Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sargassum Fiend

The Sargasso Sea has held a place in the imagination since its discovery—the Wikipedia page is a who’s who of fictional and cultural touchpoints.  Kelp beds, too, like aquatic redwoods, impress us with their towering heights/depths.  Why so much seaweed?  Why such giant fronds?  And what wonders—and monsters—might be hidden within?

It’s also no accident that the Sargasso Sea lies in the doldrums—flotsam and jetsam collect where the currents and winds die away.  To sailors in a pre-engine age, the doldrums are a terrifying place, where boredom soon gives way to starvation, dehydration, and desperation.  And when captains are desperate to get power out of even a puff of wind, anything that holds the ship back—particularly seaweed lining the keel or fouling the rudder—is quite literally the enemy.  Sargassum fiends are the fear of being trapped in the doldrums (and all this fate’s attendant madness and hallucinations) personified and given angry, hungry motive force.

A tribe of evil selkies worships a Gargantuan sargassum fiend as a god.  The selkies use their powers (or just their mere appearances alone, sailors being sailors) to lure ships within range of the plant’s mirage field.  Doing so both buys them protection against their ocean’s fearsome adaros and fuels dark, strange rites that empower their sorceresses’ spells with strange metamagic effects.

A gnomish city can only be reached via diving bell.  When an adventuring party takes its first trip down, sargassum fiends attack their vessel.  They must end the conflict quickly, because every round takes them closer to the depths where they will either drown or be crushed outright by the pressure.

Sargassum fiends aren’t limited to terrestrial seas.  In the Shatter Belt, the asteroid field that surrounds Staranchor, sargassum fiends are a notorious threat.  These spacegoing versions of the plant can exist in the vacuum of space for years at a time, only to flourish when exposed to ships’ magical radiation or the light of certain stars—sometimes at an exponential rate.  A salvage crew might brush against a patch of sargassum seeds in one system without realizing it, and be utterly overwhelmed by fully-grown space sargassum fiends before they reach home.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 235

In our continuing series of “Patch’s friends and acquaintances that are way more successful than him,” J. dropped a new video yesterday.  Enjoy!

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