Posts Tagged ‘Sleeping Ones’

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.

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A block of villains! I’m going to begin a few posts here that will all be about potential villains my campaign world might have. I’ve talked about the importance of having some bad guys who are pure evil in a world of gray. First up, The Sleeping Ones.

I’ve mentioned these creatures a few times in the past. They are half-aberrant, half-devil beings that have the alien mind and feeling of entitlement to Canus of the former, and the cruel and cunning mind of the latter. Indeed these creatures are tough, smart, and powerful. They also hold a belief that Canus was a land their ancestors dominated long ago before it was stolen from them by lesser beings. They wish to take back their world back from these unworthy usurpers.

Yep.

Yep.

A History of The Sleeping Ones

Long ago when the metallic dragons fought the aberrants for control of Verda, the dragons summoned legions of devils to aid them in their cause. Some of these devil escaped the dragon’s thrall and sided with the aberrants. The devils and aberrants produced a horrific offspring, with the abilities and strengths of both of their bloodlines. To their parents and dragons this race was called morchia.

As it became clear the metallic dragons and tieflings we’re going to achieve victory, the pure-blood aberrant and devils sacrificed themselves so their beloved children could retreat to Verda’s Underdark. Still many morchia died in the final days of The Dragon Aberrant War. Those that lived, recovered and began to form their own society deep below Verda.

Thousands of years later the morchia came forth from The Underdark of Verda. They fought with tribes of monstrous humanoids and humans on the surface slowly reclaiming their lost lands. The morchia were called The Awakened Ones by the tribes who did not know the history of these strange creatures. The tribes knew only that the beasts had awakened from somewhere deep within Canus, hence their new title.

While the morchia were powerful, the tribes were far more numerous and their superior numbers helped them survive – for a time. It became clear that eventually The Awakened Ones would win out against the tribes.

However, the tribes were not Verda’s only inhabitants. The tieflings saw the way the war was going and for a time remained safe in their Spires. But the tieflings feared correctly they would be the next to fall if something was not done. So they began to research all of their tomes. They search every last aberrant ruin they could find. They spent all of their energies trying to find a solution while the tribes of Verda were slaughtered.

Finally, the tieflings used ancient magic unlocked deep within the ruins of Verda, and combined these old rituals with spells taught to them by the dragons. The ritual took hold of the morchia and opened the ground beneath them. As The Awakened Ones fell deep into The Underdark, a deep slumber overcame them. The powerful ritual, referred to as The Reckoning Spell, consumed many tieflings in the process of its casting, but the morchia had been defeated. Any that had not fallen to the ritual were quickly killed off or ran deep into Verda’s jungles. The tribes took to calling their defeated foes The Sleeping Ones – a warning to themselves that these creatures might someday return.

The Sleeping Ones Today

Oh man. Oh man.

Oh man. Oh man.

The people of Verda have a long memory as far as The Sleeping Ones are concerned. Nightmarish tales are passed down through generations about the horrors the tribes endured at the hands of these beasts. Most of the people in the tribes have never actually come face to face with these creatures, but they still speak their name in a soft whisper. These tales are not the kind used to scare naughty children. Oh no, they are the kind that make grown adults retch and cry out in the night.

The tieflings broke apart and hid the scroll that detailed the components of The Reckoning Spell. They thought a tool so powerful should be one difficult to retrieve and one they be tempted not to use. Now the scroll lies in five pieces in various parts of Verda. A piece might be entrusted to a tribe chief of an obscure but powerful clan or deep within and ancient ruin or somewhere in Verda’s uncharted territory. Each piece’s location is known only to one tiefling. Thus the knowledge is spread across five individual tieflings and their identities are known only by The Grand Council. They only come together and reveal their information if The Grand Council calls upon them, which has not happened… Yet.

Some of the morchai escaped into the jungles of Verda and remain alive and awake. These villains rarely show their faces though sometimes an individual will cause mischief. Enslaving a tribe to cause havoc and destruction is a favorite activity of these vagabond morchai. They also search for ancient artifacts left behind by their ancestors, slaughter lesser beings to prove their dominance, and seek others of their kind to keep reproducing.

There is a darker truth being uncovered in Verda. Many morchai have come together and plan to wake their sleeping brethren. They believe The Reckoning Spell can be reversed and have made it their mission to seek out the scroll and revive their kin. Then with Reckoning Spell in hand, they will lay waste to the lesser beings on Canus and take back their home.

Abilities and Appearance

Just. Wow.

The morchai runs the gamut in appearances. They all have features that point to their devil ancestry – horns, tails, claws, sharp teeth, and fiery eyes. Their more random features are the aberrant ones. Some have the tentacles of a mind flayer or otygyuh, or the eyes of a beholder or mouths of a gibbering mouther or the beak of a grell, etc. Some have more than one of these features. The combination of these alien and devilish features is grotesque and at times mind-bending.

As far as powers go, The Sleeping Ones are resistant to fire and poison and damage from non-magical or non-silvered weapons. Those resistances come from their devilish lineage as well as a claw attack and a flame projectile attack.

From the aberrant side, The Sleeping Ones have a powerful domination ability that allows them full control of an individual’s body. Since their appearances vary based on their aberrant lineage, so too do their powers. I can roll on the table below to generate these random abilities.

Roll 1d12 and add an ability to the base morchai.

  1. Tentacles (grant a grab attack that deals damage)
  2. Eye rays (multiple eyes grant the creature a few unique eye ray attacks)
  3. Beak (granting a bite attack)
  4. Gibbering mouths (horrendous sounds may nauseate enemies)
  5. Mind blast (an attack that can stun enemies)
  6. Extra crab claw (grants a grab attack that can be used as part of another attack)
  7. Flesh wings (grant a fly speed)
  8. Shapeshifting (can shapeshift into any creature of the same size)
  9. Sonic scream (attacks all enemies within a particular radius)
  10. Enormous maw (can swallow creatures whole)
  11. Supersized (creature is one size category larger and gains a trample attack)
  12. Roll twice on this table, if this result comes up again, roll three times on the table.

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