This pale, jellyfish-like creature floats gently in the air, two long eyestalks extending from either side of its puckered mouth.
Speed 5 ft., fly 20 ft. (perfect)
When a flumph strikes an opponent with its spikes, it injects a burning, irritating acid that deals 1d4 points of acid damage immediately and another 1d4 points of acid damage on the round after the attack. The target can end the acid’s effects by submerging the wound in water for a round or by being treated with a DC 15 Heal check. A creature that grapples or swallows the flumph takes this acid damage automatically every round it maintains this contact with a living flumph.
A flumph can spray a 20-foot line of foul- smelling liquid once every 1d4 rounds. This spray functions like the stench universal monster ability, except it only affects creatures struck by the spray, which must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or be sickened for 5 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based. Alternatively, the flumph can concentrate the spray on a single target within 5 feet. To use this version of its stench spray, the flumph must succeed at a ranged touch attack (+5 for most flumphs). If the target is hit, it must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or become nauseated for 5 rounds; otherwise, it is sickened for 5 rounds. The odor from this spray lingers in the area and on all creatures struck for 1d4 hours, and can be detected at a range of 100 feet (creatures with the scent ability can smell it at double this range).
Environment any land or underground
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (4-16)
Come from distant stars to protect unprepared worlds from cosmic horrors, flumphs are jellyfish-like creatures that float in the air and hunt with acidic spikes growing from their undersides. Gentle at heart, flumphs understand that their appearance often terrifies viewers, and thus conceal themselves and observe neighboring settlements from afar, only revealing themselves when absolutely necessary. They also know full well the limitations of their fragile forms, and rather than directly opposing the horrors they seek to defeat, they prefer to recruit and advise heroes to tackle these dangerous tasks instead.
Flumphs float and speak via a constant flow of air through tiny pores in their white bodies, emitting a rhythmic puffing whenever they’re aloft. Typical flumphs weigh 15 pounds and are 3 feet across. Flumphs deeply revere dreams, seeing them as omens and portents. While they normally mate and reproduce on the world of their birth, flumphs occasionally engage in a ritual called the Seeding, in which seed pods are flung into outer space in order to provide other planets with guardians.
Strange and enigmatic creatures, often feared for their bizarre appearances, flumphs live a difficult life, constantly attempting to warn intelligent species of horrors from other worlds, only to find themselves shunned by the very creatures they hope to enlighten.
Filled with altruistic urges to warn fellow sentient beings of the sinister things lurking in the folds beyond space and time, flumphs’ pleas often fall on deaf ears. Taking their common name from the rhythmic air exchange keeping them aloft, flumphs keep small families in hidden places across those planets where they make their homes, ready to lend a hand in defeating any horrors from the cosmic depths and beyond that might invade these placid worlds.
In their own language, flumphs are known as oiv’hass. While naturally shy and cognizant of their alien appearance, flumphs attempt contact with anyone willing to listen to their stories and heed their apocalyptic warnings. Most adventurers encountering these creatures find them frightening and mark them as enemies, and so flumphs often take great pains to appear unaggressive. Despite their bizarre nature, they only seek audiences with benevolent and intelligent creatures so they might prepare them to respond to the threats from afar.
When hunting or forced to aggression, flumphs attack by dropping down onto foes to pierce them with hollow spikes of cartilage or by slapping at them with their tentacles. The physical damage from their tentacles is minimal. However, their strange physiology causes them to produce an acidic slime that coats their wriggling bodies. This slime causes a burning pain in those struck, and prolonged contact dissolves minerals and organic matter.
Flumphs are consummate observers, lurking just outside of humanoid communities and watching the movements of the creatures they are bound to protect. Most sages familiar with the flumphs agree that these creatures hail from beyond this world, and may have arrived through gates used by ancient, magical empires to visit other planets. In fact, the truth is much stranger: when it comes time to reproduce, flumphs sometimes send their durable seeds flying toward other worlds, carrying with them the burden of enlightening the local populace about the celestial threats that loom at the universe’s edge.
A flumph resembles a pallid disk trailing dozens of writhing tentacles and hollow, needle-sharp spikes, almost like a flattened jellyfish. Its pale skin is nearly transparent in direct sunlight, and atop its domed body stand two eyestalks holding unblinking eyes with dark, horizontal pupils like those of a goat. Normally reaching up to 3 feet in diameter, the flumph weighs only 15 pounds, with most of the weight accounted for by its rigid spikes and tough tentacles. The flumph’s tentacles grow slightly longer than the width of its body, allowing it to reach entirely across its own width. These tentacles are as agile as human fingers, and when used in groups can manipulate objects as easily as human hands do.
Except when sleeping or feeding in their homes, flumphs constantly float in midair, their highly specialized method of flight allowing them to hover motionless when desired. As flumphs float through the air, they create a low, vibrating hum as thousands of pores like spiracles or stomata take in and release air in tiny jets, keeping the creatures aloft. A complex tracheal system maintains this gas exchange throughout the creatures’ bodies, also aiding in their ability to deliver a noxious defensive spray of foul gasses and aerosolized acid at range. Though they float through the air, rarely touching the ground, flumphs are reliant on water for their life cycle, developing from larvae in an aquatic environment. Because of the world’s relatively thin atmosphere, adult flumphs rarely grow beyond 3 feet in diameter, but the flumphs themselves insist that on worlds with denser atmospheric gasses, their size can double or even triple.
Though most flumphs encountered are from local family groups that have reproduced in the same area for generations, flumphs also have the ability to spread their seed across entire solar systems, gravitating toward gas giants or the moons surrounding such celestial bodies. In both cases, flumph reproduction is a communal affair, with dozens of flumphs contributing their genetic material. Almost like the pollination of plants, flumphs generate a seed that grows as more material is added. Eventually this translucent seedpod grows dense and heavy and must be submerged in a deep body of water or some similar liquid, or sometimes even be driven deep toward a gaseous planet’s core where pressure is high. As time passes, the seed pod begins breaking down, releasing larval flumphs. Anywhere between four and 32 larvae spawn from each seed pod. After spending a year in larval form, flumphs emerge from their dense or aquatic home and begin their final stage, living in the air (or less dense regions of a gaseous plane). In ideal conditions, with plenty of food and an agreeable environment, a flumph can live for a hundred years or more.
When a group of flumphs decides that it’s time to send young to another planet—either to warn its inhabitants of impending disaster or to escape local dangers, such as the destruction of habitable regions—the ritual known as the Seeding begins with polite but weighty debate, to ensure that all involved understand the sacrifices being made. Few seeds cast into the trackless void of space ever reach another world, let alone a habitable one, and to send one’s own unborn children away to face the very real possibility of eternal, frozen stasis between the stars is at once a joy and a terrible burden for the parent group.
Once the opening formalities of the Seeding are complete, the flumphs enter into the normal exchange of genetic material required to create one of their egglike seeds. Rather than place the completed seed in water, however, the flumphs then begin the second stage of the debate, in which they compete for the honor of bearing the seed, citing both their personal achievements and their lack of responsibilities and dependants left on the home world. The winner, chosen by acclaim, carefully wraps up the seed in all of its tentacles. The rest of the community then forms a platform beneath the chosen member, sometimes several flumphs deep, and begins ascending as quickly as their strange flight allows, bearing the seed-holder aloft.
Taking turns, the Seeding flumphs carry the Honored One straight up as high as they can, until the atmosphere begins to get too thin and cold for them to safely continue. At this point, the supporting flumphs give a ragged cheer of encouragement and fall away, leaving the Honored One— who’s been conserving its strength—to rocket up into the atmosphere.
This last, solo ascent is both difficult and dangerous, and most scholars believe that the relatively high success rate of the Honored Ones hints at latent magical abilities that are unlocked only by the thin atmosphere. Ice forms on the flumph’s tentacles, and its respiration slows to almost a crawl, yet its speed continues to increase. When at last it seems it can rise no further, having reached the end of both the atmosphere and its stamina, the Honored One begins to spin. Faster and faster it rotates, until at the moment of maximum acceleration it unfurls its tentacles and flings the precious seed upward, with all its strength. Sped on by the flumph’s momentum (and perhaps the collective power of the flumphs’ mental energy), the seed is able to break free of the planet’s gravity well and sail off into the blackness of space, while behind it the flumph who delivered it falls back to earth, completely exhausted. While this process is not necessarily a suicide mission, it’s common for Honored Ones to be too tired to pull up and arrest their fall, instead lancing straight into the ground, where their fragile bodies burst upon impact.
For the seed pod, sent off alone into the cosmos to help prevent creatures of the outer darkness from establishing a foothold on any planet, the journey is just beginning. Each seed is made of a durable, fibrous husk, and while most of the protective layer dissolves or is blown away in the journey, the seed’s generative forces allow the larvae within to hibernate in the cold of space indefinitely until it either is destroyed by colliding with a star or inhospitable world or finally splashes down into a warm sea or lake where it can successfully germinate.
After quickening and hatching to release the flumphs’ aquatic larvae, each looking somewhat like a bizarre cuttlefish mixed with a grub, the seed pod begins to dissolve into jelly in the water, eventually leaving no evidence of its existence. Sometimes especially large seed pods landing in calm waters dissolve their materials on the ocean or lake floor, attracting corals, crustaceans, mollusks, and other bottom feeders. Immobile aquatic creatures and plants growing in these areas tend to form swirling geometric fractal patterns and develop far different coloration than other specimens of their kind.
Flumphs have no sense of smell and little sense of taste beyond a vague impression that a given material is nutritious, inedible, or potentially poisonous. Eating for the sake of nutrition rather than enjoyment, a flumph consumes minerals and organic matter, feeding it into a small mouth hidden among the spikes and tentacles on its ventral side. Paying close attention to its physiology and always trying to maintain a chemical balance, the flumph consumes large quantities of salts and alkaline materials to keep its acid production in check—the acid covering its tentacles and used for its noxious spray forms in a thick gland connected to its stomachs.
Flumphs also eat vegetable matter and hunt small animals from time to time. They prefer small, warm-blooded animals when they hunt, and delight in chasing bats and flying squirrels. Particularly brave flumphs hunt badgers, weasels, and dogs, but leave cats strictly alone because of a taboo whose origin remains unknown. When eating, a flumph secretes acid, digesting most of the food outside its body. It then uses its tentacles to draw the resulting sludge to its mouth, some also being absorbed by the openings in the tentacles or sucked in through the hollow spikes.
Flumphs require little sleep, and achieve sufficient rest even while leaving half of their minds awake indefinitely; yet as a race, they relish dreams and can sometimes sleep for weeks or even months (perhaps hearkening back to an ancestral memory of the long hibernation between the stars). Some isolated communities of flumphs sleep in highly regulated patterns, seeking enlightenment from their dreams by sleeping for short periods, then waking and relating their dreams to an interpreter, only to return to another sleep cycle.
On the ancient world where flumphs first originated, these misunderstood creatures served as heralds of their elder gods, deities so old and far off that humans have forgotten them. Naturally docile and protective creatures, they serve the greater good, aiding kind and sentient creatures in an eternal fight against horrors that should not be.
Flumphs understand that their appearance is alien to humanoids, and since many humanoids react violently to bizarre creatures, they tend to keep their communities hidden. In seaside caves, caverns containing underground lakes and rivers, and even below populated cities, flumphs live out their lives ever vigilant of threats from beyond. When they catch wind of a potential incursion, either in their mystic dreams or by watching the stars for telltale signs, the creatures generally send an emissary to make contact with a civilized race, often lurking on the fringes of a community and observing the populace before picking the most accepting person to approach.
Flumphs communities maintain a rigid structure. Every flumph knows its part and preserves order within the community, acting as hunter, interpreter, laborer, or provider as need determines. Flumphs see nothing wrong with this automatic designation, and see outsiders with unpredictable and self-serving natures as strange. Always eager to help, flumphs constantly offer assistance to other races they befriend. Since most members of a given flumph generation within a community stem from the same seed pod, they have a strong sense of family, seeing their brothers and sisters as parts of their own being.
Flumphs find great pleasure in making pacts and upholding them. Most conversations with flumphs end with small oaths or agreements. While such accords may seem to be nothing more than the outcome of polite conversation and social chitchat, flumphs take great pride in staying true to these arrangements, and expect the same of their conversational partner.
Many flumphs practice a form of complex cave painting. They mix pigments pulled from their environment and dissolved in their acidic secretions in order to paint intricate swirling patterns with their tentacles. These patterns are repeated on successively smaller scales, with each repetition a perfect, miniature copy of the whole picture. Flumphs focused on their dream culture claim these fractal patterns show a “wholeness” in the universe, with the minute identical to the vast.
Dreams are very important to flumphs. They compile complicated interpretations of various dreams in exacting detail. Using these interpretations of their nocturnal hallucinations, they dictate their courses of action, use the things they learn to correct behaviors deemed inferior, and of course watch for signs of impending danger from dark and alien forces. This rigid system of interpretation leaks into their understanding of their waking life as well. Flumphs believe strongly in omens, and many times their community interpreters steer the group’s actions according to seemingly trivial events. A flock of grackles suddenly taking flight from a willow tree can be interpreted as a reason to abandon a previously chosen course of action, while three lizards sunning themselves on a rock means the group will find a generous deposit of salt in the following days. Flumphs pay great attention to the stars and their movements across the sky, weaving a complex zodiac into their folklore. Yet for all their focus on the cosmos, flumphs growing up on a given planet generally know few facts about the other worlds of the heavens, retaining only an instinctual understanding of the Seeding and a history that mixes dreams and astrology with actual information.
While most flumphs are good-natured, a small percentage who succumb to various terrestrial diseases are driven to insanity, developing a unique psychosis. These renegade flumphs seek out planetary gates on their world in order to draw forth the very alien horrors that their cousins hope to thwart.
As good-aligned creatures, flumphs fill the role of allies most aptly. Their long lives allow them to acquire encyclopedic knowledge of strange lore regarding aberrations and secrets of the worlds beyond. Flumph sages can instruct PCs in ways of defeating cosmic threats, or even lead a group of adventurers to planetary gates leading to worlds of wonder or madness. If a campaign delves into the esoteric realm of dreams, a flumph interpreter can guide the PCs on a dream quest, revealing the omens of their nighttime journeys, or taking them into the strange corners of the dreamlands where fantasy and reality collide. With the aid of a skilled dream interpreter, PCs might even learn possible outcomes for their actions as if learning the result from an augury spell.
Though generally pacifistic, preferring to hide from interlopers instead of engaging them, flumphs also have a strong chivalrous streak, and can’t stand to see good creatures killed when the flumphs’ own assistance might be enough to turn the tide. Many communities observed by flumphs never even realize that they’re under surveillance until something suitably dire—a shepherd attacked by wolves or a child about to become prey for a tribe of goblins—causes the flumphs to break their cover and charge to the rescue, floating up over the attackers and then stabbing downward with their acidic spikes. Player characters might never fight against a flumph themselves unless the creature is cornered, defending its community from aggressors, or greatly wronged by the PCs. Even then, the creatures first attempt to repel their attackers, either with words or their disgusting stench.
Alternatively, a GM could pit a group of low-level PCs against a cult of deranged flumphs who have fallen to a rare disease that is corrupting their sanity. An insane flumph could also control a group of goblins, mites, or human cultists hoping to carry out a horrid summoning, or a whole community of infected flumphs could serve as minions for a larger, more violent cosmic horror.
Finally, should the PCs get past their initial revulsion at the strange and aromatic creatures, flumphs might actively seek their aid and succor, convincing the PCs to help them in defending their community from the usual cosmic horrors—or from the same xenophobic townsfolk the flumphs are trying to watch over and protect.
Though flumphs see little value in conventional treasure, many of their communities stockpile valuable items collectively as they stumble across them, knowing that gold, gems, and magic items can be extremely useful in convincing nearby humanoid settlements to respond positively to the flumphs’ overtures. Individuals within a flumph community share everything, the most important commodity being food. With their strange diet, flumphs gather minerals they harvest from the ground or acquire in subterranean expeditions, dissolving them with acid before returning to the surface. Salt—usually harvested from the sea shore—is the most common mineral flumphs require, and the creatures occasionally find their communities raided for this trade good. Alchemical tomes sometimes list flumphs as a ready source for ingredients, both in their stores and in the fabric of the flumphs’ bodies themselves. An unscrupulous sage or alchemist willing to boil down and refine the corpse of a flumph might extract as much as 200 gp worth of rare components.
Flumphs hold a great fondness for rings, seeing the circle as a symbol of wholeness. Though they rarely seek out treasures in a mercenary fashion, flumphs may accept rings in trade, happen upon them in dungeons, or even take them from defeated foes. Flumph elders and community champions sometimes sport half a dozen rings, both magical and mundane.
A flumph’s first year of life is spent in larval form deep within warm seas and lakes. To represent a larval flumph, use the young simple template, add the aquatic subtype, and change the creature’s fly speed to a swim speed.
Ecology Expanded Section 15: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Misfit Monsters Redeemed. Copyright 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Adam Daigle, Crystal Frasier, Colin McComb, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, and James L. Sutter.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3, © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Jesse Benner, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, James Jacobs, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, Chris Sims, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.