Friday, August 7, 2015


I was about to say how appropriate it was that we were covering the snallygaster the same week A Red & Pleasant Land swept the ENnies…and then I remembered that the snallygaster *isn’t* a Lewis Carroll creation at all, but actually a cryptid from my neck of the woods.  (Literally—Frederick’s only an hour from where I’m sitting right now.  Of course, given that “Fredneck” is a common pejorative around here, maybe I shouldn’t be mentioning necks at all…  I’ll shut up now.)

That said, name-checking Alice in Wonderland’s creator, even erroneously, isn't a bad thing to do when talking about a snallygaster.  Because it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in a “normal” Pathfinder adventure.  With one eye and its weird beaky head, it feels like it belongs in a fairy tale…but when it opens that mouth to reveal a snout full of bloodsucking tentacles, suddenly we’re in horror movie or Lovecraft territory.  It’s a weird beast.

So A) don't mess with Maryland.  We will Goatman you for breakfast, snallygaster you for supper, and Blair Witch you for dessert.  B) Next time your campaign goes all American McGee's Alice but your players are too low-level for a bandersnatch, give a snallygaster a try.

On the trail of a juju zombie-raising witch, adventurers track her back to her farm.  Instead of a tumbledown cottage, they find a working farmstead with a well-kept orchard, pumpkin patches, and cornrows now denuded after the harvest.  They also find scarecrow sentries and zombies with scythes and sickles that lurch out of the crops to attack.  Worse yet, a pair of snallygasters has been attracted by the apples fermenting in the witch’s cider still, and the beasts drunkenly attack anything with blood in it.

Answering the call of some desperate farmers, adventurers promise to rid them of a Schneller Geist…and lo and behold, they eventually find the culprit, a snallygaster.  (Adventurers who befriend a local sasquatch have an easier time at this task, and they might also defeat a murderous faun along the way.)  Unfortunately, the snallygaster was not the actual culprit—a local geist is the real menace, and after the adventurers leave the geist goes on to kill more folk with its haunts.  The adventurers’ failure to end the evil spirit will go on to haunt them in the coming months when a distraught father (who is also an accomplished ranger) begins a guerilla campaign to end their lives.

A rakshasa has fled inside the gorgeously illuminated pages of Hashel’s Seven Magic Fountains, a famous book of morals and folklore.  Worse yet, his actions inside the book are changing the tales—not just in this volume, but in every copy of the book, and even in the minds of taletellers.  To preserve the collective memories and values of a generation, adventurers must go into the book and stop him.  This won’t be an easy task, as is proved by their encounter at the First Magic Fountain: an attack by snallygasters (who incidentally were golden-egg-laying geese before the rakshasa got his hands on them).

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 247

That second is seed is so Maryland it needs its own Buzzfeed listicle.

Note that in legend snallygasters don't like seven-pointed stars.  Golarion-based adventures who know of the Sihedron Rune could take advantage of this fact.

Despite Frederick’s current unfair rep as Fredneck and a KKK recruiting ground, it’s truly a nice town—especially worth visiting in winter for its holiday traditions—and was so pro-Union during the Civil War it gave us Barbara Fritchie and the famous poem about her, Barbara Frietchie [sic].

A Red and Pleasant Land is an amazing book.  I only got to flip through it for about 10 minutes at a friend’s house in Seattle back in June, but my impression was that it really is one of a kind, an artifact, and I intend to pick up a copy.  If you’re at all interested in books that absolutely reshape the notion of what a “module” can be, you probably want it too.

Of course, it's for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system, which, if RPGs were people, can only be described as the second-smartest kid in the community college A.V. club.  (That’s not a dis on community colleges or A.V. clubs in general; it’s a summation of particular combination of charisma, character, and energy investment.  You know the dude I’m talking about.  You’re picturing him in his vest right now.)  So with regards to the rest of the line, caveat emptor.

(And damn does LotFP’s current homepage art—no, seriously, don’t go looking—just make me so f—ing tired.  And bored.)

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