Hermit crabs wearing the shells of mollusks? How passé! Aberrant nautiluses driving around corpses as if they were zombie cars? Now we’re talking!
Deep-sea dwellers are known for making the most out of the few nutrients that make it that far down, so maybe the incutilis is the next evolutionary step. But obviously the aberration type hints that nautiluses may not be entirely natural, and the full ecology in Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny hints of dark trenches and incutilises being sent to the world above. Certainly if you wanted to tie them to gutaki or krakens (or the world’s oldest role-playing game’s mind flayers) you could.
One caution regarding the incutilis: Its puppetmaster ability is nasty; in fact it’s an instant kill if the PC is helpless. That’s good for ratcheting up the intensity if that’s what you’re aiming for—particularly if you demonstrate how quickly an NPC is killed and converted first—but be aware certain combos could get deadly fast. If the party saves badly, even single sleep spell or two could result in a TPK. (Which can happen and is fine, but you want to be ready for it.)
Adventurers are pressed into naval service, but such an unlikely group catches the eye of an equally unlikely captain, landing them duty on a submersible. Soon they are seeing more wonders than they could have imagined…until a pair of incutilises work their way into the ship via the bilge pumps. If the adventurers turned novice sailors don't catch on soon, they’ll find the dimly lit ship has become a ghost ship almost overnight.
Exploring a volcanic island, adventurers come across a settlement in the central caldera. The people here are kept like herd animals, allowed off the island only to hunt porpoises for their masters’ hunger (and always leaving a family member behind as a hostage). Freeing the captive people will earn their undying thanks, a map to a lost aquatic elf hunting ground, and a song that supposedly will make a silver stairway into the sky appear if sung from the dormant volcano’s rim.
The city of Nosis was born of a utopian manifesto: “We think, therefore we are citizens.” Of course, even a city where pixies are meant to rub shoulders with hobgoblins didn’t count on telepathic corpse-riding nautiluses. Now a once riotous and chaotic city is eerily quiet after dark, as the homeless and habitual drunks have all disappeared. Yet without witnesses, proving an incutilis actually murdered someone to get its corpse host is difficult. (Speak with dead provides no answers if the victim was unconscious or taken by surprise.) When a sage an adventuring party needs to consult winds up missing, they have to venture into Squid Close to find him—or his body—amid the silent shambling puppet corpses of the incutilises.
— Pathfinder Adventure Path #55 84–85 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 157
I avoided the pun Squid Row. BUT IT WAS HARD.
Apparently the recently released module Plunder & Peril has an incutilis lord, but my copy hasn’t come in the mail yet.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny also gave us the tidepool dragon, which is totally adorable.
For another cautionary note about gameplay, check out demiurge1138’s critique of the hypnalis, which I’ve been meaning to flag for you.
Blown away by the response to Friday’s entry on the immortal ichor. Thanks, all!
Saturday I played an hour of SxSW music and an hour of Irish music. Like yah do. My listeners made it very clear which they preferred.
Spoiler alert: They were not chillin' with the uilleann.
(I was a hair late, so the music starts about 80 seconds in. If the feed skips, simply let it load, Save As an mp3, and listen in iTunes instead. Link good till Friday, 3/20, at midnight.)