(Illustration by Rogier van de Beek comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)
Ho. Ly. Crap.
When the glaistig came up on the schedule (yes, I have a schedule—this operation may be tardy, but it’s organized), I had in my head the image of a goat-legged woman with some dancing skills and maybe a little blood-drinking. That’s the one I knew from books like Brian Froud’s Faeries or 3.5’s Monster Manual III.
I was not expecting a CR 21 mythic creature. (And not a little bit mythic; we’re talking MR 10). We haven’t seen fey like this since the Kingmaker Adventure Path.
Turns out there’s another take on the glaistig, the nobler and more tragic Green Lady archetype. But Paizo’s glaistig isn’t quite that either. Instead, she’s a full-on faerie queen with mythic power in spades. And “spades” is the operative word, because she’s also an earth-moving machine, courtesy of terrakinesis and various spell-like abilities. Plus she’s a witch as well. (And yes, there’s also plenty of dancing—emphasis on the irresistible.)
In other words, she is the ultimate fey spirit of the land and the green wood. When kings go to faerie mounds to make pacts with the land, she’s the one who consummates the arrangement (and I do mean consummate). When mythic heroes go to meet the Spirit of the Forest, she’s the one sitting on the throne. When there’s a forlorn heath or a fertile valley whose sanctity even angels and demons respect, she’s the reason why.
Bound by oaths of fealty they cannot break, adventurers serve a king who takes his marching orders from Hell itself. The arrangement has always been tolerable, as the canny liege makes sure to send them on errands—kill the chromatic dragon, slay the demon, rescue the princess—that align with their goals as well as his. All this goes out the window when a glaistig swears vengeance against the hellspawn king. Years ago the king made a contract with the glaistig, then exploited a loophole to ignore its strictures. To a devil, this is fair play…but to a fey queen used to the equally slippery contracts of the fey, it is a base insult. Now the glaistig is on the warpath, causing the very earth itself to hammer the king’s vassals. The adventurers must choose: subdue the glaistig or take up arms against their lord...possibly forfeiting their souls.
Glaistigs are almost always encountered singly. When they do gather in groups (usually known as circles or dancing circles), it is to face truly existential threats to their lands or to the fey realm. On the world of Shadovan, a circle of glaistigs helped hide the elven homeland from ravening orc and half-orc hordes. But when the elves who knew the secret of return were slain, their kin became a lost, nomadic people, forever searching for a way back to their lost land. After millennia of searching, a ragtag group of adventurers may have found the key…but it means defeating the circle of glaistigs in tests of magic, riddles, and mythic combat.
Well-known glaistigs on Erren include the Green Lady of Loch Lalan, who rose the standing stones at Ashford; Hope of Summer, a golden-haired maiden who helps shepherds who give her gifts of milk and barley wine, but who once crushed a dragon’s throat with her kinetic whip; and Mae F’nula, who is slowly dying of an otherworldly fungal infection that has turned her woods to slime. Finally, Queen Stoneheart is a glaistig warrior who regularly sends summoned earth elementals to spar with the equally huge bone constructs of the Bleached Court and the golem chariots of the Clockwork League.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 124–125
Sorry about the delays, guys. I’ve spent the past two weeks doing hospital visits and catsitting, the combination of which is brutal to my writing time.
Once again I’m posting a radio show link with only about an hour to go before it expires. Stream/download it now because it vanishes at midnight tonight, U.S. Eastern. Don't miss it though—it’s good! New Crying, Flock of Dimes, Mannequin Pussy, Amber Coffman and more. But first, songs about the news... Seriously, snag this before midnight.