A larger-than-life wooden carving of a mermaid holding a spear clambers forward, the vibrant paint coating her frame encrusted in years’ worth of sea salt.
Ship Sentinel CR 7
Str 19, Dex 21, Con —, Int —, Wis 23, Cha 16
Base Atk +7; CMB +12; CMD 27
Feats Improved InitiativeB
Any living creature damaged by a ship sentinel must make a successful DC 16 Fortitude save or take a –1 penalty on attack and damage rolls for 1 round as salty brine drips painfully onto the wound. On a successful critical hit, the target takes an additional 3d6 points of damage as its flesh cracks and withers from dehydration. The save DC is Charisma-based.
A ship sentinel is treated as having tremorsense out to 100 feet while onboard a ship, as its senses permeate the vessel’s timbers. It can only detect creatures in contact with the vessel or on objects in contact with the vessel. It cannot use this ability to detect creatures not in contact with the ship, even if they are within the ability’s 100-foot radius.
Variant Ship Sentinels
Ship sentinels can be crafted in a wide variety of forms and are often embellished and customized similarly to mundane figureheads. The following are some of these constructs‘ most common customizations.
Ballista Marksman: Some ship sentinels have a light ballista built into their forms; these sentinels are usually designed to look like an archer with an oversized bow, a beauteous lillend, or a cruel erinyes. Such ship sentinels rarely have a melee weapon, resorting instead to slams if unable to use their ballistae to make ranged attacks. Statistics for ballista marksmen are modified as follows: Ranged light ballista +12 (3d8 plus salted wound/19–20).
Mariner’s Muse: Sculpted to resemble harp-playing angels or armored heralds, a mariner’s muse ship sentinel can use the inspire courage effect of a bard’s bardic performance once per day for 5 rounds as if it were a 5th-level bard. It always uses all 5 rounds of its performance at the same time and can never use the performance multiple times in 1 day for any duration.
Sea Sorcerer: These ship sentinels are often crafted to resemble wizards, sea serpents, or abstract orrery-like sculptures, and possess limited spell-like abilities. They can only use these abilities while onboard a sailing vessel. These spell-like abilities can each be used 3 times per day, and include animate objects, grease, and obscuring mist.
Ship Sentinel Construction
A ship sentinel is built from 400 pounds of wood. The creator or a hired artisan must then shape the creature into the desired likeness, usually after a fashion common to the nautical vessels of the region. Afterward, a special varnish is made from a mixture of sand, seawater, crushed pearls and shells, and magically treated oils—the varnish is worth a total of 250 gp and is applied to the entire form. If the creator intends for the ship sentinel to wield a weapon, a masterwork or better version of that weapon must also be supplied.
CL 9th; Price 21,250 gp; 21,750 gp (ballista marksman); 23,250 gp (mariner’s muse); 25,250 gp (sea sorcerer)
Craft Construct, animate objects, limited wish; Special creator must be caster level 9th; Craft (woodworking) check DC 25; Cost 10,750 gp; 11,000 gp (ballista marksman); 11,750 gp (mariner’s muse); 12,750 gp (sea sorcerer)
Environment any water
Ship sentinels are animated constructs that are bound to a specific vessel and to that ship’s captain. Crafted to resemble a humanoid figurehead, a ship sentinel normally rests at the prow of its ship, granting good fortune and protection to the crew. But in times of dire need, the captain can also activate the ship sentinel, causing it to spring to life and fight alongside the vessel’s crew. Although individual features of ship sentinels may vary, all ship sentinels are made of wood and have the same general statistics.
A ship sentinel stands roughly 6 feet tall and weighs 400 pounds.
A ship sentinel’s form is carved and shaped by skilled woodworkers, but cannot truly be brought to “life” without offerings from the sea. Most spellcasters who endeavor to create these guardians crush a mixture of sand, shells, and valuable pearls and mix it with saltwater and oils, creating a grainy varnish. The carved figure is coated with the solution and then brought to the shores of the sea and affixed to the bowsprit of the craft it will protect. Only then is the construct’s creation finally complete. Unlike with most constructs, however, control of the creature does not fall to the creator, but rather to the captain of the ship to which it is affixed. If the captain of the ship changes, control of the construct passes to the new captain.
Although resistant to most hazards of sea and storm, all ship sentinels eventually wear down after a time and require polishing, cleaning, and recoating with the specially prepared varnish used during the construct’s creation. If maintained in this fashion, however, a single ship sentinel can guard a ship—passing from captain to captain—for decades or even centuries.
Ship sentinels are solitary creations, and a single construct is capable of defending even the largest of ships. Their presence is an undisputed boon to all aboard—though most captains prefer not to speak of their crafts’ guardians, preferring to keep the constructs as secret weapons. When the sentinel is needed, the captain must shout a word or short phrase to bring the construct to life. An awakened ship sentinel is able to recognize loyal members of its crew, placing them under its protective wards, and directs its attacks against any living targets that it does not ward, though the construct’s master can point it toward specific targets.
In combat, ship sentinels can pulverize flesh and bone with their heavy wooden hands, but normally wield a weapon of some kind—usually a spear, rapier, shortsword, or other light weapon. Stories even exist of elven vessels that armed their ship sentinels with huge bows, or of daring sea captains who gave their constructs the fabled dueling swords of their homeland. Regardless of these variations, most weapons used in a ship sentinel’s construction draw upon the construct’s inherent nimbleness, an agility belied by the figurehead’s wooden form. But whether their weapons are forged or natural, all ship sentinels can infuse the sting of seawater and salt air into their blows, wracking their foes with crippling pain.
Ship sentinels are resilient foes, their wooden bodies capable of turning aside most attacks that cannot pierce or gouge them. Unfortunately their construction also makes them vulnerable to fire—their greatest weakness—and any magical fire quickly dries a ship sentinel’s body to a nearly immobile brittleness.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #57: Tempest Rising © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Matthew Goodall.