Archive for June, 2012

The Beast Within

June 23, 2012

Blame this one on Doctor Who.

This guy gave me a devil of an idea.

I don’t actually watch Doctor Who (blasphemy, I know) but from time to time I’ll hear things about it from people who do. One such instance was someone online mentioning the episode “The Satan Pit.” Reading the synopsis, I was struck by how the Doctor deduced that the Beast’s animalistic behavior meant that it’s mind was quite literally elsewhere. That’s not how it works in Pathfinder!

In Pathfinder, whenever your mind (or spirit, etc.) leaves your body, your body immediately goes into a catatonic state. Only the autonomic functions continue, with everything else having exited along with your consciousness. Hence, I immediately started considering ways to make this alternate approach – allowing your body to function, but without sapience – possible in Pathfinder. The result is the following feat:

Retain Id

When you leave your body, your primal instincts take control of it.

Prerequisite: Charisma 13.

Benefit: When your mind leaves your body (e.g. astral projection), your subconscious mind remains and assumes direct control of your body, albeit in an animalistic state. In this condition your body has an Intelligence of 2 which cannot be raised (e.g. by fox’s cunning), and cannot speak or understand any languages. Your body is unable to use any tools (including manufactured weapons), spellcasting or psionic powers, or spell-like or psi-like abilities. It cannot use any Intelligence-, Wisdom-, or Charisma-based skills (save for Intimidate), nor the Ride skill. It cannot use any ability that requires patience or concentration.

Your subconscious mind retains your memories in this state, such as knowledge of who is friend or foe, but has an effective alignment of Neutral. While in this state, your body may be influenced with wild empathy as though it were an animal. Any consciousness that enters your body during this time (such as a ghost using malevolence) automatically overpowers your subconscious and takes control of your body. When your mind returns to your body, you do not remember what your subconscious did while in control.

Now admittedly, this is a situation that doesn’t come up very often. Few are the spells that separate your mind and body, and there are only marginally more psionic powers that do so. Still, I wanted to put this option out there for players who make a PC that, in some manner, spends a fair amount of time divorced from their physical body.

The major benefit from this feat is that it keeps your body active, preventing it from helplessly waiting for someone to coup de grace it. In this state, it may not be able to fight very well (particularly if it has no natural weapons or unarmed strikes), but it can at least detect danger and try to flee from it.

Of course, enterprising GMs can also use this feat as well, as there’s no telling what trouble your body may get into if left without a guiding intelligence. Characters who use this feat would be wise to leave someone behind to watch over their body, even if it can act on its own.

When Bark Really Is Worse Than Bite

June 10, 2012

A little while ago, I entered Kobold Quarterly’s King of the Monsters 3 contest. Unfortunately, my entry didn’t make it to the finals. As such, I’ve decided to repost it here so that you can use it in your game. So if you’re looking to present your party with a different kind of dryad, let them have a run-in with the warwood!

This beautiful woman ceases humming as she notices you, a frown crossing her face. Standing up, one dainty hand draws a stick from the bundle slung over her shoulder, holding it as though it were a weapon. The comical sight is interrupted as thick bark suddenly grows over her body like a second skin. The stick in her hand bulges into a stout club as she advances on you.


XP 3,200

CN Medium fey

Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Perception +13


AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +5 natural)

hp 90 (12d6+48)

Fort +7, Ref +11, Will +10

DR 5/cold iron


Speed 30 ft.

Melee +1 greatclub +12/+7 (1d10+7)

Ranged +1 shuriken +10/+5 (1d2+5)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +16)

Constant – speak with plants

At will –wood shape (10 lbs. only)

3/day – entangle (DC 15), tree stride


Str 19, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 18

Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 29

Feats Dazzling Display, Defensive Combat Training, Deadly Aim, Skill Focus (Stealth), Toughness, Weapon Focus (greatclub)

Skills Acrobatics +14, Climb +15, Craft (sculpture) +12, Escape Artist +14, Handle Animal +12, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (nature) +12, Perception +13, Stealth +22, Survival +10; Racial Modifiers +6 Craft (wood)

Languages Common, Sylvan; speak with plants

SQ forest weaponry, timber armor, wild empathy, woodcraft


Environment temperate forests

Organization solitary, pair, or grove (3-8)

Treasure none


Forest Weaponry (Su) As a swift action, a warwood dryad can turn any foliage in her grasp into a weapon. Branches and boughs become a +1 greatclub while leaves, flower petals, and other herbage becomes up to five +1 shuriken. These items revert to their natural state upon leaving the warwood dryad’s grasp (in the case of shuriken, this happens after they are used to attack).

Timber Armor (Su) A warwood dryad may cause a layer of form-fitting wood to grow over herself. This increases her natural armor bonus to +10, but reduces her speed to 20 ft. Removing the timber armor is a move action that causes it to recede.

Wild Empathy (Su) This works like the druid’s wild empathy class feature, except the warwood dryad has a +6 racial bonus on the check. Warwood dryads with druid or ranger levels add this racial modifier to their wild empathy checks.

Woodcraft (Ex) A warwood dryad has a +6 racial bonus to Craft checks involving wood, and is always treated as if she had masterwork artisan’s woodworking tools when making such checks.


Zealous defenders of the forests, warwood dryads are the fey answer to those who do not respect the natural world. Possessing the ability to turn innocuous branches and flowers into deadly weapons, they often leave the dead bodies of loggers at the edge of a forest, decorated with the bloody foliage used to kill them as a stern warning to other despoilers. Most communities that dwell near a forest inhabited by warwood dryads usually learn to leave it well enough alone.

Unlike normal dryads, a warwood dryad has no mystic connection to a tree; their connection to nature is internalized. Because of this they are able to roam freely and have much greater martial prowess than their tree-bound cousins, though their mystic abilities are stunted as a result. In contrast to more even-handed warriors of nature, warwood dryads do not respect those who only take from the land in moderation – to them, anyone who kills plants or animals for anything other than food is an enemy.


A warwood dryad acts as the protector of her environment, attempting to kill or drive off anything that doesn’t live in harmony with nature. Among those who revere nature, the warwood dryad is a steadfast ally, often serving a role similar to local law enforcement in humanoid settlements. Like their less-aggressive cousins, warwood dryads have a large sexual appetite, often pursuing relationships with satyrs, centaurs, and local druids. The results of these unions are always another warwood dryad.


Warwood dryads prefer to attack lone targets, usually when their prey is most vulnerable. They’ll activate their armor and create weapons before using tree stride to shadow a target. When they decide to strike, they’ll use their entangle spell-like ability before moving in to attack. If taken by surprise, a warwood dryad will always grab the nearest piece of flora and then activate her armor. Following that, she’ll create a weapon and counterattack as best she can. If in imminent danger of death, she’ll attempt to escape via tree stride.