Gaunt and parched, this crone-like figure moves with the predatory jerkiness of a hunting vulture. Unnaturally tall and lean, her form is all cracked flesh and stony crevices spanning a wasteland of withered gray flesh. Shattered black teeth jut from a chapped, lipless mouth that stretches beneath a high, scarred brow devoid of nose or eyes.
Stygira CR 7
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +11 (1d4+3 plus stone curse)
Special Attacks gem gaze, stone curse
Str 17, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 17, Wis 22, Cha 15
Base Atk +8; CMB +11; CMD 24
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Iron Will
Skills Bluff +10, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +11, Knowledge (religion) +11, Perception +23, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +11; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception (with gemstone)
Languages Cyclops, Giant, Terran
SQ gem eye
Stygiras possess a special connection with gemstones. While holding or otherwise in contact with a gemstone of at least the size of a human eye, a stygira can see through the gemstone like a magical eye, viewing her surroundings as if her blindsense extended to 120 feet and she were under the effects of true seeing, which grants her a +4 bonus on Perception checks.
Despite their effective blindness, stygiras remain sensitive to light. Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds stygiras for 1 round; on subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
Any creature struck by a stygira’s claws must make a DC 18 Will save or be affected by a curse that gradually drains it of color, stiffens its joints, and finally turns the victim to stone. This curse proves frighteningly unpredictable, forcing another save against its effects every 1d3 hours. Any creature that is drained to 0 Dexterity or fails three saves against the curse is permanently petrified.
Even if a creature is petrified and then restored to flesh, it is still affected by the curse and is petrified again upon failing its next save against the curse. A stone curse can only be removed in one of two ways: by casting remove curse or by spending a full hour in unobstructed natural sunlight. Magical radiance like daylight does not affect a stone curse, and remove curse does not return a petrified creature to flesh. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Environment temperate hills and underground
Organization solitary, pair, or mystery (3–7)
Treasure standard (typically gemstones)
Withered hermits wrapped in tattered black rags, these scarred, eyeless crones slip through the dark crevasses of both earth and time. Degenerate inheritors of the half-remembered, collapsed cyclops civilizations, the stygiras—or stone witches, as they are often called— command strange secrets of the earth and interpret the fateful energies of the depths. Ages of communion with the darkness and reliance upon alien magics have corrupted the stygiras from the primitive human witches their ancestors were countless ages ago, transforming them into a terrifying, debased breed infused with magics not their own. In many a savage land, these crones were once or are still worshiped as seers and demigods, weaving magic and communing with the earth to manipulate their servants into obeying their selfish and grotesque whims. In other realms, they haunt the night, prowling from their caves to feed upon the unwary or make alliances with those cruel and ambitious enough to believe their perverse counsel. Yet for all their perverse blasphemies and primitive desires, their powers to see what none should and reduce life to brittle stone proves enough to inspire dread and superstitious belief in nearly all who hear of the harsh stone witches. Stygiras on average stand 6-1/2 feet tall and weigh approximately 150 pounds.
It is said that the stygiras draw their power from stone and from the darkness. Certainly they live their entire lives in the dark, traveling through intricate, maze-like caverns and the moonless sky with equal ease. They draw their sustenance from the base things they scrape from the earth—vermin, molds, lichens, and whatever fleshy things happen into their lairs. Although technically blind, stygiras have almost supernaturally keen hearing, taste, and touch, and so have no need for sight. What remains of the eyes that lurk as vestigial elements of their anatomy hide beneath the scarred flesh of their faces. While such remnant organs typically go unused, they can still detect the presence of light, an uncomfortable sensation that all stygiras take great pains to avoid. Stygiras can in fact travel under the skies, but they quickly become agoraphobic and retreat to the safety of shadowy canyons or caves as soon as possible. They avoid the sunlight hours, with most willing to face death in the darkness rather than take their chances venturing into the light. All stygiras are female; they are capable of reproducing with humanoids of nearly any species and always bearing three or more withered—and typically stillborn—stygira young. Yet stygiras make up for their appallingly low live birth and survival rates with unnaturally long lifespans. None can say how long stygiras who don’t meet their end by violence might live, but instances of stone witches living for 3 or more centuries are well documented.
Habitat & Society
Stygiras most commonly occupy lands near the phenomenally ancient tombs and monuments of the cyclops empires. While some of the crazed witches make the impossible claim that all stygira are the surviving mortal apprentices of primordial cyclops seers, saner minds posit that the predecessors of these crones were primitive human shamans and mystics who managed to tap into a degree of the fallen empires’ powers. Whatever the case, the connection between stygiras and the ancient cyclopes lingers in their shared language and the mad scrawls covering many of these hags’ lairs.
The cultic lore passed down from stygira to stygira tells of the existence of rare gems of might that grant special powers to the stone witch who bears them. In rare cases, stygiras have been encountered clutching ancient and frighteningly sculpted stones exhibiting weird powers; in even more extraordinary cases, they have borne a veritable arsenal of crystals. While all gemstones of significant size allow a stygira to make use of her gem eye and gem gaze abilities, a few rare gems alter the crones’ gaze abilities. These added abilities do not increase a stygira’s CR. The adjacent list of stones and abilities merely represent those few stones whose use has been documented after encounters with stygiras, and it is likely not all-inclusive. These effects function only for stygiras. Except where noted, new effects replace an ability’s typical effect.
Treat a stygira as an 8th-level caster for effects granting spell-like abilities. Also listed are the common values of crude, eye-sized gems of the following types.
|Beryl||25 gp||Gem gaze causes the sickened condition.|
|Diamond||1,500 gp||Gem gaze causes a charm monster effect that lasts for 1 hour.|
|Jade||50 gp||Cast poison as a spell-like ability 3/day.|
|Opal||100 gp||Cast stone shape as a spell-like ability 3/day.|
|Painite||1,750 gp||Erupts in a 8d6 fireball dealing acid damage if thrown.|
Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing
Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing. © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.