Friday, March 30, 2012

Giant Dragonfly

Sacred to boggards.  Useful to pixies.  Downright creepy when young.  Spend enough time in the wetlands, you’ll run into giant dragonflies.

Not all pixies are good-hearted, and even the ones that are have a martial side.  Giant dragonflies are often the steed of choice, with their fast speed and darting charge complementing the pixies’ arrows and entangle spells well.

Being captured is never fun.  Being thrown into a dungeon is worse.  Add to that the recent monsoons, the amount of standing water pooled on fully half the prison floor, and the extending jaws of the giant dragonfly nymphs within those pools, and an adventuring party could have some real trouble.

An amethyst-colored giant dragonfly has a gnome loremaster, a boggard tribe, and an enchanter who dabbles in alchemy tearing apart the swamp in order to collect, devour, or crush it into pigments, respectively.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 105

I’m not going to link to them, but YouTube has dragonfly nymph videos for those curious about the jaw thing.

I get some of my prejudices re: Fey characteristics from “basic” (i.e., non-Advanced D&D); pixies for instance, were quite martial, and that’s stayed with me.  Also, in “basic” D&D, dragonflies came with breath weapons.  Punny, yes, but still pretty boss.

Also (this is more for my Tumblr readers, but bear with me): I’m a Tumblr n00b.  So forgive me if I’m slow to respond, link, follow, or otherwise keep up the etiquette.  For instance, I just figured out I could get and send messages.  Thanks, descourageux!  And check out mumblewood’s bestiary, which is a bit more colorful than mine.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Giant Crab & Ogre Spiders

National Geographic meets Mirkwood.  Or vice versa.

Giant crab spiders are superb ambush predators (Stealth +25 when stationary).  In Gator Reach, yellow giant crab spiders hide on the giant yellow flowers common in that area—many of which belong to assassin vines.

A tunnel looks to be a safe hideout from a pair of ogre spiders.  In actuality, it is their nest, and they can quite easily squeeze down it to attack meals cowering within.

Spriggans have turned the forest floor into a gauntlet of deadfalls, pit traps, and strewn caltrops.  Flying creatures (and flying parties) are not likely to have it any easier—ogre spiders have strung webs between the trees like giant nets.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 254

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Giant Chameleon & Giant Gecko

Unlike the more mythical Pathfinder monsters, these lizards are easily found in your local pet store.

Giant geckos may be less powerful than slurks, but the Broken Spur kobold tribe finds them easier to train and ride.  Vain even by kobold standards, the Broken Spurs deck their geckos in headdresses and paint so that they resemble chromatic dragons.

When an adventuring party’s animal companions and familiars vanish with barely a yelp, the party finds them already half-swallowed by the maws of 11-foot giant chameleons that only a moment before appeared to be mottled rocks.

Giant geckos are valued by goblins for their ability to hang from ceilings.  Humans are bad at looking above them, and gravity reduces the goblins’ usual propensity to set themselves on fire.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 186

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Giant Black Widow & Giant Tarantula

Because sometimes, the generic giant spider just isn’t spidery enough.

Before an apprentice wizard’s master will teach him the web spell, the apprentice must harvest the material components.  The master, who has a red hourglass tattoo on his right cheek, sends the apprentice to seek the particularly strong webs of the giant black widow.

Like their small cousins, giant tarantulas sometimes migrate in great swarms.  While they are not particularly dangerous at this time, being more concerned with traveling and mating than feeding, it is hard to ignore an onrushing stampede of Gargantuan spiders that reflexively throw barbed hairs at any creature who strays to close.

Giant black widows are typically too large for mites to use as mounts.  But they still do their best to coexist with them in a symbiotic fashion.  A common trick is for a tribe to misdirect humanoid interlopers toward a nearby giant black widow’s lair to be devoured; they can also command her swarming young after hatching.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 256

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giant & Giant Queen Bees

You have to wonder: What’s the Pathfinder equivalent of an EpiPen®?

A tribe of wood elves specializes in magic that stores spell effects in candle wax rather than in scroll or potion form.  The beeswax of giant bumblebees holds metamagic spell effects particularly well, and these same bees also guard the elves’ homes.

After being ambushed by shadows in a haunted canyon, a weakened adventuring party stumbles across a hive of giant bees near the canyon’s end.  The royal jelly of the giant queen bee could be a godsend, provided the bees’ stings don’t finish what the shadows started.

A copper-kilted clan of azer artisans has decamped to the Material Plane.  They smith gold for their livelihoods but keep bees for pleasure.  (Honey is a new delicacy to them, and smoking out the bees to retrieve it is particularly easy for a race that is already on fire.)  The bees, for their part, have grown fiercely territorial and hot-tempered—perhaps touched, somehow, by their keepers’ elemental natures.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 43

Remember the candle casters from 3.0’s Tome and Blood?  That was a cool class concept.  I have no idea how well they played as PCs, but the idea was brilliant.  (In fact, the whole book was pretty solid in terms of fresh thinking—the acolyte of the skin, alienist, and blood magus alone were riveting.

Also: Music!  Listen to it.  Starts with the Decemberists and gets better from there.  Also, birthday songs.

(Music starts about 30 seconds into the file.  The feed can skip, so for best results, open in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, enjoy in iTunes.  Link good till Friday, 3/30, at midnight.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Giant Adult/Mature Ant Lion (Giant Lacewing) & Giant Ant Lion

Starving, thirsty creatures tend to head downhill.  In the desert, down is bad.  (Of course, thanks to giant lacewings, up ain’t so great either.)

A ruined coliseum may no longer host blood sports, but it can still be deadly.  An ant lion has turned the arena sands into a subtle bowl, claiming local animals and would-be archeologists alike.

A portal to a desert planet is said to lie twenty miles to the west, “Inside the ant lion’s mouth.”  Given that the territory is rife with giant ant lions, picking the right mouth is liable to be a treacherous endeavor.

Girtablilus hunt giant lacewings as a right of passage, as well as to feed their scorpion pets.  An adventuring party interrupting their hunt (even if the “interruption” is self-defense against the flying giant adult ant lion) is likely to be accused of violating their traditions.  This is a death sentence to the religious scorpion folk.

Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 5 & Bestiary 3 17

This weekend I saw John Carter and finished James Sutter’s Distant Worlds.  The former is quite fun, making Disney’s mishandling of it (“Let’s take Mars out of the name so no one knows it’s sci-fi!  And make the preview look like a cowboy movie!”) even sadder.  Go see it, because it needs the help.

Sutter’s Distant Worlds does the thing that Paizo does so well—it checks the boxes of real world/folklore/fantasy conventions (“We need a jungle planet.  And a red planet.  And one for the Lovecraft baddies.  And space whales…), yet twists them just enough that they stay fresh (placing the elven home of Sovyrian on another planet is definitely not aping Tolkien’s Valinor).  I’ve seen a few complaints online about lack of crunch and/or spelljamming, but to that I say bah—it’s a great read, and most of the crunch you can handle yourself.  Get it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Remember how we talked about Dark Arabia campaigns?  Ghuls are it, the original ghouls of folklore.  Meanwhile, as far as in-game goes, ghuls are divs’ undead cousins—jann cursed by the Lord of the Divs.  The trick for using ghuls best is to not just cast them as super-ghouls, but to play up their creepiness first.  Have the PCs attend a funeral, only to have one hyena follow them all the way back to town.  Have a crypt be opened, and have the body be gone but the grave shrouds arranged in a parody of table settings.  Have a bride lose her groom to a poisoned wedding feast, then need the PCs to rescue her before a ghul makes her watch him eat the corpse…

An intelligent falchion is a bane weapon against undead and genie-kin, and demands to hunt ghuls at every semi-appropriate opportunity.

Bleak Omar hates his existence as a ghul—not because he laments the jann he was, but because he craves the power that ascension into the div ranks would bring him.  He and his minions go on a murder spree in the hopes of finding a sponsor for his transformation.

As a young sailor, Ariashi Kenpo once mocked the donkey hooves of a ghul he spotted on a moonlit pier.  Fortunately for him, he did this from the stern of his junk, just as it was leaving port.  Ashamed and enraged, the ghul managed to follow him—back to the Land of Poppies and Light, north to Shogunate of Oto, and east to the lands of the Raven Clan.  Now a translator for a pale-skinned tea merchant, Kenpo hears stories of missing corpses and fears the ghul has found him at last.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 125

I hope you enjoyed today, because tomorrow the alphabet demands we enter giant animal territory—weeks of them, in fact.  I hope you’ll bear with me.  If not, take a breather and go back and start from the letter A

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Like yesterday’s ghosts, ghouls don’t exactly need any introduction.  (And if you do, James Jacobs has you covered in Classic Horrors Revisited.)  At low levels, ghouls are a party’s first intelligent, special-abilitied (I made a word!) truly scary undead.  And class levels, Hit Dice advancement, feats, and simple strength in numbers can terrify even high-level groups.  (And that’s not even counting the rumors of whole ghoul cities under the earth…)

Elves are immune to the touch of ghouls.  Which makes the high elf nation of Telureth’s use of them against their human and dwarven neighbors all the more abhorrent.  To most Telurethans, the need to maintain secure borders justifies the means; the few holdouts are introduced to Telureth’s ghasts.

Not all ghouls reek of the charnel house, or succumb involuntarily.  The aristocrats of Blackford hold games of strength and skill once a month on market day.  If the winner is not a local, he is invited to the Rathaus for a celebratory meal.  (The tolling of the clock tower bells is usually enough to block out the screams.)  And now Blackford is opening up the competitions to teams…

On Powlau, fishers who return after more than a week at sea are stopped at spearpoint in the harbor and offered papayas.  This custom is meant to reveal the presence of lacedons, who folklore claims will attack or flee rather than consume flesh that is not meat.

Pathfinder Bestiary 146

If you are even the slightest bit interested in ghouls, your first source should be Tom Moldvay’s “The Ungrateful Dead” way back in Dragon 138.  Trust me on this.  Find an issue/download a legit PDF and see how a little folklore can make your ghouls even scarier.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

(I hear Wolfgang Baur’s work on ghouls is also worth exploring, but my Dungeon collection from those years is spotty.)

Also, enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day music, SXSW spotlights, and new Springsteen here.  (Music starts about one minute into the file.  The feed can skip, so for best results, open in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, enjoy in iTunes.  Link good till Friday, 3/23, at midnight.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


It almost feels silly to offer adventure seeds to go with ghosts—there are more than enough ghost stories out there, not to mentions F. Wesley Schneider’s excellent entry in Classic Horrors Revisited.  (GMs who like to trick out their monsters with different special abilities will definitely want to check out CHR’s new corruptions; meanwhile, 3.5 fans will want to check out Libris Mortis.)  The takeaway point, as the Bestiary notes, is that ghosts don’t arise by sheer chance.  Behind every manifestation, there is always a “Why.”

In the wilderness, ghosts are especially prevalent near quicksand, bogs, tar pits, and other death traps—the slow horror of the deaths, combined with the urgency that drove the victims so far from civilization in the first place, make for fertile grounds.  The quest to quiet a tengu assassin reveals not only the sinkhole that claimed him but also the strange roper kingdom beneath.  The rubbery things still chortle over the message of regret carved into his scabbard.

The ghost of a young girl torments a boy’s boarding school.  Identifying her won’t be easy, since she’s actually a he.  A gifted cartwright’s son and scholarship student, Athem Lars was loathed by his wealthier, less talented peers.  They pooled their allowances for a cursed belt that changed Athem’s gender…and he hung himself with it that very night.

The city-state of Sebastian is practically a theocracy.  Yet the east wing of its cathedral cannot be used, thanks to the presence of a pair of ghosts that have resisted all attempts at exorcism.  The key to laying to rest the two star-crossed lovers—an aasimar and a tiefling—is for an identical couple to wed in their place.  But convincing the prelates of this remedy will be no easy task, in a land where tieflings are stopped at the border by law and killed at birth by custom.

Pathfinder Bestiary 144–145

Speaking of ghosts, if you have not done so, you must check out Ghostwalk by Monte Cook and Sean K. Reynolds.  I don’t think there is a book in the 3.0/3.5 canon that arrived with such little fanfare and was packed with such amazing nuggets.  Read it.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Measure one part grell and one part Alien.  Mix until bloody.  Garnish with Aklo.  Serve spackled along the walls of a horrific hive city.

Adventurers trying to flee the attentions of a thriae hive flee downward into the earth, until the bowels of honeycomb city give way to something else: strange tunnels seemingly made of blood and gore.  There is a new hive hidden below the thriae hive, and the creatures inside have floated up to feed…

Cloakers begin pouring out of the deep caverns like panicked bats out of Hell.  Those who can speak their strange Undercommon get only garbled tales of “gore weavers.”  The fact that the cloakers can be hunted in their native element, the air, has them terrified even beyond their typical racial paranoia.

A sculptor seeks new media with which to create his works.  He begins having the same dream every night—of scarlet tunnels, of liquid that can be shaped like iron, and of vault doors he must open.  He is determined to answer the dream’s call.  Interestingly, nothing can stop the dreams or the calling, including the effects of such spells as silence, remove curse, or antimagic field.  But when a cold robs the sculptor of his sense of smell for a week, the dreams vanish.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 124

Friday, March 16, 2012


The Daily Bestiary’s first div!  As I mentioned in my back-and-forth with The Great Beyond/Horsemen of the Apocalypse’s Todd Stewart, I’m super-excited by these fallen genies, which strike me as a great addition to the Outsider catalog. 

Some background: I never jumped aboard the Al-Qadim train; I was a “basic” D&D player with a high-schooler’s earning power, and anyway I couldn’t understand why TSR would launch a desert campaign when they were already in the middle of Dark Sun. 

That changed with some of the Campaign Journal articles in Dragon, especially Wolfgang Baur’s “Scimitars Against the Dark” in issue #198.  Suddenly I saw the appeal of an Arabian setting, especially one tinged with a bit of darkness.  (More recently, I tried to pick up some of the Al-Qadim PDFs Paizo had for sale before they were flushed from the online store, but my wallet only stretched so far.)  So when divs appeared in the Reign of Fire Adventure Path, I was stoked—they’re a neat idea whose time has come.

End background.

Anyway, ghawwas: evil fish genies.  Can boil the very seas.  Expect to be poisoned.  Don’t ring any bells.

To the pilot of a battered skiff, a small island looks like safe refuge…until it is revealed to be a barren atoll shielded by the hallucinatory terrain of a div.

While a single bell will enrage ghawwas, a whole town’s worth usually suffices to keep them at bay.  When every bell in every steeple and minaret in Yizmir vanishes overnight, ghawwas are the immediate suspects.  Without a full complement of bells, the port city is vulnerable.

An investigation into the disappearance of local sources of cold iron reveals the strangest arms smuggling operation ever.  Locathah embroiled in a war against the divs are in constant need of cold iron, as it rusts quickly in their salty environs.  The fey see this as an opportunity to enrich themselves and remove the hated metal from their territories, and have taken up dealing in weapons and ore through selkie intermediaries.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 87

Is it just me, or does the ghawwas look like Mer-Man crossed with a lionfish?

I wonder if a div influenced my rather ridiculous but awesome purchase of this last fall.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


With martial skill and positively fearsome gaze and light ray abilities, ghaeles are the knights of the azatas.  As such, they’re dedicated soldiers against evil, and the most likely among azatas to play well with others of good heart—especially with lawful archons, who are far too stuffy for the likes of the raucous bralanis or whimsical lyrakien.  But a ghaele is still more Sir Lancelot than Sir Galahad, and still more elvish or fey than human—and their passion can lead to conflict.

A ghaele comes to the rescue of a party of elves who have been taken by drow slavers.  But the elves were counting on the slavers taking them—the drow come from a city shielded from divination magic that the elves are desperate to locate—and need to stop the ghaele despite her good intentions.

An inevitable guides a party of adventurers to a hidden artifact.  Or at least it does until it is sliced in half by a ghaele.  The azata is suspicious of the lawful players being the curtain who have been pulling the party’s strings…and he had a score to settle with that particular inevitable personality model anyway.

Though chaotic, a ghaele tends to honor his word.  In his role as liaison between Elysium and Faerie, a ghaele is sworn into the service of the faerie Queen of Winter.  He will not help the icy-hearted queen with her schemes, but must defend her from mortal champions who come to challenge her, unless they can find a way to release him from his oath.

Pathfinder Bestiary 25

I try to keep these entries non-Golarion specific, but I think Elysium (unlike Abaddon) is a widely-used-enough plane that I can let this particular mention slide.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gelatinous Cube

If you’re a GM, the gelatinous cube either works for you, or it doesn’t.  But as far as I’m concerned, the cube is one of the classics.  (Evil wizards have to keep the dungeon clean somehow.) 

A local brewer is also a bootlegger, running the whiskeys he distills to escape the taxes the crown takes out of his beer.  His basement features two trapdoors: one that leads to a cavern lined with bottles, and another that leads to a gelatinous cube (that is also the tavern’s garbage disposal).

The Velvet Cosh was a thieves’ guild shut down a year ago.  When a party unearths one of their safe houses, they find a number of traps that no longer function due to lack of maintenance—needle traps whose poison dried out, floor triggers that have rusted solid, and the shriveled lozenge of what was once a gelatinous cube.  After cleaning out the guild’s storerooms, they discover the very same gelatinous cube now quite active.  The cube was only in torpor, resuscitating itself after encountering the stimulus of fresh prey.

After teleporting blind into a dungeon, a young wizard fell prey to first a glyph blast, then a gelatinous cube.  The agony of his death brought the wizard back as a ghost, and in undeath his agony continues—rather than being tied to his corpse, the wizard’s spirit is anchored to the constantly roaming cube that digested him.  Freeing his amulet from the cube’s nucleus could free the ghost, but he is too pain-wracked to communicate this and attacks anyone not paralyzed by the cube.

Dungeon Denizens Revisited 21 & Pathfinder Bestiary 138

Rob McCreary (yet again) is the sage to consult on gelatinous cubes in Dungeon Denizens Revisited.

Also, this Cracked article is dead wrong about the gelatinous cube (and the ash rat, the atropal, and the grell).  It’s got the roving mauler pegged, though.  That thing was stupid.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


My knowledge of Hindu mythology is shaky—I mean, I know we’re all trapped in the veil of maya, but beyond that I’m pretty weak—so the folkloric origins of the garuda are best left to the experts.  Kudos to Matt Goodall for bringing yet another non-European creature in the fold, though.  Garudas are similar in character to azatas, but as native outsiders are more closely tied to the mortal world.  They’re also useful allies against nagas and other ophidian menaces, but their fervor can curdle into violence.

A roaming garuda searches for a territory of his own to protect.  His loathing of nagas leads him to rash actions, though, as he begin a series of strikes against a nagaji (Dragon Empires Gazetteer 10) village.  He must be stopped by force or persuasion before he takes innocent lives.

Loggers plan to dam a river; a community downstream is determined to destroy it. When a garuda sides with the villagers, the loggers bring in a summoner. The situation must be defused.

It’s no secret that garudas hate nagas.  The similarity in some of their spell-like abilities—especially spirit nagas—may point to one of the original insults.  There is a nest where a spirit naga stole the secret of displacement from the ancient garudas, and an aerie of garudas guard other secretes there still.

Cult of the Ebon Destroyers 29 & Pathfinder Bestiary 3 123

Golarion fans should be sure to check out the Paizo blog for the garuda’s in-setting mythology.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I like gargoyles.  They’re stony but they can fly. They’re demonic without being demons.  They’re urban monsters not confined to the sewer or the graveyard (a rarity), but they make equally good wilderness encounters.  And if you sic them on a party earlier enough in their careers (“So you have…what…two +1 daggers among you?”) they can be really scary. 

But mostly I just like gargoyles.

The Cathedral of Beasts is a gargoyle-covered basilica in the center of Froland’s largest city—and not all of the gargoyles are architectural in nature.  However, by long-standing agreement with the city constabulary, they do not prey on the average citizen.  However, anyone who sets foot on the grounds of the abandoned basilica is fair game.  Given that the baptismal pool in the center of the Cathedral of Beasts is a font of healing magic, the gargoyles feed on desperate risk takers more than one might think.

Stepping through a portal, a party of adventurers finds themselves in a desert, with the sun at the wrong angle in the sky and cerulean mountains on the horizon.  Any magic weapon they have not made of crystal seems subdued, almost sputtering.  And behind them, strange figures atop stony spires spread their wings…

Pearl divers have been disappearing.  The local merfolk are being blamed, and the sea dwellers are too haughty not to deny the charges, especially when made at trident point.  In reality, kapoacinths are the culprits, having claimed a nearby sunken galleon as their lair.

Pathfinder Bestiary 137

I’m using the fact that I’m now on Tumblr as an excuse to loosen up my style a little bit.  Look, I even used the first person pronoun in my intro!  Clearly I’ve let my hair down.

Wikipedia says kapoacinths date all the way to Blackmoor.  Whoa.

For more on gargoyles, Rob McCreary’s entry in Classic Horrors Revisited has their psychology and some nice variants.

Finally, obviously this is a Pathfinder blog, but if your Venn diagram of interests happens to include indie rock in general and this week’s South by Southwest shenanigans in particular, you might like last Saturday’s show.

It’s two straight hours of SXSW artists.  Enjoy!

(Music starts about four minutes into the file.  The feed can skip, so for best results, open in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, enjoy in iTunes.  Link good till Friday, 3/16, at midnight.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Garden Ooze

GMs keep some weird things in their gardens.

A gourd leshy tends a garden long after the witch who created him has passed away.  Originally it kept a rat-catcher ooze to keep out pests, but with the lack of supervision it has grown bored and allowed the ooze to multiply many times over.  It has also not bothered to train the new oozes not to seek out larger prey than rats.

In one of their first mercenary gigs, a party of adventurers evicted some wererats from their lair.  Now, one of those wererats approaches them with an unusual offer: he wants to hire the group himself.  He’s broken off from his pack, but the new home he has chosen is infested with compost oozes.  Who better to exterminate them than the party that cost him his last domicile?

Out of the nest but still too small to have minions of her own, a very young black dragon cultivates garden oozes.  The stink is intolerable, but since she’s immune to their acid they are the only guardians she dares trust until her next molt.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 122

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gar & Giant Gar

Sometimes you go fishing.  Sometimes the fish goes for you. 

The halflings of Barrelshire spend a lot of time on a gar-infested river.  Most carry a knife on a thong around one arm at all times in case of attack.  In previous years this precaution has worked, but this season the sheriff reports that gar strikes are on the rise, and no amount of knives, nets, or vigilance seems to be able to stop them.

A pair of merrow brothers has laid claim to the Greenwash, and they have killed enough men and livestock to halt most traffic on or near the river.  Their usual tactic is to capsize a boat and let their giant gar pets eat whatever swims away. Meanwhile, the merrows tackle anyone in metal armor, counting on them drowning before they can fight back.

A local mayor has announced a fishing tournament.  The prize for the largest gar caught is big enough to draw sportsmen from several leagues away.  However, the mayor plans to keep any outsiders’ entry fees—the gars in question are aggressive alligator gars, and he has already contracted with a riverboat captain to spirit him away if there’s even a remote chance he will have to pay up.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 128

We’ve made it to the letter G!  G is, hands down, the best letter in the RPG alphabet.  D seems like the natural choice—dragons, demons, devils, dwarves, etc.—but G has gargoyles, ghosts, ghouls, girallons, gnolls, goblins, griffons…even gelatinous cubes and gibbering mouthers.  And thanks to all the giant creatures (sigh…I said alphabetical order and I meant it), we’re going to be here a while: 16 full weeks at least…

Also, I’m up on Tumblr now.  I’m pleased with this site, but Blogger makes going back to do any kind of editing a pain, and Tumblr is where more folks seem to be hanging out.  Plus it would be nice if it were easier to read and share posts from other Pathfinder fans.  So I’m going to give The Daily Bestiary on Tumblr a try and see how it goes.  That means I’ll be double-posting for a while, and we’ll see if I stick with one site, the other, or both.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fungus Leshy

New in the Bestiary 3, leshys are animate plant servitors of druids, treants, and spirits of nature.  Fungus leshys look more like monsters than other leshys thanks to their moldy compositions, which may cause some PCs to judge them prematurely.  At the same time, however, fungi flourish in dark, private places.  So fungus leshys may be similarly reticent and suspicious—and they have the spores to protect what’s theirs.

An underground fungus leshy cluster loathes the goblinoids that trample through their groves.  They have begun growing ascomoids to deal with any and all two-legged intruders.

A fungus leshy is the mascot of an atomie band, born of the fairy ring of mushrooms that encircles their oak.  Mushmuddle does not share their warlike natures, but it is content to guard their home while they are off adventuring, defending their tree to the death with its puffballs if need be.

Meaning to craft a leaf leshy companion, an absent-minded treant mixes up his formulae and creates a fungus leshy instead. The proud treant is appalled by the disturbing-looking creature and relegates it to the most menial tasks.  The leshy, desperate for attention, is going to greater and greater lengths to earn the tree-man’s attention—including herculean efforts to capture any “despoilers of nature” it finds.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 177

According to my lame post at the time, this entry was late thanks to three 12+-hour workdays in a row.  But it’s up now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fungal Crawler

The fungal crawler is nice for being the kind of monster that makes subterranean ecosystems work.  Part insect, part plant; able to either scavenge and live off radiation; and able to fill countless ecological niches thanks to its flexibility and hardiness (sort of like finches in the Galapagos or eucalyptus trees in Australia).  If a party spends any time below the surface, they should eventually run into some of these—and the creatures that prey upon them.  (And they fact that fungal crawlers are aberrations, not vermin, may be a boon or an unpleasant surprise to certain rangers and druids, depending on their character builds.)

On the subterranean Black Mere, troglodytes fish from small bucket-shaped boats while fungal crawlers skim like water striders over the glassy lake surface.  The troglodytes often hunt the fungal crawlers…but the fungal crawlers are just as happy to hunt the troglodytes when the odds are in their favor.  (The aberrations’ Great Fortitude and plant defenses are no small help in this regard.)  Both sides will attack any surface dwellers they come across on sight—even ceasing mid-meal to do so.

Certain varieties of fungal crawlers are delicacies to the drow—they smoke the creatures into quiescence, bind them, and then eat their fungal tops while the crawlers are still alive (killing them in the process, of course).  Drow farmers always need servants to harvest more fungal crawlers, but these farmers’ jealous neighbors are equally as likely to kill such servants as poachers.

A catastrophically poor attempt at training fungal crawlers led the Broken Foot kobolds to create an annual festival: the Hopping of the Bugs.  Kobolds come from miles around to watch their fellows ride (or outrace in a panic) fungal crawlers through an abandoned svirfneblin village.  That upworld adventurers often use the village as a safe haven is a bonus.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 127

Gah.  13-hour workdays.

Shouldn’t they be called fungal hoppers?  Fungal crickets?

Monday, March 5, 2012


A wicked wee fey adapted from North Irish and Scottish tales.  If a gremlin on the side of the carriage is bad, a gremlin on the side of the caravel is worse—carriages don’t sink.

A halfling uses illusions to convince his shipmates that a fuath is in the riggings of their brig.  Meanwhile, he helps himself to the ship’s stores.  Eventually the deception will likely be uncovered—but by that time, the illusionist’s figments will have attracted the attention of some real fuaths.

A nymph demands all the fey in her domain pay her courtesies on each leap year.  The local mob of fuaths ignored the order—they pretended not to understand the nixie messenger (though she was speaking Aquan), and have sworn the fealty to a distant sea hag in any case.  The nymph sends local sellswords who owe her a favor to call the fuaths to account.

It is a race against time and claws on the Firth of Clinn.  A skiff carrying the laird’s heir sails east toward sunrise and salvation, followed by a hungry school of fuaths and reefclaws.  The fuaths reach the boat just as dawn breaks.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 142

Twelve-hour workday—woo, advertising!—and still I blog.  That’s professionalism, baby.

Given their linguistic and geographic estrangement from the faerie courts, I also wonder if fuaths might go the way of mites and risk losing their gremlin or even fey status.

I saw James L. Sutter’s Distant Worlds in my (other) local comic shop this weekend.  Drool…  Mine won’t arrive for a few more weeks (I subscribe for my Adventure Paths and Player Companions, but have to Amazon my Campaign Setting books), so I consoled myself with Tim Hitchcock’s The Ruby Phoenix Tournament.

Oh, and if you want a cool glitchy indie pop mix, email me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Frost Worm

As mentioned before, there are Things in the fantasy arctics.  Especially beneath the ice.  Remorhazes.  Yeti enclaves.  Polar morlocks.  Forgotten gnomish cities carved from crystal.  Dire sharks. And, of course, frost worms—terrible annelids with magical blood that explodes after death, no less.

People have been disappearing out on the tundra.  Hunters claim to have heard strange cries in the night.  A wendigo is blamed, and villagers eye each other with suspicion, suspecting the cannibal spirit walks among them.  The reality is even worse: A frost worm has moved into the area, trilling to lure and immobilize its prey.

A yuki-onna sorceress is accompanied at all times by at least one frost worm held magically in thrall to her.  She finds the gigantic creatures invaluable for combating the minions of the winter fey powers who trespass in her domain, especially the undead hounds of the cold riders.

The largest white dragons don’t let frost worms’ death throes trouble them.  They simply drop giant rocks or chunks of ice on the creatures, and make a sport of feasting on the scattered remains.  The largest and most daring wyrms will even hoist young frost worms aloft and drop them on their enemies.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 126

Since I am writing this post from the future (translation: this post was nothing but a placeholder for two months) I can tell you that Golarion fans will also find frost worms on other planets, according to James L. Sutter’s Distant Worlds.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frost Giant

Frost giants are kind of the default giant—big, reliably evil, throw rocks, have scary pets, and with one foot in the “real world” of hill giants, stone giants, and Vikings, and one foot in the more mythic world of cloud giants, storm giants, and Thor. You can play them as the Norsemen’s worst attributes and hungers exaggerated, or you can play them simply as doing what they have to do to survive.  After all, winters in the North are long, and it’s hard to feed one giant, let alone a tribe with ogres, humans, winter wolves, and white dragons in tow.

And in fantasy RPGs, the North Pole is rarely a sheet of ice.  Fantasy Arctics tend to lead to places like the Para-Elemental Plane of Ice, Niflheim, the center of the (hollow) earth, one of the icy Hells, or the Plateau of Leng.  Frost giants are bound to harry and hunt humanity—but they may also be the only things that stand between civilization and things far, far worse.

There is a lost kingdom of elves beneath the ice.  But warring yetis and morlocks block the tunnels there.  The strangely solemn yetis can hold the morlocks at bay long enough for explorers to reach the elves, but will only do so if their packmates are rescued from thralldom.  A frost giant jarl holds them in bondage.

A frost giant oracle communes with the spirits of his land.  Always they have guided him well, but recently the whispers he hears call for even more blood than usual.  His growing madness disturbs his kin—they fear the influence of a wendigo or the winds from Leng—but the only one who might have stood up to him is a rime-blooded sorceress (Ultimate Magic 72) exiled for her mutated bloodline.  Humiliated to be asking for help, the giants send winter wolves to find adventurers who might seek her out or aid the giants themselves.

To control his berserker rages, a barbarian must be trained in a certain feat that can only be learned from a frost giant hunting lodge.  This is not completely unheard of—notable taiga giants and winter wolves have gained acceptance—but life in a warriors’ hall scaled for 15-foot brutes will not be easy.

Pathfinder Bestiary 149

3.5 fans who want frost giants and more should check out Frostburn by Wolfgang Baur, James Jacobs, and George Strayton (and which I have decided not to link to until Amazon starts paying state taxes).  It’s definitely the best of the environment books, with great PC races, deities, prestige classes, tribal weapons, and monsters, including three frost giant variants.