Back in April we covered the deep one and the deep one hybrid. If you felt something was missing…well, the alphabet is as cold and unyielding as the lightless depths where deep ones dwell.
But now, finally, the elder deep one rises from the murk!
Aside from being much larger (Gargantuan) and more powerful (CR 14) than ordinary deep ones, three abilities set the elders apart. The first is their Mind Reflection (Ex) ability. Able to not just resist, but actually reflect mind-affecting effects back to their source is a fearsome advantage. The wrong spell cast at an elder deep one could easily take out a party’s caster (and now that Occult Adventurers is on the shelves, parties are packing more mind-affecting magic and powers than ever). Second is their Devastating Strike (Ex). I don’t care what level your character is—when the monster starts taking apart entire buildings, it sends combat into a whole new realm.
But it’s their Deific nature that really stands out. Elder deep ones can grant spells; despite not being gods as sages understand the concept, and despite only being CR 14, they still can channel divine energy to those that venerate them. Elder deep ones even grant domains. They even have associated divine weapons! (They probably can’t actually hear prayers per se…but there must be at least some tether there, so who knows?)
In any case, that makes any deep one or deep one hybrid allied with an elder a potential adept, cleric, or worse. It means that deep one elders are closer to gods than even mythic PCs, without ever facing a mythic trial. It means they have direct access to hierophanies that bypass everything humans know about mortality and divinity, and that puts them within hailing distance of the terrifying Great Old Ones and their nigh-incomprehensible Outer Gods.
Most terrifying of all, that might mean all the deep ones’ dread prophecies and assertions—that this reality is a horrible accident, and that one day the Outer Gods will return to tear down existence itself—might be true.
Interrogating a terrified devil reveals to adventurers that the Great Old Ones are indeed real…and worse, their worship thrives. Soon the adventurers are caught up in a conflict between cultists of slumbering Bokrug and graffiti-scrawling cloaker followers of the King in Yellow. Each side of the conflict is directed by a deep one elder, one of whom has bound the devil’s fraternal twin.
Legendary elder deep ones like Mother Hydra typically live far beneath the sea—but not all. At least one seems to have claimed an ancient dwarven citadel, where it rutted under the waterfalls with an umbral dragon to create terrible, quivering half-dragon spawn. Another conquered the Flying City of Adar, then mummified itself so it could watch for signs and portents far up in the atmosphere.
The hunt for a mesmer who skipped bail in Baltimore has led a party of investigators through some pretty odd turns, including battling moonshine juju zombies in the Shenandoah Valley, attending a hill giant circus run by lamias, and purging a hound of Tindalos from a university hospital. Now the trail has led to New Orleans—just in time for Mardi Gras. But there is something different about the krewes lining up for the parades and extravagant balls this year. There is more magic in the air than usual, the fey floats have disappeared completely, and many of the krewes that remain have a distinctly fishy look to them. Investigation reveals that nearly all of the non-fey krewes have been infiltrated by deep one hybrids. Worse, the secret societies’ rites and rituals have been twisted into prayers to a deep one elder, who now stirs beneath New Orleans’s swampy sewers.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 69
If you’re looking for a more physical vs. magical threat, try the kuo-toa leviathan from the 3.5 Underdark book (my review here). If you’re looking for more about fantasy krewes, the Scarred Lands setting (see that same link) has you covered.
I still haven’t had the time to write up any thoughts about my PaizoCon experience. (To give you some idea of what my life’s been like in the past month and a half, tomorrow will be my 11th straight day of work.) But since I missed anomalitstic’s New Orleans game, guess which adventure seed is for him?