This black-clad figure has a pale, puffy face from which its yellow-irised eyes glare with equal parts intensity and insanity.
Keeper of the Yellow Sign CR 6
AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+2 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 66 (7d8+35)
Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +5
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +2; DR 5/magic or silver; Immune undead traits
Weaknesses sunlight powerlessness
Str 22, Dex 15, Con —, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 19
Base Atk +5; CMB +11; CMD 23
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Toughness, Weapon Focus (slams)
Skills Climb +11, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (religion) +8, Perception +10, Sense Motive +7, Stealth +12
Languages Aklo, Common
SQ Yellow Sign affinity
Disquieting Aura (Su)
A keeper of the Yellow Sign is surrounded by an aura of gloom and repulsiveness. A creature that fails its saving throw against this aura takes a –1 penalty on attack rolls and on saving throws against fear effects while within the aura and for 7 minutes after leaving the affected area. Any creature that successfully saves against this power cannot be affected again by it for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear effect, and the save DC is Charisma-based. A creature within range of a keeper’s disquieting aura can be affected by its bestow curse spell-like ability from a distance (not only by touch). If a target of the aura has seen the Yellow Sign, it takes a –2 penalty on its saving throws against the aura and the keeper’s bestow curse spell-like ability.
Entropic Drain (Ex)
A keeper’s use of its energy draining ability can result in a surge of entropy that consumes its body and disrupts life all around it. Every time the keeper’s entropic drain attack results in a creature’s death, the keeper must succeed at a DC 17 Fortitude saving throw or be destroyed. If the keeper is destroyed, all sentient beings in a 15-foot radius around the keeper gain a negative level (Fortitude DC 17 negates). If any negative level bestowed by a keeper becomes permanent, the victim must succeed at a DC 17 Will saving throw or die after 1 hour of delirium. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Sunlight Powerlessness (Ex)
A keeper of the Yellow Sign is powerless in natural sunlight (though not in an area of daylight or similar spells), and it cannot attack and is staggered. It can use its supernatural and spell-like abilities, but with a 50% failure chance.
Yellow Sign Affinity (Su)
When the keeper of the Yellow Sign stays within 1 mile of an active Yellow Sign for 24 hours, it gains a +2 profane bonus to its Armor Class and a +1 resistance bonus on all saving throws. An active Yellow Sign is either one that was created by Hastur or by the Yellow Sign spell. If the keeper leaves this range, it loses the bonuses immediately and can regain them only after once more staying within 1 mile of an active Yellow Sign for 24 hours.
Environment any land
Organization solitary, pair, or cult (3–6)
A keeper of the Yellow Sign is the undead form of a cultist of Hastur who willingly sacrificed his soul to rise as his god’s servant after death. A quiet but relentless champion of the Unspeakable One, a keeper brings anxiety and woe to the lives of any infidel who comes too close to the secrets of its master. Like a vampire, a keeper can easily pass for a living human, if it so wishes, although it tends to have a pale, unhealthy look and a swollen face that can give away its true nature to those who know what to look for. Feeble and sluggish in the sunlight, a keeper can easily be mistaken for a sickly vagrant or even a leper if seen in the open during the day. In the darkness, however, a keeper grows supernaturally strong and attentive, and its eyes glow with a malignant, yellow luminescence.
A keeper’s primary purpose is to haunt and persecute unbelievers who witness the Yellow Sign or, worse, have a document or item that bears the dreaded symbol, such as a copy of The King in Yellow or another artifact of Hastur’s cult. Against these favored victims, the keeper uses dream to create a sense of anticipation and awareness of its victim’s forthcoming doom. Although a keeper’s actions are mainly motivated by a sadistic eagerness to spread pain and misery, the creature can also perform special duties on behalf of a cleric of Hastur, such as slaying her personal enemies or harassing cultists she considers unworthy. These monsters also have an odd, morbid attraction for art in all its forms, favoring bizarre and decadent creations. Since a keeper’s energy drain ability can cause its own destruction, one interested in prolonging its own existence uses its touch attack sparingly. Typically, a keeper switches to touch attacks when it faces heavily armored adversaries otherwise difficult to hit, when it is reduced to half hit points (and therefore already facing destruction), or when it simply feels the urge to “taste” the energy of a victim, usually one with artistic talent (such as anyone who demonstrates particular skill in the areas of Craft or Perform).
As undead creatures, keepers of the Yellow Sign do not reproduce, though their existence in a given area can signify the presence of a cult of Hastur. Interacting with such creatures can sometimes influence other followers of the King in Yellow to undergo the transformation ritual and become keepers themselves. Keepers do little to proselytize and do not seek out potential converts to their faith or possible additions to their ranks. Rather, they are singularly focused on preventing evidence or knowledge of Hastur’s cult from spreading to unbelievers, pursuing anyone who has seen the Yellow Sign, has an artifact bearing the powerful symbol, or has intimate knowledge of a cult’s activities or plans.
A keeper of the Yellow Sign does not need to eat, drink, or breathe, but it nevertheless has an urge to consume the energy of those who show particular talent in the arts. When using its energy draining abilities to sate such a hunger, the keeper typically drops its normally dour demeanor in favor of one of ecstasy and satisfaction, a small hint at Hastur’s predilection for decadence and depravity. The keeper generally regains its composure immediately after it is done draining its victim’s energy, though in rare cases a keeper might become so enraptured by the experience that it does not stop before its victim dies, thus putting itself in danger of self-destructing as the essence of life drained from its victim overwhelms it.
Habitat and Society
A keeper of the Yellow Sign can be found anywhere there are active cults of Hastur or in ruins where a cult once existed, especially those locations marked by a Yellow Sign. Keepers rarely travel far from the site of their creation, preferring to live reclusive, solitary existences in nearby communities. They seldom congregate with others of their kind, except when multiple keepers serve the same priest of Hastur. The undead retain their memories of life, and those rare independent keepers that share the company of other keepers often knew one another in life—likely they came from the same cult of the Unspeakable One and took part in the same transformation ritual. Despite this connection, however, even paired keepers yearn to be alone with their despair and insanity-wracked thoughts, coming together only for protection from outside threats or to overpower potential targets that are more powerful than a lone keeper could handle.
In the communities where they reside, keepers are often mistaken for vagrants, mendicants, and diseased beggars. They often sit on unoccupied stoops, on public benches, or in gutters, muttering to themselves for hours on end, all the while watching passersby for indications that their neighbors may have witnessed the Yellow Sign. When offered charitable help by kind souls who encounter them, keepers of the Yellow Sign typically flee rather than risk giving away their true nature, which leads to the common belief that they are simply mad and either unwilling to receive aid or incapable of accepting it. Other times, they take on jobs that the general populace deems unsavory or macabre, such as gravedigger or hearse driver. They can observe potential targets from afar in these roles, lurking in cemeteries or churchyards and turning their unnerving gazes on the targets of their ire.
By remaining on the fringes of society, however, a keeper of the Yellow Sign can exist unheeded in a single settlement or region for generations, as most residents pay so little attention to it that they fail to notice that the creature never ages or dies. As such, some keepers are old enough to remember past millennia—yet, they are rarely sane enough or willing enough to recount their knowledge to anyone but the most devout and powerful members of Hastur’s faith.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #110: The Thrushmoor Terror © 2016, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Tito Leati, with James Jacobs, Michelle Jones, and Christopher Rowe.