Shimmering knots whirl and twist around a shining nucleus in this mound of golden-yellow slime.
Radiant Essence CR 13
A radiant essence secretes a corrosive substance that dissolves organic material and metal quickly, but doesn’t affect stone. Each time a creature takes damage from a radiant essence’s acid, its clothing and armor take the same amount of acid damage (Reflex DC 25 negates damage to clothing and armor). A metal or wooden weapon that strikes a radiant essence takes 2d6 points of acid damage, unless the weapon’s wielder succeeds at a DC 25 Reflex save. If a radiant essence remains in contact with a wooden or metal object for 1 full round, the object takes 30 points of acid damage (no save). The save DCs are Constitution-based.
Divine Ectoplasm (Su)
A radiant essence’s attacks count as good-aligned for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction and deal an extra 2d6 points of damage against all creatures of evil alignment. Evil creatures that hit a radiant essence with natural weapons or unarmed attacks take 2d6 points of damage.
Sense Evil (Su)
Environment any land
When a particularly powerful good-aligned outsider gives its life defending a holy location on the Material Plane, remnants of its pure spirit can be weighted down with worldly matter. Most good-aligned outsiders never contribute to a radiant essence, as their holy energy is drawn back to the good Outer Planes in death, but the most righteous and powerful among them might leave behind a bit of their zealous spirit that hungers to continue its crusade against evil. When the remnants of several such outsiders pool and coalesce into a combination of spiritual residue and holy energy, an energetic, shimmering sludge called a radiant essence emerges. Unintelligent but driven to destroy evil, radiant essences are an enigmatic force for goodness. Some servants of benevolent deities actively collect radiant essences from the Material Plane, using their protomatter in the creation of powerful celestial champions; but others allow these oozes to stay on the Material Plane as protectors of sacred areas. Alchemist-priests have long sought formulae to recreate these oozes but cannot replicate the process of their creation; devout scholars posit that the will of the divine prevents mortal creation of such holy matter.
Like many oozes, radiant essences are comprised primarily of caustic matter, but this substance is infused with holy energy that causes them to shine with a soft, glowing light. Radiant essences sense their environment by vibration and air pressure, supplemented by their instinctive knowledge of whether nearby creatures are fundamentally wicked.
A radiant essence is normally 8 feet in diameter and between 8 and 12 inches thick. It weighs approximately 1-1/2 tons.
Radiant essences are usually very similar in size, but each radiant essence’s coloration is determined by the outsiders that perished to form it. Angels contribute a rich yellow, archons a shining silver, agathions a vibrant orange, and azatas a fiery red. Most radiant essences are formed from a multitude of types and are therefore a shimmering golden orange; however, radiant essences formed exclusively from one type of good outsider take on the corresponding color.
Regardless of their color, all radiant essences contain small, malleable globules of shimmering matter that surround a shining core. These masses float within a radiant essence’s fluid form and contain the purest celestial energy. The golden, protoplasmic fluid in which they float is acidic, able to swiftly corrode metal and dissolve organic material. Radiant essences don’t need to continually secrete this acid; they can stiffen their outer membrane in order to move around or over objects without dissolving them, although they rarely do so. Since the holy energy inside of them sustains their simple biology, radiant essences rarely take time to consume material they break down. Instead, a radiant essence secretes acid primarily to bypass obstacles that stand between it and evil creatures, but that it can’t overcome with brute force. Imbued with the creature’s divine power, this fluid is particularly potent against evil foes, burning them with holy energy in addition to mundane acid.
Radiant essences don’t reproduce as other oozes do, and always maintain the same size and coloration as when they were formed. If slain, a radiant essence quickly deteriorates. The globules within a radiant essence are particularly useful to anoint a holy relic or sanctify a sacred site. Although few good-aligned individuals have the power or desire to sacrifice a radiant essence for this benefit, pious heroes who discover a recently slain radiant essence might recover the globules for this use.
If not utilized within a few days of a radiant essence’s death, the globules evaporate, their spiritual residue dissipating forever. Death by violence is the most common end of radiant essences, due to their tendency to hurl themselves at evil foes without any sense of self-preservation.
Barring death in combat, radiant essences are exceptionally hardy and incredibly long-lived. After several hundred years, a radiant essence’s inner core begins to dim as its body draws upon the last of the celestial energy that sustains it. The final state of an elderly radiant essence has yet to be observed; it may ultimately break down into inert slime, or disintegrate in a final burst of dying holy power.
Habitat And Society
Because radiant essences are formed from the spiritual residue of good outsiders, they are a source of awe and fascination for many religious scholars. Many sages study the appearance and formation of radiant essences to better understand the complicated process of celestial destruction and rebirth. Lore about radiant essences is incomplete, as the creatures are so rare, spurring the most dedicated sages to seek out radiant essences to study firsthand, although the oozes are indifferent to this curiosity. Sometimes, a priest or scholar must interact with a radiant essence not out of inquisitiveness but out of obligation; for example, benevolent powers may direct a devotee to transplant a radiant essence to another site where its mindless crusade against evil can be of more use. For the fortunate, the radiant essence complies with its relocation, following the agent like a loyal pet.
Sometimes, however, the radiant essence is unwilling to go, forcing the agent to plead with the ooze or pray for some means to transport the obstinate creature.
Nearly all radiant essences inhabit a specific holy site and rarely stray far from it. Radiant essences are usually solitary, but a large sacred structure or angelic battlefield might host several. Radiant essences rarely create lairs for themselves, instead meandering around their specific holy sites, ever alert for evil creatures.
Radiant essences are single-minded in their pursuit of any wicked creatures they find and might pursue such a creature far from their holy site. Lacking the intellect to retrace their steps but practically immortal, wandering radiant essences continue to seek out evil creatures indefinitely. If one of these radiant essences happens upon a different holy site in its travels, and there are no evil creatures within range to fight, it might instinctively adopt the site as its new home. To existing residents of that site, such as hermits or monks, the presence of a single-minded mass of luminous, acidic protoplasm is rarely a welcome one.
Angels and other good outsiders treat radiant essences with a mix of caution, pity, and sympathy. Aware that the oozes contain the residue of celestial heroes but none of their personality, some angels see radiant essences as a cautionary example of what they might become if they fall in combat. More practically, good outsiders know that radiant essences are mindless and can be unpredictable, so even they keep their distance as a sensible precaution.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #131: The Reaper’s Right Hand © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: John Compton, with Jason Keeley, Nathan King, Crystal Malarsky, and Greg A. Vaughan.