Saturday, February 20, 2016


Today’s monster, the cherufe, comes from Chile courtesy of the Mapuche people.  If you’re looking for the classic volcano monster that demands sacrifices, this is it.  Cherufes actually don't have any control over their volcano homes, but they can fake it pretty well by hurling fiery rocks and causing an earthquake once a month (which is no idle threat near an active volcano).  Plus, on their home turf they’re nearly impossible for ordinary mortals to kill…but adventurers are no ordinary mortals.

It's easy enough to make a cherufe an encounter during a high-level dungeon crawl, especially if you’re a GM who likes setting fights in dangerous landscapes full of lava rivers and boiling mud pots.  Where it gets really interesting is when you make the cherufe the star of the show.  As solitary creatures who live for thousands of years—and who tend to lord over and demand sacrifices from their neighbors—cherufes are bound to be full of personality and idiosyncrasies.  The characteristics and customs of whole mountain ranges and island chains might be determined by which cherufe you live closest to.  But the truth is cherufes are just really strong brutes—they’re not that smart and have only one magical trick—who rely on their size, fire healing, and the fact that their homes occasionally erupt to get by.  So the real adventure is in exposing these charlatans, as well as tearing down any corrupt support structures (like false priesthoods and mystery cults) that have grown up to placate them over the centuries.

And heck, not every campaign needs to go to Level 20.  The aim of overthrowing the local cherufe might be the entire reason an adventuring party gets together, and the creature’s eventual demise could be a very fitting end to a mini-campaign that only goes to 10 or 11 levels.

The cherufe N’Tok Mala and the magma dragon Xitlorix have ruled the island chain of Xitleesha for centuries.  Explorers can easily suss out the borders of their respective empires by carefully observing the local customs and practices of their mystery cults.  Xitleeshans under N’Tok Mala wear yellow sashes until they are married and bury carved fetishes of the cherufe’s image when in need of luck.  Xitleeshans under Xitlorix wear cowrie shells in their hair before marriage, and every village sports a totem arch made of logs for the dragon to alight upon.  N’Tok Mala’s hunger for virgins to torment has grown more rapacious of late, and the goddess Miana the Wave Healer has decided enough is enough.  She sends her servants to obliterate both fiery monsters once and for all, along with any kalkus (sorcerers) who aid and abet their depravities.

A series of seven standing stones known as March of the Cherufes looms over the southern caravan route through the Vashmahar Desert.  Legend hold that these vaguely humanoid stones are actually petrified cherufes, their features worn away by time.  For this reason, most caravan drivers tend to steer clear of the stones and never shelter in their shade.  They whisper that the cherufes are not dead, but merely sleeping.  And given the extreme daytime heat of the Vashmahar, perhaps the legends are true—perhaps some ember inside each stone still smolders, waiting to be reignited.

On many worlds, cherufes demand sacrificial victims mainly for sadistic sport.  On Eimar, though, these victims are the fulfillment of an ancient pact.  An annual levy of immolated innocents is what keeps the fires of Eimar’s cherufes banked for another year.  Otherwise these fiery lizards will be snuffed out and revert back to their original state as diseased, half-mad xulgaths.  For on Eimar, cherufes are a creation of the devil known as the Mephistar, and it was only his fiery hand that kept these former xulgaths from degenerating into troglodytes.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 55

For another monster from the Mapuche, check out the chon chon from Pathfinder Adventure Path #53: Tide of Honor.

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