This ancient, empty-eyed woman appears to have flesh made from damp, rotting wood, and sparse clumps of seaweed serve as her hair.
Tidewretch CR 6
AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +6 natural)
hp 76 (9d8+36)
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +9
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 10/slashing; Immune undead traits; Weaknesses driftwood-dependent
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +10 (1d6+3 plus parasites)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +13)
Str 16, Dex 14, Con —, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 18
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Diplomacy +7, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +10, Perception +12, Sense Motive +3, Swim +14
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ vermin empathy
A tidewretch is mystically bonded to a single piece of driftwood originating from the tree to which she was bonded in life. The tidewretch can never stray more than 300 yards from this piece of driftwood. A tidewretch who moves more than 300 yards beyond her bonded driftwood immediately becomes staggered and takes a –2 penalty on her attack and damage rolls and ability and skill checks and to the save DCs of her special abilities (including spell-like abilities).
Every hour thereafter, she must succeed at a DC 15 Will save or these penalties increase by 2 (increases are cumulative). A tidewretch that is out of range of her bonded driftwood for 24 hours gains 1 negative level, which becomes permanent 24 hours thereafter, at which time she gains another negative level. Eventually, this separation destroys the tidewretch. Unlike a dryad, a tidewretch can’t forge a new bond with another piece of driftwood, though many tidewretches find that they can carry their driftwood with them, as it is not rooted to the ground like a living tree.
The first time each round a tidewretch hits a target with a melee attack, a swarm of small parasites issues forth from the rotting wood that makes up her body, covering the target and causing discomfort and distraction.
Vermin Empathy (Ex)
This ability functions as a druid’s wild empathy, except a tidewretch can use this ability only on vermin. A tidewretch gains a +4 racial bonus on this check. Vermin empathy treats swarms as one creature having a single mind; a tidewretch can thus use this ability to influence and direct swarms with relative ease.
Environment any coastlines
Organization solitary, pair, or tangle (3–8)
Tidewretches are undead dryads whose trees have died and become waterlogged driftwood. The dead state of the tree to which a tidewretch is bound is reflected in her disfigured appearance, especially her wrinkled and cracked wooden skin. Bits and pieces of the tidewretch have completely rotted away, leaving nothing but scar-like holes in her decomposing flesh. A tidewretch’s fingers have sharpened into claws, and her eyes have become cold and dark. Tidewretches are home to hosts of parasites, and small insects can be seen skittering in and out of their cracked skin. When alone, tidewretches regularly weep tears of dirty water in lament for their fallen trees.
Tidewretches are usually around 5 feet tall and weigh about 90 pounds.
When a dryad’s tree dies and falls into a body of water, the dryad inhabiting it sometimes survives to become a twisted, vengeful tidewretch. Such a creature follows the largest section of the remains of her dead tree down the currents of whatever body of water it travels, having little control over where it might end up. Along the way, the undead fey slowly begins to rot, quickly collecting parasites and fungi that survive on the nutrients in the driftwood and in the tidewretch herself.
Tidewretches are viewed as unnatural by regular dryads and other fey. Animals are easily spooked by their presence, and water-dwelling creatures give them a wide berth. However, a tidewretch’s quick movement through lakes and rivers makes her difficult to keep track of and predict. Tidewretches stalk riverbanks and shorelines for unsuspecting creatures to torment and destroy before moving on. They leave their victims in a particularly grotesque state: their victims’ bodies are drained of all natural fluids, which are replaced to the point of overflowing with filthy, brackish water.
Despite their love of killing, tidewretches have no need to eat flesh to survive, and they continue their undead existence as long as their bonded driftwood remains intact. Because their survival depends on the security of their driftwood, many tidewretches hide their bonded driftwood among large piles of detritus or bind their driftwood with chains or sturdy seaweed ropes to the bottom of a body of water, floating like haunted buoys deep beneath the surface. Occasionally, a tidewretch may drag her driftwood inland and carve it into a piece of furniture, an idol, or a totem, or she might even use it as part of the construction of a makeshift structure. In any case, the tidewretch works to ensure her driftwood is either hidden or obscured so that her greatest weakness does not bring about her undoing.
A tidewretch is considered a menace to nature, and she is a highly sought-after target for druids and protector fey. Tidewretches take trophies from hunters who fail to destroy them, as reminders of both the warmth of life and their undying desire to survive no matter the cost. This leads to them collecting treasures that they store in the crevasses of their driftwood trees.
These large stashes of treasure often lead more hunters and adventurers to seek the riches that ancient tidewretches carry.
Habitat and Society
Tidewretches’ constantly traveling, mobile homes make for many potential habitats.
Usually, a tidewretch is either moving with a current or settled on a still body of water.
Tidewretches most often originate along the sides of forest rivers, and as such they encounter plenty of living victims as they travel along those rivers to their eventual resting places. While tidewretches who keep moving with the water tend to survive longer than those who remain in one spot—becoming the subjects of legend as their victims pile up—many of them try to stay in the same place for long periods of time if they can guide themselves to still water. Stationary tidewretches prefer to live in environments that resemble those where their trees used to grow. Such tidewretches seek to emulate living dryads, even burying their tree’s roots and draping any branch-fragments with greenery.
Tidewretches are solitary creatures by both nature and circumstance. They arise rarely and can end up in many different locales. They do not get along with creatures other than the vermin that occupy their trees and bodies, and they permit the company of others of their kind only out of a shared sense of survival. Most groupings of tidewretches (called tangles) last only briefly, collapsing when their respective members turn on one another and try to destroy each others’ driftwood to ensure dominance, or else parting ways quickly to avoid such a fate.
There are rare circumstances in which pairs of tidewretches settle in the same still water for extended periods of time. Usually the two choose to join forces to hunt and continue their tortured existences together.
Such tidewretch “sisters” maintain a tenuous balance of power, and they are most often equals, sharing a single ambition rather than scrabbling to claim authority.
In many cases, such pairs were dryads from the same grove who maintain a connection to one another in undeath, even while their instinct is otherwise to isolate themselves from anything they cannot destroy.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #122: Into the Shattered Continent © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Robert Brookes, with Ayla Arthur, Adam Daigle, Lucas J.W. Johnson, Robin Loutzenhiser, Ron Lundeen, and Mark Moreland.