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Merlucent

A mane of long, writhing tentacles crowns this translucent, humanoid figure. A crystalline skeleton supports its faintly glowing flesh.

Merlucent CR 3

Source Pathfinder #104: Wrath of Thrune pg. 90
XP 800
CN Medium aberration (aquatic)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +7

Defense

AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+3 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 26 (4d8+8)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +6
Resist cold 5

Offense

Speed 15 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee 3 tentacles +6 (1d4+1 plus poison)
Space 5 ft., Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with tentacle)
Special Attacks arcane echo, poison, pull (tentacle, 5 ft.), vitrify
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +4)
Constant—detect magic
3/day—delay poison, light

Statistics

Str 12, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 11
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 17
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Climb +6, Handle Animal +4, Perception +7, Stealth +10, Survival +11, Swim +14; Racial Modifiers +4 Survival
Languages Aklo; telepathy 30 ft.
SQ jellyfish empathy, transparent flesh

Ecology

Environment any ocean
Organization solitary, hunting group (3–6), or clan (9–14)
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities

Arcane Echo (Su) Merlucents naturally filter arcane energies from the world around them, and can produce large displays of magical power. Three times per day as a standard action, a merlucent can replicate the effects of a single arcane spell cast within 20 feet of it, directing the spell’s effect and choosing a target as if it were the caster. This echo uses the merlucent’s caster level rather than that of the original spellcaster, and a merlucent can’t echo any effect with a spell level greater than half the merlucent’s own Hit Dice (generally limiting it to second-level spells). A merlucent can’t echo the spells, spell-like abilities, or arcane echo effects created by other merlucents.

Jellyfish Empathy (Ex) This ability functions as a druid’s wild empathy ability, save that it works only on jellyfish. A merlucent gains a racial bonus on this check equal to its Hit Dice (normally +4). Jellyfish are normally mindless, but this empathic communication imparts upon them a modicum of implanted intelligence, allowing merlucents to train jellyfish and use them as guardians (though it does not grant them skills or feats).

Poison (Ex) Tentacle—injury; save Fort DC 14; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d3 Dex; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Transparent Flesh (Ex) A merlucent’s transparent flesh becomes hazy and indistinct in water, granting it concealment while the creature is submerged.

Vitrify (Su) A merlucent can produce a polyp and implant it in the ear of a willing or helpless creature over the course of 1 minute, during which the merlucent is flat-footed. The polyp begins slowly consuming its host’s brain, transforming the creature’s flesh into a transparent jelly and replacing its bone with delicate crystal. A creature that takes any amount of Intelligence damage from a merlucent polyp can breathe while underwater, but loses the ability to breathe air. If a humanoid creature takes ability damage in excess of its Intelligence score, it transforms into a new merlucent, losing all abilities or class levels it previously possessed. The polyp can be destroyed by any effect that removes disease, but the inability to breathe air persists until a creature’s Intelligence damage is healed.

Vitrify: Implantation; save Fort 12; onset 12 hours; frequency 1/day; effect 1d4 Int damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Merlucents are strange creatures formed from the fusion of human and jellyfish. As a species, they are simple-minded ascetics. Individual clans claim small stretches of coastline where they hunt fish and shellfish, and scratch strange glyphs into coral, coaxing it to grow in unnatural though beautiful formations. Naturally sensitive to arcane energy, they settle in locations rife with ambient magic, such as along ley lines or near schools of magic built on islands or coasts. Local communities generally consider merlucents to be pests for stripping fishing grounds bare, but the aberrations also keep more aggressive aquatic threats away. This small blessing turns bane every 2 to 5 years when merlucents enter their mating phase and become extremely aggressive.

To reproduce, each merlucent spawns dozens of antsized polyps, each of which must mature inside the skull of a humanoid host. Depending on the host, it can take anywhere from days to weeks for the tiny parasite to take over its host’s mind and convert the bony, flesh-covered body into its own adult form. To support their children, merlucents conduct fanatical crusades, kidnapping surface dwellers to act as incubators. Relying on its members’ stealth and paralytic poison, a single clan may snatch dozens of unwary sailors or coastal residents in a single season.

Merlucents range from 4 to 5 feet in height and weigh around 180 pounds, though smaller or larger specimens may be spawned depending on the size of the host.

Ecology

A merlucent’s natural ability to sniff out and reproduce arcane magic—as well as its dependence on humanoids to reproduce—is suggestive of unnatural origins, though none of Golarion’s usual culprits known for creating grotesque hybrids have ever been associated with the jellyfish-folk. Merlucents prefer kidnapping arcane spellcasters to host their young, even though they can spawn in any humanoid and their young rarely inherit a host’s spellcasting ability. They also show little interest in the flavor of magic their targets wield. Merlucents were likely an accidental creation, spawned at some unknown point in the past—a grim reminder that magic remains a powerful force beyond any creature’s complete control, and its use may produce unexpected consequences.

Merlucents are carnivores, eating fish, shellfish, and the occasional seabird—with their translucent skin exposing the digestive process for any to see. They have no need for sleep; instead, they tend to drift with the currents, waiting for small fish to swim into their tentacles. They can wait weeks between meals, and ride the tides for hundreds of miles in a state of torpor. However, they can also become ravenous and deplete entire coves in a matter of days.

Habitat and Society

Merlucents have little in the way of religion or philosophy, and focus primarily on eating and creating art until the mating frenzy consumes them. Long-established colonies may shape coral reefs into elaborate cave systems over generations, complete with air pockets where they keep captives until the colony is ready to implant them with polyps. While merlucents understand other humanoids to be intelligent, they see them as alien and needlessly complex— more akin to termites than neighbors. On rare occasions, merlucents trade with surface dwellers, offering fish, reconnaissance, and scavenged goods in exchange for magic baubles. They rarely use these acquired treasures, instead working them into their ever-expanding coral formations. Merlucents can eventually come to see long-time surface neighbors as beloved pets or a private herd, and show affection by nurturing barnacles to grow on docks and boats to keep the waters clean, or dragging the bloated carcasses of large sea animals to shore for their pets to eat.

To merlucents’ alien senses, magical auras twinkle like soft music or pleasant lights. They treasure potions or wands as humans might treasure music boxes or other delicate trinkets, and they see arcane spellcasters as itinerant performers. Thanks to merlucents’ fascination with magic, several clans may follow or worship particularly powerful aquatic wizards and sorcerers, but such aggregations rarely outlast the group’s leader.

After a merlucent rears an indeterminate number of young, a strange new instinct takes over its mind, calling it down into the deepest ocean trenches. These elders form large colonies—sometimes a hundred strong—around thermal vents on the ocean floor. Here, they rear massive schools of jellyfish and cultivate farms of tube worms in vast, swirling formations. Elder merlucents show little interest in eating their livestock, but aggressively defend their colonies against intruders. They become especially aggressive toward deep merfolk, with whom they fight constantly for control of the richest vents. Rather than implanting their young into captive merfolk, merlucents instead hurl their unfortunate enemies into the sea floor’s boiling fissures, cooking them alive.