Why are Naga Aberrations?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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They don't seem to fit the description of aberration very well. I mean, they're basically just intelligent snakes with humanoid heads and some magic.
I think Magical Beast is a better fit just by going off what other creatures are in that category. Lammasu, Sphinx, Shedu and a few others are humanoid heads/faces on animal bodies with magic powers and they're all classified as Magical Beasts.

Is the Naga classification just a hold over from 3.5?

Sovereign Court

I think it's strange too. Mythologically they're not "wrong" or "unnatural"; more above than outside of it. So I agree with Magical Beast.


The Naga classification is a hold over from 3.5(well technically 3.0) but I agree they should have been magical beast. I have always disliked that they were classified as aberrations.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Aberrations are creatures with an unnatural species origin as opposed to magical beasts.


LazarX wrote:
Aberrations are creatures with an unnatural species origin as opposed to magical beasts.

Owlbear? Cockatrice?


I usually interpret aberrations as Cthulhu-like monstrosities, not snake people.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would guess that a lot of creature types are just really arbitrary decisions to try to fill a creature niche. I would haphazard a guess that many of the aberrations rely on strange gimmicks like mental powers (mind flayers and aboleths, for example) rather than brute force (most magical beasts). Since nagas are casters, I'm guessing the designers wanted them to have good Will saves rather than Fortitude and Reflex.


Well they could have just given them a high Will save then. I find it odd that the creators of the game need to manipulate gimmicks.


it seems inconsistent to me, but on the flip side i'm not sure why lammasu, sphinx, etc themselves arne't aberrations.

Dark Archive

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Drejk wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Aberrations are creatures with an unnatural species origin as opposed to magical beasts.
Owlbear? Cockatrice?

You have a point; those would probably fit quite well as aberrations as well.


I disagree. Those are natural animals in Golarion's world. I'd bet you that a dwarf would find an ostrich an aberration if it showed up in his house, but a pathfinder could tell him it was imported from somewhere.

"Oy, this abyysal bugger be peckin' me axe!"

Silver Crusade

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Yeah, that classification never did feel right. I like Kevin Andrew Murphy's suggestion from way back:

Make them fey.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Just because this got me curious, I swapped the Dark Naga's monster type from aberration to magical beast. I didn't change any ability scores or feats or special abilities. I just swapped the type, and I got a monster that would seriously change the way I'd run a Dark Naga.

Here are only the parts that were affected by the swap:

Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, detect thoughts; Perception +9
hp 104 (10d10+40)
Fort +11, Ref +14, Will +5 (+7 vs. charm effects)
Skills: Bluff +5, Diplomacy +5, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +9, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (arcana) +5, Perception +9, Sense Motive +6, Spellcraft +5, Stealth +8

As you can see, I wound up with a Dark Naga with very few skill points to spread among its many skills and only two class skills that actually apply to Magical Beasts (Perception and Stealth.) The naga did gain low-light vision, a ton of hit points and much better Fort and Ref saves, but its Will save went to pot.

Sure, I could completely redraft the dark naga with new ability scores, feats and special abilities or even reestablish the monster's role in the game by working with the magical beast type to drop its social skills and turn it into a stealthy killer, but I think the aberration type that came out of 3.0 was just better fit for the role nagas have played in the game since D&D's origins.


+1

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I just noticed the suggestion to make them Fey so I figured what the hell...

Senses low-light vision, detect thoughts; Perception +17
hp 75 (10d6+40)
Fort +7, Ref +14, Will +9 (+11 vs. charm effects)
Melee bite +6 (1d4+2), sting +6 (2d4+2 plus poison)
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 24 (can't be tripped)
Skills Bluff +16, Diplomacy +16, Disguise +16, Escape Artist +20, Intimidate +13, Knowledge (arcana) +13, Perception +17, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +16

So the Dark Naga loses Darkvision and some hit points and melee ability, but the boost to skills makes them very good at their social skills, and the Reflex boost isn't a bad fit. I could see Fey working very well for, at least, the dark naga. I didn't try this with any other types.


Well, if you think their skills are that important maybe you could give them a racial trait that grants extra skill points? Like the human racial?


Actually , thinking about it some more having less skills to spread around might actually be a good thing.
Reading the fluff text for the various nagas, it seems that a few of the skills they were given as aberrations are just there to absorb excess skill points. Whereas as Magical Beasts, they can just put points into the skills that support their chosen role/lifestyle and not worry about where the other skills are going.

Maybe they can get a racial bonus that makes some skills class skills for them depending on their racial preference? Like, Dark Naga get Stealth, Intimidate and Diplomacy; Guardians get Knowledge, Spellcraft etc?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Urist The Unstoppable wrote:
I usually interpret aberrations as Cthulhu-like monstrosities, not snake people.

Hell, if you read the write up for the hydra in mythical monsters it sounds far more like an aberration then a magical beast (and is a little more compelling too).

I Think this is a major problem that aberrations and magical beasts both suffer from where they are used as vague catch all categories for monsters with ever changing definitions. Hell part of why I like pathfinder so much is that they made the aberration more lovecraftian for a while there but still feel like they need to more clearly define both categories.

For me I always think of magical beasts as more fantastical versions of common mammals, birds, or reptiles while aberrations are usually foreign species either from the great beyond (the dark tapestry, outer space, etc.) or are fantastical versions of truly alien creatures seen on earth (strange forms of reproduction, amoebas, insects, deep sea animals, cephalopods, creatures that metabolize different matter for survival, any of the aforementioned mixed with bizarre reptile parts), basically anything that will seem well and truly alien to human visual sensibilities.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can have] strange forms of reproduction...

...but the pheonix is a magical beast.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] amoebas...

...but giant ameobas are oozes.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] insects...

...but the ankheg is a magical beast.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] deep sea animals...

...but the kraken is a magical beast.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] cephalopods...

...but the darkmantle is a magical beast.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can be] creatures that metabolize different matter for survival...

...but the aurumvorax is a magical beast.

doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can be] any of the aforementioned mixed with bizarre reptile parts...

...but the cocktrice is a magical beast.

The aberration and magical beast creature types have very fuzzy boundaries (though not as fuzzy as those of the all-consuming outsider creature type; the outsider creature type really needs to be a subtype).

Contributor

The definitions are mostly arbitrary. A lamia, which is a sexy woman from the waist up and a snake or lion from the waist down, is a magical beast. A mermaid, who is a sexy woman from the waist up but a fish from the waist down, is a monstrous humanoid. Ditto with centaurs. Harpies, sphinxes, and manticores, all of which have human heads but animal bodies, are magical beasts. Nagas, which have human heads and snake bodies, are aberrations.


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Creature types and subtypes could use a complete rebuild. D&D 4th edition made a few steps in the right direction (with some errors however) but stioll that wasn't it.

Aberration should be subtype. Outsider should not be given to every extraplanar creature and instead limited to creatures that are actual manifestation of the planar energies (most but not all fiends, celestials, elementals but not every damn denizen of the planes). Fey should be subtype too.


The definitions of magical beast and aberration are flawed, and have been for a long time.

It should really be as simple as this:
Is this creature animal-like in appearance and non-humanoid, but possessing of powers beyond the mundane? If yes, magical beast.

Is this creature similar to the above, even if humanoid, including possessing powers... but is not native or natural in this plane/dimension/phase of existence? If yes, aberration.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
The definitions are mostly arbitrary. A lamia, which is a sexy woman from the waist up and a snake or lion from the waist down, is a magical beast. A mermaid, who is a sexy woman from the waist up but a fish from the waist down, is a monstrous humanoid. Ditto with centaurs. Harpies, sphinxes, and manticores, all of which have human heads but animal bodies, are magical beasts. Nagas, which have human heads and snake bodies, are aberrations.

Actually, lamia and harpies are monstrous humanoids.

That aside; honestly, what actually bothers me is that there are prestige classes and flavor-text elements and etc based around arbitrary choices. For example, there's a prestige class that grants bonuses to damage and other matters against aberrations due to their unnatural nature, but I can't really see what's inherently unnatural about naga compared to merfolk or manticores.

Water Naga lead lives rather like that of unusually intelligent snakes, Guardian Naga are benevolent protectors of holy sites and sanctity, and there's an archetype of druid for nagaji that involves becoming a naga.

Blah, I don't know, doesn't seem so unnatural to me.

Silver Crusade

Drejk wrote:
Outsider should not be given to every extraplanar creature and instead limited to creatures that are actual manifestation of the planar energies (most but not all fiends, celestials, elementals but not every damn denizen of the planes).

I can definitely agree with part this especially with regards to tieflings and aasimar. That's bugged me ever since 3.0.


Merfolk are humaniods not monstrous humaniods.

Not evey extra planar creature are outsiders, that is why we have the extra planar subtype. Though I never liked that Aasimar and Tiefling were classified as outsiders.

Contributor

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Really, what's needed is some sort of dual citizenship rather than trying to stuff everything into one box or another:

Is a tiefling a humanoid? Yes. Is a tiefling a fiend? Yes.

Is a nymph a humanoid? Yes. Is a nymph fey? Yes.

A naga is a magic snake with a human head. Count it as a humanoid, a magical beast, a reptile, a serpent, and whatever else logically fits. Does it have hands? No. It can't use any magical gloves or rings. Ditto boots since it has no feet. But it has a human head so can wear hats and headbands.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can have] strange forms of reproduction...
...but the pheonix is a magical beast.

Yes but they are also a bird, which as I stated earlier makes them more of a magical beast in my mind

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] amoebas...
...but giant ameobas are oozes.

And a Flumph is a giant jellyfish that flies through space making a stink and warning people of bloby lovecraftian doom. Hell Cthulhu is described as having a texture/consistency like that of jelly or ooze.

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] insects...
...but the ankheg is a magical beast.

Hadn't thought about them in a while but I would say that either a.) it's not alien enough to make it feel like an aberration like say a rust monster or b.) there is an exception to every rule.

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] deep sea animals...
...but the kraken is a magical beast.

Say it's probably more of point b.) from the ankheg though I would love to see them made into aberrations focusing on the more alien and unknown mindset they possess.

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can resemble] cephalopods...
...but the darkmantle is a magical beast.

And I totally wish it was an aberration

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can be] creatures that metabolize different matter for survival...
...but the aurumvorax is a magical beast.

But it is till for the most part identified as a mammal, it's got fur, it's warm blooded, gives live birth, and most likely nurses it's young with milk, milk might be golden but still mammalian.

Epic Meepo wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
[Aberrations can be] any of the aforementioned mixed with bizarre reptile parts...
...but the cocktrice is a magical beast.

And it is a bird that has reptile parts thrown on it not a cephalopod, bug, amoeba, or weird alien thing like I stated earlier. Better example would be if you added reptile parts to say the aforementioned ankheg or kraken.

But back on topic that's the point I was trying to make, these two types need a nice clearly defined designing ethos that allows us to seperate one from the other. I feel like there is some but I feel like they do need to go back through and mess with some of these creatures, changing them around to better match those design choices, for example I totally would rather have the kraken as we have it now be an abberation as it basically reads like a lovecraftian horror which in my mind is what most aberrations are. Meanwhile if they would like to introduce some form of large squid that sinks ships, and isn't intelligent as a magical beast I would be cool with that.

Sovereign Court

I could see the kraken as an abomination, but also as a magical beast; it's a bit of a corner case.

Nagas I'd generally expect to be magical beasts, although it might even be fey.

This is mostly a thing of "feel" for me;

* "Fantastical", "Wondrous", "Noble", "Wise", "Supernatural" creatures would tend towards Magical Beast. The naga would go here in the more traditional "wise mystical magical serpent" sense. Magical beasts are all over the alignment palette.

* "Chtulhoid", "Alien", "Eldritch", "Unclean", "Wrong", "Unnatural" tends more towards Aberration. Aberrations tend towards the evil and chaotic alignments. There may be insectoid, amoeboid, cephalopod or other creature traits in there. Uneven numbers of limbs and asymmetry are also more common.

* "Fairy-tale", "Elegant", "Twilight", "Mercurial", "Beautiful" are traits I associate with fey creatures. They tend to trade in brute strength for finesse and some "sideways" powers. Many fey creatures possess flight, concealment and other subtle movement abilities. They tend to have their own rules (alien to humanoids) which they follow strictly, but appear inconsistent to humanoids. They may be only loosely corporeal.

Obviously there's a lot of creatures that can fall into one or the other category;

* Normal nagas might be Magical Beasts, but corrupted "fallen" Dark Nagas might be aberrations.

* Kami, as nature spirits, might also be Fey.


Why, you ask?

For the same reason that Driders are Aberrations and not Monstrous Humanoids...

...MAGIC!!


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:

Merfolk are humaniods not monstrous humaniods.

Okay, fair enough. My bad. Still, that just makes it weirder.

A human with a fish butt or a fish with a human chest (& head and arms) is more natural (and less monstrous in their humanoid-ness, oddly enough) than a snake with a human head? I mean, snakes and humans are both terrestrial air breathers and mammals are closer kin to reptiles than to fish.


To answer the question of this discussion, Nagas have an inherently alien sentience. their aggressive megalomania, coupled with their racial hatred/mistrust of others of their own kind is the reason for their inclusion as aberrations. the criteria for aberrations state that something must be sufficiently alien in mentality and/or biological form, so in essence, a perfectly normal human being with a mindset different enough from the norm could be considered an aberration. nowhere in the definition given in the bestiary is it stated that aberrations are unnatural.

I have to disagree with some of what Ascalaphus and others have said:
Beings can be so beautiful that they are aberrant to behold, even to the point of being so beautiful that men would die in order to escape the torment.
Wisdom is not inherently associable with being a magical beast, after all, Grodairs are not wise, but the Pallid Mask has been granted the wisdom that comes with seeing the rise and fall of countless civilizations under the heel of Hastur.
Fantastical and wondrous can be either aberrant or magical, as one might see in the wizard's shackle, which is drawn to magic users, in the intent of hijacking their body so that they can play with a concept that they cannot physically use without a host.
Just because a creature is a bipedal creature with two arms and a reasonable number of heads does not mean it's a humanoid or monstrous humanoid.

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