The skull of a many-fanged sea monster adorns the bow of this ominous pirate vessel, a grim ship made all the more disturbing by its apparent lack of a crew.
Herald of the Pirate Queen
AC 30, touch 6, flat-footed 30 (+5 deflection, –1 Dex, +24 natural, –8 size)
hp 297 (18d10+198); fast healing 10
Fort +22, Ref +5, Will +13
DR 10/lawful; Resist acid 30, cold 30, electricity 30, fire 10; SR 26
Speed swim 60 ft.; rush
Melee 3 incorporeal touch +25 (3d6 plus 3d6 electricity and 3d6 fire)
Ranged telekinesis +21 (varies)
Space 40 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks keelhaul, swallow whole (1d10+7 damage, AC 22, 29 hp)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +21)
At will—commune with nature, dancing lights, know direction, telekinesis (DC 18)
3/day—charm person (DC 14), cloudkill (DC 18), control winds, invisibility sphere, major image (DC 16, within its reach only), plane shift (DC 18), seeming (DC 18, other creatures only), teleport, water breathing, widened fog cloud
1/day—summon (level 7, 11–20 draugr 100%)
Str 40, Dex 8, Con 32, Int 9, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +18; CMB +41; CMD 55
Feats Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Disruptive, Greater Overrun, Improved Initiative, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Spellbreaker, Stand Still
Skills Knowledge (engineering) +11, Knowledge (nature) +11, Knowledge (planes) +11, Perception +23, Sense Motive +14, Survival +23, Swim +44
Languages Common; telepathy 200 ft.
SQ fighter training, no breath
If the herald hits a creature with two or more incorporeal touch attacks in 1 round, it can perform a reposition combat maneuver as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If the herald moves the target into or through a square adjacent to it (including over or under itself ), the target takes 1d6 points of slashing or bludgeoning damage (herald’s choice) for every 5 feet of this movement. If this movement results in the target being underwater, the target must hold its breath or begin to drown. Alternatively, if the herald can reposition the target to the center of its space, it can attempt to force the target into its cargo hold and snap the doors shut, holding the target in place as the swallow whole ability. The herald can hold up to four Medium or smaller creatures or one Large creature with this ability.
Once per minute for 1 round, the herald can move at a swim speed of 150 feet, even downward.
The herald makes ranged attacks by telekinetically hurling objects or creatures on its deck as weapons. This ability functions as the spell telekinesis (CL 18th). It can use the ability on objects or creatures of up to 375 pounds, dealing 1d6 points of damage per 25 pounds of the hurled object or creature. If the herald attempts to hurl a creature with this ability, that creature can resist the effect with a successful Will save (DC 18). The save DC is Charisma-based.
Environment any water
The Herald of the Pirate Queen is a haunted ship that is a living being. It looks like a storm-battered pirate vessel with the skull and spine of some great sea creature mounted on the prow, with eerie lights flickering on its deck and streaming from its masts. The ship is the source of many horror tales of abandoned ships found in the ocean or spectral ships crewed by ghosts, but it is actually an independent creature with a malign, vengeful intelligence. On the rare occasions when it comes to the mortal seas at the Pirate Queen’s bidding, it usually does so to punish some buccaneer for a horrid blasphemy against the Pirate Queen. Far more often it is left to its own devices, sailing mortal waters, the Ethereal or Astral Planes, or strange dreamrealms in search of plunder, danger, and glory.
The ship’s origins are mysterious and legends about it are contradictory. In some stories it was originally the flagship of a notorious pirate king who swore to forever serve the Pirate Queen, and when he finally died she merged his spirit with his ship so he could continue his service. Other tales tell of a demon-tainted kelpie that grew to a monstrous size and was kept as a beloved pet by the goddess like a mad dog until it was slain by adventurers and resurrected in this form to continue its predations. Still others speak of a devout priest-captain of the Pirate Queen who swore to bed no other woman so he could service the goddess in the afterlife, but then fell in love with a girl in a coastal village; according to this tale, the goddess cursed the priest to always roam the sea and never touch land so he would always pine for the love he could not have. The ship does not answer queries about its origin, and if pressed on the matter it has a habit of grabbing its interrogators, diving hundreds of feet under the water, and casually watching them gasp out the last of their air before it tears them limb from limb.
The ship is completely animate and needs no crew— it can tie and release its lines; raise, lower, and adjust its sails; open or close all of its doors; and so on. It moves about foreign objects (such as cargo) using telekinesis, and it sometimes does the same to its rare passengers, slamming doors on hands or throwing people overboard if it feels a lack of respect. Though it has a wheel and rudder, it resists mortal attempts to steer it as if it were a mundane ship— something it considers very disrespectful.
The Herald has no need to eat, drink, or even breathe. Because it can “swim” in any direction, including underwater, it may be found on the surface, cruising deep beneath the sea, or even skimming the bottom of the ocean. If facing an opponent it cannot easily defeat, it is likely to retreat deep underwater (assuming its foe cannot easily follow) or use teleport or plane shift to reach a safe place. It prods old wrecked ships for loot, storing its prizes within itself and only relinquishing its treasures when the goddess desires something it carries. Many loot caches on the sea floor actually belong to the ship, buried and marked in its memory for later counting.
When called by mortals, it demands treasure as payment for its services, preferring chests full of gems and gold coins. It has a lecherous, voyeuristic streak, however, and has been known to lower its price if arrangements are made for mortals to perform carnal acts on its decks—while it telepathically murmurs approvingly. If properly bribed, it serves with grudging loyalty until the task is done, then leaves. It is best suited for tasks requiring the destruction or terrorizing of enemy ships or fleets, though it can easily transport dozens of people or tons of cargo anywhere in the world or even to another plane. It is also willing to serve as a lure or decoy, disguising itself as a slow, loot-rich merchant vessel or mysterious shipwreck in a cove. The ship is fully mobile in water-like environments on other planes, including the Ethereal and Astral Planes. It enjoys sailing the “waters” of the ethereal sea and raiding xill settlements, or changing through clusters of soul-predators in the Astral Plane. It also finds pleasure in the bizarre seascape of great storms and has ventured into watery parts of the Abyss, though it is always ready to plane shift if it suspects a trap or a shift in the terrain that would trap it.
The Herald sometimes follows the Pirate Queen’s ship, at a respectful distance on its travels through the planes, like a well-heeled dog afraid to attract too much attention to itself. When commanded by the goddess, it immediately complies, mixing a need for approval with an abject fear of punishment for any perceived disobedience. The ship acts like the only thing it cares about is the goddess, and is willing to sacrifice itself for her approval—it would swim through lava or acid, or run itself aground on a beach of adamantine spikes to please her.
Though the ship has no need of crew, it sometimes offers to save drowning sailors in exchange for a number years of service. Those who accept vanish and are not seen again—unless the draugr it summons are actually the revenant forms of these rescued sailors. Whether these souls think half-life at the ship’s beck and call is better than actual death is unknown, for they do not speak of it. Some pirate-priests believe the ship is searching for a soul great enough to take its place, becoming the new mind in charge of the living ship and freeing whatever controls it to live again or pass on to judgement.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Richard Pett.