Saturday, January 30, 2016

Caulborn Thoughtkeeper

(Illustration by Maichol Quinto comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

I’ve already talked about how caulborn are sort of Pathfinder’s answer to the world’s oldest role-playing game’s mind-flayers—more sagacious perhaps, definitely less ravenous or evil, but ultimately just as alien and unknowable.  Caulborn thoughtkeepers are the psychic and physical muscle of the hive—some serving as guardians of the hivemind’s living libraries, the chrestomaths, and others sent farther afield to harvest more compelling thought-matter to bring back to the hive.  (And given that caulborn thoughtkeepers can both plane shift and summon up a mindscape door, “farther afield” can be very far indeed.)  Which means that a caulborn thoughtkeeper might make its way into almost any adventure, assuming there are fascinating minds or great stores of knowledge involved. 

Aided by mind-fogging volcanic mists, a talented and powerful cerebric cyst has managed to slay and effectively replace a caulborn hive’s chrestomath.  The brain-like cyst directs the hive’s thoughtkeepers to bring it psychically potent individuals.  The cyst wisely allows the caulborn a few days to study the victim’s thoughts before it devours them.

A scholarly adventurer is invited to join the Concordia.  Known far and wide as a retreat for free-thinkers and absolute leaders in their fields, the Concordia’s campus sees kobold dracologists mingling with architects of Astral semi-real estate and drow flesh surgeons (on their best behavior, of course).  What none of the Concordia’s members realize is that it is not a retreat or campus—it's a zoo, carefully kept by caulborn thoughtkeepers who consume or mind wipe away any suspicions from the residents.

Adventures are drawn into the mindscape of a dying genie noble.  Unfamiliar with the mechanics of such a domain, they fear what will happen to them if the genie expires while they are still inside.  (This is complicated by the fact that the genie’s wishcraft still functions, occasionally making their fears real as his sickly subconscious misinterprets their speech and sends animate dreams and other hazards their way.)  Just as the genie is about to expire, a caulborn thoughtkeeper enters the mindscape, telepathically declares the whole affair a dull exercise, and invites the adventurers to leave the mindscape with him—for a price.

Occult Bestiary 12

Chrestomath!  It’s a monster, but it’s also a word.

Hey, my brutal personal schedule has seen me fall waaay behind on reader correspondence.  So please, please don’t be insulted if I haven’t written back to you—I’ve been too busy just trying to keep the posts happening on the regular.  That said, if you dig reader commentary, definitely check out the comments/reblogs buried in the notes over on Tumblr for the last few weeks’ posts.  There’s been a lot of great back-and-forth, alternate origin stories, some people flagging some stat blocks tidbits they wanted to call out, and the return (welcome back, man!) of dr-archeville’s very elaborate commentary (along with regulars filbypott, demiurge1138, ohgodhesloose, fortooate, cofinaldestination, and several others.  So, when you read this, click the notes.  And then go to yesterday’s entry and click the notes.  And then the day before…you get the idea.  It’s worth it!

Some I want to call out: crinosg references my home state’s own cryptid, the goatman of Maryland.  Reader hidrihime made me laugh by hollering back “hell yeah ordovicians” within seconds of my Cameroceras post landing.  Reader jakus wanted to know:

Okay, just curious, what is the absolute most horrific abomination of a monster that is in the manual? Show me the evil.

Setting aside the obvious Lovecraft candidates, I’m going to have to go with Pazuzu, for all the reasons I’ve written about.  If I take fiendish lords out of the equation…?  Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that one.  Any nominations from the audience?  And beowulfthecool asked:

Heyo, I was wondering how exactly I would look for specific Bestiaries? I want to look only at the ones I have but I'm not sure how.

Sadly, I didn’t think to tag posts that way—when I started, there was only the Bestiary, the Bonus Bestiary (which barely counted), and Bestiary 2 to worry about.  So I’ve got no good recommendations for you other than scrolling through the archives (this one or this one) and clicking on what you recognize, or just using the Find command.  Sorry!

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