Shub-Niggurath

Shub-Niggurath

CR 21; XP 409,600
CE Outer Goddess of fertility, forests, and monsters
Primary Sources H. P. Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro, “The Last Test”, Robert Bloch, “Notebook Found in a Deserted House”

Cult

Domains Animal, Chaos, Evil, Plant, Void
Subdomains Dark Tapestry, Decay, Feather, Fur, Growth, Stars
Favored Weapon dagger
Symbol three goat heads attached at the neck with horns pointed outward while curving inward to form a circular shape
Temple remote forest clearings, standing stones
Worshipers alchemists, debased fey creatures, scientists, those who seek the secret of life
Servitors dark young of Shub-Niggurath, mi-go

Influence Stage 1 (DC 27)

Area 2-mile radius
Proxy altar
Effects fertility, manifestation
Escalation A group of cultists of Shub-Niggurath must perform multiple rituals to lure the Black Goat of the Woods to extend more of her presence into the region. This ritual must be performed by a group of cultists equaling a CR 18 encounter. Each night the ritual is performed, there’s a 5% chance her influence escalates to stage 2.

Influence Stage 2 (DC 30)

CR 24, XP 1,228,800
Area 20-mile radius
Proxy altar
Effects fertility, manifestation, spawn young
Escalation A group of cultists of Shub-Niggurath must perform multiple rituals to lure the Black Goat of the Woods to extend more of her presence into the region. These rituals must be performed by a group of cultists equaling a CR 21 encounter. Each night the ritual is performed, there’s a 10% chance her influence escalates to stage 3.

Influence Stage 3 (DC 32)

CR 27, XP 3,276,800
Speed fly 500 ft.
Area 500-mile radius; Nucleus 50 square feet
AC 45; Saves +28; hp 640
Effects devastation, fertility, manifestation, spawn young
Escalation A group of cultists of Shub-Niggurath must perform multiple rituals to lure the Black Goat of the Woods to extend more of her presence into the region. This ritual must be performed by a group of cultists equaling a CR 25 encounter. Each night the ritual is performed, there’s a 20% chance her influence escalates to stage 4.

Influence Stage 4 (DC 35)

CR 30, XP 9,830,400
Speed fly 500 ft.
Area global; Nucleus 2,000 square feet
AC 41; Saves +31; hp 760
Effects devastation, fertility, manifestation, spawn young

Defeat

Blood Sacrifice At stages 1 through 3, sacrificing living animals of the right type and via the proper ritual while beseeching the goddess to leave can cause her to retreat more quickly. The blood sacrifice must be performed at the altar or nucleus of the influence. The specific animal sacrifice needed and the DC of the Knowledge (religion) check required to perform such a blood sacrifice vary by influence stage (as detailed below). Once the sacrifice is performed successfully and all of Shub-Niggurath’s cultists in the area are defeated, there’s a 20% chance per day of her influence degrading by one stage. If her influence degrades at stage 1, it vanishes entirely.

Stage 1: The animals sacrificed must be warm-blooded and weigh a total of at least 3 pounds (multiple animals are allowed, provided the total weight exceeds 3 pounds). Cold-blooded vertebrates can be substituted for warm-blooded sacrifices, but in this case the amount sacrificed must weigh a total of 25 pounds, or 225 pounds if invertebrate animals are sacrificed. A DC 35 Knowledge (religion) check is required to perform this ceremony successfully.

Stage 2: The creature sacrificed must be at least 10 pounds and intelligent enough to understand its situation. An unintelligent warm-blooded creature or creatures weighing at least 250 pounds can be substituted, as could one or more cold-blooded vertebrates that weigh at least 2,000 pounds. A DC 38 Knowledge (religion) check is required to perform this ceremony successfully.

Stage 3: At this stage, a blood sacrifice requires a minimum of ten fully-sentient victims of human size or at least 100 warm-blooded creatures of equal or larger size. A DC 42 Knowledge (religion) or Profession (Yog-Sothothery philosopher) check is required to perform this ceremony successfully, as well as a DC 50 Diplomacy check to convince Shub-Niggurath to be satisfied. At the GM’s discretion, instead of a Diplomacy check, a specific quest or action may be required to convince her.

Combat At influence stage 3 or lower, Shub-Niggurath’s influence can be disrupted via damage inflicted to the nucleus, but defeating the nucleus only renders her influence dormant (while dormant, her influence has no active effects). Any cultist of Shub-Niggurath can reactivate her influence by performing the proper rituals. Every month that passes without such a ritual, there’s a 20% chance her influence fades entirely.

Ritual Disruption At influence stage 1 or 2, Shub-Niggurath’s influence can be disrupted by defeating all active cultists in the area as well as destroying the altar that serves as the influence’s proxy (this altar can be anything from a tangle of wooden fetishes to a stone block to a solid metal plinth, so its hardness and hit points can vary widely). Doing so does not remove her influence, but merely makes the influence dormant (while dormant, her influence has no active effects). Any cultist of Shub-Niggurath can reactivate her influence by performing the proper rituals. Every month that passes without such a ritual, there’s a 20% chance her influence fades entirely.

Influence Effects

Devastation Shub-Niggurath’s numerous hooves, tentacles, maws, and other organs wreak devastation on all foes within a 900-foot radius of her nucleus at stage 3, or within a 1-mile radius at stage 4. When a creature begins its turn in this area, or as soon as a creature enters this area during its turn, it takes 30d10 points of bludgeoning and slashing damage (or 40d10 at stage 4) unless it makes a successful Reflex saving throw, in which case the damage is halved.

A creature that takes this damage must also make a successful Fortitude save to avoid taking 2d6 points of Constitution drain as Shub-Niggurath feeds on its flesh. A creature that is slain by this damage or Constitution drain immediately bursts open and spawns a fully-grown dark young of Shub-Niggurath. Creatures slain in this way can only be restored to life via miracle, true resurrection, or wish.

Fertility All worshipers of Shub-Niggurath in the area of influence function as if they had the advanced creature template (creatures that already possess this simple template apply the effects twice). Those who do not worship Shub-Niggurath are beset with distracting feelings of lustfulness or criminal activity and suffer a –2 penalty on all saving throws against fear or mind-affecting effects.

Manifestation Shub-Niggurath’s manifestation varies according to the strength of her influence. The effects of her manifestation across stages of influence are cumulative.

Stage 1: The manifestation is nothing more than a five-foot-wide yawning mouth or other orifice that appears mistily over the altar at the center of the influenced area. Cultists and minions of Shub-Niggurath within sight of this manifestation gain a +2 morale bonus on all saving throws and attack rolls.

Stage 2: The manifestation is now a Huge, cloudy mass of mouths, tendrils, hooves and other limbs that floats above the altar. It occupies a cubic space 15 feet on a side. This image is still harmless and cannot be harmed. Cultists and minions of Shub-Niggurath within sight of this manifestation gain a +4 morale bonus on all saving throws and attack rolls.

Stage 3: The misty manifestation vanishes and Shub-Niggurath can manifest a 50-square-foot nucleus anywhere within 500 feet of the altar that served as a proxy for stage 2. When she does so, she bursts from the body of one of her cultists or minions, killing that creature in the process. She can manifest in a new target within 500 feet at the start of a round if she desires, killing another cultist or minion each time she does so. Cultists and minions of Shub-Niggurath within the influence gain a +4 morale bonus on all saving throws and attack rolls and fast healing equal to their Hit Dice.

Stage 4: Shub-Niggurath’s manifestation is now a 2,000-square-foot monstrosity capable of manifesting out of any minion or cultist on the planet. Cultists and minions of Shub-Niggurath on the planet gain a +4 morale bonus on all saving throws and attack rolls, fast healing equal to their Hit Dice, and transform into a dark young of Shub-Niggurath if they are slain. This self-resurrection also affects dark young themselves (at this stage, the dark young enter a sort of perpetual recycling of existence).

Spawn Young The influence spawns a number of monsters loyal to Shub-Niggurath (dark young, powerful Mythos satyrs, advanced wyverns, dangerous monsters— subject to GM discretion) of a total combined CR equal to the influence’s CR score. These monsters infest the area of influence but are always quick to come to the defense of Shub-Niggurath’s interests. If some of the monsters are defeated, replacements are automatically spawned every 24 hours. At stage 3 and 4, she replaces lost creatures at the rate of 1 per round, up to a total maximum combined CR equal to the influence’s CR.


Shub-Niggurath is one of the most loathsome Outer Gods of the Mythos. Indestructible and far-reaching, she is a fertility goddess gone wrong, and a number of cosmic beings (notably mi-go and the fungi from Yuggoth) serve her for the foul gifts she bestows. Even other gods are typically daunted by her city-crushing final manifestation. Her form can change from manifestation to manifestation, but usually she is built, at least in part, on the body of a massively pregnant headless beast with tentacles, rows of teeth, and sometimes spawning pods vomiting from her mouth or sides. When Shub-Niggurath's avatar emerges from a cultist, she retains aspects of that form (humanoid feet, for example), but always has tentacles and mouths.

Shub-Niggurath is a far more passive entity than many of her peers, despite the fact that she inspires emotion, violence, and action rather than cerebral cogitation. She must be coaxed through each of her influence levels. If a group is not actively worshiping, chanting, and carrying out a ceremony, her influence levels stay where they are. On the other hand, once she has reached a particular level, it is extraordinarily difficult to cause her to step back.

She focuses always on maintaining her worship and conquests at the current level. She wants to spawn her young and administer her empire. One reason that she is not expansionist (unlike many Great Old Ones) is that she instinctively knows caution will, in the end, lead her to greater conquests and powers. After all, her cult is more acceptable and can thus spread more easily if it is not seen as a threat to society as a whole or if it is viewed as “controllable.” Of course, she doesn’t care about societal control but rather about rampant growth and hyperactive emotions, so this makes for a perfect blend.

Mother of Monsters

Shub-Niggurath's fertility covers a vast area, inspiring her cultists and driving others into dementia. Her followers become frenzied—with enhanced strength, instincts, and heightened senses—while other individuals who tend towards lustfulness or criminal activity tend to degenerate into maniacs. Even the upright feel her presence. As her influence grows, surging hormones spark waves of crimes of passion. In addition, animals are stimulated into their breeding behavior, which can be useful for farmers or those who want to repopulate wildlife in an area. This combined with the comparative ease of controlling her presence is probably why she appeals as a goddess to so many groups.

When her manifestation spawns monstrous offspring, they emerge full-sized, fully-mature, and able to act. They are theoretically friendly to her and her cult, though these “children of the goddess” are known to feed on cultists, treating them more as a resource than as an ally.

Shub-Niggurath in Combat

Shub-Niggurath's avatar arrives in a shower of gore from a prepared creature or cultist before growing to the height of a tall tree and over 40 feet in girth. If the avatar is coaxed into departing via sacrifice, it leaves the torn and deflated corpse from which it emerged in its place. Sometimes a combination of battling her, causing some degree of injury, and a sacrifice, can induce her to leave, bloodied but mollified.

If the Black Goat cultists successfully escalate her influence beyond this avatar, her far larger true form suddenly explodes from the ground, jaw agape, swallowing up the relatively puny avatar. At this point, mere blood sacrifice will no longer satisfy her and the world is threatened with destruction. Shub-Niggurath must be faced down by gods, attacked by mortals, or otherwise fought or tricked into going elsewhere, because all is lost otherwise.


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