The Strangers
The Strangers

The Strangers

The Strangers

Who, or what are the Strangers?

Unique beings from the depths of the Hinterlands, the Strangers aren’t a single race of outsiders, they’re beings who share a similar state of mind. The Strangers are grouped together because they all share extreme versions of what ‘the Balance’ means. These creatures might live in the Hinterlands, but they’re frequently found terrorising/educating Outlanders in the Brinklands and gate-towns as well. Travellers would be wise to get to know their ways and strange obsessions, lest they accidentally earn the ire of one of these powerful and opinionated cutters.

Strangers as Redemptive Fiends


A being with long lean arms, wrinkly fingers and red eyes, Baubas is said to hide in the dark places of your house and snatch misbehaving children. The chant goes that Baubas might be an ascending babau tanar’ri who escaped the Abyss. This being is trying hard to fit into the philosophy Outlands, believing that the Balance requires the wicked to be punished. Unfortunately, its twisted Abyssal mind has interpreted this as kidnapping children who it believes are evil, thinking that their families will do better without them. Baubas lurks under the beds of homes in the Outlands, venturing in as far as the Gate-Towns of Plague-Mort. Outlander parents warn their children to be good or Baubas will take them away. Children would be wise to heed this advice. What happens to the kidnapped children is unknown…


Belsnickel is a sinister humanoid Stranger shrouded in a pile of furs, with his face hidden behind a sinister masquerade mask. His unnaturally long tongue protrudes from the mask, twitching and tasting the air. This being wears tatty and torn clothes, appearing ragged and dishevelled, and carries a sturdy switch to beat wicked children. Conversely, he gives gifts of cakes, candies and nuts to good children.

Belsnickel comes out of the wilderness to wander the gate-town of Sylvania during times of festivals, showing up at homes a week or two before the celebrations begin. If you know Sylvania at all, you’ll know that this means Belsnickel is kept very busy indeed.

If you’re indoors at night in Sylvania and you hear a wooden stick rapping on the door or window, you might be about to meet Belsnickel. If you open the door the being will come into your home and summon your children. He’ll demand they answer a question or puzzle, or sing him a song. If he’s satisfied with the result, he’ll throw sweets and treasures onto the floor and leave. But make sure you don’t jump up too quickly for the presents, or you’re in for a beating with Belsnickel’s switch.


Grýla is a giantess who lurks in the mountains beyond Bedlam. Most of the stories told about her are intended to frighten bad children, and frankly, they should. Grýla is best described as a parasitic beggar who roams the lands demanding parents give her their disobedient children. Grýla has the ability to sniff out misbehaving children year-round. She comes down from the mountains to hunt children—or halflings, dwarves, she’s not picky—and carries them home to turn them into a delicious stew. She has quite the appetite. Luckily for her, in a place like Bedlam, there’s never any shortage of naughty children.

According to the chant, Grýla has been married three times. Her third husband Leppalúði is said to live with her in their cave in the Dimmuborgir lava fields, with a vicious black hellcat. The first two husbands apparently came to rather sticky ends.

More information here: 5e


The Krampus is a muscular, hirsute creature covered in shaggy dark brown-black hair, with the horns and cloven hooves of a goat. His pointed tongue lolls out of his fanged mouth, and his breath smells of sulfur. He carries rusting chains with bells in his clawed hands, and rattles them for dramatic effect. That is, if he’s not thrashing with the birch switches and whip he also carries; those are more useful for swatting children.

When he’s out hunting in Ribcage or the surrounding lands, Krampus will carry a basket strapped to his back. This is to carry off evil children for drowning, eating, or shipping off to a life of slavery in Baator.

More information: ( PF1 | 5e )


The Nalujuk is a skeletal monster that emerges from the sea ice of the Frozen Wastes of Adlivun in the middle of the Philosophical Winter. It appears as a corpse wrapped in tattered seal skins and bear furs. On a particularly cold year the Nalujuk might terrorise cutters as far inland as Glorium. Despite its fearsome appearance, it can be mollified—children who have been good all year and sing them songs are actually given treats. Naughty children, however, are chased through the snow and if caught, are taken away.


Perchta, also known ominously as ‘the belly-slitter’ is a frightening hag Stranger from the Tradegate region of the Hinterlands. Her idea of the Balance is particularly misaligned. Housework not done? She’ll slit open your stomach and stuff it with straw.

Perchta is an overzealous upholder of cultural taboos, such as the prohibition of working on holidays, but also enforced the rules that servants and apprentices must work hard the rest of the year. Perchta roams the Outlands seeking out lazy workers, for she knows immediately whether a cutter she encounters has behaved well and worked hard all year. If they have, they’ll find a platinum coin the next day, in a shoe or a bucket. If they haven’t, Perchta will slit their bellies open, remove the guts, and stuff the hole with straw and pebbles, or so the chant goes. No wonder the berks of Tradegate are such hard workers, eh?

Don’t get me wrong though, Perchta’s not all guts and gore. She also have a softer side to her. She’s said to take care of orphans, and also the spirits of children who die before they’ve been named; perhaps in a past life she was a psychopomp.

The chant goes Perchta can shapechange. She may appear either as beautiful and white as snow, or as elderly and haggard. In her crone form, she appears as a little old woman with a wrinkled face, bright lively eyes, a long hooked nose, clawed fingers, and goose feet.


Rawhead is a terrifying figure of skin and bone that lurks in the Hinterlands in the awful region around Hopeless. It looks like something from straight out of a nightmare, with disturbingly long arms which end in claws, and one single oversized boneless index finger.

There’s some debate among graybeards whether Rawhead can truly be considered a Stranger, rather than just a nightmarish monster. This is because it doesn’t seem to promote the Balance, even in a twisted way; it’s just a figment of horror and cutters would do well to avoid attracting its attention.

More information: PF1

Strangers as Former Rilmani

The Yggdrani

Usually when rilmani fall from a state of Balance, they are rounded up by argenachs and taken to the Spire, where they’re demoted to plumachs in a degradation ceremony. When a rilmani falls on another plane, they might even become a weird hybrid being. But when an aurumach falls, they’re untouchable by the argenachs. Perhaps they became too independent in their striving towards the Balance. Perhaps they strayed too close to another plane of the Great Ring and lost their way. These beings become strangers to the Rule of Three, and often stray from their neutral alignments too.

  • Yggdrani, the ForagerWho seeks, preserves and plants the seeds of Yggdrasil
  • Yggdrani, the PloughshareWho churns up the lands that are no longer needed, to till the philosophical soils, and prepare them for fresh belief
  • Yggdrani, the YeomanWho tends to the planar seedlings, nurturing them and protecting them until they are ready to be cut loose as planes or layers

Strangers as Fallen Celestials

La Befana

A sooty hag who wears a black shawl and rides a broomstick, La Befana breaks into houses through the chimney; if she’s treated well she gives gifts and will even sweep the floor before she leaves, but woe betide those who anger her.

Perhaps surprisingly, La Befana is said to be a former archon, who was cast out of Lunia when she failed to show the proper respect to one of the many Chosen Ones the plane seems to churn out. She chose to clean her house rather than follow pilgrims up the Mount, and therefore missed a religious festival that was more important than she’d realised.

Booted out of the ranks of archons by her furious superiors, La Befana now wanders the Hinterlands near Excelsior, in a fairly addled state. She is apparently looking for the Chosen One, said to be a human child. Unfortunately, her habit of breaking into houses looking for this child causes a significant amount of stress to Outlanders. Most cutters know to humour the mad old hag should they encounter her, and she can apparently be quite pleasant if treated kindly.

Luminara, the Light that Deceives

Luminara’s this angelic type who glows like she swallowed the sun, guides lost souls with a voice that’s a melody of hope and sorrow. She guides lost souls to their just ends, her angelic form exudes a warmth that draws the weary and the wandering. Yet, beneath this celestial facade lies the burden of an ancient curse—for every soul she leads to salvation, another must be led astray. She’s forced to embody the essence of balance, her existence a constant dance between benevolence and malevolence. For every good deed she does, she must also perform one that’s not-so-good. Think of her as the cosmic scale, always balancing things out. And sometimes, that means leading souls astray, even if they don’t deserve it.

In the Outlands, her name is spoken with reverence and wariness, and she haunts the area around Ecstasy. She’s seen as the cosmic scale, the arbiter of a delicate balance that governs the universe. Her actions, though seemingly capricious, are bound by the inexorable rules of her curse. She is the embodiment of the duality of existence—light and dark, good and evil, creation and destruction.

Strangers as Proxies


The arcanotheign is a mysterious creature who was created in a moment of lucidity by an insane, omniscient power. Because her creator sends her on missions to heal, destroy, or spy, she is familiar with creatures of the mortal world, yet still very much an outsider, and she is fascinated by the intricacies of mortal interactions and history. In her natural, incorporeal form, she is a storm of magic, immediately recognizable as a creature of the arcane and divine. Ever curious, she often asks personal, direct questions of those she is sent to interact with, even as she repairs their wounds or tears their souls from their bodies. Sometimes she is told to assume a physical form, and lives among humanoids as a mysterious oracle for days or weeks, observing those near her and giving cryptic answers to those who dare approach her. She is typically found in the Hinterlands around Xaos.

More information here: PF1

The Old Man

This mysterious being is a herald, teacher, mentor and guide. It’s said he serves a power of knowledge, although he has never spoken about which one. It could be Oghma, Boccob, Annam or any of them really. The Old Man says it doesn’t matter.

He can be patient or irate, confusing or enlightening, lenient or strict, depending on what his students need. He often wanders as a mortal man, bereft of his supernatural powers, instructing others and leading by example. If attacked when in this limited shape, he usually allows himself to be beaten or killed, especially if his “death” would provide a powerful lesson to an important student. If slain as a mortal, he simply reincarnates in his celestial form, unharmed, and never bears a grudge about it.

The Old Man’s true form is that of an elderly human man. He is typically bald and wiry, and usually wears a long white moustache or beard. Though he appears frail and may support himself with a cane, crutch, or staff, he is incredibly strong and can move with an uncanny grace when he so chooses. He may dress in a simple robe, an elaborate ceremonial garment, or a simple loincloth. He’s usually encountered near the Mountains of Meditation near Fortitude.

More information here: PF1

Steward of the Skein

The Steward of the Skein is a mighty warrior sent to restore the balance of fate, announce a particularly auspicious birth or death, or deliver a world-shaking prophecy. Many times her presence is as an incorporeal shade, making a pronouncement and then fading away, though countless creatures over the eons have felt the stunning impact of her armored fists. No mortal can recall seeing her and her role as messenger of prophecy has all but disappeared since that time.

The Steward is emotionally distant, and seems to have difficulties relating to mortals. Some speculate that she was driven mad and others believe she sees the past, present, and future simultaneously, leading her to treat mortals as temporary objects in the skein of fate, much the way a beekeeper has little regard for individual bees. She is most frequently encountered in the Hinterlands beyond and around Rigus.

More information here: PF1

Strangers as Mortals with Tragic Tales

La Lechuza

La Lechuza is an old woman who can shape-shift into a giant owl to take revenge on people who wrong her during her life. She particularly targets aggressive or drunk people, or cutters who persecute witches. She’s also been known to appear outside houses during domestic quarrels, snatch the abuser up, and take them back to her lair to devour. When cutters feel secure in their homes, La Lechuza will make crying sounds outside like a baby, in an attempt to lure them out. They say if you wake up and find scratch marks on your windowsill or door frame, that was La Lechuza trying to get in.

The chant goes she was formerly a witch who was exposed for being in league with Asmodeus and executed, although tales disagree on whether this happened on the Prime or the Outlands. Regardless, she returned as a hag who is able to shape-shift into the form of a huge owl with a old woman’s face.

Now thoroughly barmy, La Lechuza long ago finished off the people who executed her, and now dwells in the Hinterlands, occasionally venturing into the Brinklands around Faunel to grab and spirit away berks she believes need to be punished. She’s strangely superstitious, and tying seven knots in a piece of string is said to ward her off, as is a mixture of chilli powder and salt.

Source: Jon Winter-Holt

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