Halloween is a funny time of year for a blog like this one. On one hand, you’d think it was the perfect time of year for me to unleash an especially onerous monument to my hubris in the face of the natural order. But on the other hand, a casual glance at the back catalogue will show that pretty much every article is kind of a Halloween article in its own right. So for this one, I’ve got to do something special. This time, I’m going to revisit one of my old projects and put a little spice on it.
Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that brings the spooks all year round. This time, we’ll be looking back into the Mwangi Expanse to revisit the cuddly and lovable anadi. It may be fashionably late, but I’m going to give them a proper Halloween makeover. And as the proud author of the anadi ancestry, I’d like to think that the following content has a little extra love poured into it. Even if it’s entirely unofficial and in no way part of Paizo’s canon.
Strands of Knowledge
Some of the most brilliant scholars counted among the anadi make their home in the city of Majabi. There, aspiring spellcasters enjoy access to knowledge passed down from their earliest sages and ritualists. Even the First Weave, a tapestry of webbing that documents the foundations of their innate magic, resides within the city. But well-documented arcane lore and carefully maintained druidic customs are not the only forms of enlightenment to be practiced by the reclusive spiderfolk.
Deep within the tunnels below Majabi, in secret places that even most of the anadi do not know of, sacrifices are made to protect their people’s secrets. A cabal of occult spellcasters stand guard over knowledge held close to the anadi people, whether it’s power too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands or secrets that could harm their nation if ever exposed. And in order to ensure their eternal vigilance, they have perfected the art of converting their own numbers into mummified guardians.
These ‘web mummies’ are made from a freshly mummified anadi corpse. The process involves the consumption of specially crafted toxins and spices to desiccate internal organs before they are subsequently carved out of the body. The remains are then wrapped in a shroud of its own webbing, adorned with dozens of talismans and trinkets, then left in a dry and lightless cavern until it rises again.
As with most forms of creating undead mummies, much of the gruesome process must be performed on a still-living victim. However, through the mastery of the occult, anadi have found a way to tap into a sort of communal shared mind. While it cannot completely shut out the suffering, it allows multiple anadi to shoulder the burden and ease their transition into their new state. Due to the nature of the ritual, web mummies are often made in matched sets of anadi that share a strong friendship or even a web marriage.
Even when expertly crafted, a web mummy will lose some of its former abilities, such as the ability to take a humanoid form or produce venom. Their dispersed consciousness also leads to a weakened sense of self that slowly degrades over time. However, this dispersion also projects their consciousness throughout their webbing, allowing it to act as a sort of supernatural sensory organ. Web mummies have an occult sense that allows them to read the emotional resonance from objects they touch, making them the perfect guardians for coded secrets and unprecedented interrogators of would-be thieves. This extended webbing also acts as an aid in their locomotion, the comparatively agile web-tendrils pulling their stiff, desiccated body through their domain with a semblance of grace.
Their object reading also manifests as a sort of ‘hunger’ for emotional experiences. With a continually degrading ego, web mummies must replace what they lose with experiences passed on by others. It is a tradition among the anadi of Majabi to leave personal trinkets as offerings for deceased loved ones, casting them into underground webbing to symbolize the departed returning to Grandmother Spider’s embrace. With a steady supply of trinkets to obsessively read and the eternal company of their close companions, most web mummies maintain a stable mindset. Eventually, their collection of trinkets is so large and so well studied that the mummy learns how to use them in combat. Those who find themselves without these benefits eventually lose themselves to their hunger, becoming half-feral murderers and thieves of memories.
Web Mummy Creature 7
[Rare] [LN] [Medium] [Mummy] [Undead]
Perception +15; darkvision, web sense
Languages Anadi, Necril
Skills Acrobatics +15, Athletics +12, Craft +13, Occultism +15, Religion +13, Stealth +17, Web Lore +17
Str +2, Dex +6, Con +1, Int +6, Wis +4, Cha +2
Web Sense The web mummy has imprecise tremorsense to detect the vibrations of creatures touching its web
AC 24; Fort +12, Ref +15, Will +17
HP 120, negative healing; Immunities death effects, disease, paralyzed, poison, unconsciousness; Weaknesses fire 10
Aura of Cobwebs (aura, occult, transmutation) 20 feet. Creeping webs extend from the web mummy’s body, attempting to entrap its prey. Each round a living creature starts its turn in the area, it must attempt a DC 22 Reflex save. On a failure, it takes a -10 foot circumstance penalty to its speeds until it leaves the area, and on a critical failure, it is also immobilized for one round. Creatures can attempt to Escape at the same DC to remove these effects. The web mummy may only cast its innate spells against targets within the aura.
Speed 25 feet, climb 25 feet
Melee (one action) Fangs +16 [+11/+6] (finesse), Damage 2d6+4 piercing
Exploit Secrets (one action) (curse, divination, manipulate, occult) The web mummy peers into the soul of one creature within its aura of cobwebs and makes a Web Lore check against a normal DC for that creature’s level. On a success, it learns the creature’s greatest weakness. The web mummy’s attacks now activate that weakness. If the creature has no weakness, the web mummy crafts a personalized implement of that creature’s bane, giving it weakness 10 against the mummy’s attacks. This lasts until the web mummy uses it against a different target.
Occult Innate Spells 4th empathic link, object reading; 3rd comprehend languages; Cantrips (4th) detect magic, read aura
Running a Web Mummy Encounter
Much like a traditional mummy, the anadi variant typically serves to guard a dusty old tomb or vault with untold treasures. As befitting for their people, these tombs are typically overrun with heavy patches of webbing that serves both as an impairment to tomb raiders and an early warning system for the guardians. As web guardians tend to work in groups, it makes more sense to run multiples of them against a higher-level party. However, a single web mummy that has succumbed to its hunger is far more prone to wander and can be encountered just about anywhere in the Mwangi Expanse and even beyond.
It should be noted that a party with anadi representation is far more likely to be able to negotiate with a group of web mummies. These undead of sound mind would be more interested in reading the party’s items than hearing their words, both for the sake of their hunger and as a defense against common deception.
Playing as a Web Mummy
It is largely possible to approximate the experience of playing a web mummy with resources that are already available. An anadi PC with the mummy archetype already has the basics. Talk with your GM about modifying some feats, such as having the dedication’s unarmed attack work in your humanoid and hybrid forms, or allowing the PC to choose underground as a bound terrain and adjusting other feats accordingly. You may want to rework your despair aura to instead entrap your opponents. The thaumaturge would make for an excellent class choice, as it was the primary inspiration for the exploit secrets ability, though any form of occult caster is also suitable.
And now that I’ve wrapped that one up, I think it’s about time I get some shut-eye eight times over. I’ve certainly had enough time surfing the web with this one, so I’m going to lay to rest. Come back next time and watch me do another Tom Foolery with the alignment system.