Evil From Between the Stars: Otherworldly Cultists

The fifth installment of my series detailling some followers of the vaguely Lovecraftian cosmic entities known as the Outer Beings looks at a couple of followers of a being known as Hrug, who as otherwise known as “The Traveller” and “The Keeper of the Way”. Readers hungry for more are invited to visit Bruce Heard’s blog, where I wrote a a cosmology of the Outer Beings (scroll to the bottom).

Although everything written here is set in the campaign setting known as “Mystara” in the year AC 1000, readers are welcome to modify the material to suit their own campaigns.

Mystara Alphatia Frisland Heraldry
(image courtesy of Bruce Heard)

AMRETHINAR OF SKYREACH

Background: Amrethinar was born on the floating island of Ambelethmir in AC 976, to a modestly wealthy aristocratic family. Unlike his two older brothers, Amrethinar did not demonstrate the knack for arcane magic. His parents, however, were unconcerned because they knew enough high-ranking clerics of the various faiths practiced in Alphatia to guarantee their son a position in one of the holy orders – and with that training in divine magic and the granting of aristocratic status. Despite this guarantee, Amrethinar’s older siblings treated him like an inferior whenever they could get away with it – which was often, because their parents were both active astronomers and were largely focused on their research.

Despite these difficulties, or perhaps because of them, Amrethinar grew up to become a confident young man who was as fascinated by the stars as his parents. He was accepted into the Church of Ixion, which had a large, glass-domed observatory at its temple in Skyreach (which was one of the deciding factors). Although his duties filled up much of his days, Amrethinar still found time to gaze at the stars, and carried out a considerable amount of research that actually got published in a number of journals – some of them widely read. It was during one late-night research session that Amrethinar heard a voice. At first he thought it was a prank, but when he listened carefully he realised it was telling him in a very disjointed fashion to scan the sky over the northern horizon. He did so, and saw a glowing object plummet to the ground from the heavens, which caused a massive explosion that blinded him momentarily.

In a panic, he rushed to his master’s chambers to report what he saw. His master inspected the site with the telescope, but found nothing out of the ordinary and assigned several punishments to discourage such flights of fancy in the future. While carrying out these additional duties, Amrethinar began receiving strange sensory impressions. He occasionally heard voices, but the most common impressions were images that flashed into his brain – much of the latter were fascinating images of far distant worlds and other features, but occasionally he saw images of worlds being torn apart and of vast discharges of energy tearing holes in the fabric of reality itself – and from those holes emerged things that seemed so massive yet seemed so unlike anything he had ever seen before that for some reason he had great difficulty focusing on them, amid inexplicable feelings of intense anxiety. Yet, as he thought about those strange, vaguely repulsive entities he also felt drawn to them. He began dreaming about them, and one of them – a creature that resembled a misshapen cylinder of colossal proportions – seemed to “speak” to him, and in that moment Amrethinar realised that it was the source of the first strange vision that set him on the path of celestial discovery.

Appearance: Amrethinar is of “pure” Alphatian ancestry, with pale skin, shoulder-length black hair, and violet eyes. He is quite tall (6’/183 cm) and slim (140 lbs./64 kg). He has a soft, vaguely musical voice that many young women have found enchanting – not that he cares overmuch. He typically wears traditional Alphatian robes in blue and gold (the colours of his family), but of late has been sporting clothing of a more sombre hue, with patterns consisting of stars, planets, and other celestial themes.

Statistics:

Amrethinar of Skyreach (2nd level cleric of Hrug): STR 9, INT 16, WIS 12, DEX 13, CON 11, CHA 14. Hit Points: 10. Armour Class: 8. Alignment: Chaotic.

Skills: Alchemy (INT), Arcane Lore (INT), Astronomy (INT), Ceremony – Hrug (WIS), Singing (CHA), Outer Being Lore (2). As a cleric of Hrug, Amrethinar does not have any weapons, and therefore has no Weapon Mastery skills. Languages Known: Alphatian + 2 free slots.

Special Abilities: Sense Tainted within 300’, ESP with Tainted within 100’. Amrethinar has access to the full list of cleric spells.

Special Equipment: None.

Personality: Amrethinar is an abstract intellectual through and through. Ideas, particularly where they involve the heavenly bodies and how their transit through the skies affects the physical world, fascinate him to the exclusion of just about everything else. This is why the broadcasts from Hrug have made such a deep impression on him – the Outer Being is showing him worlds and galaxies that no one else has ever seen, as well as phenomena (such as giant gas clouds) completely unknown to Alphatian astronomy. Although the majority of Hrug’s messages make no sense, Amrethinar suspects that he will eventually receive enough information to actually locate these wondrous discoveries in the heavens directly, and once he does so he will receive the credit.

In the meantime Amrethinar is becoming increasingly closely attuned to Hrug Himself, and is already beginning to change in subtle ways. His intellectualism is coming out very forcefully in most conversations, such that he rarely pays attention to social niceties anymore. He is also becoming more preoccupied with his creative output and the largely nonsensical messages he receives from Hrug. It is only a matter of time before the strange messages become more frequent, and begin to occupy even more of his conscious mind.

Roleplaying Notes: Amrethinar is another example of someone who has just begun their journey into darkness, but instead of being driven by bitterness towards the world he is simply motivated by curiosity and a small measure of greed. Thus, if someone were to develop an intellectually (as opposed to morally) sound argument as to why he should abandon his faith, he might actually do so. Hrug would likely not notice, or care, if Amrethinar left the fold.

MENELIMNAR (“THE STAR ORACLE”)

Background: The being now known as the Star Oracle was once a pure-blooded Alphatian man named Menelimnar, who was an avid scholar who developed many theories about planar physics and alternate magics. Born in AC 917, he had grown up in an aristocratic household in Sundsvall, in which most of his family practiced traditional air magics. Although Menelimnar was proficient in the art, it did not long retain his interest. He had a strong desire to stand out from his contemporaries, most of whom were more concerned with completing their magical training and securing a comfortable existence for themselves. There was no value in magic, in his mind, unless it could be used to push back the boundaries of knowledge in every sense. Conventional magics, in his view, were for unimaginative people – and he had no time for those.

He explored alternate magics, pondered the utility of calculus in proving the existence of antimatter (and by extension, anti-magic – he was never able to prove this, however, and part of his mind remains irritated about it even now), and theorised that, if the duality of law and chaos should be taken as a “fact”, then a greater duality of reality and unreality might also exist. This last thought intrigued him as nothing had before, and he devoted 30 years to researching this very question. He became so absorbed in his work that he neglected his family and the few friends he did have, and before long all that existed in his mind was the Great Question. It consumed his every waking hour, and became so much of an obsession that he began to lose all perspective of reality.

Then he heard a voice, and that voice shared some of the secrets of the outer reaches of the universe. The more he listened, the more attuned he became to Hrug, and before long he felt a compulsion to seek out others of his new faith, and in time he became a living conduit for Hrug’s messages…and slowly transformed into the Star Oracle. He now resides in a temple of the Outer Beings in Sundsvall, where he is in constant communion with Hrug, dispensing His celestial wisdom to the faithful while listening for the Word that shall herald the dawning of a new era.

Appearance: Before his transformation Menelimnar was a “pure” Alphatian of average height and build, with black hair and dark blue eyes. Prolonged contact with Hrug has mutated him into a vaguely cylindrical, white pulpy mass measuring 9’ long (274 cm) and weighing 720 lbs. (327 kg). His limbs have withered away into vestigial stumps, and what is left of his face is scattered about on one of his ends – his features slowly roam about. His voice, once a nasal monotone, has degenerated into a wheezing croak.

Statistics:

Menelimnar (20th level cleric of Hrug): STR 1, INT 20, WIS 5, DEX 1, CON 9, CHA 1. Hit Points: 42. Armour Class: 9. Alignment: Chaotic.

Skills: Alternate Magics (INT), Arcane Lore (INT), Calculus (INT), Ceremony – Hrug (WIS), Inter-planar Physics (INT), Outer Being Lore (15), Trans-Dimensional Mathematics (INT). Please note that prolonged contact with Hrug has obliterated most of Menelimnar’s memories, such that most of his skills have been forgotten. Having no useable limbs and being essentially immobile, Menelimnar has no Weapon Mastery skills, and instead relies on his anthropoi to defend himself (see below). Languages Known: Alphatian.

Special Abilities: Sense Tainted within 300’, ESP with Tainted within 100’. Menelimnar can cast clerical spells as a cleric of his level due to his animus stone (see below).

Special Equipment: Animus Stone (see below).

Personality: 
Before being transformed into an inhuman monstrosity, Menelimnar was a bookish man who was far more interested in abstract ideas than people – unless those people could somehow be helpful in exploring concepts that interested him. As Menelimnar found few people that he considered his intellectual equals, he tended to look down on most – even other aristocrats. He was also highly contemptuous of unimaginative people, regardless of social class, but he did not bother to insult them; he simply ignored them entirely. This calculated disdain extended to his family, as well.

Now than he is no longer remotely human, Menelimnar’s personality (or what is left of it) has become even more extreme. The fragment of his residual identity that is not devoted to broadcasting the utterances of Hrug concerns itself solely with exploring as far beyond the fringes of magical thinking as possible. Freeing the Outer Beings is little more than a mental exercise in probing the strength of inter-dimensional barriers, and in testing what is, in his view, the Ultimate Hypothesis: Whether there is a polar opposite to reality. His vestigial consciousness is so deeply absorbed in this thinking that it will not notice anything happening around it unless Menelimnar’s physical form is on the verge of death.

Roleplaying Notes:
The Oracle/Menelimnar is intended to present the player characters with the ultimate example of how the influence of the Outer Beings can not only strip away what makes a person “human”, it can actually turn them into something else entirely. An adventuring party is unlikely to encounter him unless it is attacking a temple dedicated to the Outer Beings, and even so he is so deeply entrenched in the inner confines of the complex that only high-level parties would be able to meet him. Being so distanced from everyday reality, he would not even actively notice the player characters, even if they started to attack him. Instead, his subconscious will would direct spells at the party and create anthropoi to do the job.

NEW ITEMS:

Animus Stone: Animus stones were created in order to allow highly devoted followers of Hrug to better defend themselves, should the guardians of the temples in which they are normally found be unable to protect them. They are palm-sized balls of obsidian inscribed with tiny runes over their entire surface, which are then embedded into what was once the forehead of the cultist like a third eye. Followers of Hrug are, in fact, able to “see” out of these stones, but what they see are the ideas of their master given form, and then superimposed over “reality”. As such, they are not terribly useful as visual aids, but they are very effective focal points for the casting of spells – in fact, high-level worshippers of Hrug would be unable to cast spells without them because their minds are too scattered by their master’s mental broadcasts.

Animus stones also allow their wearers to project a portion of their subconscious into the Prime Plane as a physical entity under their control. This entity, known as an anthropos (plural: anthropoi), can pick up and use objects, attack, and otherwise perform any purely physical activity. The anthropos’s combat statistics are below.

Should anyone who is not a follower of Hrug decide to wear an animus stone (which must be embedded in the skull), they must make three halved Constitution rolls. If any one of those rolls fail, the person in question dies. If they survive, their minds will be in constant communication with Hrug – insanity is the likeliest result.

Anthropos

Armour Class: 0
Hit Dice: Special (see below)
Move: 120’ (40’)
# Attacks: 1 slash or one weapon
Damage: 1d6 or by weapon
No. Appearing: Special (see below)
Save As: Special (see below)
Morale: 12
Intelligence: 10
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Chaotic

An anthropos is a physical manifestation of the subconscious mind, which is brought into existence through the use of an animus stone. They are misty, faceless, vaguely human-shaped forms that do the bidding of their originators. They are incapable of speech, and cannot be affected by sleep, fear, charm, hold, or illusion spells. A follower of Hrug can produce and control one anthropos for every two experience levels possessed, and once summoned they will remain on the Prime Plane for one hour per level of the caster, or until destroyed. In combat, they can slash with their vaguely tentacle appendages (which can become solid enough to inflict physical damage), or they can use a weapon.

Each anthropos has a number of Hit Dice equivalent to one-third of their originator’s level, rounded down. They save as clerics of one-third their originator’s level, as well.

As an example, Menelimnar can summon up to 10 anthropoi, each of which has 6 Hit Dice (20 divided by 3, rounded down), and saves as a 6th-level cleric.

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2 Comments

  1. Nice going!

    Reply
  2. I’m not a gamer, but I am a big Lovecraft fan — see my novel “Jagged City” — and I just wanted to say this sounds really cool. Keep it up and I might have to learn how to game.

    Reply

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