One of the hallmarks of the original Outer Planes—the 1e AD&D Outer Planes, that is—was their lethality. If arriving on the plane itself didn’t kill you—on many planes you were only a saving throw or two away from energy drain, suffocation, or reaching your full potential and exploding into a star (no, really, that was a thing)—then the Wandering Monster tables surely would (“Suddenly a…*GM rolls dice*…Type V demon appears!” “Is that bad?” “Roman numbers are always bad.”).
These days planar travel isn’t nearly so grim—2e’s Planescape setting and 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder’s templates went a long way toward ratcheting down the deadliness. But it’s still really nice to run into fresh low-CR Abyssal creatures. Ostovites are a great excuse to bring the Lower Planes into even the most introductory adventures. That may not be the right arc for every campaign, but for certain setups—especially one centered on a holy city or religious order or crusade (in my head I’m immediately flashing back to the visuals of the Claymore anime series)—ostovites are an outstanding option.
But I’ve totally let the metanarrative distract us from the monster itself, which deserves a look: It’s a silverfish made of tiny bones! That gathers up the bones of other creatures! And rides them in something called a bone chariot. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS AN INFERIORITY COMPLEX! (If any of you are Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men fans, this is your cue for a “WHAAAT?!?”)
Come to think of it, it’s funny—I’m guessing that, for a lot of us, inferiority complexes are probably the main driver of conflict in our daily lives. And yet when was the last time you ran across a monster driven by inferiority? Let alone one who literally collects bones and rides them like a parade float because it hates looking up to the demons and human slaves around it? That’s a pretty unforgettable hook for what is otherwise nothing more than an extra-nasty silverfish.
Novice adventurers stray into a crypt that is mirrored in the Abyss. Fortunately for them, the crypt protects them the demonic horrors of that plane. But the crypt’s more mundane inhabitants do not care to have their domain disturbed. After spying on the adventurers from cover, the crypt’s ostovites eagerly seek their bones to ride like the lords of death they see themselves to be.
Adventurers stumble across a rare scene—an ostovite mating dance, where the Abyssal arthropods gather to challenge each other for status and mates. While the scholars at the Collegium would pay handsomely for notes on the encounter, the adventurers likely won’t get the chance to take any. First of all, there are more ostovites in the area than normally would congregate together, making them extra aggressive. And since most of the ostovites in this year’s colony have only been able to cobble together bone chariots the size of halflings and dwarves, they are driven to a frenzy by the sight of taller prey.
The Day of the Dead comes every year to the seaside town of Mazatlan, as it does all across Mexico. But this year not all the skeletons in the parade are human. A nest of ostovites took advantage of the seasonal porousness between life and death to slip back into the mortal world. They quickly assemble bone chariots from recently interred corpses and attempt to join the festivities of the living. However, a young seminarian and his friends discover the disturbed graves, and anxiously attempt to recover the stolen bodies.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 187
God, I’m so tired I can barely see. Forgive any typos, please.
A bit of Coco in that last adventure seed, no doubt. Also, I visited Mazatlan over spring break my senior year of college. Loved it, especially watching the pelicans fly home at sunset.
Also, for my Blogger readers—or any Tumblr fans who missed the news—I have two Pathfinder articles coming out in the next two months!!! Details are here and here. I hope you preorder, I hope you read, and most importantly I hope you enjoy! Thanks!
And finally, last Tuesday we celebrated my radio show’s 21st(!!!) birthday! Tune in for an hour of songs about drinking, then an hour about sex, drugs, poor decisions, and consequences…not to mention just a whole lot of 1997. Stream/download it now through Monday, 03/05/18, at midnight. Also keep an eye out for news about—*fingers crossed*—a very, very special guest DJ coming up.