This gaunt, clawed faerie creature wears simple, homespun clothing and a malicious grin. Its oversized ears stick out from the sides of its head, and it wears its long earlobes like a scarf.
Nochlean CR 3
Str 10, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 15
Base Atk +2; CMB +6 (+10 grapple); CMD 16
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +10, Disable Device +9, Disguise +10, Perception +13, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +12, Survival +6; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception
Languages Common, Gnome, Sylvan
Thus, the nochlean could sniff out a child’s hiding place or a den of wolf pups, but it could not sniff out the child’s parents or the den mother.
Music Susceptibility (Su)
A nochlean is sensitive to music of all kinds, and different styles of music affect the nochlean in different ways. A creature within 20 feet of a nochlean can attempt to affect the creature with a Perform (keyboard, percussion, sing, string, or wind) check made as a standard action or when used to initiate another effect, such as a bardic performance. The nochlean must succeed at a Will saving throw with a DC equal to the result of the Perform check or become affected by the music for as long as the music persists. The nochlean is sickened by keyboard instruments, shaken by percussion instruments, enraged (per the rage spell) by singing, staggered by string instruments, and confused by wind instruments. The nochlean can be affected by only one type of music at a time; if it fails its saving throw against multiple types of music, only that with the highest Perform check result applies.
Environment temperate forests
Predatory fey that delight in vandalizing homes, murdering pets, and stealing children, nochleans resemble incredibly thin, gangly humanoids with coarse black hair, large yellow eyes, and wickedly sharp claws.
Their most recognizable features, however, are their extraordinary large ears. A nochlean’s earlobes are several feet long, and it usually keeps them wrapped around its neck like a scarf or draped over its hands to conceal its claws from casual notice.
Nochleans enjoy their wicked activities, frequently tittering from the shadows as they plan to raid a home, murder livestock, or lure away a lonely child. Nochleans are bold and crafty schemers who attack only when they feel like they have the advantage. A nochlean’s careful plans evaporate in the presence of music, however, as the notes echoing around in their large ears affect them in erratic ways. Most nochleans flee from any source of music, and many tales tell of lone travelers unknowingly repelling the lurking creatures with casual whistling.
A nochlean stands 5-1/2 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds.
Nochleans have lived at the edges of humanoid societies for millennia, their predations serving as a warning to children of all races and creeds to stay with their protectors and be wary of strangers. Nochleans are aware that humanoids use tales of their presence to frighten others, and they revel in the role thrust upon them and the depth of fear it can instill.
Nochleans are gaunt and eerily slinky, as though perfectly built to hug shadowed corners, slither through windows, or extend a gangly arm from under a bed. They rely on stealth, suspense, and their alien appearance to frighten foes, as their build is narrow and hardly imposing. Still, to a child, nochleans stand frightfully tall. Nochleans usually wear simple clothes stolen from humans, but they generally have little use for propriety or modesty. Their long ears twitch frequently, particularly in response to sudden noises. When tracking by scent, a nochlean bends low to the ground, its dragging ears funneling odors toward its sniffing nose. A nochlean’s claws are long and sharp, although its hands have a supernaturally narrow appearance. Their claws are remarkably agile despite their size, and nochleans use them to pry up windows, undo locks, or curl delicately around sleeping infants.
Every few centuries, a nochlean develops a large cyst on its back, forcing it to give up its hunting for about a week as it sits hunched and uncommonly ponderous.
The cyst grows quickly, soon becoming nearly as large as the nochlean itself. After a week, the cyst ruptures, and a fully formed duplicate of the “parent” nochlean emerges.
This new nochlean understands how to hunt and how to speak Sylvan, although it picks up other languages it hears (usually, languages spoken in nearby humanoid communities) very quickly. The older nochlean typically drives the duplicate out of its hunting grounds to cut down competition, as nochleans are unwilling to work together even if they are copies of one other.
Nochleans make their homes in small, rotten groves, which they fill with decaying plant matter, strung-up animal carcasses, and bedding that consists of soft but putrefying materials. A nochlean desires little else by way of physical comforts and eats very little. A nochlean might stay away from its lair for days at a time as it stalks a nearby settlement, returning to its putrefying bed to consume a rotting animal carcass and sleep for a few scant hours before leaving again. Although nochleans are unquestionably evil, many forest guardians who simply wish to see the forest thrive rarely trouble a nochlean or its lair. Despite their putrescent beds, nochleans subsist on decay; as they amass rotted vegetation and animal remains, they do actually beautify and aid the forest as a whole.
Nochleans have an exceptionally long lifespan, although measuring a single nochlean’s age is difficult when younger and nearly identical duplicates inhabit nearby lairs and might overlap in hunting areas. Most nochleans die at the hands of angry parents or forest guardians before reaching old age, but a nochlean surviving more than 500 years finds its black claws slowly whitening—the only indication of its advanced age.
Habitat and Society
Nochleans can be found in any lush forest with plenty of undergrowth, particularly where humanoid settlements are near.
Nochleans lead solitary lives, aware that too many of their kind hunting in the same area would draw undue attention. Nochleans know they are safest when they are unnoticed by anyone other than their targets, and when frustrated farmers or grieving parents don’t know whether to blame accident or malice for mysterious disappearances. No nochlean has a proper name; instead, each of them answers to the name “Nochlean,” although a few revel in epithets such as “Snatcher” or “Shadowman” bestowed upon them by frightened settlements where they hunt.
Nochleans rely on subterfuge and a carefully studied knowledge of terrain to run or hide from confrontations, and some nochleans know the shadowed corners and overlooked hiding places around a settlement much better than the settlement’s inhabitants do. Nochleans rarely enter a fight unless they feel they have the upper hand. In any confrontation, nochleans are notoriously difficult to pin down; they dart around attackers rather than stay put and, if pressed, teleport away from attackers that corner them. An endangered nochlean thinks nothing of abandoning its home or a fruitful hunting ground to find another, and the most fortunate hunters might find a kidnapped child trussed up but alive inside a lair a nochlean elected to abandon out of self-preservation.
When they need to interact with humans in ways other than terrorizing or attacking them, nochleans prefer to disguise their distinctive appearance.
They pull their common caps low, wrapping their distinctive ears around them like a scarf or a cloak, and remain in shadow to conceal their facial features.
Certain unsavory traders strike deals with nochleans, as the fey monsters are skilled at procuring children useful for ransom, slavery, or darker purposes. Although nochleans like magic items that can aid them in their dark endeavors, they prefer to trade in favors, which they greedily hoard. A nochlean finds the mere presence of a musical instrument to be an unforgivable offense, and a prospective negotiator might provoke a nochlean into a blind fury simply by failing to conceal a flute or fiddle.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #133: Secrets of Roderic’s Cove © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Adam Daigle, with James Jacobs, Mikko Kallio, Luis Loza, Jacob W. Michaels, and Conor J. Owens.