Endless Blue – Week 76 – The Aboleth: Puppeteers of the Deep   Leave a comment

Zoology

The Aboleth: Puppeteers of the Deep

When the Kraken Empire fell, the apex predator of the Endless Blue disappeared almost overnight.  This left a vacuum in Elquan ecology that has never been truly filled.  That is, until now.  The aboleths have stirred from their “long dreaming”, and begun infiltrating their thralls into the political and social circles of the Known World.

Aboleth

Huge Aberration (Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 8d8 +40 (76 hp)
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
Speed: 60 feet (12 cubes)
Buoyancy: Shelf (adjustable)
Armor Class: 16 (-2 size, +1 Dex, +7 natural)
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+22
Attack: Tentacle +12 mêlée (1d6+8 plus slime)
Full Attack: 4 tentacles +12 mêlée (1d6+8 plus slime)
Space/Reach: 10 ft. by 20 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Subjugate, parasite, psionics, slime
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., ultravision 60 ft., mucus cloud
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +11.
Abilities: Str 26, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 15, Wis 17, Cha 17
Skills: Concentration +16, Knowledge (any) +13, Listen +16, Spot +16, Swim +8
Feats: Alertness, Combat Casting, Iron Will
Environment: Deep, dark waters (Shelf)
Organization: Solitary or slaver brood (1 plus 7-12 skum).
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: Double standard.
Alignment: Usually lawful evil.
Advancement: Huge (9-16 HD),  Gargantuan (17-24 HD)
Level Adjustment:

Aboleths are vile, alien aberrations.  They occupy no true role in the delicate ecological balance of Elqua.  Instead, they subvert and undermine the natural ecosystem to suit their whims.  They do not insinuate themselves into the natural order, but instead disrupt it by their very presence.  Nothing preys on these aberrations, allowing them free passage where every they go.  And where ever they go, the reap devastation.

Their huge, massive bodies are roughly twenty foot long prism-shapes, and consist of sickly colored teal, segmented plates covering their front and a flexible, finned tail behind a circle of socketed tentacles.  Its ventral side is a pale, jaundiced pink that falsely looks tender and vulnerable.  Along its sides are a series of darkened, pulsating sphincters.  These orifices constantly ooze a steady flow of mucus that the aboleth spreads over its entire body with its four tentacles.  This cloudy, rancid mucus is insoluble in water, and prevents the aboleth’s scent from being carried on the currents.  It had detrimental effect on the biology of the average piscean.

The vertical row of sanguine eyes on the prow of their head betrays the wicked intelligence of these monsters.  They see all matter as their play things, and treat creatures with cruelty and disdain.  Their unblinking vision can stare straight into the soul of a piscean, and somehow finds every weakness therein to manipulate.  They will distract and seduce a victim, separating him from the group for enough time to crush his will and mentally enslave him.  Once dominated, the aboleth initiates a slow transformation process in its victims that culminates in their utter submission into a form of sub-piscean known as a “skum”.  Skum are the puppets of the aboleth, working for the aberrations, completely unaware they dance on strings.

Aboleth possess a communal racial memory.  What one aboleth knows, all know.  An aboleth possesses the knowledge and memory of its predecessors as if they were its own.  This way, there is no actual “teaching” of aboleth ideas and culture — you have to be an aboleth to know it.  This has produced a level of technology far in advance of the pisceans of the Known World.  A form of bio-technology, their artifacts were once living creatures, now perverted in purpose by the malign needs of the aboleth.  Without being an aboleth, no one can utilize their bioconstructs, no matter how simple, other than clumsily swinging and thrusting.  The operation of aboleth biotech requires the mind of an aboleth, controlling the body of an aboleth, to act in an aboleth manner.  At the very least, all aboleth grafts — the fusing of a living creature with new abilities — requires repeated, frequent anointment in the aboleth’s own bodily excretions.  That alone makes the technology almost useless to the piscean races.

Combat

An aboleth prefers to use its skum thralls for combat, but if cornered will attack using its tentacles, whipping their slender lengths with fearsome speed and accuracy.  But overall, aboleths abhor calling attention to themselves or their agents, and utilize their illusion powers to the fullest long before resorting to violence.  Once violence is needed, though, they are  savage, torturous monstrosities.

Subjugate (Su):  An aboleth can attempt to enslave a living creature within 30 feet.  To do so, the victim must either be out of line of sight of any ally, or be physically touching the aboleth.  Should the victim fail a Will save (DC 17, Charisma based), he is suffers the effect of a dominate person spell (caster level 16th).  A subjugated creature automatically complies with the aboleth’s mental demands as if they were his own free will.  This telepathic domination can be countered with a remove curse spell.  Unless the victim is addicted to the narcotic effects of the aboleth’s slime (see Slime, below), he can attempt a new Will save every 24 hours to break free.  Should the aboleth die, the Will save decreases slowly at the rate of one point per passed day.  There is no limit to the distance an aboleth can maintain dominance over a subjugated victim.

Psionics (Sp):  Aboleths posses the following psionic powers with an effective caster level of 16 and saves DCs are Charisma based: At will—hypnotic pattern (DC 15), illusory wall (DC 17), mirage arcana (DC 18), persistent image (DC 18), programmed image (DC 19), project image (DC 20), veil (DC 19).  Aboleths understand all spoken languages.  Further, an aboleth automatically senses everything a subjugated victim experiences, and has full access to the victim’s memories.  Finally, an aboleth enables a subjugated skum overcome the suffocation effect of its mucus cloud (see below).

Mucus Cloud (Ex): An aboleth constantly exudes a cloud of mucus that it surrounds itself with, about a foot thick.  Those unlucky enough to come in contact with and breathing this substance must pass a Fortitude based save at DC 19 or lose the ability to breathe for the next 3 hours as the cloying, viscous goo clogs their gills.  Additional contact/inhalation with the mucus cloud and failing another Fortitude save renews the effect for 3 more hours. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Slime (Ex): A blow from an aboleth’s tentacle or inhaling the aboleth’s mucus cloud (see above) can cause a terrible addiction. Exposed creatures must pass a DC 19 Fortitude save or become addicted to the narcotic properties of the aboleth’s slime.  Each additional hit in the same round requires another save, but with a cumulative +1 to the Difficulty Class.  Remaining in the mucus cloud continues the cumulative penalty, but the DC rating resets at the beginning of the next round should the victim retreat or otherwise leave the area of the mucus cloud.

An addicted creature’s thinking becomes clouded, and he will subconsciously choose actions that invoke additional attacks from the aboleth and re-entry into the creature’s mucus cloud.  For example, an addicted fighter might chose to cross the aboleth’s  threat area and enter hand-to-hand combat instead of maintaining his distance from the aberration.  Even the victim will not realize he is unconsciously putting himself in danger in order to get another fix.

Casting a remove disease spell is enough to break the addiction and free the victim’s will from the slime’s influence.

Parasite (Ex):  If an aboleth can successfully isolate a subjugated victim for at least a week, it can implant a parasite that replaces the victim’s tongue and prevents the dominate person effect from being dispelled.  It requires a heal spell to expel such a parasite, followed by a regeneration spell to regrow the consumed tongue.  Addiction to the aboleth’s mucus must be cured separately.

Creature Lore
Common:  Relegated to myth, aboleths have so rarely been seen that the populace believes them to be obscure, minor folklore.
Uncommon:  Some apocryphal scriptures of the Church of Olyhydra describe aboleths as invaders from the Vastness, set to seduce the unwary into damnation.
Rare: Aboleths are reputedly immortal.  Like the Lumulus, they do not die from old age, and instead simply grow larger and larger as the centuries pass by.
Obscure:  The slime of an aboleth, once absorbed into the body, acts like a narcotic.  Habit forming, victims will seek out aboleths in order to collect the tiniest trace of their addiction.

The Dark Undercurrents:

The aboleth incursion has been plotted out long ago.  The vile aberrations have systematically mentally enslaved key pisceans and sent them off to infiltrate normal society.  There, under the telepathic direction of their overlords, these dominated individuals built up bases of power, ensuring their entrenchment in the homeseas of the Known World.  As time passed, the aboleth slowly altered their slaves, and as they reproduced, increased their number.  These new generations of slaves needed less and less mental attention of the aboleth, until the point where the slaves essentially serve of their own free — albeit, unknowing — will.

Much of this complete domination is successful through the use of a parasite.  Created by the vile knowledge of the aboleths and passed down through their cumulative racial memory, these parasites are bred not unlike a piscean Packbreeder develops her animals.  The parasite begin life in a pupal stage, and appear like a nodule about the size of a Mer’s molar.  This nodule is inserted into the mouth of a victim through the mucus forming orifices along the side of the aboleth, where it gestates.  As it matures, it slowly gives off chemicals that deaden the sensation of pain in the victim’s throat.  Once the nodule dissolves completely and the pupa matures, it bites into the tongue at the back of the throat and slowly devours it completely.  The host remains oblivious to this change as the parasite anchors itself on the stump and replaces the consumed tongue with its own body.  It reacts to impulses in the body’s nervous system, flexing in the same way that an intact tongue would.  Speech is not hampered by this exchange, and indeed, the aboleth can take over the victim’s vocal chords through the parasite and speak for him.

The depth of infiltration these enslaved pisceans have achieved is staggering.  It would have taken multiple generations to so thoroughly ingratiate their way into the upper echelons.  Skum reproducing, passing on the aboleth parasite to their offspring, they repeating the cycle…  The planning must have taken generations, way back to a time period when the Kraken still dominated the Fluid Nations.  Which then begs the question, “Did the aboleths have a role in the fall of the Kraken?”  Perhaps they made a new deal with the Elsewhere powers that fueled the occupiers’ rise?  Might this pact have been the catalyst for the dark powers to abandon their servants on the eve of their final battle?

There seems to be a suspicious link between Lumulus and Aboleth lifespans.  They share a similar alien mentality and psychic ability.  Could there be a link?  The Orcans are quite sure they were the first race on Elqua, could it be that the aboleths played a part in the creation of the crustacean species?  Could there be a deeply submerged command in the psyche of the Lumulus, laying dormant, awaiting the day their aboleth masters reactivate them as skum?

If aboleths have a weakness, it is the coating of mucus that enshrouds their repellant bodies.  Without this intact layer of phlegm, their skin would shrivel and dissolve in the briny waters of the Endless Blue.  This makes areas of underwater brine pools, rivers, and falls especially dangerous to the aberrations.  It is the greasy, insoluble aspect of their excretion that saves them from an excruciating fate of being salted alive.  To avoid this fate, an aboleth can enter a suspended state they call “the long dreaming” or “the endless slumber”.  This state of torpor is involuntary, leaving the aboleth comatose and at the mercy of its surroundings.  It cannot escape this state of its own volition, and is utterly dependent on either random chance to save them, or their own contingency plans put in place years earlier.

“Coincidence is the veil of the puppeteer; masking him as he pulls the strings of marionettes…”
— conspiracy theorist mantra.

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