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Selkie


This beautiful woman changes shape rapidly to become a sleek, aquatic creature with a gray hide of short fur. Her webbed hands end in sharp claws, and her jaws open unnaturally wide to reveal pointed teeth.

Selkie CR 5

XP 1,600
CN Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic, shapechanger)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent; Perception +9

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 45 (6d10+12)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +5; Resist cold 10

OFFENSE

Speed 20 ft., swim 50 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d8+6), 2 claws +10 (1d6+4)
Special Attacks powerful blows (bite), shake

STATISTICS

Str 18, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 19
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 23 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Deceitful, Improved Critical B (bite), Improved Initiative
Skills Bluff +12, Disguise +10, Perception +9, Sense Motive +4, Stealth +10, Swim +21
Languages Aquan, Common
SQ change shape (any Small or Medium humanoid; alter self), echo of reason, hold breath

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Echo of Reason (Su)

A selkie can instinctively alter the intonation of its voice to make anything it says sound more pleasing to those who understand it. When using the Bluff skill, a selkie treats its lies as one step more believable for the purposes of bonuses or penalties on the check.

Shake (Ex)

On a successful critical hit with its bite attack, a selkie automatically violently shakes a Large or smaller target. The target must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or it is dazed for 1 round. Even on a successful save, the target still takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and skill checks for the next 2 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based.

ECOLOGY

Environment any ocean
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–14)
Treasure standard

Selkies are clever and brutal seal-like humanoids that often inhabit the colder oceans of the world. Although capable predators, selkies are best known for their mysterious shapechanging ability, which allows them to come ashore in the guise of land dwellers and even live among other races before luring their victims beneath the waves to drown. In its natural form, a selkie has webbed, clawed hands and a muscular trunk ending in broad flippers. A selkie’s head is a blend of human and seal, with large eyes and a mouth full of curved teeth. Selkies’ coats range from chestnut brown to slate, dappled with darker spots of gray. Male selkies grow to a length of 6-1/2 feet, but can weigh up to 300 pounds because of the extra fat the creatures need to survive in colder climes. Females are slightly shorter and slimmer. Selkies typically live up to 75 years.

Selkies can inhabit waters of any climate, but are best adapted to live in colder oceans and inlets. A selkie’s body is extremely well muscled, but those muscles sit beneath a sheaf of fat that insulates the creature in places where even saltwater freezes. This natural resilience to cold is so strong that even magical frost and ice can bounce harmlessly off of a selkie’s hide.

Selkies prey mostly on waterfowl, fish, and other small marine animals. When traveling in packs, selkies have been known to kill and eat large sharks and even small whales, but this is rare, as a selkie’s need to keep its arms at its sides while swimming hinders the use of its claws when hunting. A selkie’s webbed fingers are flexible

Selkies also have supernatural powers at their disposal. All selkies can change their shape at will, shifting to take the form of any humanoid close to their size or slightly smaller. Some selkies use this ability to slip quietly into coastal settlements or onto large ships to steal food or other useful items such as nets. More often, though, selkies use their shapechanging abilities for mischief. A favorite tactic of selkies is to take the shape of a young woman or child and then thrash through the water near ships or piers, begging for help. When someone attempting to rescue the imperiled person gets close enough, the selkie returns to its natural form to attack. Especially malevolent selkies use this tactic in packs, letting one of their own act as bait while the others attack rescuers, making their presence known so that the apparent victim’s danger seems all the more real.

Selkies are aided in their efforts to trick and beguile others by their uncanny ability to mimic human emotions when speaking. This ability allows selkies to add the perfect intonation, pitch, and emphasis to any words they speak, making it difficult for listeners to disbelieve even the most outlandish stories and tales.

Habitat & Society

The true nature and origin of selkies puzzle scholars the world over. Observers first thought them to be a rare breed of oceanic lycanthropes, while others thought they were merfolk who had learned the arcane arts of transmutation. While many of these theories are nothing more than stories, varied rumors persist, with almost every coastal town and village claiming its own myths regarding the origin of the selkies to be the truth. Selkies enjoy propagating these stories during their time ashore and are usually the source of the most outlandish claims about their own nature, such as the tale that their ability to change shape comes from slipping out of a separate skin to enjoy their human form. Despite their mischievous and often cruel ways, many selkies journey onto shore out of simple loneliness. In the ocean, selkies are solitary for the majority of their lives. Males and females come together briefly during their spring mating season, when the female gorges herself on food of all kinds and then finds a secluded cave or beach to birth a single pup. The mother then fasts as her pup nurses, feeding off the stored and accumulated fat she attained during mating season. After a few weeks, the pup is ready to swim and hunt alongside its mother, but most selkies are abandoned to hunt and live on their own after 2 to 3 years. Younger selkies then form packs with others of their kind until they can strike out on their own. The selkie lifecycle can have a profound effect on individuals, driving some to bouts of intense cruelty out of a sense of survivalist necessity. These selkies enjoy tricking land dwellers into the water to drown or eat them, and often don the guise of an attractive man or woman to entice a victim into the waves for a moonlight swim. Other selkies, however, do not recover from the early abandonment of their mothers and spend the rest of their lives searching for the company of others and a place to belong. These selkies sometimes use their shapechanging abilities to come ashore and live among other humanoids. In this guise, selkies live, love, and often marry land dwellers, sometimes living the rest of their lives on land. Children of such unions never emerge as selkies but feel an unexplainable yearning for the sea, and often become sailors or fisherfolk so they might quell this strange desire.

Selkies in Mythology

The selkie is a creature of Finnish, Irish, and Scottish folklore. Legends depict them as seals that can become human by shedding their seal skin and emerging from the water. Most tales of selkies are romantic, usually with a tragic ending. Most often in these tales, a selkie slips from her skin and emerges from the water only to have a young man steal the skin, forcing the selkie to remain on land and in human form, and to marry the man and bear his children. Circumstances eventually conspire to return the selkie’s pelt to her, and she abandons her human family to return to the sea. Other legends portray selkies as little more than wicked temptresses, using their beauty to lure people into the sea to die or be forever whisked away from their homes. This is particularly true of male selkies in myth, who invariably appear as handsome beguilers with great seductive powers over women, particularly the lonely wives of fishermen who have journeyed long and far from home. In either case, the offspring of humans and selkies are supposedly recognizable by their webbed fingers and love for the sea. Anthropologists have theorized that the selkie myth may have sprung from early sightings of the indigenous arctic peoples of the northern parts of Scandinavia, who wore clothing crafted from seal skins and used to float across the waters of northern Europe in long, low kayaks that somewhat resemble seals when seen from a distance.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Statistics from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 4 © 2013, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Savannah Broadway, Ross Byers, Adam Daigle, Tim Hitchcock, Tracy Hurley, James Jacobs, Matt James, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Tork Shaw, and Russ Taylor.

Additional Ecology information from Pathfinder Adventure Path #50: Night of Frozen Shadows. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.