The Gelfid

February 27th, 2014

Alex Riggs

Exotic Encounters Archive

                This week’s Exotic Encounters brings you another player-character race, though this one is a little bit more unusual than the last. While gelfids certainly provide a unique play experience, they aren’t for everyone, and we strongly recommend consulting your GM before rolling up a gelfid character. Of course, GMs looking for an interesting NPC, especially of a villainous bent, could do a lot worse. Enjoy.



                Gelfids are an unusual race, and unlike most of the civilized races of the modern era, they are very decidedly inhuman. Resembling little more than oversized, grey-green slugs, gelfids are actually the product of a centuries-long, but ultimately abandoned, breeding experiment by aboleths for purposes that can certainly be guessed at, but remain at least partially obscured in mystery. Although they are not particularly threatening physically, gelfids are highly intelligent, and have been biologically engineered to take control over the bodies of humanoid creatures by manipulating their brains from within their skulls.


                Physical Description: Gelfids bear little resemblance to their aboleth progenitors. An adult gelfid measures between six inches and fifteen inches long, and is generally about half as wide and tall as that. Their skin is a blotchy greenish-grey color, is leathery and wrinkled, and is typically covered in a thin layer of mucus. They have three pairs of flipper-like protrusions on either side of their body which they use to navigate while in water, their natural environment, and which they use to help push themselves along when they find themselves on dry land. Gelfids have no eyes or mouths, but do possess four long antenna-like protrusions which extend from the front of their bodies. Gelfids are asexual, and reproduce via fission.


                Society: Originally created by aboleths as part of what can only have been a scheme to infiltrate humanoid society, gelfids have since been cut loose by their creators, and different gelfids have responded in different ways to this freedom. In aquatic environments, away from humanoid races, gelfids tend to form groups called pods, which are generally ruled by the most cunning and ruthless among them. When humanoid hosts are available, the leaders of these pods receive the best hosts (or, sometimes, those who receive the best hosts demonstrate enough cunning to use this to their advantage, and become leaders of the pod). There is very little freedom in a gelfid pod, and those gelfids who are given hosts are expected to use them to better serve the pod, such as by capturing more hosts. Many gelfids find the allure of humanoid existence to be incredibly appealing, however, and break away from their pods at the first opportunity, many doing their best to forget that they are anything more than the host they inhabit.


                Relations: In general, gelfids have little respect for humanoid life, and even less respect for their dignity or sovereignty. This comes less from any real sense of racial superiority and more from the fact that taking hosts is the only means that most gelfids have to escape their existence as subsistence aquatic animals. Because gelfids are not willing to give up taking hosts, they convince themselves that humanoid creatures are a lesser species. Of course, some gelfids actually do believe all of this, and see the conquest of humanoid races as the manifest destiny of their race, as envisioned by the aboleths. For their part, the aboleths seem to want nothing to do with the gelfids, and gelfids, in general, are all too happy to distance themselves from their one-time masters. Gelfids tend to prefer humans and half-orcs for their hosts, though particularly vain gelfids prefer beautiful races such as elves, instead. Most gelfids disdain smaller races such as gnomes, halflings, and dwarves.


                Alignment and Religion: Gelfids can be of any alignment, but most gelfids, especially those who make a habit of taking host bodies, tend towards lawful evil and neutral evil alignments. Very few gelfids embrace religion of any kind, and all gelfids are aware of their origins as experiments of the aboleths, rather than as the favored creations of a god, as so many humanoid races believe themselves to be. Some gelfids worship the aboleths as gods, but their devotion typically goes unheeded. Gelfids that take humanoid hosts often develop a strong distaste for religion, and telepathically mock their hosts’ faiths.


                Adventurers: Gelfid adventurers are more common than many imagine. While some gelfids are content simply to gain access to a humanoid body and live out the life of an average peasant, most gelfids that take a host find themselves craving both luxury and excitement, and often turn to adventuring to find the latter, as well as enough gold and treasure to supply the former. The fact that their host bodies are, to a limited extent, disposable means that gelfid adventurers face notably less danger from adventuring than actual humanoid adventurers, though their host bodies are not quite so lucky.

                Although they cannot cast spells in their natural form, most gelfids that take host bodies tend to become wizards, witches, or other arcane spellcasters, taking advantage of their potent minds and actively seeking out host bodies with physical prowess in order to have the best of both worlds.


                Names: A’ktran, Aso’oul, Elpsin, Ex’tar, Istrak, Ixtriss, Obstrix, Ung’trell, Yblstron, Yg’ras.


Standard Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Racial Traits: In their natural form, gelfids are very physically weak, although they are no less intelligent than when they possess a host. A gelfid in its natural form has a Strength score of 1, a Dexterity score of 5, and a Constitution score of 6. When controlling a host (see below), the gelfid uses the host’s physical ability scores, instead. Whenever a gelfid receives a bonus to an ability score as a result of advancing in level, it can choose to add this bonus to one of its physical ability scores, but if it does so, this only applies when it is not currently in possession of a host. A gelfid gains +2 Intelligence.
  • Type: Gelfids are aberrations with the aquatic and gelfid subtypes. When a gelfid is in possession of a host, however, it is treated as having the same type and subtype as the host, though it retains the gelfid subtype.
  • Size: In their natural form, gelfids are Diminutive creatures. As such, they gain a +4 size bonus to AC and attack rolls, a +6 size bonus on Fly checks, and a +12 size bonus on Stealth checks, but suffer a -4 size penalty to CMB and CMD. As long as a gelfid is in possession of a host, it is treated as having the same size as the host, and these bonuses and penalties do not apply.
  • Base Speed: A gelfid’s base speed is 10 feet. A gelfid has a swim speed of 60 feet. As long as a gelfid is in possession of a host, it uses its host’s speeds, instead.
  • Languages: Gelfids begin play speaking Common and Gelfid. Gelfids with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: Aboleth, Aklo, Aquan, and Undercommon. In their natural form, Gelfids are unable to speak any languages other than Gelfid, though they can still understand speech in any languages that they know. While in possession of a host, a gelfid can speak any language it knows (but cannot necessarily speak every language that the host knows).


Senses Racial Traits

  • Blindsight: When immersed in water or other liquids, gelfids have blindsight to a range of 60 ft.
  • Darkvision: In their natural form, gelfids have darkvision 60 ft.


Magical Racial Traits

  • Controlling: The saving throw DCs of any spells or spell-like abilities with the compulsion descriptor that a gelfid casts is increased by +1. This bonus stacks with Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus, but not with any other effect that increases a spell’s saving throw DCs, such as the bloodline arcana of the fey sorcerer bloodline.


Other Racial Traits

  • Amphibious: Although a gelfid has the aquatic subtype, it can survive indefinitely on land.
  • Sluglike Body: A gelfid has no arms, hands, legs, or mouth. Unless it is in possession of a host, it cannot hold or manipulate items, speak any language other than Gelfid, or cast spells with verbal, somatic, or material components. A gelfid without a host cannot typically make attacks of any kind.
  • Take Host (Ex): Gelfids are able to take control of living humanoid bodies by gaining access to the host’s brain. This is a full-round action that requires that the potential host be either willing or helpless, that the gelfid is adjacent to the potential host, and that the potential host’s nose and/or ears be uncovered and accessible. This provokes attacks of opportunity. A gelfid can attempt to enter a potential host that is sleeping, but must succeed on a Sleight of Hand check, opposed by the potential host’s Perception check (including the penalty for being asleep) in order to do so.

                Once a gelfid has successfully entered a host body, it can control the host’s body, using it as its own. While controlling a host in this way, the gelfid uses the host’s physical ability scores, and is treated as having the size, type, speeds, senses, and natural attacks (if any) of the host creature. It uses its own mental ability scores, skill ranks, feats, and class features, and does not gain access to any skill ranks, feats, or class features of the host, nor does it gain any special knowledge of the host’s past or memories. The gelfid uses its own Hit Dice or the host’s, whichever is greater, for the purposes of determining the effects of spells and abilities dependent on number of Hit Dice. Any damage dealt to the host counts against the host’s hit points, not the gelfid’s (except for damage from a mental source, such as phantasmal killer or nightmare). A gelfid can communicate telepathically with its host (and vice versa), but cannot read its host’s thoughts or access its memories.

                A number of times per day equal to the host’s Hit Dice, the host can attempt to regain control from the gelfid. In order to determine if the host succeeds, the host and the gelfid must make an opposed check, rolling 1d20 + their Hit Dice + the highest of their Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifiers for this check. If the host succeeds, he regains control of his body for 1 minute. If the host succeeds by 10 or more, he regains control of his body for 24 hours, and inflicts 3d6 points of damage to the gelfid (the host may choose to make additional checks to deal additional damage to the gelfid, if he has not used all of his attempts for the day). If the host fails by 10 or more, he is unable to attempt to regain control for the remainder of the day.

                There are a number of ways for a gelfid with a host to be detected. A detect thoughts or similar spell, if used on the gelfid while it is in possession of a host, reveals the thoughts of both the gelfid and the host, which typically reveals the gelfid’s presence. Similarly, detect evil, and similar spells, detect both the gelfid and the host separately. A true seeing spell does not reveal the gelfid, but x-ray vision (such as from a ring of x-ray vision) might. Because the gelfid does not have access to the host’s memories, it must work to act the part, if it doesn’t want to arouse suspicion from the host’s friends and acquaintances. Such characters may make Sense Motive checks (with modifiers based on the characters’ familiarity with the host, as described in the Disguise skill), opposed by the gelfid’s Bluff check, to identify that the host is not acting normally.

                There are several ways to force a gelfid to leave a host. If the host is the target of a remove disease spell, the gelfid must succeed on a Fortitude save to resist the spell (using the spell’s saving throw DC), or be immediately expelled from the target’s body, landing in an adjacent square. Additionally, a creature that is aware of the gelfid can target the gelfid specifically with mind-affecting spells as long as those spells have a range of greater than touch and the gelfid’s host is within range, even if the caster does not actually have line of sight or line of effect to the gelfid itself. If a gelfid dies while in possession of a host, its corpse exits the host automatically. Finally, gelfids can choose to leave a host voluntarily (or under mundane or magical duress).

                If a gelfid’s host dies while the gelfid is within it, the gelfid must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the host’s Hit Dice; the gelfid uses its own Constitution modifier, rather than the host’s) or suffer 10 points of damage per Hit Dice the host possessed. The gelfid can thereafter remain within the corpse, or leave it as a full-round action, but can no longer control the body.

                A gelfid can move directly from one host to another, as long as its current host is adjacent to its new host and the new host is either helpless or willing. Regardless of how or why a gelfid leaves a host, the host must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the gelfid’s Hit Dice + the gelfid’s Intelligence modifier) or be stunned for 1d4 rounds after the gelfid leaves his body.

  • Toxic Buildup: At least once every seven days, a gelfid must be immersed in clean water for a period of one hour. For each day beyond seven that a gelfid does not do so, it suffers 1 point of damage per Hit Dice it possesses. Damage inflicted in this way cannot be healed by any means, including magic, until the gelfid has been immersed in clean water for a period of one hour. The gelfid must not be in a host in order to be immersed effectively in this way.


Sidebar: Ability Score Generation for Gelfids

                Because gelfids can only put ability score points into three ability scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma), a gelfid character’s ability scores are generated somewhat differently. When using the standard, classic, and heroic ability score generation methods outlined in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, only roll for the gelfid’s three mental ability scores, and do not roll for its physical ability scores. When using the dice pool method, the gelfid’s player has only 12d6 dice, and divides them amongst his character’s three mental ability scores. When using the purchase method, the gelfid character receives only half the normal amount of points (rounded down), and they must all be spent on its mental ability scores.

                A gelfid character begins play with a host body that is a level 1 human commoner with the following ability scores: Strength 12, Dexterity 12, Constitution 12, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 10, Charisma 10.