Friday, November 29, 2013


Thunderbirds originally come from Native American mythology, sharing similar characteristics to Eurasia’s rocs/phoenixes/firebirds, albeit with a more stormy focus.  The Bestiary 2 notes the complex and careful relationship local tribes often have with thunderbirds, seeing them as bringers of both life-giving rains and village-destroying hurricanes.  In your campaign they might be a nice regional replacement for other large avians like rocs and giant owls, servants of storm deities, allies of the djinn (seeing as they speak Auran and are as intelligent as humans), enemies of dragons, or hazards of aerial travel.  However you use them, they are quite literally forces of nature that bring storm and lightning in their wake.

The desert realm of Kalar does not get natural rainfall.  The only way to bring the rain is for a brave to roust a thunderbird out of its nest, either by polite entreaty in Auran or by force, so that it calls a storm in its agitation.  Few young men and women ever return from this endeavor, but the desperate tribes have no choice but to continue sending volunteers—or troublesome outsiders.

Thunderbirds and primitive kongamatos wage epic battles in the skies above the Dagger Veldt, the thunderbirds’ size and sonic thunderbolts evening the odds somewhat against the smaller but more powerful dragons.  Unfortunately, the territorial flyers are quick to break off their squabbles and even unite against intruders like skyships and adventurers on flying carpets.

The war on the Northern Front is not going well.  If the Flying Foxes can’t find some way to protect their biplanes from Lizenne’s indigenous thunderbirds, how can they hope to stand up against the lightning guns and salamander dirigibles of the Fosterling King’s air force?

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 264

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a “thunderbird” in The Daily Bestiary…although the last time it was really a lightning elemental.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thunder Behemoth

We’ve covered air and sea; now it’s time to tackle divine retribution on land: the thunder behemoth.  At CR 18 and 25 Hit Dice, the thunder model is actually the weakest of the behemoths (fit for only destroying “a single nation or empire,” according to the Bestiary 3), but that’s likely small comfort to the cities in its path.  When you're a god who needs an engine of divine destruction, but a tarrasque would be overkill, a thunder behemoth fits the bill nicely.

As with the other behemoths, I think the illustration in the B3 should be taken as an example, not a given.  Your behemoths might look like Colossal xorns, six-legged lizards (à la “basic” D&D’s frost salamanders) grown to huge proportions, triple-trunked oliphaunts, a kind of styracosaurus/beetle/minotaur, or whatever.  (If there was ever a time to go back and watch Digimon for inspiration, this is probably it.)

“The drow may have fallen,” it is sometimes said, “but ’twas tower elves that gave them a push.”  Ever since then, no tower elf (see the Advanced Race Guide) civilization has been allowed to take root.  While they may inhabit other elven cities as they please, any time they gather in numbers too great or see one of their number crowned, a thunder behemoth inevitably erupts from the earth to ensure their namesake crystal spires fall.

Crafting a sword powerful enough to slay a deity’s son was reason enough to punish the Vault of Dolbaddon for their hubris with a thunder behemoth.  And that sword, so desperately needed by adventurers now, is still in one of the behemoth’s five stomachs, encysted where it lodged after being swallowed so long ago.  The behemoth itself has not been seen for a millennium, and is presumed buried deep in the mantle or on another planet entirely.

The Lashkalan Jungle is impenetrable even for skyships—storms cycle through the rainforest year-round, and the trees have been witnessed shooting vines and cannonball-hard seedpods whole cable lengths into the air to bring down flyers.  The one sure path through the jungle is to follow the meandering route of the Ravening That Walks, a tempest behemoth that devours all before it.  Of course, the bristling, pangolin-like dinosaur has been known to double back on its own trail from time to time…

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 39

Edit: Sorry for the lateness of this post.  I know some of you have been awaiting it eagerly.  Original entry: Busy with Thanksgiving.  Post to come tomorrow.  Gobble, gobble!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It’s like my mother always said: “The enemy of my enemy is my spidery-limbed, whip-tentacled monstrosity born in an orgy of cannibalism.”

Wait.  Your mother didn’t say that?

The good news is that thulgants hate demons way more than they hate you.  And you may be beneath their notice, anyway—Ultimate Magic notes: “These powerful qlippoth are too arrogant and self-important to answer the call of a spellcaster wishing to bind them.”  So if you encounter a thulgant in-game, your best bet is to quickly vacate the area or summon a demon and then run. 

The bad news is that thulgants still want to snuff out every last vestige or mortal life and mortal sin.  And they are born of the cannibalistic depredations of several augnagars, each of which likely left a trail of devastation in its wake.  Plus, augnagars feed on rotted demon flesh, and as a general rule you really don’t want to be anywhere that is a) not only deadly enough to have demon corpses, but also b) so deadly that here are enough demon corpses to sustain an entire species.  Oh, and thulgants are CR 18.  And have ability score-draining stingers that can rip through your entire body, shredding every stat still further.  But at least you can run from them—crap, no, they’re smarter than you (Int 24, Wis 27) and can plane shift as well.

So yeah, thulgants are bad news.  Good luck.

Adventurers carefully pick their way through a qlippoth-infested layer of the Abyss, protected by charms that hide their mortal nature from the inhabitants.  But the charms only work on fully mortal blood…as their pitborn (demon-blooded; see Blood of Fiends) tiefling discovers when a thulgant bursts forth from its trapdoor lair to devour her.

Adventurers help a renowned circle of wizards dismantle a cult of the Great Old Ones just days before a foul rite was to take place.  But they are taken by surprise when the wizards attempt to actually finish the cultists’ dark ceremony.  The wizards believe that by completing the summoning, they can entrap the entity for purposes of study and intelligence gathering.  But it all goes wrong when the rite calls the wrong monster: not the expected star spawn, nightgaunt, or moon-beast, but an enraged thulgant instead.

A thulgant seeks to become a qlippoth lord, committing the twin heresies of individuality and worship seeking.  It makes its way to the dying elven nation of Keshelar, where it teaches cultists that acts of cannibalism and murder will return vitality to their increasingly infertile race.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 226

What’s that?  You have a long drive tonight/tomorrow for the holiday?  Did you remember to download two hours of me?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thriae Soldier

And we finally round out our exploration of thriae with the soldier caste.  Their queens’ precious merope only affects their prescience long enough to boost their fighting ability, but that’s nothing to sneeze at, especially since it also grants fast healing.  A soldier’s character is likely to reflect that of her queen, her seer superiors, and her surroundings—soldiers from more remote or orthodox hives might revere divination as a mystery, while others might be only interested in the gold it brings; some soldiers might be spiritual Amazons who treat fighting as an art, while others may be as happy to mix it up in a tavern as any dwarf.

(I also failed to mention thraie larvae in Friday’s entry on thriae queens, so let’s see if we can’t squeeze some of them in, too.)

Torburg’s Hivetown Quarter is aptly named, as the district has grown up around the giant thriae hive that used to lie on the outskirts of town in generations past.  The thraie soldiers’ libertine attitudes toward sexuality make them welcome patrons at the area’s many bars and pubs; in fact, Torburg has become quite a hub for mercenaries, who are as eager to bed the thriae as the thriae are to bed them.  Thriae soldiers tend to have problems with alcohol, though, and human mercenaries tend to have problems with merope—making brawls and street battles a daily occurrence that often sweeps up passersby in the melee.

Thriae soldiers defend their hive from local adventurers.  When they unleash their fusillades of arrows, even the missed shots are not a waste—any errant arrows strike the waxy wall that line the walls, allowing the larvae inside to attack.

A convoy of thriae soldiers makes a long pilgrimage to a gold mine to pick up the ore they so crave.  When they are ambushed by orcs led by a masked human in a wide-brimmed hat, the soldiers believe they have been sold out and treat all subsequent encounters with humanoids as potentially hostile.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 267

Some of The Daily Bestiary’s newer readers are tearing through the archives and commenting/reblogging like mad.  I can’t do justice to all their comments in this space, but I encourage you to go explore the blogs of dr-archeville, agelfeygelach, and knightdisciple to see the conversations unfold.

Also, filbypott notes:

Regarding “outsiders”—I wonder if thriae aren’t meant to be the “wasp-formians” mentioned but not elaborated upon in 3.5’s The Great Beyond.

My gut is no, because thriae are so humanoid; I imagine the wasp-formians are a separate subspecies.  But I’ll leave the comment in here in case Todd Stewart wants to weigh in as he sometimes does.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thriae Seer

The queen is the heart of thriae society, but most outsiders will be more concerned with the thriae seers.  Their fortunetelling both serves the hive in and of itself and is a source income for the colony as well.  Of course, the thriae would call the offerings they receive tribute, not payment…and many supplicants are probably happy to make such offerings, because when else are they likely to be in the presence of a being (let alone a triad) with Charisma 27?  (You expect that kind of number in a being like the CR 18 queen, but for the CR 11 thriae seers it’s just staggering.  Not surprisingly, many take levels in sorcerer or oracle.)

Most thriae seers will serve as potential advisors to PCs.  But, as with all thriae, the needs of the hive come first, which may put them in conflict with PCs when the situation warrants it.

Also, one last thought that didn’t make it into the adventure seeds below: While I know that the Bestiary 3’s reference to “outsiders” means those from outside the hive, I like to also imagine it meaning capital-O Outsiders—that thriae seers are so good even planar beings consult them for their wisdom…

While invading a fortified castle, adventurers come across the source of their nemesis’s constant good fortune: a triad of thriae seers.  Having fled their hive for reasons of their own, they are terrified of being discovered and returned to their queen, so they immediately attack, offering no quarter.

Thriae seers offer a dire warning: Those terrifying expansionists, the formians, are coming.  What they do not add is this: Their queen has brokered a deal with the ant-like planet hoppers.  The seers deliver their prophecy truthfully; then, their lawful contract having expired, they act to neutralize the governors who came to them for aid.

After a mysterious hive die-off, thriae seers are desperate to recruit humanoid diviners and loremasters to round out their numbers, as well as find a consort for their ailing queen.  They do not have time to persuade potential candidates to join them, instead sending teams of monks, rogues, and sorcerers to abduct the individuals they need.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 266

After a two-week hiatus, I was so glad to be back on the air this Saturday!  (For all you new readers, in addition to a monster obsession I’m also a wee bit of a DJ.)   This week we had the usual new music, some MNDR and RAC, and a (belated) look at the 10th anniversary of Death Cab for Cutie's “Transatlanticism.” Listen!

(Link good till Friday, 11/29, at midnight.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thriae Queen

Get ready for three days of thriae!  The Bestiary 3 serves up this race of bee-like Amazons and oracles.  I was always a fan of 3.0’s abeils from the Monster Manual II, so the soothsaying thriae are a nice replacement, even if they lack some of the abeils’ elvishness. 

On the other hand, what thriae gain is an insectile practicality that could lead to some interesting conflicts.  Yes, they are oracles, but ones who are particularly protective of their secrets—which may not sit well with adventurers desperate for information.  True, they encourage humanoid male company, but prolonged companionship comes with a price: drug-fueled slavery (and in some cases, consumption of the male by his thriae mate).   

Also, there are plenty of New Weird fantasy opportunities with thriae as well.  Fans of Perdido Street Station’s great set piece inside the Cactacae’s Glasshouse could easily replace the cactusfolk with thriae in their own campaigns for a similarly pulse-pounding caper.

Of course, buzzing at the heart of the entire thriae race are their powerful queens, who, while by no means malevolent, still place the value of their hives far above any other concerns.  At CR 18, a thriae queen might even be the pivotal mastermind of a campaign, particular in a setting where law vs. chaos is the more important conflict than good vs. evil…

Sage Prester Sartan knew he was giving up the outside world when a thriae queen recruited him as a consort.  What he did not know was that the safety of the Grand Duchy now hangs in the balance, with his knowledge of capital’s Undercity crucial to its survival.  But the thriae queen he adores will not surrender him for such mundane concerns.  Worse yet, since Sartan’s vigor is flagging she is already (unbeknownst to the sage) making preparations to consume him.

Stare too long into the void, and the void stares back.  A thriae queen’s hunt to understand the Those That Walk Behind the Stars has perverted her into worship of the Great Old Ones.  Now a bloated monster, she directs her tribe to abandon the order of hexagonal cells for the mystery of strange spiraling glyphs, and she drives them forth to collect humanoids for sacrificial rites.

A thriae queen regrets the overambitious expansion of her colony—especially having to share power with two of her offspring.  Thus she hands a party of humanoid adventurers a surprising mission: “I will reward you beyond your wildest dreams.  You only have to kill my daughters.”

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 264–265

Lots of reader feedback to talk about (and that’s not even getting to my mail backlog from while I was on vacation!).  Response to the Thin Man entry has nearly eclipsed my earlier “Best Of” post about pit fiends.  Meanwhile, my joking reference to the thrasfyr as “Bondage Bear” actually spurred a pretty lively discussion among some readers—including discussion about the lack of good-aligned bondage/masochism themed creatures in Pathfinder.

I don’t want to get into a big digression about this—this is a relatively all-ages space, after all—but because of my Tumblr audience I’m definitely sensitive to the fact that a lot of BDSM tropes are invoked in negative ways in fantasy.  So I endeavor to avoid adventure seeds that are simply, “This monster is evil because…it’s a sadist!”—I try to go deeper and be subtler than that (especially in my kyton entries), and I hope I succeed.

(I'm going to put the rest of this under a break.  Because adult stuff.) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


If chimeras aren’t bizarre enough for your liking, the bull-horned, serpent-tailed, bear-bodied thrasfyr should be right up your alley.  Former beautiful fey warped into war machines by the eldest of the fey powers, these creatures are guardians and weapons left over from a previous age.  Perhaps because of their crimes, bondage and punishment are integral to the thrasfyrs’ nature—each one calls one other creature master, while everyone else is a target for the thrasfyr’s entangling chains.

Bear-baiting is a sport—if the barbaric practice can be called a “sport”—for men.  Elysian and fomorian titans hunger for more mighty entertainments, goading captive thrasfyrs into fighting other exotic beasts…and unwanted guests.

There is only one thrasfyr—the Thrasfyr—in the Forgotten Wood.  The slumbering beast was a servant of the Autumn Lord before that fey being’s ascension into godhood.  Now the King in Orange lives on another plane entirely and has a guardian dragon to protect his vaults.  But those seeking secrets from his faerie past would do well to slay the Thrasfyr and bathe in its blood, then listen anew to the language of the Forgotten Woods’ birds.

Every Tane sighting is worthy of note, and as thrasfyrs are comparatively common compared to other Tane, their comings and goings are well catalogued.  In the Marigold Promenade, a thrasfyr calls an erlking its master.  The cold riders of Icegeist have never forgiven a great white-furred thrasfyr for killing their ard rí (high king).  The most mysterious thrasfyr is the one found in the checkerboard realm of Ludo, where it dances under the full moon with a jubjub bird to the music of a band of korreds.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 263

Actual conversation with artisticlicensetokill:

“So what’s up with Bondage Bear?”
“It’s a thrasfyr.  One of the Tane.  It is mighty.”
“It’s wearing a vest and is covered in chains.  It’s Bondage Bear.”
“No, see, the chains are for entangling enemies and it can bond to another being it calls its master and its shape is a punishmentohmygodit’sBondageBear.”
“The vest gave it away.”
“Under ‘Languages’ it should say ‘Provincetown.’”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The Bestiary 2 says, “Thoqquas are cantankerous creatures of fire and slag.”  (Then again, is there a single inhabitant of the Plane of Fire that’s not cantankerous?*)  Perhaps their giant ancestors really did inhabit planet cores, but in their current state these horned worms are merely the servants of mephits and the bane of miners and low-level PCs.

The black volcanic sand of the Plain of Ash seems to attract thoqquas, drawing them by some mysterious means from the Elemental Plane of Fire.  The relative cold drives them to anger, though, and they take out their ire on any nearby wooden structures, burning through wagon wheels, tent poles, and yurts.  In their hunger for ore, they happily devour any metal they encounter—including armor and weapons.

Impregnus needs no suffix like “Castle” or “Keep”—the mighty citadel has earned its singular moniker, remaining unbowed against hordes of orcs, armies of hobgoblins, two forest dragons, and the Nightshade Messiah.  But when faced with an army employing well-fed siege thoqquas, Impregnus may yet fall—unless a group of new recruits can mount a clever defense.

The fire and magma mephits of Hollowhome are not exactly trustworthy.  But since the bottomless caverns of Hollowhome truly are bottomless—the post-cataclysm planet having been so riddled by purple worms and meteor strikes that a misstep can send an explorer hurtling into a lava pool or nothingness—hiring one of these mercurial outsiders is a necessity for navigating the pockmarked mantle.  The mephits use thoqquas to scout ahead with their tremorsense…and sometimes also as muscle, should the mephits decide their adventurer employers are too weak to defend their booty.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 262

*I guess they’re all…hot…under the collar! Amirite?  Thanks, folks, I’m here all night.

Wow, people seem to be digging yesterday’s Thin Man post.  Thanks especially to Strange Door for the kind words.

Regular reader filbypott writes:

A point of interest: James Jacobs has noted that the thin men were originally inspired by the Internet bogeyman, the Slender Man… though they turned out quite different in the end.

I’m actually glad I was too Internet-illiterate to make the Slender Man connection; my ignorance made me work harder.

And dmfiat took it even farther:

I imagine the Thin Man has a narrow, angular head to better fit in with his cane field home. His feet end in strange, almost spike-like foot-nubs. […]

There’s more; check out the whole thing on his page.  Thanks again, everyone!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thin Man

Thin men look like run-of-the-mill monsters.  I don’t think they are.

Some introductory thoughts:

1) Even in the early-Renaissance-style economies of most fantasy RPGs, more than 95% of the population will be involved in agrarian pursuits.  That means there are a lot of fields and pastures out there.  If dark dungeons and trackless forests have their spirits, so should farms and plantations.

2) People die on farms all the time.  When I was young, I was told to never, ever go near a grain silo (I could drown/suffocate in grain) or into the cornfields (but if I did, I should walk in a straight line until I hit a road, so I didn’t wear myself out going in circles).  And that’s not even taking into account the potential for mayhem that’s possible when you add isolation plus farm implements (from sickles and scythes in the olden days to shotguns and combines today). 

3) Just rows and rows of corn by themselves are creepy.  See especially Corn comma Children of the.)

4) The same goes for sugar cane—maybe more so, given that the swampy/tropical environments cane grows in can hide all manner of beasts and…things.

5) Speaking of which, over the years I’ve had a number of mentors who at various points exposed me to Caribbean literature.  In many cases, these stories were magical realist in nature—where the world of spirits was closer to ours, and the relationships to them very transactional: You do this to avoid this hex; you do that to honor this spirit.  In these stories, it was not a matter of belief or religion or real vs. fantasy; it was a matter of being good neighbors.  Thin men would fit right in such tales.

All of which brings us to the thin man from the Inner Sea Bestiary.  (Note: I can’t tell from the Introduction who created it.)  Thin men are creatures of cane, elusive predators that hide right in plain sight.  And because thin men are fey, they do more than just exist—they represent.  Other fey and undead stand for or express our fear of the wild, of travel, of crossroads, of caverns, and so forth.  Thin men are the inexplicable calamities that strike on a summer afternoon, the monsters in your own back 40 that you never saw coming.

A superstitious redcap hates the piety of a nearby farmer, but he fears to take action because the farmer marks the borders of his land with consecrated carved tokens.  The redcap sends his accomplices, a band of thin men, to tear down the holy symbols and pick off the farmer’s hands one by one.

Rock gnome and grippli myths have a number of names for the Adversary, a tunneling, mole-like demon.  Thin men are said to be the Adversary’s servants, collapsing burrows, gnawing away the roots of crops and sacred trees, and appearing seemingly out of nowhere to attack goatherds and travelers.

Templeton Smithson inherits a plantation.  Appalled to suddenly find himself a slaveholder, he and his friends—adventurers and explorers all—travel to the far-off island estate to settle affairs and emancipate the slaves.  Doing so will not be an easy job, however.  The slaves do not trust “the Young Master,” his neighbors are terrified his actions may spark rebellions on their lands, and a coven of witches seeks his wealth for their own, sending hexes and juju zombies his way.  Worse yet, things live in the cane fields that seem to defy the laws of physics—terrible thin men and hounds from another dimension entirely.

Inner Sea Bestiary 52

In the Golarion setting, thin men are endemic to Rahadoum, though why is still a mystery.

Also, yesterday was my 500th Tumbler post!

Oh, and if you were expecting a radio show yesterday, sadly there wasn’t one—despite Friday’s post I was still on vacation last weekend and not on the air.

Monday, November 18, 2013


A body of crystal and limbs and tentacles, the theletos is an aeon responsible for freedom and fate (and thus slavery and prophecy as well).  Mechanically, it’s kind of fun: the theletos’s wreath of fate ability forces players to choose between the staggered condition or lousy dice rolls, while its spell-like abilities are a range of compulsions, charms, and curses that will be either comic or tear-your-hair-out frustrating, depending on your group’s dynamic.  Thematically, though, the aeon is tricky, because when should the GM deploy it? 

Here’s why I ask this: PCs fighting a bythos (CR 16) or pleroma (CR 20) are already probably fighting for big stakes; adding a living concept of duality to the foe roster isn’t a big deal.  But the theletos is only CR 7…making it far easier to incorporate into most campaigns…but you don’t want one showing up every time the party paladin frees a handful of slaves. 

I suppose the key is to save the theletos for certain crisis points—when a prophet reveals too much about a certain subject, or when the PCs’ actions could spark a rebellion or abolition rather than just a few more or less freed slaves.  Theletos interference could also explain why slavery, serfdom, or fortunetelling are so entrenched in certain areas.  PCs devoted to powers of balance, neutrality, or order might even be compelled by their faith or their divine patrons to aid a theletos—even if that means temporarily supporting slavery or killing prophets—which could be an interesting moral challenge for the right (read: mature and thoughtful) party.

Adventurers help azer slaves rebel against their overseers, who belong to a more powerful azer clan.  But when the slaves begin to talk of forming a democracy, the adventurers find their efforts undermined by a theletos determined to preserve the fire-dwarf custom of slavery.

The Prophet Plague slays soothsayer after soothsayer, all of whom die with blue-white fire and prophecies streaming from their lips.  Clearly some greater plan is afoot, because attempts to save the affected seers are met with theletos opposition.

A cluster of xorns regards a theletos as some kind of divine emissary.  Sensing an opportunity, the theletos harnesses the xorns to help slaves tunnel to freedom.  But neither the theletos nor the xorns care that these tunnels will cause an entire mountainside to avalanche, so it is up to a local ranger and some adventurers to find a better escape route.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 14

The relationship of azers to slavery has interested me for a long time; see more here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanatotic Titan

Pretty much all the titans are guilty of one kind of rebellion or another, but thanatotic titans seem to be the most guilty—the rabble-rousers, the instigators, the masterminds, the leaders…and the ones who fell the farthest.  Even now, trapped in the Abyss, they remain unrepentant, guilty of both conceiving the demodand and gigas races and of continually plotting and scheming against the gods, the free Elysian titans, and mortals alike.

At CR 22, a thanatotic titan makes a good climactic encounter—the puppet master behind all the trouble the PCs have encountered so far.  These titans are also great dark horse villains and spoilers for high-level campaigns—powerful beings who come out of left field to make a dire situation even worse just before the final reel. Or they might be truly unlikely (and very temporary) allies, giving PCs a crucial bit of aid against a demon lord or evil god…but only because they are furthering their own even darker agendas…

Demon hunters find themselves diverted into an unrecorded layer of the Abyss.  The few desultory encounters with demodands they face are a relief from the usual onslaught of demons.  Finally they reach a strange windowless and doorless keep.  Inside is a thanatotic titan intent on using them in one of two ways.  Either the adventurers will fight the titan’s nascent demon lord rival, or take the titan’s place on his Abyssal throne so that he may roam free.

It’s a race against time to stop a thanatotic titan.  The Colossal outsider seeks to rouse out of slumber the resentful representatives of past ages: a powerful veiled master, a dinosaur animal lord, a fomorian titan, even a jabberwock.  A group of adventurers must meet and ally with or destroy these primordial beings before the titan can rally them to his side.

The most famous dungeon in Ileria isn’t a dungeon at all: it’s a prison.  Intent on unlocking its many secrets, a party of adventurers realizes that the last few levels aren’t about keeping treasure hunters like themselves out; they are keeping something else in.  If they persist, the party releases a thanatotic titan…and earns the ire of the Panoply of Archons to boot.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 267

I’m back from vacation!  (Obviously.)  If you’ve written to me or commented recently, don’t stress; I’ll be doing a mailbag dump soon.

Among the many role-playing-related things I saw at Disney was an actress dressed as the most realistic dryad imaginable.  Naturally I didn’t think to get a picture for the blog until hours later (when it was too late), because I am lame.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Before we begin, an important announcement: The Daily Bestiary is on vacation!  I’m typing this on the plane to Orlando as I get ready for a week of R & R.  I’ll see you next Friday as we resume our regularly scheduled posts.

The Deacons of Death, thanadaemons represent death by old age—something most adventurers need never worry about.  But more importantly, they are also the iconic ferryman on/over the River Styx.  They are reliable up to a point, and the wise adventurer would do well to know exactly where that point is.  Using a thanadaemon simply to cross the River Styx is usually a safe bet, but expecting it to bring you back or take you far up and down the river is another story—one with betrayal written in the final chapter.  Because while ferrying souls is their job, harvesting souls is their reason for being. 

Thanadaemons’ ability to plane shift is another reason to seek them out…but again, expecting the ferryman who picks you up in the middle of the Ethereal or Astral Plane to not have an ulterior motive is beyond naïve…

Of all the gondoliers who ply the canals of Tenmeer, those who wear the black livery of the doge are most feared—for these are not men at all, but thanadaemons.  During the time of the Everplague, a council of thanadaemons agreed to serve the doge for a century, provided they could harvest the souls of all those who died of illness or old age in that time.  That doge did not long enjoy their services—he died of plague soon after—but the thanadaemons have served the office faithfully as ferrymen and secret assassins.  Anyone wishing to challenge the current doge must contend with at least one of these fiends.

Adventurers find themselves trapped in the silvery void of the Abyss.  A thanadaemon answers their call, offering to transport them to wherever they wish.  However, if they do not specify the route, they will first spend as much as a year winding through the hope-sapping marshes that border the River Styx.

Not every thanadaemon poles a skiff.  Long Night’s Embrace is a paddlewheel riverboat patterned after dwarven designs, but built and crewed entirely by fiends and catering to gunslingers, gamblers, and prospectors up and down the Sippewissett.  Instead of a quarterstaff, the thanadaemon captain prefers a +2 cavalry saber for his energy drain attacks.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 74

I’m no daemon expert, but for 3.5 fans the marraenoloth is probably the closest equivalent.

More on thanadaemons and their dark lord Charon can of course be found in the inimitable Todd Stewart’s Horseman of the Apocalypse. 

Meanwhile, I’m off to Disney!  See you in a week.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thalassic Behemoth

It’s easy to get distracted by a picture.  The thalassic behemoth looks like a sperm whale, so the temptation to treat it like Moby Dick or Jonah’s whale is pretty understandable.  But there’s nothing saying your behemoth has to look like a whale at all—especially with its claws, water jet, and tsunami powers, a behemoth could easily resemble any one of the bizarre creatures you find in the corner of old nautical maps.  (Google “sea monster map images” if you don’t know what I’m taking about.)

Actually, come to think of it, go back to making your behemoths look like whales.  If my GM told me a whale hated me so much it was willing to crawl on shore to kill me, I’d be terrified.

The leviathan Cadfaelyr was meant to be the savior of the elven race, guarding the ships of the Mournful Fleet from pursuers when the Fair Folk forsook Orcans.  But now that daemons have conquered the mythic elven isles, the leviathan blocks the elves’ only escape route back to the mortal nations.

A pair of thalassic behemoths has only been witnessed once: at the destruction of the Bridge of Force at the strait separating Nortgard from Tylesia.  A new bridge has been constructed over the strait, and a certain scylla-slaying party of adventurers is expected to be at the ribbon-cutting…just in case.

The Unlooked-For is that rarest of things: a thalassic behemoth that did not come from the ocean.  This terrifying creature arose from the Great Inland Sea at Cainus, destroying cities up and down the coast for their promotion of the demonic Jackal Mother to the level of goddess.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 38

P.S. Something I didn’t mention when we covered the tempest behemoth: Flip to the back of the book and check out the full behemoth subtype to really get a grasp on their abilities and defenses, especially their tarrasque-like regeneration and Ruinous (Su) and Unstoppable (Ex) natures.

P.P.S.  Did someone mention crawling whales?  “Blowhole, if you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be?”

P.P.P.S. Did I not post Saturday’s show yet?  The bad news is that my swipe access to the station was accidentally shut off, so I got into my show late—you’re going to have to fast-forward through 10 minutes of dead air.  The good news is we looked at the 20th anniversary of the No Alternative compilation, plus there’s some TEEN, R. L. Burnside, and other fun stuff.  Download it here.

(Link good till Friday, 11/8, at midnight.)