Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Void Yai

As this week is quickly making clear, “void” has a lot of meanings in Pathfinder and fantasy role-playing in general.  It can mean the void of space (often Old One/Outer God-infested).  It can mean the void of Limbo/the Maelstrom.  Taking a detour back to the world’s oldest role-playing game, it can mean the absence that holds together the four elements and the silence between notes of the music of the spheres (all of which is then manipulated by Oriental Adventures and Complete Divine’s void disciple class). 

To its credit, the Void Yai entry in the Bestiary 3 does not shy away from this complexity—“The concept of the void is a difficult one for many individuals to grasp”—and adds “the heavens above […] the nature of the spiritual world, and even the capacity to create and envision new ideas” to the above list.  It also says this: “The void yai represents all of these possibilities, interpreted in a way that exemplifies the evil of the oni race.”

So…that’s a thing.  And when you put that together with their true appearance and abilities—a shadow compressed into the husk of a rune giant, who wields powers of darkness and nothingness (like leaving spheres of annihilation around like scat)—you get the sense of the shadow cast by existence itself…the oppressive weight of the sky personified…the dark consequences that trail every new idea given form.  Void yai (and the world-conquering voidlords in particular) are the classic anime final bosses…the various incarnations of shadow from the Earthsea novels…or even Raven’s father Trigon from Teen Titans.  A void yai envies the world, all of it…and yet cannot even move about it easily, trapped as he is in his giant, monstrous form.  So he must rule—that is the only way to sate his hungers and assuage his envy.

One final note: I’m also interested in void yai for how they work with or butt up against other fiends.  After all, not every cosmology needs all the fiends available in the Bestiaries.  In your campaign void oni might be another subset of devil (due to alignment), in the same family as rakshasas (both being beings of hedonistic appetites with twisted forms), or servants of the void along with the game’s Lovecraftian beasts.  Or they might just as easily fight other fiends.  Void yai and especially voidlords want the whole world—and they don’t want it destroyed.  Daemons rob them of servants.  Demons ruin their lands.  A voidlord won’t tolerate that…and might be all that stands between your world and fiendish domination…

Tainted places birth void yai.  And the killing fields of Elgin are more tainted than most.  There the Corpse Grinder was created—a machine that reduced Elgin’s political prisoners and undesirables into so much bone dust and slurry.  The Weeping Lord was born out of the bloody muck, a void yai determined to claim all the lands and luxuries of the nobles the Corpse Grinder mashed into pulp.  The Grinder itself is now the void yai’s grim familiar, animated by the oni’s evil energy into a juggernaut that trundles along after him like a faithful hound.

Onyx is a remarkable stone giantess of glossy black hue who resides in the Court of the Dream King.  So long as she was the object of the Dream King’s affections, she was relatively content to live the life of a pampered courtier.  But now the King is obsessed with an albino half-celestial brass dragon, showering her with gifts…and Onyx, actually a disguised void oni, is enraged.

The orange world of Olm, the Night Topaz, hangs like a jewel in the sky.  Up close (assuming adventurers find a means to travel there), the view is much grimmer.  To its residents, Olm is Okamiyo, a world in thrall to a single brutish emperor, the voidlord Moro the Lash.  Humans and lizardfolk alike toil for Moro’s pleasure, overseen by a rigid but often fractious oni aristocracy.  Only the catfolk and the yeti resist—the catfolk due to their mountain forest hideouts and skill at constructing airships, and the yeti because of the berserker rages their blood cults drive them to.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 210–211

Space catfolk?  Yeah, I love me some “Voyage of the Princess Ark.”

Have I mentioned you should look for Oriental Adventures?  You should look for Oriental Adventures.  Then you should look for the Dragon Empires Gazetteer and read them both together, dreaming of monks and blades and tea ceremonies and your next character sheet.

1 comment:

  1. While we're promoting Eastern fantasy, would you be interested in Touhou?