Monday, July 24, 2017

Moon Dog

(Illustration by Daniel López comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)

In Pathfinder’s default cosmology, Nirvana is basically Furry Heaven, with animal-headed agathions and intelligent animals and magical beast being the norm.  Moon dogs split the difference, possessing the intellect and hands of a human but preferring to run about on all fours.  In fact, they split a lot of things: they are devoted hunters who nevertheless aid the weak.  They live in the Outer Planes but hunt in the Transitive and Material Planes.  And like the Jim Henson creations they resemble, they straddle the line between serious (as wise counselors who can magically comfort the afflicted) and totally silly (they dispense said comfort with seriously, licking is a spell-like ability for them).

As you might have guessed, moon dogs are consummate allies—tough enough (CR 9) to actually hang with a mid- to high-level party in a scrap and loaded with a ton of useful magic and banishing/curative powers.  Unless your PCs regularly side with evil, combat encounters against the wise, neutral good moon dogs should be rare.  Still, they are hunting dogs, so conflicts may occur if PCs invade their territories, attempt to apprehend those under the moon dogs’ protection, or otherwise threaten their pack.

Xills ambush adventurers while they are exploring the Ethereal Plane.  After taking a beating, the party is saved in the nick of time by a hunting pack of moon dogs.  After the battle, one of the moon dogs agrees to stay with the adventurers and aid them with counsel and magical healing, since he has recently come up lame and cannot continue the hunt.  He has an ulterior motive, however: His sister’s pack lost a pup in this area not long ago and he hopes to pick up some sign of the lad.

An intelligent magical khopesh has seduced a moon dog.  While not evil, the blade’s constant challenges to the moon dog to prove his valor have caused the outsider to abandon his hunting pack, walk on all his hind legs, and get himself into some major trouble in some of the seedier multiplanar bars.

Adventurers just killed a legendary—and recently demon-possessed—stag. Congratulating themselves on vanquishing a fiend, they are stunned to find themselves hunted by a moon dog tribunal intent on justice.  If they consent to the trial, they have an uphill climb to prove their innocence—the demon covered the signs of his possession carefully.  If the adventurers flee or otherwise defy the moon dogs, they will find themselves quite literally dogged from plane to plane.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 174

Moon dogs totally get points for having a lunar light supernatural ability that mimics the actual moon dog phenomenon.

Looking for the monkey goblin?  We already covered it way back here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mongrel Giant

After a long time out of fashion, templates seem to be poking their way back into the d20 design space. (Why they fell out of fashion: The hangover from 3.0’s template-palooza was a looong one, especially because so many Paizo staffers cut their teeth working on Dungeon, where half-dragon submissions were a veritable plague.  Also two editions of Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary, which the Pathfinder team treated like an honorary core rulebook, meant that most every template one could want had already been covered.)

If they are back in vogue, it’s because of templates like the mongrel giant: templates that open up opportunities for surprising/interesting play.  Templates that make as world feel more real.  Templates that make you go, “Of course that should be a thing.”  And in a world where giants can comingle, it makes sense that there would be mongrel giants, so this template definitely fills a void.

Why mongrel giants exist is up to your worldbuilding.  Straight interbreeding is one explanation. But, if you treat the original description in Pathfinder Adventure Path #93: Forge of the Giant God as canon, such giant unions are sterile, which begs other explanations.  Perhaps all giants spring from a progenitor species, whose traits sometimes manifest far down the genetic tree. Or, as we’ve discussed in this space before, giants may have some mystical connection to their environs. A giant tribe that lives at the border of two terrain types, or that suffers from climate change, or that is forced to migrate a long distance might all see their offspring born as mongrels, or even spontaneously manifest mongrel traits themselves…

One final note: The template in Bestiary 6 gives traits for all 24 types of mongrel giants (that’s every hardcover Bestiary giant race except for the hapless hill giants).  The original template in PAP #93 only covered six giant races, but went the old-school route of giving you a bunch of traits to choose from/roll for.  If you live to randomize your monsters, or if you want to really detail out the individual members of a mongrel giant steading, that may be the template you want to use.

The Cromark stone giant has always been polygamous, but the current thane has pursued the practice with a jealous vengeance, claiming nearly every female not directly related to him.  Frustrated Cromark males have been forced to turn to the nearby Nightclaw cave giant clan for comfort (though this comfort has usually taken the form of coercion, prostitution, and worse).  A generation in, at least a dozen mongrel Nightclaws have come of age.  Meanwhile, the thane of the Cromark clan has begun sending raiding parties deep into human lands to keep his young warriors too occupied to challenge his power.

Orphaned as a child, the simpleminded hill giant Crusher has been collectively raised by the kindhearted folk of Whistledown, becoming a kind of town mascot.  But Crusher has just entered his teens, and with maturity has come a growth spurt and the blue-tinted skin of a frost giant.  Now, as autumn approaches, Crusher has become prone to violent moods and bloody threats, and townsfolk aren’t sure what to do.

Driven from their lands by logging and poachers, a wood giant clan has been forced to make a long sojourn toward a new homeland, a great forest which they know only from rumors.  Their tribe has been marked by the journey, with their young bearing the weathered tan skin of desert giants.  A solar eclipse marked the tribe even more dramatically: every mother who conceived in the next year bore twins, each with the heavy frames, gray skin, and magical nature of an eclipse giant.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #93 90–91 & Pathfinder Bestiary 6 192–193

You ever had a day where you go in to DJ and the mic falls apart when you touch it?  Yeah, that happened.  But here’s this week’s radio show anyway!  Two hours of the best new and indie rock, pop and folk.  Stream or download it here till Monday, 07/24/17, at midnight.

Monday, July 17, 2017


(Illustration by Kieran Yanner comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Hold on to your tophets, ladies and minotaurs…it’s Moloch time!

Moloch’s inspiration is a Canaanite god who gets a lot of bad press in the Torah and the Bible—two holy books that, let’s be fair, don’t exactly have a track record of playing nice with the neighbors.  But Moloch also gets some pretty bad press from the Greeks and the Romans, and the phrase “child sacrifice” gets thrown around a lot, so I’m perfectly fine with him being used as an archdevil.  (There’s actually a post floating around the Paizo Blog that basically says, “Well, that’s kind of how religion worked in those days”…but I possess the ultimate authority on good vs. evil—Monte Cook’s Book of Vile Darkness (what, you were expecting Spinoza?)—and it firmly puts child sacrifice in the Evil category, so screw Moloch.)

In early editions of AD&D, Moloch ruled Malebolge as Baalzebul’s viceroy.  In 3.0 and 3.5 Moloch had an even rougher time of it, getting replaced first by the Hag Countess and then Glasya.  Pathfinder’s Moloch, on the other hand, is firmly in control of both the Sixth Layer and indeed all of Hell’s armies.  If you’re looking for a devil who’s a servant or a patsy of another power, Pathfinder’s Moloch is definitely not it.

Probably the four most interesting things about Moloch are as follows:

1) Moloch is publicly worshiped.  Devil worship is not popular, by and large.  Even for truly dastardly faith communities, worshipping gods, even evil ones, is a safer bet than worshipping beings that explicitly come from Hell.  (“Would you like to spend eternity building a pyramid for the Pharaoh God of Taxation and Making Slaves Grovel?  Or go to the place with the fire pits and devils and eternal torment?”  “Gosh, the fire pits do sound appealing.  But seeing as I’m already experienced at being taxed and groveling...Imma hafta stick with what I know.”)  So devil worship is usually a cult thing.  Heck, even Asmodeus isn’t that popular in any land where he doesn't have governmental backing—without a throne, inquisition, or similar power structure in place, his church is at best seen as a necessary evil.  The other archdevils’ cults mainly stick to the shadows.

But not Moloch.  His worship happens out in the open.  His followers build giant sacrificial ovens.  Whole armies subscribe to his message.  Of all the archdevils, he is the one most likely to be worshipped under the glaring eye of the midday sun.  And he gets that worship, because…

2) Moloch is responsive.  He answers the prayers of his followers—often in a quite literal and personal fashion.  Is your village threatened by flood?  Forget subtle shifts in tributary courses—Moloch just shows up in avatar form and dams the river.  Is an army about to ransack your town?  Moloch’s army is bigger, assuming he doesn’t just squash the looters himself.

Yeah, the price for this prompt and professional service is an eternity slaving away in Moloch’s army for anyone who asks for his aid or offers even the slightest hint of praise.  But when floods, rapine, and slaughter regularly threaten your subsistence-farming-level existence, being a mule skinner for an archdevil might seem like a decent trade, especially if you don’t have to pay it off till you’re dead.  Which means that Moloch has a surprising number of worshippers, despite being a walking metal furnace that swallows victims whole and to burn alive in his stomach.  Speaking of which…

3) Moloch has interesting symbolism and visual associations.  Which means interesting worshippers and sidekicks.  He’s got a bull thing—use some minotaurs as his cultists.  He’s got a furnace/child sacrifice thing—use the tophet.  He’s got a walking, fiery suit of armor thing—there are tons of constructs, golems, elementals, devils, and undead like that.  And he’s a general—which means animate war machines like juggernauts or colossi.

With a lot of archdevil nemeses, the PCs’ journey fighting their servants goes tiefling —> lesser devil —> medium devil —> nasty devil—> archdevil, with maybe a fiendish dragon or something in there for variety.  Moloch’s followers are waaay more interesting that that.  Literally any soldier of any race might be found in his legions, either living, undead, as a fiendish version of itself, or as some kind of twisted einherjar.  Pick up thematic cues from his description and his mythology and go nuts. 

And since we’re on the subject of him being a general…

4) Moloch is a general.  He’s the leader of Hell’s armies.  This means facing him is going to be like facing any general with godlike power.  He’s going to have lots of troops he can call for aid.  He’s going to have aerial assault teams and assassination squads and giant hellfire-fueled juggernauts.  He’s going to be physically powerful himself, and canny and strategic as well.  If you come at him, you risk literally having all the armies of Hell chasing after you.

That said, it also means he has other fish to fry.  He has Heaven assaulting one front and the demon hordes assaulting the other.  He has lesser generals and colonels who want his job.  He has some mighty demanding bosses to please.  And, as noted above, he’s very attentive to his flock.  No matter how big you think your beef with him is, you’re probably the lowest item on his to-do list.

Which means you might be able to sneak into his vast army camp and ambush him.  You might be able to challenge him to single combat to gain some small concession.  You might be able to put a treaty in front of him to sign.  Keep your goals reasonable and small, and he might just to decide to send his flunkies after you in retaliation rather than deal with you personally, or burn your great-grandchildren to cinders a few generations from now…but that’s their problem.  Generals are patient, generals can wait, and generals pick their battles.  He will always come down on you like a hammer, but it might not be today.  And when dealing with archdevils, those are as good odds as you’re going to get.

Adventures are asked to investigate a so-called Children’s Crusade, only to discover it is a sham—slavers are herding the children (and their hapless friar guardians) like cattle to boats crewed by gnolls, hobgoblins, witchwyrds, denizens of Leng, and worse.  The trail leads past strange cyclopean isles to a forbidding and cruel coastal nation of military dictators.  There the children are to be fed to giant, animate tophets meant to fuel the archdevil Moloch’s fires in Hell…unless the brave adventurers step in.

A solar and an uinuja formed an unlikely friendship, despite their differing ethics, spheres of influence, and relative power levels.  Now the solar languishes in a Hellish prison, and the plucky azata wants to do what even the archons do not dare: stage a rescue, even if it means facing the Lord of the Sixth himself.  Fortunately, she knows some adventures who are just as plucky—or crazy—as she is.

The cult of Mithras has spread throughout the Roman Empire—in particular, throughout the Roman Legions.  But as the cult has spread, so have disturbing rumors about secret rites, bloody and fiery sacrifices, and worse.  At first, the Senate and certain famous adventurers chalk this up to the usual politics and rumormongering Rome is famous for.  But then word comes out of Anatolia that the great god Mithras is dead, slain by an imposter who now usurps his throne and perverts his rites.  The usurper is Moloch, and he has turned much of Rome’s military might to his service—for even those who resist his call in life have sullied themselves enough so that he may claim their souls in death.  Worse yet, the dour god Pluto is angered by the potential theft of shades from his kingdom.  His priests threaten that if this Mithras/Moloch is not stopped, Pluto will send an army of undead through the Lacus Curtius to drag the Roman army down to the Underworld, no matter what the collateral damage.  Great heroes have to act—and fast.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 30–31

(I’ve always thought the rapid spread and equally rapid decline of Mithraism throughout the Roman Empire was pretty fascinating.  So naturally I wanted to give your PCs an excuse to be players in that particular rise and fall.  Now, on to some housekeeping…)

Hi all.  First of all, again, apologies for the absurdly late post.  This article literally sat half-written on my desktop since something like June 18.  We’re talking a month.  Sure, this blog isn't the *daily* Daily Bestiary it once was, but I’ve never been as lax with my posting as that.  Two posts in June and none so far in July is unacceptable.

Toyota earned its reputation for amazing cars not through one outstanding model or innovation, but through a company-wide suggestion system that leveraged lots of tiny improvements.  Unfortunately, the same is also true in the negative.  There’s no one reason I haven’t been able to blog or one big nightmare I had to tackle (okay, there was one—a four-day, 46-hour workweek that sucked beyond measure—but let’s pretend I didn’t say that).  There have just been a thousand tiny distractions and mini-hurdles.  The short version is: June was lame, I had to take some time for me, I probably took too much, and I’m hopping the end of July is better.  Much love and thanks to you all for your patience, yet again.

Tumblr folk already know this (so forgive me if I quote myself verbatim) but my Blogger folk don’t: My second episode as a guest of the Laughfinder podcast is up!  Once again, I aid Bryan Preston, Jim Meyer, and Tommy Sinbazo to fight evil conjured by Dorian Gray and Ben Hancock.  Once again there are many NSFW riffs on Baltimore landmarks.  And most importantly, my blood feud with Aaron Henkin erupts into passionate FURY.  Enjoy!

Also once again it’s Monday, and once again I’m wishing I’d posted the archive link for my radio show last week—because this is a really fun show not to be missed, with hot takes from JAY Z, Jason Isbell, and St. Vincent, as well as a look at 20 years of the Singles soundtrack. It vanishes tonight at midnight (Monday, 07/17/17) so stream or download it now!

Sunday, June 11, 2017


(Illustration by Will O’Brien comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)

The moldwretch’s appeal for GMs is largely of a problem-solving nature.  It fills a niche when you need a higher-level (CR 7) fungus creature.  It’s a Small creature that nevertheless is pretty powerful (again, CR 7, and 10 Hit Dice besides).  It's got the toughness of the plant type while moving and thinking (Int 14) like a humanoid.  And because it comes in three moldy flavors (or more, if you’re using supplements like Darklands Revisited or some homebrew tinkering), you can keep players on their toes for at least a couple of encounters.

But what a moldwretch is exactly is still up to you.  A prehistoric vegepygmy?  The spawn of some long-ago infection that merged ape and fungus?  A result of drow fleshwarping?  There’s nothing that even says they have to look like the illustration in Bestiary 6—they simply need to have at least two arms, a tentacle, and an orifice for speaking—so they might appear as fungal spiders, tripod-like mushrooms, moldy elder things, or even more outlandish shapes.

A vegepygmy infestation that adventurers had previously cleared out returns again, as if guided by a more intelligent hand.  If they go back to attack the nest a second time, they find passages leading to a different cave system that includes gardens of musical mushrooms, a rot grub-covered dwarf crypt, and murderous moldwretch masterminds still wearing the skulls of the dwarves whose graves they desecrated.

Moldwretches have a complicated caste system devoted to the molds they tend.  A moldwretch may be a gardener, an ascetic, a warrior, a priest, a wanderer, or one of several other roles, depending on the kind of mold it has bonded with.  A given moldwretch will speak of its past roles as if they were performed by another being entirely, even if it has changed several times in a year.

Adventurers exploring a cave system come across a chamber covered in pebbles arranged in geometric shapes.  At first the shapes appear merely decorative, but studying the negative space reveals a message: the Undercommon word for “Help” written over and over.  A growth of moldwretches have become the unwilling thralls of a fungus queen, and they use every spare moment they have to add still more pebbles to their message.  They don’t dare be more direct, as they fear they will either rouse the fungus queen’s attention or accidentally infect their would-be saviors.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 191

And for my Blogger readers, now it’s time for…

Audio News #1:
I like you so much better when you’re naked, and 31 other truths you will learn from Tuesday night’s radio show.  

Stream/download all the summer fun now through tomorrow (Monday, 06/12/17) at midnight.

Audio News #2:
I’m crazy-honored to have been a guest on the Laughfinder podcast this week, wherein I play Pathfinder with actual comedians and Baltimore luminaries of all kinds.

Thrill to the adventures of Aaron Henkin, Bryan Preston, Dorian Gray, Jim Meyer, Tommy Sinbazo, and me!  Red Point tourism (and Red Point’s mohrg population) will never be the same.

Edit: I forgot to mention how unbelievably awesome playing with an audiomancer (i.e. a sound-effects guy) is.  Total game changer, literally.

Monday, June 5, 2017


(Illustration by Mike Corriero comes from the PathfinderWiki and is © Paizo Publishing.)

The mokele-mbembe is Pathfinder’s version of the mokèlé-mbèmbé, a cryptic from Africa’s Congo region.

Q: Did you make that pedantic distinction solely as an excuse to type a word with four accent marks going in two directions?

A: Yes.  Duh.

The mokele-mbembe isn’t going to blow anyone away stats-wise—it’s simply an animal, not even a magical beast, though it can bull-rush like a champ and the sonic boom of its Whip Tail (Ex) attack is pretty neat.  But it still pleases me for a number of reasons.  It widens our portfolio of African-inspired monsters.  It’s a jungle animal that’s also easy to drop into Lost World or alien settings.  It’s a cryptid that, like the Loch Ness monster, teases the hope that some dinosaurs still survive today (and likewise serves as a good excuse to stick a dinosaur into a campaign where one would usually be verboten).  And though most reports of the mokele-mbembe track (a little too) neatly with the early 20th century’s fascination with dinosaurs, the first mention of one by a European dates back to 1776…and who doesn't want to imagine Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson chatting away about the mokele-mbembe over a draft of a certain declaration?

Most importantly, it’s a monster that turns the players’ out-of-game knowledge against them.  The mokele-mbembe’s description reads like a standard sauropod.  (Even the osteoderms gesture toward saltasaurus or a similar titanosaur).  And while a medieval peasant running across a sauropod would likely be awestruck, even terrified, a player seeing a brontosaurus toy being used as a mini on the gaming table is likely going to write off the beast as an herbivore, and have his PC respond accordingly…right up until the minute that “bronto” makes a bite attack.  And if catching PCs flat-footed because their players made out-of-game assumptions isn’t pure GM gold, I don’t know what is.

Adventurers looking to learn a rare combat style (in game terms, a feat, rogue talent, hunter’s trick, or similar mechanic) make contact with the Thunderwhip Lodge, a secret society of jungle warriors with a great serpent as a totem animal.  After a welcoming dinner and a ritual sharing of a fermented drink, the adventurers wake to find themselves bound, gagged, and recovering from the effects of a strong drug.  The Thunderwhip Lodge members are not interested in sharing their secrets, but are very interested in sacrificing the adventures to their totem: a mokele-mbembe.  Assuming the adventurers survive their encounter with the predatory dinosaur, they can still learn the combat style by facing three or more Thunderwhip men in combat.

Adventurers hunting the rumored lair of a black dragon come across two of the dragon’s guardians: a domesticated (at least by dragon standards) pair of mokele-mbembes.  If the adventurers slay the creatures, they may find the dinosaurs’ eggs, which could fetch a high price.  They may also discover that the black dragon is dead, and recent sightings of her are the work of her half-dragon daughter.  She claims to be protecting the area from a green dragon who is even worse…

Gods above, it’s an escort mission.  Worse yet, it’s an escort mission in the fetid, stinking jungle.  But a band of not-so-merry adventurers owe One-Eyed Pike a favor, so they agree to take his priest—sweet pixie night sweats, not even a priest, but a godsbedamned shaman—up Triumph Falls to the Lakelands, so that the shaman may read the portents in the titanic battles between the mokele-mbembes and hippopotami there.  Of course, that means surviving encounters with the aforementioned mokele-mbembes, hippopotami, and feral wyverns to boot.  But when the shaman transforms before their eyes into a phoenix, and marks each of the adventurers with a magical tattoo of a flame over his or her right eye, it’s clear this was no simple escort mission after all.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #39 84–85, Mystery Monsters Revisited 22–27 & Pathfinder Bestiary 6 190

Note that in addition to its two-page description in Pathfinder Adventure Path #39: City of Seven Spears, Anthony Pryor gave the mokele-mbembe a full write-up in Mystery Monsters Revisited.

So in the past two weeks—crap, has it been almost three weeks now?—the Pathfinder community has experienced two seriously big events: the departure of Editor-in-Chief @wesschneider and PaizoCon 2017.  Both deserve more attention that I can give them today, so take this as a placeholder indicating that yes, I have thoughts and feelings and even feelz, but today is not the day.

Looking for the mockingfey?  It’s way back here.

I was a hair late for last week’s radio show, and (as is typical after a week off, especially at the start of a new semester) I was clunky and lame at the start.  But we gave away some Feist tickets, celebrated the music of Chris Cornell/Soundgarden and Gregg Allman/the Allman Brothers band, and played some new tunes besides.  Grab it now because it vanishes at midnight tonight (Monday, 06/05/17, U.S. Eastern).

I’m including the image for the Feist show I was giving away tickets for because it’s pretty.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Moa & Uintatherium

In our world, moas didn't do so well against humans—Polynesian settlers wiped them out in less than 100 years (roughly around the time of the Black Death in Europe).  But in a fantasy world they might have better luck.

Meanwhile, uintatheriums are ancient herbivores, roughly looking like a cross between a rhino and a hippo.  And while they didn't escape the Eocene Epoch (other large herbivores more closely related to our ungulates displaced them), they might roam the grasslands and marshes of your fantasy world.

Adventurers are aboard a ship whose cargo hold is full of moas.  (An intrepid baronet hopes to start a colony on his island.)  Midway through the journey a gremlin releases the birds from their pens, and the agitated moas lash out at any sailor who comes near.

Uintatherium skulls are prized by orcs, hobgoblins, and ogres as percussion instruments and ornaments for their battle standards.  Adventurers who wish a favor from a humanoid clan chief would do well to bring the warlord a uintatherium, alive or dead.

What adventurers first take to be a mirage turns out to be a moa nesting ground.  While they are observing the flightless birds, a gnoll hunting party (see the Monster Codex) attacks the nest and may stumble upon the adventurers as well.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 171

If you ever want to see a terrifying bird, check out the cassowary at the National Zoo.  It has a flashy crest.  It has barbed wing-claws.  It has a kick that can (admittedly more in theory than in practice) kill a man.  It is terrifying.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Inspired by tales from Tanzania, the mngwa is a magical beast indeed—a jungle cat that only exists between sunset and sunrise.  Of course, the reason that the mngwa exists actually puts it more in fey or undead territory, as it is “an incarnation of malevolent jungle spirits, driven by anger toward the focus of their hate,” according to Bestiary 5.  Typically taking the shape of a large, jet-black lion, the mngwa is nearly impossible to kill.  Its only real weaknesses are its vulnerability to natural sunlight and the daylight spell.  Hunters might also take advantage of the fact that it always appears in the place where it first manifested.  But since it comes back each night fully healed—and even if slain will return to life within five nights—the only safe bet for dispatching a mngwa is to right the wrong that caused it to manifest in the first place.

Fed up with mngwa attacks near his sapphire mines, the colonial governor of Azbian begins rounding up and executing the witch doctors he suspects of summoning the creatures.  But since it is the witch doctors who are responsible for appeasing Azbian’s omnipresent and fractious jackfruit, baobab tree, and water spirits, the governor is only breeding more of the beasts with each passing week.

A sacred grotto has two guardians—a guardian naga who minds it by day and a mngwa who prowls relentlessly around the rocky spring by night.  The mngwa mourns the wanton felling of a particularly ancient tree that once stood near the grotto.  It longs to slake its thirst with the blood of the traveling woodcutter who did the deed, but the man’s village is too far for the mngwa to reach in a single night.  However, it is more than happy to attack any other humanoids in the area until it can take proper vengeance.  The naga, meanwhile, is interested in a cache of wooden puzzle boxes it found near the spring, possibly carved by a supremely talented but long-deceased dryad.

Lions are the most common shape for mngwas to take, but tigers, jaguars, and leopards are also known.  Some tribes on the far edges of the world report mngwas in the form of bears, great wolves, leucrottas, or even bunyips.  While mngwas are mainly reported in jungle regions, the sun priests of pyramid-dotted Toth are particularly careful not to offend any local nature spirits, as their mngwas are particularly gruesome (Advanced) specimens: part lion, part hippopotamus, part jackal, part cobra, all murder.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 173

I can't remember if I own the Southlands Bestiary or not—I definitely Kickstarted the main Southlands book, but all my Kobold Press stuff is languishing in the “You should really read this sometime” pile.  But I believe (via some Googling) it has another version of the mngwa.

Eagle-eyed readers will note we last visited Toth in 2013.

It’s (a)live!

The PDF version of Pathfinder Adventure Path 118: #Siege of Stone—written by Thurston Hillman and featuring an article by yours truly—went live Wednesday night.  If you like PDFs, please pick it up here.  If you like actual books, the print version ships soon, so you can order it right now or just look for it at your local game store.  And once again, thank you all for your support!

(Illustration by Remko Troost comes from the Paizo website and is © Paizo Publishing.)

I was very late to my radio show last week because I was the guest on a comedy podcast—more details on that in a week or two—but I still made it into the studio to play exam-worthy jams for the UMD listening audience.  Stream/download it here until midnight tonight (Monday, 05/22/17, U.S. Eastern) at midnight.  FYI fellow DJ Adam covers for the first chunk; my stuff kicks in at the 37-minute mark.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mnemor Devil

(Illustration by Audrey Hotte (I think; it’s a little unclear) comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

With distended jaws the reveal lolling, probing tongues, mnemor devils siphon up the memories of mortals. Some of these mortals are desperate to forget the past, and make deals to have their memories erased or altered…deals they later come to regret, as the new memories plant new doubts, suspicions, and fears.  Others are simply the victims of a devil so slippery that even the memory of him vanishes when he steps out of the room.

At first I was thinking that mnemor devils (also known as memory devils) would be hard to play at the gaming table—players know what they know.  (Think how many times you’ve struggled to RP a failed Perception check when you just know something bad is about to go down.)  But memory is a tricky thing, especially in a long campaign, and it’s easy to forget what happens session to session.  A GM who’s thrown a mnemor devil against his players a time or two could really mess with their heads next time they try to remember if they found a particular NPC trustworthy, or who really betrayed them at court that one time…

GMs will want to play mnemor devils, because at CR 5 they are easy to deploy at low-to mid-levels, with greater teleport making them consummate escape artists and recurring villains.  But PCs themselves may seek out a mnemor devil if they have memories they need wiped (perhaps to pass detect/discern spells or escape a Lovecraftian taint) or if they seek knowledge found only in the banks of a mnemor devil’s eidetic memory.

A young adventurer realizes mid-conversation that he is speaking with an infernal spirit dressed in the robes of a confessor.  As the devil teleports away, the adventurer can’t shake the feeling he’s met the confessor before.  In fact, the devil has appeared to him on and off again since childhood; this is simply the first time he has come back to awareness (in game terms, passed his Will save) before the devil could tidy up his mental manipulation.

A door in a wizard’s tower leads an otherworldly chamber.  There the adventurers find a psychic surgery staffed by a mnemor devil.  The wizard and he have a strictly business relationship, so the devil is unconcerned by the adventurers’ presence.  He even offers to remove a troubled memory from the party member who has most recently sinned…for a small price.

Both a library and a prison, the Memoriam was designed by inevitables to store important memories from across the multiverse.  With their typical cold, calculating logic, the inevitables deemed mnemor devils to be the ideal staff at such a facility—and thanks to a recent failed infernal plot, the inevitables had plenty of the memory devils locked in their prisons to choose from.  The paroled devils do indeed make excellent librarians, but their hellish system of cataloguing means that a patron researching a specific memory is utterly at their mercy.

Occult Bestiary 21

When we covered the mezlan the other day I suggested their stats might make good DS9 Founders (an idea badmadwolf seemed to like).  But Bucephalus pointed out the even more obvious movie monster I’d completely overlooked: Terminator 2’s T-1000 (right down to forming weapons with its body).  Duh, seriously, where was my head?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mire Nettle

(Illustration by Will O’Brien comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Like many small carnivorous plants, mire nettles are a certainly a hazard, but only truly pose a danger to the young and infirm.  Still, when attacking in groups (called thickets or groves) or when the boggy terrain favors them, they can be quite deadly.

What sets mire nettles apart from similar plant creatures is their utility. Bestiary 6 lays out a couple of uses for their nettles and toxin, including blowgun darts and coming of age rituals. Since they don't lull their prey to sleep or strangle it outright, mire nettles are also easier to manage and harvest…in theory at least.  (Their pain-wracked victims might argue otherwise…)

Gripplis hate mire nettles, going to almost any lengths to root them out.  Adventurers seeking to curry favor with a grippli tribe can earn potions and tokens of safe passage for a successful mire nettle eradication.  Some gripplis with the toxic skin racial trait (see the Advanced Race Guide) use mire nettle thorns for blowgun darts, and even engage in elaborate scarification rituals.

The local abbey, which also serves as a boarding school, is run by a strict headmaster.  In the head abbot’s absence, the school prior has instituted stricter rules and more arcane punishments.  He has even subjected some boys to the painful thorn spray of a mire nettle he keeps in a secluded grotto.  Adventurers may become involved when two boys abused in this manner run away from their dormitory and are snatched up by ogrekin.

A hell hound is famous for haunting the Bog of Bonny May.  The bog’s other dangers include a band of sprites made mad by gorse wine, two shrieking skeletons, and a thicket of mire nettles with absurdly large purple blossoms whose pollen causes profound anxiety in dwarves and goblins.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 188

No stats for the mire nettle are online yet, so no link.  Also, apologies if the formatting for this post is different—Firefox and Blogger aren't coöperating tonight, so I'm using Safari instead.