|Images of xoarians
Source: Bestiary 2, pg(s). 147
Psychic body snatchers to whom no experience is too extreme and no flesh is sacred, xoarians, also known as intellect devourers, body snatchers or corpse riders,1 are one of the strangest and most mysterious peoples of the Darklands.2 Using their ability to compress their body, xoarians crawl through the mouths of helpless or dead creatures, consume the brain, and assume control of the new host body.3
Xoarians resemble large tentacled✝ humanoid brains.4 Strangely, despite appearing like soft and squidgy brain matter, their outer shells are particularly resilient to damage. Xoarians are rarely seen in this form and are most frequently encountered while possessing a host's body.2
The first xoarians were spawned by a small, dark, living planet in the Dark Tapestry for the purpose of defending the world from alien invaders roaming its surface. Initially unaware of this, they nonetheless dominated and consumed all of those invaders. With nothing more to do, the xoarians burrowed within the flesh of their homeworld, discovered its vast brain, feasted upon it and discovered the purpose of their creation. After they devoured the planet's mind, several thousand xoarians took control of its regenerating brain.5
The alien invaders eventually returned and established contact with the xoarians. They introduced themselves as members of the Dominion of the Black and offered the xoarians an alliance. Many xoarians accepted and left their homeworld to study with the Dominion, eventually returning and finding a way to reproduce. Xoarians physically changed little between the generations, but their mental and defensive abilities constantly improved.5
Xoarians arrived to Golarion when their spaceship was critically damaged by the same ship that they had been ordered to prevent from reaching Golarion. The xoarians escaped in a pod meant for bigger species, which crashed into the Darklands. They quickly came into conflict with the alghollthus, gugs, neothelids, and other aberrations. These xoarians eventually came to treat Golarion as their homeworld and develop an attachment to their humanoid hosts, considering themselves distinct from their kin who remained with the Dominion.5
Habitat and ecology
The main habitat of the xoarian is the Mute Metropolis of Ilvarandin, one of the most impressive and intimidating vaults of Orv. This ancient abandoned city is for the most part uninhabited and wild, but at its very center is High Ilvarandin, the lair of the xoarians. Travellers who stumble upon this place often mistake it for some sort of multi-racial paradise where hryngars,6 ulat-kinis, and many other Darklands creatures dwell together in peace.7 In fact, this is a lie: the residents are little more than fleshy shells being used by the xoarians.2
The key feature of xoarians is their natural inability to feel or experience neither physical sensations nor emotions in their natural form. This leaves them desperate for sensory input, and the only way of achieving it is to possess a host body. These usurped bodies rarely last long as many xoarians are decadent hedonists who find pain as intoxicating a sensation as pleasure. As such, they always thirst for new bodies to inhabit.2
Xoarians living on Golarion prefer humanoid host bodies due to their wide variety of emotions and their susceptibility to fear. They maintain a large variety of humanoid hosts in their immediate vicinity: hryngars, elves, humans, orcs, drathnelars,8 and more.7 They no longer identify with the xoarians who remained with the Dominion and try to keep a low profile for fear of attracting their attention, at which point their cousins will likely separate them from their beloved humanoid bodies and collect them for analysis. For this reason they operate almost exclusively in the Darklands, keep only a few non-exiled xoarians on the surface, and consider surface-dwelling exiles a danger.5
Xoarians' primary foes are the neothelids of Orv, who lack brains and therefore cannot be controlled; the neothelids' seugathi servants are similarly uncontrollable. They have found some success in controlling purple worms but have been unable to gain the upper hand.5
Within the Dominion of the Black, xoarians usually work under neh-thalggu overlords, who often abuse them. Xoarians can gain respect only by possessing impressive hosts, but most are content with this. They see the velstracs — who are also interested in, knowledgeable about, and numbed to pain — as kindred spirits, and xoarians often willingly subject themselves or their hosts to experimentation and augmentation by velstracs summoned by the Dominion.59
Many xoarians still reside on their original homeworld, spawning more generations to serve the Dominion of the Black. They have been spotted on Aucturn and the dark corners of other worlds in Golarion's solar system, and maintain a laboratory in the Diaspora to continue experimenting on akatas in hopes of weaponizing them for the Dominion.510
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- Paizo referred to xoarians as intellect devourers until the publication of Heavy is the Crown.
- “Orv” in Into the Darklands, 49–51. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Monsters A-Z” in Bestiary, 147. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Return to the Darklands” in Heavy is the Crown, 71. Paizo Inc., .
- “Intellect Devourer” in Darklands Revisited, 23–26. Paizo Inc., .
- Paizo referred to hryngars as duergar until the publication of Highhelm and the Sky King's Tomb Pathfinder Adventure Path.
- Paizo retroactively removed drow from the Pathfinder campaign setting as part of the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project. A canon replacement for drow in this context might not exist. See Meta:Drow.
- Paizo referred to drathnelars (umbral gnomes) as svirfneblin (deep gnomes) until the publication of Mantle of Gold.
- “Dominion of the Black” in Valley of the Brain Collectors, 67. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Chapter 3: Aliens” in Distant Worlds, 57. Paizo Inc., .