Friday, December 7, 2012


First of all, The Daily Bestiary is going on vacation for a week!  Which is not something I wanted (if anything, I should have taken off this week during my staycation)…but my computer died this afternoon and I’m not sure when/if I’m getting it back.  So I’m going to play it safe and hunker down next week and let the mental juices stew a bit.

On to the medusa!  Named after the famous gorgon (don’t even get me started), medusas need no introduction.  Over time, they’ve also gotten progressively more scaly and fight-y as well (the 3.5 medusa’s favored class was ranger, if I remember correctly).  Jason Nelson goes deeper into their lives in Mythical Monsters Revisited and does a good job of pointing out the two general strains of medusa villain (either monsters in the wilderness or secret urban terrors) and a great job of exploring the implications of their gazes on the land around them and the allies they choose. 

I’ve tried to tweak the above slightly (we have a not-so-secret urban terror, for instance, and a barbarian rather than a ranger), but even as I sit here typing I can see other options too—as bringers of divine retribution, perhaps, or as cursed elves or nymphs, or as a race with closer ties to the hags or serpentfolk.  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as well.

Kalita the Veiled Beauty lives openly in Ingress, a testimony to that city’s famous policy of “An Open Gate for Those of Peace”—and in fact, the medusa sorceress’s presence is often requested at city functions in order to highlight just that fact.  She is also an acclaimed painter, with her work fetching high prices at auction (despite more than a few jokes about her “keen eye”).  However, Kalita’s appetites—for pleasure, for wealth, for adoration—are as strong as most medusas, and more than one of her models has become her drugged or charmed plaything, only to then be fed to (or petrified and dropped from a great height by) her secret retinue of gargoyle servants.

A being of hate and rage, loathing her gaze and all who cannot meet it, Deathadder lives deep in the woods of √úven in a hedge maze of her own devising.  If any intrude, she has the woodcraft of a druid and the rage of a barbarian to teach interlopers the error of disturbing her.  Sadly for her, the medusa blight follows her (her gaze petrifying even insects, birds, and other pollinators), so her maze must grow with every season as its center withers.

The underworld of Charingdon is controlled by a strange partnership, the medusa Amethyst and the ghoul Baron Slivey.  Amethyst lives in disguise in the city itself, handling thievery, extortion, and espionage, while Baron Spivey and his servitors occupy the caves below, acting as fences, smugglers, kidnappers, and hit men.  Amethyst allows the vain ghoul his lordly playacting because it serves her purposes—his subterranean “palace” is a convenient place to dispose of her petrified victims, and he is always thrilled to see another “supplicant” line the gallery of his “court.”

Pathfinder Bestiary 201

By the way, if you’re looking for the mastodon, we covered it way back here.

See you in a week!  And if you want some music, a new show will go up after noon tomorrow here.


  1. The "iron bull" gorgon actually has precedence in real-world mythology:

    "The catoblepas was first mentioned in writing by the Greek historian/traveler Hetrodotus, whose Histories of the World were often embellished as to make for a better read. It was inspired by the wildebeast, which is ugly and cowlike and has a constantly downward pointed head. Hetrodotus claimed that was because the gaze of the catoblepas could turn a man to stone at thirty paces.

    After the book became a big hit, and the catoblepas incorporated into Greek folklore, the catoblepas eventually merged with the rhinoceros (whose thick hide was often described as being armor plates). It was renamed the gorgon, in honor of Medusa and her ilk's ability to turn people into stone.

    The gaze becoming a breath weapon was TSR's doing, as they wanted to keep it seperate from the catoblepas (whose stony gaze they converted into just death)"

    --demiurge1138 at ENWorld

    So I assume Gygax and/or Arneson just wanted to use all three monsters (snake-lady gorgons, iron-bull gorgons, and catoblepas) and made a hard decision about which name to apply to which creature.

  2. A friend of mine always hated the original myth of Medusa. (A beautiful mortal woman is raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple, and Athena punishes _her_ for it, while Poseidon suffers no consequences?) She prefers a version where Athena gifts Medusa with the petrifying gaze, which she uses on anyone who dares try to harm her, or anyone else.