Monday, August 4, 2014


An undead creature inspired by Anishinaabe legends and The Song of Hiawatha, the baykok is a flying undead hunter with a terrifying cry.  It’s been retooled slightly for RPG purposes: Its arrows are bone, not invisible, and it’s gone from devouring the liver of its victims to devouring their souls as well.  All in all, a really satisfying mid-level undead.

Three notes: With their neutral evil alignment and their obsession with devouring souls, baykoks pair naturally with daemons.  They are likely common inhabitants of daemonic planes (Abaddon in Pathfinder, Hades or Gehenna in 3.5, etc.), and they can serve as useful agents for daemons who want to obscure their handiwork in the mortal world. 

Second, given that baykoks prefer to target the most powerful member any party, the Predator franchise might be a nice source of inspiration (especially if you can trick them into splitting the party).

Third, those infinite bone arrows have to come from somewhere.  I love the image of an undead creature ripping out its own bones to fire at PCs, and I bet you do too.

The ranger Callem Fenmaeril was a rank chauvinist in life, believing women had no place on a hunt.  When the half-elf was slain by a single arrow from the bow of a veiled woman, his rage was such that he reanimated as a baykok.  He hunts his mysterious killer to this day, attempting to slay any female archer he meets.

A daemon is smuggling soul gems out of a city.  To hide his involvement, he relies on baykoks to be his enforcers.  Currently, they hunt Watch veterans, taking out the most knowledgeable and experienced members of the city guard who might otherwise ferret out his plot.

An oracle of bones has stolen the precious couatl egg relic venerated by the Seven Waters tribe.  Members of the Bear lodge recruit volunteers to hunt the oracle down, but any who answer the call find themselves hunted in return by baykok allies of the wayward spiritualist.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 35

Given how obsessed I currently am with the audiobooks of Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper novels (so good), you’re lucky only one of my adventure seeds involved a city watch.

In an effort to be less of a humorless pedant, I am trying to wean myself off of always using a comma before “too.”  …This is going to be a struggle.

(Oxford comma 4 lyfe, though.)

Reader comments!  Doktor Archeville likes gunslinging apes.  I see your comment and raise you, Herr Doktor.  And filbypott is a fan as well.  Doktor A. also served up some cyberpunk re: bandersnatches and some Pokemon re: bakus.  Also, holy crap, do I want to be in one of demiurge1138’s campaigns.  Props to dailycharacteroption re: the bakekujira too.

And can we all agree that icantdrawgood needs to do this, like, now?

To this day I love the hell out of Ghostwalk. My obsession is slowly adapting it to a new Pathfinder setting I like to call Ghost Sails, which adds piracy to the mix.

Adapt and share!  This needs to be a thing.

(Combining two books is both a) one of my favorite campaign-building mental exercises and b) one of my favorite things to read about.  I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but Wolfgang Baur’s “Scimitars Against the Dark” in Dragon Magazine #198, which offered ways to import Ravenloft-style terrors into Al-Qadim’s Land of Fate box set, was a revelation to high school sophomore me.  Ghostwalk plus piracy sounds like a perfect idea, whether you tackle it solo or crib from resources like Skull & Shackles, Freeport, or Razor Coast.)


  1. When you said those infinite bones have to come from somewhere, my mind actually headed a few other directions than using their own bones...

    Firstly, that they could draw upon the bones of the dead in a given area as their stockpile of ammunition, even crumbled or shattered bones being reconstituted by their dark power. This can be particularly fun, since every arrow a baykok shoots is thus desecrating someone's grave, and even after the baykok has departed or been destroyed, the PCs might well have to deal with even more restless dead unless they can track down every arrow that baykok shot and return them to their proper places...

    Another fun angle with this is the possibility of particularly potent bones being extra nasty in the hands of a baykok...perhaps the resting place of a truly vile man allows the baykok access to a limited number of unholy arrows, a particularly skilled archer's bones might provide seeking arrows, and other similar things. Thus, a baykok might retreat to make his last stand overtop a mausoleum of arrows when the PCs push him to his limits...

    And another possible angle might be that the bones of a truly holy man might somehow niggle on the unholy senses of baykok, acting like an irritant...some might prefer to avoid such areas unless they must to pursue their victim, providing a possible hiding place...while others might be determined to desecrate such bones, their sanctity personally offensive to the baykok.

  2. I did say firstly, though...the other idea that sprang to mind was that rather than cooperating with daemons, the two soul-devourers share a rather more antagonistic relationship. As Book of the Damned, Volume 3 - Horsemen of the Apocalypse mentions, daemons have a particular mastery over souls, and it's not too much of a stretch to think that their bodies might have special properties...thus, the daemons pursue baykoks, seeking to devour their souls...while hunting parties of baykoks or clever single sniper baykoks seek to hunt down daemons and craft arrows from their bones. This might not jive, though, with the fact that a baykok doesn't have to carry arrows on them, but you could handwave it by having them able to call them up, or just make these daemonbone arrows a particularly potent weapon in their arsenal, perhaps acting as spell-storing arrows containing vampiric touch or enervation.

    I was also a little surprised that an arcane archer baykok didn't make an appearance, and with the daemon concept, it led me to consider the possibility of a high level baykok necromancer/arcane archer whose spellbook is a tome made from the skin and bones of daemons, itself alive in a vague, animalistic sense. The spellbook can be fed the souls of arcane casters, adding in blood any spells from the wizard spell list they might have known that it does not already contain...or possibly -any- necromancy spell from -any- spell list. Thus the baykok has a particular reason to hunt down powerful casters...but sharing souls with his ravenous spellbook makes him a far more active hunter than most of his kind.

    A bit sillier, but another mental image that came to mind was a baykok that, rather than using a traditional bow, prefers to use a ballista...firing forth the bones of giants, dinosaurs, and other larger-than-life creatures by way of ammunition. Such a baykok might be a size larger than normal, or simply regular size, but one can certainly imagine them amongst an undead army.

    Speaking of nontraditional weaponry for a baykok, another concept that popped to mind was one that uses a gun, equipped with bone bullets, but that might infringe on the concept of a pale stranger too much...which in turn makes me envision a baykok and a pale stranger who have a long-time rivalry over their weapons, the baykok insinuating that it takes real skill to use a bow and arrow, while the pale stranger sneers at the primitive nature of the baykok's favored argument few would care about if it wasn't for their continued efforts to settle their long-standing argument via various competitions, hunting down humanoids and monsters alike to try and prove the superior lethality of their chosen weaponry.