Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ankylosaurus & Brachiosaurus

These classic herbivores are good encounters on their own or in the company of humanoid companions.

A xenophobic saurian shaman (Ultimate Magic 39–40) rides an ankylosaurus and opposes intrusions into her land.  While aggressive, protecting herself and her beast is always her first priority, as evidenced by her totem transformation power of scales.

The colony of Farthest Grange seeks to be an outpost of light (and profit) on a dark jungle continent.  Unfortunately, they’ve broken ground in the path of the brachiosaurs’ annual migration, and the savage halfling herders who tend them are notoriously unsympathetic to tall folk.

Hobgoblins call ankylosaurs “armor beasts” after their plated hides, and ride them into battle as living troop breakers and siege weapons.

Pathfinder Bestiary 83

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Like big bugs? Can’t get past the absurd notion of a landshark?  Good news: the ankheg is available for all your burrowing monster needs.

Plains halflings build sod-topped burrows to hide their villages from marauders.  But they must also keep the ankhegs out, so buried rings of stone surround each village.  Nevertheless, assaults by the bugs are still common, and anyone seeking a halfling guide must usually pay in ankheg heads to get the booking.

Formerly reliable desert oases are drying up.  The culprits are desert ankhegs (Huge advanced specimens) collapsing wells and boring into aquifers.  They seem to be guided by some higher intelligence.  But in a desert, clean water is sacred, so determining a motive behind the vandalism will be even more difficult than stopping it.

The Burnt Faces orc tribe sends ankhegs into battle.  (These orcs are not particularly good at riding them, but manage to goad them forward with chains and crops nonetheless.)  They all bear acid scars on their faces, a testament to their ankhegs’ acid spit.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 29

Apparently, ankhegs date all the way back to Dragon #5.  That’s pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Animate Dream

Animate dreams are excellent adversaries on the Ethereal Plane, the Demiplane of Dreams, or wherever else the mind is more important than the body.

Adventurers traveling to the Ethereal to assault a xill encampment find it in chaos.  The animate dreams the xills had allied were ideal for sapping the wills of the xills’ potential hosts, but they have eroded the camp discipline to such a degree with their feeding and spell-like abilities that the camp is at war with itself.  Can the adventurers capitalize on this, or will their presence call the camp back into line?

A fighter killed while asleep survives as an animate dream, her consciousness having been far from her body when the fatal attack occurred.  Her friends want to rescue her, but she is a deer-limbed apparition currently bottled on a night hag’s shelf, to be boiled in a dream cauldron if the party cannot reach her in time. Even if they do succeed, in her new form she may try to feed on them.

Crystal balls and magic mirrors are rare for a reason—animate dreams live inside.  Those who scry too often and without strong wills often find themselves attacked by animate dream fiends wearing their faces.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 29

Monday, June 27, 2011

Animated Object

Animated objects are interesting because of the questions they pose: Who is doing the animating.  With what powers?  Why was this particular object animated, and not another?  Why at this location, according to which trigger?  If a PC can answer any of these questions, she earns insight into the mind of her enemy.

A corrupt seneschal’s beautifully carved fortepiano bench attacks intruders, only to retreat once struck, as if trying to protect its hand-wrought surface.  In reality, the bench hides a secret compartment that holds jewels and incriminating documents the seneschal plans to use to guarantee his freedom if captured.  The seneschal is banking on his assailants to be searching for a chest or vault, not chasing after the animated furniture they sent fleeing two rooms earlier.

The asylum’s animated straightjackets are a threat in and of themselves, thanks to their ability to constrict.  But their ability to hold spellcasters’ arms bound long enough for the asylum’s derro attendants to arrive is the real threat.

The Elephant is a mobile siege tower and ram employed by the armies of Andraas.  Its ability to move on its own allows Andraas to assault enemy strongholds no matter how unfavorable the terrain.

Pathfinder Bestiary 16 & Pathfinder Adventure Path 43 80–81

Friday, June 24, 2011


Traveling in the looping curl of a sidewinder, amphisbaenas are quick, lethal predators who can even survive bisection.

The dark naga Jaxarkus is obsessed with two things: the symmetrical perfection of amphisbaenas and the water naga Belinde.  He experiments on his amphisbaena pets with the ultimate goal of merging himself and Belinde into one naga—a prospect she would utterly abhor if she knew what Jaxarkus was up to.

Adventurers hired to clear a nest of giant ants discover the six heads of a pack of amphisbaenas have already beaten them to it.

A young sorcerer with skin the color of granite seeks to buy amphisbaena eggs as gifts for his medusa mistress.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 25

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amoeba Swarm & Giant Amoeba

Because sometimes you just need a CR 1 ooze.  Or a swarm of them.

First-year wizarding students at Veltan Academy produce their share of rudimentary potions—and mistakes.  The sewers beneath their workstations are now swarmed with amoebas, some of giant size.

Will-o'-wisps have been reported in the swamp just outside of town.  The truth is less dangerous, but by no means benign—amoeba swarms, grown fat on the local phosphorescent microbes, glow in the night as they hunt.

Myer Landsdowne went to his grave clutching the amulet inscribed with the location of his fortune.  But the illness that killed him continued to feed on his corpse.  Now his sarcophagus contains only a giant amoeba.

Pathfinder 2 24

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Allosaurus & Compsognathus

Allosauruses are T. rex’s Jurassic progenitors, while Pathfinder’s compsognathuses likely owe their venomous bites to Jurassic Park.  Their ability to serve as animal companions and familiars, respectively, increases the likelihood of PCs encountering them.

Adolphus Mexartus is mounting an expedition to capture one of the famous indigo allosaurs of the Maar Jungle.  Along the way, he will have to brave disease, vampire bat swarms, and the light-displacing zebrafolk of the plains.

No one noticed the mating pair of compsognathuses sneak onto the Santa Ilsia.  Once their young hatched, the dinosaurs quickly overcame the crew.  Now a ghost ship, the Santa Ilsia and its hungry passengers are soon to float into the harbor at Fort Marcos.

Not all dinosaurs are found in lost worlds and hidden valleys.  Certain troglodyte druids raise allosaurus companions from the shell to protect their most sacred caverns.  Feeding the beasts is an effort usually left to humanoid slaves.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 90

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


When madness leads to suicide, an allip is formed.  An allip’s desperate craving for connection might inspire pity, were it not followed by blind, inchoate rage.

After a childhood marked by strange fits, fourth son Albie was deemed an inconvenience by his social-climbing father, who had him committed.  But a sensitive boy prone to visions had no place in Abbot’s Hospital, a lunatic asylum for hopeless cases.  After being beaten by orderlies, Albie strangled himself with his own chains. Now risen as an allip, Albie is working his way through the hospital’s many floors, exacting vengeance on the staff and incoherently begging to be returned to his family.

The Encyclop├Ždia Lunatica is a particularly greedy work of reference, devouring the minds of those who read it and storing them as supplemental volumes.  Anyone perusing one of these supplements will release the mind inside—a mind irrevocably transfigured into an allip due to the horror of its confinement.

The journey of the soul is a long and arduous one.  Suicides, apostates, the unbaptized, and even a few mortal adventurers may find themselves in the Gray Reaches, an ethereal limbo of broken hillsides, swamps, and omnipresent mist.  Here fiendish harpies taunt travelers, strange nagas slither underfoot, and allips roost like vultures in the crooked trees.

Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 4

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alchemical Golem

The Bestiary 2 refers to these golems as “walking alchemical nightmares.”  Any encounter with them should play this up.  Most other golems are austere clay, stone, and metal statues.  Alchemical golems, in contrast, should be played as whirring, clicking, oozing, spurting, sparking, exploding, surgical tool-wielding, bomb-throwing abominations.

Alisaire (LG female half-elf rogue 2/paladin 5) and Ferges (CG male half-elf rogue 1/alchemist 6) are twins who have been each other’s only friends in a society that loathes their kind.  Having found their deceased father’s lab may drive them apart, however. Ferges has become obsessed with his inheritance—an alchemical golem that occupies ever more of his attention…and which may need a new brain soon.

Away speaking at Parliament, Chem’s master insists by letter that alchemical golems have no souls or consciousness—elemental spirits animate the body, with the brain simply providing a shortcut for senses like sight and hearing.  He dismisses Chem’s claim that his alchemical golem looks despondent, or that it tattoos messages for help on the lab’s rats with its terrible syringe needled-fingers.

A strange duergar foundry has gone unused for at least a decade.  Unused by dwarfs that is—the bellows still pump, the blast furnace still smelts, and the elemental spirit traps still ensnare, allowing the lone alchemical golem left manning the foundry to replicate itself many times over.

—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 135

Friday, June 17, 2011

Albino Cave & Giant Solifugids

Sick of spiders and poison?  That’s what solifugids are for.  To impress players with the difference, it may be worth having a few photos on hand—with an emphasis on their dry habitats and rending chelicerae.  Only sages (and GMs) will call them solifugids, though.  To fantasy natives they might be camel demons, cave killers, pincer beasts, sand spiders, or white scorpions.  (The Pathfinder Bestiary 2 lists even more options.)

A tribe of ettercaps has begun empathizing with giant solifugids.  This may mark the start of a new ettercap subculture, or even a new subspecies.  It has already marked the beginning of a many-limbed civil war.

Albino cave solifugids have taken up residents in the sewers of Clampsburg.  Strangely, the local b├╝rgermeister refuses to do anything about it.

A decade-long drought fosters the growth of duneshaker solifugids.  Soon herd animals and men begin disappearing, while flights of dragonnes, robbed of their usual prey, are forced to find new hunting grounds.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 253

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Newly introduced in the Pathfinder Bestiary 2, aeons are inscrutable agents of cosmic balance, in the same way that inevitables are arms of Law.  As such, one might be an adventuring party’s ally, obstacle, or both—but never to be trusted.  As akhanas are involved in life and death, adventurers who make liberal use of raise dead or mass killing spells may be more likely to encounter them.

The baptismal font in the cathedral of Kech has spontaneously begun raising one dead body a day, and the line of pilgrims bearing shrouded loved ones is now choking the town.  As if in answer, an akhana has settled upon the basilica's steeple, but it has not communicated or taken any action—yet.

The most prominent chirurgeon in the planar elven nation of Elbe had his soul siphoned by an akhana just minutes before a celestial symphony in his honor.  A pixie honor guard bearing his limp reduced body are flying desperately to keep pace with the aeon, in hopes it will release his trapped soul…but the physician’s jealous rivals bar their flight.

Day after day, men, dwarves, goblins, and orcs hurl themselves at one another on the Bleak Plains.  What was to have been a decisive battle has become a nightmarish war of attrition, thanks to four stubborn generals and a colony of akhanas seemingly determined to cure everyone in sight.

Bestiary 2 9

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Introduced in Pathfinder Adventure Path 42 (both in Mike McArtor’s “Children of the Void” and that issue’s “Bestiary,” akata are bona fide space aliens.  Their number of unique features and liabilities—the ability to survive the void of space, deafness, vulnerability to saltwater, skymetal (noqual) cocoons, and bloodsucking-zombie-producing breeding habits—make for evocative sci-fi boogeymen that nevertheless fit a fantasy setting.

The druid Aspenleaf sees hunting akata as twice the victory: he culls a dangerous invasive species from his lands, and gains the noqual to arm himself against the undead and constructs he loathes just as much.

A strange metal voidship orbits the skies above, throwing court astrologers into consternation.  One of them, of a starsoul  (Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide 140) or void-touched (Ultimate Magic 73) bloodline, is convinced he could both lead a small party to investigate and protect them from the rigors of the journey.  He is unaware the ship’s hull is filled with cocoons.

Liln is a small world lightly peopled by humans and halflings, who farm, tend their flocks, and sail the warm, shallow seas.  In the wilds, bugbears haunt the forests, silver dragons and flame drakes are occasionally sighted, and giant nautiluses are common.  This bucolic setting comes at a price that explains the sparse population: Liln’s lazy orbit takes it through an asteroid belt that rains akata-packed meteors over the landscape.

Pathfinder Adventure Path 42 80–81 & Pathfinder Bestiary 2 23 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Air, Dust & Earth Mephits

Mephits, on average, are irritants, distractions, servants, spies, and comic relief.  They bring approachable personality to the elemental planes, especially when compared to their otherwise alien (elementals) or dangerous (genies and dragons) neighbors.

Sir Breezilfax the Bold is an air mephit knight determined to present his queen with the head of a dragon, despite his small size.

One of the multiverse’s strangest archives is the Libraria Particulum.  A half-buried tower on the shores of a silt sea, the library is known for its particularly insufferable dust mephit staff, whose cataloging of written works (particularly ephemera) is beyond compare…even as their very natures makes easy retrieval and browsing nearly impossible.

An earth elementalist wizard (CG female air elementalist 8) recently made her first pilgrimage to a geode city on the Plane of Earth.  A hopelessly smitten earth mephit has followed her back to the Material Plane.

Pathfinder Bestiary 202

Monday, June 13, 2011

Air Elemental

Air elementals are typically found bound to the service of mortal magicians, but the proud outsiders are occasionally encountered on inscrutable missions of their own.

The windy void between two mountain peaks is held sacred by a pair of air elementals.  Currently they are resisting all efforts to bridge the gap.

A colony of air elemental sculptors, usually whirlwind-shaped and nearly invisible, now sport smokey, gargoyle-like forms, and their ice constructions now resemble razor-toothed eels.

The Breath of the Sphinx is a noted guardian of an Assynian treasure house—a leonine stone statue that scours the flesh off intruders.  In actuality, the statue is a hollow shell with an air elemental bound inside.  Sand and coins suspended in the elemental’s body by the force of its fury do the flaying.

Pathfinder Bestiary 120-121

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adamantine Golem

Adamantine golems are among the rarest and most powerful of golems.  Ideally, their indestructibility and resistance to magic should not be used just to stymie high-level characters (and their players), but as signposts toward storylines that are epic in scope.

The doors to the High Temple in Bez’lel, a city once famous for its clay marvels, have been shut for almost a decade.  No bells have been struck, no oil lit, no incense burned, and no services held.  Tomorrow the doors will open, and the scholar-priests will send their newly completed adamantine golem across the sea toward Rack, to crush the clockwork foundries there.

Just getting the adamantine required for a golem is an adventure.  And on the Plane of Earth, it’s a race against time and petrifaction for three ice devils, a fey lord, and a troupe of dwarven summoners.

Adamantine golems are rare in the mortal realms, less so in the realms of the gods.  The cat-pawed demigod of night burglars discovered this when he tried to steal a granite, seven-armed marilith statue from the vaults of the Lord of Murder.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 134

Thursday, June 9, 2011


With a relatively low CR, these horrible bird-fiends are an excellent introduction to the Lower Planes, and a reminder that devils are not the only things to fear in Hell.

Once every five years, two rifts open on opposite sides of the Storr Plains.  Flocks of achaierais boil through in a hideous migration, racing from one portal to the other and preying upon the overwhelmed tribes of centaurs that live in between.

In the stews of Meer Ambluth, truly desperate pleasure-seekers are found wandering the streets with the flesh rotting off their bodies.  Their drug of circumstance (if not choice) is the confusion-causing black cloud of an achaierai chained beneath the Red Lantern.

Mortal conscripts who fall on Hell’s battlefields are told to beware Hell’s vultures. Despite their bestial appearance, achaierais are as smart as men and can speak.  For those malingerers who understand Infernal, it is more than a little disturbing to hear the flavor of one’s own liver being discussed.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 7

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Accuser Devil

Zebubs are weak for devils (CR 3), and poorly regarded among them—only lemures or another zebub will heed one’s summon.  But they make excellent spies, hound those with guilty consciences, and—bloated flies at heart—will do or say almost anything to avoid returning to the frozen layer of Cocytus.

Praxitarkus cannot replay the visions he shows with his infernal eye—but his victims don’t know that.  Currently he is freelance-blackmailing a chandler, a bailiff, two spice merchants, and an orphaned pickpocket into further acts of evil, while the wizard who first summoned him prepares his dismissal…on the point of a silver blade.

Citizen Jacques did not introduce the guillotine to Lorient-sur-Yon.  But the zebub’s serial insinuations and outright accusations have certainly maintained the crimson stain on its blade.

The thakore of Bopal has grown so corpulent he cannot move from his divan without aid.  An accuser devil servant is the prince’s invisible eyes and ears in the court—and feasts on the sahib’s blubbery folds while he sleeps.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 84

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Fishy aboleths are sovereigns of the dark seas, lords of fallen societies, superb puppet masters behind the scenes, or an excellent introduction to Lovecraftian horrors.

A recently unearthed artifact offers a key to translating aboleth glyphs without risking madness.  Incensed, an aboleth autarch begins erasing glyphs from the aboleth language one by one, rather than see them sullied by lesser minds.  But these same glyphs influenced the creation of modern humanoid alphabets, whose letters soon begin vanishing as well.

Aboleths revere no gods—their shared race consciousness stretches back before even deific time, and they see no need to revere such impertinent latecomers.  But one aboleth is buying up all the divine artifacts the strange ships of Leng can bring it—from this world and a few beyond.  Such a hunt comes with expenses, and the aboleth has enslaved an entire colony of deep dwarves to mine the rubies required.

The people in the port of Gaskin’s Crag have always had somewhat pallid, piscine countenances—leading travelers of an occult bent to suspect aboleth influence.  What no one expected was for the aboleth in question, the Sublime Lurker in Oily Prepotence, to reveal itself—and seek aid against an even elder evil.

Pathfinder Bestiary 8

Monday, June 6, 2011


Aasimars can be ordinary men tinged with goodness, outright divine servants, or play against type as villains.

Adventurers who fight undead often reward themselves with a share of the grave goods.  Most grateful townsfolk turn a blind eye, but Sir Tomsin of the Closed Book, an aasimar paladin, does not—and he pursues those he sees as tomb robbers with alacrity.

Bandits have been plaguing the north road from Wiltshire.  Their leader was seen to have survived being struck by lightning during a summer storm, and is said to glow under moonlight.  As yet, no caravan openly accompanied by a monk has been harassed.

Good-hearted does not equal present.  Cyrus Temple (NE male aasimar rogue 3/conjurer 1) grew up without ever knowing his divinely touched father, and over time his resentment has deepened from petulance to rebellion to rage.  His aasimar blood makes the young man’s recent forays into second-story burglary and his flirtation with diablerie all the more tragic.

Pathfinder Bestiary 7