Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Oh, fantasy role-playing editors!  When will you set aside your anti-umlaut prejudices?  First you morph the doppelgänger (from the German, “double-goer”) into doppelganger (from the West Side, “Warren G and Nate Dogg”).  Then you turn the exuberantly quadruple-tittled etiäinen into the workaday etiainen.  Honestly, it’s enough to make a man scheißen.

That said, the etiainen is a pretty cool monster.  It’s based on a Finnish house spirit that is a manifestation of a sort of pre- vu (now I’m the one mangling language)—that feeling you get, for instance, when you think you hear someone come in the door, but no one is there, only to have them arrive five minutes later in exactly the manner you imagined.

That’s not exactly the easiest concept to base a dungeon monster around, but the Bestiary 5 is game to try.  It makes the etiainen a psychic entity (“amalgams of the past and the future”) that can cause minor effects around the house, mimic people, and confuse them with deja vu and memory drain abilities.  All in all, it makes for a unique take on the house spirt concept, and it’s perfect at the CR 1 challenge level.  As I’ve mentioned dozens of times on this blog, I love low-level monsters that give new characters something to face besides rats and goblins.  And with combat being so high-stakes at 1st-level, it’s nice to have a good mystery plot or a monsters that take a lot of investigation to uproot—lots of excuses for skill checks, good role-playing, and story XP awards instead of stabbing your way to 2nd level.  So the etiainen should definitely pop up in your next low-level adventure, especially if you want to add a little Scandinavian flair.

An etiainen developed an attachment to an innkeeper’s husband, mimicking his movements and foretelling his actions.  When the man died cold and alone on a hunting trip after being mauled by a polar bear, the forlorn etiainen became resentful—particularly of all the inn patrons who indulged in the waystation’s celebrated sauna huts.  His coy pranks have become dangerous, and since a guest nearly died of heatstroke when the etiainen locked him in one of the huts, the innkeeper is now looking to pacify or exorcise the spirit.

An etiainen lives in the shadow of a great clock tower, acting out scenes from a murder it witnessed before appearing to wink out of existence.  Adventurers who study the etiainen’s behavior more than once might realize that it acts out the same actions at precisely the same time every night—a possible clue overlooked by the Watch.  Following up this lead could call into question the alibi of one of the suspects.

A bartender is convinced he has a clurichaun (a variant leprechaun) on the premises.  He thinks if he can capture it, the fey will boost his fortunes.  He cajoles some local youths into helping him hunt the clurichaun, but what they discover instead is an etiainen.  Assuming they don’t destroy it, the etiainen can reveal details of a battle fought where the bar now stands—including the burial chambers where a fallen lord’s grave gods still lie unclaimed.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 111

The Norwegian term for the etiainen is vardøger, another excellent word.  The Irish fetch is another similar creature.  (Actually, I’m kind of stunned “fetch” hasn’t been used as a name in the Bestiaries already…the closest we have so far is the fetchling.  Maybe for B6?)

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