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Byakhee

This nauseating winged creature combines the features of a carrion bird, an ant, a bat, and a decomposing human in a most hideous manner.

Byakhee CR 4

Source Pathfinder #110: The Thrushmoor Terror pg. 82
XP 1,200
CE Medium aberration
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see in darkness; Perception +11

Defense

AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 42 (5d8+20)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +7
Immune cold, confusion and insanity effects, critical hits, hunger, sneak attacks, thirst

Offense

Speed 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (good)
Melee 2 claws +7 (1d4+3), bite +6 (1d6+3 plus grab)
Special Attacks blood drain (1d2 Constitution), bloodlust

Statistics

Str 17, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 15
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 19
Feats Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Fly +15, Perception +11, Stealth +11, Survival +11
Languages Aklo
SQ low metabolism, no breath, starflight, Yellow Sign affinity

Ecology

Environment any air
Organization solitary, pair, or flock (3–12)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Bloodlust (Ex) When a byakhee successfully bites a living creature, it is swiftly driven to a frenzied bloodlust. For 1 minute after it bites a target, it gains a +2 morale bonus on attack and damage rolls against that target. A byakhee has no limit as to how many simultaneous bloodlust targets it can have at any one time, but it generally focuses on the same target once its bloodlust is engaged. It also gains these bonuses on attack and damage rolls against creatures taking bleed damage from any source.

Low Metabolism (Ex) While a byakhee craves blood if it hasn’t fed within the last 24 hours, it doesn’t suffer any negative effects from starvation, and it can, in theory, survive forever without drinking or feeding. It is immune to effects that induce magical starvation or thirst, yet it still seeks to drink blood whenever it can to sate its desire. Its strange metabolism and body also render it immune to critical hits, sneak attacks, and other forms of precision damage.

Starflight (Su) A byakhee can survive in the void of outer space, and it flies through space at incredible speeds. Although exact travel times vary, a trip within a single solar system normally takes it 3d20 months, while a trip beyond normally takes it 3d20 years (or more, at the GM’s discretion)—provided the byakhee knows the way to its destination.

Yellow Sign Affinity (Ex) A byakhee is immune to the effects of the Yellow Sign, and by concentrating, it can locate the nearest active Yellow Sign as per discern location (CL 20th). When an active Yellow Sign is visible, a byakhee gains fast healing 2 and a +4 enhancement bonus to its Dexterity. An active Yellow Sign is either one that was created by Hastur or by the Yellow Sign spell (see page 72). Inactive Yellow Signs, such as the unholy symbols carried by cultists of Hastur, do not bolster a byakhee, but these creatures generally treat those who openly wear such symbols as allies. A character who displays a Yellow Sign in this manner gains a +5 circumstance bonus on all Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks against a byakhee.

Byakhees are a race of interstellar aberrations that hail from the distant and alien city of Carcosa, where they serve Hastur. Vaguely humanoid in shape, their bodies combine elements of the forms of carrion birds, insects, and mammals, giving an outward appearance that, while horrific, might at first glance seem possible in the natural world. Yet, those who have studied dead byakhees know this to be a lie, for the creatures’ bodies hold bizarre organs and masses of unknown tissue that seem to serve no purpose; the further into a byakhee’s body one explores, the stranger its entrails become. The fact that portions of its body appear to be decaying or rotting away even as it lives only adds to the mystery of the creature’s peculiar anatomy.

A byakhee is 6 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds.

Ecology

Scholars have long argued that byakhees’ somewhat humanoid shape suggests a relationship to a less aberrant form of life, and that these creatures may once have even been humans. Indeed, byakhees were created from the original human denizens of the ancient city of Alar. When that city declared war upon its neighbor Carcosa, Alar vanished without a trace on the next rising of its planet’s red sun. In truth, the city and its citizens did not disappear—they were absorbed and transformed by Carcosa. Alar’s inhabitants became the first byakhees, and ever since, their kind has unwaveringly served the lord of Carcosa, the King in Yellow.

Although a byakhee longs to consume the blood of the living, it doesn’t actually ever suffer the effects of thirst or starvation and can live its entire life without ever tasting a drop of blood. Nonetheless, these creatures still feel something akin to hunger—albeit a sensation driven by a mental impulse other than a biological imperative. Some scholars theorize that this hunger is nothing more than a remnant from the race’s past, a sort of ancestral memory of starvation, perhaps, that drives them to drink blood out of a psychological need rather than a physical one. Certainly, byakhees’ bloodlust is a powerful driving force; once a byakhee has bitten a foe, it has difficulty thinking of anything other than latching on and drinking its victim dry.

Byakhees’ ability to fly between worlds through the depths of space is shared by several other types of creatures, many of which are tied in similar ways to the Elder Mythos. They are often called upon by spellcasters who use rare or forbidden magic to take advantage of such transport, yet unlike shantaks (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 244), who can impart some of their defenses against the depths of space to those they carry through the gulfs between worlds, byakhees can offer no such protection. The creatures delight in carrying ignorant spellcasters into the cold, airless void when foolishly commanded, as they feel no need to warn their wouldbe passengers of the dangers of interstellar travel.

A byakhee can live for centuries, although most perish from violence before attaining such an age.

Habitat and Society

Byakhees serve Hastur, his cult, and the city of Carcosa, driven by an ancient compulsion that is still as much a part of what they are as their claws and wings. The rare byakhees that manage to ignore this urge in order to serve another master—or even more remarkably, to obey no master at all—are particularly hated by other byakhees, and no efforts are spared in the pursuit of such enemies of Carcosa when their existence is exposed.

Priests of Hastur can conjure byakhees with the proper magic, as can spellcasters who use rare and eldritch spells (such as contact entity I, found on page 113 of Pathfinder RPG Horror Adventures, which uses a silver whistle as the material component). Once called to a new world to serve the cult of the King in Yellow, byakhees are quick to establish a colony. Young are hatched from noxious, leathery eggs and grow to maturity over the course of only a few weeks. Yet, once a local byakhee population reaches a few dozen, they lose the drive to procreate entirely. Only in rare cases, such as within the streets of the alien city of Carcosa or on worlds that have fallen fully under Hastur’s control, are byakhees encountered in significantly larger numbers.

Despite their bestial appearance, byakhees are as smart as the typical human and much wiser and charismatic than most. As such, it isn’t uncommon for leaders among their kind to grow in power by gaining class levels. Byakhees can excel in most classes, although they tend to avoid taking levels in classes that grant companions, mounts, or familiars— they find the presence of creatures from the natural world unpleasant at best. Most byakhees that take class levels do so as barbarians, clerics of Hastur, psychics, or sorcerers with the aberrant or starsoul bloodlines (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide 140).

Origins

The byakhee has been a staple of Lovecraftian RPGs in large part due to their inclusion in Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game, and it is Sandy Petersen’s take on byakhees that largely inspired their Pathfinder incarnation. The creatures first appeared in print in August Derleth’s short story, “The House on Curwen Street.” They never actually appeared in any of Lovecraft’s writings, although Chaosium has taken the description of the nameless creatures from Lovecraft’s short story “The Festival” as the basis for the monster’s strange appearance.