Monday, January 30, 2017

Kawa Akago

Ah, Japan.  Fourteen centuries of Shinto (plus however many centuries of unrecorded animist beliefs, myths, and ritual practice before that) have given us a rich spiritual lens through which to see the world as an animate landscape, where even the most mundane objects can possess a kami or shin of their own.

Which seems, y’know, pretty charming to us Westerners when this perspective gets filtered down to us as, say, anthropomorphized girl versions of our favorite desserts.  But it gets a little creepier when we start talking about one-eyed umbrella monsters.  Or about kawa akagos, lily pads that have been, per Bestiary 5,  “spiritually fertilized by fragments of the restless spirits of drowned children.”  Now that’s a worldview that bites back.

Beyond their disturbing origin, kawa akagos have a few more creepy tricks up their tendrils.  A kawa akago can move about on land just enough to ambush victims, and the nettles in its blood-burning fangs deliver a painful strike that only water can relieve—neatly herding its victims into the water where more kawa akagos await.  The kawa akago can also speak a little Aquan and wail once a day with a disturbing shriek that may or may not be the cries of those aforementioned drowned children.  Finally, a kawa akago that gorges enough on sentient creatures can become a blood lily, a truly evil plant monster capable of psychic magic.  In fact, there’s nothing stopping your players from meeting a blood lily mesmerist or psychic the next time they go strolling by the river…

Obviously most kawa akagos will be met as random encounters or as part of some swampy side trek.  These seeds have them acting in concert with some wicked friends:

The kappa Sokka the Lame is a particularly nasty old amphibian rogue.  He is well practiced in startling horses so that they go lame or fall into the river where the kappa may feast upon them.  As this has led to the demise of more than a few of the horses’ riders, the lily pads near Sokka’s favorite bridge have become kawa akagos.  The kami who live near the bridge lament this state of affairs, but an ancient compact with one of the turtle-man’s forebears prevents them from directly interfering.  They may, however, display certain signs to (or play tricks on) local adventurers, hoping to lure them into a conflict with Sokka and his plants.

Most ghouls live in graveyards or sandy necropolises—but most ghouls aren’t Count Julian Myer.  He hides in (somewhat) plain sight on a palatial estate, snatching up trespassers or sending a loyal tiefling servant (too foul-smelling to eat) out to “pick up a delivery.”  One of the ways into the ghoul’s well-guarded house is genius and grisly at the same time: Adventurers can cross the giant lily pads that cover the moat as if they were stepping stones…provided they feed the resident kawa akagos first.

The green hag Calamity encouraged the growth of kawa akagos around her barrow, reasoning that the carnivorous plants would protect the sunken back door of her muskrat den-like lair.  What she did not account for was how spiritually nourishing the plants would find her home.  The kawa agos grew fat on the taint of her magic and the shed wisps of the souls of her victims, and soon blossomed into full-fledged blood lilies.  Calamity now fears her psychically charged water garden, and is making preparations to move when adventurers stumble onto this fraught domestic arrangement.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 149

As you may have guessed from clicking the links above, we covered the kasa-obake back here.

Sooo…I overworked myself into being sick.  Again.  (What is it with Web content producers and illness?  I’m becoming the Randy Milholland of RPG blogs.  I even have a beard now.)  Which means I never got around to posting last week’s radio show.  (Feel free to gasp in horror if you share my pain.)

This was a completely unplanned, seat-of-my pants show.  And it ended up being a lot of fun, because listeners came out of the woodwork to make requests.  You’ve got till midnight U.S. Eastern tonight (Monday, 01/30/17) to stream/download it, so grab it now!  Also, no radio show tomorrow—doctor’s orders.

Monday, January 23, 2017


Like the unicorn, the karkadann is a magical beast, in this case resembling an oryx with a frontward-facing horn.  Also like the unicorn, a karkadann has healing powers, particularly mastery over poison. 

Unlike the unicorn, the oryx is an ass—and I don’t mean the donkey kind.

Note: Okay, we have to get this out of the way first.  While Paizo’s karkadann resembles an oryx, in Persian and Arabic the same word is used for rhinoceros.  It may even be that the conflation of the mythical unicorn and the real rhinoceros is how the pernicious tradition of using a rhinoceros’s horn for medicine got started.  So let’s say this right now: Real rhino horns have no magical or medicinal properties.  And the maiming, mutilation, and murder of rhinos, tigers, elephants, and other endangered animals are among the most barbaric practices in the world.  Cultural differences and differing social norms are no excuse for nearly wiping out whole species, and every government and its citizens should work to bring an end to such trades.  So while I may talk about the uses of a karkadann’s horn in a flippant way here, I in no way condone any version of the practice in real life, and nor should you.

You’ll never catch a karkadann mooning over virgins or acting as a gentle steward of the forest like one of those fancy-prancy unicorns.  Karkadanns are hardy creatures of the plains and deserts, and they are mercenary to the core.  If you want a karkadann’s help, be prepared to pay up.  And whether it’s gold, magic, or favors, chances are the price is going to be a good 10% more than you can afford.

But then again, maybe that’s the plus side to the karkadann.  To get a unicorn’s help, you need to beseech and prove your good-heartedness and maybe perform a side quest or two.  But to get aid from a karkadann, you just need to pony up.  And if he raises the price too high or gives you attitude, well, you can always put a knife to his throat (keeping an eye out for the dimension door escape attempt) and point out that the gods look unfavorably at those who deny mercy when it’s needed.  You might also remind the karkadann that its horn is just as valuable severed off as it is sitting upon the brow where it currently resides… 

In other words, after all that sucking up to unicorns, isn’t nice to run into a talking animal you can just smack around until it behaves?

A karkadann appears at dawn to tired adventurers, pointing his horn to a rocky outcropping and saying only, “The treasure lies in there.”  The karkadann’s mystical air is a front, however.  He knows the site is guarded by a fierce girtablilu, and sending greedy travelers in there is a good way to keep his range free of the two-legged pests.  If they limp out of the caves wounded, poisoned, and ready to negotiate for aid, so much the better.

Several desert fey and a bristle of karkadanns have a long-running feud.  Thanks to their magic horns, which bear the taint of cold iron, the karkadanns currently have a narrow edge.  Adventurers might assist either side, but there are no heroes in this conflict.  Both the fey and the karkadanns want dominion over a certain watering hole so they can extort travelers for all they’re worth.

Stubborn camel trader Mustava—known as “the Mule” behind his back (and only behind his back)—is an unusual sight in the market of Damas, for he, too, has hooves.  Once a wild karkadann, the magical beast found city life more to his liking, and his keen eye for ungulates has served him well.  While he may be an unlikely merchant, he has an even more unlikely side hobby—he is the head of Damas’s Gore Boys, a gang of bloody-minded but crafty thieves.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 148

Back in grad school I went to New Mexico in a doomed attempt to see an ex.  We drove down to White Sands National Monument, one of the most bizarre places on earth—made even more so by the tension between us and the ominous stealth fighter (an F-117, I believe) that passed overhead.  We stopped in the park, took in the stark white scenery for a time, and got back in the car.  Just as we did, an oryx—an animal that should only be found in Africa or Arabia—galloped right across our path, inches from our bumper.  (It turns out they were introduced in the ’60s and adapted a little too successfully to the area.)  We just watched it go past, looked at each other, and laughed in disbelief at one of the more magical and surreal moments we’d ever encountered.

Looking for the kaprosuchus?  It’s way back here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


(Illustration by Nemanja Stankovic comes from the artist’s ArtStation page and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Hoo boy.  Now this is an interesting monster. 

With no head and a single eye, nose, and mouth placed in the center of its chest, the kabandha is clearly a monster out of myth and fable.  (Which it is—Indian myth, to be precise.)  And I think for a lot of gaming tables, that’s where it will remain (if it’s even used at all).  The kabandha’s outlandish appearance, so monstrous and childish at the same time, limits its easy application in most game worlds.  Like Bestiary 4’s one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged fachen, this is a monster that most easily fits into your campaign’s Mount Olympus, the land of Faerie, or the kind of fable-packed island chains you find in works like the Odyssey, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Gulliver’s Travels, and the Earthsea novels.  Even according to Bestiary 5, you’re most likely to find a kabandha serving the will of a god or guarding a mysterious ley line.  (They even lay eggs(!) made of stone—yet another fairy-tale touch.)

But why not put them in your campaign, especially if it’s one where the gods regular intrude?  The B5 authors specifically list the kabandha as a cyclops, thus giving it a family tree and a place in the world.  The easy answer is to sequester it along with the rakshasas and the nagas in your world’s take on fantasy India…but why not in your world’s Ireland, Jotunheim, or a homebrew location all your own?  Somewhere out there is a campaign where kabandhas are as common as minotaurs, and I want to see what that looks like.

That said, while we’re on the subject of fantasy India, the original Kabandha was laboring under a curse, and in death he was returned to his original celestial form.  What happens if your PCs kill a kabandha, only to have it return (especially if proper funeral rites are observed) as a manasaputra, angel, samsaran, or some other wise and blessed creature?

An adventuring party’s bard has been given a seemingly simple task: Deliver a cask of nutmeg to Lord Malar and convince him to open up a trade route, so that the spice caravans may travel freely through his lands.  This is a tougher assignment than it seems.  First, Lord Malar is extremely partial to cinnamon; second, he challenges any minstrel he meets to a song contest of deafening proportions; finally, he is a creature the likes of which the adventuring party has never seen—a kabandha of great age and influence—and he regards his stewardship over his lands (and the ley line they contain) as a divine charge.

Some off-duty musketeers are hired as guards for a private auction.  Among the rare books and glittering heirlooms are two seemingly ordinary stone spheres.  The spheres are kabandha eggs, and the musketeers’ security measures (and hopefully, their sense of morality) will be tested when four kabandha parents come looking for their offspring.

Traveling in the Spirit World, adventurers encounter a kabandha who bars their way.  They are stunned when killing the cyclops does not silence it.  Instead it asks them to perform the proper funeral rites to honor its passing.  If they do so, the pyre hatches a rishi manu, who promises to return to their side for a future combat of their choosing.  If they ignore their responsibilities, the kabandha follows them throughout the Spirit World as a vengeful penanggalen of great power.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 64

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the weirder nuggets in the “basic” D&D anthology accessory AC10 Bestiary of Dragons and Giants was the claim that stone giants, too, laid eggs.

One day we will get a proper India-inspired setting for Pathfinder.  (Looking at BoardGameGeek’s list of such things, the closest we’ve come so far in 3.5 seems to be Mindshadows, from Green Ronin’s Mythic Vistas line.  I gave in to curiosity and literally just ordered a copy since they were cheap, but Lord knows when I’ll have time to even skim it.) 

Until then, as always I highly encourage you to keep an eye out for the excellent Allen Varney D&D Hollow World module Nightstorm (and you want the physical copy because those old Hollow World hex maps are a joy).  I believe a few kits for 2e AD&D PCs (that’s archetypes for you Pathfinder fans) also occasionally tiptoed into Indian territory; they were sprinkled throughout the pages of the Complete Handbook series and Dragon Magazine.  Dragon Magazine #189 is especially worth seeking out for Michael J. Varhola’s “Rhino's Armor, Tiger's Claws,” which looks at Indian weapons.

Finally, I’ve gotten lots of fantastic reader responses to some of our recent posts.  There are too many to list here, but be sure to read what other folks are saying.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Jungle Drake

(Illustration by Ben Wootten comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Drakes have been with us in the Pathfinder game since Bestiary 2, with a handful appearing in each subsequent volume.  This familiarity doesn’t exactly breed contempt—c’mon, we love dragons—but it does breed complacent expectation.  You turn to a drake page expecting a speed surge, an environmental ability or two, maybe a special attack, and blah blah blah.

That’s where art comes in.

Show me the GM who can turn to Ben Wootten’s jungle drake and not want to put it in a campaign.  That camouflaged, squirrel-splayed, iguana-toed, archaeopteryx-tailed beauty is begging to be in your game—only it doesn't have to beg, because you already put it in there, probably while I was still writing this.  Last entry I was encouraging you to look past the art as a useful way of rethinking the monster; today the art is 90% of the reason to love this monster.  Just goes to show you: Every monster entry is worth approaching with fresh eyes.

(The art does have one problem—this is a jaguar- or even horse-sized creature (that is, size Large), but it’s painted to look the size of a faerie dragon, based on the surrounding limbs and leaves.  (Maybe it’s a juvenile?)  So remember that the adult jungle drake, while small for a dragon, is still a semi-proper dragon—at least the size of the raptors in Jurassic Park.)

Beyond that?  It’s a drake optimized to work in jungles.  If you’re a tactically minded GM, you can probably wreak a lot of havoc by properly comboing the drake’s woodland stride/predatory grab/speed surge abilities into a really nasty dine-and-dash strategy (particularly against Small PCs, familiars, or pack animals).  An attack by a full rampage could leave PCs wounded, scattered, gearless, and abducted/devoured in short order.

After their dirigible is blown off-course, adventurers have only one chance to make it back to civilization: a forced march through a jungle to a bubbling spring where sailors take on water.  With the monsoon season approaching, the party has two weeks to reach the spring before the last ships depart north, despite the canyons, bugbears gnashers (see the Monster Codex), flame pillars, and worse that stand in their way.  The last challenge is a sprint across an isthmus patrolled by ravenous, grasping jungle drakes.

Divinations indicate a druid was reincarnated as a jungle drake.  Adventurers are hired to escort the druid’s master to him.  They do not realize that the master intends to skin his former pupil and use the hide to craft a particularly powerful variant cloak of the bat (see Ultimate Equipment).

The blue-skinned gnomes of the Tamuti Jungle are known for their worship of totem animals, spirits that both represent and watch over their tribe.  Among the more well-known Tamuti tribes include the Sun Bears, the Jungle Drakes, the Anoa, the Blood Orangutans, and the Oru Man, a two-headed, thin man-like cryptid.  The Jungle Drakes are notorious raiders and nomads, who not only torment their neighbors but also practice the normally taboo act of riding their totem animal into battle.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 100

Thursday, January 12, 2017


(Illustration by Jim Nelson comes from the artist’s website and is © Paizo Publishing.)

I was completely expecting the isonade to be some sort of extinct or even fictional Carcharodon megalodon wannabe, but it turns out no!—it’s a Japanese cryptid.

Jim Nelson’s approach to this monster is a barbed shark with a tail that gestures toward thresher shark proportions—which makes 100% total sense, given the monster’s tail slap attack (with reach, no less). 

But the Bestiary 5 flavor text describes the isonade as “a shark protected by a crab carapace, with a tail, flanks, and pectoral fins covered in cruel hooks.”  From that description, you could easily image something more like a wobbegong shark, a camouflaged ambush predator lurking in the shallows (…although “shallows” is a relative term when you’re talking about a Gargantuan killing machine).

However you portray them, these are CR 15 creatures, a threat level practically unheard of for your standard magical beast.  The arrival of an isonade into an area is an ecosystem-alternating event, and their alternating periods of hibernation and activity (see B5) make them living myths to those who share their waters.

Losing a few sailors to a barb-tailed isonade is one thing.  Losing a king is quite another.  So when the only man who can end the war between Carraine and the Wyvernholds vanishes over the taffrail on his way to the treaty signing, it’s up to loyal Carraine adventurers to retrieve, restore, and resurrect the half-digested monarch from the belly of the isonade that ensnared him.

An enchanted door to the Sister Moon only opens when the isonades swim in the Beryl Sea.  As whales flee the gulf and the ichthyocentaur clans prepare to move, the signs all point to the monster sharks having awakened from their long sleep.

“Not even Death will claim Captain Blaze / Till Green Aggie drags her beneath the waves.”  So goes a bit of the doggerel sailors sing about Captain Blaze, the gunslinging magus who is said to have outdrawn a ferryman of Styx itself.  But it’s based on truth: the captain is immortal…but she no longer wishes to be.  So she hires adventures to do the one thing even a veiled master could not: kill her by feeding her to the isonade Green Aggie, and thus see the prophecy fulfilled.  Unfortunately, Captain Blaze’s alter ego—the wereshark she becomes every full moon as a side effect of her immortality—is less sanguine about her coming demise.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 147

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


To paraphrase Krusty the Clown: Once in a great while, we are privileged to experience an RPG event so extraordinary, it becomes part of our shared heritage.

1986: Pegataur walks on the moon.  1989: Pegataur walks on the moon… again.

Then, for a long time, nothing happened.  

Until tonight.

[And in a perfect world, I would post a picture of Ben Wooten’s Bestiary 5 ichthyocentaur—BAM—right here.  But I can’t find a legit (i.e. not from Pinterest) copy anywhere.  Grrr…]

Okay, I may be overstating the case here.  Perhaps nothing will ever top my beloved pegataurs for awesomeness, but ichthyocentaurs are pretty badass too [as the art I cannot show you would demonstrate were it here I repeat grrr…].

With Pathfinder’s merfolk being more cagey and isolationist than in other RPGs—a legacy of Golarion’s wild and woollier early days—and aquatic elves being beset on all side from skum, sahuagin, and worse, ichthyocentaurs are left to take up the mantle of undersea courage and nobility.  Ichthyocentaurs are everything you want from a race you share a coastline with—friends of wisdom and courage; led by bards, clerics, or oracles; mentored by fey and sphinxes; able to pull a seashell cart when you need to move house…ideal neighbors, really.

But ichthyocentaurs are also proud, quick to defend their homes when necessary, and as susceptible as any other race to falling under the spell of charismatic demagogues or bloody-minded religions.  So while PCs should be inclined to think of ichthyocentaurs as friends, they could easily end up facing the wrong end of a masterwork harpoon.

Inspired by their time frolicking on the beach with a seilenos, a band of ichthyocentaurs began honoring a fey lord of revelry and intoxication.  The fey power answered them by sending a pair of maenads to tutor them in madness and the drinking of blood.  Now fish-men and fey alike stalk the coast for cogs laden with wine and victims.

A school of ichthyocentaurs traveled through the Strait of Misfortune to consult the famous Sphinx at Sparrow Rock.  When they got there, they found the Sphinx was a sham—the androsphinx that had once lived here had been slain and his taxidermied skin used by illusionists to gull travelers out of magic items.  Distraught, the ichthyocentaurs seek vengeance for the sphinx and a new home for themselves.  Heartbroken and suspicious, they likely treat adventurers as enemies until the latter prove themselves to be friends.

The Quondam Conch is a spiraling, shell-shaped demiplane of sand and sea that houses civilizations that have sunk below the waves or been lost to tsunamis.  Ichthyocentaurs ply the seas between these city-states, on errands of their own or in service to the demiplane’s mysterious stone idol overseers.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 146

Do any of my readers have Wikipedia editing powers?  That entry on Vengeance of Alphaks needs some help (the right sidebar, especially).

Another place you might have seen pegataurs was the D&D Creature Catalogue, which I wrote a long appreciation of two years ago.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hunter & Spear Sea Urchins

If you don’t think sea urchins are dangerous, you have never been an echinoderm, a barefoot snorkeler, or a Pathfinder player.  This is a game where you run a real risk of being devoured by a ravenous urchin swarm.  So of course the man-sized hunter urchins and ogre-sized spear urchins are going to be a threat.  That’s just science.

A band of youths aren’t even adventurers yet—they’re just a handful of friends who get asked by Father Michaels to check in on an old hermit.  Instead they find his cabin ransacked, with a note telling them where they should look for the codger.  If they follow up (perhaps prodded by Father Michaels and the jingle of the pastor’s gold, if necessary), they find the old man.  Or rather, they find his corpse, wedged into a deep tide pool and currently feeding hunter urchins.  To get the pastor’s blessing (and his gold) they need to risk the urchins’ poisonous spines to retrieve the body.

The libertine nobles of Fever Bay delight in games of one-upmanship.  This season the fashion is gourmet cookery, the more outlandish the better…and if one of the ingredients killed someone along the way, that’s even better still.  Thus are some down-on-their luck adventurers sent after “rose petal uni”…without necessarily being informed ahead of time that rose petal uni are the tasty gonads of the deadly spear urchin.

Most river giants live deep inland, traveling the continent’s wide waterways.  But a few outcasts eke out existences along the coasts, hoping to avoid the attention of humanoid pirates, the perverse marsh giants, and the far-more-powerful ocean giants.  Since even outcast river giants spend a lot of time traveling, they use spear urchins to guard their treasure troves and supply caches while they are away.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #37 84–85 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 223

Monday, January 9, 2017


What up, dawgs? Where my giant, monkish aspects of the gaping, formless void that preceded the creation of the multiverse at?!?

Wow.  I really just typed that.

So yeah, part of the above sentence comes from Bestiary 5’s description of the hundun, and part does not.  (I’ll leave you to guess which was which.)  According to Wikipedia, the hundun comes from one of the murkier realms of Chinese mythology—and I do mean that “murkier” literally; the words “hundun” and “wonton” (as in the soup) share an origin—involving primordial chaos, the World Egg, an ancient son of a fiendish emperor, a being called Mr. Chaos…you get the idea.  It’s complicated.

Pathfinder’s hundun narrows and—kind of?—clarifies this concept into a race of Large-sized, faceless, skin-robed monks devoted to (and who are likely an expression of the longing for) the void that existed before the multiverse.  Got that?  Good.

I think hunduns deserve to be treated like a Big Deal.  After all, they’re CR 21 and get the two-page spread treatment—that alone indicates that they’re powerful and important.  (Two-page spreads are giant boulders in the otherwise limpid river of Bestiary entries, which means that @wesschneider and the rest of the Paizo editing/design team give them extra attention.)  Hunduns also just plain interesting for a host of reasons: They’re truly Big Bads from a non-Western mythology.  Their existence suggests alien gods, but those gods aren’t known to us.  They live on the Negative Energy Plane but aren’t undead.  They use gravity, spacetime, and strange attraction as weapons, like something simultaneously out of a science textbook and a Dr. Strange comic.  They hate all creatures of law, but they also think proteans (and probably demons, too) are wusses.  Their bizarre staves are, simply put, effed up.  And don’t even think about trying to read one’s mind.

So if you’re looking to do one of those campaigns with a Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett or latter-day Harry Dresden kind of ending, where strange hooded figures are trying to unmake existence itself…well, these guys are your huckleberries.

There’s another reason I like these monsters which is a bit esoteric and nitpicky, but bear with me: I like hunduns because they are ineffable agents of premultiversal chaos that don’t come from Lovecraft.

Don’t get me wrong—I love Lovecraft.  I have his annotated works sitting on my to-read table, I occasionally pick up the love-letter-to-Lovecraft comic Providence, and I’m thoroughly enjoying Pathfinder’s current Adventure Path, Strange Aeons, being developed by @thedaigle himself.

But.  But.  Because of all that…and the re-release of Call of Cthulhu…and all the Mythos-inspired board games out there…we are currently at peak Lovecraft.  We don’t need any more at the moment.  Plus, Lovecraft homages tend to have their own gravity and logic.  Lovecraftian adventures also have a way of trumpeting that they are such.  It’s pretty rare, for instance, to have one Lovecraftian monster in an adventure…there will always be two or more, plus shrieks of “Iä!”,  references to R’lyeh, and Yellow Sign graffiti.  That’s perfectly fine in Strange Aeons, where exploring Lovecraftian tropes is the point, but in other adventures it often feels like an interruption.  We wouldn’t let such obvious IP shout-outs as Jedi and Vulcans into our games, but we don’t blink at shoggoths—even when we probably should.

So as much as I love Lovecraft, I also have really begun to dig works where references to the Great Old Ones and other Lovecraftiana are more seamlessly integrated.  For instance, I love the aforementioned recent Harry Dresden novels involving Outsiders.  Ditto, I love the presentation of the Old Ones in Anthony Horowitz’s The Gatekeepers series (though I haven’t listened to the last book yet)—the whole pentad manages to be indebted to Lovecraft without ever aping him or referencing Cthulhu et al.  That’s a pretty neat trick.

So why do I like hunduns?  Because they offer another way of getting to notions of Chaos and alien gods without going through Lovecraft.  And they also offer new connective tissue that helps connect the Mythos into the mythology stew that is the rest of Pathfinder.  In the same way the fey umbrella embraces Greek satyrs and Welsh pookas without straining, hunduns give us sinews that join Azathoth to Bestiary 2’s sceaduinars to Bestiary 3’s imperial dragons, all in the same universe.  In short, hunduns let us have lovecraftian adventures, not just LOVECRAFTian ones.  And I am all for it.

After great struggle and clashes in two solar systems, adventurers defeat a void dragon in its lair.  Among the wyrm’s many outlandish and alien treasures they discover a primordial egg that seems to have its own gravity.  Unfortunately, the slaying of the void dragon was the trigger destined to hatch the embryonic hundun inside…

Adventurers have faced a strange array of creatures—wayward, wizard-slaying homunculi, masterless skum, mad lunar naga mediums, even the arrogant, libertarian dorvaes—and time and time again, signs point to a puppet master pulling the strings, a being known as Unraveling Hope.  Eventually the adventurers’ search takes them to a dying planet shard, a gaping vortex to the Negative Energy Plane, and Unraveling Hope itself, a hundun about to sacrifice the dark planetoid to an even darker god.

Ever since an accident marked one of their number with a mathematically precise, swirling sigil, an adventuring band has had ties to the axiomites and the Planes of Law.  Thus they have heard rumors of a new scholar come to stay at the Harmonious Academy of the Rule, a strange inevitable-like sage.  Upon the recommendation of a suspicious ally, they attend a public lecture given by this mechanical master.  There they witness the sage describe a calculus function that not only does not describe any known arithmetic or phenomenon…but actually undescribes it right before their eyes.  The inevitable-like body hides a hundun inside, and the hundun’s function of unmaking begins to spread across the Academy campus like whitewash across the mural of logical existence.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 144–145

Apparently Kobold Press's Dark Roads & Golden Hells has an alternate take on the hundun.  I own it but haven't read it yet.  #theusualpatchproblem

Speaking of #patchproblems, one of my readers was a bit critical of my recent bath disaster, writing:

 Sounds like you need to be more careful with your things…

Ouch, burn!  Said reader clearly doesn’t know how anal I am with my books—I drive friends and significant others nuts.  But this was an unfamiliar bathtub and I was exhausted—a bad combo on the best of days.

(Also I should stress that I found James’s tweet to be thematically appropriate and funny.  If you’ve read his book, you know why.)

Grrrr…I knew there was a better photo for the heresy devil floating around somewhere, but my New Year’s accommodation’s lousy Internet kept getting in the way and I gave up.  I wanted to link to this one.

Looking for the horn caterpillar?  It’s back here.