Our theme of Hindu-folklore-inspired monsters continues with the makara vahana and the vahana template!
(By the way, if you think it’s odd that we’re getting a templated version of a monster without ever getting the plain vanilla monster…yeah, it’s hella odd. Best I can tell, it was a call made because of how the Bestiary 5 team had to make the two-page spreads work, which is a perennial juggling/struggling act for the editors. Bestiary layouts are harder than they look.)
Makaras in Pathfinder are part-elephant, part-crocodile (not half-and-half like a griffon, but more an all-over mishmash). In mythology, by the way, the makara has a number of associations, including as a vahana steed for several gods, as well as connections to gates, thresholds, and weddings. Meanwhile, vahanas are divine steeds in general. (Elephant-headed Ganesha rode a giant mouse! How awesome is that? And how weird is it that the apocryphal elephant/mouse association goes that far back?)
Obviously in Pathfinder makara vahanas and vahanas in general will be serving favored prelates, gurus, and rishis, not the gods themselves. But their speed, resistances, and magical rider bond and blended beast abilities ensure that the connection these steeds have to the divine is never forgotten.
Every year at the spring equinox, the priests of the Masked Moon ride their makara vahanas from the Winter Temple to the sacred lagoons where they reside in summer. This year the stately procession is interrupted when the vahanas go wild and stampede, injuring dozens of onlookers. Adventurers who investigate may find a plot to discredit the influential but mysterious religion.
A usurper seeks every possible sign to legitimize his rule. He strong-arms some adventurers into retrieving a rare makara for him, so that he may ride it and claim it is his vahana steed as a mark of the gods’ approval.
The high priestesses of Bellvereth, goddess of love, are famous for the peacock vahana steeds they ride. Those miscreants who assume these lovely birds are not up to the task of guarding the priestesses soon learn the error of their ways. (Use the terror bird (a CR 4 Advanced axe beak) as the base animal.)
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 262
According to Bestiary 5’s Table of Contents, I should be tackling the makara now, but according to the big bold text of the monster entry itself, I should be waiting until we get to the “V”s. These are the questions that keep me up all night.