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.

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