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Illustration by Carolina Eade


The Origin of the Garuda

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

As we find ourselves deep in the midst of RPG Superstar 2011, it is fitting that last year's winning adventure proposal is shipping out to subscribers this week. Matthew Goodall's Cult of the Ebon Destroyers pits the PCs against a despicable cult of assassins and murderers from the distant land of Vudra. Among the many new Vudran elements featured in the module is the book's new monster—the garuda. These avian native outsiders typically inhabit rugged hills and sometimes serve as protectors of isolated human settlements. Due to space constraints, we had to cut much of the garuda's world flavor from its write-up in the adventure itself, but it seemed a waste to simply leave it in my ever-growing cut text scrapbook file. What better way to show off Matt's debut adventure than feature his winged creation on the Paizo blog?

Garudas are distant descendants of the goddess Janasini, the mother of birds. Legend tells that Janasini made an unwise wager with her sister Ravithra, the goddess of nagas and snakes. Ravithra cheated, and Janasini lost and became the slave of Ravithra's naga children. Sudachala, the first of Janasini's garuda children, offered to complete any task to free his mother. The nagas demanded a legendary bowl of nectar said to rest atop the tallest mountain in Vudra. Sudachala flew to the mountain and overcame many obstacles to retrieve the bowl, as detailed in the Azvadeva Pujila.

As Sudachala flew back, the god Gruhastha appeared and told Sudachala that the nectar was the elixir of immortality. The wicked nagas had tried to trick Sudachala into stealing the elixir from the gods' hiding place so they could drink it and live forever.

Sudachala alighted in front of the waiting nagas, placing the bowl on some sedge grass, and the nagas freed Janasini from servitude. But when the nagas tried to drink from the bowl, they cut their tongues on the sharp grass, for as Sudachala and Gruhastha had planned, the god had whisked the true elixir away, leaving only an illusion in its place.

Since then, garudas have been the mortal enemies of nagas. Only the most depraved and outcast garuda would knowingly associate with any kind of aberrant serpent.

Additionally, we've released rules to run the module as part of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign, complete with a unique Chronicle and advice on running it within the organized play format, available as a free download here.

Mark Moreland
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Carolina Eade Garudas Monsters Pathfinder Modules RPG Superstar Vudra
Cheliax

The Garuda's backstory rock!

Thanks Mark.

But if I as winged flamboyance goes, they are no Senmurv though.

:)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Now see, this makes me want a Vudra hardcover that much more!

The whole origin and tone just feels right. Have to wonder if there's any drama between them and couatls because of that. ;)

baron arem heshvaun wrote:
They are no Senmurv though.

Thank the gods!


Yay! No pointy shoes!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
Yay! No pointy shoes!

Haters gonna hate. You're just mad because they're stylin'.

And technically he has pointy toes. :P


Mikaze wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Yay! No pointy shoes!

Haters gonna hate. You're just mad because they're stylin'.

Those were happy exclamation marks :p And pointy toes are okay. Pointy shoes... I've worn them once or twice (with heels, no less), the stylishness is not worth it.


On the topic of the text rather than the picture: Creatures from Indian myth - yay! More gods - more yay! Grudge match with the nagas - yayilicous.


BLOG!


What happens when you de-wing them? Do they go off and look for an Alchemist named Isaac and a Gunslinger named Tansell :)?

Looks cool but some of the new additions to the game are getting a bit too derived for my taste. Keep chugging though.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I am loving the Golarion-love lately in the blogs! Also, I have to say that is an awesome pic! Eade ftw!


Carolina Eade's coloring on that image is superb!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cibet44 wrote:

What happens when you de-wing them? Do they go off and look for an Alchemist named Isaac and a Gunslinger named Tansell :)?

Looks cool but some of the new additions to the game are getting a bit too derived for my taste. Keep chugging though.

The garuda is derived from mythology; that's nothing new that we haven't been doing all along, or that the game itself hasn't done from the start with things like krakens, medusae, and elves.


James Jacobs wrote:
cibet44 wrote:

What happens when you de-wing them? Do they go off and look for an Alchemist named Isaac and a Gunslinger named Tansell :)?

Looks cool but some of the new additions to the game are getting a bit too derived for my taste. Keep chugging though.

The garuda is derived from mythology; that's nothing new that we haven't been doing all along, or that the game itself hasn't done from the start with things like krakens, medusae, and elves.

Well yeah, I'm aware of that, no need to be condescending. I'm aware of the Paizo "inspired from mythology" method as well --and think it's great. It just seems to me that some of the newer stuff has moved closer to the "derived" category and further from the "inspired", that's all. With this Garuda you can basically now build the whole party from Perdido Street Station nearly verbatim.

Almost everything in fiction is inspired by something else; I just like the inspiration to be further from the surface and obscured with originality. When I put the Garuda, Alchemist, and Gunslinger together well it just gets a bit transparent for my taste is all.


Wow! Pretty close to RW myth. I like how you kept the Garuda-Naga enmity.

RW Vinata = Janasini
RW Kadru = Ravithra

Neither word means anything in Sanskrit or any Indian language I looked at.

Gruhastha sort of approximates Indra in the legend too.

I'm very happy to see Garuda in Golarion. Thanks!

Paizo Employee Developer

Yeah, Matt really did his homework with the real-world legends and myths behind the new elements in this module, and also regarding names and their real-world meanings. You should have seen the list he sent, containing every proper noun in the book and a breakdown of what real-world languages and words inspired it and how close or far it was from other real-world words.

Cheliax

The Senmurv is from real world myth as well. Hence the comparison.

And the pretty colors.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Jeff de luna wrote:

Wow! Pretty close to RW myth. I like how you kept the Garuda-Naga enmity.

RW Vinata = Janasini
RW Kadru = Ravithra

Neither word means anything in Sanskrit or any Indian language I looked at.

Gruhastha sort of approximates Indra in the legend too.

I'm very happy to see Garuda in Golarion. Thanks!

+1 and same here. This is soooo cool! :D

Osirion

Mark Moreland wrote:
You should have seen the list he sent, containing every proper noun in the book and a breakdown of what real-world languages and words inspired it and how close or far it was from other real-world words.

Any chance of posting it?

I think that would be really cool to see.


cibet44 wrote:
Almost everything in fiction is inspired by something else; I just like the inspiration to be further from the surface and obscured with originality. When I put the Garuda, Alchemist, and Gunslinger together well it just gets a bit transparent for my taste is all.

1) Unlike Perdido Street Station, in Pathfinder the Garuda, the Alchemist, and Gunslinger are each in three different products surrounded by a bunch of other stuff which is completely unlike that book.

2) What's wrong with an RPG having elements similar to a thing you like (or at the very least found memorable)? Isn't that we play these games?

Paizo Employee Developer

fray wrote:

Any chance of posting it?

I think that would be really cool to see.

Probably not. It's not in a format I could easily put up, and Matt never intended for it to be seen publicly, so it's not something I'd feel right posting. He did intend for this creation myth to be seen, though, and it was already in great shape, so putting it up with the awesome art was a no-brainer.


Are there any Good naga? I'd hate to see even more reptilian turned into stereotypical evil just because they're reptilians.


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I love mythologies, but as someone with Thai family, I'm especially happy to see the garuda. Although looking at it makes me thirsty for some odd reason...

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Are there any Good naga? I'd hate to see even more reptilian turned into stereotypical evil just because they're reptilians.

There are 3 nagas in the Bestiary:

Dark Naga (Lawful Evil)
Spirit Naga (Chaotic Evil)
Guardian Naga (Lawful Good)

Garudas are Chaotic Good so they have 'issues' with all of them.

Osirion

That's a beautiful picture. So vibrant, and her (his?) pose is very cool.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
cibet44 wrote:

Well yeah, I'm aware of that, no need to be condescending. I'm aware of the Paizo "inspired from mythology" method as well --and think it's great. It just seems to me that some of the newer stuff has moved closer to the "derived" category and further from the "inspired", that's all. With this Garuda you can basically now build the whole party from Perdido Street Station nearly verbatim.

Almost everything in fiction is inspired by something else; I just like the inspiration to be further from the surface and obscured with originality. When I put the Garuda, Alchemist, and Gunslinger together well it just gets a bit transparent for my taste is all.

Not seeing any condescension. At most I see a bit of being tired of something that's also one of my pet peeves. It seems no one can pull inspiration from anything or take something back to its roots without someone accusing them of lifting from a contemporary work. And because something can be arranged in a manner similar to X or appears like X from a certain angle, something must be a reference to X, disregarding all of the other elements or history present. (that infamous Twilight fangirl rant against The Wolf Man remake was the most egregious example of this in the past few years) ("Just like WoW" is another example that gets even more play all too frequently)

Calling the existence of gunslinger and alchemist classes and a creature with a long history in Hundu and Buddhist traditions being present in an Indian-themed adventure a Perdido Street Station reference is stretching to say the least.

The garuda is awesome and the writer and artist should feel awesome.

Matt Goodall wrote:
SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Are there any Good naga? I'd hate to see even more reptilian turned into stereotypical evil just because they're reptilians.

There are 3 nagas in the Bestiary:

Dark Naga (Lawful Evil)
Spirit Naga (Chaotic Evil)
Guardian Naga (Lawful Good)

Garudas are Chaotic Good so they have 'issues' with all of them.

I'd like to think the "mortal enemies" bit gets put aside when dealing with Guardian Naga at least. To be honest, I've always found the aberration classification for nagas puzzling. Especially considering their roots.

Down with ophidian defamation!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

Mikaze wrote:
I'd like to think the "mortal enemies" bit gets put aside when dealing with Guardian Naga at least.

While a Garuda probably wouldn't attack a Guardian Naga on sight, I'd imagine there would be a lot of trust issues between them.

Mikaze wrote:
Down with ophidian defamation!

Let me guess, you're playing the Serpent's Skull AP? :-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Matt Goodall wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
I'd like to think the "mortal enemies" bit gets put aside when dealing with Guardian Naga at least.
While a Garuda probably wouldn't attack a Guardian Naga on sight, I'd imagine there would be a lot of trust issues between them.

Is it the dislocating-your-jaw-to-eat-your-food-whole thing? It's the dislocating-your-jaw-to-eat-your-food-whole thing, isn't it?

(admittedly I'd be pretty put off too)

Matt Goodall wrote:


Let me guess, you're playing the Serpent's Skull AP? :-)

Nah, though I would have been down with it in a heartbeat. Just a big fan of nagas. And couatls. And yuan-ti. And lillends and mariliths. And I still think Medusa is one of the biggest woobies in all Greek mythology...

Snakes have it rough in fantasy!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

This module has some simply fantastic artwork (some of which hasn't been revealed via blog). I mean, <redacted> the <redacted> on page 13 is one of the best, most interesting examples of a <redacted> that I've seen.

And the <redacted> on page 8 is excellent. A very evocative take on that creature.

The information on Niswan at the end is nice. I'm not sure if that was pulled from another source, but having a nice outline of a city this size is always handy.

I'm looking forward to digging deeper into the module itself.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cibet44 wrote:

Well yeah, I'm aware of that, no need to be condescending. I'm aware of the Paizo "inspired from mythology" method as well --and think it's great. It just seems to me that some of the newer stuff has moved closer to the "derived" category and further from the "inspired", that's all. With this Garuda you can basically now build the whole party from Perdido Street Station nearly verbatim.

Almost everything in fiction is inspired by something else; I just like the inspiration to be further from the surface and obscured with originality. When I put the Garuda, Alchemist, and Gunslinger together well it just gets a bit transparent for my taste is all.

Does the fact that China Miéville has written stuff for Pathfinder help at all? ;-)

On a slightly more serious note, pretty much all of us here at Paizo are big fans of China's writing. But China himself is a big fan of RPGs. I'm not sure that being able to build a version of China's world using the Pathifnder rules is all that terrible a thing. Heck... Paizo already did this back in an issue of Dragon for D&D, so in a way we've ALREADY done that.

In any case, as folks have mentioned already, the Garuda, the Alchemist, and the Gunslinger are all from different books. And none of them were directly inspired by China's stories, to be honest.

The primary inspiration for the Garuda was mythology.

The primary inspiration for the Gunslinger was westerns with more than a dash of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" books, and an honest desire to explore guns and their implications in the game.

And the primary inspirations for the alchemist are a mix of real-world alchemy legends, previous incarnations of the alchemist in the game, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, the videogame "The Witcher," and the fact that we wanted a class to back up several alchemy-based elements in Golarion (not the least of which is the entire country of Thuvia).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

[...]

And the primary inspirations for the alchemist are a mix of real-world alchemy legends, previous incarnations of the alchemist in the game, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, the videogame "The Witcher," and the fact that we wanted a class to back up several alchemy-based elements in Golarion (not the least of which is the entire...

Now this is something I would not guess in a hundred years.

Bomb-spamming son of Jekyll being inspired by Geralt? :)

By the way, for a great modern interpretation of Jekyll, do see BBC's Jekyll clip "He's coming - Jekyll - BBC drama". And whole series, too.

Regards,
Ruemere


Maybe I should use the pic as my avatar.

Cheliax

ruemere wrote:
By the way, for a great modern interpretation of Jekyll, do see BBC's Jekyll clip "He's coming - Jekyll - BBC drama". And whole series, too.

Only fair to show the second half of that scene Ruemere.

Some of us root for Hyde after all.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Joe Wells wrote:


The information on Niswan at the end is nice. I'm not sure if that was pulled from another source, but having a nice outline of a city this size is always handy.

That info on Niswan was written up by Matt for this module, so it's all new! We're putting new locations at the ends of the modules (whether a city, or a castle, or a church, or whatever) to both tie-in to the adventure, but also to provide a "plug-and-play" location that GMs can use in their campaigns, even if they're not running the module itself.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

ruemere wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

[...]

And the primary inspirations for the alchemist are a mix of real-world alchemy legends, previous incarnations of the alchemist in the game, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, the videogame "The Witcher," and the fact that we wanted a class to back up several alchemy-based elements in Golarion (not the least of which is the entire...

Now this is something I would not guess in a hundred years.

Bomb-spamming son of Jekyll being inspired by Geralt? :)

That's good then! It's always a fine line walking between inspirations and outright pastiche or, even worse, plagiarism. There's an awful lot of "liberal borrowing" in the RPG industry. You see it all the way from the top—like how World of Warcraft has gnolls in its game.

When I designed the original alchemist, I tried really hard to only be inspired by The Witcher and to let that lead me into some new areas of design... but the idea of being a guy who drink magic potions to become more powerful, and who is a little bit edgy and creepy still shines through in parts.

Andoran

The illustration is outstanding. One of the best creature illustrations Paizo has ever released. Period.

Please find the Carolina Eade dial on Paizo's next AP and turn it up to "eleven."


This looks interesting actually. Sometime in March I will have to order this adventure.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steel_Wind wrote:

The illustration is outstanding. One of the best creature illustrations Paizo has ever released. Period.

Please find the Carolina Eade dial on Paizo's next AP and turn it up to "eleven."

Her stuff is really pretty, but it's starting to all look kind of the same. Linear, elongated, and pointy. Very well done linear, elongated, and pointy, though.

(I'd still say turn up the dial, just maybe to 8, 8.5 or so.)


baron arem heshvaun wrote:

The Garuda's backstory rock!

Thanks Mark.

But if I as winged flamboyance goes, they are no Senmurv though.

:)

There are only two kinds of flying creatures in the world. Senmurvs, and those who can only dream! :D

That said, if the garuda will be in this adventure then I have to make plans for getting it. I would like to know if the garudas are 'monsters' as such or mainly a Vudrani variant of the tengu?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Eric Hinkle wrote:
baron arem heshvaun wrote:

The Garuda's backstory rock!

Thanks Mark.

But if I as winged flamboyance goes, they are no Senmurv though.

:)

There are only two kinds of flying creatures in the world. Senmurvs, and those who can only dream! :D

That said, if the garuda will be in this adventure then I have to make plans for getting it. I would like to know if the garudas are 'monsters' as such or mainly a Vudrani variant of the tengu?

They're statted up as CR 9 11-HD CG-aligned Outsiders (native subtype), with spells as per a 7th level Sorcerer and +1 Shock composite longbows.

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