ECOLOGY OF THE YITHIAN
- 'I stood at the edge of a high balcony. A great city stretched out before me: vast—even when compared to Absalom—and alien, with structures crafted to serve beings whose forms were unfamiliar to me. Beyond the oddly angled structures, I saw a forest of massive black towers with windowless walls that flled me with a deep and nameless dread.'
- 'I turned to ask my companions about them, but the sounds of my utterances startled me into silence. I spoke neither in Taldane nor any of the languages I have spent a lifetime cultivating, but in a bizarre combination of clicks, scrapes, and other sounds. When the others with me answered, similar noises erupted from their strange, unwholesome limbs. Only then did I realize the truth—the body I inhabited had those same limbs! I awoke screaming.'
- '—From the dream diary of Professor Ignatius Pembril, University of Lepidstadt .'
The Great Race of Yith comes from a distant place and time, and all members of this species have the ability to project their minds into the past, present, or future. By swapping minds with the bodies of other living creatures, the Great Race constantly explores the multiverse, not simply by location, but along the vast spectrum of time itself. It devotes much of its eﬀorts to gathering information from the people of faroﬀ worlds, collecting such data by directly experiencing other environments, cultures, and physical forms—with everything gleaned used to further increase the yithians’ already vast knowledge.
The Great Race has inﬂuenced events spanning the universe and the eons, taking advantage of opportunities that impact its own future. While some yithians do this as purely mental presences on specifc worlds, most take a more direct role in events. They have existed for millennia upon millenni.a They have already foreseen and avoided the destruction of their civilization before by usurping the bodies of suitable creatures. Their minds and motives are as alien to the short-lived species of Golarion as the thoughts of people are to rodents.
GENESIS By the early days of Golarion’s Age of Serpents, the Great Race of Yith was already an advanced civilization on its world. The yithians knew their planet was doomed, but their technology and metaphysical powers enabled them to contact beings in another time on the planet Earth. In Yith’s fnal days, the Great Race projected all its minds into the bodies of this other species, replacing the creatures’ minds and dooming them to annihilation on Yith. To the Great Race, this was not an act inspired by evil—truly, the species holds to no morality that mirrors anything found on Golarion—but was instead out of necessity, to preserve itself and the knowledge it had accumulated.
The new forms adopted by the yithians were very unusual (see Ecology on page 70). Afer acclimating themselves to their new bodies, they set to work restoring their civilization. The frst obstacle they encountered was the ﬂying polyps. These horrifc entities of aberrant air had subjugated the creatures whose bodies the Great Race usurped, using them as workers and playthings to fulfll their sadistic, genocidal urges. In their hubris, however, the polyps failed to notice the sudden increase in their slaves’ intelligence.
Although the ﬂying polyps proved to be formidable foes, the yithians had taken the time to carefully study their new home and their enemy, and secretly built weapons. The yithian uprising caught the polyps wholly oﬀ guard. The battles were brutal, but short. Yithians exterminated as many polyps as they could, but had to settle for driving most of them into subterranean tunnels beneath the polyps’ titanic, unsettling black towers. They sealed the tunnels with stone and magic, and then set guards to ensure that none of their enemies returned to the surface unnoticed.
Once they had dealt with the ﬂying polyps, the yithians built new cities. They fended oﬀ the predations of the other creatures that populated this unfamiliar world and restored their society bit by bit. Then they returned to exploring the past, present, and future of their new planet and others. While they gathered knowledge on science, philosophy, and metaphysics, the yithians also focused great energy on learning about their own future to avoid another calamity like that which claimed their original homeworld. In time, they discovered they would once again have to face their old enemies.
The danger they foresaw presented itself on two fronts. First, the yithians learned that geological changes would open portals through which the ﬂying polyps could escape their imprisonment. Over the course of millennia, the seething polyps had multiplied. When the polyps would at last break through to the surface, the yithians foresaw that they would not be able to stand against them, and so again searched the future for a new species of beings to inhabit. When the ﬂying polyps inevitably emerge from their prison, the aberrations will destroy the yithians’ bodies, but the minds within them will be those of a confused and terrifed species of beetle-like creatures. Content in the knowledge that they would survive, most yithians refused to speak of the ﬂying polyps again.
However, the yithians also discovered that some of ﬂying polyps had already escaped their imprisonment.
In the fnal days of their uprising, groups of polyps used their wind powers to gather massive bubbles of air, ﬂying into space to invade and terrorize new worlds.
Some of them began to serve the forces of Carcosa, making themselves even more dangerous as they were empowered by beings of unspeakable nature.
One faction of yithians wanted to seek out these fugitives and destroy them before they could cause further destruction throughout the multiverse. While the yithian governors knew that such a mission would do nothing to stop the return of their enemies from below, they at least believed that opposing the ﬂying polyps on other worlds would hasten that species’ eradication and secure the development of the beetle-like creatures into which the yithians planned to eventually escape.
The yithians who chose to fght the ﬂying polyps were mostly veterans of the frst uprising. Several warrior factions used their technology and magic to pursue their foes to diﬀerent worlds. One group, led by a conclave of yithian elders, used newly developed and dangerous magic to perform an audacious act—they moved the Yithian city of Kothrekis to a world where polyps had cultivated the entity known as Xhamen Dor. There, they waged war against the polyps, only to discover that they could not win against their ancient foes. Instead, they engineered the destruction of that world, hoping to destroy Xhamen-Dor and its polyp worshipers. Unfortunately, this desperate plan didn’t quite work out as the yithians hoped—see Yithians on Golarion on page 72 for further details.<ref name="adv">
The ecology of the Great Race is unique because its fundamental nature is no longer based on physical bodies.
When yithians explore the multiverse, they typically do so as disembodied minds that come to inhabit other host forms. It is this mind-projection ability that truly sets the Great Race apart from other species.
By interacting with a special device that focuses its thoughts, a member of the Great Race can send its mind to any place and time in search of sentient minds. Once it fnds a world populated by such beings, it pushes further and searches for individuals with knowledge and experience that might beneft the Great Race as a whole.
It contacts such an individual telepathically and then uses its mind swap ability to exchange bodies.
While the member of the Great Race explores a new world in the host’s body, a host’s mind—now contained within the yithian body—may move freely about the yithians’ city, as long as it spends time sharing its own knowledge and follows certain rules. When the member of the Great Race’s sojourn ends, the host’s memories are altered to remove knowledge of its time with the Great Race and the two minds return to their original bodies. This memory modifcation process is not perfect, however, and hosts ofen experience disturbing dreams and brief ﬂashes of barely retained memories.
Sometimes, these recollections are so vivid that they drive the host mad as it tries to confrm the truth of what it has seen.
Those who have seen yithians, mostly in those half-memories of dreams and nightmares, know only the physical forms the Great Race inhabited while it ruled over the world it wrested from the ﬂying polyps’ control. With the ability to transfer the minds of the entire civilization into a new species whenever a current world can no longer support its members, the Great Race of Yith may well continue until the multiverse ceases to exist. Even then, with their vast and growing repositories of both scientifc and magical knowledge, the yithians may yet fnd a way to avoid even such a fate as the extinguishing of all known reality.
In their current and most familiar physical state, a yithian’s large body is made up of a rubbery, plantlike material, weighing thousands of pounds and shaped like an iridescent cone with four tentacles at its apex.
Yithians can extend these limbs up to 10 feet or retract them entirely into their bodies, using them for a wide variety of purposes. What little physical variation they have is based on diﬀerences in size and color patterns, though some develop into yithian elders (Pathfnder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary 62) through aging and the accumulation of great psychic power.
One appendage extends from the very top of a yithian’s body and holds its head, a spheroid with three enormous eyes spaced equally around its equator. A mass of smaller tentacles dangles from the head, like an obscene beard that twitches and wriggles.
These tiny strands are also able to serve as hands that allow the creatures to perform very intricate physical manipulations. The three other tentacles extend from three sides of the body. One tentacle carries a group of hornlike growths, through which a yithian eats—they consume only a vegetable-based synthetic paste—and can emit some simple noises. The other two tentacles end in pincers or claws, which a yithian uses both as hands and to make the various clicking and scraping sounds that, combined with a few other sounds, make up their language.
Yithians reproduce asexually, forming buds near the bases of their bodies that eventually drop oﬀ. These spawn are cared for in shallow vats until they mature.
This reproduction rarely occurs, however, because the creatures live so long and they have no need to increase their physical numbers beyond those minds that currently exist within their society. Not only that, but any oﬀspring that is created in this way develops a consciousness appropriate to the strange body the Great Race now inhabits, rather than becoming a new mind of the Great Race. These vegetable forms can live for up to 5,000 years before succumbing to old age. When a yithian nears death, it or an ally allows a new spawn to bud. Before the dying yithian passes, it exchanges minds with the younger form, continuing its life while the younger mind dies with the old body, trapped and ofen too immature to truly understand the nature of its existence before perishing. By transferring its mind in this way, a single Great Race consciousness can conceivably exist forever, barring death by sudden illness, accident, or violence. As yithians cannot create new members that truly belong to their mind-based civilization, the loss of a single awareness is considered a horrible tragedy, and yithians will go to great lengths to preserve themselves.<ref name="adv">
Yithians are, at their core, rational beings, and so their society is built on a foundation of shared resources managed under strict rules. Their government is a federation more akin to a league of communities than a homogeneous nation-state. There are four major geographic regions in this federation, each with its own governing council. The four councils act as a voting body that elects a board of governors to preside over yithian government as a whole, though only yithian elders can be a part of either group. Citizens disagreeing with their council’s decisions can raise the matter to the board, which adjudicates the fnal decision in the best interests of the Great Race.
Although crime is incredibly rare among their kind, accused lawbreakers are treated with extreme respect, as no member of the Great Race wishes to see its kind’s numbers diminished by such uncivilized sentences as banishment or death. Judgment and sentencing are pronounced only afer careful consideration of the accused’s motivations, and such deliberations have been known to take decades—even centuries—as the accused’s actions must be evaluated against the scope of an immortal life span. Those yithians convicted of lesser crimes lose certain privileges within their society, while more serious oﬀenses result in punishments that wrench and damage the convict’s mind without the release of death. Only the most heinous crimes end up earning the nearly unthinkable act of execution.
By learning from countless other cultures, the yithians have created highly advanced technology that automates the production of food and other goods. Great machines maintain their cities’ structures, even in the face of sudden geological upheaval. Meanwhile, freed from the banalities of manual labor, yithians are able to focus on studying science, pursuing artistic visions, and collecting even more knowledge.
Despite being a generally peaceful people, the struggles against ﬂying polyps and other creatures on their world, such as the star-headed elder things, also forced the Great Race to turn its collective minds toward developing powerfully destructive weapons. When yithians are pushed to the point where they see no other choice than to engage in warfare, the results are cataclysmic.
Schisms within yithian culture are uncommon, but they have certainly been part of the culture’s history, sometimes erupting into devastating civil wars. Most yithians, however, understand the importance of preserving the minds of their citizens in order to avoid threatening the existence of their whole species. Greater threats, like the ﬂying polyps, overshadow almost any ideological diﬀerences.
As beings of pure thought who have existed for an incomprehensible length of time, yithians are an enigma to most other creatures they encounter.
The paths of logic a yithian mind follows are paved with eons of experience and knowledge. Only the most capable minds can talk with them and not lose themselves in the process. Yithians are inscrutable, even when inhabiting the bodies of familiar species. Yithians place their own survival and the eradication of the ﬂying polyps above all else, making them seem cold and unfeeling to creatures that may act more according to emotion, morality, or other such base impulses.
The truth is far more complicated, of course. Yithians are quite willing to work with other creatures. They sometimes share access to their libraries, especially when they can gain new knowledge in return. When their needs coincide with those of other species, yithians can bring the full power of their intellects to bear, drawing on the wisdom of innumerable worlds to formulate plans and create weapons, making them powerful allies. However, one must never forget that these are also beings whose rational thinking leads them to annihilate the minds of entire species in order to ensure their own continued existence above all else.
Through their experiences with a wide variety of cultures, yithians have come in contact with nearly every class imaginable. The creatures’ love of knowledge usually leads them to take levels in alchemist, arcanist, investigator, occultist, psychic, wizard, and even witch.
More martial-minded characters focus on eradicating ﬂying polyps wherever they are encountered, taking levels in kineticist, magus, ranger, and slayer. Yithians do not typically worship divine beings, seeing little need for devotion to anything beyond the Great Race, so they tend not to take levels in cleric, oracle, paladin, or similar classes. A rare few, however, come to know the divine powers of a particular world and will take levels in inquisitor, using their chosen deity’s power to seek out and destroy their hated aberrant enemies.<ref name="adv">
When a yithian inhabits a diﬀerent body, it seeks out places where it can gain the most understanding of the time and place in which its host dwells. Libraries, museums, and other places of learning are strong focal points. A visiting scholar who behaves strangely or seeks information that has nothing to do with her usual feld of study may well be a mind-swapped yithian. However, once the yithian has hit upon a thread of knowledge that may be of use to the Great Race’s eons-spanning goals, it will follow clues across the face of the planet in search of greater understanding.
Whether living alone or in small groups, yithians ofen choose lairs near places where ﬂying polyps are active or where they have foreseen the polyps will be active. This allows them to weaken the presence and inﬂuence of the polyps and give the Great Race a higher chance of survival in future conﬂicts.
When not located within their home city, individuals choose secluded lairs that provide them with protection while using their mind-projection abilities. The lair of a lone yithian is equipped with the most advanced technology it can create or gather on its own to provide defenses and supplies. The lair must provide enough resources to keep the yithian alive, while also serving as an inescapable prison while its body is occupied by another creature’s mind. Some yithians prefer to immobilize their bodies, either through magic or with special restraints, instead. Unfortunately, those who spend years in isolation within a yithian’s lair usually go insane by the time they’re returned to their original forms.<ref name="adv">
YITHIANS ON GOLARION
It is rare to encounter even one yithian mind on a planet at any given time, but a few worlds receive their special attention, either because they hold key information about the destiny of yithians, or because they play a role in the Great Race’s ongoing struggle against the ﬂying polyps. Golarion is just such a place.
When yithians discovered that ﬂying polyps had escaped Earth, their greatest elders harnessed newly developed but dangerous powers to bend space and time, moving an entire Yithian city, Kothrekis, to a new world in a single instant. The audacious act broke the minds of several Yithians and damaged some of the city’s structures, but they managed nonetheless to mount a war against the polyps on this new world.
Unfortunately, the polyps were too strong, so yithians engineered the planet’s destruction. Yet the Yithians had forseen that even this desperate move wouldn’t defeat their foes, for their greatest time seers had forseen Xamen-Dor’s survival and eventual landing on yet another distant world: Golarion. So in the moments before the planet’s destruciton, the Yithians transported Kothrekis once more, this time to Golarion. They intended to continue their research and prepare to fght the polyps there anew, yet this transport would prove to be Kothrekis’s last, for not only did its immense engines collapse, but the transport drove the yithian elders mad.
Kothrekis arrived on Golarion deep below the deserts of southwestern Casmaron, within the Darklands region of Orv. When Kothrekis frst appeared in Orv, the area was abundant with life, but for the frst many years of life in Orv, the denizens of Kothrekis focused on recovering from their own disastrous arrival. In time, the insane elders were slain or exiled, and the remaining few set about the task of preparing for a new war against the polyps. Unfortunately, as a result of the city’s invasive arrival in the vault, the once-verdant realm began to wither. Rich soil slowly turned to red sand and the yithians’ resources dwindled. Tensions ﬂared and violence erupted. Eventually, a small group of leaders forged an uneasy truce that lasted long enough for most of the group to transfer their minds into younger bodies in another time and place. A contingent of 15 to 20 stayed behind on Golarion to continue watching the surface world and await the time when the war on the polyps would recommence. Meanwhile, strange winds blew red sand across the city, engulfng it a little more each year, eroding the ancient structures and the sanity of those who remained.
Golarion’s importance has led yithians to create a network of hidden operatives throughout the Inner Sea region, especially in Numeria where they hope to gather the technology found within the Silver Mount. A separate group studies events in Tian Xia, specifcally in Zi H.a It is likely that Great Race seeks to understand— and perhaps duplicate—the samsarans’ ability to reincarnate themselves.
Disguised yithians usually work by themselves, but support one another to keep their presence and purpose a secret. When the time comes for a yithian to leave Golarion, it usually contacts a fellow operative, who observes the mind swap and then, while the host is still unconscious, removes and destroys the focal device to prevent others from learning its function. <ref name="adv">
The Great Race of Yith has survived for millions of years because they have used the knowledge its mindtravelers gain. Sometimes, this knowledge is recorded in unusual tomes.
PRICE 2,000 GP
WEIGHT 10 lbs.
These strange books are fashioned from a metallic alloy, the crafting of which is known only to yithians and a very few others. Supposedly taken from the same collection as the fabled Pnakotic Manuscripts and traded throughout the multiverse, these books are collections of notes recorded by visitors to the yithians’ cities. Each book is written in multiple languages and provides a vast array of information on a specifc topic, but the information it contains is often oddly specifc and lacks context. A single Pnakotic record focuses on a single subject within the confnes of a single Knowledge skill, such as a presentation on the nature of deep one religious practices in worshiping Cthulhu (Knowledge [religion]), the mechanics of a shoggoth’s biology (Knowledge [dungeoneering]), or the methods of creating portals between worlds (Knowledge [arcana]). By studying a Pnakotic record for 8 hours, a reader can attempt a single Knowledge check of the appropriate type when researching the book’s corresponding subject to gain a +10 circumstance bonus on the check.<ref name="adv">
Yithians learned to harness the power of magic and technology to fulfll their basic needs, aid them in the collection of knowledge, and fght the enemies who would do them harm. In time, some of those items found their way to Golarion.
AMULET OF WIND DEFIANCE 10,000 GP PRICE
SLOT neck CL 9th WEIGHT — AURA moderate transmutation [air]
This circular stone amulet is engraved with a fne, spiraling line that winds inward toward the center, creating the impression of a powerful vortex. The amulet surrounds the wearer with a reactive feld that counters the negative effects of natural or magically controlled winds. The wearer treats all such effects as though she is under the inﬂuence of freedom of movement.
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS COST 5,000 GP Craft Wondrous Item, control winds
LIGHTNING TRAP SPHERES 2,000 GP PRICE
SLOT none CL 13th WEIGHT 1 l. b AURA strong evocation [electricity]
These tiny spheres, crafted from a dull gray material and studded with tiny copper protuberances, come in sets of four. As a standard action, a user can throw four or more spheres at a single target as a ranged touch attack with a 30-foot range increment. On a hit, the spheres explode outward, forming an immobile cage of semisolid lightning around the target. Any creature attempting to pass through the cage wall automatically takes 10d6 points of electricity damage. Four lightning trap spheres thrown simultaneously can capture a Medium target, eight spheres can capture a Large target, 12 spheres can capture a Huge target, and 16 spheres can capture a Gargantuan target. The trap persists for 1 minute for each set of spheres used, then dissipates, consuming the spheres in the process. The price above is for a set of four lightning trap spheres.
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS COST 1,000 GP Craft Wondrous Item, forcecage, lightning bolt
MNEMONIC REPOSITORY 3,000 GP PRICE
SLOT none CL 3rd WEIGHT 1 l.
b AURA faint divination [mind-affecting]
This device looks like a clear, fst-sized crystal with an internal lattice made up of nearly invisible strands of silver-white metal.
By holding the crystal in both hands and concentrating, the user can record its own memories, storing the information in the crystal so that it can be retrieved later with perfect clarity. The crystal can store a nearly limitless amount of information, but the user must concentrate for 1 minute to record an amount of information that would require 10 minutes to communicate in other ways.
The information in a mnemonic repository can be recalled in a similar fashion, requiring 1 minute of concentration for each 10 minutes’ worth of information gained, but the user must know the repository’s mental keyword, which is set by the creature that recorded the memories. A mnemonic repository can be used to remove the effects of spells such as modify memory or repress memoryOA, as long as the user recorded its true memories prior to being affected by those spells, but the device cannot remove negative levels imposed by a mindwipeOA spell, nor can it restore previously cast spells.
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS COST 1,500 GP Craft Wondrous Item, mindlinkOA FURTHER READING The details of this article are inspired primarily by Lovecraf’s novella The Shadow Out of Time, but also by additional information from Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. For additional lore about these strange beings, seek out these two excellent resources.
- Pathfinder - [EN] - Adventure Path - (PZO90112] - 19 - Strange Aeons - 04 -The Whisper Out of Time