Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bestiarum vocabulum - Mahars (and the Mastermind feat)

My newest bestiary entry is from At the Earth’sCore, which I read for the first time just a few weeks ago. While David Innes lacks John Carter’s charisma, Pellucidar is an amazing setting and Edgar R. Burroughs’ description of its inhabitants is very compelling (it is after all part of Appendix N). In particular, I was impressed by the alien – and totally Lovecraftian – way that time works inside the Inner Earth. If you hadn’t read it yet, I heartily recommend it. As usual, the stats below are just my humble vision of the creature. I hope you like!

Mahars, the Rulers of Pellucidar 


“The all-powerful Mahars of Pellucidar are great reptiles, some six or eight feet in length, with long narrow heads and great round eyes. Their beak-like mouths are lined with sharp, white fangs, and the backs of their huge, lizard bodies are serrated into bony ridges from their necks to the end of their long tails. Their feet are equipped with three webbed toes, while from the fore feet membranous wings, which are attached to their bodies just in front of the hind legs, protrude at an angle of 45 degrees toward the rear, ending in sharp points several feet above their bodies”.

– David Innes

Mahar                                                CR 4 (1,200 XP)
NE Large monstrous humanoid
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60-ft., low-light vision, scent, Perception +10 (deaf)

AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 13 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural, –1 size)
HD 43 (6d10+10)
Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +9
Immune mind-effects, sound-based effects
Weakness natural deafness

Spd 10 ft., fly 50 ft. (clumsy), swim 40 ft.
Melee bite +8 (2d6+3), 2 claws +2 (1d6+3)
Space 10-ft.; Reach 10-ft.
Special Attacks thralling stare

Str 16, Dex 19, Con 15, Int 21, Wis 19, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 24
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mastermind*
Skills Craft (Alchemy) +10, Disable Device +8, Fly +2, Heal +8, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +12, Knowledge (engineering) +11, Knowledge (geography) +12, Knowledge (history) +9, Knowledge (nature) +12, Knowledge (planes) +9, Linguistics +13, Perception +10, Stealth +5, Survival +11, Swim +9, Use Magic Device +9
Languages Aklo (racial), Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Elven, Giant, Orc, Terran, Undercommon, Mahar sign language
Special Qualities astral mind

Environment any warm (including underground)
Organization pair or flock (3-8)
Treasure double

Astral Mind (Ex) Mahars communicate among each other by accessing a superior dimension (the Astral Plane). This ability is similarly to telepathy, but only works with other mahars and at a maximum range of 300 ft.
This ability also allows mahars to see into the Astral Plane and makes them immune to mind-effects from non-mahars. This immunity doesn’t work against powers originating in the Astral Plane, if the mahars enters the Astral Plane or lose contact with it.
Natural Deafness (Ex) Mahars do not possess ears and are naturally deaf. Because they’re born this way, they learn to compensate part of this weakness and don’t suffer penalties to Perception checks (though they still automatically fail any Perception save based on sound). Mahars are immune to effects based on sound (but not against sonic damage).
Thralling Stare (Su) Mahar’s gaze are potent mesmerizing weapons and work like a pre-psionic form of mind-bending, however they do require concentration to be employed. A mahar can focus its gaze over any living creature to destroy its will with a standard action (that provokes an attack of opportunity). If the target fails a Will saving throw (DC 16), it is dazed and suffers 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. He must save again next round or suffer more 1d6 Wisdom damage. If the target’s Wisdom is reduced to 0, the victim is permanently in thrall of the mahar. A mahar can keep its thralling stare over a dazed target by concentrating. The DC is Charisma-based.


The Mahars are an ancient and evil race of cold-blooded and intelligent creatures that resemble pterodactyls. Mahars are famous for their callous pursuit of scientific knowledge, their strange mesmerizing abilities and a total disregard for “young” races like humans, demihumans and other humanoid civilizations. Because mahar underground cities are located in remote and forsaken regions, where the titanic and chthonic creatures of past eons still walk the land, these intelligent reptiles see humans and other young humanoid people as little more than smart animals.

Mahars communicate using a limited form of telepathy that yet proves amazingly effective in protecting their minds from powers originated in the Material Plane. This strange connection may also explain the mahars’ potent mesmerizing abilities – there’re rumors of ghastly rituals in hidden stone temples where flocks of mahars slowly devour living subjects that were previously enslaved by the elder race. These mastermind reptiles don’t possess any type of hearing capacity.

Mahars’ millennia of existence created a race with advance knowledge on various sciences. In fact, a Mahar see magic just as another type of scientific field and are great arcane spellcasters. They’re particularly interested in the anatomy and metabolism of the “lesser races”. Mahars denies the god’s position as creators of the cosmos, seeing them as powerful outsiders that should be avoided.

Mahars’ cities are underground, using natural cavern complexes, but built close enough to the surface. A mahar city location is easily revealed by the stone towers that pierce the surface. Mahars use slaves, with the exception of the city’s guards. Usually, the Mahars employ brute (and easily manipulated) humanoids as sentinels, like Sagoths, Orcs, Ogres and even Girallons. Mahars read lips and use sign language with these “special” servants, who see the mahars as divine rulers.

*A new feat for our evil Reptile Overlords:


Your superhuman intellect and foresight allows you to react and plan contingencies to face most situations.
Prerequisite: Int 21+, character level 6th (see special)
Benefit: Your superior intelligence allows you to be prepared to face most challenges. To your opponents, your uncanny tactics appear to be magical, as if you’re a powerful diviner.
This feat gives you one a number of Mastermind Points (or MPs) equal to your Intelligence modifier (maximum 10). These points are gained at the beginning of each game session.
You can spend 1 MP to declare one of the outcomes below:
-         You have with yourself one non-magical item (maximum value equals your level x 5 GP). For example: thieves tools hidden in your boots and an anti-toxin potion.
-         You can edit the scene, adding one extra trapping or item to it. For example: you declared that there’s a tapestry at the tower’s window or a bone (to use as a club) in a monster lair.
You can spend 2 MPs to declare that you retrospectively made an action, a skill check or ability check. For example: you could have used a Sleight of Hand check against one of the guards or against the king’s vizier when either of them passed close to you. Or you could have placed an item in some specific place (like a candle behind some books in the necromancer’s library). If this action requires a check and you fail it, there aren’t any consequences to it.
You can spend 3 MPs to declare that you retrospectively made some full-round or longer action, probably with lethal intentions (like setting a trap, casted a glyph of warding that you had prepared or called for reinforcements).
If you’re a non-spontaneous spellcaster you can spend 4 MPs to change one of your prepared spells.
Finally, you can spend 5 MPs to remove yourself from the scene, switch places with a nondescript NPC (like a guard, court servant or even a monster) or to create a special escape route. If you attempt any of the two first actions you must either pass a Disguise check (or have the necessary shapechanging or spellcasting abilities). For the escape route option, your character still must use normal actions to escape (if your Gamemaster is using the Hero Points option from the Advanced Player’s Guide, he can let you escape automatically by spending also 1 Hero Points).
Special: This feat is different from your usual Pathfinder ability and its characteristic of more narrative-driven RPGs, like Spirit of the Century and Legends of Anglerre. It was originally created only to simulate a very intelligent adversary’s abilities (like the classical mastermind lich), but it could also be used by player characters. However, it can only be bought with the Gamemaster’s permission. All uses of the Mastermind feat also require the Gamemaster’s consent.
If you still want to use it, but feel it is too powerful, you can easily modulate its effects either by changing the number of Mastermind Points (Int mod –2) or its recovery rate (MPs only recover when the character levels up). Another option is to require 2 feats “slots” to by Mastermind, thus compensating its innate versatility.