Tuesday, July 12, 2016


The “Occult” in Occult Bestiary means a lot of things, but there’s enough overlap with the RPG world’s classic psionic territory that we were bound to get a few flying brain monsters.  (We’ve already done the cerebric cyst, and the enlightened contemplative—an upgrade of these guys—is coming soon.)

Too many aerocerebra would be too much of a good thing, so it’s nice that the egophage has preëxisting ties to another monster, the intellect devourer.  When one of those nasty body-stealing brains gorges on the right eldritch substances (midnight milk is the mutagen of choice on Golarion), it gets a boost in psychic power and gains the ability to fly, its legs becoming tentacular appendages.  The resulting creature is thus even more able to insert itself into humanoid society (and humanoid crania, for that matter).  As they are more mobile than their lesser kin, they are more likely to leave the intellect devourers’ hidden cities in search of new bodies and sensations.  Fortunately their innate egoism and hedonistic desires usually distract them from being the effective spies and infiltrators for their race they might otherwise be.

Adventurers encounter a flying brain deep in the underworld.  The disembodied organ claims to be a monk who has transcended his physical body—a claim seemingly backed up by his yeti manservant, equally calm and serene despite being so far from home.  The flying brain encourages the adventurers to rest and train with him at his lamasery, where his true children, a ravening pack of young intellect devourers, are eager to claim their first host bodies.  Any adventurers who escape the intellect devourer young will have to face the claws of the possessed yeti.

In the city of Etaliar, the pursuit of sensation is seen as the ultimate good.  Bards, acrobats, playwrights, storytellers, and even skalds and mediums—not to mention drug-slinging alchemists and prostitutes both sacred and profane—are lauded for their ability to move body and mind.  But misery lurks just beneath the city’s carefree surface.   What seems like a turf squabble between drug dealers is actually an all-out war between amoral hedonists, as a body-stealing brood of egophages muscles in on the rakshasas who secretly run Etaliar.

In the void, egophages come from another dimension.  Unable to cross the boundaries of space-time themselves, they ride the bodies of those they encounter during warp anomalies, treating them as fleshy voidsuits.  Their vulnerability to protection from evil means that no ship with a warp helm will turn away a good cleric or paladin, and all but the most loathsome slavers, reavers, and antipaladins will curb their behavior in order to not offend their protector and his party during warp travel.

Occult Bestiary 26

Speaking of tentacular nasties, re: the dwiergeth Simon Grundy-Reiner writes:

I hadn't realized until no that the dwiergeth was Large. That makes it so much more crazy and alien. I love it!

And I’m way overdue in acknowledging Oh_The_Places_You'll_Go’s awesome comment on the duergar tyrant:

Awesome work on this one, Patch – I enjoy the dark dwarves, too, and I think they deserve a little more love than they usually get. In an attempt to make them more common and developed in my homebrew setting, they play an integral role as the favored mortal creation of the gods. Their task is divinely inspired, and they have a pretty good reason for being reclusive or standoffish that relates to an ancient attack on the world by alien deities. By making pacts with demons, they delve deeper than any other race in order to find malignancies and planar rifts and seal them, thereby preventing the far gods from wreaking havoc.

It's not completely original, but it gives the duergar a pretty necessary niche and a lot of responsibility – and it's why other nations allow them to take slaves. The endless number of workers required for their task means they can't afford to restructure their workforce or economy and risk missing a rift or allowing something through.

Food for thought, though I'm definitely integrating the first and second entries for today into my newest campaign – maybe as the beginning quest!

That’s a really compelling take on them, OTPYG, especially in a setting where the deepest darkest dungeons don’t lead to a fiery core but rather somewhere…else.  (D&D’s 4e Underdark certainly works that way, as does Eberron to a lesser extent.)  Personally I doubt the duergar would make pacts with demons (though they certainly might bind and enslave them instead), but pacts with devils, shaitan genies, and even daemons, certainly!

Oh, and finally, no radio show this week because I’m pulling a late-nighter at work. Blerg.

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