Traveling in arctic climes is risky business. Add the ijiraq, a fey shapeshifter whose gaze is so disorienting it causes a –20 to DC checks, and it can get downright deadly.
The prime read on ijiraqs is that they are spirits of the untrammeled wilderness, dedicated to keeping their homes free from the taint of humanoid life. They are also spirits of the dislocation that wilderness causes, especially at night, in foul weather, or because of optical illusions—the wild’s ability to make one lost even on familiar trails or in sight of home.
But we’ve also talked before about the arctic as a Lovecraftian place (most notably in the “Yeti” entry), where the North Pole really isn’t the most northerly or distant point, once other realms and non-Euclidean geometries are taken into account. So another read on ijiraqs is that by keeping men out, they also keep certain eldritch creatures at bay and prevent men from bringing anything back with them…or in them…to the civilized world—even knowledge. Because in a Lovecraftian universe, intent doesn’t matter, or purity of heart, or anything else. Even merely seeing the things from the other side of reality is to become tainted…and as guardians of this world’s purity, an ijiraq cannot allow that taint to spread.
Half-Step is a club-footed ijiraq feared by the local Tara elves—even wolf shape is no defense against his disorienting gaze. The castle-building Valan scoffed until they too began losing whole guard patrols and fishing expeditions to his influence. Half-Step is kind to lost children, though, in his way—curing their wounds and sheltering them from the elements after their parents have become hopelessly lost. These children sometimes return to civilization months or even years later sporting ice-blue hair and wearing reindeer pelts. (Treat as changelings with the Mist Child alternate racial trait (see the Advanced Race Guide). If they take the Mother’s Gift feat, they may only choose Hag Claws (Ex).)
Adventurers trying to sneak through Faerie through the domain of Winter run afoul of an ijiraq. Ordinarily it would just allow them to get lost—Faerie’s paths are good for that—but it senses the presence of a dangerous artifact on one of their persons. The artifact, a scarab, has ties to Leng, prompting the ijiraq to risk a close encounter in hopes of retrieving and destroying the pendant.
Stories of jackalopes, pookas, and pugwampis sometimes obscure a more insidious danger—a rare desert-dwelling variety of ijiraq. These pronghorn skull-wearing fey are nearly identical to their arctic kin but seek to preserve the sanctity of their barren deserts, buttes, and mesas. Instead of ice storm they cast sirocco (but only twice a day instead of three times; see the Advanced Player’s Guide) and their sleet storm is a driving spring rain that turns the ground muddy and treacherous.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 4 155
One real-world explanation for this Inuit spirit is the presence of pockets of disorienting hydrogen sulphide. If you’re looking to advance the ijiraq by a few Hit Dice, a poisonous breath attack or cloudkill ability wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
Do I use a hyphen or an en dash to represent “minus 20”? These are the things that keep me up all night. (Also, it’s an en dash. I know this because I cut-and-pasted it from the PRD to check. This blog does not f— around. …Which it takes me an em dash to not say.)