Thursday, January 30, 2014

Veiled Master

Veiled masters are shapechanging aboleth sorcerers—half noble, half spy—who can steal your memories just by biting you. 

That pretty much tells you all you need to know, right?  If you hate aboleths, you’re already out of the pool.  If you love aboleths, now you have a super aboleth to serve up without even doing any leveling math.  Start with skum…a couple of cultists…one aboleth…aboleths galore…maybe even a mythic aboleth for a particularly brutal encounter…and then just when your players thought they could retire their potions of water breathing…BOOM: veiled master walking around on land.

But why tease the veiled master at all?  After all, somewhere around levels 12 to 14 is the perfect time to do a major shake-up and unveil a campaign’s real stakes.  What if you just skipped ordinary aboleths altogether and sprang veiled masters on the party as part of a big campaign twist?  “Wait—this was never about dragonkin/hobgoblins/the Onyx Legion.  Those crazy fish have been pulling the strings the whole time!  That one dungeon we fought skum in wasn’t a side trek…  It was a clue!  And we missed it!”

Rooting out a cabal of doppelgangers has occupied much of a party’s career.  But as they dig deeper, the monstrous humanoids have grown more piscine, more lamprey-like, and more deadly.  When the adventurers finally report all this to the mages’ guild, the Guildmaster’s secretary pulls them aside to congratulate them…and report his suspicions about the High Transmuter.  In truth, he is a veiled master, and he has decided to throw them against his rivals in the guild to throw them off the scent.

A temple complex devoted to the elements is under siege from foes without—including buzzing mi-go—and within.  Investigation reveals that the Monks of Earth, the temple scribes, have turned their library into a glyph-covered alien temple, while the Monks of the Falling Water cavort with skum.  Trapped in the complex with them, the dueling Fire Callers and Wind Walkers must put aside their differences and seek help…but a veiled master is determined to keep that from happening…

Aboleths and fey hate each other—because the elders of each race remember when their respective species first ruled the rough draft of the world.  (And because time and space were twisted in the breaking and remaking of the world, both races are—and aren’t—correct.)  When adventurers help a grove of gathlains preserve a faerie book of genesis, a veiled master steps in to coerce them into rewriting the book in the twisted runes of the Old act that may rewrite time itself…

Inner Sea Bestiary 56–57

I should mention the veiled master comes from James Jacobs (and Erik Mona) via the Inner Sea Bestiary. 

Also, if you’re new to The Daily Bestiary, we covered the aboleth way back in the dark days of 2011—back when I didn’t even write intros to the monsters (I went back later and added them) and I hid my ranting in the comments.  Of course, I didn’t even tell anyone about the blog until letter D or E (I was worried I couldn’t stick with it) so back then the blog was basically me on my loveseat.  Writing to myself.  In the dark.

(Don’t feel too bad for me.  I distinctly remember finishing the Accuser Devil entry and going to a happy hour.)

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