Ah, Japan. Fourteen centuries of Shinto (plus however many centuries of unrecorded animist beliefs, myths, and ritual practice before that) have given us a rich spiritual lens through which to see the world as an animate landscape, where even the most mundane objects can possess a kami or shin of their own.
Which seems, y’know, pretty charming to us Westerners when this perspective gets filtered down to us as, say, anthropomorphized girl versions of our favorite desserts. But it gets a little creepier when we start talking about one-eyed umbrella monsters. Or about kawa akagos, lily pads that have been, per Bestiary 5, “spiritually fertilized by fragments of the restless spirits of drowned children.” Now that’s a worldview that bites back.
Beyond their disturbing origin, kawa akagos have a few more creepy tricks up their tendrils. A kawa akago can move about on land just enough to ambush victims, and the nettles in its blood-burning fangs deliver a painful strike that only water can relieve—neatly herding its victims into the water where more kawa akagos await. The kawa akago can also speak a little Aquan and wail once a day with a disturbing shriek that may or may not be the cries of those aforementioned drowned children. Finally, a kawa akago that gorges enough on sentient creatures can become a blood lily, a truly evil plant monster capable of psychic magic. In fact, there’s nothing stopping your players from meeting a blood lily mesmerist or psychic the next time they go strolling by the river…
Obviously most kawa akagos will be met as random encounters or as part of some swampy side trek. These seeds have them acting in concert with some wicked friends:
The kappa Sokka the Lame is a particularly nasty old amphibian rogue. He is well practiced in startling horses so that they go lame or fall into the river where the kappa may feast upon them. As this has led to the demise of more than a few of the horses’ riders, the lily pads near Sokka’s favorite bridge have become kawa akagos. The kami who live near the bridge lament this state of affairs, but an ancient compact with one of the turtle-man’s forebears prevents them from directly interfering. They may, however, display certain signs to (or play tricks on) local adventurers, hoping to lure them into a conflict with Sokka and his plants.
Most ghouls live in graveyards or sandy necropolises—but most ghouls aren’t Count Julian Myer. He hides in (somewhat) plain sight on a palatial estate, snatching up trespassers or sending a loyal tiefling servant (too foul-smelling to eat) out to “pick up a delivery.” One of the ways into the ghoul’s well-guarded house is genius and grisly at the same time: Adventurers can cross the giant lily pads that cover the moat as if they were stepping stones…provided they feed the resident kawa akagos first.
The green hag Calamity encouraged the growth of kawa akagos around her barrow, reasoning that the carnivorous plants would protect the sunken back door of her muskrat den-like lair. What she did not account for was how spiritually nourishing the plants would find her home. The kawa agos grew fat on the taint of her magic and the shed wisps of the souls of her victims, and soon blossomed into full-fledged blood lilies. Calamity now fears her psychically charged water garden, and is making preparations to move when adventurers stumble onto this fraught domestic arrangement.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 149
As you may have guessed from clicking the links above, we covered the kasa-obake back here.
Sooo…I overworked myself into being sick. Again. (What is it with Web content producers and illness? I’m becoming the Randy Milholland of RPG blogs. I even have a beard now.) Which means I never got around to posting last week’s radio show. (Feel free to gasp in horror if you share my pain.)
This was a completely unplanned, seat-of-my pants show. And it ended up being a lot of fun, because listeners came out of the woodwork to make requests. You’ve got till midnight U.S. Eastern tonight (Monday, 01/30/17) to stream/download it, so grab it now! Also, no radio show tomorrow—doctor’s orders.