Welp, the vore fans are going to love this one. And actually, I love it to. So let’s go:
The chyzaedu are Gargantuan intelligent worm zealots from another planet which has since been devoured by a black hole, and their response to said catastrophe was to turn eating into a religious rite and a racial habit.
You got all that?
We talked way back in the day about how ropers want to chat with you while they devour you. Chyzaedu go one step further, becoming hurt and puzzled as to why you aren't thrilled to be sharing in their ecstatic experience—particular as you’re the guest of honor at the feast, as it were. (They also help organize efforts to toss thousands of other races into black holes. And they can’t gather in groups for long without eventually going all schismatic and fighting with each other. Good times!)
Pathfinder has no shortage of psychic worm things. What sets chyzaedu apart (aside from their fanaticism) is their mithral-like vestments, their connection (in the Golarion setting anyway) to the Dominion of the Black, and the auras these worms possess that broadcast their hunger to all around them. In other words, fail your Will save and you’re going to be guzzling every potion you have…which might be delightfully comical or downright dangerous in combat…particularly if you have an old-school GM who uses potion miscibility rules…
Adventures find themselves aboard a new kind of chyzaedu vessel—the World Awl, a cylindrical biomechanical starship designed around a central core of shovels, blades, mashers, and gears, meant to bore into planetary bodies like a giant purple worm. The adventures need to shut down the ship while it is still only coring asteroids, not puncturing their homeworld’s crust. The good news? There are a number of chyzaedu priests on board, and the long voyage has already exposed philosophical and liturgical rifts among them. Sparking a religious war inside the vessel might be one way to take out the voracious worm-priests.
A chyzaedu apostate (it eats sentient beings for the sheer pleasure of it, without any religious connection) and a fear eater have created a dining society that specializes in the consumption of rare delicacies. They are always looking for new species to consume (live in the chyzaedu’s case, carefully mulched and then used for mushroom food for the fey). Their prisons, breeding pens, and marinade pools now occupy an entire level of a Roritan ruin, and several ghouls, lamias, and rakshasas seem to be involved as well.
A set of chyzaedu mithral vestments sits in the shop of duergar dealer specializing in rare weapons. The alien worm who crafted the vestments wants them back. To have been tricked out of its garments is both a sacrilege in itself and particularly humiliating in this instance, as the culprit was an Ethereal elf arcane trickster—in other words, fast-talking, plane-hopping food. The chyzaedu is willing to bend the rules to send its otherworldly minions after the vestments, but that is likely to rile both the duergar nation and the planar allies of the Ethereal elf, all of whom funded the expedition and own shares against the vestments’ eventual sale.
—Occult Bestiary 14–15
Hey, did I tell you I actually bought another 4th Edition D&D book? And enjoyed it?
I actually picked up Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue way back over Labor Day weekend for 50% off at a game store in East Greenbush, NY, and it’s been my weekly dinnertime read before my radio show ever since (thus the slow progress). And all in all I dug it.
It didn’t hurt that it was basically a system-neutral book of fluff, coming so late as it did in 4e’s publishing schedule (though with a nice intrigue/family honor system that would be worth stealing for pretty much any campaign featuring warring houses or thieves’ guilds). In a smart move, it was also era-neutral as well, with details that made it work for both classic and post-Spellplague campaigns. And it was tidy at only around 120-some pages (plus a great poster map), compared to the 224 pages of 3.5’s over-padded Drow of the Underdark.
But most importantly, the writing was vastly improved compared to the few other 4e books I’ve tackled. Like, I could actually turn the page and still remember what I had just read. And I could see myself going back to use this book as a resource. (That should be price of entry for an RPG book, I admit, but you work with the industry standards as they are, not as you’d like them to be.)
Is M:CoI a must-buy? Not by any stretch of the imagination. And it’s not worth the list price either. But if you’re in a used bookstore and you like drow and you have a spare $10? Then, yeah, give it a look. (Just make sure you own a copy of Dragon #298, too.)