Friday, July 31, 2015


For what is essentially a giant spider, the shriezyx seems to occupy an outsized place in the folklore of Golarion.  The fact that shriezyx are a storied threat to the good-leaning city of Magnimar is likely one reason—no one wants to see a beacon of light in the wilderness fall.  And their CR is high enough (4) that the city watch alone can’t handle them—adventurers have to step in.  (In fact, a save-the-city fight against shriezyx might essentially be the fight that graduates a party from the ranks of low-level-and-unknown to mid-level-and-renowned.)  Plus shriezyx have ties to the Runelords, and we long-time fans love anything relating to those villains.

But what about in your campaign?  (For you newbies in the audience, this blog is devoutly setting-neutral.)  In general, shriezyx are good for bug hunts that go wrong—PCs think they're dealing with spiders…but these spiders are 300 pounds…chitter in a strange language (rudimentary Aklo)…regenerate…and coordinate attacks with a crude intelligence.  So then it becomes a battle of wits and endurance.  Can PCs keep their tortures lit?  Can they keep the fires going?  And can they seal these things back below the earth where they belong?

Adventures find mushroom-capped bodies strung up in webs—myceloids apparently abandoned once the spiders realized they weren’t tasty.  The myceloids are husks, but their decomposing bodies now host shriekers and other dangerous fungi.  If the shriekers start screaming or the bodies are otherwise disturbed, the “spiders”—actually deadly shriezyx—come rushing back from their current hunting lair.

All that is left of a joint dwarf-elf outpost, the Last Watchtower is a subterranean column with bridges at its base and peak connecting two layers of the Lands Below. If adventurers probe the Watchtower’s lower levels, they will disturb several hives of shriezyx, servants of the treacherous wizards that ended any friendship between the elf and dwarf nations.  Worse yet, the air in the cavern has spoiled over the centuries.  The more fires the adventurers light to fight off the aberrations, the more they risk suffocating themselves.

In the Crane Holds, beings with three eyes are universally regarded as horrors and servants of the oni.  Shriezyx are said to be the descendants of samurai who were turned into spiders by a jorogumo witch, their blades becoming the aberrations’ razor-sharp claws.  Whether or not this is true, shriezyx often seem to drawn to sites that have seen blood magic and evil sorcery, and some witch hunters track shriezyx sightings to help them spot oni, penanggalens, spirit nagas, and worse.

Magnimar, City of Monuments 60 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 244

In retrospect, it’s almost surprising how little published Pathfinder material has spent below the surface.  Into the Darklands and the Second Darkness Adventure Path are so old they predate Pathfinder as a game system, and since then (unless there has been serious Pathfinder Society content I don’t know about) only the Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path has spent serious time down there.  All the more reason, then, that the shriezyx get our attention, because they hint at further horrors currently unexplored down below.

I never posted Tuesday’s radio show!  It…was a radio show.  I didn't have any prep time and they were doing equipment repairs in the booth literally in between my talk sets, so it may not be up to my usual standards.  But maybe you will dig it anyway!  Download it here.

(Link good till Monday, 8/3, at midnight.  If the feed skips, Save As an mp3 and enjoy in iTunes.)

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Torture is a bad idea in all worlds.  But whereas in our world, torture comes back to haunt the torturer in mostly metaphoric (and photographic) ways, in fantasy worlds, the haunting is much more literal.

The shredskin is what remains when a tortured soul haunts its own flayed skin.  Even after it has had its vengeance it still continually hunts for bodies to enshroud and control.  It can also command undead—even intelligent undead like ghouls are not immune—driving them to attack PCs with a ferocity beyond even the usual undead hatred of the living.

Many shredskins are made of orc skins.  This is no surprise—orcs love torture and flaying in equal measure, and are probably responsible for the accidental creation of the first shredskin.  Some orc tribes even go out of their way to create shredskins, flaying hundreds of victims (often while subjecting them to bane or by using magic weapon on the knife doing the skinning) to spark the return of just one such skin.  They then tether the shredskins like pennants to spears or ballista bolts that are fired into enemy camps.  With so many bodies milling about, even tethered the undead usually has no problem finding a victim it can suffocate, possess, and use to cut itself free.  In the confusion of war, whole platoons have been lost to a shredskin quietly moving from soldier to soldier.

Plague is rampant and bodies pile in the streets.  The man pushing the corpse cart is in little better shape—he is a ghoul being commanded and ridden by a shredskin.  The ghoul would have been happy to leave any adventurers they meet alone—there are corpses to feast on for weeks—but when one of the sellswords reminds the shredskin of its killer, it cannot help but attack.

Adventurers find a drum, the head of which moves and writhes as if alive.  The drum skin is all that is left of a satyr flayed for insolence by a nephilim.  If the adventurers free the skin, it will attack, hoping to possess one of them and hunt down the half-god.  If they don’t and attempt to keep the drum, they will be attacked by every fey they encounter almost without exception.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 243

On Golarion, the Shredskin is also the name of an artifact made from the ribs and skin of the great Kazavon (see Artifacts & Legends).  Now in the possession of Zon-Kuthon, the Prince of Pain, one surmises it could have inspired the creation of the undead creatures that bear the same name.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


If you go to a majestic and mysterious low-gravity red planet, expect to fight a shobhad.  In fact, if you don’t fight a shobhad, you haven’t gotten your money’s worth.  I would complain to management pronto. 

(Be warned: Management is probably a telepathic floating brain.  That kind of thing happens around here all the time.)

The cover model for James L. Sutter’s Distant Worlds, the shobhad draws on the classic pulp novels of the past, particularly the Green Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom.  Teased during the Second Darkness Adventure Path and properly statted up in DW, shobhads are the classic dangerous-but-honorable alien barbarians—proud people who prize strength and courage over the trappings of urban civilization.  Adventurers who interact with them will need to prove themselves by strength or cunning, not book learning, to prove they are not sheep in the eyes of these giants.

Of course, you can dump the low-gravity pulp stuff and just put shobhads in your world, too.  Either way, they are a clear sign to the party that they aren’t in the Kingdom of K’ansas anymore.

Blasted by undead mind-mages, adventurers awaken on another world entirely.  On the one hand, in the low gravity they are able to achieve astounding feats of jumping and strength; on the other, they are prisoners, lab experiments for a floating brain-like creature called a contemplative.  The scientist wants to see how they fare in battle against the planet’s native shobhads.  To survive the party will have to kill the giants or free them from the contemplative’s magic slave collars.

Adventures book passage on a crystal sky skiff but have to take up arms when the captain reveals himself as a slaver and Servant of the Scroll.  Once he and his men are defeated, the party will have to win over or otherwise bully the shobhads in the crew.  Otherwise the giants will mutiny and divert the skiff to shobhad lands, scuttling all the adventurers’ plans.

As the elves fall into their Twilight, humans rise in Tanniel, building soaring castles, smooth roads, and bustling cities.  With three of the seven High Forests now open for proper logging, their shipbuilding progresses at lightning speed as well.  Now some adventurers have been asked to join the expedition to find Jorash, the fabled continent all humankind once came from, back before their tattered arks landed on Tanniel’s shores.  But the Jorash they find is not the land of plenty and chivalry from the old stories.  Instead they discover floating orc fishing villages, cliffs guarded by half-dragon sphinxes, and vast plains where four-armed giants hunt the local humans like game with weapons that strike farther and faster than any crossbow bolt.

Distant Worlds 63 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 242

Am I the only one who pronounces the “bh” in Shobhad in the Irish way, as a “v”?  …Probably. 

(Dibs on “Siobhan the Shobhad” for my next online profile name.)

Want to play a shobhad PC?  People of the Stars will give you the details.

Speaking of which, I love that the suggested languages for shobhads, beyond Common and Giant, are Dwarven, Draconic, Gnoll, Orc, and Sphinx.  You could easily design a whole planet based on on that list.  (Or a continent—see above.)

Going to Gen Con?  Tell everyone you know about The Daily Bestiary!  (And keep an eye out for sellers who have 1e and 2e issues of Dungeon for sale.  Get their contact infooooooooo!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shard Slag

Sure, black puddings are bad.  But at least they're not on fire and thrusting a sword-like shard into your gut. 

According to Bestiary 4, shard slags “dwell within the iron-rich molten cores of worlds, the hearts of active volcanoes, or any location where the borders of the Material Plane and the Plane of Fire are thin.”  I especially like #1 in that series—I’m a sucker for center-of-the-world adventures. 

But you don't have to go that far to look for a shard slag.  With more and more campaigns flirting with steampunk/magitechnical levels of industry, adventurers might be only a few blocks away from a potential shard slag eruption.

The Plane of Fire exhibit in the Gymnasium Zoologikum has an intruder!  A shard slag has managed to pull itself through the pinhole leak to the Fire Plane that warms the exhibit.  The fire, steam, and magma mephits have fled to the highest corners of the enclosure (and the poor magmins have already been consumed).  Adventurers who answer the call for help must fight the ooze in tight quarters…and ideally determine whether its presence is an accident or sabotage.

When the foundry on the Street of Shedus explodes, the resulting torrent of magical energy and molten hot iron manages to transform the bound fire elementals that heated the furnaces into something far more deadly—a supersized shard slag.  Even before adventurers put down the slag and put out the fires, they find themselves under attack—first by the foundry’s private guards and then members of the city’s own wand-wielding fire brigade.  Whatever burned in the fire, someone important has something to hide.

Adventures flee from morlock vampires and find themselves lost in a series of great chambers below the earth.  One superheated chamber hides a shard slag intent on consuming them.  The sound of lapping waves offers salvation—a bay that opens into a shallow, sauna-like sea—and tactically minded adventurers might use the presence of water to escape the hydrophobic ooze.  Of course, then they have to face the bay’s resident gargiya (see Pathfinder Adventure Path #60: From Hell’s Heart), a sea monster that flourishes in such steamy waters.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 240

You can find a shard slag in wesschneider’s level of The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, a veritable playground of things hoping to burn you, vivisect you, or both.

In other news, I feel compelled to share this link.  I might even share it a second time.

What the hell, number three.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Shadow Drake

Shadow drakes are tiny, and by that I mean, stat-block Tiny.  Which may bum out those of you who, like me, really dig shadow monsters.  (There’s a reason we have stats for a shadow mastiff, after all, not a shadow French bulldog.  And the umbral dragon?  The most powerful primal dragon of all, reaching CR 22 at Great Wyrm age.)  The shadow drake might as well be called the shadow procompsognathus.

Until you remember a pack of procompsognathuses ended a certain theme park designer’s life in the novel..

Plus, that means instead of hiding shadow drakes in the wilderness, you can have them right in the middle of your favorite urban environment.  They can be random encounters!  They can be familiars for evil spellcasters!  They can be the Thieves’ Guild’s eyes and ears…mot to mention its wings and prehensile magical-ring-stealing tails!  And given their speed, their skill at flying (+23!), their ability to blend into the shadows, and their stygian breath, they can make your party want to never explore what that noise is up in the chimney again.

An assassination…didn’t happen.  Now the head of the Assassins’ Guild wants to know why.  Someone owes someone who owes someone who owes him a favor, and soon some luckless novice adventures are sent up to the bell tower to look for evidence of what happened to the triggerman.  Assuming they can skirt around the local watch and make it up the tower, they find the crossbowman lying dead, with chunks ripped out of him and (oddly) signs of frostbite on his face and extremities.  And right after the adventurers make this discovery, the shadow drakes who were nesting up in the bell tower attack.

Adventurers are hired to meet a courier at the docks—he’s expected on the next kestrel from the Elfholds in the morning.  But with favorable winds the ship arrives early, and as evening falls some curious hanivers steal the courier’s pouch.  His desperation for the item causes the fey to taunt him and flit from boat to boat—which is when the adventurers arrive, word having been sent to their inn that the ship has come in.  But by the time they deal with the majority of the gremlins, the one bearing the pouch makes his way inland and stumbles into shadow drake territory.  Now the precious item is in the hands of more dangerous predators, and night is falling fast…

Pevin Gimleteye isn't just feared because he’s the enforcer all the underage pickpockets answer to.   He’s feared because he commands a rampage of shadow drakes.  Not quite familiars and not quiet pets, they nevertheless eagerly do his bidding—not least because he lets them have the eyes and meaty bits of any of the touts and nimblefingers he deems too sluggish or unprofitable in their trade.  A party of sellswords might run into him and his beasts in the course of their various adventures; alternately, as they gain in renown he may call on them when a local cabal of wizards calls away and bind his pets.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 80

Russ Taylor’s “Ecology of the Drake” from Pathfinder Adventure Path #92: The Hill Giant’s Pledge has more on drakes, including where to find them on Golarion.

Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but the shadow drake made me think of it: One of the best anniversary issues of Dragon (which, naturally, were dragon-themed)—issue #146 to be precise—introduced drakes as a family of pseudodragon-like creatures ideally suited for being wizard’s familiars.  (Hence the title, “Dragons are Wizards’ Best Friends,” authored by David E. Cates.)  While most of them wouldn't gel with Pathfinder’s rampaging horrors, the article’s illusionist shadow drakes could be emulated by giving Pathfinder drakes class levels and easing off the evil.

So a quick note on con etiquette: Otakon was this weekend, and not only was it awesome as usual, but it was also really chill.  That is, fan behavior was excellent—orderly lines, people weren’t taking pictures in the middle of hallway traffic, no 15-minute games of Marco Polo or “Buttscratcher!”, etc.  Part of that seemed to be that the crowd felt smaller than last year—the past few years have been nuts, attendance-wise—and my amateur theory is that cooler temperatures and the off-site Masquerade and concerts drew more people out of the convention center than usual.  (Plus I’m wondering if Baltimore Pride being the same weekend ate up some hotel rooms?)  Again, these are all amateur theories.  A simpler reason might be that with so many cons within driving distance of Baltimore/D.C., people are just more experienced, better con-goers.  For whatever reason, it was a really nice con.

A lot of my readers will also be glad to note that Otakon went out of its way to convert some of the private, family-style [Men symbol] [Women symbol] [large Disability Access symbol] bathrooms with signs that said “Gender-Neutral” and [Disability Access symbol], offering con-goers who identified outside the binary a specific space of their own.

Awesome!  Except that the disabled access part of that equation comes first.  Always.

(The design of the replacement sign didn't help—“GENDER-NEUTRAL” was huge and the disability access symbol was now the small kind you see on most bathrooms, almost an afterthought, like: “I guess a disabled person could use this space.”  But by the time this incident occurred the sign had been removed or fallen down, making what followed even more facepalmy…)

So there was an incident.  Someone came into one of these restrooms—fine, that happens; the door wasn’t locked because I’d left to hold a place in line—and upon spotting my chronically ill significant other, proceeded to tell her that she needed to leave because this was their bathroom, not hers. While she was taking her medicine.  Through a feeding tube, no less.  While sitting in her wheelchair.  In a bathroom designed and designated for the disabled.

Note that I’m very carefully not labeling this person.  I don’t know how this person identifies, I don't know how this person was presenting, I don't know what pronouns they were using, I don’t know the reasons why they preferred to use the gender-neutral bathroom…and I do know they were just one person being clueless, not a stand-in for an entire community.

But they failed at that moment.  They failed to realize that their journey was not the only journey, or the hardest journey, at that particular place and point in time.  And in their excitement to have a space of their own, they failed to recognize that that space was a shared one, and that they had a responsibility to pause, to reconsider, and to wait for just a few minutes, so that they could afford someone else the same privacy and dignity they were so desperately seeking.

Just something to keep in mind for future cons, and life in general.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Shadow Creature

If you’re going to have a Plane of Shadow, you need shadow creatures.  Open the Bestiary 4, add shadow template, and voila—you’re done!  Right?

So what’s interesting about shadow creatures isn’t in their stats; it’s in the fluff—the suggestion that aggregations of shadow creatures manage to somehow carry the gloom of the Shadow Plane with them into the Material.  And the new shadow lord template doubles down on that suggestion, with a cloying doom blast, a variety of shadow-related magic (including shadow conjurations), and planar thinning—the ability to smudge the borders between the planes so much that the shadow lord creates a temporary gate.  Given that creatures as low as 5 Hit Dice (typically intelligent humanoids) can be shadow lords, and you have creatures who can potentially wreak havoc on a grand scale.

With that in mind, here are some adventure seeds that try to take advantage of this suggestion of shadow creatures being not just Shadow Plane inhabitants, but also as dark and dire colonists…

Fleeing orcs on the warpath, adventurers are offered escape by shadow gnomes who guide them to the Plane of Shadow.  Once there, the mystifying shadow gnomes seem to recognize little difference between the Material Plane and Shadow Planes, and ignore any entreaties from the party to return them home.  They consider their part of the bargain fulfilled, and consider further discussion of the matter—or refusal of prompt payment in gold—as an invitation to violence.

The Shadow Plane that  borders the world of Agard isn’t just a dark reflection—it’s alive.   The walls appear to have pores.  The plants seem to breathe.  Furniture scuttles in one’s peripheral vision.  Mighty trees on Agard reach out like assassin vines in Shadow Agard.  And in Shadow Agard’s darkest caverns, stalagmites are reborn as hungry shadow ropers, drawing victims from both worlds into their toothy umbral mouths.

Some crystal spheres are more crystal than others.  The brilliant sphere of Diamondheart replaces the black of space with blinding white in all directions—the light from three central suns reflected back by the geode-like sphere’s glittering interior.  Fleeing a mu spore incursion on their homeworld, the first settlers to reach Diamondheart thought they would go mad…until a delegation of shadow lords appeared literally out of nowhere and offered a solution.  Only now, decades later, do the First Hearts realize the darkness in the souls of their saviors…and the cost of the crushing caste system they have been living under, where shadow lords control light, dark, and life throughout an entire solar system with iron fists.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 238–239

Posting early because Otakon!  #tumblrgrammar

Looking for the seps?  We hid it here with the juvenile seps.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


One of my treasured memories from late high school was an after-hours trip to Baltimore’s Senator Theatre to see The Secret of Roan Inish, a film about (spoilers) selkies, the sealfolk of Ireland.  The movie was gorgeous and magical and years later when someone suggested “Fiona” for the name of my glorious mud-brown (that’s “gold” to you) Toyota Corolla, I seized on it for TSoRI-related reasons.

Holy crap, Pathfinder’s selkies are not those selkies.

Normally I like it when Pathfinder errs on the side of dark, especially with their fey (tooth fairies, anyone?) and fey-adjacent creatures (like Pathfinder’s grim merfolk), but these selkies are seriously dark.

So if you like your selkies to be magical and whimsical and romantic and be able to slip in and out of their sealskins like coats per the stories…well, use the swan maiden stats and adapt them for a seal-woman.  But if you want a slavering, clawed shapechanger, one that is a trickster at best and a remorseless predator at worst, Pathfinder’s selkie has you covered.

A selkie on the picturesque coast of Lanx has a particular fondness for luring watercolorists and other artists to watery deaths.  Her modus operandi is to sit for seaside portraits farther and farther out on the rocks until she is sure she has the artist quite alone.  Often, her seal-like jaws lunging past his easel are the last thing the portraitist ever sees.

Cornered by adaros, a selkie shifts into human form to beg the aid of passing adventurers.  If they help her, she promises them a necklace of great value.  In truth, she plans to lead them past a nest of chickcharneys (see Isles of the Shackles) to curse them with ill luck, then leave them for draugrs to consume or slay them herself.

Cursed with a peculiar form of lycanthropy, the marchioness of Kaer Una becomes a bloodthirsty seal at the new moon and during autumn squalls.  Her husband tries to keep her contained during these episodes, going so far as to construct a pool for her (refreshed daily by the high tide through a portcullis) within the curtain walls.  Still, the noblewoman sometimes escapes, and every family near Kaer Una knows of a child a selkie has slain.  A hunter has discovered the marchioness’s secret and has sworn to mount her hide to his wall. 

Pathfinder Adventure Path #50 88–89 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 226

By not checking email/checking the wrong accounts I apparently I missed some killer RPG sales in the last week—some for me, some that I wanted to tell you guys about (like $2 Scarred Lands PDFs).  Sorry guys!

Otakon is tomorrow!  Anyone else going?  Send me a note in the comments or at dailybestiary [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Seaweed Siren

The seaweed siren is a straight-out-of-a-Saturday-morning cartoon kind of monster—and I mean that in the best way possible.  It’s the sort of monster you’d find rising out of the swamp in some Hanna-Barbera episode—a horrible blend of crustacean, plant, and singing false heads.  And while seaweed sirens can charm victims three times per day—hence the “siren” in their name—it’s their full range of sonic special abilities that really sets them apart.  (Again going back to the cartoon thing: Can’t you picture the white rings and that tweedling sound that always indicated sonic or mind attacks on TV?)

The full description from Pathfinder Adventure Path #60: From Hell’s Heart has some nice tidbits, like that the otherwise benevolent locathah sometimes use seaweed sirens as guardians, or that they would rather babble their way to comprehension than use tongues.  (Also, despite speaking Aklo these are apparently magical beasts, not aberrations as one might expect).  But mostly, these are straight-up threats that teach Good Samaritans to think twice before rescuing those three drowning ladies in the cove the map marked with a skull.

The subterranean city of Catchall squats next to a great lake fed by waterfalls from the surface.  Catchall’s scavengers hang nets to snag the flotsam and jetsam that makes its way down the falls into the dark cavern.  They all tread cautiously though, as a seaweed siren lives near the falls.  Some nights it can even be found on shore, deep in conference with gibbering mothers and strings of will-o’-wisps.

Adventurers wish to sunder the cursed blade of an efreeti, a weapon of fire and malice.  The touch of an awakened narwhal’s blessed horn would be the ideal tool…but in a pinch (and so far from the cold latitudes) the strident squall of an aquatic monster like a seaweed siren should do the trick.

A kelpie is smitten with a leanan sidhe—or at least he was until a hurricane carried a crablike seaweed siren to his bay, and he begins to woo the great beast with charmed victims.  Even though she regarded the disgusting kelpie as one step above boiled cabbage, the leanan sidhe is furious that she has been tossed aside for an Aklo-babbling monstrosity.  She uses her charms and cunning to sic adventurers on her wayward kelpie swain and the seaweed siren alike.

—Pathfinder Adventure Path #60 90–91 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 235

This week’s radio show was teenage-themed!  Songs about teenagers, for teenagers, with "teenage" in the title...and the 20th anniversary of the soundtrack to the essential teen movie Clueless!  Plus new JR JR and more.  Stream or download it here.

(Link good till Monday, 7/27, at midnight.  If the feed skips, Save As an mp3 and listen from your desktop.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sea Cat

What a difference an illustration makes!  (I can't find a legit copy of the Bestiary 4 sea cat art, but this figure from Paizo’s website should give you a sense of the 2-D original.)  A lot of aquatic versions of land animals seem kind of…well, fishy (the half-horse hippocampus being the high-water mark for this problem).  So the sea cat—half cat, half fish—should seem like something ridiculous out of McElligot's Pool.  But Jim Nelson’s illustration saves it, showing a sleek, snarling predator whose feline front merges seamlessly with its almost-leopard-shark-ish lower half.  As a player, I want to fight this!  (And as someone with allergies to cats, I want to own this.)

Sea cats seem to come down on the mammalian side of the spectrum—they breathe air at least—so like seals and sea lions they will hug the coasts, and some may travel upstream in fresh water.  This also conveniently means you can deploy them even if PCs aren’t planning a seagoing excursion—just get them close enough to a beach for an encounter.

Beyond that, I don't have much to add.  You’ve got the entire world of big and little cats and pretty much all of the fish paraphylum to work with.  Mix and match and then dump your group’s PCs overboard to meet them.

Sea cats chase salmon returning home to spawn up the Tengu Falls—and they're not picky about snatching up any lone fishermen, crowfolk, or even young bears they can catch along the way.  Adventures who go to the river to refill their canteens or wash their dishes should beware.  Crossing a bridge during this season is nearly suicidal, as these cats will leap out of the water and attempt to rend or bull-rush their prey.

Evil creatures who try to sneak into Tai-Lyan temples should be wary—the bridges and gates are guarded by foo dogs, while the reflecting pools and gurgling brooks are guarded by ravenous sea cats whose long, whisker-like barbels resemble the beards of imperial dragons.  Good creatures should not get cocky, as the sea cats are much less picky than foo dogs about attacking even the most benevolent trespassers.

Land races and sahuagin rarely interact peacefully, but the trading post of Stinger Bay manages to be a waypoint where humans, halflings, strix, sahuagin, and even stranger folk can mingle.  The pirate community’s success is its unabashed embrace of blood sports, which allow the races to blow off steam and settle scores.  More than one adventure has found herself settling a dispute “the Stinger Bay way”—where she is dumped into an enclosed tank with the disputant sahuagin and a pair of fighting sea cat males.  The amethyst-colored sea cats will savage interlopers as fiercely as they maul themselves, ensuring that justice is swift, if not always fair.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #56 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 233

Regarding yesterday’s post, titleknown wrote:


I don't know what you're talking about.  I know Theoretical Physicist Brian.  I’m sure this “Ninja Brian” would have killed me—I was pretty annoying freshman year.

Also, flamingwendigo—who is either a terrifying supervillain or a guy I bet is a blast during Pride weekend—delivered some hashtags I really appreciate.  (Shades of these ones.)

BTW, titleknown, I wouldn’t use so many capital letters. You're just leaving Ninja Brian more pointy serifs with which to stab you.  #protip

Looking for the scarlet spider?  It’s back here.

Monday, July 20, 2015


So the sayona is like a vampire…except it absorbs blood through its skin.  Essentially, it’s the ShamWow! of undead. 

I sound like I’m trivializing it, but I’m not.  A) It’s hard to trivialize a CR 12 undead; B) I’m pretty sure a GM of your talents can make the sight of a corpse bathing/drinking in blood though its skin a pretty vivid one; C) the fact that this undead can register as human for short periods of time could make for some amazing whodunit adventures; D) “weeping vampire” is one of the best monster aliases ever.  This is a cool beastie.

I should note that the mythological sayona (for those of you who like pulling undead from new and different corners of the world, it’s a Venezuelan monster) seems to be more about punishing adultery.  But we have plenty of monsters that can carry that water (such as the aoandon), and the quest for youth—especially such a futile, doomed, and temporary quest for youth—adapts more easily into a fantasy game like Pathfinder.

But to me perhaps the most interesting thing about the sayona is this line (with my emphasis added):

When a sayona kills a humanoid or fey of Medium or Small size with its absorb blood or blood drain ability, the victim rises 24 hours later as a ghoul with the advanced creature simple template and the blood drain ability.

It’s interesting to see a creature that can target humanoids and fey alike!  Moreover, they can trap the more spirit-based beings of the woodlands in their bodies as slavering ghouls.  That’s really interesting to me, and I wonder what spurred the designers to make that choice.  A murderous CR 12 sayona could either divide or unite mortals and faeries like few other threats could, and the cross-pollination of cultures, magic, weapons, and…well, the other kind of pollination, if you get my drift…could have long-lasting effects in an area.

The vault at Moorhead’s Bank has been robbed!  No living being should have made it through the antilife shell, no undead should have survived the aspergillum trap, and no construct but a marrowstone golem would have turned the mage-killing dwarven crossbowmen stationed in the vault’s heart into bloodthirsty ghouls.  So clearly there is a marrowstone golem in town…or a very clever rogue willing to hire the undead (or become one herself) to pull off the score of two lifetimes.

When a swan maiden, two mortal cavaliers, and even a cold rider (from Carnival of Tears) are found as ghouls, the twin mortal and fey courts of Shaxdrake and Willowdeep are left in turmoil.  Suddenly paladins and nuckelavees are riding patrols together on the shores of the mirror lake they share.  But every day the culprit is not caught is a day the alliance begins to fray.  Investigation or luck will reveal that a banshee is manipulating a retinue of sayonas to both snuff out the line of Shaxdrake and poison the tree roots of Willowdeep.

Not all sayonas are female.  The opera singers of the Shallot (so named for its unusual slanting onion dome) whispers of the Alto’s Revenge, a ghost known for killing talented singers.  In truth, the murderer is a sayona, the walking corpse of a talented boy soprano and would-be castrato who was not cut in time to preserve his voice.  (In life, the little narcissist lied about being a half-elf, leading the opera’s chirurgeon to assume she had several more years before she needed to wield her scalpel.)  Desperate to reclaim his lost youth, the sayona murders singers in masked roles or heavy makeup and takes their place to relive one more glorious night onstage.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 231

I can't decide if Shaxdrake and Willowdeep live on opposite sides of the lake, or if they reflect each other in the mirrored surface, united and divided by special water magic.  Yeah, probably that second one.

One of the unfortunate side effects of missing Friday’s post is that I didn’t get to tell you that my college friend Brian was dropping an album that day.  He and his bandmate are pretty excited about it.  I’m told it’s called Attitude City, and it has tracks about Goldilocks, cookies, and the power of math.  At least that’s what I’m assuming a song called “6969” is about.  Perhaps you would like to download it.  Though it’s totally your decision.

If the above is too ribald for your sensibilities, try my friend Stephen Reichert’s poetry journal Smartish Pace, Issue 22 of which dropped today.