A low hum surrounds this huge, gnarled tree. The rotten fruits that hang from its sickly branches look vaguely like human heads, and each fleshy melon drips with a thick rope of ooze.
Str 27, Dex 8, Con 22, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 15
Any creature that begins its turn within 5 feet of a jinmenju must succeed at a DC 22 Will save or be magically compelled to immediately grab a head-fruit and eat it. This is a mind-affecting compulsion effect. A creature that successfully saves is immune to that jinmenju’s enticing head-fruits for 24 hours. The save DC is Constitution-based. Anyone who takes a bite out of one suffers from the following effect.
Head-Fruit Poison: Head-fruit—ingested; save Fort DC 22; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d3 Wisdom damage and confused for 1 round; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Once per day as a swift action, a jinmenju can cause its fruits to emit an unnaturally sweet aroma in a 60-foot spread for 6 rounds. All creatures within the area must succeed at a DC 22 Will save each round or be captivated. A captivated creature takes no actions except to approach the jinmenju via the most direct route possible. If this path leads it into a dangerous area or the jinmenju attacks it, the captivated creature receives a new saving throw. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
A jinmenju emits a low, persistent hum that unnerves living creatures that hear it. Those within 30 feet of it must succeed at a DC 18 Will save or become shaken until they leave the affected area and for 1d4 rounds thereafter. A creature that successfully saves is immune to that jinmenju’s unsettling drone for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Environment temperate hills or mountains
The jinmenju is an eerie tree that grows in hilly regions far from civilization. While a jinmenju otherwise appears to be nothing more than a twisted, gnarled cherry tree, the fruit that hangs from its branches makes it impossible to mistake for any other flora, for each fleshy melon possesses the semblance of a human head.
In their natural form, a jinmenju’s head-fruits—which sag from the branches and look entirely too heavy for the short, stringy vines they hang from—resemble dark brown melons with vaguely humanoid facial features. A jinmenju can alter these head-fruits to resemble virtually any form, making the rotting melons attractive or at least intriguing to potential prey. Using its ability to delve into nearby creatures’ memories, a jinmenju simulates the appearance of whichever creature (or fruit) will draw prey within range of its branches, which it uses to pummel enraptured creatures to unconsciousness before devouring them. A jinmenju’s head-fruit retains a magical connection to the tree that bore it, so even after it is lopped from its branch, a transformed melon still bears the likeness chosen by the jinmenju, though the tree’s compulsion effects remain distinctly tied to the tree itself.
A jinmenju’s head-fruits are covered in a thick skin that is easy to bite into, with an outmost layer similar in texture to that of a lumpy peach. Whenever potential prey nears a jinmenju, it wills its fruit to prematurely begin the rotting process. In addition to enticing its prey with hallucinations, a jinmenju can instantly ferment its head-fruits, emitting a sweet, intoxicating odor that lures creatures to the tree and captivates them. Those who have tasted a head-fruit and lived to tell of the experience claim that the fruit’s flesh has a mushy consistency that makes it hard to hold in one’s hands, and as it slips from one’s grip, the world seems to melt away as well.
Jinmenjus are remarkably intelligent and versatile plants, and can augment their illusions by creating sounds to further convince creatures that the false images they are seeing are real as they near the trees’ head-fruits. By making minute alterations to the structure of its dense but flexible bark, a jinmenju can produce a series of cracks, shudders, and pops that can be combined to imitate almost any sound, including a creature’s voice or bursts of noise capable of damaging and deafening the tree’s enemies. While a jinmenju can communicate in the common language of those it most often encounters, it rarely does so unless it has been given a suitable gift or is forced to speak by some other means.
Jinmenjus are found primarily in hilly and mountainous regions, far from any civilization whose residents might seek to put an end to such a deceptive and ravenous creature. Eternally patient, jinmenjus usually reside in the same spot for hundreds of years, only changing locales if their current location runs out of food for an extended period of time.
While most jinmenjus are simply hungry predators that have no interest in interacting with other intelligent creatures, some will communicate with others if given payment in the form of food, though many jinmenjus also desire particular magical or mundane objects they have learned of while scanning their targets’ memories throughout the years. Once it has been befriended, a jinmenju may provide creatures with some of its vast wealth of acquired memories, though such a relationship is tenuous in the extreme, and only the most hardy creatures can withstand a jinmenju’s magic long enough to provide the tree with an offering and ask for its knowledge. Brave or foolhardy adventurers seeking knowledge of their ancestors or perhaps lost loved ones may seek a jinmenju, hoping its expansive collection of memories might contain clues or information about the person they seek. Even if such folk do manage to convince the fickle tree to share some enlightening memory, they are often heartbroken when the jinmenju callously informs the memory-seekers afterward that it killed and devoured their sought-after friend, and so those who dare seek a jinmenju’s knowledge should be careful of what questions they ask.
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.
Ecology from Pathfinder Adventure Path #54: The Empty Throne © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Neil Spicer.