Thursday, March 8, 2018


In the entry on ourdivars, Bestiary 6 states:

Ourdivars are spontaneously formed when called forth via spells like lesser planar ally.  They toil at the behest of their conjurer creators, acting as tools of chaos across the planes.

This is suuuuuper interesting to me.  The creature-spontaneously-created-in-the-act-of-conjuration is a common trope of fantasy fiction.  But in fantasy gaming, we tend to assume all outsiders come from a specific somewhere—after all, our characters can visit those planes.  Even summoners, who call into being conjured creatures the way most people conjure up chili fries, supposedly get the spirits they call from…someplace.  That makes an outsider brought into existence purely in the moment of conjuration an interesting beast indeed.

Now give it the body of a crystal lamia, with a weapon hand that can morph from spear to saber to morning star with just an effort of will (as if they were Junkions in Act 2 of The Transformers: The Movie!)…well, that’s a monster worth conjuring/creating. 

But once they're created, how do they react?  As living embodiments of chaos, following orders to the letter isn't going to be a strong suit, even in the service of a chaotic caster.  Are they thrilled at their sudden coming-into-being, or do they seek to return to the Maelstrom, à la Mr. Meeseeks (“Existence is pain!”)?  That leaves a lot of room to play for an inventive GM and a chaos-loving conjurer.

The enemies of Mortis Minelus have all wound up dead.  But each time, the method has been different—beaten to death, bludgeoned, pierced, slashed, even warped by some form of raw magic.  Minelus himself wears the purple and blue robes of the pacifist Morning Glory sect, having sworn “to raise no weapon, nor fire a spell in anger”—and spells testing his veracity have returned nothing incriminating.  The truth is that Mortis Minelus is an accomplished conjurer, using called ourdivars to do his wicked work.

Debtors know they can always find refuge in the Abbey of Alms.  First, the land the abbey sits upon is properly part of the March of Lady Weatherall, and thus not within the jurisdiction of the Lord-Mayor or his Dunners.  Second and more importantly, the constantly shifting stained glass window in the ramshackle abbey calls ourdivars to fend off any scion of law—be they archons, devils, paladins, or even humble local watchmen trying to fulfill a writ of collection.

Lamias and spirit nagas sometimes summon ourdivars for coitus, not combat.  The resulting entropic creatures are inventively deadly and hate the trappings of humanoid civilization even more than their serpentine mothers.

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 213

Do I get to say I’m the authority on nagas?  Yeah, I’m gonna say it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


High-CR aeons are concerned with the great dualities of existence: creation and destruction, life and death, the peaks and ebbs of karma as it ripples like a sine wave through existence.

The othaos, being only CR 5, handles a more elemental duality: light and darkness, protecting the one from the other so that the worlds of shine and shadow remain in harmony.  If a mysterious obelisk casts an unnaturally large shadow or outsiders made of light make an incursion onto the Material Plane, expect an othaos to manifest.

The Spear of Dumar is an incandescent stalactite of unspeakable size that casts a rosy glow over the dwarf city below.  It is lovingly tended by the Glowstones, a sect of earth druids and elementalists, as well as an othaos that has spent more than a generation inspecting the unique crystal.  When the Spear of Dumar begins to dim unexpectedly, the Glowstones recruit adventurers to rule out sabotage.  They also seek a way to contain the othaos—the aeon seems mad with grief and has already attacked two innocent citizens.

The Mirror Plane actually moves through the Shadow Plane, a ribbon of glowing silver in the eternal darkness.  Othaoses guard crucial passages and intersections along this winding road, preventing incursions from the Shadow Plane onto the Mirrorways, and vice versa.  Owbs are these aeons’ particular foes, and they will attack anyone who seems marked by their stain—including adventurers injured in combat by the magical weapons or death throes of the dark folk.

The expansion of the Incandium, Porthos’s college of magic, has led to an explosion of magical innovations and curiosities, with recent graduates eager to apply their new talents for the public good (or at least for public acclaim).  Chief among these are Porthos’s new streetlights—some magical, some alchemical—which shine brighter than torches throughout the city.  An othaos takes exception to this interruption in the cycle of night and day, dimming or consuming every streetlamp he can find.  With no Lamplighters’ Guild to pick up the slack, Porthos is facing a rash of muggings, assaults, burglaries, and attacks from cloakers, gremlins, and other photophobic monstrosities.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 10

I’m no expert in the subject, but I’m pretty sure the othaos would make a kickass Pokemon. 

Also, I could use an othaos to do something about the apartment building across the street that has taken a chunk out of my bedroom’s natural light.

Longtime reader/encyclopedic dr-archeville gave me the heads-up about the Pathfinder Second Edition playtest.  I was really hoping this day wouldn’t come anytime soon, but given the life cycle of the product line—they’d splatted pretty much all the hardcover splatbooks it seems reasonable to splat—and the general veering of the tabletop world away from complexity/having a stat for every situation to ease of creation/use, 2e Pathfinder was probably inevitable.   (The learnings from the development of Starfinder was probably also a big third factor.)

So naturally I’m a little bit nervous (like Garth in Wayne’s World, I fear change), but of course I’m excited too.  Any time an edition switches over, that creates opportunities for hungry creatives like yours truly—and possibly for many of you out there as well. 

Last night The New Indie Canon went architectural and intellectual, courtesy of our guest DJ, mcmansionhell’s Kate Wagner.  We had a great time spinning songs about buildings, architecture, the financial crash, and masses great and smol.  A huge thank-you to her for coming out and to many of you for listening.  If you missed the fun, stream/download it now till Monday, 03/12/18, at midnight.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


One of the hallmarks of the original Outer Planes—the 1e AD&D Outer Planes, that is—was their lethality.  If arriving on the plane itself didn’t kill you—on many planes you were only a saving throw or two away from energy drain, suffocation, or reaching your full potential and exploding into a star (no, really, that was a thing)—then the Wandering Monster tables surely would (“Suddenly a…*GM rolls dice*…Type V demon appears!” “Is that bad?” “Roman numbers are always bad.”). 

These days planar travel isn’t nearly so grim—2e’s Planescape setting and 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder’s templates went a long way toward ratcheting down the deadliness.  But it’s still really nice to run into fresh low-CR Abyssal creatures.  Ostovites are a great excuse to bring the Lower Planes into even the most introductory adventures.  That may not be the right arc for every campaign, but for certain setups—especially one centered on a holy city or religious order or crusade (in my head I’m immediately flashing back to the visuals of the Claymore anime series)—ostovites are an outstanding option.

But I’ve totally let the metanarrative distract us from the monster itself, which deserves a look: It’s a silverfish made of tiny bones!  That gathers up the bones of other creatures!  And rides them in something called a bone chariot.  Why?  BECAUSE IT HAS AN INFERIORITY COMPLEX!  (If any of you are Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men fans, this is your cue for a “WHAAAT?!?”) 

Come to think of it, it’s funny—I’m guessing that, for a lot of us, inferiority complexes are probably the main driver of conflict in our daily lives.  And yet when was the last time you ran across a monster driven by inferiority?  Let alone one who literally collects bones and rides them like a parade float because it hates looking up to the demons and human slaves around it?  That’s a pretty unforgettable hook for what is otherwise nothing more than an extra-nasty silverfish.

Novice adventurers stray into a crypt that is mirrored in the Abyss.  Fortunately for them, the crypt protects them the demonic horrors of that plane.  But the crypt’s more mundane inhabitants do not care to have their domain disturbed.  After spying on the adventurers from cover, the crypt’s ostovites eagerly seek their bones to ride like the lords of death they see themselves to be.

Adventurers stumble across a rare scene—an ostovite mating dance, where the Abyssal arthropods gather to challenge each other for status and mates.  While the scholars at the Collegium would pay handsomely for notes on the encounter, the adventurers likely won’t get the chance to take any.  First of all, there are more ostovites in the area than normally would congregate together, making them extra aggressive.  And since most of the ostovites in this year’s colony have only been able to cobble together bone chariots the size of halflings and dwarves, they are driven to a frenzy by the sight of taller prey.

The Day of the Dead comes every year to the seaside town of Mazatlan, as it does all across Mexico.  But this year not all the skeletons in the parade are human.  A nest of ostovites took advantage of the seasonal porousness between life and death to slip back into the mortal world.  They quickly assemble bone chariots from recently interred corpses and attempt to join the festivities of the living.  However, a young seminarian and his friends discover the disturbed graves, and anxiously attempt to recover the stolen bodies.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 187

God, I’m so tired I can barely see.  Forgive any typos, please.

A bit of Coco in that last adventure seed, no doubt.  Also, I visited Mazatlan over spring break my senior year of college.  Loved it, especially watching the pelicans fly home at sunset.

Also, for my Blogger readers—or any Tumblr fans who missed the news—I have two Pathfinder articles coming out in the next two months!!!  Details are here and here.  I hope you preorder, I hope you read, and most importantly I hope you enjoy!  Thanks!

And finally, last Tuesday we celebrated my radio show’s 21st(!!!) birthday!  Tune in for an hour of songs about drinking, then an hour about sex, drugs, poor decisions, and consequences…not to mention just a whole lot of 1997.  Stream/download it now through Monday, 03/05/18, at midnight.  Also keep an eye out for news about*fingers crossed*—a very, very special guest DJ coming up.