This hunched giant has spindly limbs covered in moss and a riot of vines and mushrooms for a torso. It has two bright red mushrooms growing where its eyes should be, and it sports a long beard of woven grass.
Sump Steward CR 9
Str 21, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 12
Base Atk +10; CMB +16; CMD 28
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (entangle), Weapon Focus (greatclub)
Skills Perception +14, Perform (sing) +8, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +8 (+16 in forests and swamps); Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in forests and swamps
Languages Common, Sylvan; speak with plants
SQ improved woodland stride
Improved Woodland Stride (Ex)
A sump steward can move through any sort of bog or undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at its normal speed without taking damage or suffering other impairments. It can also move without harm or impediment through bogs, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are magically manipulated to impede motion.
Environment any swamp or underground
Organization solitary, pair, or choir (3–8)
Treasure standard (greatclub, other treasure)
Hidden away in deep caverns or under the shade of mangroves in isolated swamps, sump stewards hum songs while they dutifully tend to verdant colonies of mushrooms and fungi. Vaguely humanoid in form, sump stewards carry old tree trunks, rotting logs, or other large tools to help them tend and protect these colonies while they make their rounds. As they work, they sing low, thrumming tunes that echo throughout their domain.
Sump stewards—who, despite their intelligence, have no name for themselves and only indifferently acknowledge the names given by other races—have long, spindly limbs that possess great strength. Their form consists of mosses and lichens, with vines wrapping their bodies and holding them together. Mushrooms sprout all over the sump steward’s form, although two red mushrooms glow where eyes would be. Some sump stewards grow long beards made of interwoven moss or grass.
A sump steward stands almost 15 feet tall, though they are frequently hunched over and seem shorter. They weigh approximately 1,400 pounds.
Sump stewards begin life as a pair of red mushrooms.
These rare mushrooms often grow in fungal colonies tended by older sump stewards, who keep the new sump stewards sheltered and well-fed. Any creatures that invade the colony are quickly and firmly escorted away by the attendant sump stewards. By the time the red mushrooms are ready to sprout, an attendant sump steward has usually prepared a pile of twigs, leaves, moss, and other organic debris nearby. When the mushrooms sprout, they send shoots out to wrap around the offerings and form a body; the original red mushrooms serve as the new sump steward’s eyes. Sump stewards that grow unattended form bodies from whatever debris is near and might seem mismatched as a result: some of these unattended sump stewards might walk with a limp, bear additional limbs, or have forms that incorporate bones or rocks.
While sump stewards’ bodies can look rather hodgepodge, they are resilient and strong. The vines that wrap their bodies regrow quickly and knit a sump steward back together with remarkable speed. While not inherently violent, sump stewards don’t hesitate to use their strength to protect their domain, encouraging local plants to restrain and delay intruders. If lethal force is required, they can use their oversized farming implements as greatclubs and expel clouds of poisonous spores that functions as the cloudkill spell. Goblins and other underground races tend to avoid sump steward colonies, venturing into them only under dire circumstances.
Arcano-botanists posit that all sump stewards are biological duplicates of one original organism, spreading asexually via their spores for thousands or millions of years all across Golarion. It is unknown how long an individual sump steward lives, but an elven explorer reported meeting the same sump steward 800 years apart.
It’s even possible that the original sump steward is still alive, tending to some remote colony to this day.
Habitat And Society
Sump stewards are social creatures; a group of sump stewards is called a choir because they sing together.
Every sump steward in a choir sings its own unique song, and when the voices come together, the subtly different melodies build upon one another in a haunting music that echoes throughout their domain. Sump stewards’ social structures are intensely hierarchical. The eldest in a choir speaks for—and makes binding decisions for— every sump steward in the choir.
Sump stewards live primarily underground or deep in primeval forests and swamps, although they can be found anywhere they can manage to grow their colonies.
While a single sump steward might tend to a relatively small colony, a choir of sump stewards might have a domain that encompasses many square miles.
These fungal forests have their own unique ecology: various slimes, jellies, and oozes make their home among the stalks of giant mushrooms, while large packs of fungal crawlers scamper along the floor. Giant slugs sometimes live within a colony, as they are attracted to and pacified by sump steward songs.
Sump stewards have a longstanding but puzzling rivalry with treants. Entire choirs have been observed to travel far from their colonies to attack a treant grove, leaving their treasures and young sump stewards unguarded as they wage these attacks. Treants don’t share this violent animosity, but they think poorly of sump stewards, likening them to parasites or blights on nature. The source of this intense enmity isn’t clear; sump stewards and treants rarely inhabit the same areas, so they don’t typically compete for resources.
Sump stewards don’t take much stock in what other creatures think of them, so it’s unlikely that treants’ dismissive attitude toward sump stewards is sufficient to generate this ire. Whatever the reason, sump stewards and treants never cooperate, and they usually come to blows if they encounter one another.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #141: Last Watch © 2019, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Larry Wilhelm, with Alexander Augunas, Mike Headley, Isabelle Lee, Meagan Maricle, Patchen Mortimer, Kendra Leigh Speedling, and Greg A. Vaughan.