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Protean

Source Bestiary 2 pg. 213

Beings of pure chaos, the serpentine proteans slither through the anarchic improbabilities of Limbo, remaking reality according to their whims. According to their own history, they were already here when the first gods pulled forth the other planes from raw chaos—and they have been battling against the indignity ever since. Hereditary and ideological enemies of Axis, Heaven, and Hell, and especially of the residents of those planes, all proteans see it as their sacred duty to return the bland, static expanses of mundane reality to the beautiful incongruities of Limbo, for the planes' own good and for the greater glory of their mysterious god, a dualistic deity which may be a living aspect of Limbo itself. They are Limbo's living, breathing immune system, rooting out infections of mundanity and replacing them with beautiful entropy.

Primeval in shape and philosophy, proteans are the race that most perfectly embodies the twin aspects of creation and destruction (although certain aeons might contest this claim). Even their language is mutable, evolving so quickly that few outsiders can understand it without magical aid. Ecological study is nearly impossible, as reproduction can take a wide variety of forms, from sexual union to fission to spontaneous generation. Despite their deceptively similar natural appearances, the two things that truly unify the protean race are slavish devotion to their strange god and a fervent desire for the dissolution of reality as we know it.

Proteans are organized into several sub-races or castes, each with its own individual abilities and roles. Other proteans than the four presented here doubtless exist, but they do not interact with other races nearly to the extent that these four types do.

Voidworms: Disowned by greater proteans, who find these tiny beings shameful, voidworms nevertheless retain all the characteristics of true proteans, and are frequently found swimming through Limbo in vast schools or serving as spellcasters' familiars.

Naunets: Possessing little in the way of culture, the powerful naunets are the most bestial of the true proteans, representing the lowest recognized caste. Naunets are the shock troops of the protean race, and patrol the borderlands between Limbo and other planes, seeking out lawful incursions and making daring, savage raids into the realms of their enemies.

Imenteshes: These cunning proteans seek to subvert the forces of order from within their own systems, whispering information and insinuations where they can do the most damage. Endlessly creative, they adore reforming the landscapes of Limbo to suit their fancies, but enjoy warping the vistas and creatures of other planes even more.

Keketars: Priest-kings and voices of Limbo itself, keketars rule their fellows in the name of their bizarre god. Though their forms are extremely mutable, keketars can always be recognized thanks to eyes that glow amber or violet and floating crowns of swirling and changing symbols that often appear above their heads. Organized into cabals called choruses, keketars seek only to understand and follow the will of entropy.

Protean Lords

While the keketars are the highest caste of the protean race, there exist a few scattered individuals who put even the mightiest chorus to shame. Equal in power to demon lords or empyreal lords, the beings known as protean lords are an enigma, far older than other proteans and perhaps spawned in a previous iteration of the multiverse or somewhere beyond the depths of Limbo. Disdaining direct leadership, protean lords act according to their own desires, occasionally appearing to advise their lesser kin or keep an inscrutable eye on entities whose powers rival their own.

Warpwaves

Many proteans, particularly the imenteshes, have the ability to create and manipulate ripples in reality known as warpwaves. Yet even a protean can't predict what effects a warpwave might have. When a creature is affected by a warpwave, roll 1d20 and consult the table below to see what effect the entropic energies have.

d20Warpwave effect
1Target takes 2 Strength damage.
2Target takes 2 Dexterity damage.
3Target takes 2 Constitution damage.
4Target takes 2 Intelligence damage.
5Target takes 2 Wisdom damage.
6Target takes 2 Charisma damage.
7Target gains 1 negative level.
8Target is blinded or deafened for 1d4 rounds.
9Target is confused for 1d4 rounds.
10Target is entangled by filaments of energy for 1d4 rounds.
11Target becomes fatigued (or exhausted if already fatigued).
12Target becomes nauseated for 1d4 rounds.
13Target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.
14Target is sickened for 1d4 rounds.
15Target is staggered for 1d4 rounds.
16Target gains 4d6 temporary hit points.
17Target is affected by a heal spell (CL = protean's CR).
18Target is turned to stone.
19Target is affected by baleful polymorph (CL = protean's CR).
20Portions of target's body burst with energy of a random type (choose between acid, cold, electricity, or fire), dealing 4d6 points of damage of the appropriate type to the target.

Creatures in "Protean" Category

NameCR
Azuretzi5
Hegessik15
Imentesh10
Keketar17
Naunet7
Ourdivar4
Pelagastr8
Voidworm2

Protean, Hegessik

This creature’s serpentine head sports a brilliant crest of shimmering, metallic plumage that runs down its spine, transitioning into a line of sparkling, glowing gemstones studded into its scaled flesh.

Hegessik CR 15

Source Pathfinder #101: The Kintargo Contract pg. 84
XP 51,200
CN Large outsider (chaotic, extraplanar, protean, shapechanger)
Init +10; Senses blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., detect law; Perception +32
Aura maddening whispers (20 ft., DC 25)

Defense

AC 30, touch 15, flat-footed 24 (+6 Dex, +15 natural, –1 size)
hp 199 (19d10+95); fast healing 10
Fort +16, Ref +14, Will +17
Defensive Abilities amorphous anatomy, freedom of movement; DR 10/lawful; Immune acid, polymorph; Resist electricity 10, sonic 10; SR 26

Offense

Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (average), swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +28 (1d8+9/19–20 plus warpwave), 2 claws +27 (1d6+9), tail slap +25 (1d8+4 plus grab)
Space 10 ft., Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks constrict (1d8+12), leaching gaze, maddening whispers, telekinetic reach, warpwave
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +21)
Constant—detect law
At will—confusion (DC 20), displacement, greater dispel magic, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), mirror image, slow (DC 19)
3/day—baleful polymorph (DC 21), chaos hammer (DC 20)
1/day—planeshift (DC 23), polymorph any object (DC 24)

Statistics

Str 28, Dex 23, Con 21, Int 18, Wis 22, Cha 23
Base Atk +19; CMB +29; CMD 45 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Ability Focus (warpwave), Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +25, Bluff +28, Diplomacy +28, Fly +26, Knowledge (arcana) +26, Knowledge (planes) +26, Perception +32, Sense Motive +32, Spellcraft +26, Swim +36
Languages Abyssal, Protean; telepathy 100 ft.
SQ change shape (greater polymorph)

Ecology

Environment any (Maelstrom)
Organization solitary or cloister (2–6)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Leaching Gaze (Su) When opened, a hegessik’s third eye produces a powerful gaze attack with a 30-foot range. A creature affected by this attack takes 1d3 points of Wisdom damage unless it succeeds at a DC 25 Will save. Proteans are immune to this effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Maddening Whispers (Su) A mind-bending susurrus of voices and false perceptions infuses reality in close proximity to a hegessik protean. Any creature within the range of the protean’s aura must succeed at a DC 25 Will save or be confused for 1 round. A creature with a chaotic component to its alignment gains a +4 bonus on this save, and creatures with the chaotic subtype are immune. This is a mind-affecting effect, and the save DC is Charisma-based.

Telekinetic Reach (Su) Every 1d4 rounds, a hegessik protean can take a full-round action in order to make all of its natural attacks as a flurry of telekinetic force with a range of 60 feet. Attacks made in this manner at a distance of up to 30 feet take a –5 penalty on attack rolls, and a –10 penalty when made at a distance of 30 to 60 feet. A hegessik protean must have line of effect to a target in order to use this ability. A hegessik can’t use its grab or warpwave ability with attacks made using this ability.

Warpwave (Su) A creature struck by a hegessik’s bite must succeed at a DC 24 Fortitude save or be affected by a warpwave (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 213). The save DC is Constitution-based.

If the keketar proteans are the Maelstrom’s priest-kings, the reclusive hegessiks are its wandering clergy, the Cerulean Void’s itinerant spiritual elders and voices in the wilderness. Detached from the ever-shifting pseudo-structure of the keketar cabals, hegessiks serve as intermediaries between them, agents of the protean lords, and—along with the keketars—representatives dealing with those gods who dwell within the Maelstrom.

As fluid in form as any other proteans, other than its serpentine profile, a hegessik protean is marked by a number of unique features. Most obvious is its quartet of arms—two large and powerful, and two shaped for fine manipulation or ceremonial gestures. A crest of brilliant plumage tops the hegessik’s head and runs down its spine, transitioning from elaborate feathers to glittering gemstones at the mid-back and continuing down the entire length of the body to the tip of the tail. The particular colors and types of stones change at the hegessik’s whimsy and reflect its mood.

A hegessik also possesses an omnipresent third-eye in the middle of its forehead, shedding a puissant glow even when lidded. A uniquely personal symbol is visible within the depths of the pupil that radiates a sanitybending gaze when revealed. This symbol functions as a name, and any attempts to summon a hegessik invariably requires knowledge of the individual creature’s unique symbol. This icon is visible only when the hegessik’s third eye is open, exposing any non-protean to the effects of its gaze. Any spellcaster aware of a hegessik’s symbol should also be exceedingly wary of encountering that particular protean again, lest it take offense that this knowledge is available.

Ecology

Keketar proteans describe being chosen by the Maelstrom itself and transfigured into members of their racial caste, and so too do hegessiks. Though the proteans’ legends and history rarely follow a rational progression of cause and effect, scholars suspect that hegessiks originate as transfigured and exalted imenteshes, called by the Speakers of the Depths to serve not as emissaries to those beyond the Maelstrom’s tides, but as emissaries between the keketar cabals that innumerably divide the protean host.

When asked about their origins by those few brave enough to seek them out and engage them in conversation, hegessiks make a sound somewhere between a chuckle and a hiss, and proceed to weave a tale for the questioning mortal. Each story is unique and devoid of concern for internal continuity or historical accuracy. These explanations provide a meandering parable of bizarre, obscure metaphors from which information must be inferred rather than directly explained.

With their own unique origins shrouded in mystery, hegessiks play a key role in the transition of mortal souls to proteans, including a cloister of albino-eyed hegessiks with oddly obscured symbols called the Bleached Shepherds. This group gathers that fraction of souls judged fit for the Maelstrom. Most of these souls are led by imenteshes through portals reaching into the Maelstrom’s depths, but some remain behind. These rare souls seek out the Bleached Shepherds with the implicit or explicit desire to embrace the freedom of the Maelstrom. There in the Boneyard, with the assent of the hegessik cloister, they transform into one or another variety of lesser proteans themselves.

The Bleached Shepherds serve Ssila’meshnik, the Colorless Lord, and are appointed by that unique protean as servitors until such time as they desire to leave for other vistas. Those who leave the cloister regain the original color of their third eyes, their symbols become clearly visible again, and in time, new hegessiks come to serve as fellow shepherds and arbiters of chaotic souls.

Habitat and Society

Befitting their role as wandering clergy among proteans, hegessiks move between keketar choruses, mediating between them, and temporarily harmonizing the mutually exclusive philosophies espoused by each chorus. One legend tells of Galisem, the Whisper of Malleable Dissonance, the hegessik responsible for the collaboration of the Chorus of Razored Discord and the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry in the earliest days of the cosmos. Myriad versions of the tale exist, some of which have hegessiks not initiating the madness of the two corrupt choruses, but seeking to stop them, or after the fact, redeem them.

In their wandering, hegessiks gravitate toward proteans desiring to advance beyond their current nature and into other castes. Embracing them, hegessiks bathe them in the light of their third eyes, and then with teeth and claws tear into their flesh. Rather than rending them into a mess of blood and scales, they help them slough off their old form and nature like serpents shedding their skin.

Hegessiks rarely wander beyond the depths of the Maelstrom itself, but when they do, the results are not often beneficial for those who encounter them. Their presence in the Maelstrom’s borderlands portends a truly massive protean incursion beyond the shallows and into the more stable planes.