Monday, September 15, 2014


You have to love fantasy role-playing logic.  If something is even slightly different in our world—columns made to resemble women, for instance, or statues who happen to carry their heads in their arms instead of atop their shoulders—then in the worlds of our imaginations, those differences signify whole new monsters—in this case, the caryatid column (see that entry here) and the cephalophore.

Cephalophores as described in the Bestiary 4 seem to be particularly resistant to the passage of time.  Pathfinder Adventure Path #64: Beyond the Doomsday Door goes into a bit more detail, describing how they typically guard holy sites or react to certain triggers (or the lack thereof).  Even setting aside their usefulness as traps, cephalophores are a great way for a congregation to remember its saints and martyrs.  (Their dazing grazes and strikes might even be interpreted as coming from the statue’s halo, if your world’s saints sport such things.)  They’re also favorite decorations in the chapterhouses of inquisitors and paladins, who tend to have secrets worth guarding and where dying for one’s faith acquires a certain glamorous reputation.

A cephalophore stands alone amid a “temple” made out of thorny vides.  The original house of worship that stood here rotted away long ago, but not before the vines grew up around it, taking on the shape of the now-vanished edifice.  A hollow beneath that animate statue contains an urn filled with holy ashes that serve as four doses of dust of tracelessness (see Ultimate Equipment).

When relic hunters steal the skull of a long-dead pontiff, the great man’s effigy does not take the insult lying down.  On the next new moon, the monument stirs to life and begins to track down the thieves, holding its own head in its arms to signify their crime.  Once it hunts down the original grave robbers, the cephalophore will then move on to whoever has the skull now—for instance, some unlucky adventurers (assuming it wasn’t they who stole the skull in the first place!).

The headquarters of the Order of Ash protect some of the vilest artifacts these inquisitors have ever recovered: magic items whose existence should not be borne by men of law, but that have proven too difficult to destroy (on this plane at least). A succession of traps guard the apparent path to the vaults, including a floor mosaic that summons dusk kamadans, a fresco that traps the viewer in an illusory, thin man-haunted vineyard, and a symbol of fear that herds the panicked into a pit trap. The way to the true vault is actually beneath the main dining table in the officers’ mess, but anyone trying to reach it must contend with a menacing pair of cephalophores whose eyes weep blood when they animate.

—Pathfinder Adventure Path #64 82–83 & Bestiary 4 27

Bring on the weekend! Wait, no, I mean, relive the weekend. Here's Saturday's radio show, with new Fly Moon Royalty, Phox, and J Mascis.  Also celebrating 10 years of Stars' Set Yourself on Fire and Arcade Fire's Funeral and 20 years of Liz Phair's Whip-Smart and They Might Be Giants' John Henry.  Enjoy!

(Link good till Friday, 9/19, at midnight.  If the feed skips, Save As an mp3 and enjoy in iTunes.)

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