Friday, January 22, 2016


I’ve been enjoying the way we've learned about dark folk culture in dribs and drabs throughout the Bestiaries.  It’s clear the folks at Paizo are fans of them—dark creepers and dark stalkers (and many other Fiend Folio monsters) got some love in the very first Adventure Path, Shackled City, back in Paizo’s Dungeon-publishing days—but the authors have shown a nice restrained touch in how they’ve dished out more dark folk subspecies and details over time.

Since Bestiary 4 revealed that owbs had a hand in perverting the dark folk race, it’s probably inevitable we got a prelapsarian dark folk species: the caligni.  A throwback to a nobler, less stunted phenotype, caligni are what dark folks were and could one day be again, were it not for the owbs.  They’re still dark folk, right down to the death throes, but they aren't the shrouded, rag-covered, disgusting messes so many of their fellows are.

Every caligni is a potential adventure—they are by their very birth chosen ones and messiahs, a challenge to the owb order.  They are also likely to be outcasts, murder victims, political prisoners, and just plan victims of the dark folk establishment.  A caligni encountered in dark folk society is either a leader or a target; a caligni found far from dark folk society is running from someone…or something.

And best of all, they're a playable race—perfect for that player who wants the Dark Outcast™ character without all the in- and out-of-game baggage of the drow or the planar ties of a fetchling.  (Did I say perfect for the player?  I meant perfect for his beleaguered GM.)  Not only are they a pretty reasonable build for someone who wants a tough and nimble character (they make absurdly good rogues despite the hit to Intelligence), but also their death throes make combat just that little extra more risky and meaningful for the player—never a bad thing.

A caligni returns to Shroud, the subterranean city of his childhood, a rare melting pot of tolerance and trade amid the many mad and evil races of the Lands Below.  But all is not well in the city.  Dark folk militants are moving into Shroud in threes and fours, pushing out the more discreet and peaceable dark folk who have always called the city home.  These militants hunt the Dark Messiah, a rabble-rouser whose very existence is a rallying point for those who have rejected more orthodox dark folk ways.  Worse yet, the Dark Messiah is the caligni’s identical twin.

A strange gray-skinned half-elf has become the grandmaster of the Night Hands thieves’ guild.  As the previous grandmaster was a noted follower of the Cat Lord, the new half-elf has worked to eliminate all Cat Lord worshippers, catfolk, and even stray street felines from his territory.  In fact, the grandmaster seems to have a hatred of all extraplanar creatures, which makes him a deadly foe of summoners and conjurers but a potentially useful ally against both the selfish wizards of the Protean Tower and the angel-leashing martinets of the Golden Dome.

When Oliver Cromwell’s forces took over England, wags joked that he would paint the country as black as the robes of his Puritan followers.  They were more right than they knew.  For ever since he became Lord Protector and closed England’s borders and ports, the country has been shrouded in a figurative fog of secrecy and a literal fog of dark magic.  Adventurers who dare to cross the English Channel or slip down from the Highlands of Scotland discover a realm shrouded from the sun where every man, woman, and child has become one of the dark folk…and only a few brave caligni stand up to the Great Owb Crom of the Black Well’s armies, zealots, and spies.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 66

Full fridge.  $44.00 worth of alcohol.  Netflix, two Lego sets, and more unread role-playing books than I could get through in a month, let alone one weekend?  Provided I keep my power/heat/Internet (*knocks on wood*), I am ready for this blizzard.

How is it Friday already and I haven’t posted this week’s radio show yet?!?  Tuesday I braved 22 °F temps to bring you tons of new music, plus bands we expect big things of in 2016 and a few classics.  Get everything from Bossie to Blondie, Tove Styrke to Titus Andronicus, and Chance the Rapper to Beck.  Stream or download it now, though, because the file disappears Monday, 1/25, at midnight.

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