Thursday, February 28, 2013


I can’t improve upon the reinvention of the ogre Paizo has pulled off—with Nicolas Logue’s “The Hook Mountain Massacre” in Pathfinder #3 setting the stage and Classic Monsters Revisited bringing down the house.  

The result is intense, to put it mildly.  Pathfinder’s ogres explicitly draw from movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.  The Bestiary name-checks “brutality…savagery, cannibalism…torture…rape…dismemberment, necrophilia, incest, mutilation, and all manners of hideous murder.”  Rape may be the most important of all of the above (that’s how ogrekin are made), with incest coming a close second (given ogres’ fealty to their twisted families).

If you’re not a horror fan…or if the Pathfinder-reimagined ogre squicks you out too much…you can always go back to the D&D ogre.  In that case, what sets ogres apart is that they are “human but.”  Human but larger.  Human but monstrous.  Human but gluttonous, ravenous, murderous.  They are Mr. Hyde: the id unbound in a body to match its appetites.  Whereas goblins/hobgoblins/bugbears are clearly alien, and orcs are an expression of the terror of the horde (and stand more in contrast to elves or dwarves than humans; see Roger E. Moore’s semi-famous article “The Half-Orc Point of View”), ogres are us…just an “us” gone horribly, horribly wrong.

A clan of ogres is trekking through the Sunrise Hills, spreading devastation wherever they go.  Their modus operandi is to force all the inhabitants of the hamlets they raid into the largest barn…and the less said of what comes after, the better.  They’ve avoided conflict or capture so far because their perambulations are completely at random.  Superstitious, they leave their last victim’s head out for the scavenging animals, and travel in whatever direction the coyote, crow, or giant beetle leads them.

The Mushmouth tribe’s faces are nearly paralyzed from eating their swampy home’s poisonous fungi.  They compensate by pounding their victims into slurry or soaking them in brine.  Not so the Bear Jaws, who wear rude prosthetic teeth made of animal incisors and pilfered saw blades. Tragically, Trag’s Boys are more concerned with the other end of their anatomy, and no adult Boy is allowed a share of supper if his Wife Cage does not have a female humanoid or fey locked inside it.

Ogre bards are particularly terrifying, as they tend to be more cunning than their kin; they egg on these same relatives to further acts of depravity with their rough banjos and improvised drums.  Some exceptional specimens are even able to augment their weak Charisma with their prodigious Strength, using bone percussion and still living victims as instruments to achieve demoralizing effects.

Classic Monsters Revisited 46–51 & Pathfinder Bestiary 220

TL;DR version of above: Ogres have layers.

Yet another reason I like the setting created for the Monte Cook and Sean K. Reynolds’s Ghostwalk book: It includes a region of humans who rely on ogre slave labor.  Slavery is abhorrent, evil by definition.  But what happens if the creatures enslaved are evil and pose an even greater threat when free?  That’s built-in moral conflict right there (read: adventure).

Also, I don’t talk enough about Games Workshop’s world-building.  I really like their Ogres’ obsession with food, eating, and bellies as a source of strength, social rank, and even magic.

I like to know what you want to know.  This week I’m encouraging you to write.  Shoot me questions, thoughts, things you’re curious about, etc.  Send me an email—to avoid spam spiders, I’ll type my address as dailybestiary [at] gmail [dot] com, but you get the idea—or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond here.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the octopus entry went, look for it here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ochre Jelly

The ochre jelly arose out of a joke.  We all get that, right?  At least on some instinctual level? 

I imagine it this way: Having suffered through green slime, yellow mold, and gray ooze, one of Gary Gygax’s players quips, “What’s next, brown jelly?”  To which Gygax—with the words “brown jelly” sitting right there in his notes—primly replies, “No…it’s ochre! 

Either that or someone spilled marmalade on a miniature, and he just ran with it.

(And before anyone accuses me of taking Sir Gygax’s name in vain, let’s look back at the early days of the world’s oldest role-playing game: A badly molded toy spawning the owlbear.  The black pudding, full stop.  Deities baptized by reversing the letters in players’ names (like Zagig Yragerne…as the God of Humor to boot).  Now tell me I’m out of line.)

But now the ochre jelly is an institution—heck, it’s apparently part of the Final Fantasy franchise, if my Googling is accurate—so let’s give it a look.

Paizo’s Pathfinder authors have actually ladled a bunch of adventure hooks (alchemists, canopic jars, etc.) into the Bestiary’s ochre jelly entry.   All take advantage of the unique property of the jelly: Since it only affects flesh and soft tissue (even wood is unaffected), it is in some respects less intrinsically dangerous than other oozes.  But that very manageability makes it easier to use in dangerously surprising ways. 

So in the subterranean wilds, a heavily armored PC with a mace might actually prefer the Large CR 5 ochre jelly to the metal-devouring Medium CR 4 gray ooze.  But an ochre jelly can hide (or be stashed) in places other oozes can’t—the bole of a tree, at the bottom of a tun of ale, in a vampire’s false coffin, and so on—surprising PCs when they’re unarmed, unarmored, or expecting other threats.

An ochre jelly dwells in an abandoned thriae outpost, feasting on animals that attempt to settle there.  In the honey-colored cells, the ooze is nearly impossible to spot.

Clever spellcasters, alchemists, and rogues can trap or breed ochre jellies in surprising places.  Oozes have been found inside wood golems, graven guardians, and animated cauldrons—even encouraged with food (“trained” is too strong a word) to “ride” Large skeletons.  And the treant renegade Bilewood is known for vomiting ochre jellies onto unsuspecting victims who come to treat with him.

As a comparatively new race of constructs, wyrwoods (see the Advanced Race Guide) jealously guard their autonomy.  Many of their defenses involve pit and ceiling traps that dispense ochre jellies.

Pathfinder Bestiary 218

We’ve made it to the letter O!  And 200 Tumblr followers—thank you, ozzie-111 and rpguildhall!  Not to mention all the anonymous, typo-tolerant souls here at Blogger who I don’t give nearly enough props to.  Thanks everybody!

Don’t forget, I’m in a question-answering mood.  Shoot me questions, thoughts, things you’re curious about, etc.  Send me an email—to avoid spam spiders, I’ll type my address as dailybestiary [at] gmail [dot] com, but you get the idea—or a comment and I’ll do my best to respond here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Nobody likes an escort mission.  I’m pretty sure I never finished the Human track for  Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (on my baby brother’s blueberry iMac!) because of an escort mission I couldn’t crack.  (Clearly I am not much of a video gamer.  I beat it on Orc, though.) 

But if your gaming table is going to the Abyss, why not bring a sage along?  Just so you can hear him say things like, “Well, primarily nyogoths eat the, ahem, filth of other qlippoths and demons…but this one seems to have resorted to self-cannibalism.  Look, see how it has gnawed off a tentacle in frustration…and is now nursing on its own digestive...well, juices, I suppose one would say…”

Yeah, that’d be worth it.  Ideally someone at the table will be eating spaghetti, too.

Sometimes you just need a monster that’s all mouth, tentacles, and (to quote the Bestiary 2) “buoyant intestine.”  Thus, the nyogoth.  GMs, go gross on this one—that’s why this thing bloody well (ichory well?) exists.

Summoned when unlucky adventurers activated a sigil, a nyogoth has been trapped in a warded area of a sewer ever since.  The local otyughs (after learning the hard way not to approach too close) are in awe of the outsider and worship it as a god, bringing it offerings to consume.  They have devoured the nyogoth’s excreta in turn, and have mutated into Huge fiendish aberrations.

A quasit has tormented an adventuring party for weeks.  Leading them on a merry chase, it accidentally lures them into a layer of the Abyss known as Envy’s Appetite.  Suddenly the plainly terrified quasit proposes an alliance to seek an escape from this domain—for it is a qlippoth layer, and broods of ravenous nyogoths convulse through the air overhead.

The Pearl of Barnabus the Sane is located in one of the most maddening dungeons in existence: the innards of the dead god who swallowed the artifact.  But deities take a long time to die, and this god’s still-hungry intestines (use nyogoth stat block) will attempt to devour and digest any and all interlopers.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 224

Courtesy of the boys over at Shut Up & Sit Down and Kotaku, here’s another creature that exists only to eat…

Also, I meant to say this yesterday: It’s FAQ time!  I haven’t heard from you guys in while.  Shoot me questions, thoughts, things you’re curious about, whatever you want to know.  Send me an email—to avoid spam spiders, dailybestiary [at] gmail [you know the rest]—or a comment and I’ll do my best to respond here.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Lolita, light of my life, fire of my—  Oh wait, that’s a nymphet…a very different breed of monster.  Beware.

The role-playing nymph doesn’t have much to do with the original Greek nymphs (which tend to resemble RPG’s dryads and nereids); if anything the RPG nymph is more like Galadriel when she unveils her power in The Fellowship of the Ring. 

Normally I might grouse about this (by now you all know fidelity to the source material is a bit of a fetish/crutch of mine), but I don’t mind with the nymph.  This is because her wide range of powers makes her a rare thing: a fey suitable for midlevel parties.  (Seriously, off the top of your head, name one besides the rusalka.  See?  They’re practically all either under CR 2 or over CR 20—remember the 3.0 Epic Level Handbook’s leShay and hoary hunter?)  Unlike in some D&D editions, Pathfinder’s nymph doesn’t kill with a look (although an Advanced specimen might), but her blinding beauty and stunning glance still pack a wallop, especially when followed up with her druidic abilities (ice storm will do the trick nicely).

The chaotic good alignment matters, though—nymphs in your game should not just be “the pretty medusas.”  If PCs run afoul of one, it’s usually because of a transgression of some kind…and even then she’ll probably give parties a chance to repair the breach, if they aren’t too hotheaded or unrepentant.  But if they scoff or try to take advantage of her…well, that’s what summoned monsters are for.

And of course, when nymphs go bad, they go really bad.  See the Kingmaker Adventure Path for an example of this.

If you want to scale your nymphs, class levels are ideal, and you can beef up the special abilities as well (death gazes anyone?).  This is your chance to dig deep into the archetypes and prestige class lists, too, to make each nymph singular.  For instance, just a quick glance at only a few pages of Ultimate Magic already suggests some options: a menhir savant nymph might be a guardian of ancient secrets and ley lines; a mooncaller nymph might guard against (or run with) lycanthrope packs; a reincarnated druid nymph might discover ties to her past life that need resolving; and a shark shaman or storm druid nymph might have ties to water and air spirits, challenging even experienced players’ expectations of what a guardian of nature looks like.

A bard goes mad after botching a performance in front of royalty.  The nymph upon whose supernatural inspiration he relied offered her favor to another just as he took the stage—he actually felt the magic draining away.  Shattered and now unfashionable to the point of ruin, what he will do next is anyone’s guess.  He might jealously recruit others to attack the nymph in revenge, vent his fury on the new object of her fascination (a gnomish hurdy-gurdy player), go to absurd (even criminal) lengths to stage a comeback performance, or just sell his knowledge of the noble class’s foibles to dire operators.

Born of a mahogany tree, the nymph Adwoa distrusts all Easterners, having been burned (sometimes literally) too many times by colonists’ greed and carelessness.  Local adventurers should have no problem in her domain, provided they offer blessings to any trees they fell.  But Adwoa has the perfect answer for white-skinned interlopers—attacks by white-furred dire apes drunk on fireweed.

The beauty of an evil nymph is a terrible thing.  The nymph M’trace is a sorceress of great power, thanks to her stunning charisma.  Riding a cauchemar steed, she now tends a blighted Ethereal version of her half-remembered forest home, full of entropic and fiendish carnivorous plants.  A linnorm supposedly know what caused M’trace’s fall from grace, but his price for the information—that no thrush sing in the Vale of Kent—seems too outlandish to pay.

Pathfinder Bestiary 217

Allow me to give props here to Stephen Fix, who taught the Nabokov & Pynchon class at my college and deserves respect like nobody’s business.

Blogger readers, apologies there were so many typos in the nuglub entry.  Of course, now you can look at the tortured formatting and see why I don’t usually bother trying to fix your typos. 

Reader/artist justjingles (and a bunch of the rest of you!) gave some props to the nuglub.  Tell us what you do with it in your campaign, jj!

Once again, no radio show this week.  Next week we will do it up in style.

On another subject entirely, I woke up this morning to see pictures of an actress I’ve written commercial scripts for holding an Oscar.  Good for her!

And meanwhile, the treatment of another young star has raised some hackles worth reading.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Nuglubs are, in the parlance of our age, messed the hell up.  They have three eyes.  They wear their hair as a cloak.  They are obsessed with sharpening their claws.  They have “kneecapper” as a special ability.  When they argue, the loser gets cannibalized.  These are not CR 1/2 pugwampis.  These guys are The Dark Crystal crossed with Freddy Krueger.

If I wanted fey for a weird fantasy campaign, or if I wanted to create a Pan’s Labyrinth version of Faerie, nuglubs would be my first choice.  They are evocative, strange, and look like practically nothing else in the Bestiaries.  And while they’re only CR 2, I bet you can make your PCs feel like they’re a lot worse.

An infestation of vexgits captures an adventuring party who stumbles into their warehouse.  The good news is the gremlins don’t kill them right away.  The bad news is the vexgits leave them in a metal box as a present for a heat metal and shocking grasp-casting nuglub maniac they call Uncle Blade.

Adventurers stop for the night in an inn.  Midway through the evening, the atmosphere turns dangerous when a dhampir enters.  He does not have enough money to rent a room, but no one wants to let him have a sleeping pallet in the common area  Soon both the locals and a visiting band of mercenaries begin fingering their blades.  And that’s when a mob of nuglubs decides to set off the booby traps they’ve spent a fortnight preparing around the inn.

The Moon Torque is a magical necklace sacred to the fey of the Myrwood.  Once a year at the Spring Equinox ownership of the artifact passes from one tribe to the next.  Two tribes of pixies, a band of atomies, and a troupe of sprites share the honor ever year.  This year there will be no exchange, however—nuglubs have stolen the Moon Torque.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 143

I’m in Farmersville, IL!  That is actually the name of the town.  …It is accurate.

Sigh.  There were so many typos in this I couldn't let it stand unedited.  Behold the weird formatting artifacts that creep in!  You should see what happens if I try to change the font

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The Japanese chimera, the monkey-faced, tiger-bodied, snake-tailed nue is a creature that haunts dreamers and the vulnerable from within a black cloud.  The nue is particularly nasty for a magical beast: CR 10, stealthy, two bite attacks (one featuring energy drain, the other poison), and magical abilities.  So detective-minded players tracking down possible murder suspects might be shocked to find out the animate dream or wicked oneiromancer they are hunting is actually “just” a beast.

The Temple of the Apes is a site of healing in Pon Kat, and the augmented apes and monkeys that haunt the temple grounds are reputed to bring magical herbs to those who offer food.  An ambush of nues now takes advantage of this, following home the invalids with large families—whose later death at the nues’ hands will radiate the most misery.

The lamia noble Miyatar relies on pet nues as her spies and assassins.  Adventurers wishing to take her on would do well to consult the kitsune arcane archers of the neighboring valley, who are specially trained against nues, vargouilles, and other exotic cursed malefactors.

Are nues the reincarnated spirits of cursed children?  Sages say it is hard to know.  But when a chorus of attic whisperers begins to plague a town, the culprits are revealed to be a night hag and her nue sidekick, preying on the fears, bodies, and souls of local children so badly that even their spirits cannot rest.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 204

This, courtesy of justjingles, is exactly right.

Sammy’s For Your Ears helped me write this post.  Listen!  (Link good till Wednesday, 2/27, at midnight.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


In Brian Froud’s Faeries, the nuckelavee was depicted just as a fist interjecting itself onto the page to crush a pixie.  In “basic” D&D/the Known World/Mystara, it was a translucent, yellow-veined, black-blooded amphibious centaur with fear, blight, and cold powers—a description that seems to get closest to the original Orcadian (there’s a word I don’t get to use every day) folklore.  In the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest role-playing game, it only appeared on the Web (as the nuchlavis, courtesy of Robert Weise), where it first gained its proper fey status.

The Pathfinder version diverges a bit from the original mythic material, but I’ll give it a pass as the changes probably make it more useful in the average campaign—taking it out of the bogs and making it a red-blooded spirit of corruption and pollution.  (At least it keeps the perfectly named nuckelavee disease: mortasheen).  The nuckelavee is like an allergy, or the fever that fights the pathogen so hard it kills the host—nature’s wrath boiling over to scald not just the polluting offenders, but mankind in general.  If you want a fey that serves as the manifestation of a xenophobic bog’s rage at being disturbed, you have it.  If you want a fey that is the perrenial plague of an isolated seaside town, you have it.  And if you want the river to cry out against pollution in the heart of an urban campaign, the nuckelavee works for that, too.

And if you want a truly nasty semi-original fey to throw at your players (especially as we move into the Reign of Winter Adventure Path) the nuckelavee is just begging to be beefed up: Turn it white; add a few more Hit Dice, cold powers, and blight effects (enough to get it to CR12, methinks); trade the longsword for a wicked claymore or flail; and you’ll be good to go. 

One more note: the nuckelavee supposedly hates the Mither o’ the Sea, a benevolent summer water spirit.  In your campaign this might be a unique nixie, nereid, triton, marid, storm giant, or even a brine dragon.

Three summers in a row, the stench from the river Gough has brought the city to a halt and driven Parliament to summer a day’s journey upriver.  During this third summer a nuckelavee rises from the effluvium and begins slaughtering anyone who comes near the riverbanks—even the very crews meant to clean the filth.

When the red tide comes to Nell, the people cower in their houses for fear the nuckelavee will come for them.  The wise women caution against burning the red seaweed, saying the practice enrages the nuckelavee.  The lairds retort that the fey never attacks the rest of the year no matter how much seaweed is burned, and that the potash and soda produced keeps the town coffers full.

Someone is murdering the alchemists of San Xephar, a sun-baked city-state of humans, ifrits, and reptilian races.  A gnome druid from Westlund far to the north claims to know the cause of the bloodshed, but vishkanya thugs—kin to the very alchemists being targeted—seem determined to silence him before he speaks truth to power.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 203

I love the nuckelavee.  I would have killed to write an “Ecology” article for one, back when Dragon was a thing.  And do follow the Orkney links above—they’re a treasure trove.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Norns are fey.  This is important.  They easily could have been listed as monstrous humanoids (taking after giants and hags) or outsiders (taking after night hags and other creatures of fate).  But they are fey.  That puts them outside the normal order of things—not quite mortal, not of the heavens, apart from outsiders and their battles over the Balance.  Even gods likely fear the norns, because the most powerful norn grand dames measure and cut the threads of the deities themselves.

Do I need to even mention that norns come from Norse mythology?  Or that they have analogs in Greek myths?  Or that they stand as yet another example of the tripartite female goddess, which we’ve discussed before?  In fact, any culture advanced enough to weave likely has tales of norn-like beings, so don’t feel the need to confine them to the snowy North, no matter what the climate icons say…

A mountain troll (see Land of the Linnorm Kings) promises to help craft an artifact necessary to slay a demon.  His price is the theft of his golden thread of life from the norn who holds it.

A norn determines a squad of myrmidon adventurers is supposed to die.  When their trireme rides out a typhoon she foretold would drown them, she is incensed.  She sends Advanced skum assassins and a scylla after them, and if that fails, she takes matters into her own hands.

The Pattern Weaver is a famous giant woman who lives in the Lake of Pines, tended by jorogumo servants who help her with her weaving. (Their alignment differences matter little; the spider-women have served out of custom as long as anyone can remember.)  She does not believe in heroes—their distinctive threads snarl the Pattern—and when she is not at her loom she hunts those who know not their place—rogues, ninjas, and tengus in particular.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 202

Monday, February 18, 2013

Noqual Golem

Today’s a double whammy!  First, the noqual golem:

I used to get real excited about magic metal, minerals and materials, but I’ve grown much less enthralled over time.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my mithral and darkwood.  But to someone raised on Marvel comics, adding adamantine to the table just felt like we were jumping the Wolverine (even if Wikipedia informs me it’s a totes legit thing).  The more settings you read about/play in the harder it is to remember what does what, so after a while using too many made-up metals just becomes an exercise in looking about up bonuses and forgetting them two seconds later.

That said, Golarion takes its starmetals seriously, so it’s no surprise the Inner Sea Bestiary served up a noqual golem.  These greenish constructs are even more dweomer-resistant than the usual golem—and that has the interesting side effect of making them lethal against other constructs and certain undead as well. 

Of course, if you’re feeling cranky like me (“Hey you kids—stop harvesting starmetal on my lawn!”) there are plenty of real-world stones that were reputed to have antimagic properties, too…

The Unopenable Doors of Kadith have been opened.  A trove of lost magic awaits.  But the noqual golem whose dweomer-resistant fists smashed down the doors now guards the site against intruders…likely awaiting the advent of its master.

Advances in clockwork creatures are driving down the price of constructs.  As armies begin to field more and more magimechanical warriors, cutting-edge generals have turned to researching noqual golems.

In the Cold Lands to the north, witches and hags wield powers of cold, darkness and death magnified by the unforgiving elements.  Huddled in their walled cities, the wealthiest priests and wizards in those lands have taken to crafting golems from agate, the stone peasants use to ward off the evil eye.  These golems have protected more than one city gate from spell-boosted giants, wicker-made constructs, and the shambling dead.

Inner Sea Bestiary 18

No radio show this week to post for you.  Are you sad?  I’m sad.  But Katsucon was fun!  Here are pictures.  I did not take them, but I’m happy to give anyone with a blog called Girls With Comics (especially one from Baltimore!) some traffic.

So runemage14 (whose name I really like—I picture a twisted children’s book where terrible things happen to runemages 1–13, and only #14 is left standing)… 

Wow, that was a tangent even for me.  Let me start over: runemage14 writes: “Stumbled onto your blog today.  I'm curious as to your take on the Cerberus.”

Thanks RM14!

Bestiary 3 wasn’t out yet when we last tackled the letter C, and since we won’t get back to it until 2014 (maybe ’15?...) it seems a shame to make him wait.  Here are my initial thoughts: What sets the cerberi apart isn’t the three heads; it’s what those heads represents—a pedigree.

Every cerberi comes from the mythical Cerberus (who we can assume is a unique Advanced and templated-up paragon of the race).  So even the wild examples are special.  Roving packs of them might be a nuisance to devilkin, who would have to guard prize souls and slaves against…but like the gray wolves in today’s American West, they’re too special to just dispose of like you would a coyote (or hell hound).

 The vast majority of cerberi, though, are going to have owners.  So most aren’t going to show up randomly—they’re going to be guard dogs or pets.  If you kill one, someone is going to come looking. 

Also—again, because of pedigree—they might be incredibly useful gifts.  A devil might give one to powerful mortals, axiomites, daemons, fey…even archons or angels as a calculated provocation.  The recipient likely can’t refuse the offer or risk offending the giver…and the cerberi’s power to scent souls is just too useful to dismiss.  But now they’ve got a repulsively skinless, too-smart, ticking time bomb in their courts.  So into the kennel/dungeon/labyrinth/spare bedroom the infernal dog goes, ready to meet the PCs at some point in the near future.

Wild cerberi rove in packs along the outskirts of the Hell border town of Surety, eating garbage and preying on the occasional soul or hapless human.  The town’s mortal merchants complain, but the tieflings who run Surety have little incentive to eradicate the dogs.  The town used to be a staging ground for diabolitionists, but the cerberi packs have cut the number of escaped slaves and souls in half.

The cleric Brentus is famous for his zealous service to St. Kumin, the Bane of Undead.  He is even more famous for the three-headed cerberi he holds at bay on a barbed choke chain.  The hound’s ability to track even the spectral dead is undeniably useful, but Brentus’s superiors have all placed wagers either on the day the cerberi turns on him, or on the inevitable day the lawful neutral cleric goes too far…

Known wicked personages who boast a cerberi guard dog include the antler-headed sidhe lord Cerwidon (use stats for an elf with fey creature template), the Conjuror-Baron Vitus, and the ja noi (hobgoblin oni) Yamato Nine-Tongue.

—Pathfinder Bestiary 3 51

Friday, February 15, 2013


Nixies are a deal—two monsters in one: the relatively harmless freshwater model and the more problematic bog nixie.

Since they’re CR 1 and neutral, nixies are a good lesson for new PCs (and players) that not everything has to be stabbed, and that not everyone who opposes them is necessarily evil.  Some folks, especially fey, just don’t like being disturbed; others are happy to use adventurers for their own ends but don’t necessarily wish them ill.

Though they’re reclusive by nature, nixies not as out of touch as some sylvan fey—one presumes a familiarity with man’s boats, waterwheels, and locks has caused them to adopt the crossbow as a weapon.  Like most fey they hate cold iron, preferring bronze (despite the patina it inevitably gets in water) or forged steel.

Bog nixies are more likely to have slaves and victims than servants.  And they don’t lack for them either—as the entry notes, their minor wish ability gives foolhardy commoners (and adventurers) plenty of reasons to seek them out, and their change shape ability helps them hide their true natures.  GMs should remember not to confine themselves to the wizard spell list, either.  The average bog nixie client probably has little need for a fireball, but effects that cure, curse, detect or neutralize an ill effect, or cause plants to grow is exactly the sort of service a needy farmer or fisherman would seek out.

The fletcher of Dirk Hill is still infatuated with a nixie who once charmed him—it is he who clears the weeds from her spring and keeps her crossbows in immaculate repair.  But he is jealous of anyone else who benefits from her attentions, and any adventurer who shows signs of being charmed or able to breathe water may get an arrow in the back.

The nixie town of Lake Feela tries to hide utterly hide its presence.  The one threat to this is the annual gar-fishing tournament, which threatens the nixies’ beloved pets.  The fey try to snarl lines, drive fisherman astray, and otherwise be an inconvenience without revealing their presence.

A crime wave hits the sleepy town of Hunter’s Mill.  Robberies, burglaries, even blackmail and embezzlement have been uncovered.  A farmer languishing in the town jail fesses up: the cobbler’s son came back from Stark’s Bog with a broken arm and tales of a green-haired woman who granted his wish to fly (for a little while).  Everyone laughed at the boy, but the farmer sought the woman out, and she promised to cure his sick cow for 50 gold pieces.  Apparently his neighbors got similar offers—though the farmer was caught try to steal the necessary gold, others must not have been so unlucky.

Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 15 & Bestiary 3 201

Lildevildance (careful following that link; may be NSFW) writes, “I LOVE THIS BLOG!”  This blog loves you, LDD. 

He also wants to know if anyone knows of places online where he can join campaigns.  I don’t, but maybe you all do?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


No, not the Robin—the nightshade.  At CR 14, nightwings are the least powerful of the common nightshades (though Undead Revisited’s nightskitters are “only” CR 12).  But that leaves them plenty of ammunition to make characters’ lives miserable and short, including a magic draining bite.  Given that they constantly detect magic, you GMs have every excuse in the world to target PCs’ beloved magical items and carefully prepared buffing enchantments.  You’re not being mean; you’re simply doing what would come naturally to an Int 18 undead travesty of existence.

Also, who says nightwings have to be bats?  Hey classic D&D fans: remember the nightwing in the city of Oenkmar (GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar by Bruce Heard) that guarded the entrance to the demon-god Atzanteotl’s home plane?  It was shaped like a giant ray so big it showed up on the map!  That’s what nightwings look like in my head.

The nightwalker general Vercintorix is never without two nightwing bodyguards.  It is their job to soften up magically warded assailants—holy-armored paladins in particular.  One of these bodyguards carries a white scar (and a still-festering grudge) courtesy of a half-elf desert magus.

In Shadow Einhoven, two winged ancient assailants play a vicious game of dog-fighting.  The umbral dragon Nixus resents that a weaker but sleepless, relentless interloper has put her on the defensive in her own city.  The nightwing Saberflight fears what the dragon could do to her in a stand-up fight and hates Nixus for casually gobbling up every undead minion the nightshade has sent her way.

The most powerful necromancers of Isle Jaamberei are known to sacrifice whole villages in order to summon a nightwing.  Survivors have reported nightwings in the forms of bats, flying snakes, giant sugar gliders, and winged apes.

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Let’s talk about superfan Sincubus.  Other people recommend this blog to their friends.  Those people are awesome.  Sincubus recommended this blog to Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs himself.   Sincubus is awesum: the sum of all awe.  If you have any awe, you have to hand it over to Sincubus, right now.  Those are the rules.

Mr. Jacobs, if you’re reading, hi!   Hope you like what you see and stick around. 

That goes for all the rest of you, too—I’ve gotten a big traffic spike in the past few days, and I’d be honored if you new folks hung out for a while either on Blogger or Tumblr.  Feel free to send mail, too!  I have to be careful how I type it to avoid spambots—but I’m at dailybestiary [at] gmail [you know the rest].

Confidential to Sincubus: I’m not a “guy calling himself Patch.”  That is actually my name.  Proof.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The most powerful nightshade is fortunately the rarest as well: the nightwave, a sharklike terror 100 feet long.  Thank goodness it stays underwater—oh wait, it can fly.  And its swallow whole attack includes energy drain.  To quote Apocalypse Now, “Never get out of the boat.”  Better yet, don’t get near the water.

However, just because it’s CR 20, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your party is nigh-epic level before you introduce the nightwave.  It could be the subject of legends in your campaign long before the party is ready to fight it.  And since so many of a nightwave’s powers are area effects—channel energy, unholy blight, and the phenomenal blackest depths ability come in particular—you can foreshadow the nightwave with a number of close calls over the course of several seafaring adventures…

The sailors of the Scarlet Isles speak of Hitam Alun, the Ebon Wave.  Presumably a nightwave, this deadly creature never bothers to actually attack.  Instead her very passage seems to summon the black depths of the ocean itself, crushing keels and snapping outriggers.  Thus crippled, the vessels are easy targets for the lacedons, draugrs, and shadow rays that follow like remoras in her wake.

Adventurers contemplating assaulting a nightwave find they have unusual allies—a city of aboleths who are equally eager to not have to share their sea with an undead monstrosity.  If the party allies with the aboleths, the psionic fish-monsters offer them invaluable magical aid in surviving the ocean depths and banishing nightshades.  But these gifts are double-edged swords—every aboleth rune the party members learn to bind the nightwave in its trench also makes them more vulnerable to aboleth control…

The Night Thresher was once a noble cetaceal.  A trip through a nightwave’s gullet changed that.  Now a nightwave herself, the only vestige of her former existence is her preferred prey: vessels of a religious nature, especially those carrying missionaries, pilgrims, crusaders, and especially the treasure hauls of templars.

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I forgot to give a nod to syringesin and a *ba-du-bum-TSH* to Whelp for their thoughts on the night hag.