Source: Bestiary 3, pg(s). 286
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Yithians, or the Great Race of Yith, are highly intelligent alien refugees from a distant planet whose mastery of metaphysics enables them to trade minds with any subject across space and time employing astral projection and mental possession.
In their current bodies, yithians are rubbery, plantlike, iridescent, cone-shaped beings, weighing thousands of pounds with four tentacles at their apex. These appendages can be retracted into the body or extended up to ten feet. The topmost one ends in the head, a spheroid with three equidistant eyes and a twitching, wriggling 'beard' consisting of small tentacles capable of fine manipulation. The other three appendages extend from three sides of the body: one ends in hornlike growths that serve as the yithian's mouth; the others end in hand-like pincers that also make the various sounds of their language.
The Great Race's fundamental nature is no longer tied to their physical bodies, but to their disembodied minds, which inhabit hosts from other species. By interacting with a thought-focusing device, a yithian can send its mind across space and time to search for intelligent beings, select those individuals with knowledge and experience that might be of use to the Great Race, contact them via telepathy, and then forcibly exchange bodies with them.
When the yithian explores the society in which they dwelt with their body, the mind-swapped host (now inside a yithian body) is allowed freedom of movement inside the yithians' city as long as they follow the rules and spend time sharing their knowledge. When the yithian returns to its original body, all knowledge of the Great Race is removed from the host's memory, but this process is imperfect, and former hosts often dream of their time with the Great Race. Sometimes these dreams can be so vivid, leading to insanity.
The cone-shaped beings whose bodies the yithians now inhabit reproduce asexually by budding, and care for their juveniles in shallow vats. Yithians rarely do this, since these offspring will grow to be a member of the original cone-shaped species instead of a yithian; indeed, yithians can no longer increase the population of their own species. Yithians only bud new spawn when one of their own approaches its body's natural lifespan of 5,000 years; before the dying yithian passes, it swaps minds with the infant cone-shaped being, leaving it to die in the old body, too young and immature to understand the nature of its existence. Through numerous mind swaps, a yithian can live forever if not killed. The death of a yithian is seen as a horrible tragedy, and they go to great lengths to preserve themselves.
The Great Race arose on the planet Yith, and was already advanced during Golarion's Age of Serpents. They knew that their planet was doomed, so they transferred their minds into the bodies of a race of cone-shaped beings who lived in the distant past on the planet Earth, in thrall to the flying polyps, leaving them to die on Yith. To the yithians, this act was necessary to preserve the Great Race and the knowledge it had accumulated.
The flying polyps were completely unaware of the mind transfer, while their yithian "slaves" took the time to study their new home and build weapons. When the rebellion broke out, the flying polyps were caught off guard and forced to flee into the tunnels beneath their titanic black towers. The yithians sealed the entrances with stone and magic, and assigned guards to keep the flying polyps from returning.
With the flying polyps dealt with, the yithians built new cities on their new home and resumed their research and exploration. Eventually, they learnt that they would have to face the flying polyps again in the future. Geological changes would open the way for the flying polyps, which would have multiplied over time, and the yithians knew they would not be able to defeat them this time, so they transferred their minds again into swarms of intelligent beetles that lived in the far future, leaving the beetles to die in their cone-shaped bodies. Their survival assured, the yithians never spoke of the flying polyps again.
In addition, the yithians also discovered groups of flying polyps that fled Earth near the end of the uprising and began to serve Hastur. Many veterans of the uprising wanted to seek them out and destroy them, and the yithian government accepted, believing that such an act would hasten the demise of the flying polyps and secure the development of the beetles into which they had eventually transferred their minds.
After the discovery of the escape of some flying polyps from Earth, a cabal of yithians led by yithian elders bent space and time to transport the city of Kothrekis to a world where the flying polyps were cultivating the Great Old One Xhamen-Dor, breaking the minds of some yithians and several of the city's structures. However, the yithians could not win the war, so they engineered the destruction of the world, but before that, they foresaw that Xhamen-Dor would survive and land on Golarion, so they again transported Kothrekis to Golarion just before the world died. The yithian elders were driven insane, and Kothrekis' energies collapsed after this second travel.
Kothrekis arrived in Orv, deep below the deserts of southwestern Casmaron. The insane elders were executed or exiled, while the soil of the nearby area, formerly verdant, withered due to the city's invasion. As their resources dwindled, violence erupted, and the yithians were eventually convinced to transfer their minds again, except for a group of 15 to 20 who stayed behind to watch for Xhamen-Dor. Their sanity was eventually eroded by strange red winds that also gnawed the buildings.
Yithians operate a secret network of agents throughout the Inner Sea region and Tian Xia, especially Numeria and Zi Ha, where they seek to harvest the technology of the Silver Mount and understand the samsarans' ability to reincarnate. When a yithian needs to leave Golarion, it contacts a fellow operative who, after the mind swap, destroys the focal device when the host is still unconscious to prevent others from learning its function.
Paizo published a major article, the "Ecology of the Yithian", in The Whisper Out of Time.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
- In the "Ecology of the Yithian" article in The Whisper Out of Time, Paizo states that the yithian portrayed in the Pathfinder setting is largely based upon two sources: H. P. Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Out of Time; and Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game.
- Jesse Benner et al. (2011). Bestiary 3 (First Edition), p. 286. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-378-1
- Paris Crenshaw. (2016). Ecology of the Yithian. The Whisper Out of Time, p. 69–72. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-908-0