View Full Version : Ravenloft Domain: Post-Apocalyptic Gothic Transhumanism, Ho!

2013-01-01, 11:57 PM
Anyway, I am a fan of old-time gonzo science fantasy in the vein of Gamma World, and seeing as how Ravenloft, if properly seasoned, goes with everything, I was inspired to create a "mad transhumanist" darklord and his domain.

Since I'm terrible at D&D crunch, I'm just painting the fluff here, especially given how Ravenloft is sold on the quality of fluff.

Without further ado:

Please forgive me if I screw up the cultural levels, I'm using the Ravenloft Renaissance guide.

Eschaton, The Ruins of Utopia

Type: Island of Terror, located southwest of Markovia, beyond Blaustein. As a side note, its sudden appearance rising from the Sea of Sorrows caused tidal waves on both domains due to displaced water, upsetting and arousing the curiosity of both lands' lords (to say nothing of the spectral hair-pulling of Pieter van Riese, who had yet more to map).

Cultural Level: Among the Mytock, Medieval (CL 7), with alchemist-shamans able to manufacture certain Renaissance (CL 8 ) technologies (in particular their chemicals and surgical equipment) with sufficient resources. The Elyte range from Bronze Age (CL2) to Savage (CL 0). The city is Enlightenment in development (CL 9), with some electrical and plastics technology that exceeds the typical scale.

Landscape: Full Ecology (Subtropical forest reclaiming city). Eschaton is a mid-sized island about half the size of Markovia, with a warm, relatively inviting climate. Dominating the landscape is the eponymous city, a graceful stone construction that rivals Paridon in size and scope, with an artistic flair that puts said domain to shame. Or at least it would, were the eye not drawn to the curtain of green that covers everything, and then the plant-born decorations thereof. The City of Eschaton has not had a civilized people that inhabits it for decades or even centuries, and it shows. Apart from the occasional splashes of horror that the Elyte construct, about the only thing that hints that there is an actual culture that lives here is the fact that the entrances to the subterranean mass transportation system are less overgrown, and the fact that not one of them that isn't already open is unlocked and/or easily yielding. Those who manage to get in through the grace of the Mytock or outwitting their defenses finds that the city extends quite a ways underground, with the former waystations being settlements, however temporary, for the Mytok, and the tunnels forming a vast network that the underground civilization uses to evade and hide from their savage counterparts above.

The Folk: The Eschatoni are sharply divided into two peoples-the underground-dwelling Mytok, and the overground-roaming Elyte. Generally speaking, when most people think of the "culture of Eschaton", they are thinking of the Mytok-because, frankly, the Mytok are distinguished from the Elyte by their possession of sanity and lack of homicidal mania. Much to the surprise of Lamordian explorers, the Mytok are a scientifically advanced culture despite their tribal social structure and nomadic mentality, particularly in the fields of medicine and biology. They know that a non-microscopic lifeform is composed of countless microscopic structures called "cells", and believe that microscopic lifefoms called "germs" attacking vital cells is the root cause of most illness-and take great pride in this theory working when they can show that exposing a person to a benign form of germ (a "vaccine") can "teach" the cells of that person how to resist more dangerous forms of the germ, preventing illness (polio and leprosy are extinct on Eschaton, and exposure to rabies is regarded as a fairly minor problem among Mytok). One need only look at the city to understand why-the old Eschatoni had access to tools and techniques miles beyond whatever Larmordia or Paridon is capable of, and even though the Mytok have forgotten more than they know, the truly vital bits are preserved at all costs by the caste of alchemist-shamans.

Speaking of the latter, the alchemist-shamans are a specialized role in Mytok society. As the name suggests, they are similar to Abber shamans in that they largely live on the outskirts of the tribe they're attached to, are sedentary by choice and necessity, and regarded with a combination of fear and awe. Unlike the Abber, Mytok alchemists do not serve as spiritual guides, but as doctors and scholars to the tribes, keeping their scientific library intact while caring for sick Mytok that cross their path. The reason they generally stay in one place is because, well, moving the equipment they use is hard, not to mention a lot of the more lethal technology of Eschaton serves as its own defense. They also practice biomancy, the partially mystical science of growing symbiotic organisms and organs in specialized alembic tanks and grafting them to their patients and themselves, with a side business of creating new magical beasts to protect the tribes. Normally that would be a recipe for mass powers checks, but the Mytok psychology and dominant religion believes that modifying flesh and body is a holy act that glorifies the spirit and their gods, the Sephiral-and they need all the help against the Elyte and other monsters they can get. Thus the normal rules for hubris through modification of life are altered, as the Dark Powers can hardly hold a culture's mores against them if it doesn't involve inflicting suffering-biomancy by a Mytok alchemist-shaman or a true believer in their Path of Sophia (DM's determination as to whether a person qualifies) has a -8% penalty if the biomancer in question truly believes he is helping his community through the creation of a magical beast or has the explicit permission of a patient he is performing grafts on, to a minimum of zero (in which case the Dark Powers simply do not notice, and a check is not rolled).

Modification of the humors of the brain or neural grafting is a sacred taboo, however, and those unfortunate enough to meet the Elyte up close understand why. The Elyte have had their fear instincts-and thus, ability to feel regret or restraint-biomantically crippled, meaning that while they retain the ability to judge risk and reward, they are, quite simply, a nation of psychopaths. Indeed, the entire nomadic tendency of the Mytok are based around avoiding detection-and thus, being hunted for sport-by the Elyte and whatever monsters they or the alchemist-shamans release into the tunnels. To the extent the Elyte have a culture, it mostly resembles a collection of feuding street gangs and raiders, contenting themselves primarily by testing the automated defenses of Eschaton's labs to get at the useful treasures they contain for their perpetual warring. Relatively recently, a few gangs have come to pay respect to a figure called "the Chochmah", after the Sephiral of Wisdom. Rumor among Mytok suggest he is a mad alchemist who has figured out the procedure to turn normal people into Elyte, though never actual Mytok, for some reason. He is also said to be behind the mysterious "armored souls", intelligent golems containing formerly-organic minds.

(going to continue. I'm freewriting this, I need breaks)

2013-01-02, 03:20 PM
Demographics: Mytok 40,000 (higher than what would be normal due to advanced medicine), human 70%, caliban 15%, changeling (ie, part-doppleganger) 15%-the history of Eschaton before the Collapse was marked by some experiments on the lower classes that should not have been attempted, like splicing genes from outsiders and dopplegangers (the outlander, sexed variety). Due to the relative openness of Eschaton society before said collapse and then people being forced to be more egalitarian afterwards, calibans are accepted if often given semi-insulting stereotypes, but changelings face massive distrust and suspicion due to their shapechanging abilities and genetic tendency towards secrecy. Elyte 5,000 (how they manage to still exist at all despite their general aggression and recklessness is beyond the Mytok, though one could argue said recklessness serves as a form of natural selection), human 85%, monstrous 15%-due to the lack of a fear response, many obvious monsters are accepted by the Elyte if they can prove their viciousness. Ironically, some of them are actually more moral than the human Elyte, due to said fear response.

There is also the "armored souls" about (use warforged statistics as shorthand), but they are a recent development by the domain's darklord and are few and far between, the surgical transformation from organic being to intelligent golem being reserved for the Chochmah's most competent and yet expendable servants-he's still ironing out kinks, like how to calm down new armored souls from their pain-born rampages without death. Still, Sir Lucas is nothing if not persistent, and he plans to begin mass production as soon as possible.

History: From the histories of the Mytok (while they often use oral teachings, writing is reserved for scientific, historical, and biomantic information, the Mytok reasoning the Elyte do not have the patience nor inclination for more intellectual pursuits and are likely to blow themselves up with biomancy due to lack of restraint) Eschaton is a case study in how decadence, apathy, and classism can destroy an otherwise perfect society. Once, Eschaton was the jewel of its world, a gleaming city of wonders built in the waning days of a technological revolution. Through the power of advanced alchemy, the city's world evolved rapidly from a somewhat typical outlander world into a parade of technological marvels even beyond Paridon's fare. Yes, they still fought dragons with swords, but it was just as likely with a flintlock, a lighting canon (an interesting little contraption that produces a strong electrical charge as part of a chemical reaction, which is then mystically routed to the target as a precision artillery strike), or not at all, simply using a newfound mass communication system to alert other, nicer dragons to a potential rival. Foremost among this era of innovations was the city of Eschaton, built up from a simply wizard's tower into a massive metropolis of stone and plastics, thanks to the owner of said tower also being a diviner who saw the trend and patroned a college and settlement for the early inventors.

From the outside, Eschaton was the crowning jewel of the planet, a beautiful city exquisite in architecture, wealth, and learning. At first, the perspective was even right. Unfortunately, Eschaton was also a child of an extremely stratified culture, and as the population of the city increased, so did the divison between the aristocracy and the lower classes, which was only exacerbated by a biomantic plague released in the field's early days, that drove the rich to huddle together in specific districts to escape the transferred-on-contact germ.

Over time, while the lives of the rich became paradisaical and easy, the living conditions of the poor and middle classes became more and more hellish, the aristocrats increasingly forgetting their existence except as the people who ran their machines. With distance came increasingly less empathy, and so the rich increasingly began to cajole the alchemists and biomancers to use the poor as test subjects to create better servants. Forced into behaving inhumanly by the lack of any better payment, the scientifically-inclined middle class assented, transforming unlucky beggars into alien forms at best. As the devolution of ethics continued, the experiments became increasingly invasive and horrifying, until a noble who's name has been scoured from Mytok history in contempt commissioned a private security force that could feel no fear, and others, jealous of an elite unit in the holdings of their rival, commissioned much the same.

The victims of the first Elyte never knew what hit them.

Among them, ironically, was the vast majority of the aristocracy and upper classes, the Elyte no longer fearing retribution-and given the standards of soldiers those days, the progenitor Elyte possessed powerful biomantic grafts and warbeasts, meaning they were even more deadly then their modern descendants. Soon, much of Eschaton's vital infrastructure was destroyed and its overseers massacred, causing industrial disaster after disaster. The creators of the Elyte, realizing what they had unleashed, quickly rounded up their sane test subjects and led them to the tunnels below, followed closely by the underclass survivors-the ancestors of the Mytok. Huddling in terror underground, the proto-Mytok didn't notice when a strange fog surrounded the dying city, blocking all ways out, until a few at the outskirts suddenly noticed that the borders of the city had become the beach of an endless mist-shrouded sea. To this date, the Mytok believe the Sephiral shunted Eschaton into the Land of Mists to prevent the Elyte from unleashing the weapons contained within it.

Records after this point are somewhat sparse, the Mytok reckon that they had been adrift in the Endless Sea for at least a century until Eschaton had a mild earthquake, followed by the entire island it sat being struck by a storm, at the end of which the ruined city had found it's way into another ocean (and despite reports of it "emerging from the sea", neither Mytok nor Elyte ever remember being beneath it at any point). Soon, explorers from the Core, curious and smelling potential wealth, came to explore the island and its city-and were quickly rebuffed by the Elyte, though the Mytok soon made cautious contact with these men who spoke strange tongues and have begun establishing a trading relationship with Dementlieu and Mordent due to relative similarity in language and liking of the latter's religious practices. Lamordia, however, has come to earn the title of "nation of know-nothing know-it-alls". The feeling is mutual.

(Next time: I get to the darklord!)

2013-01-02, 03:21 PM
Fluffy goodness is this 4e or 3.5 or something else?

P.S. I'm a huge Ravenloft fan.

2013-01-02, 08:59 PM
I mentioned this:

I'm not sold on making chrunch. At all.

I grew disillusioned with 4e after Essentials and 3.5/Pathfinder confuse me.

I will put all the needed fluff up there, though.

2013-01-03, 05:36 AM
I can help with the crunch for 3.5. I've got the Ravenloft 3.5 from Sword and Sorcery but I've never liked 4e.

How familiar are you with this site: www.kargatane.com? There's a lot of good material there.


2013-01-03, 01:22 PM
I can help with the crunch for 3.5. I've got the Ravenloft 3.5 from Sword and Sorcery but I've never liked 4e.

How familiar are you with this site: www.kargatane.com? There's a lot of good material there.


Actually, I use the Fraternity of Shadows (http://www.fraternityofshadows.com/), but yeah, I've perused the Kargatane's netbooks before.

And now, the continuation:

Darklord of Eschaton: Sir Lucas de Aubut (aka, the Chochmah)

NE (with L tendencies)/Evil Male human [wizard/artificer-I haven't decided yet, and don't think he should be multiclassed]

Appearance and Mannerisms: From afar, one may mistake the ultimate lord and prisoner of Eschaton for a Mordentish or an abnormally humble Dementlieuese merchant. Since he has taught himself to speak Mordentish and functional Lamordian and Darkonese, this is an impression he can and does capitalize on through use of makeup and attempting to avoid topics about life in either domain. Beneath the disguise he may or may not be wearing, however, the first thing that comes to mind is "pale"-while he is from a time before the Mytok existed, he gets about as much sun as the underground tribes, due to fearing the Elyte just as much (his blonde hair doesn't help the asthetics). In either case though, de Aubut bares the face of good breeding and genetically diverse aristocracy, being relatively handsome but far from the pictoral beauty that mild inbreeding tends to produce. When not trying to deceive explorers, he is usually found wearing his old formal wear, pretending to a gentile civility that does not naturally exist in his domain, or a white laboratory coat and smock that is kept in much better condition (hinting at his actual priorities). In all dress, excepting the lab wear (which is worn in private), he has long sleeves and gloves-the better to hide both the massive scarring caused by his experiments backfiring all to often, and the massive collection of symbiotes he has for personal defense and lab tools. He's especially proud of the bone scalpel tentacle, his own creation and all purpose tool for both precision and force.

Personality-wise, Eschaton's lord is charming, sagely, and intelligent. When he was still on his world, he used to be fairly humorous and easy with a joke as well, but most of the references he knows are known to no one else in Ravenloft, and thus he doesn't bother (with the occasional joke that slips out that would be hilarious if only it translated). He's a little too relaxed and reliant on more vulgar language to be truly genteel, but often this serves to make him more personable. He's extremely generous with his knowledge of Eschaton's landscape and sciences (though naturally when doing his merchant impersonation he pretends to be more ignorant, just perceptive), and is always willing to lend some of the food he grows to explorers who are obviously starving (which is genuine charity on his part-he has enough to spare and hates people suffering unnecessarily-though given how he's a darklord, he definition of "necessary suffering" can be rather broad when it suits him). He's always willing to talk about biology, chemistry, and music, since those are only topics that doesn't leave him feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

Prodding, however, reveals the dark side of Sir Lucas. When forced to converse with Lamordians or when realizes he's talking to one, he grows immensely condescending and dismissive, reveling in his ability to mock and belittle the "accomplishments" of the so-called "Nation of Reason". Directly insulting him directly engenders an immediate and quick response, ranging from a glare to a piecemeal shredding of the insulter's ego. Above all else, he despises direct attacks on his "mission"-while he is willing to tolerate the understandable ignorance of people who don't want their ability to feel emotion fiddled with (and will kindly explain why it's the best thing for all involved), actually attacking the philosophical underpinnings (especially logical ones) of his quest to rid the world of fear and weakness can and does provoke a wild rant on the ignorance and stupidity of (demi)humanity, and how his ideals are the only reasonable, sane philosophy in existence.

(GASP...since I'm trying to fit withing the character limit of the FoS, I'll post break here.)

2013-01-04, 12:28 AM
(*Linkara Voice* "TIME 4 BACKSTORRRYY!")

Backstory: First, one must understand that the act that made the mad biomancer a darklord was not the creation of the Elyte. No one created the Elyte. No one created Eschaton-the-city, either-well, no one anyone in Ravenloft can with interact on a meaningful scale, anyway. The realm, much like Darkon or Sithicus, is a personal creation of the Dark Powers to torment its original (and in Eschaton's case, current) lord and prisoner. The histories are true enough, though-there's an actual world in the main Prime Material Plane at the tail end of a technological revolution in chemistry, medicine, and biomancy, and Eschaton was made in the image of its cities.

Sir Lucas de Aubut is a native of that world-and his name is still brought up in official histories as an example of what happens when a biomancer decides that ethics come secondary to convictions.

One of the most brilliant biomancers of his day, de Aubut was a child of the noveau riche born from the rapidly expanding alchemy guilds. The the childhood of the future alchemist-magus was one of feast and famine; his parents, both very important officials in the prestigious Craftmasons of Malkuth, loved him dearly, but were of the belief that their newfound wealth and fame held by a thread due to the toxic atmosphere projected by the old money. Thus, in between lavishing their son with attention, praise, and gifts, they barely had time to acknowledge his existence. This rapid swinging between being the center of his parents' world and a complete nonentity instilled in the young Lucas a subconscious association between love and attention, implanted a seed of purest ambition in his soul, and the determination to see his dreams come about. Both qualities served him well as he studied to be an alchemist, and his natural ability to internalize and work with information at a phenomenal rate catapulted him to becoming one of the most prominent names in the field, and his natural charisma and lively attitude gave him popular acclaim as well-he became a prominent celebrity among biomancers, regularly invited to fete with the nobility and other luminaries of the era-it's how the king of his country met him and eventually decided to grant him a knighthood.

Unfortunately for Lucas, his was not the face of biomancy-that belonged to another man, Dr. Amor Maurot. It was hardly unpredictable-Maurot had discovered how to mass grow symbiotes, transforming an affectation of the aristocracy and elite adventurers into a way of life, used by the common man on the street to make his life a bit easier and a bit more fulfilling. Indeed, it was this discovery that eclipsed de Aubut's own insights into neural humors, transforming him from a well-known friend of the elite into a mere, well, friend of the elite. He was no household name, praised and loved by all. Bitterly, de Aubut went back to his laboratory, determined to find something-anything-that would give him some measure of respect akin to Maurot's.

His faith provided the answer.

Even the nuance-less version of the Path of Sophia practiced by the Mytok has as one of its central tenets improvement of the soul and demihuman condition. One of the central ways is through perfection of the body ("as the temple is reinforced, the treasure need less worry with its concerns"), but so is the improvement of other souls ("as without, so within"). While the actual clergy of the Path recommended and practiced good works and charity, Sir Lucas, a reductionist to the core, saw the soul and mind not as separate from the body, but deeply intertwined-the soul's complex inner workings were rooted in the mind, the mind was rooted in the brain, what affects the brain affects the mind, hence one could manipulate the soul through the brain. This was the beginnings of a massive, wonderful idea-if perfection of the soul could lead to enlightenment, then by perfecting of the brain, one could artificially induce enlightenment!

Hubris? Probably. Still, at this point in de Aubut's life, one could argue that hubris was a coward's word-there was nothing wrong with the ends, and the means did not need be particularly vile to be effective.

But unfortunately, de Aubut underestimated how difficult such a task would be. Even the physical brain is infinitely more than humors, and for all Lucas' gifts, applied neurological medicine was not one of them. His test subjects showed mixed results to his attempts to treat mental illnesses through humor manipulation, and direct surgery resulted in little response at best, permanent damage at worst. Frustrated by this lack of progress, Lucas began to believe there was something intrinsic in the demihuman body that prevented his work from making progress. Over time, he began to believe that the demihuman condition itself carried intrinsic flaws that he was not accounting for. Eventually, he had an epiphany-the Sephiral, like any artists, were not infallible-misguided, they had inscribed something into sapience that gave it it's flaws compared to mere sentience-prejudice, irrationality, willful ignorance, hatred of the Other, illogical belief...

And they could all be traced back to one thing: fear.

(More to come...)

2013-01-04, 04:40 PM
(The more in question)

Fear. Fear was the source of all irrationality and willful ignorance. Without fear, the teachings of the Sephirals would be unnecessary, as mortals would naturally depend on their higher natures towards things they didn't understand. Fear lead to dwelling on one's mistakes to the point where one was afraid of trying. Fear lead to prejudice, and irrational hatred. Fear, above all other things, was the flaw. If de Aubut could remove fear, then sapience would become perfection.

When Sir Lucas presented his new idea as was to the various volunteers for his experiments, most quickly refused to be subject to such a radical, untested treatment. Those who did agree were never the same-the luck ones "merely" became hopelessly insane as fiddling with the most primal sections of their minds caused irreparable damage. The less lucky ones became those rare Broken Ones that arises beyond the borders of the Land of Mists, the atavistic traits of their genome being mystically awoken and forced to display themselves. Heedless, de Aubut decided what he required was a larger test sample, and resorted to deception to attract more test subjects to his lab. He told himself that the ends justified the means, that the failed subjects would be able to be fixed with the treatments he would inevitably discover, or at least their families and friends would be grateful. Eventually, he had a few successes-only to discover that fear was the foundation of regret and thus, conscience. His "ideal demihuman" was little more than a psychopath.

But, rather than accept that his goal was flawed and that he needed to focus on things he knew, Sir Lucas decided that the ends were still as perfect as the day he thought to rid the world of fear-the sapient condition was just more flawed than he could have possibly imagined.

And with that self-serving epiphany, a strange fog began to gather around his workshop and home.

Eventually, the people gradually realized what de Aubut was attempting to do, though not what he had violated in its pursuit. A peaceful protest was organized at the foot of his tower, demonstrating the common man's ire with attempting to play with the mind. What they could not have realized was the resentment towards the common man that had been building in Sir Lucas. He had ceased to view other sapients as anything but flawed creations, instinct-driven beasts who pretended to rationality and reason. Eventually, he grew fed up with the protests, and decided to show them exactly what would happen if he was not allowed to continue.

Then, when his psychotic test subjects finished their rampage, he exacted a posthumous fine from the protesters to make up for the blockage of his work-their organs.

The deed done, he returned to his lab, not noticing as the fog that had built up around his tower grew thick and large. At the stroke of three in the morning, Sir Lucas noticed the time and called his servants to clean his lab...and no one responded. Irate and annoyed, he strode over to their quarters to vent the massive amount of irritation he had built up over the morning...and saw a chamber that seemed like it had been deserted for weeks. Alarmed, he looked outside-and saw a vast, ruined metropolis that seemed oddly familiar.

And slowly, he realized something else-he did not recognize the stars.

(Next up: Current Sketch!)

2013-01-04, 05:23 PM
I'm liking it so far.

Please, write more!

2013-01-05, 09:30 PM
(Now, Part 1 of the Sketch!)

Current Sketch: Since arriving in the Demiplane of Dread, Sir Lucas has been a bit lost. On his world, he was near the center of a vast social web, and now he reigns over an island with a completely alien pair of societies-one incapable of empathy and advanced organization, the other a strange juxtaposition of the advanced sciences of his home and a tribal, hunter-gatherer society. This is one of the many ways Eschaton was made to make him uncomfortable-a textbook narcissist, de Aubut's sense of self-worth is directly tied to his feelings of importance and social acclaim: He's an urban and social creature, so the Mists gave him a realm that was once a city, but is now more of a forest with an artificial framework and people who do not have the same values he does. He possesses great pride in his status as an aristocrat and a part of his world's scientific establishment, so Eschaton's ruined state is a result of the aristocracy's idiocy and the only reason there were any survivors was because of people who were willing to break from the establishment. He's prone to jealousy, so not only does he have a domain where no one acknowledges his authority, but there is literally an entire caste of other alchemists who are given acclaim for the sacrifices they make for their people. Above all, the danger and ruination of the domain? They were caused by a version of his fear-removal procedure. Typically for a darklord, he loudly refuses to acknowledge what his land is telling him.

For the few decades or so he was a darklord (noticeable for the fact that he was instilled significantly after the domain's formation-the Dark Powers decided to let the society of the domain develop from a carbon copy of de Aubut's homeworld into the form it is today) leading up to Eschaton's appearance on the Sea of Sorrows, Sir Lucas was mostly content with experimenting on random Elyte and the few Mistborn his Mytok assistants captured (he avoids experimenting on other Mytok for fear of driving away said assistants-indeed, one may consider them the closest thing he can have to friends) while improving on his tower home. Gradually, he began to lose interest in his domain (he wasn't that involved to begin with), but the Dark Powers decided for their own ineffable reasons that he would not be another Lord Soth.

Thus, they did the one thing that would snap him out of his apathetic lethargy-give him something to do.

Such was how Eschaton was moved to a location where its lord could actually interact with outsiders, and thus learn of problems in other lands his wonders could solve.

These current nights, Sir Lucas is gradually probing the interlopers to his land and figuring out how he can help them. This is a genuine sentiment on his part-de Aubut likes helping people, but just as importantly, he needs their thanks and gratitude like he needs food and drink; he needs to be needed, but more importantly, needs to be thought of as flawless, because then he can fool himself into believing it as well. Which is why he's a darklord, instead of a particularly ruthless and frightening outlander-his ultimate motive for the experiments was his own selfish need for acclaim, and he deluded himself into believing himself wiser than the gods-which, it should be noted, he still believes in and regularly invokes to prove the "holiness" of his mission-because he couldn't admit to himself the fact that he had both chosen a task beyond his capabilities and that the design goals themselves were flawed.

Unfortunately, this interactions have already born fruit-talking with a group of Mordent explorers about ghosts clued him into the malleability of souls separate from bodies. Extrapolating from this, he figured out a way to transfer a living soul to a stone and metal golem body without it actually becoming one of the Dead though use of brain transplanting. These were the first "armored souls", who enjoy a small measure of immortality and the same immunity to disease their master does-an armored soul retains all the memory from his or her existence as an organic being and, massive amounts of mind-searing pain caused by glitches in the procedure notwithstanding, all their sanity and personality, allowing them to serve their lord forever (they also retain free will and agency, but as of yet none of de Aubut's minions have had misgivings after the armored soul conversion). What's more, he has also learned of the disease-like spread of monsters in other lands, how they turn normal people into more of themselves, like lycanthropes-diseases which he feels are not beyond his ability to create a vaccine or even cure for. Already he is planning to send an expedition of armored souls and protected Mytok mages, with artillery, to gather a few test samples, along with a few subjects of more mundane plagues as a control and secondary project.

Needless to say, this is going to anger a few darklords (Alfred Timothy not least among them), but this may be a blessing to Sir Lucas due to the non-malign interest it will arose-other cerebral darklords may see a kindred spirit in the mad doctor, such as Azalin Rex, Fransintek Markov, or Dr. Dominani. Since he does not seek to actually impose his will on anyone, only earn their approval and respect, he might be open to a true, non-treacherous alliance. Even the worse for the world in general, snapping out of his apathy has caused him to be interested in more internal matters-while they are still massively-flawed beings, the Elyte are a good start towards his vision of the "ideal demihuman". He has gradually built up the mystique of a warlord and provider of new warriors (drawn from interlopers who have drawn his ire) around himself in order to gain access to them, so that he may study them and their neruological modifications in toto.

(Coming up: Curse!)

2013-01-06, 04:19 PM
Darklord's Curse: The traditional darklord's curse of Sir Lucas is twofold, to torment his self-image of perfection, his desire to be known as the greatest alchemist and biomancer of all time, and his self-serving morals.

The first aspect is that he will never escape the repercussions of his Act of Ultimate Darkness-the ghosts of the protesters he harvested haunt his tower, and regularly torment their oppressor. Unlike most ghosts however, the curse keeps them relatively stable emotionally and helps them retain their humanity-almost still alive-so as to better torment de Aubut with the knowledge he killed innocents out of spite. Unlike a different, more martial darklord with a similar curse, this actually troubles him enough to change his behavior-he doesn't experiment on Mytok without permission, since he's learned the hard way that the members of the underground tribes who die during them almost invariably come back.

The second is that, to an extent, Sir Lucas still rolls powers checks when one of his evil actions violates one of his self-imposed ethical standards. Of course, he does not develop the double-edged gifts of the Dark Powers, but rather, every time he succeeds, the Mists react-in system terms, add the percentage of success to a "curse pool" until it reaches 50%, at which point the count resets. More importantly, a tiny bit of Mist congeals into a strange fetus in the alchemy vats of a biomancer "rival" of his (in other words, any biomancer not subservient to him in Eschaton's sphere of ideological influence-mostly Mytok alchemist-shamans, but as the technology and Path of Sophia spreads through the Demiplane, it's not inconceivable there will be valid targets in other domains). Over the course of a week, without any input from the actual owner, the fetus will grow into a strange, humanlike aberration called a Man in Grey-both for their subdued demeanor and tendency to wear neutral colors.

A Man in Grey is, essentially, a living indictment of what de Aubut's ideal demihuman looks like-completely rational, driven by cold intellect, and superbly strong. So rational, in fact, they lack any true emotion, so intellectual they don't possess gut reactions, and strong enough to the point where the previous two things become a problem for everything around them. More importantly, they aren't actually sapient-without emotion or instinct, the Men in Grey do not have the ability to prioritize the information their superior minds process, and thus cannot come to any sort of decision, logical or otherwise. They're just organic automatons, mindlessly following whatever instructions given to them with cold efficiency, simply because they don't have the ability to extrapolate anything else.

And they know secrets of Sir Lucas. Secrets which he guards with his life. Secrets that will cause people to get the credit he so rightfully deserves for his genius. Secrets that may ruin his plans.

(coming up: Bonus info!)

2013-01-06, 07:15 PM
I like this guy (I've always loved mad scientist types). I would recommend that he be an artificer so he access to all the magic that he would conceivably use in his work (having access to healing magic would reduce the number of deaths that his work would incur and therefore reduce the amount of ghosts he has to deal with).

Or you could use the Alchemist base class from the Pathfinder SRD:


considering some of the mutagens you can gain (there is one that boosts mental abilities) and the fact that Heal, Knowledge (Arcana), and Knowledge (Nature) are all class skills, I could see him being an alchemist.

If you do decide to go the alchemist route then you might want to look in the archetype section for the archetype labeled Vivisectionist.

There is also a technologist class out there that would fit with the way he's described, but it's in a third party book so that probably wouldn't fly.

2013-01-07, 02:52 PM
(I'll keep that in mind)

Using Eschaton in a Campaign: One of the major theme of Eschaton is transhuman horror, a theme that has cropped up very recently in the real world, particularly among tabletop RPGs (Eclipse Phase comes to mind). At its core, it is an inverted form of body horror-rather than changing into something aberrant and monstrous against her will, the protagonist of a transhuman horror tale is already something strange by her own will, but doesn't quite understand the limits or dangers of this power, and more frequently than not, tragedy results. Similar to the gothic questions of morality and humanity in the face of darkness, a transhuman horror story revolves around a moral quandary-how much do you modify your own body before you cease being human? What's more, if you aren't human any more, then what?

The transhuman protagonist is isolated from the human condition by her own choices, and what's more, it's not a horrifying transformation-just a gradual realization that the rest of humanity has become foreign, that the protagonist now has a very alien perspective. How the protagonist deals with it ultimately determines whether the ending is tragic or not-the protagonist may become the monster, lashing out at the world she blames for abandoning her, or she remains the hero, finding a way to integrate her perspective with the rest of the world or her more human fellows follow her to stranger vistas. Ultimately, a good transhuman horror story is a modern, humanist refinement of Lovecraftian cosmic horror-rather than being thrust into a dark, vicious cosmos that cares little for humanity, filled with incomprehensible and alien creatures, transhuman horror is about humanity becoming some of those creatures due to rapidly advancing technology, and explores both the wonder and the terror of it. Future shock writ large (which the actual Lovecraft was in fact writing about-he created the Cthulhu Mythos to give form to his growing sense of alienation from the world after World War I).

Thus, a game involving Eschaton should, at least in part, be about the alienation caused by rapid social change due to advances in technology. Indeed, its method of appearing in the Sea of Sorrows-literally rising out of the ocean if certain sailors are to be believed-enforces this theme, drawing interest through its very nature. This, combined with the power of biomancy and the powers check-countering ideology of the Path of Sophia, almost guarantees that domains in contact with Eschaton will change at an ever-accelerating pace, the Core recreating its model world's technological singularity and not having a clue what to do with it. DMs are advised strongly to ask themselves if they or their players really want a story in this vein, which may be a bit too much science fiction and not enough fantasy for their tastes. If not, simply have it that Eschaton did not appear, it never existed in a form that the Core could contact.

In the case the DM does involve it, however, he should resist the impulse to ban symbiotes and biomantic augmentations, or biomancy to players-part of transhuman horror's core them is things going wrong not because of the foulness of the technology, but because the user did not understand the sheer power it had. Similarly, resist the urge to make it so that it only ends in tragedy, especially if the players show foresight and care in using biomancy-as recklessness and willful blindness are punished in a transhuman tale, so are caution and wisdom rewarded. Beyond that, there are several plot hooks when it comes to the ruined metropolis and its inhabitants:

* There's a lot of secrets in the ruins, and indeed the Mytok occasionally dare the surface to find something to help the tribes. Besides a nice way to satisfy that dungeon-crawling urge, this is wonderful opportunity to showcase being chased through enclosed spaces and dealing with the aftereffects of broken-down infrastructure. Perhaps a plant has found its way into a cracked barrel of biomantic mutagen, and may or may not have come to call itself "Audrey II"...

* The Mytok are as prone to grudges and vendettas as anyone else, its just that their sense of solidarity against the Elyte causes them to suppress it. That still doesn't mean some of the tribes are not social enemies, and an interloper or two may just be what they need to strike at their enemies without actually risking harm to themselves.

* The Path of Sophia seeks converts. Like any religion, more than a few adherents want to spread the good news, and a few Mytok are learning Mordentish so that they may travel to Dementlieu and Mordent to do so. How will the domains react to these strange missionaries, especially if they're calibans who are proud of the way they look, or changelings?

(More to come...)

2013-01-08, 06:39 PM
Sidebar: Sir Lucas the Not-Darklord: Of course, just because someone dislikes a domain doesn't mean they dislike the personalities, and thus a hypothetical DM may be a little stymied by his desire to use a darklord sans domain.

This is perfectly understandable, and indeed, with very little tweaking to his backstory, de Aubut can easily fit into a more advanced domain like Paridon or Lamordia. The mad scientist to egotistical to admit to flaws in his methods and goals has a great deal of precedence in a vast array of fiction, and can fit anywhere that supports him.

In this hypothetical scenario, de Aubut is more of a local rival to the reigning darklord (as mentioned, he hates the nativity of Lamordians for discounting the scientifically-proven abilities of magic, and would probably view dread dopplegangers with bemused contempt, wasting their miraculous biology and natural alchemic abilities in petty politicking). He's still a brilliant biomancer, but likely without peer due to the lack of alchemist-shamans. His appearence in the demiplane was also less dramatic, simply having a stone tower where there wasn't before, and none of the common folk realizing it wasn't always there. Also, given how much the Man in Grey curse is based around his envy of other biomancers and alchemists, it is not in effect due to a lack of them.

Use this version if you do not wish to change the nature of the setting or run a game with transhuman themes. At least, not at first-as he evangelizes the Path of Sophia and its message of Science and Faith being one and the same, its not inconceivable that he could commandeer a domain and become the new darklord, at which point it will gradually change to provide a foil for him-biomancy's spread included.

New Religion: The Path of Sophia: The dominant religion of Eschaton's homeworld, the Path of Sophia began as a monastic tradition that gradually transformed into the science-embracing and humanistic form it is today, due to the original versions proclamation to embrace knowledge and understanding in all forms being interpreted to keep up with the times and the Sephiral not raising objections. Much of it has been lost to the Mytok over the centuries, and the Elyte do not care, but the teachings remain, and indeed, most Mytok (and Sir Lucas, for that matter) possess a subtle but all-pervading faith in it.

Teachings: The Sephiral, the Ten-That-Are-One, are the perfect beings, having created themselves in the primordial world to understand themselves, and Malkut the Intercessor when it became clear they could not find the answer through a single, imbalanced perspective. Malkut created all sapient life to understand herself, but without the input of the Nine, her powers were uncontrolled and created the first Qelipot, the flaws in existence, due to her naivety. Through their teachings, we will fix the flaws in her creation and become like the Sephiral themselves, our intended forms.

Alignment: Any, favoring Good; while ultimately an amoral and self-focused philosophy, the Path of Sophia also has a very dim view of evil actions for selfish reasons and has a long tradition of humanitarian work.


* Perfect The Trinity of Form: The sapient form is composed of the three aspects of penuma (spirit), soma (body), and sarx (flesh). Each of the Trinity is symbiotic with the others-through the perfection of one, we strengthen the others (indeed, the Sophite tradition of biomancy grows out of perfection of sarx).

* As Without, Within: Malkut's great sin grew out of not seeing the outside world as well as she should have, and we will go nowhere repeating her errors. Learn and understand as much as you can, and exert your will upon the world to understand the difference between wisdom and ignorance.

* Perfection Has No Form: The Sephirals are formless creatures, and attaching oneself to the weakness of the purely physical is foolishness embodied. The body may be a temple, but it is ultimately only a protection around the sacred treasure that is the soul and mind (it isn't even the real soma-that's the will and ego, the "godbody" that allows agency and free will). Don't pride yourself on physical accomplishments alone, they must mean something.

(And done! ...unless someone suggests potential clerical domains?)