Planktas are odd. Bestiary 5 describes them as “stony creatures formed from the shattered remnants of ancient island civilizations devastated and inundated by natural or magical cataclysms”—okay, check, we got that—“and given life by unleashed magical energies and the anguished spirits of those lost in the tragedies.” Makes sense. Except…planktas do not remain creatures of unleashed energies and spirits—in other words, they are not outsiders or fey or even undead. Instead, they become aberrations—true mortal creatures, albeit alien ones.
Of course, becoming such a creature also means having the drive to procreate…and in the plankta’s case, that means destroying more island civilizations. It’s a grisly life cycle to say the least.
None of that will probably ever come into play at your game table, unless you’re really deeply exploring themes of climate change and island cultures. And even the choice to make them aberrations probably had to do more with behind the scenes math—“We need X number of aberrations in this book, and we only have Y, so get brainstorming.” But once the monster is in print, I find it super interesting to wrestle with the implications of what’s in the stat block.
One more thing about planktas: They are described as animate jumbles of buildings and rock, and the illustration makes them look vaguely hermit crab-like. But that’s by no means made explicit in the text, so their forms might be even more outlandish, depending on the nature of the cataclysm that formed them…
A band of adventures began its career in the shadow of an exploding volcano, ferrying passengers out of the doomed city of Hestius. Now the Hestian Beast, a plankta born of Hestius’s destruction, threatens their adopted home of Sanctis. Now far more experienced and with a clear enemy in sight, this time they resolve to fight rather than ferry.
Ships have been disappearing along Giant’s Foot Strait. A clan of deep merfolk has been blamed, but the truth is a plankta has been raining boulders (and its own discorporated rocky body) on the passing ships. Investigating the mystery may uncover the hitherto unknown sunken city whose destruction birthed the plankta, as well as unlock a runic alphabet that has had researches stumped for years.
The Ringwrack is a vast chain of archipelagos circling the Sea of Rage. Planktas are more common here than anywhere else in the world, thanks to the extreme level of volcanic activity in the region and the destructive procreation of the planktas themselves. Planktas that were fathered rather than arising spontaneously tend to resemble their sire. Those that resemble stony hermit crabs were born from Old Karg, those that resemble weeping whales made of marble were sired by the White Witch, and those that resemble massive iguanas seem to trace back to a mystery progenitor near the equatorial line.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 195
I have feelings about 2019. I have feelings about the last decade. I’ll save them for another day, but suffice it to say I’m ready for 2020 in a big way. Happy New Year, everyone.