Guardian ScrollThis innocuous-looking scroll abruptly rises in the air, unraveling as it flies. It flits about with serpentine grace, baring its razor-sharp edges.
Guardian Scroll CR 3Source Pathfinder #79: The Half-Dead City pg. 82 (Amazon)
N Tiny construct
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +0
DefenseAC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 size)
hp 27 (5d10)
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +1
DR 5/magic; Immune bludgeoning, crushing, and falling damage, construct traits
Weaknesses susceptible to mind-affecting effects, vulnerable to fire
OffenseSpeed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee slice +9 (1d4+3 plus bleed and grab)
Space 2-1/2 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks bleed (1d2), constrict (1d4+3), grab (Medium), slice, strangle
StatisticsStr 14, Dex 15, Con —, Int 4, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +5; CMB +5 (+9 grapple); CMD 18
Feats Dodge, Flyby Attack, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Acrobatics +4, Fly +20
Languages Common (can’t speak)
Organization solitary, pair, or collection (3–6)
Special AbilitiesSlice (Ex) A guardian scroll’s slice attack is a primary attack that deals slashing damage.
Strangle (Ex) When a guardian scroll grapples a creature, it entirely covers its opponent’s head with an airtight grip. A creature grappled by the scroll cannot see, speak, or cast spells with verbal components, and it must hold its breath (see Suffocation on page 445 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook). Creatures that don’t speak or breathe through their heads aren’t affected in those manners, nor are those who can see through other means blinded. Any attacks targeting a guardian scroll while it’s grappling deal half damage to the scroll and the other half to the grappled creature.
Susceptible to Mind-Affecting Effects (Ex) As an intelligent construct, a guardian scroll is subject to mind-affecting effects.
Magical practitioners, both arcane and divine, often use artificial creatures to protect their lairs, libraries, temples, and sacred texts. Sometimes the best of these protectors are ones a thief never suspects—until it’s too late. Guardian scrolls are deceptive constructs created from enchanted paper or papyrus. When an intruder enters a proscribed area or touches a prohibited object without first speaking a password or otherwise signaling that it has permission to enter, the guardian scroll rises to attack.
At rest, guardian scrolls appear identical to any number of different types of magical or nonmagical scrolls. Sometimes their ends terminate in wooden or light metal rods. These weighted ends do not hinder or alter the guardian scrolls’ ability to move and attack. The texture of such a scroll is quite different from that of any paper, parchment, or papyrus—though from visual inspection alone it’s indistinguishable from those materials. Instead, a guardian scroll’s papery body is surprising strong and tensile. Even with casual handling, an observer can tell the material is tear-resistant, though it has a fine edge.
When a guardian scroll becomes active, it rises in the air and unfurls to a length of almost 4 feet. It wafts through the air with casual ease as it approaches its target. When it attacks, it stiffens its edges, making them almost as sharp as razors. It races past its target and draws its entire length across any exposed flesh, leaving a long, deep, and often painful slash that bleeds badly afterward. This is not the scroll’s only means of attack, however. It can also wrap itself around a Medium or smaller creature in the blink of an eye, constricting it. While the strength of its constriction is not as terrible as that of a giant snake, the guardian scroll is intelligent enough to strategically wrap itself around the face of its target to blind and asphyxiate. While some barroom adventurers laugh at the absurdity of “aggressive paper,” anyone who has faced a guardian scroll knows its tenacity is surpassed only by its viciousness.
EcologyGuardian scrolls are artificial creatures, more akin to intelligent magic items than anything spawned in nature. Many do have some connection to the natural world, in that the material used in the creation of their paper is sometimes harvested from treants, quickwoods, or other intelligent tree creatures. In Osirion, guardian scrolls are often created from patches of stranglereeds that grow along the riverbank (see Pathfinder Adventure Path #82). Some researchers argue this explains the almost murderous nature that some guardian scrolls manifest. It is possible to create a guardian scroll without killing an intelligent plant creature, but it’s a lengthier process that requires much more material, and doesn’t appear to change the construct’s disposition.
Unlike most constructs, guardian scrolls have a limited intelligence. They lack the bludgeoning strength of other automata, and the variety and sophistication of their possible attacks require more than a simple brute force approach. This same spark of awareness also makes them subject to attacks on their minds.
Sometimes a guardian scroll’s creator uses the scroll to record the very information the construct is intended to protect—often a treasure map. The idea is that the scroll fights relentlessly rather than allowing an unauthorized party to study it, such that a would-be thief must destroy it to stop its attacks. This is risky, however. The scroll could be grappled, pinned, and held down by two or more creatures so it could be examined. Worse, since it fights to the death, the information it protects could be lost entirely.
Guardian scrolls forced into scroll tubes go dormant unless they succeed at a DC 15 Will save. A scroll that is still active can usually pop the canister open and escape unless the case has a locking mechanism or other special precautions are taken. If its tube is disturbed, a dormant guardian scroll must attempt a Will save to shake off this forced quiescence; if successful, it abruptly returns to life.
Habitat & SocietyOne might expect that guardian scrolls would be found only in the lairs of wizards and in great libraries, but the truth is that while they are commonly placed wherever someone has a secret to keep, they can be found in any number of surprising locations. The scrolls make splendid treasure maps for pirate lords, and as such they are found on ships and islands throughout the Inner Sea. They’ve even been sent anonymously as sealed missives via courier with instructions to murder the recipient.
ConstructionA guardian scroll’s body is usually made of paper crafted from the body of a living, intelligent tree or plant creature; the complex process of extraction usually destroys the creature in the process. For this reason, the creation of a guardian scroll is often, but not strictly, an evil act. A Large- or Medium-sized creature can provide more than enough paper to create dozens of guardian scrolls. The paper produced does not need to be used within a specific time frame, and so may be sold and purchased without the creator destroying an intelligent creature herself. The paper can also be produced alchemically from normal sources of pulp at greater expense with a successful DC 25 Craft (alchemy) check. The additional cost and price for this alternative process are listed within parentheses in the stat block below. Additionally, the creator must inscribe a series of magical words at the very bottom of the scroll. This does not prohibit the scroll from use for spells or other writings, but does require meticulous calligraphy or penmanship.
Guardian Scroll CL 8th; Price 5,000 gp (7,500 gp)
Construction Requirements Craft Construct, bull’s strength, false life, fly, lesser geas, magic weapon, make whole; paper made from an intelligent plant creature that dies or is slain during the paper-making process, or a more costly alchemically treated paper; creator must have 5 ranks in Linguistics; Cost 2,500 gp (3,750 gp)
Magic Guardian Scrolls It’s possible to include additional magical writings in the process of a guardian scroll’s creation. This process is more expensive, adding 10,000 gp to the construction cost, but grants the guardian scroll spell-like abilities determined by its creator. To make a magic guardian scroll, apply the following changes.
Challenge Rating: +1
Abilities: +2 Int, +2 Cha. The guardian scroll gains no additional skill ranks.
Spell-like Abilities: CL 4th, concentration +6, two 1stlevel spells and one 2nd-level spell three times per day, one 3rd-level spell once per day. The creator designates the spells from those the creator can cast.