more thematic juice you can find in the aoandon. For instance, a lot of the aoandon’s ire seems to be directed toward her own family—note how the presence of family members aids in the summoning process. And speaking of that summoning, notice how the aoandon is not under control of the summoner. So if a particular aoandon defies a party’s efforts to dispatch it, their best bet might be to summon the creature…but if they can’t contain it, any fallout from the ensuing chaos will rest squarely on their heads. And (to get back where I started, with the Wiki wormhole), aoandons are also associated with nights of scary storytelling (with the risk of summoning the outsider being part of the thrill), game playing, and mirrors. So one might arise during a bard’s performance or haunting the next magic lantern or mirror the party hauls out of the dungeon.
So the next time your group’s bard rolls a 1 on her Perform check…make it a night no one in the immediate vicinity will ever forget.
A woman commits suicide by strangling herself with a necklace—the only piece of jewelry she has left after her lover steals from her to decorate his new betrothed. When she returns as an aoandon, she haunts the families of everyone involved and leaves jewelers dead all over the city. Eventually the remaining family members and the Jewelers’ Guild attempt a ritual to summon the vengeful spirit, but she breaks loose almost immediately…
A performance of a traditional shadow play turns into chaos when the stage lanterns flicker blue and an aoandon is summoned. As pandemonium ensues, adventurers must not only contain or destroy the outsider, but also find the wayang sorcerer responsible, who apparently has made a habit of this in cities up and down the Granite Road.
Born a man, Devon Highfield lived as a woman—first onstage as an actor, then in her private life. After retiring from the stage she married and settled down. But her husband lost his business after one of his rivals spied upon her in the bathhouse, and he committed suicide. Devon tried to follow him into death, but was reborn as an aoandon. Adventurers become involved after being hired to tell stories and read fortunes at the rival’s manor. Just as the last tale is told, the lanterns flare blue and Devon’s outraged spirit returns.