Literary Monsters of Bestiary 6

Thursday, April 27, 2017

For this last Bestiary 6 post (the book officially released yesterday, so I can't really call it a preview post!), I want to build upon last week's post, where I talked a bit about monsters from mythological sources. In this case, since these creatures aren't protected by copyright law and aren't the intellectual property of content creators, the field is wide open—we can create specific creatures based on these things in the same way we can stat up things like donkeys and rats. But there's another category of inspiration that we often draw upon that's a bit trickier—literary sources.

In this case, we've either opted for simply taking inspiration for a monster and making up something entirely new, but that's not exactly what I want to highlight here. When we look at older stories that are now in the public domain, there are a huge number of interesting creatures we can "import" into Pathfinder. We've been doing this in every Bestiary, from the first one (which has H. G. Wells's morlocks and Lovecraft's shoggoths for example) on. That doesn't change in Bestiary 6.

Of course, since I was the one picking the monsters, it should come as no surprise that my favorite author, Lovecraft, has some strong representation here. In some cases, the monsters picked up from his stories are specific creatures he took time to describe and explore (such as the yaddithian and the Great Old Ones). In other cases, they're creatures he wrote entire stories about but never really named, so I came up with specific names for them (the Leng hound, from his short story "The Hound", and the unrisen, the lively awful remnants from "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"). And in one case, they were just name drops with only a few words of tantalizing description—the urhag is a throwaway reference in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" where they're described as things flying in the sky along with bats in a creepy corner of the Dreamlands. In this case, other than "they fly" we were able to create an entirely new monster to provide context for the creature.

But Lovecraft wasn't my only source of literary inspiration. Like the urhag, the whisperer is never mentioned by name in the story that inspired it, but those who have read Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" (one of my all-time favorite stories) will recognize its themes and the weird wounds its touch causes in flesh, I hope. The other, the horla, is the opposite—a creature that not only heavily features in Guy de Maupassant's story, but gives that story its name: "The Horla." The fact that the horla is invisible in the story gave us some leeway in creating its appearance for those who insist on using methods like see invisibility to peer into the unknown, but its creepy abilities to feed on slumbering victims and secretly drive them to murder and insanity are right out of the pages of the tale. I've actually been trying to get the horla into print as far back as Bestiary 2, so I'm glad the critter finally gets to see the light of day!

Illustrations by Rafael Rivera, Will O'Brien, and Florian Stitz

James Jacobs
Creative Director

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Tags: Bestiary 6 Florian Stitz Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Rafael Rivera Will O'Brien

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^_^

Dark Archive

Love the Horla illustration and short description.

The Whisperer illustration is certainly in order.

The Yaddithian looks a little bit on the silly side imo, because of the snout. That could maybe discourage some players from playing them.

But i´m looking more forward to the stats anyway.
I´m very curious about the Unrisen, the Urhag and of course the Great Old Ones! :-)


Holy crap, if there's one monster I didn't expect, it would be the Horla! But it fits perfectly: always invisible, but always right at the corner of your eye, always following you, but no one else can see it, so you don't know if you're going crazy or not...

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Really dug the whisperer, among others!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Marco Massoudi wrote:

Love the Horla illustration and short description.

The Whisperer illustration is certainly in order.

The Yaddithian looks a little bit on the silly side imo, because of the snout. That could maybe discourage some players from playing them.

But i´m looking more forward to the stats anyway.
I´m very curious about the Unrisen, the Urhag and of course the Great Old Ones! :-)

Fun fact about the Yaditthian—it's one of several examples of monsters that Lovecraft actually DID describe in detail. (The claim that he described all of his monsters as "indescribable" is hyperbole.) Their vaguely insectile bodies and tapir snouts and humanoid shapes are all directly from Lovecraft, and I for one am kind of delighted by this, since it helps to show the diversity of shapes and forms he invested in his creations.


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Marco Massoudi wrote:


The Yaddithian looks a little bit on the silly side imo, because of the snout. That could maybe discourage some players from playing them.

Kind of looks like Jimmy Durante to me. "I'm mortified!"

I love what was done with the Horla, the Whisperer, and the Unrisen. The latter feels like something to be used with that one alchemist in Falcon Hollow from way back when who was exiled for trying to bring his wife back to life, a little something he's been working on as he tries to perfect his work.

I also like how, if you're careful, the effect the Whisperer has on its environment means it can be used with low-level parties as a sort of 'lurking menace' -- responsible for everything you're dealing with, but not actually physically attacking you.

Yet.


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The unrisen definitely pairs well with alchemists - one description of Curwen was as a "chymist". (The other thing I was thinking of when writing it was Full Metal Alchemist.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The whisperer sounds like a thing of nightmare for most PCs. It just traps and stalks you for a week until you die. You might never even see it while you traipse about in its Funland of horrors, all the while losing your mind to hallucination.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Everything about this makes me happy.

Carry on.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
The whisperer sounds like a thing of nightmare for most PCs. It just traps and stalks you for a week until you die. You might never even see it while you traipse about in its Funland of horrors, all the while losing your mind to hallucination.

Sounds like it does a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the short story its based on...


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I think the Yaddithian's body plan is a bit too human; in proportions, too.

Order of the Amber Die

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James Jacobs wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Love the Horla illustration and short description.

The Whisperer illustration is certainly in order.

The Yaddithian looks a little bit on the silly side imo, because of the snout. That could maybe discourage some players from playing them.

But i´m looking more forward to the stats anyway.
I´m very curious about the Unrisen, the Urhag and of course the Great Old Ones! :-)

Fun fact about the Yaditthian—it's one of several examples of monsters that Lovecraft actually DID describe in detail. (The claim that he described all of his monsters as "indescribable" is hyperbole.) Their vaguely insectile bodies and tapir snouts and humanoid shapes are all directly from Lovecraft, and I for one am kind of delighted by this, since it helps to show the diversity of shapes and forms he invested in his creations.

When I started GMing Strange Aeons, I had no idea what to expect in the way of monsters; surprisingly, it was my first exposure to Lovecraft. Now five parts into the AP, the diversity of Elder Mythos creatures has been one of my favorite features of the path. I'll take another helping of Lovecraftian beasties to frighten my players with, Mr. Jacobs!

Really looking forward to this bestiary.


So who wants to go down the creepy tunnel inside the monster lair first?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Umbral Reaver wrote:
I think the Yaddithian's body plan is a bit too human; in proportions, too.

Well... that's by design. Since in the original story in which they appeared...

Spoiler:
...a Yaddithian spends the entire time talking about the events with other humans, while itself is disguised as a human. So in order to pull that off and remain true to the story that inspired its inclusion in Bestiary 6, the Yaddithian needed to be pretty human in shape.


The illustration for the Whisperer might be one of my favorite monster illustrations from all bestiaries so far, if not my favorite. I'm really anxious to be able to read more about it.

I'm also really curious to see the illustration for Geryon. Is it as amazing as the ones for the other Archdevils revealed so far?


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The Gold Sovereign wrote:


I'm also really curious to see the illustration for Geryon. Is it as amazing as the ones for the other Archdevils revealed so far?

It's very good. I'd put it below Mammon and (the preexsting) Mephistopheles, even or better than the rest. Belial is the only I don't actually like.


Need to add more monsters based on the writings of M. R. James, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allen Poe etc.

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