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Tulvhatha, a will-o'-wisp.
Type Aberration
CR 6
Environment Any swamp
Images of will-o'-wisps

Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 277

Will-o'-wisps are cruel creatures that lurk in swamps, luring travelers to their doom and feeding on their fear.[1]


A will-o'-wisp is a living globe of spongy flesh about a foot in diameter, translucent almost to the point of complete transparency. They can emit bright light from every surface of their bodies (or extinguish their light to become effectively invisible), and can glow in any color they desire, most often pale shades of white, yellow, green, or blue. They can form patterns with their light, often displaying the apparition of a skull to terrify their victims.[1]


Despite cities offering far more sustenance to these creatures, will-o'-wisps prefer to dwell in swamps for unknown reasons. When they discover travelers, will-o'-wisps float in the distance, attempting to trick their victims into believing they are signs of safety such as lanterns, while actually leading the gullible into traps such as quicksand. When their victims begin to die, will-o'-wisps come in close and absorb their psychic emanations, literally feeding on fear to gain sustenance. Will-o'-wisps can discharge a powerful electric shock to deter attackers, but prefer to save it as a last resort.[1]


Will-o'-wisps are highly intelligent but possess an alien mindset that other sentient creatures have a hard time understanding. They are capable of rapidly vibrating their bodies to create sounds of speech, but communicate with each other via complex light patterns.[1]

Will-o'-wisps sometimes organize into small groups called strings, but their goals remain obscure to outsiders. Will-o'-wisps do not age and can be valuable sources of ancient knowledge to those who can figure out how to coax it from them.[1]

Will-o'-wisps sometimes cooperate with marsh giants[2] or ahuizotls in catching prey.[3] They have an inherent relationship with witchfires, as the witchfire can summon will-o'-wisps, and her aura of terror affects them like a drug, inflaming their passions and making them highly willing to follow or serve the undead hags; will-o'-wisps are thought to have played a role in the creation of the very first witchfire.[4]

On Golarion

Will-o'-wisps can be found in swamps throughout the world. They are very common in the River Kingdoms, especially Loric Fells,[5] Candlemere,[6] and the Narlmarches.[7]

Some of the ancient Azlanti captured will-o'-wisps and bottled them to serve as street lights and living art pieces. The survivors and descendants of such "will-o'-wisp gardens" now hunt Azlanti ruins, including the Sun Temple Colony[8] and Nal-Kashel.[9]

Will-o'-wisps inhabiting the Crown of the World sometimes approach travelers under the guise of helpful spirits, directly trying to lead them astray across the endless ice, but the native Erutaki are aware of their ruses.[10]

The demon lord Mestama counts will-o'-wisps among her minions.[11] Will-'o-'wisps are also found in the First World;[12] the fey lord called the Lantern King is called by some the progenitor of the will-o'-wisps, but he laughs off such claims.[13]


A rare, more powerful type of will-o'-wisp, known as Groetan candles, are associated with the god Groetus and are attracted to sites of his worship, where they may linger for centuries due to their lack of conception of time. Rather than emit electrical shocks, Groetan candles emit bone-chilling cold. They appear as normal will-o'-wisps with a skull-like shape in the center of their aura of bright blue light, surrounded by a nimbus of shifting runes.[14]

A type of seagoing will-o'-wisp, known by the dwarves of Zavaten Gura as the will-o'-the-deep, inhabit the Shining Sea.[15]

Other names

Will-o'-wisps have many colloquial names, including jack-o'-the-lanterns, corpse candles, corpse lights,[16] walking fires, pine lights, spooklights, rushlights,[1] and, in the River Kingdoms, Hanspur's night lights.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Pathfinder RPG Bestiary (First Edition), p. 277. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-183-1
  2. Ray Vallese. (2012). Marsh Giant. Giants Revisited, p. 37. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-412-2
  3. Julian Neale, F. Wesley Schneider, Neil Spicer. (2010). Bestiary. Blood for Blood, p. 81. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-251-7
  4. Mike McArtor & James L. Sutter. (2008). Belly of the Beast (Pathfinder's Journal). Sins of the Saviors, p. 84-5. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-040-7
  5. Eric Bailey. (2010). Loric Fells. Guide to the River Kingdoms, p. 27. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-203-6
  6. F. Wesley Schneider. (2010). The Stolen Lands. Guide to the River Kingdoms, p. 51. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-203-6
  7. F. Wesley Schneider. (2010). The Stolen Lands. Guide to the River Kingdoms, p. 53. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-203-6
  8. Tim Hitchcock, Brandon Hodge, Michael Kortes, Jason Nelson, Russ Taylor. (2011). Lost Cities of Golarion, p. 41. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-272-2
  9. Brandon Hodge. (2010). From Shore to Sea, p. 14. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-257-9
  10. Jason Nelson. (2011). The Hungry Storm. The Hungry Storm, p. 16. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-374-3
  11. James Jacobs. (2010). Lords of Chaos, p. 20. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-250-0
  12. Alexander Augunas, John Bennett, Robert Brookes, et al. (2017). Ultimate Wilderness, p. 129. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-986-8
  13. James L. Sutter. (2010). The First World. Sound of a Thousand Screams, p. 68. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-253-1
  14. Tito Leati. (2012). Beyond the Doomsday Door. Beyond the Doomsday Door, p. 47-8. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-474-0
  15. Jason Nelson. (2011). Crown of the World. The Hungry Storm, p. 68. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-374-3
  16. Wendy N. Wagner. (2016). Pathfinder's Journal: "The Tower in Darkness". Dreams of the Yellow King, p. 74. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-899-1
  17. Kevin Andrew Murphy. (2010). The Fifth River Freedom (Prodigal Sons). Blood for Blood, p. 72. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-251-7