From PathfinderWiki

Source: Beyond the Doomsday Door, pg(s). 82

Cephalophores are larger-than-life, statue-like constructs that were built to protect tombs or other places of value. They always appear decapitated, holding their stone heads in their hands, but are eternally vigilant to trespassers and grave robbers. The earliest of their kind known to modern Golarion are thought to have been made by the Ninshaburian empire that spanned Casmaron and influenced parts of the Inner Sea region.1


Each cephalophore is made from a single block of marble weighing at least 4,000 pounds, and resembles a statue in humanoid form holding its own decapitated head. Many have faces twisted into a fierce grimace with arching brows, as is commonly seen in other Ninshaburian sculpture.1


Cephalophores are constructed in some unknown fashion, and have little cognizance beyond what was imbued upon them during creation. Much of the lore around cephalophores is lost and filled in with the theories of scholars. For instance, most scholars believe Ninshaburian cephalophores were inspired by Osirian living monoliths encountered by Ninshaburian phalanxes.1

Scholars also debate these constructs' creation — whether they were carved and animated, or transformations from living creatures. The sprawling abandoned Ninshaburian temple complex of Tabsagal features carvings that apparently describe a ritual where holy warriors offer up their own decapitated heads as a pledge of service to their deities, are turned to stone, and placed as guardians at holy sites.1


A cephalophore typically carries its detached head on its shoulder or in its hands, and the gaze from its eyes is disorienting in nature.1 Some might even be staged in a scene detached from its head, waiting to be activated before retrieving its head.2

On Golarion

Cephalophores are most commonly found in eastern Qadira, but specimens have been recorded in Andoran, Cheliax, Galt, Isger, Varisia, and Nex — similar in range to Ninshabur's roving phalanxes.1 They are also located in parts of Kraggodan,3 the Emerald Spire,4 and Yamasan ruins.5

Not all cephalophores on Golarion have Ninshaburian forms or date back to that ancient empire. Some are more recent and might be made in particularly meaningful forms; for example, dwarven cephalophores might be carved in the image of a dwarven deity, such as Grundinnar,3 and might be the size of dwarves or hryngars.6 Others are ancient but of other cultures, such as Yamasan tomb guardians carved in their peoples' likenesses.5

Known cephalophores

An unusual brass cephalophore known as the Brass Scholar guards the Shen Province Imperial Archive, a library moved into the Hao Jin Tapestry demiplane in the 44th century AR.7


Pathfinder First Edition game mechanics for cephalophores are also in Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4, p. 27.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 James Jacobs, et al. “Bestiary” in Beyond the Doomsday Door, 82–83. Paizo Inc., 2012
  2. Robert Brookes, et al. Imvrildara” in Inner Sea Temples, 59. Paizo Inc., 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thurston Hillman. “Siege of Stone” in Siege of Stone, 11. Paizo Inc., 2017
  4. Keith Baker, et al. The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, 106–107. Paizo Inc., 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Scott Fernandez, et al. Tomb of the Necrophage” in Tombs of Golarion, 60. Paizo Inc., 2015
  6. James Jacobs, et al. “Chapter 2: Game of Shadows” in Cradle of Night, 26. Paizo Inc., 2018
  7. Sam Polak. Fragments of Antiquity, 11. Paizo Inc., 2019