This ethereal ball of faces hovers in the middle of the air. Tears stream from every one of the faces’ eyes, but the drops fade to nothing before they reach the ground.
Melacage CR 5
Speed 30 ft. (while corporeal), fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee incorporeal touch +10 (4d6 plus despair) or 2 bites +10 (1d10+5 plus despair) (while corporeal)
Special Attacks despair
Str — (20 while corporeal), Dex 20, Con —, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +5; CMB +10; CMD 23 (25 while corporeal)
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Step Up
Skills Fly +23, Intimidate +13, Perception +11, Stealth +15
A creature hit by a melacage’s natural attacks must succeed at a DC 16 Will save or be overwhelmed by sadness for 1d6 rounds. Affected creatures take a –2 penalty on ability checks, saving throws, attack and weapon damage rolls, and skill checks. This is an emotion and mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Life-Draining Aura (Su)
At the start of a melacage’s turn, each creature within 30 feet that is affected by the melacage’s despair ability takes 1d4 points of negative energy damage, and the melacage becomes corporeal for 1 round. It loses the incorporeal subtype and gains a Strength score of 20. Its deflection bonus to AC becomes a natural armor bonus, and its incorporeal touch attack is replaced with two bite attacks. It loses its fly speed and gains a base speed of 30 feet. A creature within the melacage’s aura at the start of the melacage’s turn can allow itself to be affected by the melacage’s despair ability (as if it had failed the Will save) in order to trigger this ability.
A melacage exists because it is not aware of how it died. Explaining to a melacage how it died destroys it permanently. If the melacage is destroyed but it still does not know the circumstances of its death, it rejuvenates fully in 1d10 days.
Organization solitary, village (2–5), or city (10–20)
In a world with powerful spells, silent monsters, and a long history that can often affect the present in unexpected ways, death—even mass death—can sometimes come as a surprise. While souls may move on, the sudden feelings of loss and confusion can be left in the world as psychic imprints, and if enough of those feelings exist in one place, they can combine into a melacage. A melacage stays near the place where it formed, trying to transfer its crippling depression to a living creature so that it can become corporeal and investigate the cause of its death.
An average melacage is around 2 feet in diameter, with four to five humanoid faces on the outside of its body.
Melacages are usually created in the aftermath of a great, tragic event. This could be anything from the collateral damage of a wizard’s duel to a group of subterranean monsters causing lethal tremors and a sudden sinkhole.
Whatever that event, it often has these two qualities: it affected a large group of people at once, and that group of people had little to no warning that it was coming.
Because a melacage is created by lingering emotions and not souls, the number of deaths that it takes to create one of these creatures can vary from one melacage to another. Sometimes the psychic imprint of an entire village will come together to form one melacage, while other times it takes only two or three sudden deaths. A major factor in the creation of melacages comes from the victims’ outlook on life while they were alive; a group of happy-go-lucky, optimistic people might be devastated by their sudden deaths and form many melacages, whereas a group of down-on-their-luck folk who were barely scraping by might barely form one. Gnomes in particular are vulnerable to forming melacages, as their whimsical nature and vivacious lifestyles can make their unexpected deaths all the more traumatic, though gnomes who have survived the Bleaching almost never form part of a melacage.
The fact that melacages are formed from lingering emotions and not souls also causes trouble for necromancers who try to create them. Since most spells focus on a corpse or a soul, it is hard to find a spell that targets the essences required to create a melacage; while it can be hard to covertly find the appropriate corpses necessary for casting animate dead, it can be even harder to quietly kill a large number of people in an unexpected and sudden way. These circumstances mean that academic 88 work on creating melacages is severely lacking and advanced only by unscrupulous professors’ side projects.
The faces of a melacage reflect those who provided the emotions that formed it, although in the case of a melacage created by the confusion and sorrow of a large number of people, the faces are often amalgams of the originals. Bits and pieces of the original creatures’ memories remain, mostly having to do with what the creatures were doing when they died. When accessing an individual person’s memories, the melacage rotates so this particular face is showing, which can lead to a dizzying discussion if the melacage tries to access multiple different memories at once.
A melacage that becomes corporeal falls onto the ground with a sickening splat as it simultaneously loses the ability to fly and gains real skin. Such a melacage is reduced to rolling around on the ground to move, and it must attack with its mouths instead of using its incorporeal essence to drain the vitality from other creatures. Despite being brought to the ground, melacages maintain much of the speed they had in their incorporeal forms, and they are able to quickly roll after any victims who try to escape.
Habitat and Society
Melacages are only as common as the events that create them, which means they tend to be fairly rare. Melacages can show up anywhere, but they form mostly in urban environments. Due to their connections with great tragedies, often the places where they reside are ruined and abandoned.
Melacages cannot recall the events that lead to their creation, and they cannot rest until they know the reason for their being, yet they are often prevented from investigating their deaths by their own melancholy and despair. This means that their first priority is to find something or someone else to host their overpowering emotions. This has the dual benefits of allowing them to mentally focus on their investigations and allowing them to become corporeal and therefore able to move physical objects in their quests. However, the necessary proximity to the new host of their depression and the damage their emotions inflict upon that creature can lead to misunderstandings of the melacage’s intentions, so such attempts often end in violence.
While a melacage doesn’t mind working with people who are investigating its death, its tumultuous and misery-stricken mind can often cause it to become confused as to who is actually helping and who is causing it harm. If a melacage is able to transfer its misery to someone else, the melacage usually becomes easier to reason with. Removing a melacage’s anguish can also help people who have figured out the cause of its deaths and are trying to convince it they have discovered the truth, as the emotional shock of discovery makes it difficult for the melacage to make sense of what anyone tells it, and it often denies that such stories could possibly be true.
Due to their tendency to live in isolated areas, melacages are only rarely reported, usually after adventurers have already removed them. There have been some strange rumors coming out of Nirmathas, however, of a village where melacages seem to be forming for no reason. Given the villagers’ preparations for Molthuni aggression, they’ve so far been able to take care of the melacages with minimal harm to themselves, but they remain flummoxed as to why the undead creatures are being created in the first place. The village is offering a sizable reward for anyone who can figure out the cause and deal with the situation permanently. Current theories point to an underground city that befell tragedy, but no one has been able to locate it.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #140: Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer © 2019, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Jason Keeley, with Eleanor Ferron, Sarah E. Hood, Lyz Liddell, Luis Loza, Crystal Malarsky, Jen McTeague, and Mikhail Rekun.