Friday, May 17, 2019

OSR: The Aboleth



There is only One

It begins with dreams.  Some normal people will begin having strange, surreal nightmares that they can't quite remember.  The dream is unsettlingly real, but also fades with the dawn.  You can get up and tell yourself it was just a dream.  For magically inclined or talented folk, this is cold comfort.  Each night for weeks, they will have the same, surreal nightmare.  Each night it progresses further, growing more and more vivid.

What do you dream of?
1d6

1- You stand on a beach.  The waves lap up around your ankles, the water warm and salty.  Then the water begins rising.  It floods the beach, engulfing you and drowning the coast.  Suddenly you are underwater, drowning.  In the churning darkness below you, you see a dozen eyes shining out of the gloom, and long, suction-cup covered arms reaching out toward you.  You awake before they grab you.
2- You are fishing next to a rocky shore.  A man in a fur coat with his face hidden approaches you and advises you to cast your line in another direction.  You take his advice.  However, before you can cast out your line, you feel a sharp pain in your arm.  You look down and see a massive fishhook buried in your arm, the line running out to sea, into the water.  The man with the fur coat begins smoking a pipe as you are dragged off your feet and into the sea, being reeled in by some unseen fishermen.
3- You are at a dinner.  Your host is someone familiar to you.  Everything seems normal and then the first course is served.  You realize it is an entire city, full of tiny, living people.  Everyone there begins eating, cutting the city apart, street by street, eating the buildings like the clay and stone are sponge cake and the people scrambling all over it are sprinkles.
4- You are sitting in your home, reading a scroll.  Unfortunately, all the scrolls says is "I have already won" repeated ad infinitum.  All your scrolls say that.  There are only those four words.
5- You are sitting at a table.  At your right hand sits a monstrous thing, concealed by shadow.  You can see its tentacles twitching just outside the cone of darkness, and smell the brine.  At your left hand sits the deity most familiar to you.  The monstrous thing offers you lavish prize, the deity offers you a crummy deal.
6- You are locked in a cell, surrounded by a bunch of dim-witted monkeys wearing silly hats and wielding toy swords.  You speak to them, offering them candies and prizes if they open the doors.  The monkeys begin to argue and fight over whether this is a good idea.  You don't care who wins, you just know that if they open the door, you're going to kill them all, then eat their brains.     

Then the weather begins to shift.  It begins to rain and rain, first a slow drizzle, then a light sprinkle, then a good shower.  Days and days of rain come, until you forget the sun.  Then it begins to deluge.  That is when you know it is close. The rain causes flooding.  Streams burst their banks and wash away whole towns.  This is followed by mudslides, strong waves, an increase in shipwrecks.  The destruction is unprecedented- yet undirected.  The conductor is not here, so the orchestra plays in a disorganized manner, their music tangling itself together into a great ball of noise and chaos.  Yet still It waits, for the stars to be right.  It waits, poised at the threshold.

Then, when the stars are finally right, when the celestial bodies are in their proper places, a massive summoning ritual must be done.  Dreams will have been sent ahead by It to certain eager souls, who will receive it eagerly.  They will be promised riches and glory and kingdoms in the New World.  Or maybe they were promised life everlasting or safety when the changes come.  Maybe they were promised nothing but eternal torment if they did not obey.  Regardless, they will.  It commands causality, weaving a web around its slaves.  They were selected because they would not, nay, could not refuse It.

The ritual requires...
1d20

1- Six virgins to be sacrificed, their blood spilled in specific ways each time
2- A priest, a madman and a child to renounce their belief in God, Logic and Goodness, in that order.  This must be a sincere statement from all three.
3- A vast orgy, involving participants from at least 6 races, three species of animals and at least 1 magical beast.
4- A vast amount of valuables to be destroyed
5- A priceless relic to be used for some ludicrously mundane task
6- Someone must successfully recreate a piece of famous art in some other antithetical medium, such as recreating the Mona Lisa in fish guts and dried semen.
7- A game of chance to be played for the fate of the universe.  The game must be fair, with no cheating and all must respect the outcome.  The Aboleth's side must also win, though if there is no cheating, it always will.
8- A child must be born on the ritual site.  If the time is right, the child will be born a hideous, alien freak with eyes that know too much.
9- A clown must be crowned King and proceed to rule for 5 days, with all respecting its wishes.  Then, on the sixth day, it must be killed. 
10- A highly intelligent creature, such as a Dragon or a Cloud Giant, must be beaten in a contest of intellect by a mere mortal.
11- A Church or Temple must be desecrated
12- An innocent person must be found and prosecuted for a crime he or she did not commit
13- A prisoner who is guilty must be set free
14- A very important person, such as a King or Priest, must strip off their clothes and dance where many people can see him or her.
15- A stone must cry out
16- A dog must devour a human infant
17- A holy man, priest or Prophet must commit some act of profound wickedness 
18- A Minion of the Dark Powers must recant and confess to their crimes publically
19- A Druid must willingly bathe, wear clothing and attend a formal banquet
20- A creature possessing any form of Immortality must reject their immortality and become mortal once more.

Then, if the ritual is properly performed, the veil will be torn asunder; and through the dark, It will come.

                                                  by Mathew Stewart

The Door is Opened

The changes will become immediately obvious.  Mages, Psychics and the spiritually attuned with feel the after-shocks of its entrance as all Creation shakes.  Earthquakes and tidal waves will occur in many lands, radiating out from the point of intrusion.  This will be accompanied by plagues of madness and mutation that pass out from the point where the Barrier was torn, spreading with the people who will flee, so concerned will they be that some grave event is about to occur.

There will be a period of chaos and instability as one of the nations near the point of intrusion is suddenly assaulted by armies of deformed freaks, terrible piscine monsters and alien minions, serving some unseen force.  The mortal slaves of It will also still be present.  They will have prepared this nation and its leadership, either by weakening them so that they might be overthrown, or so that they would accept It as their Dominus.  Either way, the coup will proceed as planned.  The King will be overthrown or enslaved and the Priests bound or butchered.  If this Nation has a God, it will be either forced to bend the knee or be devoured.  It will kill the Deity as many times as it takes for it to stay dead. 

There will be loose ends, of course.  A God or a Royal Family might escape.  However, the deck is stacked and the Dealer is cheating.  The House doesn't always win, but the odds are definitely in their favor.  Plus, there will always be time.  It is settling in for the long haul.

From there, things will begin settling down.  A new government will come to power or the old one will restore order.  The freaks and mutants will suddenly disappear or retreat and the survivors will likely attribute their valor or divine intervention to their victory.  The battle will be over and things will return to normal.

Except, things won't be totally normal.  The new government will quickly grow vicious and unrelenting.  They will crack down on their foes and pass strange new laws.  Enemies of the new government might protest, but their leaders will start tending to defect or suddenly going mad.  Wars of conquest and new alliances will be begun and formed by the new government.  The world, slowly, over a period of years, begins to visibly worsen.  Central authority breaks down as some new power works behind the scenes to weaken and dismantle any organization or group that seeks to prevent the changes.

The new government will slowly grow into a New Empire, spreading across the world.  The New Empire's enemies will melt away before them, undone by causality itself, it will seem.  Kings will have heart attacks on the battlefield, Priests will receive false omens that convince them to try to terrible ideas.  The forces of this world will gather, but too slowly, too ineptly.  They do not understand the nature of the foe they face.  In time, they will, when the awful truth is revealed and the second veil is torn down.

Then they will not fight mortal proxies and the willing servants of It from this world, but armies from other worlds, from Its' world.  These new armies will be full of undying grotesqueries and abominations against God and Heaven.  By that point though, it is already too late.  Even if It were destroyed that day, the world is still destroyed.  The invaders from beyond the Stars will not drop dead or simply give up.  They will continue to fight.  The other Changes will continue as well, albeit more slowly.  The forces of this world, of our world, might be able to stop or even reverse them, but this is a great work that will not be completed for generations.   

Yet destroying It would be a task worthy of the Gods themselves.  For mortals, it would be all but impossible.


The Changes

As long as It exists in our world, the Changes will occur.  They begin with its arrival but will continue regardless of what It does, unless the hole in the veil is somehow sealed up.  As for the changes themselves, at first, they will be small.  Relatively minor and easy to ignore.  However, as months and decades pass, it will become obvious to all involved that there is something going on. 

Immediately after the veil is torn, strange sea life will become visible in the oceans.  Great fish with bone blades instead of teeth and huge, alien monsters that no living mortal has ever seen will become common sights. 

The seas will begin rising as well, flooding coastal regions.  Torrential downpours will become common.  Flooding inland will become common as well.  Strange, invasive plants will begin appearing in fields and forests, choking out native life.

The mutated freaks that were originally seen when the Barrier was broken, they will begin breeding, and they will breed new species, ones that have never been seen before.  These species will be perfectly adapted to the world that ours is being transformed into.

These monstrous species will begin collaborating, destroying, seizing or infiltrating existing institutions, subverting or removing the existing power structures that could prevent them from taking control. 

Some people, especially those in positions of power, will sell their souls to It, believing its promises that they will be given thrones in the new world.  Yet, just like the original cultists who rent the veil for It, these too will be cast aside in time, once their purpose has been realized.

The Changes will continue until our world is unrecognizable as the one we grew up in.  It will be full of strange animals, stranger peoples, and eventually it will become impossible for our people, or any of the inhabitants of the old world, to survive there.  Some will inevitably do so, hiding in sealed, enchanted shelters or escaping to distant places where the climate and biosphere cannot be altered so easily.  These hidden enclaves might be found in time and crushed by the New People who rule our former homelands, or they might not.  Even if they live, though, the survivors of the Changes will be left with one final, nigh-impossible task; resigning themselves to living in a world that does not belong to them.

                                                by Ursca

Fighting It

There is only one Aboleth.  There are other creatures like it, nameless wanderers from the Darkness beyond the Stars with incredible power and intellect, but they are not Aboleths.  It is the Aboleth.

The Aboleth
SHP 11  AC 14  Atk (+6) Tentacles 2d8 + save vs disease or 1d6 WIL + grapple & (+4) Psychic Blast 1d20
Mor 10    Saves 18 or less is a success

Damage Threshold 11: The Aboleth has a Damage Threshold.  It only take damage from sources if the amount of damage equals or exceeds Its Damage Threshold.  If a source of damage cannot equal or exceed the Threshold, instead ignore it, as if that source did no damage.

Aquatic: The Aboleth is perfectly suited to life underwater, able to breath and swim with ease.  It cannot breathe air, but It can hold Its breath for a week.

Damage Options: When the Aboleth strikes a creature with its tentacles, it can choose to do either conventional damage and possibly infect them with the disease It carries, or It can grapple and assault their minds.  Note that the Aboleth can also make two tentacle attacks and choose damage for each one independently.

Diseased Touch: When the Aboleth damages a creatures with its tentacles, that creature must save.  On a failed save, that creature is infected with a disease that cause them to lose 1d4 points of WIS a day.  Additionally, while this disease is affecting someone, they gain the ability to breathe water and lose the ability to breathe air.  This disease is cured by succeeding two saves against this disease.  You may make a new save every day.  Environmental conditions may affect the save, for example, staying near the Aboleth, adventuring or doing anything strenuous can give penalties to the save, while rest, medical attention and magic can give bonuses to the save.  Once cured, the lost points of WIS return at a rate of 1 point per day.

Voice from the Dark: If the Aboleth does not wish to damage a creature with its tentacles, it can instead grapple them and do 1d6 WIL damage to them.  If the amount of WIL damage taken ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIL score (or Morale + class levels for NPCs), that creature is scarred by the Aboleth and gains the Conviction, "I have gazed into the abyss and it has gazed back; I will avoid It in the future, along with all signs, omens or otherwise associated with it."  The affected creature's lost WIL returns at a rate of 1 per day.  Additionally, any creature that has this Conviction is permanently connected to the Aboleth, which can send it dreams or psychic messages from anywhere in this universe. 

Doorway to the Inner Sea: If the Aboleth has done at least 1 point of WIL damage to someone, if it then touches them, it can access the creature's mind and slip inside either the creature's mind or go deeper, down into the Collective Unconscious, the Floating Realm, the Spirit World, the World of Being, etc.  It can also emerge out of a such a creature, slipping out of their eyes or mouths in a hideous, physics-rending display.  Either is immensely uncomfortable and painful for the creature being used as the Doorway, but it is not do damage.

Conditional Immortality: The Aboleth is immortal.  If slain, it will return to life 1d20-11 days (min 1) unless it is killed by a mortal who has slain a Dragon, wrestled the cyclone, seduced the Queen of Air and Darkness, tasted everlasting life and died, only to be born again.

Tactics:
- Damage someone's mind to creature an escape route, keep them close to you
- Pick off the most dangerous creature, the one who keeps passing his or her saves
- Move down in order of danger
- Be crafty, be cunning
- Never fight a battle you cannot win

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