Occasionally I find myself intrigued by an idea from a TV show, book, or movie that seizes upon me and seems to demand that it be made into Pathfinder content. Occasionally such ideas seem insufficient on their own, but when combined with similar ideas, a more attractive and interesting concept emerged. Today’s article is a template made to describe creatures possessed by an alien entity from the future, and draws inspiration from the TV shows Travelers, Fringe, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, combined with inspiration from a healthy dose of classic Lovecraft tales of body swapping and consciousness transfer. While the observed creature template was created with this specific idea in mind, it might prove useful to any character that becomes passively possessed by another entity.
An observed creature is an entity that is possessed by the consciousness of a life form from the distant future. These life forms are themselves mysterious and closemouthed about their origins and intentions, though their primary purpose seems to be to observe the world and report back to their place of origin. While these watchers possess living creatures (usually humanoids), they generally choose not to exert direct physical control over their contemporary hosts, instead merely watching through their eyes and offering council, advice, and the occasional warning. Usually, watchers work with the creature they are possessing, guiding him and encouraging him to take up certain causes and follow certain paths, often touting some kind of grand destiny. During times of great need, or when threatened, the watcher can choose to exert a more pronounced control over its host, overriding him fully.
Observed creatures generally resemble other creatures of their kind, though they often boast some unusual physical characteristics that make them identifiable as something unique. These traits most often include hair loss, eye color changes, and facial tics that are slightly off-putting. Observed creatures also benefit from enhanced minds, which make them smarter and more aloof.
Creating an Observed Creature
“Observed” is an acquired template, which can be applied to any living corporeal intelligent creature that is not immune to mind-affecting effects. Because the observed template is the direct result of psychic possession from a mysterious entity known as a watcher, spells that suppress or end mental possession or control, such as protection from evil or similar effects, remove this template while they affect the target. A creature might be selected at any time by a watcher to become observed, and the process of mentally possessing the creature to be observed allows a Will save (DC 15) to resist the effect. Generally, this results in watchers selecting targets with poor Will saving throws.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +2.
Type: The creature’s type remains unchanged.
Alignment: An observed creature has 2 alignments: one for the base creature, which remains unchanged, and one for the watcher, which can be any alignment, but is usually lawful neutral. Spells and effects that detect alignment reveal both the watcher’s alignment and the base creature’s alignment. When the watcher assumes full control of an observed creature, the creature only reflects the alignment of the watcher during that time.
AC: The observed creature gains a +2 insight bonus to AC due to the watcher’s ability to separately observe and react to attacks.
Defensive Abilities: An observed creature gains the following defensive ability.
Observed: An observed creature is usually passively possessed by the psychic energy of a creature called a watcher, which shares the senses and memories of the possessed creature. The passive observing force can see hear and react to all sensory stimulus of the observed creature, and may communicate telepathically with the observed creature, allowing the watcher to offer advice and insight into situations the observed creature encounters. The watcher is limited to sensory information obtained by the observed creature, and cannot react to things the observed creature did not see. For the purposes of obtaining insight and making observations, the watcher is considered to make Knowledge skill checks at a +20 bonus and makes Sense Motive skill checks at a +10 bonus. The watcher can choose not to share this information, and unless the watcher is exercising direct control over the observed creature, he is free to ignore advice given by the watcher.
Special Abilities: An observed creature gains the following special abilities.
Crucial Moment (Su): An observed creature is possessed by an entity from the future, which retains knowledge of certain important events and their effects on the future. By recalling these moments, the observed creature can use its psychic force to influence the outcome. Three times per day, as an immediate action, an observed creature can determine the exact result of a single attack roll, saving throw, skill check, or ability check made within 100 feet of him.
Direct Control (Ex): A watcher can take direct control over the host creature at any time as a swift action. The watcher can safely exercise this control for 1 minute each day, with each additional minute of control inflicting 1 point of Intelligence and Wisdom damage to the observed creature. While in this state, the observed creature’s will is entirely overridden by the watcher. Because the watcher ignores the normal physical limits on the observed creature's body, while in this state the observed creature gains a +4 racial bonus to Strength and Dexterity. The watcher also imparts greater mental abilities, and so long as watcher has direct control, the observed creature gains 20 ranks in all Knowledge skills and a +5 bonus on all Intelligence-, Wisdom-, and Charisma-based skill checks.
Language: An observed creature gains the ability to speak and understand Common and Aklo, even if it could not normally understand or speak those languages, as the watcher provides information in languages it is fluent in. A creature that normally cannot speak gains the ability to do so, though generally does not unless the watcher has taken direct control over the observed character.
Abilities: An observed creature gains a +4 bonus to Intelligence and Wisdom and suffers a –2 penalty to Charisma.
An observed creature is created when an entity from the future, known as a watcher, transfers its consciousness to the observed creature. While the two entities share the same body, the watcher is clearly the dominant element, able to completely take over and override the observed creature at any time. The process of doing so, however, is damaging and potentially lethal to the host creature, and thus direct control is assumed only infrequently. While the exact nature of these watchers is unknown, they demonstrate incredible intellects and a knowledge of the past, present, and future that suggests that they must have some complex reason for possessing creatures in their past.
Few details about the watchers exist, and they endeavor to keep their existence a secret, attempting to go unnoticed. No information exists about the watcher’s true appearance, culture, or habits. What is known is that they are universally proficient in speaking Aklo, indicating that the watchers may have ties to the alien and mysterious. For their part, watchers claim merely to be watching events unfold in real time, and their occasional meddling in events is by far the exception to their normal behavior.