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Gremlin

Source Bestiary 2 pg. 141

Well known for their mischievous natures, their nasty senses of humor, and their destructive habits, the fey creatures known as gremlins rightfully earn their reputations as cruel pranksters and sadistic saboteurs. Ranging in size from 3 feet in height down to barely over a foot tall, numerous types of gremlins stalk the world's dark and unseen reaches, tending to linger near thin spots in reality between the Material Plane and the realms of the fey. The smaller a gremlin is, the stronger its ties to the realm of the fey remain, and the stranger and more potent its powers.

Gremlins understand that they lack physical power, and thus are usually encountered in large groups that work together to defend each other and their lair. While all gremlins share certain traits in common, such as a resistance to damage from weapons save those made of cold iron, a cruel and sadistic sense of humor, the ability to use prestidigitation to enhance their mischievous plans, and their slight statures, the single trait that gremlins are most well known for is their ability to break, curse, and otherwise ruin the works of other creatures. Gremlins take great delight in ruining and breaking things, and while each gremlin race has a particular “specialty” (be it magical auras, complex machinery, coordinated tactics, or even luck itself), all gremlins are fascinated by complex devices and intricate social constructs. Nothing pleases a gremlin more than being involved in the collapse of something complex.

Although gremlins originally hailed from the mysterious realm of the fey, they have lived upon the Material Plane for countless generations. In that time, they have become natives of this realm, both in body and soul. Yet not all gremlins have managed to retain their strange powers to disrupt and destroy—the most unfortunate gremlins are not even commonly known as gremlins at all. These bizarre creatures are known as mites. While they retain the gremlin ability to use a few spell-like abilities, mites represent to their fellow gremlins the ultimate shame and horror—a fall into pathetic self-loathing and pitiful cowardice. As a result, gremlins grow particularly sadistic and violent when presented with an opportunity to torment a tribe of mites, abandoning their more subtle methods of disrupting communities and machinery in favor of all-out war, invading mite homes and lairs with tiny knives in hand and murder on their minds. Only mite tribes that have managed to ally themselves with particularly dangerous vermin generally have any chance at all to withstand an invasion of this sort, and most tribes quickly surrender to the gremlins. In some cases, the wholesale act of surrender can cool the gremlins' rage, and the attackers simply take steps to subjugate and enslave the tribe of mites, using them from that point on as a slave class to serve their whims, but in other cases not even the mite tribe's complete surrender can save them.

Against larger creatures, particularly humanoids (whom gremlins particularly love to torment and vex), gremlins adopt a much more subtle approach. Gremlins know that they lack the physical strength to withstand a fight against even the weakest humanoid societies, and thus keep to the shadows when moving through cities and villages. Gremlins seek out regions within urban areas where the “big folk” don't bother to visit often—places like sewers, dumps, graveyards, and abandoned buildings make for perfect gremlin lairs. Once a gremlin tribe establishes itself in the shadows of a humanoid society, it begins its work. Operating in pairs or even alone, the gremlins move out into the society, seeking ways to undo anything that can be undone. If a gremlin can arrange it, it prefers to leave an object, relationship, or situation in such a condition that it may seem stable and undamaged to the casual observer, but falls apart or fails spectacularly the next time it is used or encountered. A gremlin often waits in hiding nearby so it can observe the calamitous results of its mayhem, but takes pains to be well out of reach when such a disaster occurs. Gremlins know that it's not good to be in arm's reach of an angry humanoid once it realizes it's been visited by a gremlin.

In areas where gremlin activity is well established, many societies have developed unique and clever ways to both protect themselves from gremlin-related mayhem and root out the little monsters from their lairs. One common method of dealing with gremlins is to use objects known as gremlin bells. Crafted from bronze, brass, or other semiprecious metals and measuring no more than an inch tall, gremlin bells are hung from delicate chains or silken cords over door frames and windows, or affixed to precious objects. The belief is that the presence of a gremlin bell sickens the creatures and even renders their supernatural and spell-like abilities useless. Strangely enough, many gremlins believe this as well, and even when the gremlin bells aren't magic, gremlins won't risk tinkering with most objects that seem to be warded in such a manner.

Other communities take a much more active path in ridding themselves of gremlins, training small animals like cats, dogs, falcons, or even weasels to seek out and attack gremlins on sight. Tiny trained animals can pursue gremlins into their cramped warrens with ease and, when their claws are fitted with cleverly constructed cold iron spikes, can inflict significant damage on a tribe of these creatures. Many gremlin tribes have learned from such tactics, however, and utilize trained (or not) animals in their own lairs for protection.

Creatures in "Gremlin" Category

NameCR
Drexin2
Erinat2
Fuath1
Grimple1/3
Haniver1/2
Jinkin1
Monaciello1
Nuglub2
Pugwampi1/2
Vexgit1

Gremlin, Drexin

This pale, spindly creature has a vaguely humanoid shape, but with arms unnaturally long for its torso. Strands of long white hair sprout from its bulbous head, and its eyes are pools of liquid darkness.

Drexin CR 2

Source Pathfinder #109: In Search of Sanity pg. 84
XP 600
CE Small fey
Init +8; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12
Aura mental static (DC 13)

Defense

AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+4 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size)
hp 16 (3d6+6)
Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +5
DR 5/cold iron

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +1 (1d4–1), 2 claws +1 (1d3–1)
Psychic Magic (CL 6th; concentration +8)
5 PE—babbleOA (2 PE, DC 14), id insinuation IOA (2 PE, DC 14), mental blockOA (1 PE, DC 13), mind thrust IOA (1 PE, DC 13), telekinetic projectileOA (1 PE)

Statistics

Str 9, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +1; CMB –1; CMD 13
Feats Improved Initiative, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +10, Bluff +8, Climb +3, Craft (traps) +12, Disable Device +7, Escape Artist +10, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (arcana) +4, Perception +12; Racial Modifiers +4 Craft (traps), +4 Intimidate, +4 Perception
Languages Aklo, Undercommon
SQ trap savant

Ecology

Environment any underground or urban
Organization solitary, pair, or mob (3–6)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Trap Savant (Ex) A drexin can craft magical traps as if it had the Craft Wondrous Item feat.

This gremlin’s head and pointed ears are overlarge compared to the rest of its anatomy. Thin, often matted hair tops a drexin’s scalp. Its light-starved, wizened flesh stretches taut across its bones, and its claws brush the ground as it walks. An average drexin stands 3 feet tall and weighs 25 pounds.

Ecology

Many gremlins believe that drexins were once nuglubs or jinkins who strayed too far underground. It’s thought that after wandering into the twisted lands of Orv, these poor creatures stumbled upon a cabal of neothelids and were taken prisoner. Years in the massive worms’ captivity both warped the gremlins’ appearances and enhanced their minds. These lost gremlins became the drexins. The altered creatures emerged from the depths with new psychic abilities and an understanding of the neothelids’ aberrant tongue. Perhaps the drexins escaped through sheer luck; perhaps their ascension to the upper levels of the Darklands is part of the machinations of the alien monstrosities in the deep heart of the world. Of course, the entire story is mere conjecture, and drexins quite possibly developed their psychic talents independent of neothelid influence.

As their enlarged craniums suggest, drexin gremlins are particularly intelligent and have psychic talents that they gleefully employ to befuddle and maim the minds of others. While other gremlins revel in breaking objects, drexins enjoy tinkering with and disrupting thoughts, breaking the wills and minds of their targets rather than dismantling them physically.

Drexins delight in sneaking up on spellcasters or artisans and using abilities such as babble, id insinuation I, and mental block to disrupt the process of spellcasting or magic item creation. If the victim senses the drexin’s presence, the drexin typically casts mind thrust I or telekinetically flings an available object at the creature before fleeing. Drexins are physically weak and abhor physical combat unless they have a powerful ally to hide behind. This cowardice usually confines drexins to the sidelines of a fight.

Like all gremlins, drexins are skilled trapsmiths. A drexin can imbue its traps with its own psychic spells. These masterpieces far surpass the mechanical devices made by other types of gremlins. Drexins are fond of creating and setting snares outside places of study, magic shops, and mages’ homes. If a target springs the trap, the drexin emerges to torment its victim while she lies incapacitated, just outside the reach of aid. Drexins especially like to target other psychic creatures in this way, particularly those that are too powerful to confront directly. While drexins crave additional psychic power, most are incapable of more than a few spells. These wretched creatures therefore envy those who master the occult.

From time to time, a drexin appears to a spellcaster or psychic and offers its services, usually proposing to increase the security of that person’s home or workshop by building a number of traps in exchange for certain knowledge. Anyone foolish enough to accept the drexin’s terms enjoys the benefits of a loyal trap crafter for a time. All too soon, however, the drexin gains the knowledge it seeks or grows bored with the arrangement. The unfortunate master returns to his home or study only to fall into the traps that once kept his secrets safe. The drexin then either kills or disables its former employer before stealing anything valuable and retreating to the sewers.

Habitat and Society

Among gremlinkind, drexins are feared for their mastery of mental magic. Different varieties of gremlins grudgingly cooperate with drexins to terrorize other creatures, but regard the psychic gremlins with intense distrust. Jinkins, pugwampis, and vexgits are even known to put aside their aversion to cold iron and construct “mind shields”—simple helms or plates of cold iron that are fastened around the head with straps to prevent drexins’ psychic intrusions. These items do nothing to stop drexins’ intrusions, but popular gremlin opinion keeps them in use. The fact that drexins speak Aklo as well as Undercommon further contributes to their otherness in gremlin society.

In the Darklands, some lesser creatures believe drexins are capable of mental possession. The average drexin cannot truly dominate the mind or spirit, but individuals encourage this rumor, desiring the fearsome reputation it brings. Some drexins, however, grow more powerful than their kindred and gain class levels in kineticist or psychic. These drexins are particularly influential in gremlin society, and often command their own mobs of drexins or even other gremlins, who serve them out of fear and necessity rather than respect. Advanced drexins occasionally infiltrate humanoid society, enticing curious minds to explore mysteries best left undisturbed. Behind many academics who delve too deeply into maddening ancient secrets and spellcasters who open cursed magical tomes is an ambitious drexin joyfully luring others into psychic peril.

Drexins prefer to dwell in the subterranean world, usually making their homes in caves and underground ruins. These gremlins commonly reside in the Darklands, and can be found among the slaves of the drow and serpentfolk of Sekamina. Drexins also form their own loosely organized societies in Nar-Voth, alongside jinkins, nuglubs, and vexgits. Still, the buzzing energy of thousands of minds in close proximity draws drexins to surface cities, where they often infest abandoned buildings and sewers.

Though drexins usually betray their allies, occasionally creatures forge successful partnerships with these fey. Frauds claiming a connection to the spirit world or the minds of others sometimes use a hidden drexin’s abilities to con patrons out of their hard-earned coin. A drexin might enter such a deal spurred by the promise of shared knowledge or gifts of materials to augment trap crafting. Ultimately, to avoid falling victim to a drexin’s backstabbing, a drexin’s partner must be just as conniving and cruel as the gremlin itself. Such a worthy creature might inspire a feeling akin to friendship in the drexin. If the partner ever doublecrosses the drexin, however, the arrangement ends. Drexins do not hold grudges; rather, they cultivate and nurture them over time, never forgetting the face or name of a betrayer. A drexin is a patient creature and may wait years to exact its revenge.

Drexins are proud gremlins and do not typically worship deities or acknowledge any force greater than themselves. Contrary to their nature, however, some drexins pay homage to a being reverently named “The Taker.” This entity urges drexins to increase their own mental abilities by stealing the power of others, usually through a gruesome ritual in which the gremlin ingests portions of the brain of a murdered spellcaster or psychic. Drexins who follow The Taker typically dispatch their victims via traps, poison, or strangulation while those unfortunate souls sleep. While The Taker is not a deity and cannot grant spells to clerics, drexin oracles and shamans serve as the being’s prophets and emissaries among drexin populations. Whether The Taker is an aspect of another deity, a powerful but mortal being with nefarious plans, or the creation of the gremlins’ wild imaginations remains unknown.