Typically my love of Paizo and Pathfinder borders on hagiography. But the Pathfinder oread irks me. You’re going to think my reasons for being irked are pedantic and lame, which irks me even more…especially since you’re right, which just throws me into full-on irkfest of irking proportions. Sigh.
Here’s my beef: When it comes to Greek mythology, we have nymphs. We have dryads. We have nereids. And you can swap in nixies or nereids for naiads with no problem.
But where have oreads, the mountain nymphs, been in fantasy role-playing? Answer: Practically nonexistent, except for two brief mentions: Planescape’s Planes of Chaos and 3.0’s Fiend Folio. So they deserve some time in the spotlight.
But the oreads in the Bestiary 2 aren’t mountain nymphs; they’re planetouched…what the 3.0 Forgotten Realms would have called earth genasi. Ditto the sylph and undine, which also aren’t much the faerie-like sylph and watery undine from the world’s oldest role-playing game. (I’m fine with the ifrit, since that pays homage to without treading on the efreeti.)
I know I’m nitpicking, and I probably could just stat up my own mountain nymph by giving a dryad rock powers…but it’s just an odd creative choice from the Bestiary 2 authors. I would have preferred that we get the oread and a differently named earthtouched creature. That way we’d get two creatures…instead of one mythologically incorrect one that sits around irking me, making me look like the proverbial guy yelling about kids and their place on or off his lawn.
All that said…the oreads as written are pretty cool. And that Kekai Kotaki illustration is amazing. And the options in the Advanced Race Guide make the oread look crazy-fun to play as a PC race. For instance, a student of stone monk combined with one of the alternate racial traits like treacherous earth or ferrous growth (not to mention the Earth Glider feat tree) sounds like something straight out of Avatar: The Last Airbender or Full Metal Alchemist!
I’m feeling less irky now.
One thing to point out when it comes to the planetouched: A lot of times the artists get carried away—because drawing a dude made out of rock who looks like The Thing or Concrete is way more fun that drawing a dude with gray hair. That said, many oreads won’t be immediately obvious as such. The only hint might be an ashen color to their features and a flinty or ponderous aspect to their personality…at least until combat starts.
Many oreads are dwarf-blooded rather than human. Their strength, wisdom, and affinity for stone make them respected warpriests and paladins, even if they are not always the most charismatic speakers. Currently there is quite the rivalry for the hand of Brigga Stolzt, an oread cleric with locks that practically sparkle. Her grandfather is rumored to be an influential shaitan, although this may just be gossip.
A family of oreads who can pass as human travels with a caravan. After attacks from bandits and lycanthropes, the members of the caravan are jumpy—they may attack armed adventuring parties who come too close, preferring to be safe rather than sorry. The oreads fear their companions will turn on them if they reveal themselves as outsiders. But a third ambush, this time by undead (which happen to be vulnerable to the oreads’ magic stone attacks) may force the issue.
Kurzon Stonescar’s craggy appearance and lithoderm birthmarks marked him as nonhuman and illegitimate from childhood. It also marked him for scorn and ridicule (“scar” being an epithet in Vale for “a bastard whose mother’s skirts were cut open,” according to the folk idioms of the region). The oread kept the name and the memories of every insult…and aims to pay Vale back with an avalanche.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 205
Thanks to all of you who dug the orc entry! Also, grimnoir gave me a reblog that was full of love. I am assuming it was illicit love. I hope so—I’m feeling chaotic neutral today.
If you’re looking for the orca entry, we covered it way the heck back here.
Hey indie rock radio fans! (Yeah, I’m talking to both of you!)
This week’s radio show featured a SXSW spotlight! It also featured me with a cold slowly succumbing to Benedryl fog mid-show, with some amusing (by which I mean, annoying) technical foul-ups along the way. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can hear the exact moment I begin to go into full-on coma! But the music is great, so download it. Did I mention it’s all South by Southwest-y? And there's a tribute to Stompin' Tom Connors for my Canadian listeners.
(Music starts about 1:45 into the file. If the feed skips, let load in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, and enjoy in iTunes. Link good till Friday, 3/15, at midnight.)
PS: Once, you're tired of listening to me, you can download most of the songs I played for free here. But you'll miss my curatorial prowess. Oh, such prowess.