Archives of Nethys

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Birelu

This figure seems caught at the moment of transformation between human and animal. Though its bearded face seems like a man’s, its head is crowned with a rack of antlers, and its hunched body is covered in patches of sleek black fur.

Birelu CR 10

Source Pathfinder #94: Ice Tomb of the Giant Queen pg. 82
XP 9,600
CN Medium outsider (extraplanar, incorporeal)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +17

Defense

AC 21, touch 21, flat-footed 14 (+4 deflection, +6 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 110 (13d10+39)
Fort +11, Ref +14, Will +7
Defensive Abilities incorporeal; DR 10/cold iron; SR 21

Offense

Speed fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee gore +19 (1d8 plus 2d6 force), 2 claws +19 (1d6 plus 2d6 force)
Special Attacks force of nature, powerful charge (gore, 2d8 plus 4d6 force), spirit walk
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th; concentration +17)
Constant—speak with animals
At will—call animalAPG, charm animal (DC 15)
3/day—dominate animal (DC 17), moonstruckAPG (DC 18)
1/day—baleful polymorph (DC 19), commune with nature

Statistics

Str —, Dex 23, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 19
Base Atk +13; CMB +19; CMD 34
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility
Skills Fly +20, Handle Animal +13, Knowledge (geography) +16, Knowledge (nature) +16, Perception +17, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +22, Survival +8
Languages Sylvan, speak with animals

Ecology

Environment any forest, mountain, or plains
Organization solitary
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Force of Nature (Su) A birelu channels the raw power of nature into its attacks. Its natural attacks are considered to have the ghost touch special ability, and each of its natural attacks deals an additional 2d6 points of force damage. This damage is doubled when a birelu makes a powerful charge.

Spirit Walk (Su) Once per round as a standard action, a birelu can merge itself with a single humanoid or animal. This ability is similar to the magic jar spell (caster level 13th), except it doesn’t require a receptacle. To use this ability, the birelu must be adjacent to the target. The target can resist the attack with a successful DC 20 Will save. A creature that successfully saves is immune to the same birelu’s spirit walk ability for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Additionally, a creature affected by this ability undergoes a physical transformation, growing either more beastlike or more humanlike, depending on its original form. A humanoid affected by this ability is affected as by greater animal aspectUC. The birelu chooses the aspect gained from this effect. This aspect can’t be changed, though the birelu can select a new aspect if it merges with the same creature again at a later time. An animal affected by the spirit walk ability is affected as by anthropomorphic animalUM. Either effect lasts for as long as the creature remains possessed by the birelu, ending once the birelu leaves the creature’s body.

Description

In ages past, humans didn’t live apart from nature as they do now. They had no cities, no farms, and no metal tools. In this primitive time, humans lived as beasts, hunting and foraging in the savage wild, living and dying by the cruel whims of nature. To these early humans, a successful hunt sometimes meant the difference between the life of the tribe and utter extinction. For this reason, the land and the animals who lived on it commanded great respect among the tribes. The environment represented more than just food or clothing or territory; it was an ally, an enemy, or even a god unto itself.

There was need in those days for people who could pass from the physical world and into the world of the spirits, where they could intercede with the spirits of the land and the animals to ensure the tribe’s survival. From this need came the birelus, manifestations of humankind’s desire to bridge the boundary between humans and nature. These ancient beings served as guardians and travelers of the paths between worlds.

A birelu seems to both stand upright and walk upon all fours at the same time, its form shifting and flowing incomprehensibly between the two poses. Even while partially hunched in this manner, a birelu stands over 7 feet tall when in its natural state.

Ecology

Birelus are ancient beings, having existed since time immemorial. It may be that they were born at the very dawn of time, champions of a unity between humankind and nature that would not exist on the Material Plane for eons hence, and simply waited to intrude upon the world when it was ready for them. More likely, they owe their existence to humankind itself, springing to life as the manifestation of ideas held sacred by the early mortal races. Whatever the case, birelus came to Golarion when the mortal races were still young. In those primordial times, they acted as guardians and guides, teaching the first mortal shamans how to cross the boundaries between the physical world and the spirit world, and bringing terrible destruction upon those who violated that sacred boundary. These early birelus sought to guide humanity, to groom its growth in harmony with nature as a way to restrict the destructive tendencies of civilization. Despite these efforts, humanity marched forward through time to establish cities, discover arcane magic, and usher in the destruction that the early birelus had attempted to hinder.

As outsiders, birelus don’t need to eat or drink to survive, though they take great pleasure in hunting and feeding on wild prey. Most often they hunt while possessing the body of an animal, usually the apex predator of the local environment. Occasionally, a birelu stalks its prey in the possessed body of a humanoid, though typically this is done to honor the humanoid host. As much as they delight in such behavior, birelus never over-hunt an area, and they seem to have an innate sense about the state of the local ecology.

Habitat & Society

Birelus have no set habitat, nor do they hold territory, preferring instead to wander the wild places of the world. Birelus don’t often intrude upon inhabited areas, though when they do, the results are often disastrous. They find the trappings of civilized life distasteful, even blasphemous, and focus their attentions on destroying the objects of their ire. Often they accomplish this by possessing people and turning them against their own homes and their fellow citizens. Birelus can sometimes be reasoned with and convinced to depart in peace, but this is rare, as their attacks are often confused for the actions of lycanthropes, and are met with violence rather than diplomacy by mortal humanoids.

For the most part, birelus are solitary creatures. They don’t scorn the company of their own kind, but neither do they delight in it or seek it out. Birelus who meet in passing are more likely to ignore each other than to interact in any meaningful way. Some have speculated that there may in fact be only one birelu, and that those specimens encountered on Golarion emanate from it or serve as its avatars.

A birelu’s attentions are drawn to animals more often than to any other kind of creature, earning them the title “spirits of the beasts” in some cultures. Birelus seem to delight in possessing animals and using their bodies to explore and interact with the world. Upon entering new territory, a birelu uses its call animal spell-like ability to draw in potential hosts, choosing the strongest and fastest of the native creatures to inhabit. Birelus are very protective of their wild animal hosts, and they abandon a creature’s body if the animal is at grave risk rather than fighting to the host’s death. Domesticated animals—or those serving as animal companions to the birelu’s enemies— don’t receive the same consideration.

Birelus’ interactions with humanoids are more complicated. Civilized peoples hold no interest to them, and in fact often earn their scorn. Birelus react with hostility toward those who openly bear the signs of civilization, such as worked metal or agricultural tools. A birelu’s attitude is much softer toward less civilized humanoids. Primitive tribes of hunter-gatherers and those who shun the cities of the world and live in communion with nature are often able to make peaceful contact with a birelu. In return, the birelu might draw in prey animals to feed the tribe, or guide them to more fertile lands in times of scarcity. It may even join the tribe’s warriors in combat against their enemies, leaping from warrior to warrior in order to grant them the benefits of greater animal aspect.