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The Demented One
2008-03-23, 11:31 AM
Assatur, the Nightmare Messiah

“Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.”
-Excerpt from The King in Yellow

Assatur, the Nightmare Messiah, is a living idea, a sentient memetic virus that infects mortal minds to transform them into its minions. It exists in the hypothetical reality known as Carcosa, but is capable of intruding into the Material Plane through a play that infects the minds of those who see it, The King in Yellow.

Background and Goals

The birth of the strange lifeform that is Assatur is a mystery even to those few scholars who have devoted their lives to the study of the pseudoreality of Carcosa and its inhabitants. Assatur is a living idea, a memetic virus that lacks a soul or physical form. Assatur resides within Carcosa, a pseudoreal plane that can hardly be said to exist in any meaningful way. It is incapable of existing on the Material Plane, but it can, like a virus, infect mortals, replicating itself into their minds and transforming them into its hosts. (Knowledge [Arcana] or [The Planes] DC 35)

Ages ago, Assatur was able to infect a powerful mage who had cast a spell that, unbeknownst to him, left his mind open to Carcosian beings such as Assatur. Using the mage as a host, Assatur created The King in Yellow, a play that acted as a vector for the memetic virus. All who saw the play performed were infected with partial, fragmentary copies of Assatur, transforming into lesser servitors known as Yellow Dukes, while the actor who plays the role of Assatur in The King in Yellow is made into a host for a perfect replication of Assatur, becoming his avatar on earth, the Nightmare Messiah. However, before the play could be put on, a band of heroes slew the host of Assatur, but they failed to recognize the play as anything more than the writings of a madman. The original text of The King in Yellow was eventually recovered and protected by cultists of Assatur, who sealed it within a massive underground sanctum known as the Nightmare Gallery. Though they did not realize its purpose, this secret having been well-kept by Assatur, they realized its importance, and made about a dozen copies of it, which have spread throughout the world. (DC 40).

Assatur’s true intentions are deeper than any mortal enemy or worshiper of him knew. By manifesting on earth as the Nightmare Messiah, he would create a planar link between the Material Plane and Carcosa. If his plans were successful, then Carcosa would eventually merge with the Material, fully overlaying it and allowing its pseudoreal, memetic inhabitants to roam free in a reality that no longer prohibited there existence. Material reality would eventually be fully subsumed by the conceptual, memetic reality of Carcosa, ending the world as mortals conceive of it. {DC 45)

Assatur in the Campaign

Until The King in Yellow is performed, Assatur cannot influence events in the real world. However, his cult, the Nameless Children, act as his faithful servants, using bizarre forms of magic to contact and receive instruction from him. Though the ancient Nameless Children, who safeguarded the play’s text, have died out, and their secrets with them, Assatur has recruited a new cult, and they have begun searching for a copy of the text so that the might bring their master into the world.

Timeline

The following timeline is intended to help in constructing a campaign revolving around Assatur, the Nameless Children, and the staging of The King in Yellow.

EL 5: The PCs are contacted by Randolph Carter, a loremaster who is the librarian of the famed Miskatonic University. Randolph believes someone is trying to break into the University’s library of forbidden texts, and hires the PCs to guard it. After three uneventful nights of guarding it, a group of hired mercenaries, led by a priest of the Nameless Children, breaks in, and attempt to overcome the PCs.

EL 10 (Faint Sign): Carter explains that the cultists were most likely trying to steal the University’s copy of the The King in Yellow, a play supposedly written by the dark god the cult worships. Carter believes that, though the cult’s attempts on the library have been rebuffed, they are seeking another copy supposedly buried within an underground dungeon (the Nightmare Gallery, though Carter does not know this) that lies beneath a nearby large city. He shows them the secret tunnels leading to the Gallery, and there they encounter a large group of cultists, led by the mad sorcerer Derleth, seeking the original text of The King in Yellow within the Nightmare Gallery.

EL 13 (Moderate Sign): Regardless of the PCs success or failure in the Nightmare Gallery, Derleth manages to obtain the text and teleport away. Though the Nameless Children are still studying it to determine its full potential, they have found a way to transform creatures into Yellow Dukes using it, and have already dispatched a powerful group of Yellow Dukes to dispatch of the PCs.

EL 18 (Strong Sign): The Nameless Children have finally completed their analysis of The King in Yellow, and have begun performing it in a theater at the heart of the city above the Nightmare Gallery, with Derleth playing the role of Assatur. However, an army of Nameless Children cultists and Yellow Dukes stands between the PCs and the theater, and they must fight their way through if they are to stop the arrival of Assatur.

EL 20 (Overwhelming Sign): It’s too late. The King in Yellow has been completed, thousands of the city’s populace have become Yellow Dukes, and Derleth has become the Nightmare Messiah. As Carcosa begins to seep into the Material Plane, a huge tower manifests, a citadel full of Assatur’s minions, with the Nightmare Messiah at its heart. The only way the PCs can prevent Carcosa from fully overlaying the Material Plane is to slay the Nightmare Messiah, severing the tie between reality and Carcosa.

Sign

Assatur’s sign is a unique one, known as Unbidden Voices. As Carcosa comes nearer and nearer to reality, people begin uncontrollably uttering strange words that memetically permeate their consciousness, forbidden incantations or lines from The King in Yellow, not realizing what they are saying. Spellcasters are particularly vulnerable; any time they attempt to speak the words of a spell the unbidden words rise in their mind, only able to be forced out with great concentration.

Faint: People will occasionally stop in mid-sentence to blurt out a fragment of a line from The King in Yellow. Anyone casting a spell with a verbal component must make a DC 5 Concentration check or else they unintentionally utter lines from it instead of the proper component.

Moderate: The unbidden words occur more frequently, with people speaking whole lines or paragraphs from the play. The Concentration DC for spellcasting rises to 15.

Strong: The urge to speak the unbidden words becomes almost impossible to resist–almost every time a creature speaks, it has to fight the urge to speak in whole speeeches and soliloquies from the play. Each week, all intelligent creatures must make a DC 10 Will save or take 1 point of Wisdom drain, as exposure to The King in Yellow drains their sanity. Those reduced to 0 Wisdom can do nothing but speak lines from the play. The Concentration DC for spellcasting rises to 25.

Overwhelming: Speaking in anything but the unbidden words becomes a great ordeal–a creature must make a DC 20 Concentration check to actually say something. Each creature must save to avoid Wisdom drain each day, rather than each week, the DC rises to 20, and the amount of Wisdom drain rises to 1d6. The Concentration DC for spellcasting rises to 35.

Assatur and the Nightmare Messiah

There are several requirements for Assatur to manifest in the Material Plane as the Nightmare Messiah. The candidate must have at least 10 HD, a Charisma score of 20 or higher, and at least 5 ranks in Perform (Acting). The candidate must play the role of Assatur in The King in Yellow, and the play must be performed in front of at least 500 creatures. The play runs for three hours, at the end of which the candidate gains the Nightmare Messiah template.

The Nightmare Messiah looks nothing like its former self. It appears as a vaguely humanoid figure wearing a cloak made of flowing shadows, in which the indistinct figures of eyes, mouths, and faces can occasionally be made out. Beneath its hood, there is nothing but an even darker void, dotted with small, bright lights, like stars in the abyss.

Nightmare Messiah

Creating a Nightmare Messiah
Nightmare Messiah is an applied template that can be added to any aberration, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, or outsider. Only one Nightmare Messiah can be in existence at a time.

Size and Type
Type changes to outsider, and the creature does not gain the augmented subtype. Size remains unchanged.

HD
The Nightmare Messiah gains 8 additional Outsider HD.

Speed
The Nightmare Messiah gains a fly speed of 50 ft. with perfect maneuverability.

Armor Class
The Nightmare Messiah gains a profane bonus to AC equal to its Charisma modifier.

Special Attacks
The Nightmare Messiah retains all the special attacks of the base creature and also gains the following attacks.

Archmagus of Carcosa (Su)
If the base creature has any ability to cast spells, manifest psionic powers, or similar, than it does so as if it had either enough additional levels to raise its caster level (or similar) to 12th, or six additional levels in any one class that grants it these abilities, whichever leaves it with a higher effective level. Otherwise, it gains the ability to cast arcane spells as a 12th-level Sorcerer.

Dark Visiting (Su)
Each living divine spellcaster who sleeps within the range of this malefic property must succeed on a Will save, DC 10 + ˝ the Nightmare Messiah’s HD + the Nightmare Messiah’s Charisma modifier, each night, or be visited by nightmares in which The King in Yellow is re-enacted within its dreams, with it playing the role of Assatur. It takes 1d4+1 points of Wisdom damage and is fatigued for the rest of the day. In addition, that night’s sleep does not count as restful sleep for purposes of preparing spells and similar. A spellcaster whose Wisdom score is lowered to half its total by this ability goes insane permanently, as the insanity spell.

Maddening Presence (Su)
Any creature within 60 ft. of the Nightmare Messiah when it attacks or casts a spell must make a Will save, DC 10 + ˝ the Nightmare Messiah’s HD + the Nightmare Messiah’s Charisma modifier, or go permanently insane, as the insanity spell. Only a wish or miracle can undo this insanity. Once a creature successfully saves against the Messiah’s maddening presence, it is immune to it for 24 hours.

Pallid Hand (Su)
The Nightmare Messiah gains a touch attack that causes 3d6 Constitution drain. For each point of drain bestowed, the Messiah is healed 10 hp. This ability also applies to any attack the Messiah makes with its natural weapons.

Special Qualities
The Nightmare Messiah retains all the special qualities of the base creature and also gains the following qualities.

Alien Geometries (Su)
Space twists and folds in alien, non-Euclidean angles around the Nightmare Messiah, granting it a 20% miss chance.

Anathemic Secrecy (Su)
The Nightmare Messiah is immune to all divine divination effects.

Damage Reduction (Ex)
The Nightmare Messiah has DR 15/good and epic.

Elder Evil Abilities (Sp)
The Nightmare Messiah is treated as being under the effect of constant nondetection, true seeing, and tongues spells, caster level 20th.

Immunity (Ex)
The Nightmare Messiah is immune to acid and electricity damage, as well as to polymorphing, petrification, energy drain, ability drain, ability damage, mind-affecting effects, and death from massive damage.

Regeneration (Ex)
The Nightmare Messiah has regeneration 10. Good-aligned or epic weapons deal normal damage to it.

Resistances (Ex)
The Nightmare Messiah has resistance 20 to cold, fire, and sonic.

Spell Resistance (Ex)
The Nightmare Messiah gains spell resistance 35.

Abilities
Modify from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Dex +4, Con +8, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +8.

Alignment
Lawful Evil

Challenge Rating
As the base creature +8.


Yellow Dukes

The Nameless Children have discovered certain eldritch rituals that allow them to transform creatures into servitors of Assatur known as Yellow Dukes. In addition, all creatures that see The King in Yellow performed must make a DC 20 Will save or gain the Yellow Duke template. Yellow Dukes resemble their former selves, but their skin is a jaundiced yellow, and their eyes are pure black, dotted with small, gleaming lights like stars.

Yellow Duke

Creating a Yellow Duke
Yellow Duke is an applied template that can be added to any aberration, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, or outsider.

Size and Type
Type changes to aberration, and the creature does gain the augmented subtype. Size remains unchanged.

Armor Class
A Yellow Duke’s natural armor bonus to AC increases by 2.

Special Attacks
A Yellow Duke retains all the special attacks of the base creature and also gains the following attacks.

Frenzied Strength (Ex)
A Yellow Duke applies its Charisma modifier to all melee damage rolls and to all Strength checks and Strength-based skill checks.

Maddening Wail (Su)
As a standard action, a Yellow Duke can let out a maddening wail. All creatures within 30 ft. tha can hear it must make a Will save, DC 10 + ˝ the Yellow Duke’s HD + the Yellow Duke’s Charisma modifier, or be confused for 1 round. A Yellow Duke can use this ability once per encounter.

Special Qualities
A Yellow Duke retains all the special qualities of the base creature and also gains the following qualities.

Damage Reduction (Ex)
A Yellow Duke has DR depending on its HD. A Duke of 5 HD or less has DR 3/good, a Duke of 6-10 HD has DR 5/good, and a Duke of 11+ HD has DR 10/good.

Resistances (Ex)
A Yellow Duke has resistance to electricity and acid based on its HD. A Duke of 5 HD or less has resistance 5, a Duke of 6-10 HD has resistance 10, and a Duke of 11+ HD has resistance 20.

Spell Resistance (Ex)
A Yellow Duke has spell resistance equal to 12 + its HD.

Abilities
Modify from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Con +2, Cha +4.

Feats
A Yellow Duke gains Chosen of Evil and Master’s Will as bonus feats.

Alignment
Always Lawful Evil

Challenge Rating
HD 5 or less, as base creature +1; HD 6 to 10, as base creature +2; HD 11 or more, as base creature +3.

DracoDei
2008-03-23, 11:57 AM
I think you made an oversight... if a Expert (Actor) 12 becomes the Nightmare Messiah, he ends up with the casting abilities of a 12th level sorcerer... if the same actor had magical potential that he MOSTLY neglected for his acting career (Expert 12/Sorcerer 1) then he ends up much weaker, with only a7th level casting ability... you might want to say that the total manifester level+caster levels will always equal at least 12 with +6 to the highest one, and then any remander required to raise the total to 12 added in sorcerer casting levels.

Alternatively if you want an excuse to keep it the same:
Perhaps knowledge of how one THINKS things should be done prevents the full manefestation of the powers that being the Yellow Duke could otherwise grant.

The Demented One
2008-03-23, 12:01 PM
Mmm, good point.

DracoDei
2008-03-23, 12:05 PM
Also why does the Nightmare Messiah have resistance/immunity to sonic while the Yellow Duke's have it to acid instead? Intentional or not?

JoshuaZ
2008-03-23, 12:25 PM
Regarding:
"Each living divine spellcaster who sleeps within the range of this malefic property must succeed on a Will save, DC 10 + ˝ the Nightmare Messiah’s HD + the Nightmare Messiah’s Charisma modifier, each night, or be visited by nightmares in which The King in Yellow is re-enacted within its dreams, with it playing the role of Assatur. It takes 1d4+1 points of Wisdom damage and is fatigued for the rest of the day. In addition, that night’s sleep does not count as restful sleep for purposes of preparing spells and similar. A spellcaster whose Wisdom score is lowered to half its total by this ability goes insane permanently, as the insanity spell."

I'm not sure this makes much sense given that if the Nightmare Messiah is around long enough for people to be sleeping near it then things are more or less over with right?

I haven't actually read The King in Yellow (the short story, not the play...) How close is this to the actual idea in the story?

The Demented One
2008-03-23, 12:36 PM
Also why does the Nightmare Messiah have resistance/immunity to sonic while the Yellow Duke's have it to acid instead? Intentional or not?
The Nightmare Messiah has immunity to acid and electricity, and resistance to all other types. Yellow Dukes just have resistance to acid and electricity.



I'm not sure this makes much sense given that if the Nightmare Messiah is around long enough for people to be sleeping near it then things are more or less over with right?
That ability's one of the standard malefic properties from the Elder Evils sourcebook. It probably won't come up during a Assatur-centered campaign, unless the PC's are late getting to the play, but it's a nice flavor piece for the Nightmare Messiah.



I haven't actually read The King in Yellow (the short story, not the play...) How close is this to the actual idea in the story?
Not terribly. Assatur is, of course, meant to be Hastur, whom Lovecraft tied to the King, but the idea of him being a memetic virus and Carcosa being a conceptual reality is mine.

DracoDei
2008-03-23, 04:00 PM
What IS the radius on that anyway?

The Demented One
2008-03-23, 05:39 PM
What IS the radius on that anyway?
Not exactly sure, but it's measured in miles.

cezyou
2008-07-31, 08:30 PM
Well, better keep my DM away from this thread...Although I might run it as a sideline story to my original story, or the other way around when it's my turn to DM.

Xuincherguixe
2008-08-01, 12:04 AM
It was a good choice not to spell the name of it correctly. It is one of the things which by some grave misfortune humanity can utter it's name.

Thank you for your kindness to the ignorant.

(I'm just being silly. Not making fun of you or anything ^_^)

The Demented One
2008-08-01, 12:16 AM
It was a good choice not to spell the name of it correctly. It is one of the things which by some grave misfortune humanity can utter it's name.

Thank you for your kindness to the ignorant.

(I'm just being silly. Not making fun of you or anything ^_^)
Actually, I just used a Hastur expy because I've already made Hastur as a vestige, and I didn't want to have a weird cross-over between the the two Hasturs. Hold on...one, two, three, ohsh-

Xuincherguixe
2008-08-01, 12:27 AM
It's safe if you type it. I think.

You still there? We'll find out soon enough.