White Dwarf and the 1e Fiend Folio may have given fantasy role-playing the githyanki and slaad, but they also gave us lots of…other things…including the carbuncle. Pathfinder gave the armadillo-like creature a facelift—now it’s an appropriately lumpy lizard—but its empathic abilities have survived intact. And the chaos its specious suggestion ability can sow among a low-level party of adventurers (not to mention its thoroughly unique way of playing dead) has earned the carbuncle a small but devoted fan base. (If I recall correctly, the carbuncle only just avoided inclusion in Misfit Monsters Redeemed because someone loved it enough to stick it into Pathfinder #31: Stolen Land.) Whether as wild animals or unusual familiars for equally unusual sorcerers, carbuncles bring a certain element of the unexpected to any adventure.
Deemed nuisances by the local guard, young would-be adventurers are sent into the woods to “bring back a carbuncle’s horn”—essentially a snipe hunt. But the adventurers do happen to stumble upon a twisted, red-leafed maple covered in the creatures. They also (possibly prodded by a carbuncle’s suggestion) stumble upon a kobold plot that could have dire implications for their hometown.
Carbuncles are forbidden at most reputable mage academies…which only makes students want them more. Trying to get their hands on some, a group of students lands in hot water with some hot-tempered grigs and a local wererat gang who have their own uses for the sensation-inducing beasts.
A devious pet shop owner runs a number of scams, including selling a rare “unimander” that grants visions. The lizard in question is actually a carbuncle trained to stay with his purchaser for just shy of a week, than return to the pet shop after leaving a fake of itself behind. Uncovering this swindle for an influential neighbor might launch a young adventurer’s career, especially since there is evidence in the shop that links the owner to smuggling, poaching, and worse.
—Pathfinder #31 44 & Pathfinder Bestiary 3 76–77
What is it with apprentice wizards and carbuncles? See the “Boilborn” entry for more shenanigans.
Since we’re on the subject of White Dwarf, remember this rant from February? I did in fact drop both incarnations of WD from the pull list at my comic store. I miss the old magazine, but I made the right call re: the new ones.