Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mountain Blight

One of the things I appreciate about Pathfinder’s Bestiaries is their thoughtful construction.  (Compare for instance, Bestiary 3’s intentional focus on non-European monsters to the 3.0 Monster Manual II’s throw/wall/whatevsticks design philosophy.)  And even when these books engage in open problem solving, that’s thoughtful as well—the designers are clearly carefully tweaking nobs and dials, not rushing to slather on spackle.  (Again, compare with, say, 3.5’s unpopular and filler-stuffed Monster Manual IV.)

Take oozes, for instance.  At the best of times, they're only so interesting.  And this deep into an edition…yeesh, there are only so many colors of pudding you can serve up.  Having already pretty much taken ordinary oozes as far as they could possibly go (gunpowder oozes, anyone?), for Bestiary 6 James Jacobs & Co. took the next step of rethinking the Ooze type’s core assumptions.  “Oozes are sightless and unintelligent,” the old books say.  James’s reply was, “…But what if they’re…not?”  And so blights were born.

This blog post and (of course) B6 itself go into more detail on blights.  But the short version is that blights are descendants of a terrifying blob monstrosity summoned by serpentfolk druids to wipe out their civilized enemies.  The blob did its work too well—the druids were destroyed along with their kin—and the blob’s descendants spread out into the forgotten places of the world, diversifying per their particular habitats.  They are malevolent, many-eyed, intelligent, and magical.  For the rest, I’ll just quote Mr. Jacobs:

All possess spell-like abilities, a favored terrain, the ability to curse that terrain, and a tendency to rejuvenate if you don't uncurse their realm after defeating them. Blights are also tailor-made to serve as "boss" monsters for wilderness-themed adventures, for while they detest other creatures that have intellects, they understand that such creatures make great agents and soldiers in their campaigns against civilization.

Mountain blights don’t hunt civilized creatures as aggressively as their blobby kin do, but you still don’t want to meet one in a high mountain pass.  Assuming a mountain blight’s dominated thralls haven’t already murdered you, or you haven’t fallen off a cliff courtesy of hallucinatory terrain, it can still always kill you via hypoxia, a localized earthquake tremor, or just slam you into a granite wall.

The monks in an isolated lamasery have been acting strangely, at least according to rumor.  Fearing a yak folk incursion, adventurers journey to investigate for themselves.  The culprit is not yak-headed body snatchers, but something far more alien.  A mountain blight recently woke from a 500-year hibernation, discovered the monks, and promptly enslaved them all.

A family of sphinxes is notorious for difficult riddles and their inevitable brutal aftermath.  The sphinxes are actually not as malevolent as they appear, but they are the terrified thralls of a mountain blight.  They are bloodthirsty because the blight demands regular offerings of man flesh, but at the same time the sphinxes secretly hope that their wicked reputations scare off all but the most foolhardy or arrogant victims.

The asexual blights do not experience romance per se…but unhealthy fascination, that is another matter.  Upon discovering the presence of a nearby, more powerful tundra blight, a mountain blight is determined to impress the superior slime.  It plans to crack open a dwarf hold and present the shattered mountain for the tundra blight to freeze.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 42

Have yak folk not appeared in Pathfinder yet?  Holy crap, do we need to fix that.  Do turn to the excellent Dragon #241 (browse here, buy here) for more.

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