Bestiary deep cuts don’t get much deeper than the ophiotaurus. It’s only found in a single reference from Ovid—and not from Metamorphoses, either, but Fasti. That’s the mythological equivalent of saying your favorite ’90s alternative song is Sloan’s “Stove/Smother” cover. Like, I can tell how you got there, but man, you were looking.
Aside from being a Gargantuan, mythic half-bull, half-snake-monster, the ophiotaurus is most significant for what it offers—a massive power boost in the form of either its ascension spell like ability and its Questing Beast (Su) ability—if PCs kill an ophiotaurus they have access to certain divinatory powers, and if they’re willing to accept a geas on top of that, they also get a massive moral bonus (+6 to Str and Con) per vengeful outrage.
In other words, facing (and possibly slaying) an ophiotaurus is an excellent step along the way to facing a mythic Big Bad—perhaps even the penultimate step. Every hero needs his Campbellian journey, and the Ophiotaurus checks off the Road of Trials and/or Apotheosis boxes pretty nicely. An ophiotaurus’s death, though, should be more than a plot coupon—it should carry an air of what it is: a necessary sacrifice.
Adventures attempt to seal a portal to the realm of Baphomet, the demonic patron of evil minotaurs. If they fail to light the temple braziers and burn the proper offerings, the snaking tile labyrinth beneath their feet reveals itself to be the pebbled hide of an awakening ophiotaurus.
At the behest of a sovereign dragon, adventurers race to the ends of the earth to place a magical yoke upon the shoulders of an ophiotaurus—an animal they did not even believe existed mere days ago. Unfortunately, their demodand rivals have sent a lackey to beat them to the punch. And “punch” is the operative word, for the vile servant is one of the Hundred-Handed Ones, a hekatonkheires.
Adventurers slay an ophiotaurus and eat its entrails, as the old legends instruct. But in doing so, they have inadvertently performed a religious act, for the sacrifice of a bull, even a mythic one, belongs to Tiernos, the Lightning Lord. Now the long-slumbering Allfather wakes, and the adventurers must contend with his assumption that they are his new high priests…and vassals.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 185
Somewhere out there someone is screaming, “The Ophiotaurus was also in the Percy Jackson series!!!”
Fair enough. I have not read the Percy Jackson books. Usually mixing mythic tales and modernity is not my jam—I’ve had some grim experiences in the past. But surely it can’t be any worse than the Nicholas Flamel books, right? Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say…
Percy Jackson saves [the Ophiotaurus] in the middle of the night, when he was warned by his favorite pegasus, Blackjack. He first thinks it is a female and names it "Bessie". The Ophiotaurus thinks that Percy is his protector. Later, the creature is brought to Olympus via a magic water bubble and is put under the care of Percy's father, Poseidon.
*gently closes laptop, stares into space for a minute, gets up to walk away*
Nope. I’m out. Not going to happen. Nooooope.
Someone burn the room after I leave. It’s the only way to be sure.
Once again it’s Monday night, and once again I am encouraging you, with barely an hour to spare, to click a link I should have posted last Wednesday. Sigh. Sorry about that. But click anyway—it’s my first radio show of the Spring 2018 semester, and we’ve got new Hop Along, Camp Cope, and Baltimore’s own Wye Oak and Letitia VanSant, plus 20 years of Pearl Jam’s Yield. Stream/download it now through midnight tonight (Monday, 02/12/18, U.S. Eastern)!