Tuesday, July 30, 2013


By now you’re used to me making apologies for my less-than-comprehensive knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos, particularly The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.  But I don’t need to make apologies today, because it’s patently obvious that the planet-hopping slimy horse-facedbird-lizard-things known as shantaks are awesome.  Surely you can find a use for planet-hopping slimy horse-faced bird-lizard-things in your campaign.  Did I mention these planet-hopping slimy horse-faced bird-lizard-things can fly between planets and even stars?  And that one can carry (and extend its immunities to) a passenger as well?  Or that these planet-hopping slimy horse-faced bird-lizard-things, like so many of Lovecraft’s creations, have weird fears and superstitions (of nightgaunts, gargoyles, and harpies, for instance)?  And did I mention that shantaks are planet-hopping slimy horse-faced bird-lizard-things?!?  No?  I’ll reiterate: Planet-hopping slimy horse-faced M-----F---ing bird-lizard-things!!!

A pair of shantaks harries a party through a mountain pass.  Should they head straight, they become trapped in a box canyon and must fight their way past the bird-creatures.  Should they turn south, the adventurers can escape through the Gargoyle’s Mouth.  North also offers an escape route of a more extreme variety: The party will blunder into the nightgaunt-haunted hills of the Demiplane of Blasphemous Hope.

A crime syndicate begins smuggling strange artifacts and narcotics-spewing beetles into the city of Eastmeer.  This contraband comes not from a neighboring country, but from the Antelope, a planet whose eccentric orbit sends it wobbling through the summer sky.  Shantaks shuttle the syndicate members back and forth, kept in check by the guild’s Filthwing harpy allies.

Asuras abscond with the virgin princess who is the reborn symbol of the Dawnlily faith—taking her not to one of the Hells, but into the void of space.  When no mage can offer passage between the stars, adventurers are forced to turn to the strange denizens of Leng.  They rent shantaks to the party at exorbitant prices…but even then passage is not guaranteed; the party must cajole the beasts into harness.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 244

Shantaks feature prominently in (and on the cover of) the module The Moonscar, which I reviewed here.

The never-turn-your-back-on-him-he’s-planning-something uwtartarus pointed out a wrinkle to the shambling mound I’d overlooked:

Also the Harrow Deck of Many Things (i.e. my way of ruining my campaigns) includes a card that gives a character the ability to interrogate plants (speak with plants spell-like ability?) but then causes the local vegetation to spawn an angry Shambling Mound, which has been my exposure to the druid-golem.

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