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The Wendigo Template

   
The Wendigo Template

Anybody remember the old fiend folio from 3.5? or the mini module "Frozen Whispers"?
What was great about both of these was how they introduced the "wendigo template": It was, at heart, atmospherically engaging, and -when played right- downright terrifying for players to encounter. The unfortunate part was that aside from their meager resistances, they were relatively squishy. What was cool about it being a template, however, was the fact you could introduce it anywhere from low to high levels.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Pathfinder version of the wendigo - it's just different, and at a base CR of 17, its downright impossible to introduce to low level parties for some good ol' fashioned horror... Unless the party in question has really pissed you off.

Thus, I have endeavored to recreate a "Wendigo Template", updated for Pathfinder while keeping in faith with the versatility of the 3.5 template and the potential for Phenominal Cosmic Power TM inherent to Pathfinder's take on the winter nasty. Thus, I introduce the alternate "wendigo template" for your use and critique:





So, what do you think?

Particular issues I wish to improve upon include its capstone spell like ability and the sole dependance on charisma for the wendigo's "maddening" abilities. "Wail of The Banshee" kind of fits the flavor of the Pathfinder Wendigo's "Howl" ability, but I'd prefer to replace it with a spell that continues with the "madness/divide and conquer" theme that I had in mind while selecting abilities. Does anyone know of any 9th level spells focusing on confusion or fear effects that don't outright kill their targets? Would adding an equivalent of the Pathfinder wendigo's "windwalk" ability increase the CR?

I have also given thought to creating a "Wendigo alpha", which would serve as the "vampire" to the wendigo's "vampire spawn". My idea is that they are bigger, badder wendigos who were originally mortals who purposefully consigned themselves to dark winter spirits or gods of cannibalism in exchange for the power to create a host of followers. These badasses have all the spell like abilities and flight of a wendigo, including the maddening whispers and dream haunting abilities, except that they gain more significant bonuses to their ability scores, and (mostly) retain their original forms. The wendigo alpha, while it cannot directly control its lesser brethren, does command their respect, and will follow the alpha as a pack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by halfdragon62 View Post
Anybody remember the old fiend folio from 3.5? or the mini module "Frozen Whispers"?
I actually just ran a game based on this module, though it petered out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by halfdragon62 View Post
The unfortunate part was that aside from their meager resistances, they were relatively squishy.
Were they? They have DR and regeneration at a (potentially) low CR and, even if slain, return unless they're killed with fire. Plus they can go incorporeal at will, so they can always escape and wait a round or two to regenerate. Aaron of Frozen Whispers is meant to use hit-and-run tactics, too, to infect as many players as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
Were they? They have DR and regeneration at a (potentially) low CR and, even if slain, return unless they're killed with fire. Plus they can go incorporeal at will, so they can always escape and wait a round or two to regenerate. Aaron of Frozen Whispers is meant to use hit-and-run tactics, too, to infect as many players as possible.
I can't recall the exact details because it was several years ago, but my group figured out very quickly that they had to use fire: They correctly surmised that the poachers had tried to burn the wendigo from damage inside the hunting lodge. They managed to lure Aaron into an ambush and lit him up. Ultimately, it was a little anti-climactic once they had the know-how (the problem is, in my opinion, the conversion to d6 Hit Die in the original version of the template)... But man, the build-up to the confrontation was intense: Dead silences in the middle of the forest, whispers that only one person could hear, the corpse that had stabbed out his own ears, plus an added encounter with an amush of timberway lions as a "false climax" created a moody atmosphere. It also didn't hurt that we played the game late at night: It is one of the few times I remember my players being legitimately scared of what was happening in-game

Don't mean to unnecessarily raise this thread, but I saw it and have to chime in that the Wendigo is one of my favorite D&D monsters. When most people first see it, they assume it's some kind of undead or outsider creature. Most don't suspect it's in fact a fey nature spirit.

My initial concerns with it were its vulnerability to fire and the fact that it can only ever have one attack, a bite that doesn't do that great of damage (unless you use a large or larger creature as the base and use feats to increase its damage).

However, the scary parts: Fly speed 120 ft. (perfect), Regen. 5, Wind Walk ability (incorporeal at will), Ravenous Bite (wounding 3 hp/round CUMULATIVE), and of course the ability to turn someone else into a Wendigo.

My favorite thing about this though? Is that it's a template. With a little imagination you can make a truly scary wendigo depending on what you attach it to. If you just use a normal core critter like a dire wolf or something it's not very scary. But when you trick out the base creature with class levels, good feats, custom-rolled ability scores, etc. it can be a truly fearsome opponent.

My favorite use was applying it to an annis hag who also had several levels in druid with the Shapeshifter ACF. For days before facing it, the party would keep thinking they see something awful in the corner of their eye (thanks, Corner of the Eye ability!), but turn to look and see nothing...maybe just a crow sitting in a tree, watching them.

When that bite critted one of my NPCs, it was quite a different story, I can tell you. The base creature also had a Warblade level, which made things like Steely Strike a possibility. Anyway, Bite -> Incorporeal -> flee -> disease. It doesn't want to do damage, it wants to infect everyone.

I had some fun with a Wendigo following tribe recently in my game. The PCs were only 7th level at the time, so we didn't bring out the full CR 17 beastie, but the tribe was creepy and fun.

If you want to check it out, the first sighting of the tribe is here: http://www.myth-weavers.com/showthre...283065&page=20, starting where the date is marked as 2 Erastus. It goes on for about ten pages worth of posts, and there's a bunch of RP followed by some battles, followed by yet more weirdness as the group deals with the Wendigo curse.

The setting is Golarion's Crown of the World.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KillerK View Post
Don't mean to unnecessarily raise this thread, but I saw it and have to chime in that the Wendigo is one of my favorite D&D monsters. When most people first see it, they assume it's some kind of undead or outsider creature. Most don't suspect it's in fact a fey nature spirit.

My initial concerns with it were its vulnerability to fire and the fact that it can only ever have one attack, a bite that doesn't do that great of damage (unless you use a large or larger creature as the base and use feats to increase its damage).

However, the scary parts: Fly speed 120 ft. (perfect), Regen. 5, Wind Walk ability (incorporeal at will), Ravenous Bite (wounding 3 hp/round CUMULATIVE), and of course the ability to turn someone else into a Wendigo.

My favorite thing about this though? Is that it's a template. With a little imagination you can make a truly scary wendigo depending on what you attach it to. If you just use a normal core critter like a dire wolf or something it's not very scary. But when you trick out the base creature with class levels, good feats, custom-rolled ability scores, etc. it can be a truly fearsome opponent.

My favorite use was applying it to an annis hag who also had several levels in druid with the Shapeshifter ACF. For days before facing it, the party would keep thinking they see something awful in the corner of their eye (thanks, Corner of the Eye ability!), but turn to look and see nothing...maybe just a crow sitting in a tree, watching them.
I certainly don't mind the thread necromancy, Killer!

I certainly understand why 3.5 interpreted the wendigo as a fey creature: It is, after all, a mortal who succumbs to the influence of dark nature spirits. Honestly, I see the fey vs. outsider arguments both holding equal legitimacy: Both creature types represent an "other" that exists partially as something immaterial or abstract... A fever dream or passing madness as you will. I chose outsider for this interpretation as I consider outsiders to be more... "other" than fey, in that their outlook and behavior is either just too far outside of mortal understanding, or emphasizes a single aspect of human nature so specifically (even viciously) as to be considered aberrant.

The restriction to bite also made very little sense to me outside the fact that "this individual has succumbed to their base instincts to the point that they behave like a rabid animal". But even that explanation doesn't make sense mechanically; A wendigo, after all, retains the same (if not improved) intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores as its base creature. Additionally, the original wendigo from 3.5 can use spells if the base creature knew any. Thus there must be some instinctive recollection of experience and skill from a creature's mortal life before turning.

Ultimately, it depends on how a GM interprets and wants to run it, as is the case with any monster: What I wanted to do here was have an alternative to the demi-god powered monsters offered by Paizo. Not that it doesn't have a place or can't be effective by any means. But wendigo mythology strikes me as pertaining to more personal, internal conflicts rather than grandiose, potentially sweeping mythic challenges. In my mind, a party confronting a wendigo shouldn't just be a battle against a stealthy monster who can nerf the party healer, but a personal challenge to each character's self image. The true horror of a wendigo encounter is a party member facing the possibility of seeing themselves become the monster they seek to destroy, and realizing that such a battle is not just against the external threat of an attacking monster, but also against the monster that the player character could potentially become.

But enough about prompting existential crisis among player characters: Lets talk mechanics.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like you would reintroduce the wendigo's ability to turn incorporeal, as well as the original's "bleeding bite" and "corner of the eye" abilities. What would you see as an appropriate "capstone" spell like ability? As in my OP, 'wail of the banshee' kind of makes sense thematically, but in my mind, doesn't enforce the "psychological strain" on the players that some of its other abilities do.

Also, what do you think would make an "alpha" wendigo? I've had it in mind that an alpha has created "fanes" among natural environments that binds their soul to the landscape and makes them difficult to kill (thank you Expedition to Castle Ravenloft!) The ability to communicate telepathically with any "lesser" wendigo within several miles, and perhaps the ability to use maddening whispers multiple times per day?

There's no reason you couldn't essentially just use the 3.5 Wendigo right out of the book, even in a Pathfinder game. I think there's very little which would really need to be altered.








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