Old Hat Monsters: A Ritual Madness
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” —Edgar Allan Poe
About a year ago, I started a Kingmaker campaign for Pathfinder. Without spoiling much, there’s a location in that Adventure Path that begs for a homebrew dungeon themed around the Dark Tapestry. I drew up a map, came up with a story, then dove into the material to find Dark Tapestry beasties to fill my dungeon.
Unfortunately for me, I found very little Dark Tapestry material to work with! The wiki mentions that intellect devourers fled the Tapestry, but the one linked later in the document is the only one I could find, and it’s not Paizo’s. The advice the wiki gives regarding denizens from beyond is to make them look repulsive and apply the advanced simple template to them. We can and will do better than that here.
I must confess, writing this encounter was terrifying as a freelancer. At some point, someone is going to ask me to top this, and I’m not sure what I’ll do since this represents a significant portion of my bag of tricks. I’m using the encounter advice I gave you in “The Encounter” to make a true ritual jack-in-the-box. Templates galore (“Tapestry-Enlightened Template,” “Tapestry-Tainted Template,” “Mutated (Part 1),” and “Advanced Template“) work for characters using ritual power to feed this voidling to this intellect devourer, creating a voidling devourer also known as that monster your PCs wake up screaming at the thought of—unless they can stop the ritual.
If that isn’t enough to make you want to join me after the jump, nothing ever will be!
Young women have been disappearing for about a month. Today, sages say, the day holds a solar eclipse. And now a young boy has seen activity in a ruined tower outside of town. What is going on?
Members of a cult have kidnapped the women and placed them into soul jars. The members plan to use the soul jars, the profane ground of the tower, and the special circumstances of the eclipse to perform a dark ritual that will weaken a voidling enough for an intellect devourer to consume it. What is the end result of this ritual? Why, it’s a deadly being know as the voidling devourer.
The first four levels of the tower I leave to you to fill in with summoned demons and undead. Each level has no stairs that lead up to the next level. Instead, portals on the north and south sides allow for movement around the tower. It is otherwise a large circular room with a 100-ft. radius. The grounds are treated as desecrated, and both conjuration and necromancy spells are treated as having the Spell Penetration feat while in the tower.
- On the fifth level, the PCs encounter Mal Bloodthorn, Eldion, and an animal companion.
- On the sixth level, they face twelve ritualists, led by Dentovan, who is chanting and attempting to complete a ritual to make a voidling devourer.
If failure seems unavoidable, these villains release both the captive intellect devourer and the voidling and attempt to escape using the portals on the north and south sides of the building.
The player characters can disrupt the ceremony by stopping at least seven clerics from chanting, sundering the symbols on the floor (which releases 10d6 negative energy in a 10-ft. burst [Fort save halves]), breaking five or more of the thirty soul jars (though that puts hostages in the fight), or releasing either captive creature (50 percent chance it will turn on the cult).