Yet another undead creeps out of the pages of the Bestiary 4: the gholdako. Essentially a mummified cyclops, the gholdako’s main ability brings one of the cyclops race’s greatest fears—blindness—home to adventurers. The haloed dread gholdakos are even more dangerous, inflicting paralysis with their bite, but their presence indicates the potential for great riches, as they guard the tombs of royalty. (Fortunately the famous cyclops temper survives after death as well, making gholdakos easier to enrage and trick than other guardian undead.)
Gholdakos are most interesting for the glimpse they give into the past. A gholdako in cyclops territory? Standard, expected even. A gholdako where you had no idea cyclopes existed? Now that’s a mystery worth exploring. Where did they go? Was necromancy a secret of their success or the cause of their civilization’s decline? If this is a cyclops’s tomb, there must be the remains of a city nearby, right? And if not, why? Answering these questions is how adventures are born.
A pirate chief has made a deal with a gholdako—his men keep all outsiders off the island, and the gholdako lets them use the ground level of his ancient temple complex. The pirate intends to betray the undead cyclops, but not until he has a powerful enough cleric on hand to safely kill the monstrosity. Should adventurers be captured by the pirate chief, he might ally with them against the gholdako, or the gholdako might serve as their jailer. This may spell trouble for any adventurers who speak Timarian, as a Timarian famously once fooled the undead cyclops during his mortal lifetime.
After defeating a dread gholdako, adventurers make a startling discovery. Whereas the grave wrappings of the other gholdakos in this tomb are covered in inscrutable glyphs, the dread gholdako’s linens are covered in perfectly legible letters…and include the name of the adventurer who delivered the killing blow. Given the cyclopes’ reputation for foresight, who knows what message the dead giant might have for his murderer.
Adventurers on a morlock hunt stumble upon a tomb guarded by a gholdako. Further investigation reveals a nation of cave cyclopes and dread gholdako priests living below the morlock warren. (In fact, predation by the giants is one reason the morlocks haven’t left more of a mark on the surface.) Adventurers might be tempted to drive out or even exterminate these cave cyclopes…but doing so might be a mistake. The cave cyclopes have a complex religion that demands the regular blood sacrifice of a human. (Fortunately morlocks count.) Should the blood rites not be performed, the dread gholdakos warn, “The sleeping great cyclopes will awaken and devour all.”
—Isles of the Shackles 49 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 125
Ready for some Black History Month? Hell yeah you are. Next time you want to play a black samurai and some troglodyte hassles you about “historical accuracy,” here’s a portrait of a real Mozambique-born, Japanese-trained samurai, plus 13 more groundbreaking black explorers, centurions, governors, pirates, and leaders.