Not logged inLoginRegister

Guide to Unusual Creatures (vol 1)

By Pathfinder Overcaptain Helena Merrick (retired)

Over the course of my career I have had the joy of encountering and working with a large variety of magical, mythical and sometimes downright bizarre creatures, frequently sentient or quasi-sentient.

A great many of these are easily handled with a bit of foresight; as many of them are also endangered due to being encountered by those whose only recourse is to try to kill them, I hope that this guide will allow future patrollees and other individuals to deal with what they encounter in a non-lethal fashion.

Giant Insects

Many species of giant insect have been encountered both by myself and patrols over the years, with spiders, ants and wasps being the most common. They generally are just a scaled-up version of their normal counterparts, with all the same strengths and weaknesses and intelligence.

Mostly misunderstood rather than evil; I for one have had no problems keeping a giant spider as a pet, having raised Fluffy from an egg. However, their intelligence is completely alien to normal people, and for the most part giant insects will need to be relocated away from settlements at the very least.

Giant spiders are a particular favourite of the Drow, but their presence does not necessarily indicate a Drow presence in an area.


Gryphons are magical constructs that are half bird of prey and half big cat, with eagle/lion being the most commonly seen. They are not generally inclined to do magic themselves, but combine human intelligence with both avian and feline traits, with the young in particular being easily distracted and a nuisance (much like children everywhere) while the adults can be rather stand-offish and aggressive.

It is thought that the adults are capable of human speech, but choose not to use it.

There are also rumours of the existence of entirely natural gryphons, possibly as a result of divine intervention, magical catastrophe, or other environmental stimuli in the distance past.


The phoenix is an incredible creature; a bird of magic and living flame, whose tears can heal and feathers protect, but can cause vast swathes of destruction simply with a beat of its wings.

They are also quite variable in nature; some are capable of speech, others mute. Some are able to purify the minds of those around them (a curious trick, given this would normally be associated with their antagonistic element) while others can purify the blood or cleanse the world around them.

At least one variant of phoenix has a weakness for chocolate. This may or may not be a good opening for forming a bond with one if found.


Possibly one of the most noble of all magical creatures, and the most flighty. Certainly the white unicorn found in the Kingdom is able to detect the purity of an individual from some distance away and is extremely disinclined to approach those who are not up to standard. If you can persuade one to approach, however, in addition to being an honour the purity of a unicorn itself is such that wounds will heal and poisons and diseases be cured simply by being in their presence.

Do not confuse with the Qilin, or Cathayan unicorn. While similarly capable of detecting purity, the Quilin will attack those who are impure, with fire the least of its weapons. The quilin is, however, vegetarian, so it is unusual to be unable to resurrect someone who has crossed its path.


Dragons are magnificent creatures. While probably being a by-product of high magical flux themselves, they are less inclined to wield it – this is more than made up for by an armoured hide, massive claws and teeth, and the ability to breathe fire or other unusual substances when threatened. They can also fly.

Curiously the intelligence of a dragon seems to be inversely proportional to its size; the smaller ones have been known to talk to the point of being devious diplomats, while the large ones will generally just try to kill and/or eat you.

Dragons are fond of gold and other shiny valuables, and will generally have a horde of some variety gleaned from finds and kills. Don’t go near it unless you’re absolutely sure the dragon is already dead; dragons will hunt down and kill thieves with tenacity.

Stories suggest that the dragons of Cathay are a very different sort of creature, being guardians of the Weather aspect of Nature and of the Emperor.


Slow, large reptiles, the most curious feature of a basilisk is its gaze, which depending on the variety can either paralyse or petrify its victims. If this isn’t enough they frequently have very large claw and fangs, and some have been known to be venomous.

They generally only tend to be aggressive when afraid, hungry or threatened; the best way to deal with one is to remove oneself from the vicinity without looking at it at the earliest possibly opportunity.

Do not approach a basilisk’s nest unless you have had the chance to get to know it, and it to know you; this is a guaranteed way to get attacked, as they are quite fiercely territorial and protective of their young.


Extremely large and reptilian, cold-drakes are akin to dragons but far closer to their element. Cold-drakes tend to hibernate through the summer as the temperature rises too high for them to function, but become a lot more dangerous through the winter and in colder climes.

Rather than breath, cold-drakes freeze their victims with the intense cold of their own bodies before devouring them. Due to their mothers choice disciplinary action, however, the best way to make them behave is to smack them on the nose and shout at them. This is generally not recommended if there is any chance of getting caught in the chill though.

Fauns, Satyrs and Centaurs

Amalgamations of human and deer, goat or horse respectively. Fauns, satyrs and centaurs appear to be either fae creatures or beings of Nature, with occasional occurrences of biomancy accounting for the rest of them. They are usually intelligent, although fauns tend to be flighty and almost child-like. They tend to align most easily with the powers of Nature, Earth and Water; Air magic has also been seen to be practised.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with fauns, satyrs and centaurs is that they are sentient, frequently a bit touchy and will invariably hear you right at the moment you say something stupid. Diplomacy is recommended as much as possible.

Merfolk, Undines, Nymphs, Naiads and Sirens

Half human, half sea-creature, merfolk are rarely seen in the Kingdom for obvious reasons unless brought in by outside agents. Undines, nymphs and naiads are more common, being creatures of the rivers and lakes, and sirens seem to be happy to move between salt and fresh water as they see fit.

The most dangerous feature of all of these is their voice; they have the ability to charm anyone who comes in reach that can hear them. Sometimes this is merely mischief, sometimes malicious, but the main problem is that those not freed may well starve from not wishing to leave their new friend’s side. Earplugs solve this problem quite happily.


Extremely unusual and interesting beings that are part woman, part eagle, part lion and part snake. Usually quite large and very hard to injure, sphinxes are obsessed by riddle games and can usually be distracted or defeated by posing and answering riddles until the sphinx gives up.

It has been suggested by a sphinx of my acquaintance that humorous riddles, especially dirty ones, will work best, as a laughing sphinx is one that’s unlikely to pounce.


An amalgamation of drow and giant spider, sometimes caused by a drow being rewarded by their gods, sometimes by a drow being punished by their gods. Usually intelligent, the latter tend to be insane from the forced transformation.

I have never come across a drider that didn’t need to be killed, either from being insane and a danger to all around them or through just being evil. At the very least, treat with extreme caution – they will almost certainly attempt manipulation if they don’t go straight in for the kill, and frequently have the venom and webbing of a true spider as well as the ability to leap great distances and a high physical strength.


Technically a sub-type of demons, Angels are something of an oddity. Angels are demons of a Freedom alignment, often with an affinity with Light magic; where other demons are innately destructive and often evil, Angels are often benevolent unless antagonised. Highly intelligent, often powerful, sometimes found bound to a place or person as a guardian and protector (although it is not known how this phenomenon occurs).

Caution is advised, but only because they are still a relative unknown, and because their kindred are generally nasty pieces of work.

Gelatinous Cubes

One of Nature’s stranger creations, a gelatinous cube is pretty much as the name describes. This slow-moving, 10ft cube slimes across the landscape, paralysing and engulfing anything incapable of escaping. Once engulfed the victim is slowly dissolved until not even bones are left.

The best thing to do if one is found in an area where they may be a threat is to stand at a distance and use magic to provoke them into ‘chasing’ or ‘fleeing’ – there is no way to reason with a cube, but they do react to damage stimuli.