This tall, emaciated creature has pale skin stretched taut over bones that seem to push outward and threaten to split the flesh. Its head resembles that of a monstrous elk with tremendous antlers, but with deeply inset eyes gleaming with a feral, hungry light, and tattered, bloody lips that part to reveal jagged broken teeth. Humanoid in basic shape, the creature's legs end not in feet but in blackened, charred stumps.
Habitat and ecology
Wendigo spirits originate from unknown areas of the Great Beyond, although their precise origins are unknown to mortal scholars. Some speculate that they originated as fallen agathions, due to their animalistic shapes.
Wendigos are found primarily in areas of intense cold, such as tundras, boreal forests, and frozen mountains, where day-to-day survival is often a struggle for other intelligent creatures. They prefer to claim territories that contain areas where other intelligent creatures will have to pass through and expose themselves to the rigors of winter and the wilderness, such as remote caravan paths and hunting trails.
Wendigos prey on sapient creatures that share their desolate homes, especially during difficult times when resources are low and conditions particularly harsh, and infect them with wendigo psychosis, usually by targeting their victims with horrific dreams and visions. This psychosis is a form of supernatural curse that causes its victims to lose sight of their moral compasses and to be driven to increasingly extreme actions to survive, typically culminating in cannibalism. Once a victim fully gives in to the actions the psychosis drives it to, it will run directly into the sky at high speeds, it legs burning away into stumps and its body warping into an animalistic shape and becoming the home of a new wendigo spirit. In this manner, the affected creature becomes a new wendigo itself, and leaves to find a new hunting ground of its own.
It is speculated that an element of shame and repulsion at one's own actions is necessary for a transformation into a wendigo. For this reason, cultures without strong taboos against cannibalism rarely find themselves facing the depredations of the wind walkers. It is further speculated that wendigos choose victims to transform into others of their kind based on which ones they judge would feel the greatest shame at performing the act of cannibalism and murder to which wendigo psychosis would drive them.
Fully formed wendigos are afflicted by constant hunger that they can only temporarily relieve by hunting creatures capable of fear. Thus, they prefer to hunt intelligent creatures such as humanoids and magical beasts whose minds are complex enough to fear their hunters as more than simply another type of predator and to feel the shame and horror upon which the wendigos depend.
Ithaqua is the main deity worshipped by wendigos. He often leaves behind rampant cannibalism and wendigos after his visits, and abducts people to walk with him into the skies, and later fall to death or be transformed into a wendigo. It is presumably this connection that makes wendigos valid targets for the power of an Elder Sign.
Besides the most commonly encountered northern variant, certain other types of wendigo exist in association with other extreme environments, types of privation, and acts of greed.
- Bucca wendigos are formed when miners and cavers become trapped in deep mines or the barren wildernesses of the Darklands.
- Dust wendigos inhabit arid and desiccated lands, and often bear the heads of desert animals such as jackals and antelopes, and are associated with intense heat, dehydration, and hoarding of water rather than intense cold, starvation and hoarding of food.
- Void wendigos are formed in the dark, cold void of the Dark Tapestry from the passengers of interstellar vessels that are driven to cannibalism and madness when their travels go awry. These wendigos can float in immobile, stony stasis for long periods of time in wait for other travelers to drive to madness in turn.
Golarian wendigos are most often found in remote, cold places such as the Kodar Mountains and the Crown of the World, where they prey on northern peoples such as the Ulfen and Varki. Ulfen crews will often pack large stores of food and drink as a precaution against the starvation the wendigos exploit, and some Ulfen captains will throw any crew member they suspect of hearing "the night wind's call" overboard rather than risk losing multiple crew members to the hunger of a nascent wendigo. A legendary wendigo known as Greinar the Hungerer has plagued the Varki tribes of Icemark for generations, and has developed the habit of wastefully butchering the reindeer herds upon which the Varki depend to incite famine and desperation among them. The Frozen Pines area in the Grungir Forest serves as the hunting grounds for some powerful wendigos..
A bison-headed wendigo called Kalek, Corruptor of Hearts, haunts caravan trails in Numeria to prey upon the pilgrims heading north to Mendev. Wendigos have also been blamed for the mysterious massacre of the construction crew and guards at Mendev's Icerift Castle.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
- Wolfgang Baur et al. (2010). Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 (First Edition), p. 281. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-268-5
- Jonathan Keith, Jason Nelson, and Anthony Pryor. (2012). Mythical Monsters Revisited, p. 59–60. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-384-2
- Eric Hindley, James Jacobs, Jenny Jarzabski, and F. Wesley Schneider. (2016). Bestiary. In Search of Sanity, p. 83. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-882-3
- James Jacobs. (2016). The Elder Mythos. In Search of Sanity, p. 68. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-882-3
- Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Mark Seifter, et al. (2020). Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide, p. 108. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-198-6
- Jonathan Keith, Jason Nelson, and Anthony Pryor. (2012). Mythical Monsters Revisited, p. 61. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-384-2
- Jonathan Keith, Jason Nelson, and Anthony Pryor. (2012). Mythical Monsters Revisited, p. 62. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-384-2
- Matthew Goodall, Jonathan Keith, Colin McComb, and Rob McCreary. (2011). Lands of the Linnorm Kings, p. 11. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-365-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 101. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Mike Shel. (2013). Irrisen, Land of Eternal Winter, p. 34. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-486-3
- Tim Hitchcock and Jason Nelson. (2015). Andoran, Birthplace of Freedom, p. 45–46. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-721-5
- Jonathan Keith, Jason Nelson, and Anthony Pryor. (2012). Mythical Monsters Revisited, p. 63. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-384-2
- Wendigo (Real-life mythical entity) on Wikipedia