Friday, August 15, 2014


The bodythief is a plant that steals bodies—you might even say it snatches them—swallowing them whole and then spawning emotionless duplicates of its victims from pods.

The bodythief is physically terrifying—imagine a giant flytrap that can make attacks of opportunity as deftly as a rogue and deflect arrows like a monk—but its intelligence and dedication to “a perfect society” are what set it apart.  The bodythief is not just a throwback to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but to an entire era of classic sci-fi that explored notions of humanity, consciousness, conformity, totalitarianism, etc.  (Think A Wrinkle in Time, which came out only a six years after IotBS.) 

Granted, some of the creators of IotBS say the metaphors read into their movie weren’t intended; they just wanted to make a thriller.  And if you want a purely thrilling “Attack of the Pod People”-style adventure, you’ve got it in spades, with a Str 34 plant as the final Big bad.  But if your group is the kind that wants to debate notions of law and consciousness with an Int 21 carnivorous plant (translated through pod-spawned representatives, as the plant can’t speak for itself but can use telepathy), then all the ingredients are there in the Bestiary 4.

Adventurers encounter a realm ruled by bodythieves, a strict and ordered dictatorship where greenhouses and gardens replace the usual barracks and gaols.  Worse yet, it appears the pod plants had help—not from another planet, but another plane.  Inevitables find the plants’ ordered approach to existence complements their own, and a faction has devoted its resources to helping the bodythieves quell—and replace—agents of disorder…especially  adventurers.

An order of monks and loremaster logicians seek to banish desire and extreme emotions.  This has made the order a perfect cover for an invading bodythief.  Careful observation reveals the pod-spawned are reluctant to do magic and spend an inordinate amount of time tending the gardens on the Autumn Terrace just before Vespers.

After a riot, martial law is imposed, and over time the garrisoned troops take on the cast of an occupying force.  Brought before a tribunal for law breaking, adventures discover the force behind the occupation is a bodythief, and that most of the legal system and key army officers have been replaced by pod-spawned.  The pod-spawned can be overthrown if their plant natures are revealed—an easy task for any druid or ranger—but the party must escape the plant trying to devour them first!

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 20–21

My coworkers!  I didn't get enough notice to participate, but am very proud of them.

Let’s talk about Ethan.  He graduated from my college a little before I arrived.  I don't even remember how we met—possibly we were both on the Death Squad in our school’s version of Assassin?—but he was always way nicer to me than he had any reason to be.

Which is why I totally believe that he is very, very sorry.  (Also, if you want to change the future of the currently ad-supported Internet, read his whole article.)

Can you guys indulge me for a few more paragraphs?  I had a supremely weird/cool week on the Internet last February, but I never posted about it because it was the same week that pothole took out my tire and then snow dumped all over the rest of my life.  I just ran across the notes, and since this week has already been waaay too name-droppy, I thought I’d squeeze them in here to get them out of the way.

1) First off, Reddit is all about the role-playing game Everyone Is John all of the sudden.  [Edit: Again, this was back in February.]  I’ve heard of it, but never really investigated until artisticlicensetokill messages me:

A: Hey, I think the author went to your college.” 
Me: [I follow the link, do a double-take.]  Yeah, he did. 
A: Oh, you’ve you heard of him?
Me: Um…I played Ravenloft with him.”

So if you like indie role-playing, go check out Everyone Is John and the rest of Mike Sullivan’s work.  [Edit: Looks like it's down for now.]  I had no idea he was up to this, but he’s a great guy and knows where the really good dim sum is if you’re ever near San Mateo.

2) I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Clay Risen’s book is blowing up like crazy. If you’re at all into American whiskey and bourbon, check it out, and keep an eye out for his next book (returning to his other specialty, civil rights) due out soon.

[Edit: Months later, people still love Clay’s bourbon book, and his new one, The Bill of the Century, is out now to great reviews.  Clay also participated in that epic bachelor party two weekends ago.  Anyway…]

So it happened that my coworker couldn’t stop talking about this book on American whiskey he was reading.  Finally I pull out my phone.

Coworker: What are you doing?
Me: Just texting the author everything you just said.
Coworker: Why do you have to make everything I love creepy?
Me: It's a gift.

3) Finally this is what happens when I try to take a taxi in College Park to get to my busted car.

Taxi Driver: You live in Baltimore? That's a dangerous place.
Me: Not really. Where are you from?
Taxi Driver: Sudan.
Me: ...The guy from Sudan won't live where I do.
Taxi Driver: Baltimore's rough.

Thus endeth the February notes.  Have a great weekend, everybody!

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