Saturday, April 30, 2016


In pop culture, the name “Devastator” carries certain weight—literally.  Devastator was the first super-robot (gestalt to you fans out there) in the Transformers line, formed when the Constructicons combined.  Other giant robots would come along (I always thought Bruticus and Predaking were terrifying) and neither the individual Constructicons nor Devastator were the brightest tools in the shed…so you’d think familiarity would breed contempt.  But Devastator’s place in our mental mythology was secured by his appearance in The Transformers Movie, when the hushed voice of the otherwise jaded, I’ve-seen-it-all Kup whispers a horrified “Devastator” as the giant bot takes shape.  This was soon followed up by a shot that puts the audience in the Autobot defenders’ POV as Devastator rips open their defenses while Megatron calls for slaughter.  From then on, Devastator’s iconic status was assured.

So if you’re going to use the name “devastator” in your game, you better deliver.  Pathfinder’s devastator does, with a CR 22/MR 8 Gargantuan war machine powered by the soul of a corrupted and imprisoned angel being tormented for all eternity.  It’s got immunities and damage/spell resistance galore, its attacks are +5 unholy anarchic weapons that deal every kind of damage, it has nasty spell-like abilities like implosion and an at-will blade barrier, its aura boosts demonic allies, and the thing even absorbs good magic to gain temporary hit points. 

It. Is. A. Nightmare.

In fact, it’s so grim and grisly it feels like something more out of the Warhammer or even the Warhammer 40K universes rather than Pathfinder.  Even the Bestiary 5 art seems like Warhammer art—no surprise, since Helge C. Balzer also does work for Games Workshop.  And that’s perfectly appropriate for a construct this mythic and monstrous.  When you want to shrink the hope of Good and Man down to a single flickering candle flame…and then introduce a hurricane to snuff that flame out…the devastator is the way to go.

One final note: Remember what I said about every cannon golem having a name? That goes triple for devastators.  (In fact, the full entry in Pathfinder Adventure Path #78: City of Locusts outlines the three named devastators known to patrol Golarion’s Worldwound.)

Obviously, devastators are meant to lead demonic invasions.  Since I assume you can handle that, here are three more unusual scenarios involving devastators:

When the army of demons and oni burst out of the Shadow Realm, their first target was Rotaru, the jinushigami whose forest lined the slopes of the Sleeping Mountain.  After three days and nights of fighting, the outsiders fed the exhausted elder kami into the eternal burning furnace of a devastator prepared especially for his tree-trunk frame.  Now not only do the demons have a new weapon of war for the second phase of their invasion, but as long as the mountain spirit is imprisoned the Sleeping Mountain will smoke, blotting out the rays of the sun so the dark spirits can frolic.

There was a time when demons were common in space, their ships knifing through the blackness like horrible flaming sharks.  Driven back and sealed within the Pain Nebula, demons are no longer a threat, but their many war machine creations are.  Demon moons not tied to any one planet or star float from system to system, their surfaces pockmarked with scars and furnaces.  Some of these carry undead, shadows, oozes, degenerate races like morlocks, and especially constructs.  Nearly every demon moon is patrolled by at least one devastator, and true demon worlds may have dozens.

Taniyar was an angel rescued from the metal gizzard of a devastator after a century of torment.  She spent twice that long recovering in a celestial hospice as her body and mind were restored.  Only the healing of her mind didn't take.  Now she longs to return to the only home that makes sense to her, the excruciating cage at the heart of a devastator.  Adventurers investigating either an incident of vandalism and theft at a heavenly library or the disappearance of Taniyar herself will eventually track her to the Junk Plane, where she has just used the stolen plans to finish constructing a new devastator.  The construct will be her agonizing home for the next millennium as she smashes world after world.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #78 90–91 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 77

I had Devastator as a kid, but early on I broke the hard-to-transform Hook so I almost never got to play with him fully constructed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Derro Magister

(Illustration come from artist Jason Juta’s webpage and is © Paizo Publishing.)

We’re used to seeing the term “magister” applied to particularly powerful or renowned mages, but the term really designates a scholar with the authority to teach others.

…You probably don't want to learn what a derro who has been dosing himself with cytillesh has to teach you.

Suffused (and/or poisoned) by the brain-warping fungus until it courses through their gray mater, derro magisters have taken the steady of derro “scholarship” to its (il)logical conclusion.  Along the way, the derros have imbued themselves with enough cytillesh to gain the powers of a mesmer…and driven themselves to psychic incoherence and madness to boot.  Even without class levels, a derro magister is the ne plus ultra of its race, able to hypnotize others with a look.

Perhaps for that reason, you’ll notice the description in the Occult Bestiary involves a “spiked, gem-encrusted coronet.”  There is rarely separation of powers in derro society—the most powerful and maddest derro (usually the two attributes go hand in hand) makes the rules.  Other derros might succumb to paranoia or a variety of other mental diseases, having to hide away from their fellows or jealously guard their experiments.  But with a mesmer’s power to impose his will on others, even the most paranoid derro magister can remake his cabal in a fashion that fits his delusions.

Adventurers need to find help for their friend, whose brain has been latched onto by a parasite (a fiendish carbuncle that causes bleed damage if removal is attempted).  Given the parasite’s empathic and physical hold on their friend, they need the services of a surgeon able to operate psychically as well as medically…and that means turning to a derro magister.

Dark folk revolutionaries implore surface-dwelling adventurers to help rid their clan of the derro magister who has seized control.  Unfortunately, the revolutionaries are not grateful sorts, and once freed of the derro magister’s control they plan to use the skills they’ve picked up to resume acts of sabotage in the adventurers’ hometown.

The Azure King is a derro magister who rules a demiplane of fungal-induced dreams and strange fey creatures.  He thinks he is involved in an eternal game of chess versus his fiery opponent, the Lord in Orange…but really, the Lord in Orange’s domain is simply an elemental cyst that got absorbed by the demiplane.  The “Lord” (a fire elemental) and his magmin pawns have no idea why the magister directs his troops against them in highly ritualized combat.

Occult Bestiary 20

Why has no one made a “Yakko Says ‘Ehhh… ’” supercut yet?  I really wanted it for my intro.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Magical beasts are tricky.  You want something that’s fantastic but still realistic, wondrous without being silly.  Pathfinder’s take on the delgeth works nicely.  Nature is more comfortable with fire than Bambi would have us believe—heck, lodgepole pines rely on forest fires to flourish (their pinecones don’t open until exposed to extreme heat), and black-backed woodpeckers prefer to nest in burn zones.  So a deer* that actually causes forest fires is a perfect addition to your magical ecology.  Meanwhile, the delgeth’s ability to spark fires in any square within 30 feet is a perfect addition to your battlemat, giving you a fun tactical challenge for the players to overcome (particularly if the PCs are facing the delgeth in flammable surroundings).  And if you ever wanted to start a fight between your orphan-saving paladin, your nature-preserving druid, and your pyromaniac sorcerer, a flaming deer is perfect for lighting that little pile of tinder…

*I’ve seen some references online that indicate that delgeth is a Navajo creation, and more of an antelope than a deer (as well as possibly a flesh-eater or a spirit of vengeance).  So if you’re looking to highlight more non-European monsters, keep the antelope-delgeth in mind!  And I made sure to put a darker delgeth in the seeds below…

Delgeths instinctively start fires in areas that need clearing and create natural firebreaks to stop wildfires from spreading out of hand.  Their instincts don’t take human settlements into account, however.  Homesteaders looking to protect their lands often set high bounties for delgeths.  Their hides are also much sought after as the base component in wondrous item creation, particularly for magical clothing that causes or quenches flames.  The shamans and shugenja who live among tribes of wild elves, taiga halflings, and lodge-dwelling humans also seek out delgeth hides and skulls for ritual cloaks, allowing them to act out the part of the smoky wendigo in winter rituals and morality plays.

All male delgeths trace flaming mating patterns.  But a delgeth of Advanced size and intelligence traces more sinister glyphs—some of which cause magical effects or mimic patterns in the constellation.  An archdruid sends adventurers to investigate…and if necessary, put down the potentially tainted beast.

Not all delgeths are so beneficial to the natural order.  The delgeths of Heran are scaly, winged creatures (treat as half-forest dragon delgeths) resembling horrible flaming perytons.  Able to spew gouts of stone shards and bring fires to life with a stomp, they are undisputed masters of their woodland and prairie homes who are fond of devouring tengus, kitsune, brownies, and huldras.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 71

Tuesday’s radio show was the usual indie rock, pop, and folk…and a rather unusual dose of Prince and Prince covers.  Stream/download it here till Monday, May 2, at midnight.  (There’s some bleed-over from the previous show, so bear with me at the start.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Deep One Hybrid

(Illustration by Dave Allsop comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Setting aside movie faces—pale-skinned vampires, furry-cheeked wolfmen, Pinhead—“the Innsmouth look” is probably the most famous physiognomy in horror.  “[Q]ueer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes," Lovecraft wrote—facial features that betray a mingling of human blood with something old and piscine.  While Lovecraft spent a lot of time (and even more adjectives) describing unknowable horrors from beyond space and time, he was just as invested in the potential threat of monsters living among us…and even becoming us…or rather, us becoming them, through interbreeding and slow degeneration.  (And whoa does his biography—rampant racist, parents both died in a mental hospital—explain a lot about those particular preoccupations.)  Whatever the genesis of his stories, they gave us the deep one hybrid—your chance to have the folk of Innsmouth in your game.

And not just in your game…but on your character sheet.  Because the most interesting thing about deep one hybrids isn’t their creepy appearance or even the fact that they don’t die but rather evolve into full-fledged deep ones, sloughing off their troublesome humanity.  No, the most interesting thing about deep one hybrids is that you can play one as your character!

How’s that for a ballsy move?  If you’re a scene-chewing role-player, taking on a character desperately trying to stave off his eventual monstrous fate is a hell of a hook.  (So is eagerly rushing toward it, if you’re in a horror-based or evil campaign.)  And if you’re a more of a dice-dropping “roll-player”…well, why fear death when you get +1 natural armor and a chance of morphing into a fish creature with +6 Str/+6 Con when you go?  A deep one hybrid isn’t the right PC for every campaign, but in the right campaign, it’s killer (literally).

The local church of Shalessa has always venerated the sea and its bounties…but lately its worship has skewed heavily toward the worship Saint Vitun, a spirit of ropes, rigging, and ships lost in stormy weather.  The rise of Saint Vitun’s mystery cult has brought with it more public penances—flagellations (self- and otherwise) are up—and more “accidents” such as suicides by hangings (and at least one strangulation that may have been a prank gone wrong or may have been murder).  The clerics pushing the rise of Saint Vitun are of course deep one hybrids eager to take control of the village.  A hidden rope dragon has caught on to their secret, though, and she longs for someone to tell this juicy gossip to.

A local adventuring group calls itself the Thrice-Damned.  Consisting of a tiefling, a changeling, and a deep one hybrid, they all fear the day that the latent curses in their bloodlines will manifest.  Unfortunately, their desperation leads them to take any job they can, often for unsavory clients, which may lead to true damnation if they’re not careful.

A series of seaside monasteries is staffed with deep one hybrid friars.  These clerics and monks are famous for the potent ciders they distill from local apples and cranberries.   The fact that they are also slavers is a well-kept secret.  Adventurers might uncover one of their press gangs in action and stop their recruitment efforts…but if they follow the slave trade back to its source, they will find a swampy temple being excavated by conscripts, marsh giants, and constantly writhing, darkness-vomiting things that might have once been wayangs but are something entirely different now.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 70

I’m not finding stats for Bestiary 5’s default deep one hybrid on the OGC so you’ll have to go straight to the source.

There’s a lively discussion about deep merfolk happening in the Blogger comments and one about deep ones happening in the Tumblr comments and reblogs.  Check them out!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deep One

If D&D flirted with Lovecraft and early Pathfinder began a love affair with him, by now 6+ years in we’ve achieved a full-blown marriage.  While the aboleths’ skum servants echoed Lovecraft’s deep ones, now we have the (fully statted) real thing courtesy of Bestiary 5. 

And while the base model skum is slightly more physically powerful than the default deep one, the deep one is the bona fide article: equally immortal, capable of dwelling far deeper below the waves, preferring claws or magical wands and staves to crude tridents, breeding with humans for hedonist pleasure and out of religious fervor rather than crude necessity…and of course, they’re in much closer communion with their dark lords Cthulhu, Dagon, and the other watery powers of the deep.

Deep ones’ low CR and magical aptitude mean you can use them early in your game and then scale them up throughout the life of the campaign.  Their plots are often as murky as the waters they live in, hinted at only by the fish-eyed hybrid children they leave in their wake.  Unless signs in the stars or some other dark portents force their hands, deep ones can afford to be patient.  Effectively immortal, they have all the time in the world to bring about the end of the world.

A judge has been sentencing women to jail for all manner of minor offenses.  Some have come back chastened, some broken…and some pregnant.  Adventurers who investigate find ample evidence of bribery and clues leading to an odd cult.  They might even catch a deep one in the judge’s chambers, demanding in bubbly Common that the crooked magistrate (a deep one hybrid) supply even more sinners to fill the cells of the Sodden Jail.

Adventurers are sent to a gillman village to take delivery of a coral wand crafted by a merfolk artisan.  While there they meet a strange fishlike creature claiming to be a vodyanoi who demands the wand for himself.  He promises that if they agree he will teach them a series of recitations guaranteed to unlock great power within them.  If they refuse, they find themselves in the path of a flood (courtesy of a sabotaged levee) soon after.

Deep ones and fey used to share the Elder World, until the deep ones’ worship of dark powers grew too foul and the fey ended the world to save it.  Today, in what they call “the Twilight World,” they rarely cross paths.  But the deep ones remember their humiliation.  Over the eons they have worked to poison the icy realm of the Winter Queen, subtly polluting the waters that are the genesis of her iceberg lair.  Now all winter fey bear a trace of the queen’s corruption, and they are beginning to turn to worship of the Great Old Ones.  Of course, the human world is ignorant of these developments, until adventurers uncover a cult of winter fey and deep ones attempting to take over their village.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 68

I’m typing this from the set of a commercial shoot (video and photo).  Those of you who know me know how much I’m enjoying myself.  #spotthesarcasm #seriouslyshootsaretheworst

[Edit: Actually it went rather well.  I’ll stop complaining now.]

This week’s radio show asked you to get up, get by, get better, and get right with God.  (It did not ask you to get up and move that body.  Sorry, Technotronic fans.)  Look for classic Sleater-Kinney, Talib Kweli, and Lucinda Williams, along with new tracks from the Julie Ruin, Tegan and Sara, A$AP Ferg, and Look Park (a.k.a. Fountains of Wayne’s Chris Collingwood).  Stream/download it here till Monday, 4/25, at midnight.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Deep Merfolk

(Illustration by Tomasz Chistowski comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

If there’s one thing that’s true of deep-dwelling sea creatures, it's that they take the familiar and turn it up to 11.  Starfish go from five arms to north of a dozen.  Eels become gulper eels.  Sharks become frilled, goblin, and ghost sharks. And that’s not even counting snaggletoothed horrors like anglerfish and dragonfish.

So deep merfolk are merfolk…but even more so.  Even more xenophobic.  Even more difficult to find.  Even more beautiful and exotic.  Even more deadly, if you cross them (and given how many undersea terrors a party of bumbling adventurers could bring down upon a merfolk tribe, simply entering their territory could be considered crossing them).

Also, deep-sea creatures tend, to our surface-dwelling eyes, to be exaggerated to a fault.  So too might deep merfolk—particularly as different tribes dwelling in isolation along different crevasses and continental shelves might have wildly different cultures.  You can play them as consummate illusionists, fearless hunters, resigned Dagon cultists, bioluminescent-painted ravers, petroglyph-carving mystics, and more—and all in a single campaign, if your adventurers travel widely enough.  The oceans are vast, leaving room for a panoply of deep merfolk tribes and individuals as diverse as anything humans have to offer…perhaps even more so.

An illusionist is working on a prestige effect—a specialized arcane discovery similar to a bardic masterpiece.  To complete it, he needs to study with a particular master of illusion he’s found named in a single water-stained scroll.  It turns out the illusionist is one of the deep merfolk.  Getting to the master will be its own adventurer, as a kraken has stationed minions up and down the canyon where the deep merfolk mage resides.

Adventurers have been treated well by a deep merfolk tribe on previous visits.  This time, though, their reception is strained.   The merfolk are Dagon-worshippers, and his priests have demanded a price—the head of the party’s paladin or a night of coupling with Dagon’s servants in the spawning grounds—that the merfolk feel obligated to pay.

Adventurers are planning to heist a magical font from the Malachite Magister.  Breaking open the vault means navigating a series of traps, including some on hostile demiplanes.  A source informs them that to traverse the third door they need to be able to survive a watery chamber with the crushing pressure of the bottom of the ocean.  A deep merfolk rogue would be the perfect accomplice for the job, assuming one could be hired.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 172

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Death Coach

Because I could not stop for Death – 
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.

Emily Dickinson introduces today’s monster, but really it’s Ireland and the UK that give us most of our tales about the Cóiste Bodhar, or death coach—a grim, silent harbinger of inevitable doom.

We actually already have one dark coach in the game—the Coach of the Silent, summoned by powerful dullahans.   The death coach is the same CR and has roughly the same Hit Dice, but differs slightly in how it summons souls to their inevitable fate.

From a worldbuilding perspective, the death coach is also great because it’s one of those very rare high-CR creatures you can introduce to PCs as early as first level.  In the right campaign (especially one of those Gothic horror campaigns all the kids are talking about) the death coach might rarely but regularly appear in the PCs’ home town, gathering up select victims.  This could simply be used for atmosphere—you know you’re in a spooky game when an undead coach of shadows periodically comes to collect your friends and neighbors—or it could be an important plot point—solving the mystery of the coach’s origin, its method of choosing victims, or even stopping it entirely might become the focus of the campaign.  But because the death coach has its own agenda, you can show it to PCs early without sparking a fight—after all, it’s not after them.  And even if they do try to attack it, the coach’s aura of doom and quickened fear abilities are likely enough to send them running.  The players will get the message quickly—their PCs aren't ready…yet. 

And when they do finally defeat the death coach, they’ll feel as if they've just defeated Death itself.  (That’s when you drop a grim reaper on them.)

Jamisen Shaz is fated to die today.  His only hope is if he can outrun the death coach that has chased him the past two nights running.  He begs some childhood friends, now famous adventurers with flying steeds, to take him east toward the rising sun in hope of seeing a third sunrise and breaking the curse.

Not all carriages are alike.  In the Kingdom of Burning Jade, a black mammoth made of shadow collects souls into the howdah on its back.  Sometimes the mammoth is accompanied by a mahout, a mournful agathion weeping blood who seems as much a prisoner as the lost souls aboard the howdah.

Adventurers have survived the burning of the barricades, escaped the guillotine, and looted the corrupt demagogue’s treasury.  Now they go to face the tyrant himself…just in time to see him hail a death coach and willingly allow it to collect his soul.  His shade even winks mockingly at them from the window as the coach pulls away.  Clearly he has a contingency plan—some final wish or miracle perhaps—but if the adventurers can slay the coach, maybe they can stop him from putting it into motion.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 67

For my Blogger readers (and any Tumblr readers who missed my reblog): A lot of you have written in to ask why I don’t do any Tome of Horrors monsters. 

My usual answer is to curl up into the fetal position and whimper about time and my disappearing youth and good looks and how at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot, etc., etc.

The good news is wanderingmoonsword is totally crazy has taken up that gauntlet!  Check out his adventure seeds here.

Also, I’m not saying that one day I won't flip through Tome of Horrors and call out some of my favorites.  I actually think it would be fun.  But it will probably be in more of a book review format or just “Check out this cool monster” than a standard Daily Bestiary entry.  Ditto for Sword & Sorcery’s Creature Collection—I’d actually love to do a “Books of Magic” review for those books like I did for Forgotten Realm Adventures or D&D’s Creature Catalogue. I just need time in my schedule, and life’s not supporting that right now…but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.

(That said, if that’s something you want to see, let me know in comments/messages/reblogs.  And if one of you has a Creature Collection III gathering dust on your shelf and wants to donate it to the cause, please remember your humble blog writer.)

Last night’s radio show involved some classic shoegaze, a tad bit of emo, and a set of pro-union tunes for some friends.  (Which in the last 24 hours is all the more appropriate now that my cousin is on strike with the Verizon workers.)  Stream/download and enjoy!  (If you have any trouble with the stream—for some reason this week I’m getting really awful glitchy sounds—use the Save As command to snag it as an mp3.  It’ll play fine from your desktop.  Link good till Monday, 4/18, at midnight.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dark Empath

“As above, so below,” goes the off-referenced line from the Emerald Tablet.  (And holy crap I did not realize what a Wiki wormhole I was about to enter when I looked up the origin of that quote.  Appropriate, though, given that we’re looking at an occult monster.)  If your PCs have occult powers, it makes sense that your subterranean villains should too.  Thus dark empaths are the dark folk version of humanity’s (or halfling-ity’s) mentalists and mind readers.

Then again, dark empaths may work even better if your player characters don’t have access to psychic magic or occult power.  When PCs are used to slinging spells and chanting prayers, a creature that devours their emotions and spits their cause fear spells back at them as rage might give them pause.

(And, as we’ve talked about before, if you really want to highlight the difference between the sunlit and sunless worlds, making the magic different is one easy way to do so.  For instance, if the surface world is heavy with clerical magic and wizards’ spellbooks, make the depths full of sorcery, psychic magic, and occult rituals, emphasizing that beneath the earth the rules are different and the gods of good answer faintly…if at all.)

For all their mental powers, dark empaths aren’t masterminds.  In thrall to their own emotions and the emotions of others, they are easily manipulated by the dark callers and owbs that rule dark folk society.

Adventurers lead a sage (who happens to be an enchanter) and his necromancer assistant down into the bowels of the earth.  The sage isn’t supposed to join in combat, but when his assistant leaps to his defense with a wand of cause fear, he gets caught in the infectious psychic backlash.

Turbans and voluminous wrappings are traditional in the Kyaf region, allowing dark folk to mingle easily with humanity at night despite the day’s punishing sun.  This intrusion does not always go unnoticed—many Kyafar whisper of “the small dark ones” or “the night singers.”  But it is the repressive theocracy of Tomar’sh where the dark folk truly rule the night.  There dark empath assassins twist the minds of their targets, spreading paranoia until their panicked victims provoke the religious guard into putting them down without the dark empaths drawing a single blade.

Dark empaths are made to stay on the outskirts of dark folk settlements…for good reason.  But once a year—Unraveling Day—they are allowed to parade through dark folk towns, causing all the havoc they wish.  Dark folk know to prepare for such days…but members of other cultures don’t.  Adventurers are pursuing a bounty that has gone to ground in a mixed duergar and lizardfolk city that has recently seen an influx of dark folk, and they are caught in the middle of the chaos when the dark empaths hold their first Unraveling Day amid the unsuspecting crowds.

Occult Bestiary 18

I spent much of grad school playing Vampire since that was my friends’ beloved system, and nothing terrified us players more than encountering new magical disciplines.  Out-of-game it was because Vampire’s magic systems tended to be horribly broken for anyone who had the slightest bit of forethought and preparation time; in-game it was because first encounters with magic you hadn’t planned for tended to be near-lethal almost 100% of the time. 

Over the weekend filbypott called me out for describing thanatotic titans as “strictly fantastic creations” rather than being inspired by the Greek myths.  I probably shouldn’t have used “strictly” and I totally see his point—they did rise against the gods, they were imprisoned, they do have the Godslayer (Su) ability.  But they still feel loosely inspired by the myths for me, rather than “ripped from the headlines” like the hekatonkheires. Part of it is the art choice, I think—that full-plate-suited warrior just doesn’t say “primitive forebear of the gods” to me.  (Thanks for the eyes, though, Filby!)

I have an even worse excuse for not mentioning the fomorian titan: I flat-out forgot about it!  …Buuutttttt that’s not 100% my fault, I swear!  As I’ve mentioned before the fomorian was left out of the online Pathfinder Reference Document index, so it didn’t show up when I went to research previous titan incarnations.  D’oh!

Friday, April 8, 2016


(Illustration by Tomasz Chistowski comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Danavas may seem like a bit of a departure on Bestiary 5’s part.  Up until now, Pathfinder’s titans have either owed their inspiration to Greek mythology (for instance, the hundred-handed hekatonkheires) or have been strictly fantastic creations (thanatotic titans)—with Elysian titans splitting the difference.  Danavas come from Hindu mythology, so to see them mingling with Greek giants is a bit of a surprise at first.  But given that we mix Victorian faeries with ancient Greek satyrs under the label of “fey” without blinking, we shouldn’t stress about calling danavas titans…especially since the ancient Greeks and Indians actually did semi-regularly trade and war with each other, which the ancient Greeks and the Victorian English certainly didn’t.

Besides, danavas are properly ancient, from-the-bones-of-the-earth kinds of monsters in the same way titans are.  In fact, Pathfinder goes one step further, making them mythic creatures of Law, central pillars of existence itself.  (And, “pillar” is exactly the right word to use, as that is what particularly powerful danavas who oversee aspects of existence are called.)  Other titans wish they were as ur- as these ur-titans.

Fans of epic stat blocks will enjoy the danava—how can you not like abilities like Iron Resilience (ignore the thing!) or Devastator (bypass all the things!) or attack rolls that start at 40.  But more importantly, a danava is surprisingly easy to work into the game, despite its absurd CR 24/MR 9 challenge Rating, because of its absurdly lawful nature.  You already know I’m a fan of lawful opponents—sticklers for rules are often way more fun to play than simply evil villains, and way trickier to eliminate or subdue without making powerful enemies.  Plus, danavas are so ancient and powerful that humans aren’t even covered by the laws they’re following.  (Hell, even elves and demons are just a passing fad to them.)  If you think of a planet as a house with a leaky roof, a human city is the wasp nest the danava knocks down so she has a place to put the ladder when she climbs up to fix it.

Which makes danavas the supreme case of the lawful cure being worse than the chaotic disease.  Hundun invasion?  Demonic incursion?  Great Old One rising from the deep?  Those things all suck, but they're nothing compared to what will happen if a danava wakes up and decides to “help” get rid of the problem.

Adventurers have been foiling plots by the mysterious hunduns for years now.  Finally, at the apex of their careers, they understand what the faceless aberrations were after: shards of the World Egg, the primordial container of the Creation that the hunduns intend to reverse.  The adventures face their nemesis, a supremely powerful hundun occultist/necromancer…but the echoes of their conflict ripple across the multiverse, waking a pair of danavas who are determined to smash every last fragment of the World Egg, as well as anyone else in the vicinity (which they define as the entire nearest country).

The cold-iron-fearing daoine sídhe (treat as high-level elves with the fey creature template) speak of their aes sídhe forbears garbed in glittering bronze.  And should they be found in their hidden lairs deep in the Otherworld, the aes sídhe (as above but with mythic ranks) will tell you of their parents who were also gods: the Tuatha Dé.  Buried, trapped, or perhaps just slumbering in their city beneath the waves, these majestic lawful titans are so advanced beyond their chaotic fey childer that the family resemblance is almost unrecognizable.

An entire layer of Hell is missing.  In a time before the Lord of Morning fell from grace to become the Archduke of Night…in a time when there were no pits of punishing fires because no crimes had yet been committed…a danava pillar ruled that pitiless realm.  Having been woken from his slumber, he simply marched across existence and took the lair back—literally, as he simply dragged it away.   Now both the pillar and one-ninth of Hell are simply missing, and the entire multiverse trembles at the implications.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 246–247

We’re finally at letter D!!!  Sorry it took me so long to get here.  If it’s any consolation, at least I didn't paralyze half my face with stress this winter—no, really, that’s a thing that happened last year—so as much as my more laid-back approach to posting pains both me and you, it’s probably for the best.

Last night thanks to my old roommate I got a tour of the new building for my old radio station, and was on the guest list for a live show from the Great American Canyon Band to boot.  After so long away, it was a nice homecoming of sorts. 

(Apparently I also met Prince’s former art director.  WUT.)

Also, I want to thank everyone who came out to Light City last week.  I figure with 5,000 of you following this blog, at least one of you got to enjoy some of the art or one of the performances.  The festival was definitely a success—they were expecting 300,000 and got roughly 4—so I’m crossing my fingers that a) it happens again, and b) I get to write the advertising again.

Last Tuesday’s show!  Including the Sun Days, Frankie Cosmos, Against Me!, Sturgill Simpson covering Nirvana, and more more.  This is a good one, so if you’ve never clicked, this is an excellent week to give into temptation.  Stream/download it till Monday, 4/11, at midnight.  If you have trouble with the stream or want to keep the show forever and ever, Save As an mp3.