This mass of detritus, sea foam, and seaweed undulates and quivers as it moves. The mass has a humanoid shape roughly the size of a child.
Flotsam Terror CR 4
Speed 20 ft., swim 50 ft.
Melee 2 slams +8 (1d8+2)
Ranged flotsam missile +5 (1d8+2)
Str 14, Dex 11, Con —, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Weapon Focus (slam)
Skills Perception +10, Stealth +13 (+17 in water), Swim +10; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth in water
Languages Common (can’t speak)
A flotsam terror can break apart into a tangle of seaweed and rubbish as a full-round action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, becoming a swarming mass of tiny debris. It gains the swarm subtype, its space changes to 10 feet, and its reach changes to 0. In this form, it gains a swarm attack that deals 2d6 points of damage. The flotsam terror gains a +20 bonus on Disguise checks to appear as harmless flotsam while in this form.
Creatures can move through the flotsam terror’s space while it is in this form, treating the area as difficult terrain.
Flotsam Missile (Ex)
While in its standard form, a flotsam terror can hurl a portion of its body up to 30 feet as a ranged attack. A flotsam missile deals a number of points of damage equal to 1d8 + the flotsam terror’s Strength modifier.
Flotsam Repair (Su)
A flotsam terror has fast healing 2 when in an area with a high concentration of nautical debris, such as a shipwreck, a sargassum field, or the area created by the discorporate ability of one or more other flotsam terrors.
Environment any ocean
Organization solitary, pair, or float (3–10)
Also known as jetsam swarms, sailor’s bane, and wreck wraiths, flotsam terrors are undead created from the souls of sailors and other sea travelers killed in shipwrecks. Such a soul lingers around the detritus of a shipwreck, eventually coalescing into a flotsam terror.
Multiple terrors can spawn from one wreck. They then ride the currents, roaming the seas until they locate other ships. Flotsam terrors are malicious and bitter entities, detesting their fate and intentionally seeking out ships in hopes of causing additional wrecks. The creatures follow and attack any survivors, intent on creating more of their kind.
A flotsam terror is typically 3 feet tall and weighs up to 50 pounds.
Although they usually form around shipwrecks, flotsam terrors aren’t created after the sinking of every ship. The souls that linger to eventually become flotsam terrors are usually already filled with spite. Many flotsam terrors are born after a failed mutiny causes a ship to crash, when the remaining traitorous souls are reborn with vindictive fervor. Not all flotsam terrors share this origin, however. Some are born from the souls of casual travelers who believe themselves unfairly slain, usually due to the actions of the ship’s captain or crew. Rather than attacking ships in general, these flotsam terrors seek out surviving crew members in hopes of revenge.
A flotsam terror’s composition is peculiar. Each has the ability to undo itself, reverting into a floating mass of debris and seaweed. In this state, the terror is virtually indistinguishable from actual flotsam, and the component parts of its form are surprisingly interchangeable: multiple flotsam terrors can exchange and share various pieces of debris, trading parts of their bodies with every discorporation. Flotsam terrors can also intertwine and mingle while dispersed in this manner, forming sizable masses of debris called floats.
Flotsam terrors spend most of their time at sea.
Occasionally, the pursuit of a specific target causes a flotsam terror to move onto land. A flotsam terror is hindered when out of the water, as the thick, waterlogged mass of its body weighs it down. On land, the terror usually discorporates to appear as a pile of flotsam that washed up on shore. A flotsam terror is incredibly patient and will remain in this form for days or even weeks, waiting for a creature to investigate its presence on the shore, at which point the flotsam attacks.
On rare occasions, a flotsam terror forms from the remains of previously slain flotsam terrors. Sometimes a single piece of a destroyed flotsam terror will slip away, holding a spark of its animating force. When enough of these lone pieces come together, they create a more powerful form of a flotsam terror. Known as flotsam fiends, these terrors have the advanced and giant creature simple templates. A flotsam fiend’s increased intelligence allows it to speak and recall an original purpose; thus, a flotsam fiend often strives to fulfill the original intent of its most dominant soul. Flotsam fiends can hold dominion over large numbers of flotsam terrors, allowing them to draw small armies to their causes.
Habitat and Society
Flotsam terrors generally travel near coasts where they can attack ships early in their journey. This also allows the creatures to more easily destroy ships by leading them toward dangerous reefs or cliffs. Those formed far out at sea tend to remain in their dispersed form for weeks, allowing the currents to draw them closer to civilization. In the rare case that a flotsam terror encounters a ship while out at sea, it often attaches to the hull until the ship returns to dock, then attacks disembarking sailors, or it finds a suitable location to try to sink the ship.
Flotsam terrors generally lack any kind of personality.
When first created, a flotsam terror is filled with specific purpose, usually the destruction of an individual whom the terror believes wronged it in life. This purpose is quickly lost, however. When flotsam terrors disperse and intermingle, they mix not only their debris but also their intelligence and memories. This leads flotsam terrors traveling in groups to eventually share a similar, but diminished purpose. While not precisely a hive mind, these groups move and attack with complicated tactics, a byproduct of their shared semiconsciousness.
A float of flotsam terrors behaves differently if led by a flotsam fiend. Such floats still attack ships in large groups, but their attacks are more deliberate.
A fiend with a particularly tactical soul, such as that of a captain or naval general, is a force to be reckoned with.
A fiend that succeeds at its primary goal usually surrenders its position and its power by intentionally discorporating among its fellow terrors. When it reforms, the fiend has a new dominant soul, meaning a flotsam fiend never lacks a purpose. This allows a float to maintain a neverending crusade, continually adding more flotsam terrors to its ranks. This process is of particular note to scholars, as undead creatures are rarely so prone to cooperating with one another. Whether this is an instinctive response or a sign of the various souls finding camaraderie in their misery has yet to be seen.
Flotsam Terror Treasures
The composition of a flotsam terror varies by creature and region. Depending on the kind of debris that composes the flotsam terror, the creature may have any number of pieces of detritus as part of its body. While most of these are common items, there is a 20% chance of finding gems or jewelry worth up to 250 gp among the components of a given flotsam terror, and an additional 5% chance of finding a magic item. The latter is usually worth less than 500 gp and does not provide any benefit to the flotsam terror (it is not considered to be wearing and can’t activate the magic item). At the GM’s discretion, a flotsam terror can contain a more powerful or valuable item or even the seed for a new adventure.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #121: The Lost Outpost © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Jim Groves, with Adam Daigle, Isabelle Lee, Luis Loza, and Greg A. Vaughan.