I love weird underground civilizations. But not every race is going to have its own subterranean empire. Some, like the classic Cynidecians, are going to just be stunted offshoots and sports quarantined to a single cavern or two.
The khaei are one such race. In the Golarion setting, they are confined to a single area below Kaer Maga and have a connection to the region’s deadly dullahan. They seem to only exist partly in this reality, obscured as they are in a misty blur and surrounded by the dancing lights they create. Or rather, maybe it’s this dimension they only partly exist in—because khaei have a truly nasty special attack: They can age their victims up to 10 years. That’s bad enough when you face one of these twisted humanoids, but since they come in gangs of 3–5 (and villages of 6–30), it pays to be polite.
In your campaign, khaei could turn up wherever you’ve got room for an isolated race possibly unstuck in time. They may be isolated and few in number, but if they successful age one or two of the PCs, the ramifications could spark many adventures to come.
Of course, there is that line in the description about many more khaei existing in caverns all linked by magical standing stones… But I’m sure that’s a myth, right?
Exploring belowground, adventurers come across a strange village in a fungal forest populated by wispy, shrunken khaei and elderly examples of several races. Most of the latter are too infirm to speak coherently, but one (an aasimar who owes his superior Constitution to his celestial forbear) explains that they all transgressed against the khaei in some way and were aged. They are no longer prisoners per se, but only because their bodies are prisons enough. He begs for a rescue…but will that be seen as a crime by the khaei? How will the adventurers safely get a wheelchair-bound man back to the surface? And what if his “crime” against the khaei was not so innocent…?
Children are disappearing off the streets of Clay Cross. The case is baffling until some of the missing youths turn up—aged, half-blind, and senile—at a rest home run by local friars. The friars say the old men appeared a few nights ago, and the friars happened to have enough beds free to take them in. Working backward from there, adventurers will discover that khaei have been abducting children for years, but the staggering increase in abductions recently points to a deeper mystery.
The Banner of Heaven is a celestial tor, one of the many towers built in space by the August Shogunate to watch specific stellar phenomena. The Banner was set too close to the edge of a black hole, and the Shogunate has since had to abandon it. While magic has prevented it from succumbing to the black hole’s pull, the competing pull of forces has ripped the Banner into chunks. Caught in eddies of ruptured space-time, the largest of these is populated by once-human khaei. Most of these are harmless, even friendly (they fear leaving the tor would be their deaths but they are glad for the company). But some have fallen prey to dark voices from the Void, and they plan to capture and convert or sacrifice any interlopers, even if they doom the Banner in the process.
—Inner Sea Bestiary 22
These twisted creatures were created by James Sutter. Are we surprised? No…no, we are not.
Regarding the first seed, dungeons are pretty much the definition of ableist—too many stairs and locked doors, plus spear traps to boot. If any of you have badass stories of floating disk-riding disabled adventurers, I’d love to hear them.
As for the third: Seriously, if your campaign doesn’t have an abandoned space station peopled by treacherous khaei, administrators and samurai too stubborn to leave, space manticores, tentacled horrors, and a time dragon nesting site, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Radio show! And it’s a good one, honest! Featuring the usual new tunes plus nods to 10 years of the Decemberists’ Picaresque and Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm, and 20 years of Elastica’s self-titled record, Pavement’s Wowee Zowee, and especially Guided by Voices’ Alien Lanes. Download it here!
(Link good till Friday, 4/24, at midnight. If the feed skips for you, pause to let the page load and then Save As an mp3.)