Stat up this awful NPC from Inner Sea Gods


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Quote:
Nyvuss (unique CE silvanshee): Once the curious andlovable feline familiar of the Kellid witch Marganala, Nyvuss watched as her mistress’s disguised green hag lover lured her deeper into corruption. When Taldan authorities finally lashed her to a pyre for her crimes, the witch swore her soul to Gyronna if only the hag goddess would allow her to take the grand prince’s head. The Angry Hag obligingly stitched the burned witch and her familiar into one horrible whole, and under the next new moon, Grand Prince Rodivarian III tripped over a black cat and broke his neck in the fall. Ever since, the mad Nyvuss has served as Gyronna’s messenger, spy, and courier of foul luck, always darting in shadows and moving by night so none can see the still-twitching human face stitched into her bloated stomach.

Now there's an evocative image. This is a horrible, cool idea for an evil NPC. If you wanted to introduce this into a campaign, how might you flesh it out?

First draft: a fiendish advanced silvanshee gives you a CR 4 creature... low end of CR4; it's an excellent spy but can't really do much otherwise. So in addition to the normal silvanshee powers, let's amend its Cats Luck ability. "A silvanshee adds its Charisma modifier as a luck bonus on all its saving throws. Once per day as a standard action, it can also grant this bonus to one ally within 30 feet for 10 minutes." Let's change that to the pugwampi's Unluck Aura: "Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect." Giving this a 30' range and putting it on a flying creature with +21 Stealth makes it pretty nasty, and fills the "courier of foul luck" description given above.

Oh, and there's the Lay On Hands ability. I think the way to go here is to replace it with the Evil Eye hex once/day: boom, -2 on AC, attack rolls or all saves, no save, suck it. Yes, this stacks with the Unluck Aura. This thing is bad news.

Finally, there's that second face. There's a lot we could do with that, but I think the simplest way to deal with it is to treat it something like an ogre's Vestigial Head feat: any mind-affecting attack against the silvanshee has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead.

Overall I still think this is a CR 4 creature. It's annoying as heck to deal with, and a nightmare debuffer, but by itself it does almost no damage, and if a party of 3rd level adventurers manages to corner it, they've got a decent chance of killing it. But as long as it slinks around staying in the shadows, it can make life miserable for its targets for a long time... appropriate, for the messenger of the goddess of spite.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Honestly I'm thinking higher CR, maybe add witch levels or HD?


Artofregicide wrote:
Honestly I'm thinking higher CR, maybe add witch levels or HD?

Well yeah you could crank this up as high as you cared to. That's why the OP. This is the simplest, basic version and I think it works, but further elaboration is welcome.

Doug M.


Given that it's a unique creature, if I built it, I'd build it with hit dice first, templates second. Since it's a hybrid of the witch and her familiar, I'd give it the witch levels to start. Maybe give it the ability that its natural attacks count as a size larger than the creature's actual size, an unluck aura, and prehensile hair hex on a cat could be kind of cool. Maybe something hag-themed to do with the face on its stomach, or something like a krenchar's fear ability when it rears up to expose the face underneath.

It's a silvanshee so it's already an outsider. It doesn't need the fiendish template. Just change its abilities some to reflect the change in its outsider alignment, such as changing it from an agathion subtype to a fiendish subtype.


I see the thematic attraction of witch levels. They don't stack very well with the stuff a silvanshee does, though. That said, prehensile hair -> prehensile tail could be fun.

An outsider can take the fiendish template, no? But yeah, it already has DR and some resistances -- point. Not sure if it makes sense to change the agathion subtype to demon or keep it agathion.

Doug M.


Just for the hell of it, here's the CR 4 version.

Nyvuss the horrible silvanshee, messenger of Gyronna:

This massively obese black cat has gray stripes, violet eyes, and an unusual white blaze on its chest. It crouches low to the ground as it smiles engagingly at you.

Unique Chaotic Evil Silvanshee CR 4

CE Tiny outsider (agathion, extraplanar, evil)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 17 (2d10+6)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4; +4 vs. poison
DR 5/evil or silver; Immune electricity, petrification; Resist cold 10, sonic 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee bite +8 (1d3–2), 2 claws +8 (1d2–2)
Special Attacks heroic strength, pounce
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd; concentration +5)

Constant— know direction, speak with animals
At will— bleed, touch of fatigue, putrefy food and drink
1/day— dimension door (self plus 5 lbs. of objects only)
1/week— commune (6 questions, CL 12th)

STATISTICS

Str 5, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 10 (14 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Climb +9, Fly +8, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (planes) +7, Perception +12, Stealth +21; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +4 Perception, +4 Stealth
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; speak with animals, truespeech SQ aura of unluck, flight, evil eye hex (1/day, always as a 2nd-level witch), spectral mist

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aura of Unluck (Su)

Nyvuss radiates an Aura of Unluck within 30'. Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Heroic Strength (Su)

Once per day, Nyvuss can grant itself a +8 enhancement bonus to Strength for 1 minute.

Spectral Mist (Su)

Nyvuss can assume an eerie, mist-like form roughly the size and shape of a cat. This ability has the same effect as a gaseous form spell, except the silvanshee retains its own DR and supernatural abilities and can move at its normal speed. It can remain in mist form up to 5 minutes per day. This duration does not have to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

Vestigial Face (Ex)

The twitching face of Nyvuss' former mistress is still attached to her bloated belly. Any mind-affecting effect has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead of Nyvuss itself.

Changes to a standard silvanshee: added the Aura of Unluck, Vestigial Face, changed its cantrips, and gave it Evil Eye instead of the standard Agathion ability to lay on hands. Oh, and because it's obese, gave it -10 on both its moves but +1 natural AC.

I think this qualifies as low CR 4; it's not something a group of 1st level PCS could easily handle. It has almost no offensive capabilities most of the time, but Aura of Unluck + Evil Eye + 80' Fly + Dimension Door make it a huge nuisance that's very hard to corner and hurt.

More in a bit --

Doug M.


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Oh, DR should be Good not Evil. Increased Int lets it add Abyssal as a language. (It has truespeech, so it doesn't much matter.) And a couple of skill changes. There's no reason a flying creature needs Climb, and frankly it can live without Fly too -- if it gets into a dogfight, it has Dimension Door. Replace those with Bluff and Sense Motive, both at +9. Also, the obesity cuts Fly from 90' (good) to 80' (poor). I like the image of this great fat cat-thing blundering gracelessly through the air as the face on its belly spasms and grimaces...

The weakness of this build is its low hp. But Aura of Unluck means that anything with less than +8 to hit is going to have a really hard time hitting it, and DR helps, and of course it has a bunch of different ways to avoid combat in the first place. It's more of a PITA / nuisance monster than a deadly threat. That said, (1) if it can get a single character alone then its aura + evil eye + Heroic Strength make it quite dangerous to a low-level non-melee character, and (2) it's a terrifying debuffer; if it can position itself tactically, it can make an ordinary level-appropriate encounter into a complete nightmare. If you really want to be vicious, ally it with a boss. Whether the boss is a melee brute or a witch throwing save-or-sucks, throwing this cat into the mix will make that encounter much more memorable.

Note that Resist Cold 10 meakes it a potentially interesting cold weather encounter. I imagine low level PCs shuffling through the snow while this thing flies around, grinning. (I think that when it Dimension Doors, its grin is the last thing to go.)

Just for the hell of it, I'll say it's a Knowledge (planes) DC 17 check to ID it as a silvanshee, and then DC 22 to see that something's odd and different about this one. Also, its preferred MO is to watch from a distance for a bit and then try to guide or manipulate targets into situations where they'll be humiliated or killed. Kyvuss is a relentlessly spiteful and petty creature, and just as happy tormenting a peasant or a beggar as a powerful adventurer. After all, once you've killed an Emperor, it's all gravy...

Anyway. Corrected version below, and now I'm going to think about a witch version. The issue here is that I really like the Aura of Unluck -- it's thematic and fits the description perfectly. But if you combine it with actual spellcasting it gets terrifying really fast: making every save twice means the save DCs are effectively much higher. Throw in the Evil Eye hex and it gets kinda OP. Also, IME Pathfinder players hate pugwampis a lot, and this thing is like them but worse. (As opposed to 5e, where "disadvantage" is a thing you expect to happen sometimes.) But maybe being able to ruin your luck is appropriate for a divine messenger? and anyway we can adjust the CR? Thoughts welcome.

Nyvuss the horrible silvanshee, messenger of Gyronna (final):

This massively obese black cat has gray stripes, violet eyes, and an unusual white blaze on its chest. It crouches low to the ground as it smiles engagingly at you.

Unique Chaotic Evil Silvanshee CR 4

CE Tiny outsider (agathion, extraplanar, evil)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 17 (2d10+6)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4; +4 vs. poison
DR 5/good or silver; Immune electricity, petrification; Resist cold 10, sonic 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (poor)
Melee bite +8 (1d3–2), 2 claws +8 (1d2–2)
Special Attacks heroic strength, pounce
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd; concentration +5)

Constant— know direction, speak with animals
At will— bleed, touch of fatigue, putrefy food and drink
1/day— dimension door (self plus 5 lbs. of objects only)
1/week— commune (6 questions, CL 12th)

STATISTICS

Str 5, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 10 (14 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Bluff +9, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (planes) +7, Perception +12, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +21; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +4 Perception, +4 Stealth
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; speak with animals, truespeech SQ aura of unluck, flight, evil eye hex (1/day, always as a 2nd-level witch), spectral mist

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aura of Unluck (Su)

Nyvuss radiates an Aura of Unluck within 30'. Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Heroic Strength (Su)

Once per day, Nyvuss can grant itself a +8 enhancement bonus to Strength for 1 minute.

Spectral Mist (Su)

Nyvuss can assume an eerie, mist-like form roughly the size and shape of a cat. This ability has the same effect as a gaseous form spell, except the silvanshee retains its own DR and supernatural abilities and can move at its normal speed. It can remain in mist form up to 5 minutes per day. This duration does not have to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

Vestigial Face (Ex)

The twitching face of Nyvuss' former mistress is still attached to her bloated belly. Any mind-affecting effect has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead of Nyvuss itself.


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I'd suggest advancing it to 5 or 6 HD and giving it more hexes, essentially making it a special result from Lesser Planar Ally.

Maybe the witch's face can cast the hexes as a bonus action 3/day or so, allowing the cat to pounce on someone who just got their AC zapped.

(IIRC, the three described servants for each god generally fit a Lesser Planar Ally at 6 HD or lower, a regular Planar Ally at 12 HD or lower, and a Greater Planar Ally at 18 HD or lower.)


I was thinking something like that. Giving it 4 witch levels makes 6 HD, and 4 witch levels isn't sick OP -- it's just 1st and 2nd level spells plus a couple of hexes.

Of course, it can't really drag a familiar around with it. Could have the face act as the familiar, but that's kinda strange. Are there witch archetypes without familiars?

Doug M.


As an NPC, you can finagle it that the "face" technically has the witch levels, and keeps the Silvanshee as the familiar, but because they are one creature you just combine all their stats as you've already done.

Just apply any familiar effects to the main body and any weirdness that results is because, hey, there's WEIRD magic at work here in the first place stitching them together.


Could make it some sort of a Synergist Witch, they get to merge with their familiars and take on their aspects.


Gentlemen, I like where you're going with this.

I don't think we can use the Aura of Unluck because on anything with more than 2 HD it gets OP really fast. And allowing the face to cast separately would be like Divided Mind, which is a 9th level spell. But: I think we can maybe have an interesting compromise. Say the cat itself can cast spells normally, maybe as a fourth level witch... and the face can cast too... but it's long out of spells, so it can only cast hexes. This allows the cat to effectively take two standards per turn, but one of them has to be throwing a hex. That's rough, but I don't think it's OP.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


I wouldn't give the thing witch levels; I'd give it extra outsider hit dice and perhaps the ability to cast spells as a witch, with it being able to learn new spells like it was still a witch's familiar - or, alternatively, it only knows the spells it had already learned at its mistress's death and is unable to learn more.

After all, many monsters never really improve beyond the state they've already attained; it could well make sense for this abomination to persist in a state that's been fixed since the moment of its creation.

I'd restrict the face to only being able to perform hexes; any real spellcasting needs to be done by the cat.

I've generally found over the years that just providing a monster with the class abilities that are interesting for it, using its monster-self to determine all the base numbers, to work better than trying to bolt an entire class onto a monster. The less moving parts, the easier the thing is to run as part of a major encounter. (Alternatively, few things are more embarrassing than just losing track of a key ability and not using it, inadvertently tanking the difficulty of the fight, because you're juggling too many balls at once.)

Though adding class levels can still make sense for creatures that are essentially just people with base hit dice and fancy racial abilities, like gnolls, many humanoidish fey, or dragonkin.


I was thinking maybe instead of Evil Eye, it could use Touch of Corruption as an antipaladin of its level.

Hell, due to its fused aspect, there could be a sort of plot point in splitting the familiar from the witch. In doing so, the witch could be stuck with certain powers while the silvanshee would be stuck with others. While they'd be two separate entities, it'd no longer be able to use both of them at once. A tactical decision if there ever was one.

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