Tuesday, 12 May 2009

salient facts on the darksea war

I mentioned the aboleth and mind flayers in my next campaign world are at war in my response to the Mr. Doppleganger incident. This is one of the first historic events in the campaign setting and the war has not slowed up since that long-lost time. Here's a brief summary of the notes around that and some ideas that spun out from those notes.
  • Aboleth create large shallow lakes by using slaves to build dams across Underdark rivers; the resulting flooded caverns are enlarged by servitors or dominated slaves. The resulting flooded caverns are enlarged and the stone used to build the great crenellated towers, wells surrounded by rings of short spikes and mazes found in aboleth construction.
  • Some aboleth take controlling the water supply even further. Their servitors dig deep wells for nearby client villages in return for a tribute of potential servitors. Aboleth takes pains to ensure that tunnels leading to the wells are secured - usually by deadfalls, clouds of mucus or multiple glyphs of warding. to discourage intrusion.
  • The resulting structures have a disturbing aspect, one part coral reef, one part nightmare. The decoration of sections in arcane glyphs and swirling patterns makes the construction seem to swim before the eyes while clouds of mucus and silt fog parts of the construction.
  • Kuo-toa venerate aboleth and provide them with slaves, honouring them as culture-bringers. While the occasional guard is offered as servitor material, aboleth regard the kuo-toa as willing allies rather than servitor or slave. The fanatical nature of the kuo-toa is used as an example of how servants should act, though occasional madness is not desirable.
  • Aboleth usually practice a studied contempt for the 'lesser' deities venerated by the former races of their servitors yet the divine patrons of the kuo-toa are respected for their influence. Beyond this, there are the dark entities who the aboleth entreat in complex lines of glyphs across buildings, etched into crystal seals or even into their own flesh.
  • Illithids are confident in their dealings with lesser races, even the most blood-crazed war troll considers the mind flayer something to be respected. This arrogance has led them into alliance with certain drow and resulted in grimlocks, hook horrors, umber hulks and war trolls joining mind flayer armies. Drow, bugbears, troglodytes and trolls have been found as illithid thralls or dominated servants.
  • Masterminds surround themselves with armies of thralls and use them for menial labour as well as troops. As a result, illithids can quickly spawn devoted thrall communities but their progress is sometimes sluggish due to the deep despairing trance of thralldom which leads illithids to using whips and torment - adding sadism to their other evils.
  • Mind flayers are fascinated by study and academic achievement; their intellects are drawn to arcane matters, lore about the Far Realm and oratory. Their studies of fauna, flora and constructs (usually with the intention of using them to control or become thralls or dinner) makes them potent scholars.
  • Their willingness to share this lore is limited, an exchange would require an intrepid scholar to have something spectacular at hand (a difficult skill challenge involving Arcana, Bluff, Insight or Dungeoneering may be of some help) though failure may lead to dinner for the offended scholars.
Both aboleth and illithid breed destrachans as guardians and warbeasts; their aberrant nature and the breeding programs have led to beneficial mutations of the base destrachan stock.
  • Aboleth-bred destrachans have translucent skins and strong webbed limbs (swim 6 instead of climb 3). They still breathe air so they sport on the surface of the city-lakes and sound in a manner akin to dolphins. Dolphins armed with thunderbolts of course.
  • Illithid breeds have ruffed collars that display if it grows aggressive (gain Intimidate +6) and sleek, athletic bodies (speed 8 rather than speed 6 climb 3) - the long claws of these runners are still razor-sharp and their sadistic nature is no less diminished.

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