Thursday, March 14, 2013


I promise to handle today’s entry, regarding otyughs, with the same maturity and decorum I bring to every post.


Ahem.  Sorry about that.

I used to not get people’s fascination for the otyugh.  It wasn’t a “basic” D&D beast, so I had no context, and the picture in my 2e Monstrous Manual (which I bought just to read) did not inspire love.  Things improved a bit with the illustration in 3.0’s Monster Manual, but I still didn’t get it.

That changed in one of the first “Pathfinder’s Journal” articles (I would need to go back and look to see whether it was a Mike McArtor or James L. Sutter entry), when the otyughs a) talked, and b) gleefully tried to chow down on Eando Kline.  Talking gross monsters are always fun or horrific or both, and I was sold.  Jason Bulmahn followed that up with some great role-playing tips in Dungeon Denizens Revisited, and with that I joined the ranks of the Otyugh Appreciation Society.

So, yeah…when it comes to getting the most out of your otyughs, I don’t think it’s about putting them in an unexpected context (“The head librarian is actually an otyugh!”) or location (“Behold the Northern spotted lava otyugh!”) or messing about overmuch with variant subspecies (though DDR provides some nice ones). 

To get the most out of your otyughs, just remember that they are Int 5 and Wis 12.  They will eat, yes…and that includes eating dung, corpses, and adventurers.  But they will also (as Bulmahn so well points out) surrender, bargain, wheedle, and otherwise interact…at least as long as their hunger doesn’t outweigh their curiosity or common sense.  Turn the monster into a personality…and just as players get used to the personality, remind them of the monster.  A great session is assured.

A wealthy patron’s child goes missing after running off to explore the city dump.  Worse yet, this is the time of year when the dump’s otyughs spar for territory, making them more aggressive than usual.

The grandiloquent scholars of the Academie Magick aren’t content to just dump their waste.  Instead it collects in a cesspit that dimension doors the results into the sewer once per day.  The lucky otyugh on the receiving end of this shipment is regarded as a powerful wizard among its kind, and securing its cooperation is crucial in any search of the sewers for treasure or fugitives.

To catch a murderer, first adventurers must find the body—during flood season in the ancient catacombs.  A tip from a one-armed lizardfolk points the way, but soon the adventurers are rafting down flumes, fending off vargouilles, and contending with otyughs mutated by long exposure to fell energy.

Dungeon Denizens 28–33 & Pathfinder Bestiary 223

now I’m totally envisioning a downtrodden peasant hedgewizard with a pig familiar, sort of like a mix between Schmendrick and Willow

I like it!  I also, I stole the baby!

And justjingles commented:

Oh MAN, I want the PPC: Animal Archive. My favorite class is druid, so I am all ABOUT those animal companions. Last game I played it was a megaloceros!

I know, right?  Just for you I knuckled down and read the whole thing last night/this morning.  And yeah, jj, you’re definitely going to want this book. 

For everyone else: The redesign has brought more oomph to the Player Companion line in general.  And if you’re going to play a druid, witch, wizard with a familiar, or ranger, then this book is pretty much a must-have.  I repeat my comment from yesterday: the art is great; watch for the armored triceratops especially.  And the charts are all quite helpful, especially the metacharts—with animal companions spread over three Bestiaries and familiar info sprinkled all over the place, it’s nice to have one central place to look first. 

It’s not all fun and games, either—two of the spells are bleed for your master and die for your master. 

My only quibbles are in the equipment section: the poison caps seem technologically and logistically unlikely, and the barding stitches and fury drops are pretty…we’ll say messed up.

This book drastically increases my likelihood of taking a familiar, at least for a one-shot or short campaign. And while it’s by no means a must-have for, say, the fighters and clerics out there, if you play one of the classes I mentioned above then for $10.99 it’s totally affordable for the amount of pregame and in-game utility you get.

1 comment:

  1. Once, several years ago, one of my players was delighted to discover that otyughs were intelligent and spoke Common. And, based on their low Intelligence, she decided that they spoke like Lolcats.


    All of my otyughs have operated under these rules since.