Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Things That Fill The Space Between


Outsiders 
Outsiders were only accidently allowed into the world. A thousand and five hundred years ago, the Material Plane and the Outside came into contact for an instant, and in that instant, millions of its inhabitants appeared in the world. But then the planes (Shadow Realm and Aether) once again separated the Outside from the Material Plane and they became trapped. For decades outsiders ‘plagued’ the Northern Realm. Their sudden appearance brought chaos and confusion down on all the inhabitants of the world. Now, all but eradicated, a few have escaped to the deep, ancient places under the earth.
Outsiders are as peculiar as they are horrible to behold. They are not native to Rhen. Rare and hidden in inconspicuous places, many take refuge deep underground. Powerful outsiders often reside alone, while other outsiders tend to come together, probably for better protection from the inhabitants of this world that seem to hate them.

The presence of outsiders is discombobulating. The room seems to breathe. The ground fluctuates like thick mud with each step. Sense of self, control over emotions and physical reactions have a complete disconnect from reality. After an experience with an outsider, one could describe it as an overwhelming sense of horror or madness, but only for a complete lack of ability to cope with the sensation.
Environmental Effects: Once in the affected area creatures have a tenuous grasp on their sanity. Creatures forced to make any check risk becoming confused if they fail it. Making a full movement requires an Intuition check.  

·  Outsiders have alien minds; they are unaffected by mind-affecting spells. If a spell or ability attempts to see into the mind of an outsider it necessitates a Will resistance check, DC 10 or it falls unconscious for 1d4 minutes. A successful check leaves the creature dazed for 1 round.
·  The physical laws that govern the Material Plane do not limit outsiders; they can change size at the cost of a movement within one size category of their stated size (for example a Large outsider can become a Huge or Medium sized outsider).
·  Outsiders are immune to temporal effects.
·  Immunity to all conditions and critical hits, except catching fire, falling, and death.
·  Damage reduction/magic.
·  Outsiders have no Luck score.
·  Outsiders have no shadow in the Shadow Realm.

 Art by Magdalena Zwierzchowska

Aspect Thief 
This truly horrible sight creeps and pulsates, summoning limbs, heads, and tails from its grotesque body. It constantly changes appendages as it copies the forms of the creatures it consumes.
Aspect thieves are an amalgamation of horrors. Like an amoeba, its fluid form collapses on itself and spreads across the ground, spontaneously forming legs that push and arms that pull it along. It can form multiple appendages to attack its foe, but most often it attempts to grab its target and draw it into its body. Unlike a chimera, an aspect thief never seems to form a whole body, though it comes close. Its body has the consistency and appearance of inside-out flesh except where it has morphed its body into familiar, albeit misshapen shapes. 


Cave Maw 
Smooth cave walls, dagger-like stalactites, dripping water, nothing gives warning to this creature’s presence until a low rumble just seconds before its attack reveals the true nature of this living geological mimic.
The cave maw is named for its seemingly singular purpose. Hiding in the deep dark, this creature can lie in wait for long years without eating. Cave maws may also be found mimicking cave entrances, the halls of abandoned castles, even underwater tunnels. When opportunity strikes, the cave maw is deadly efficient. The ceiling falls on its prey as if collapsed. As it moves the scraping of its body against the stone emits a peculiar rumble. This is the only warning any of its prey receive before its mass envelopes it. In the event it misses its prey the cave maw can pursue it through the darkness. It is nearly invisible while it moves even in the light. Only by finding a means of marking its body can it be ‘seen’. And though it is slow moving and betrayed by the sound it makes, it is a relentless pursuer, aided by the confusion of navigating in the dark, tight places it resides. Surprisingly, the cave maw is also able to make short quick attacks. A cave maw is able to use parts of its body to quickly strike out at prey at close range.
Chimera
 Head of a wolf and body of a giant spider, wings of a bat or body of a lion, tail of a snake, breathing fire from the goat head rising from its back, or a two-headed horse arising from a long slimy body with no legs, a chimera can be anything, but always an abomination.
The chimera is one of few outsiders that enter into the mythology of several cultures. In the Tegean mythos, chimeras are commonly depicted as monstrous creatures with the body and head of a lion, snake for a tail, and with the head of a goat rising from its back. In the Free Realm, chimeras are depicted in many different ways, in particular there are dozens of old carvings around the Free City depicting a wolf-like creature with two heads and wings of a giant bat. In much art, however, there is no distinct pattern to the chimera’s form. In the greater Free Realm, one particularly famous carving depicts the winged two-headed wolf partnered with a similar creature, but with scales and a spiny ridge on its back. After much debate, the scholars of the Free City Library have determined that it too, is a chimera.
Chimeras like other outsiders are alien to the Material Plane. Their true state is amorphous and mindset inconceivable. Attempting to read its mind is dangerous. In turn, a chimera is able to read the minds of any living being and change its shape in accordance to the shapes familiar to its target. The chimera is almost certainly unable to sort through the thoughts of creatures on this Plane, being a creature of the Outside, but it is able to see into them, resulting in a discombobulated jumble of thoughts. It combines the many creatures’ thoughts taking on aspects of many forms in an attempt to appear more familiar, thereby becoming something quite the opposite. Chimeras have been hunted to near extinction, but some still exist. They are powerful creatures and the few surviving after the Great War and the long years following are a testament to that.
Art by Magdalena Zwierzchowska
Doppelgänger 
Standing as tall as a man, thin, gaunt; or with the appearance of a woman, lovely, buxom; or an aelf, broad and strong; the doppelgänger is anything it wills itself to be. It has no native shape in the Material Realm.
After the Great War, the invading outsiders were hunted, and ultimately wiped out or escaped to hidden places. Only the cleverest, well-hidden outsiders survived. Doppelgängers are the shrewdest, most adaptable of the invaders, hiding amongst the creatures that would hunt them until they were forgotten with time.
Doppelgängers are extraordinarily intelligent. They are creatures of strategy, manipulation, and patience. They are perhaps the most dangerous of the outsiders that came to the Northern Realm. Able to take on the appearance of any humanoid and practically immortal, doppelgängers are not only intelligent, but also experienced in the various crafts, professions, and talents that are required to survive in the Material Plane. And though they thrive in secret, as all outsiders, doppelgängers wish to return to their native environment, the Outside. The means to accomplish this is unknown, the secret having died with the last of the Ancients, but doppelgängers are patient and cunning. They know that someday the secret will be discovered.
Gryre
This beast seems to be made up of mirrors. Its body is plated with countless immaculate reflective surfaces. It has no head, four limbs, and innumerable sharp edges. Its movement is the sound of a thousand mirrors breaking, its assault the source of nightmares.
The gryre was a creature most dreaded during the Great War. The aelfs called it deimos and the dunaelfs, strach. Its appearance struck fear into the hardiest of warriors. Hunted to extinction, gryre were thought long dead until the Aelf War, when one was discovered locked away in the deepest dungeon of Old Mramor. These creatures destroy the flesh with their claws and razor sharp edges, but otherwise stand immobile until sensed by another. Gryre can only "see" if seen, "hear" if heard, otherwise they are immaculate sculptures with no senses. Wizards of the aelfin House of Maleinos discovered that gryre trap the souls of creatures they destroy, somehow imprisoning them within their body. Only by destroying a gryre can the souls of the creatures killed by it be released.
Horror 
An abomination in every sense of the word, it is a churning mass of toothed orifices, plant growths, rocks, groping tendrils, eyes, and shadows; its appearance changing into ever more monstrous forms.
A confused mass of ever-changing organic and inorganic materials, a horror can appear as a groping mound of vines, stumps, and rocks one moment and then erupt into a hoard of what seems like squirrels, skittering across its surface out of a dozen gaps in its body, which then change again into sharp teeth and mouths that clack together as if made from wood. Horrors bear a strong resemblance to aspect thieves, except that a horror is actually a number of organisms clumped together. It’s nearly impossible to tell that they are an amalgamation of creatures, but after great violence a horror will break apart and flee, or feign retreat. One way to tell a horror and aspect thief apart is that a horror does not change forms at rest. It can sit without moving or changing for many weeks before it needs to feed. Another way to tell them apart is the feeling of dread it emits as psychic energy. In fact, this is how it got its name. 
Mimic 
This creature, like other outsiders is able to change its appearance. It is set apart by its knack for mimicking objects. It may appear as large as a treasure chest or as small as an axe. Its victims may not realize a mimic’s true nature until the claws of the beast reach out from the axe pommel, holdfast, and turn on its wielder.
Like doppelgängers, mimics have survived by hiding amongst the population of Rhen. It mimics objects from Small to Large. Its purpose is the same as other outsiders; to survive until it is free to once again roam the infinity of the Outside, with the additional motivation to feed. Mimics lure victims by impersonating objects familiar to them. When a victim comes near to a mimic, it strikes, reaching for its victim with strong appendages and strangling its prey before absorbing it into its body to digest.