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Washer by the Ford (Bean Nighe)

Lavandières de la nuit - retraitement du tableau Les Lavandières de Jean-François Millet 1814-1875, Washer by the Ford
Lavandières de la nuit – retraitement du tableau Les Lavandières de Jean-François Millet 1814-1875

At the river’s edge, a figure leans over the water. She sits up, and you can see that it seems to be a hideous, heavy old woman with blue-green skin. She wears a tattered green slip and has in her hand a similar garment, which she has just pulled out of the water.

The  Bean Nighe, is a Scottish fairy, seen as an omen of death and a messenger from The Otherworld.

As the “Washer at the Ford” she wanders near deserted streams where she washes the blood from the grave clothes of those who are about to die. It is said they are the spirits of women who died giving birth and are doomed to do this work until the day their lives would have normally ended.

The Morrígan is seen in the role of a Bean Nighe. When the hero Cúchulainn rides out to war, he encounters the Morrígan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford. From this omen he realizes this battle will be his last.

Originally Posted by MythMage of the Dicefreaks forums

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Bean Nighe
Medium fey
Hit Dice14d6+42 (91 hp)
Speed30ft., Swim 30 ft.
Armor Class25(+3 Dexterity, +12 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 22
AttackBite +15 melee (2d6+7 plus disease)
Full AttackBite +15 melee (2d6+7 plus disease) and 2 claws +12 melee (1d6+3 plus contagious touch)
Face/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksContagious touch, disease, fear aura, prophesy, retributive curse, spell-like abilities
Special QualitiesBoon, damage reduction 15/cold iron and magic, immunity to disease, Low-Light VisionSpell Resistance 29
SavesFort +9, Ref +12, Will +14
AbilitiesStrength 24, Dexterity 16, Constitution 16, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 21, Charisma 16
SkillsConcentration +20, Diplomacy +22, Disguise +20, Listen +22, Knowledge (nature) +18, Sense Motive +22, Spot +22, Survival +5 (+7 in aboveground natural environments)
FeatsAbility Focus (song of discord), Great Fortitude, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Multiattack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Climate/TerrainAny aquatic or marsh
Challenge Rating13
AlignmentUsually neutral evil
Advancement15-28 HD (Medium)

Bean nighe are nature spirits who spread disease and death. They also encourage wasteful and needless violence, including war. They seek to use plague and bloodshed to cause mortal societies to crumble, allowing Nature to reclaim what is hers from
among the rubble and corpses.

Though bean nighe love to see cities burn and die, they hate to come near those places. So, they seek out indirect means to bring about this end. A bean nighe might allow herself to be overcome in battle by a barbarian warlord in order to convince him that he is powerful enough to enter an uncertain war. She might appear to important warriors before a battle that might possibly end a war, and curse them so that they lose and cause the war to become even longer and bloodier. She might spread plague among the troops of a more powerful army to give a weaker army a fighting chance and prolong and increase the overall bloodshed.

Bean nighe have no culture of their own, though they often take part in the politics of the Unseelie Court. A bean nighe will almost never agree to work with an equal or for a master, but loves to manipulate others as pawns and minions. Bean nighe have a special fondness for hags, appreciating their capability of spreading pain and ruin indirectly.

Bean nighe reproduce much like hags they use captured mortal males as breeding stock.

Many legends claim that any person who sees a bean nighe doing laundry at a river is cursed to die that day in battle. However, they also claim that if she can be overpowered, she may be forced to give the comer a great boon. Most agree that a bean nighe can always predict the outcome of a bloody battle before it starts, though it’s possible that this is due to her using trickery and magic to get the outcome she wants.

A bean nighe appears as a heavy-set old crone with blue-green skin. She usually wears a tattered green slip of gossamer.

Bean nighe speak Common, Goblin, and Sylvan.


Bean nighe prefer to appear to her intended victims from a distance, giving her time to curse them and prophesy their deaths before they are sure what she is. If they attack, she remains in the open so that they can strike her with ranged weapons, and when they close for melee, she uses song of discord, causing them to kill each other fairly quickly.

A bean nighe’s natural weapons are considered magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Boon (Su): If defeated in battle, a bean nighe may be forced to bestow a gift on a mortal, though she is loathe to do so. The mortal may demand one of the following services:  the bean nighe ends all of the curses and diseases she has inflicted on up to four creatures; the mortal gains a +5 luck bonus on his armor class in the next battle he fights, provided it begins within 13 hours; the mortal gains a +5 luck bonus on saving throws against disease for a year and a day; the bean nighe does her best to ensure the death of any one creature of the mortal’s choice. If a mortal is not carefully specific in wording his wish, the bean nighe may pervert it, adhering only to the strict letter of his demand. A mortal can only gain one bean nighe boon ever in his life, and a bean nighe can bestow only one boon per day.

Contagious Touch (Su): A bean nighe’s claw attack inflicts a Contagion effect (as the spell, caster level 14th) on a successful hit. The save is DC is 20 and is Charisma-based.

Disease (Ex): Filth fever – bite, Fortitude DC 22, incubation period 1d3 days, damage 1d3 Dexterity and 1d3 Constitution. This disease is exceptionally resistant to healing. If someone attempts to remove the disease with magic, he must succeed on a caster level check (DC 29) to affect the disease. The disease only ends after seven consecutive successful saving throws, rather than the usual 2. The save DC is Constitution-based and includes a +2 racial bonus; the caster level check DC is equal to the bean nighe’s Spell Resistance.

Fear Aura (Su): Any mortal creature that can see a bean nighe from within 100 feet must succeed on a Will save (DC 20) or become shaken for 1 day. A creature that succeeds on his save against this effect can’t be affected by that bean nighe’s fear aura for 24 hours. This effect can’t cause a creature to become more frightened than the shaken condition. fey are immune to this aura. The save DC
is Charisma-based.

Prophesy (Su): As a standard action, a bean nighe can declare that a targeted creature will die the next time he is wounded. The creature must be able to see the bean nighe, but need not hear her. The next time the creature is wounded by a weapon, he must succeed on a Will save (DC 22) or die instantly. Even if he is successful, he is dazed for 1 round. This ability’s effect ends without discharging if the creature is not wounded for a fortnight. No creature may be subject to multiple instances of this ability from the same bean nighe, nor may he be affected by the same bean nighe more than once in a 24-hour period. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Wisdom-based.

Retributive Curse (Su): Any creature who damages a bean nighe is cursed, as per bestow curse, unless he succeeds on a Will save (DC 20). A creature need only save against this effect once in any 24 hour period, whether successful or not. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Spell-Like Abilities: Always active –deathwatch;

Caster level 14th. Save DCs are Charisma-based.

*From the Spell Compendium.

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