The Adherer

Written by Jonathan Wojcik

   Mocked and derided by players, the Adherer is easy to dismiss as a ridiculous "sticky mummy," but to me, was always a perfectly serviceable concept. Though resembling a decrepit human corpse wrapped in pale, filthy "bandages," the Adherer is in fact a living, carnivorous subterranean creature whose "wrappings" are loose folds of super-adhesive skin. It's an inventively weird idea and even fairly unsettling, especially if it also shares a mummy's shambling and moaning, which I'd always assumed it would. I even thought it was creepy that it's supposed to smell incredibly sour, like curdled milk. Gross!

   The Adherer was reprinted at least once more in second edition with a much more natural, capable looking design that I think should have already "redeemed" it as an eerie, inhuman threat. Really look at this nasty, flabby weirdo; this thing shuffles around in caves, sticks to its victims like tar and eats them alive, presumably as they writhe helpless and screaming against its stinking flesh.

   The ghastly glue-trap would go ignored and unappreciated for many years, until Misfit Monsters Redeemed, a book in the Pathfinder series which amped up the Adherer to rather ludicrous levels of horror. Once human, these Adherer were hideously mutated by a community of Phase Spiders into a living part of their interdimensional, communal webs, regularly milked of blood and kept alive for centuries in maddening pain. When the colony collapsed, these twisted livestock were scattered across the universe, forever compelled to hoard blood far exceeding their actual dietary requirements.

   Going even farther into grimdark territory, the Adherers of Pathfinder are able to breed with any human or demihuman species, the hybrid offspring rapidly transforming into full blown Adherer, madness and all. The book is fairly implicit that this is seldom consensual, and Adherer mate the same way we do, only in slimy cocoons of their own sticky skin-flaps. Sexy! I do love the artwork they commissioned from this guy, who shows just how easy it is for a sticky pseudo-mummy to look as terrifying as any actual undead.

   I guess this re-imagining is a mixed bag, for me. I thought they were creepy before they were interdimensional, haemophilic, tentacle-rape spiderweb people, which actually pushes them into the realm of silliness for me, but that's still acceptable, because cartoonishly over-the-top darkness is really fun. I'm just not sure "cartoonishly over-the-top" was what Paizo's writers really intended.



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