Bestiary 6’s mapinguari may not exactly line up with the version that’s come down to us through Amazonian folklore—for one thing, it’s usually described in folklore as red—but it’s hard to complain about the lizard-skinned, cyclopean-eyed, giant ape we ended up getting (especially given how awesome David Melvin’s accompanying illustration is). It’s got a supernatural frightening howl that can be heard from a mile away, and up close is literally paralyzing (which could be downright deadly if the mapinguari surprises a PC—note the +19 Stealth in forests—and then achieves a claw/claw/rend combo while the PC is frozen). And it’s got a classic folklore vulnerability: The mapinguari is afraid to cross running water. That’s a great bit of flavor, a nice excuse for why the mapinguari is rare, and is both a great tactical option for smart PCs to take advantage of and a nice out for GMs who want to scare cocky PCs without achieving a TPK. (“Good thing you made it to the bridge, huh guys? Maybe a side quest or two will help you get some experience before you tackle that spooky ape temple.”)
Of course, you can play with the look of the mapinguari all you want—if you want to boost the South American feel of the beast, you could easily describe it as looking more like a giant sloth, a New World monkey, or a monstrous iguana. Also, many legends say the mapinguari has backward-facing feet, which is a great excuse for using it as a guard animal for powerful rakshasas. Some legends even mention the mapinguari having a second mouth on its belly, which might be a terrifying extra attack you can add to an Advanced or fiendish version of the creature if you like mucking around with stat blocks. Just some food for thought…
Now swallowed by the jungle, the city of Tnochitl was once crisscrossed by numerous canals and lochs. Adventurers who brave the ruined city will find the canals to be an effective deterrent against the jungle’s deadly mapinguaris, who can only traverse the city’s vine- and silt-choked northern district. The same canals that keep the mapinguaris out also keep certain other threats in…including the vampire blood priests of Cama-Zotz in the Temple District, whose limited diets have left them feral and ravenous.
A rakshasa noble has a pleasure park full of dangers, including several living topiaries and a semi-tame mapinguari. The beast’s terrifying howl helps keep the neighbors out of the hedonistic fiend’s affairs, and its backward-facing footprints mask the rakshasa’s own twisted tread.
Mapinguaris have such well-defined territories that each section of the Davo Jungle is actually named after the legendary mapinguari who used to live there. The only tribes who can safely live in the Davo are skinwalkers or werespiders whose taste the local mapinguaris find repulsive.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 6 183
No stats for the mapinguari online yet, but you can obviously find them here.