Archives of Nethys

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Living Cave Painting

The painted ochre lines of this stylized bison seem to shift and flow, giving the primitive drawing an eerie sense of life and otherworldly majesty.

Living Cave Painting CR 4

Source Pathfinder #93: Forge of the Giant God pg. 88
XP 1,200
N Medium aberration
Init +9; Senses blindsight 30 ft.; Perception +5
Aura captivating artistry (30 ft., DC 15)

Defense

AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 12 (+2 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 39 (6d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +6
Defensive Abilities amorphous; Immune bleed, disease, paralysis, poison, stunning
Weaknesses vulnerable to erase

Offense

Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee ocherous touch +9 touch (1d6 plus 2d6 bleed)
Space 5 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks manifestation, ocherous touch

Statistics

Str —, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 22 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility
Skills Climb +8, Perception +5, Stealth +13
Languages Terran (can’t speak)
SQ compression, freeze, two-dimensional

Ecology

Environment any underground
Organization solitary, pair, or collection (3–8)
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities

Captivating Artistry (Su) Any creature with an Intelligence score of at least 3 that begins its turn within 30 feet of a living cave painting must succeed at a DC 15 Will saving throw or be fascinated for 1 round. Hostile actions by the living cave painting that don’t target or affect the fascinated creature do not end the fascinated effect. Whether or not the save is successful, the target is immune to the same living cave painting’s captivating artistry aura for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Manifestation (Sp) A living cave painting manifests itself in the three-dimensional world by shaping quasi-real illusions. Three times per day, a living cave painting can use shadow conjuration as a spell-like ability, but the shadow conjuration can mimic only summon nature’s ally III spells. Additionally, whenever a conjured creature takes enough damage to destroy it, the living cave painting can instead, as a free action, sacrifice any number of hit points. Each hit point sacrificed in this way prevents 1 point of damage done to the shadow conjuration. The caster level for this effect is 7th. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Ocherous Touch (Ex) A living cave painting’s touch causes vicious wounds to appear on the victim’s body, dealing 1d6 points of damage and 2d6 points of bleed damage. The living cave painting uses its Dexterity modifier instead of its Strength modifier to resolve all touch attacks.

Two-Dimensional (Ex) A living cave painting exists in only two dimensions, and has some qualities in common with incorporeal creatures. A living cave painting has no Strength score. Additionally, it gains a deflection bonus to its AC equal to its Charisma modifier. It cannot move in three dimensions (such as jumping or flying), and can navigate only along solid surfaces such as floors, ceilings, and walls. It can attack creatures only by entering their squares and touching them directly. A living cave painting can crawl onto solid objects that can then themselves be moved through other means. It cannot fall or take falling damage, and it cannot use or be affected by combat maneuvers such as bull rush, grapple, or trip. It cannot take any physical action that would move or manipulate an opponent or the opponent’s equipment. It has no weight, and does not set off traps that are triggered by weight. A living cave painting takes no damage from nonmagical attacks and takes only half the normal amount of damage from magical weapons.

Vulnerable to Erase (Ex) A living cave painting can be targeted by an erase spell, which deals 3d6 points of damage to the creature.

Description

Little is known of the primitive tribes that preceded the great mortal civilizations of the Age of Legends. They possessed no written language and built few lasting structures, so little of their culture exists to this day. Yet some evidence of these ancient peoples can be found, hidden away in deep, remote caves protected from the ravages of time. The simple paintings and sculptures found in these caves speak to the primal roots of the human experience, and they’re treasured in the modern world as pieces of art nearly as much as they are considered historical artifacts. Yet those who wish to explore these caverns or retrieve such relics must be cautious. Ancient guardians haunt the dark places in the earth, hiding among the paintings, waiting to strike down those foolish enough to disturb their millennia-long rest.

These guardians are the living cave paintings, ancient works of art animated by strange magic at the dawn of human civilization. They lack true bodies, and instead exist as two-dimensional beings painted across cave walls in ocher and charcoal. Living cave paintings most often depict herd animals such as aurochs, bison, horses, or rhinoceroses, or megafauna such as megaloceros that forms herds. Some others depict predatory creatures, human figures, or even animal-human hybrids.

Ecology

A living cave painting’s temperament and behavior seem to depend on the type of creature (or creatures) it is painted to resemble. While all living cave paintings are aggressive to some extent, those that portray bison or horses tend to be less violent and less predatory in nature than those that depict lions or bears. Likewise, living cave paintings illustrated to represent herd animals often group together, while those showing solitary creatures generally eschew the company of their own kind. It is a mistake, however, to assume that a living cave painting is merely a two-dimensional version of some common animal. Even those that represent prey animals have sharp predatory instincts, and many an explorer has met a grisly end after disregarding a living cave painting of a peaceful herd animal.

Though they require no food or drink to survive, living cave paintings can consume small amounts of material—usually blood, ash, or stone pigments such as ocher. They seem to absorb these materials directly into their two-dimensional bodies, growing darker or more vivid as they do so. Living cave paintings sometimes accept such materials as offerings, allowing creatures who present them with such gifts to pass unharmed into the caverns they protect, though their tolerance is tenuous and short-lived even in the best of situations.

Scholars aren’t sure whether living cave paintings age. Some living cave paintings seem to have existed for thousands of years without losing any potency or vitality, while others have grown faint and restive with age. It is even possible that apparently mundane cave paintings were once living cave paintings that either died or now simply lack the will or ability to move.

Habitat & Society

Living cave paintings reside deep in the earth, in places of sacred significance to the primitive cultures that created cave art during Golarion’s primordial times. Living cave paintings in these caverns attack intruders out of some bestial territorial instinct rather than cruel spite or random violence. No matter how extensive the cave system it occupies might be, a living cave painting typically treats only the areas of its cave decorated with cave art as its territory. It generally ignores raw, unadorned areas, though it may pursue intruders into these areas if it feels they are still a threat.

In addition to the cave itself, living cave paintings are extremely protective of the mundane paintings and sculptures that cover the walls of their cavernous homes. Explorers who damage or deface such ancient works of art, whether accidentally or intentionally, are sure to draw the ire of any nearby living cave paintings. Such behavior suggests that living cave paintings were first created to be guardians for these sacred places, and continue to act out this role long after the cultures that created them have died out.

While many living cave paintings are ancient, specimens can sometimes be found in more recent sites. Some living cave paintings can be found in caverns near the surface that were occupied by orcs during the Age of Darkness, and even more recently in caves inhabited by modern Kellid or Shoanti tribes not that far back in Avistan’s past. It’s not clear whether the living cave paintings found in these places migrated to younger sites from older caves, or newer cave art also has the potential to transform into living cave paintings. Some believe (albeit without evidence) that shamans among some remote tribes still preserve the ageold secret to creating new living cave paintings.