Creature Feature Friday: Bryrvath

Want to add a splash of the Lovecraftian to your game while also teaching your players to fear the rainbow? Then meet the bryrvath, a monster that treats the light spectrum like its own personal plaything.

The bryrvath is a CR 15 aberration with a variety of light-based powers. Its main power is Impossible Aura (Su) a once an hour ability that creates a 15 foot radius aura around itself lasting 5 rounds. Any creature that enters it or begins its turn within the aura must make a DC 23 Will save, with 1d4 Wisdom and Intelligence damage on a failure or 2d6 damage and 1 round of the sickened condition on a success. Closely related to that is its Spectrend (Su) ability, which allows it to tear the visible spectrum apart in any area with light. This creates a stationary anomaly in any adjacent square that lasts 1d4 rounds. Anyone who can see it at the beginning of their turn must make a DC 23 Will save, suffering the confused condition for 1 round on a failure or the dazzled condition on a success. Its control of light doesn’t end with creation, which is shown in its Light Absorption (Su) ability. It can make a caster level check against any light source within 10 feet with a DC of 11+ the item level if the source is an item or the caster level if the source is a spell. On a success, the light given off by the light source decreases by one step for an hour and the bryrvath heals 5 hit points. Adding onto all of that is its arsenal of spell-like abilities. Once a day at DC 25 it can cast dominate person and mislead, three times a day at DC 24 it can cast confusion, greater invisibility, mind probe, and 4th level mind thrust, and it can cast arcane sight and clairaudience/clairvoyance at will. It’s no slouch in terms of straight combat either, with a vicious claw attack, a Ray of Light (Su) laser attack with 120 ft range (that doesn’t work in areas of bright light), resistance 15 to both fire and electricity, and spell resistance 26. Oh, and let’s just throw in 100 ft range telepathy too. It does have vulnerability to cold damage, but that’s small comfort when you’re fighting something you can barely look at, much less hurt through less specialized attacks.

The bryrvath isn’t derived from any creature in the Cthulhu Mythos, but given Paizo’s fondness of eldritch abominations and incomprehensible horrors, it’s clearly meant to fit right it. A form that doesn’t seem like it fits together and inspires contradicting descriptions from different onlookers? Check. The ability to leave permanent mental scars just by looking at it? Check. Screws with the natural order just by existing? Check. It sure fits the bill, and that’s not an easy feat in the Starfinder setting. In a world where people can rewrite reality with the right words and gestures, fly between planets, and go to Hell and back, it can take some effort to create something that feels like it shouldn’t exist, yet the bryrvath does so. You can have some fun just describing it to your players, a thing cloaked in impossibly deep shadows and colors you can’t understand, giving just glimpses at a body that moves in ways no physical thing could and covered in gashes that seem to drink in the light around it.

But as fun as it is to freak players out with nightmarish descriptions, there’s more to be drawn from in terms of powers. Sight is generally considered the most important sense we have, and the bryrvath make it impossible to rely on. Impossible aura and spectrend are both sense-based, meaning you have to fight it using gorgon rules. Sure, at level 14 players probably have some way to gain a form of blindsight or blindsense, but if they don’t know they’ll need that going in they very well might not have anything to counter it  besides closing their eyes and hoping for the best. And even if they manage to avoid the majority of its light-based abilities, mislead and greater invisibility means what they see might not be the truth, while dominate person and confusion let it disorient even those who can operate without sight. As always, dominate person presents an option to cripple players with a single failed save by finding the loopholes. In this case, you can get around the restriction on self-destructive commands by telling them to keep their eyes open before using impossible aura. They don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t be harmless until you activate the aura, and by then it’s too late.

Bryrvaths are alien beings, even in a setting with literal aliens. They take something familiar and make it something bizarre and wrong. There’s actually some scientific backing to seeing colors we shouldn’t be able to perceive, but that requires expensive equipment and a small margin for error, while the bryrvath can create them as a matter of course. Its close ties to light and perception mean it fits in well with anything involving light, from experimental laser weapons to a corona of aberrant light around a dying star. Here’s a few plot hooks to use the bryrvath in your game:

  • A new art gallery has just opened for the rich and elite of society, boasting the best arts from dozens of civilizations as well as brand new exhibits created by brilliant artists just for this event.  However, not all goes as planned. One artist’s ambitious project involving a sculpture made of contradicting colors existing at once goes wrong and unleashes a bryrvath on the gathered crowds. Now the creature stalks the gallery, preying on the attendees and outmaneuvering the security. Making things more complicated is that the projectors of the light sculpture seem to have been tampered with, raising the question of whether the creature’s appearance was intentional and why.
  • The first colour out of space was the creation of a particularly powerful bryrvath. It quickly turned on its progenitor and drained it of its marvelous colors before fleeing into space before its kin could slay it. Now the two species are bitter enemies, with the colours hunting the bryrvaths for their delicious spectrums while the bryrvaths try to exterminate the colours as a rabid experiment gone wrong.
  • A routine package delivery goes horribly wrong when the recipient’s town is found to be infested by bryrvaths. As it turns out, the natives of the village see through echolocation and have no idea about the monsters in their town. The bryrvaths have abstained from slaughtering the natives in favor of constantly feeding on the light of an area where no one will notice, but they have no qualms about murdering the new visitors if they seem like they would try and upset the status quo.

About nwright

A freelance writer for the Open Gaming website who looks forward to building plots out of monster entries for you to enjoy as a player or DM.

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