Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Baby protean familiars!  (Of course, the established protean castes dispute this…which goes to show that even beings of misrule personified can have their scales ruffled.  Apparently even at the heart of Chaos there is a tiny smidgeon of order, or at least pride of place…)

By the time most characters get to Limbo, even a school of these creatures will likely be no more than a nuisance.  So they have the most potential—and potential for trouble—as familiars.  Sure, they offer leaps of intuition in the lab and can distract foes during battle.  But in other situations…well, imagine having a ferret with the smarts (and impulse control) of 6th grader that can change shape, cast prestidigitation and ghost sound, and even commune once a month.  If you’re lucky, it will be an affectionate, spontaneously morphing creature in the vein of The Golden Compass’s Pantalaimon.  If you’re unlucky (I did say “ferret” and “impulse control of a 6th grader,” didn’t I?)…well, that barbarian in the corner who just found a talking newt in his beer would like a word with you.  (And seriously, commune?  Would you really want to communicate to a Power from the Beyond by playing 20 Questions via your housecat?  Yikes.)

Speaking of which, there is no way in Hell that a voidworm familiar should be in the hands of the player 100% of the time.  Like all intelligent familiars, it’s half an NPC and should be treated as such.  A) That means more opportunities for role-playing and plot complications.  And B)…

Well, let’s be honest: Most players who pick chaotic neutral characters want to cause at least a smidgen of trouble.  Which isn’t a bad thing—in fact, it’s totally acceptable in a career path that involves a fair amount of slaying, looting, and disdain for 9-to-5 employment.  But every once in a while, it’s nice to saddle a chaotic neutral character with some trouble of his or her own.  Maybe this is the paladin in me talking, but I think a GM-controlled, hyperactive planar ferret familiar might be just the thing…

Arriving in Limbo, adventurers are enchanted by the sight of a school of voidworms skimming through the chaos—until a naunet barrels past, trying to consume the voidworms (and the adventurers for good measure).  If the adventurers drive the larger protean off, the voidworms will “adopt” the mortals as long as they remain “interesting,” defending them fearlessly until the adventurers stop to rest or pray longer than an hour.

Talimiditeron is the voidworm familiar of the sorcerer Pax Tinalt, a hired wand operating out of Basin.  The gender-shifting Tali—usually a she, sometimes sexless, sometimes hermaphroditic, never male (“They’re icky”) unless the moon is full (or very pretty)—is obsessed with finding Pax a mate.  Pax, despite his alignment, has never let go of the dwarven ideal of marrying for life…which makes Tali’s efforts at matchmaking (which usually involve ill-considered pinches via prestidigitation) rather difficult…and his own penchant for catfolk and half-orc prostitutes rather problematic.  Still, he is an excellent dungeon delver skilled at using evocation spells in close quarters, so long as female dwarves in the party can put up with his and Tali’s advances.

The party sorcerer’s voidworm familiar is especially adept with its commune ability, allowing one extra question every session.  If this question is taken advantage of, however, the protean then speaks a single sentence in a multitude of voices.  This is the semi-harmonious exhortation of a chorus of proteans that has big plans in store for the hapless adventuring company, whether they are willing or no…

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 217

As ever, more on the proteans can be found in Todd Stewart’s “Keepers of Chaos” from Pathfinder #22: The End of Eternity.

Also, for my Tumblr readers, I can imagine there are those who would take exception to my use of “gender” and “sex” as synonyms in the second adventure seed.  Rest assured I am well versed in the difference between sex and gender, as well as capable of teasing out notions of the gender one presents, the gender one performs, biological gender, heteronormative expectations thereof, and the tyranny of binary gender identity.  Just sayin’.

1 comment:

  1. The voidworm was IIRC created by Wes Schneider (and I profusely apologize if I remember wrong here!).

    Also, the voidworm is in my opinion one of the coolest Pathfinder monsters to be added into the game. I cannot say enough good things about them. I say this as the wanna-be-Xaositect writer responsible for unleashing the proteans originally. The void worm was a spectacular addition to them, and I'll be honest, I'm aiming for my primary Pathfinder Society character to get one of them as an improved familiar as soon as possible. :D

    And rest assured, though I'm just one person, I and my non-conventionally wired brain don't take offense at your use of gender and sex in the post above. You're cool.