Archive for June, 2014

On Tuesday I wrote a post about a great antagonist for an Exploration Age campaign, The Servants. Well today I’m going to be talking about another villainous organization to be added to the Exploration Age roster – The Aberrant Alliance.

Aberrant creatures are one of Exploration Age’s main baddies. Just check out my previous posts about The Sleeping Ones, aberrant ruins, and The Underdark to get an idea of integrated these creatures are into the world of Canus. Well, you’re about to find out that the aberrants aren’t alone in their quest to reclaim the world for themselves.

There are a few humanoids all over the world who believe the aberrants had their homes taken from them unjustly. These people also share a belief that aberrants are the true masters of Canus and all other creatures should be subservient to them. They are dangerous, for they value the lives of aberrant creatures above their own.

History of The Alliance

Who wouldn’t worship these guys?

Historical records are vague, but it seems The Aberrant Alliance has been around as long there have been humanoids on Canus. For thousands of years, this group was actually several, small cults which would meet under the cover of night in secret places and perform rituals to communicate with aberrant creatures. These creatures would often take pleasure in simply causing strife and chaos in the lives of humanoids by ordering these self-proclaimed servitors to steal, lie, and murder in their communities. Other aberrant creatures took greater advantage of the situation, ordering these humanoids to do tasks which might help the creatures return to the surface and reclaim pieces of the world for themselves. These cults would destroy weapons, create teleportation circles, weaken the local military, and recruit others to prepare for the arrival and takeover of a settlement by an aberrant creature. These attempts were thwarted or the aberrants were removed from power when an uprising was successful, but even in the early days, many lives were lost to these cults.

It was the aberrants, after regrouping themselves in The Underdark, who united these cults under one banner. They learned humanoids all over the map had been contacting and aiding them. So they deemed all of these cults together The Aberrant Alliance. The cults would no longer serve the individual needs of a single aberrant creature, but serve all aberrants in their quest to reclaim their world.

Structure of The Alliance

I want YOU to join The Aberrant Alliance.

Today, The Alliance is still setup in small, individual cults or chapters, but each serves a greater purpose than its own needs. Each cult has a leader, chosen in a bloody contest every year. The cults capture an innocent person from a nearby settlement, release that victim into the wild or a dungeon somewhere and hunt the individual. Whoever makes the kill wins the contest and is the cult’s leader. Anything goes in this contest, so potential leaders must be willing to put their own lives on the line to hold the coveted position.

Each cult can communicate with a variety of aberrant creatures who give them orders, one of which is a cult’s designated point of contact. These aberrant creatures communicate with one another and organize the activities of the cults. Rather than random bands of murderous lunatics, the cults of The Aberrant Alliance are a unified organization to be reckoned with. Two or more cults may join forces to complete a larger mission, and they can count on one another for support when the going gets tough. Likewise, a member of an Aberrant Alliance cult who is traveling can count on support from Alliance members in other cults.

Cultists whisper about The Great Aberrant, some terrifying creature who is the organizer of all which The Alliance accomplishes. He has never been seen by the humanoids but has promised to show himself to them when the time comes for the aberrants to reclaim Canus.

Plots of The Alliance

I kinda want one as a pet.

The Aberrant Alliance has one ultimate goal – restore the societies of the aberrant creatures to their days of glory and enslave all humanoids so they may serve aberrant masters. They do this several ways…

  1. Recruitment – The more individuals they can get to join The Alliance, the better. The argument is simple – aberrants had this world taken from them by dragons. The aberrants did not start that war, they merely fought back to keep their land. Now there are fewer dragons than ever before. Humanoids never could have risen against the aberrants in those early days. Things should never have been this way. It is unnatural. Hard to believe for some, but the argument works with others (especially after a well-cast charm person spell). The Alliance has begun targeting the influential leaders of the world, some of whom are unwilling recruits subject to the incredible psionic powers possessed by some aberrants.
  2. Influence Leaders and Cause Strife – Nothing would help the aberrant cause more than the crumbling of humanoid civilizations. Through influencing leaders, aberrants can cause bad policy decisions to be made, which in turn can cause war, famine, and unrest. Meanwhile, rioting and other forms of violent unruliness caused by members of The Alliance will give the aberrants advantages in weakening the civilizations of humanoids.
  3. Secure The Underdark – The citizens of Quatus must be the first to fall. If the aberrants claim their resources and control The Underdark, they can then conquer the surface. Underdark humanoids are some of the most important members of The Alliance.
  4. Kill Dragons – Though there may not be nearly as many on Canus as there once were, the dragons are powerful and wise in their old age. As many as possible must be vanquished before the inevitable rise of the aberrants. The Aberrant Alliance is often contracting and recruiting dragon-slayers.
  5. Wake The Sleeping Ones – Half the world only recently learned of the morchia, half-devil, half-aberrant creatures slumbering in the Verdan Underdark. The West Canus aberrants only learned themselves. These children of the mostly extinct East Canus aberrants could be valuable allies in the coming uprising.
  6. Encourage the Discovery and Use of Ancient Aberrant Technologies – By funding expeditions into certain aberrant ruins, The Alliance helps ensure that humanoids have become reliant on aberrant technology. The aberrants know all the weaknesses behind these technologies and so should the time come for the aberrants to rise, the humanoids’ reliance on firearms, airships, and more will be used against them. Of course, the aberrants are wary of the certain ruins being explored by adventurers who might find a something of their own to use against them. So The Alliance directs adventures to the ruins they want to be explored, and defends those with secrets that should remain hidden.

An individual cult could be working toward one or several of the goals above. In general the members of The Aberrant Alliance try to keep their activities and motives private, unless they have no other choice.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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“There are those who rule the world, and there are those who should.” – Motto of The Servants

Have you ever looked at a supervisor and thought, “I would do your job much better than you,” while shaking your head? Have you ever heard a politician speak and wondered “How did this moron get elected?” Have you ever thought that the decisions of those in power have damned those without? Well The Servants thought all those things too, and they decided to do something about it.

The Formation of The Servants

Crowns are pretty badass.

A little over a century ago, a group of intelligent people came together secretly in Taliana’s Sentinel Grove to try to solve one of Findalay’s biggest problems – war. Some of the smartest minds from every country in Findalay were in attendance after contacting one another through a secret network of magic sending stones they had created. At this meeting, they began to hatch a plan to bring peace and even handedness to the continent.

They concluded that the chancellors of Marial, the royal family of Aeranore, the Parliament of Taliana, and the empress and upper castes of Bragonay were unfit to rule. They lacked the foresight, wisdom, and intelligence this group assembled in the Sentinel Grove had. They were the top minds not just in their countries, but in all the world. This group could bring not just peace, but prosperity to Findalay. To accomplish this would mean one final, bloody, massive war which would result in the death of all the rulers on the continent.

Of course, at the time there was already a shaky peace between the nations of Findalay, but in this group’s mind it was only a matter of time before another war erupted. If they could have a hand in beginning the next war and influence its outcome, they may be able to keep the number of innocents harmed lower and focus the fight where it needed to be – amongst the ruling class.

This group called themselves The Servants, for they knew the double meaning would serve them well. It would appeal to Findalay’s leaders and make them appear subservient, but really, the organization considered itself The Servants of the people, whom they would serve by crushing the rulers of the continent.

War of the Crowns

How many lost their lives needlessly in the War of the Crowns?

The Servants went public as an international collective looking to aid the nations of Findalay. Their first act was one seemingly of generosity. They fashioned special crowns to afford the rulers of Findalay mental protections against mind reading, domination, and manipulation. The crowns were ornate and beautiful, featuring small pictures with defining moments of that particular ruler’s country’s history.

The catch was that the crowns also allowed a member of The Servants who knew a special command word to read the thoughts of, charm, and even dominate a ruler wearing a crown. The very attacks the crowns protected against could also be used against the wearer by The Servants. This, of course, was kept a secret amongst The Servants themselves.

With these gifts, The Servants offered themselves as free advisors to the rulers. The leaders accepted, for these were internationally renowned minds. For a time all the nations of Findalay prospered, but The Servants were never content to rule from behind the thrones of others. They knew they needed to get the ruling class out-of-the-way. Easier said than done – Bragonay and Aeranore had entire family lineages that would need to be wiped out, while Taliana and Marrial had large governing bodies made up of many individuals. All of these folks would need to fall in a way which was convincing to the people of Findalay, so the citizens would accept The Servants as their new rulers when they came to power. So, The Servants began what they thought would be the last war Findalay would ever need.

Things began small, the assassination of a few small-time political leaders to get the wars going. Then attempts on the lives of the higher politicians and soon a series of violent struggles began, many of which were covert attempts on the lives of the rulers. The military and bodyguards often got in the way of The Servants plan, but more than a few chancellors, senators, princes, princesses, and warlords met their end during this time.

There were plenty of battles too. If The Servants could remove the soldiers from the sides of the rulers, they would have better chances to assassinate rulers. So huge armies clashed in areas designed to keep civilian casualties low, but how many soldiers senselessly lost their lives?

The Servants’ biggest weakness was their impatience. They knew their plan would succeed, but they wanted to end the war sooner and put themselves in power. To pull this off their small group would need a bit of a membership increase. So they reached out to several worthy candidates, many of whom worked within The Arcane College. That’s where their plot unraveled. Many professors disagreed with the views of The Servants and had lost friends in the war. They infiltrated the group and exposed the plot. Many of The Servants were captured or killed. Some made it out though and went into hiding. The crowns they created still exist today, but no rulers wear them for fear of The Servants return.

The Servants Today

The Servants? Or just your everyday assassins?!?

Many believe The Servants are still in operation today, though what is truly theirs and what is copycat is difficult to tell. Often local newspapers feature anonymous opinion pieces written with scathing criticism of an official. These pieces are simply credited to The Servants. Sometimes a scandal will be exposed, a minor leader will be murdered or blackmailed, or a protest will take place – all led or perpetrated by an organization claiming to be The Servants. Whether or not these folks are The Servants is up for debate, but many believe the organization would never get involved with things on a local level. The Servants think big… total domination big.

One thing is certain to many – The Servants are still out there, plotting. Recently, several of Findalay’s most promising mages, diplomats, and inventors began disappearing. Could this be the work of The Servants? Perhaps they are recruiting members and going into hiding, waiting for the pieces of a grand puzzle to fall into place before making their next move. Or perhaps The Servants are removing intellectually powerful individuals they see as threats before launching a new plot. Perhaps a little of both of the above are true. Maybe The Servants have disbanded and these disappearing folk are starting a whole new chapter of the organization. There are also rumors The Servants have given up on Findalay and have set their sights on ruling Verda, which is where all these smart folks might be disappearing.

Whatever the case may be, there are those in the world who publicly support The Servants. They want to see peace and total governmental reformation come to Findalay. The intelligent should lead, not the popular or those with a birthright. Should The Servants rise again, they will have more support amongst the people than ever before.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast The Round Table is up on The Tome Show’s website.

I sit down with Alex Basso, Greg Blair, and Vegas Lancaster to talk about the Live D&D Next Q&A from April 25, 2014 and the Legends and Lore article about the new Battlesystem for mass combat. This podcast was recorded on May 4, 2014.

Links:

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The N Crowd

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!