It’s always impressive when a late-Bestiary monster makes it into the top tier. Typically this is because a monster just perfectly fills an empty niche or fixes some glaring oversight. For instance, take the draugr. Almost the second it was introduced, all talk of lacedons went out the window; the draugr has been our aquatic undead of choice in Pathfinder ever since. And the Bestiary 4’s hungry flesh is already making waves in the same way…if by “waves” you mean the “quivering […] tumorous flesh.”
There’s just something forehead-slappingly obvious about it…as in, what’s taken us so long to get one of these? And they’re just so flexible. Need a failed alchemist’s experiment? Hungry flesh. A fleshwarp that didn’t hold? Hungry flesh. A rakshasa or oni who gave himself over too much to pleasures of the mortal realm? Hungry flesh. The immune system inside a dead titan? Hungry flesh. An infection on a biomechanical voidship? Hungry flesh. Troll afterbirth? Hungry flesh. Avatar of a spirit of cannibalism? Hungry flesh. A pile of animate hungry flesh? Let me think…now, I’m just spitballin’ here…buuuttt…how about oh I dunno HUNGRY FLESH?!?
It doesn't hurt that it so easily scales up to Gargantuan size to face down tougher PCs. And its monstrous growth and tumor infestation abilities are perfect for disposing of a few redshirts.
Speaking of which…
There’s always that player. Usually he’s someone who cut his teeth on 1e AD&D and fondly remembers the days when you got a whole retinue of followers just for hitting the right level (often appearing out of nowhere just when they were most useful, like Brother Maynard in Holy Grail). Or it’s a tactically minded new player who reads all the hardcovers and realizes that for a handful of gems he can bring a literal army of literal spear-carriers into the dungeon. (My own group apparently took advantage of my paladin’s absence—I was in Australia—to blitz their way through a dungeon using my Kingmaker citizens as death knell fodder. Bastards.)
This time, let that player have all the NPCs and followers he (it’s always a he) wants. Let him hire litter-bearers and apothecaries galore. And then once the party is deep, deep, deep in the dungeon, with that army of redshirts between them and the exit, have a cluster of hungry fleshes arrive to snack on the redshirts. Extra points if they’re hasted.
Okay, alchemy schmalchemy. Today’s adventures seeds ditch the usual hungry flesh origin story for more bizarre geneses:
When monks of the Claw of the Becoming Tiger deem themselves to have achieved enlightenment, they go through a secret ceremony, the Rendering, which flenses the flesh from their bodies and sheathes their bones in metal, leaving them as bronze-clad skeletal champions (see the Advanced Bestiary). Immortality of bone and spirit does not end the hunger of the body, however, and the starving remains survive in the monastery’s deepest cellar as ravenous hungry fleshes.
The annis hag known as Agony Annie recently fell victim to one of her own traps. But her decades of depravity still taint every aspect of her remote cottage. Spells to make the dough rise and keep her victims fat turned the last orphan-meat pie she left cooling in her oven into a hungry flesh that boils out to attack intruders. Meanwhile, the many maids she starved to death with overwork survive as a haunt that cripples interlopers with weakness just as the hungry flesh strikes.
The troll gods are barely gods at all—more like inchoate manifestations of primal concepts like Fire, Hunger, Fear, Desire, and so forth. Gord the Hunger is the most fully realized, having devoured and partially digested several divine powers before he was forced to regurgitate them, included the ogre deity Vormus and the kobold trickster twins who managed to trap Vormus in his own cauldron in the first place. Suffused with his sense of giantish pride (for only a giant god could eat another god, he reasons) Gord rejects all other humanoid worshippers. Should a non-troll or non-giant divine caster grow powerful enough in his service that he notices her prayers (typically when she attempts to cast her first 3rd-level spell), he spontaneously transforms her into a Huge hungry flesh to teach her what appetite is all about.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 4 152
Baroness Ahleah, paladin of Iomedae, will have her revenge on behalf of her lost men.
My conception of troll religion is one part D&D Gazetteer series and one part David Eddings’s Elenium.
Now tonight was a hell of RuPaul’s Drag Race episode. I am determined to have you all converted by the end of the season. The Venn diagram union of RuPaul-watching indie rocker Pathfinder players has to be bigger than just me.
Saturday’s radio show started with Mary Lou Lord and only got better from there, including just-released Iron & Wine archival songs, a salute to Ex Cops as they take on McDonald’s (#slownewsday my ass), and some lovely Lady Lamb. Listen or download it here.
(Link good till Friday, 3/13, at midnight. If the feed skips, or if you want to keep it forever, Save As an mp3.)