Eldritch Excursion – Bloodlines and Broodmothers

Sometimes, people ask me where I get all these crazy monsters from. And the ones who aren’t cops might even ask how they can get some too. Well today’s the day where I peel back the stained curtain and show you the juicy details on how the magic happens. These wriggling monstrosities don’t just come from a strong imagination and unsupervised internet access at an impressionable age, either. You don’t imagine these kinds of monsters. You breed these kinds of monsters.

Look, I know ‘getting weird with it’ is pretty much the default state of this blog, but we’re getting weird with getting weird. I’m not holding back for politeness’ sake. We’re going on a field trip to the shoggoth puppy mill and you’re gonna hear about every single step of the process. This isn’t a content warning; this is a content guarantee.

Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that breeds mechanics in the den of flavor. Today we’re going to examine my favorite monster in all of Pathfinder. If you’re not the sort to look at Xenomorph reproductive cycles with fond regards then this is your last chance to click away and get back to funny goblins and friendly memes.

Here’s one last wholesome vibe for the road.

The Drakainia

I’ve mentioned before in previous articles that I like it when a monster’s abilities can inform its lore and vice versa. One key ability can shift a monster’s position within a story’s narrative and even the very tone of that story. With that in mind, I’d like you to take a look at the Drakainia from the first edition of Pathfinder. Give it a read and get back to me. Take your time, take it all in. I’ll wait.

What we have is a massive, bloated broodmother who has the capability to produce any creature within the bestiary within the fleshy forge of her own body. The imagery of such ‘summoning’ abilities certainly sets the tone for some surface level body horror in the middle of a fight. And such an unsettling notion only grows more sinister when you realize your own character can be used as an external incubator for some explosive results.

The Implications

But let’s look beyond the surface-level squick on display. Let’s consider the entity herself. The bestiary entry is frustratingly short on any backstory or motivation for this monster. In fact, I’m not entirely sure if the Drakainia is a singular being or an entire species. For a creature with a CR in the mid 20’s, this leaves a vast amount of room for speculation.

If we derive story from the mechanics, we see that the Drakainia contains a great genetic potential. She (or they?) can produce nearly any form of life in this world or any other. Such an ability is frustrating enough for any GM who wants to run her as a boss encounter, but the open-ended nature also suggests she has access to all forms of life, natural or otherwise. How did she come by this raw essence? Is the Drakainia some ancient, primordial being that was there at the dawn of all life? Is it part of an entire species that assimilates genetic material to remake worlds as they desire? Are any of my long-term readers getting a sense of déjà vu when they think about it?

And let’s not ignore that challenge rating of 25 with the 10 levels of Mythic, either. The highest level that a playable mortal being can reach is level 20. Mythic is the main mechanic to ascend beyond those limitations, and 10 is the highest you can go. And this is the rarest of the rare, the cream of the crop. This is the level where PCs are capable dealing directly with deities and going toe to toe with demon lords, where ascension into godhood might be on the table. And here we have Octomom’s Revenge just casually relaxing on that peak with a few extra levels under her belt.

This baffles me. It utterly befuddles me. This is the kind of creature that you write an epic level adventure path about. The Drakainia has all the power to be a major player in the games of the divine, and being the master if some great monster kingdom is hardly outside of her grasp. She could spawn an entourage of epic monsters over a three-day weekend. Her aura of gestation means that she could create a whole army through multiple generations the following week. And as I assume a creature of boundless life energy probably lives for a really long time, she can probably create endgame- level spawn with a minor investment and some patience, depending on how mythic levels factor into her breeding capabilities.

Sometimes I wonder if Lamashtu is only still a goddess because the Drakainia couldn’t be bothered to rise up and take it from her. She’s almost better in every way, from her more worldly presence to her aberrant nature adding to that viscerally alien feel of an omni capable well of life. I’m telling you. Her whims can move nations.

The Implementations

So how does one make use of such a world-defining creature, with its limitless narrative potential? Normally, this is about the point where I would show off some deftly-crafted conversion that brings this monster into the mechanics of 2nd edition. But honestly? I don’t think I could do her justice. I don’t think 2nd edition could do her justice. This is the kind of monster you use as an aspect of the world, as a key pillar of the setting, not as some stat block to hit with a sword. There is far too much potential to just throw it away for the sake of a canned villain monologue and a half-dozen combat rounds.

No, I have something much better in mind.

Your daydream is rudely interrupted by a call from Mother. A deep, bellowing call echoing from the cave-home where She had made your family’s den. And Mother’s call is not one to be ignored. You still remember the hot summer day that you and your immediate family were just too tired to respond with anything resembling urgency. That was when Mother decided to come to you, and unfortunately for your grandfather, She arrived through the red ribbons of his exploding torso.

He may have been your elder by just a couple of weeks, but he was technically your grandfather. You still miss him.

You gesture with your elven hand, articulating the urgency with one of your arachnid limbs, directing your kin towards the den. Your orcish brother is the first to respond, his left head snapping awake even as his right head does all it can to remain asleep. Your sister, a diminutive creature of an insectoid heritage even she does’t understand, murmurs a complaint before flying off in that direction.

It isn’t the meetings with Mother that bother you. It’s that squirming pile of cultists that she always keeps around her. And more precisely, their smell. How did She put it? ‘I got bored making my own chaff, so I have them do it for me.’

And that’s it for now. If you’re still here, thanks for reading. I hope you can see just how much you can do with this insanely powerful creature. Come back next time and I’ll have player character options for those who want to play as the spawn of a Drakainia and gain benefits from the resulting mutations.

Nate Wright

Hey there. I'm Nate Wright, author of the Eldritch Excursion blog. I'm also a credited freelance author on several releases from Paizo. When I'm not scooping up my thoughts and slapping them onto your feed like so much delicious ice cream, I can be found on social media where I retweet pixel art and talk about how great summoners are.