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  • So, I’ve had a whole slew of bad experiences running games for people who have asked me to run them, the sort described by Cinder recently in the You Know What I Hate thread. I’m sure most of us have been there. So, I’ve decided to try taking a different approach. I’m preparing a campaign with no one in particular in mind to run it for. Just making it a campaign I want to run, and counting on the fact that there’s enough folks out there looking for a game that I’ll find players one way or another. Meanwhile, I don’t have any pressure to get enough ready to run in a certain time frame, and for once I’m genuinely enjoying prep instead of it being a chore. Hopefully when it’s ready, I’ll find people to play. Maybe people from work, since I know some of them play. Maybe some of my regular nerdy friends. Maybe people on the internet. Whatever! I’m not going to worry about that now, I’m just enjoying working on something I think would be super fun to play.


    Onyx Path Forum Moderator

    My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

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    • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
      So, I’ve had a whole slew of bad experiences running games for people who have asked me to run them, the sort described by Cinder recently in the You Know What I Hate thread. I’m sure most of us have been there. So, I’ve decided to try taking a different approach. I’m preparing a campaign with no one in particular in mind to run it for. Just making it a campaign I want to run, and counting on the fact that there’s enough folks out there looking for a game that I’ll find players one way or another. Meanwhile, I don’t have any pressure to get enough ready to run in a certain time frame, and for once I’m genuinely enjoying prep instead of it being a chore. Hopefully when it’s ready, I’ll find people to play. Maybe people from work, since I know some of them play. Maybe some of my regular nerdy friends. Maybe people on the internet. Whatever! I’m not going to worry about that now, I’m just enjoying working on something I think would be super fun to play.
      I’ve been channeling similar energy into a massive list of Fate Aspects that fit Eberron. Good luck!


      Call me Regina or Lex.

      Female pronouns for me, please.

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      • On a related note, I’ve been pretty interested in Illithids lately. I’d never really taken them very seriously as monsters before - they’re in the unfortunate position of having been memeified to the point of becoming non threatening, much like the Elder God they so resemble. And that was what I had kind of written them off as - silly D&D mini-Cthulhus. But reading more into them, I actually think they have a ton of potential to be horrifying antagonists. It’s just that their potential is squandered by a lot of poor decisions.

        To give an example of what I mean by that... Ok, so they start out as these larval tadpole things, right? And then they get implanted into the skull of a living creature (usually, but not always, a Medium-sized humanoid), devour its brain, and hijack it’s nervous system yierk-style. Then they gradually they undergo metamorphoses into a mature Mind Flayer, right? So WHY THE HELL don’t they take better advantage of the potential body horror in that!!! Come on, you’ve got an alien brain slug growing inside your skull, why tramsform the whole head into an octopus when you could have the tentacles burst their way out the front of the skull, leaving a mangled jaw? Why turn all the skin slimy and purple, when you could leave the body recognizably the emmaciated corpse of what ever race the host body is? Why have them make and wear cartoony vampire robes when they could continue wearing the tattered leftovers of what ever clothes the host was wearing before being brain-jacked? Every single mind Flayer’s appearance could tell a story - this one has the short, stalky body of a dwarf and still wears its matron’s apron, the front now stained with brain matter from its victims. That one’s dark skin and white hair indicate that it used to be a Drow, but it seems to be the only one in the hive.

        The other thing that bugs me is they’re not alien enough. They’re supposed to have these vast but incomprehensible intellects, and yet their motivations are so familiar. Hive-mind species that sees itself as superior, seeks to subjugate, assimilate, or eradicate all inferior species, yeah I’ve heard this one in every sci-fi story. And it’s not just that their motivations are cliche, I could work with that. But their methods are so damn human. Hell, they’re downright sophisticated. Why ruin a perfectly good alien menace by making it act like Machiavelli?

        So, yeah. I really love the potential Illithids have as monsters, but I feel like a lot of it goes to waste. So I want to run a campaign that takes better advantage of that potential. I want to take the basic idea behind Mind Flayers, throw out all the baggage, and make them into something worthy of a horror game. I mean, ultimately it will still be a fantasy game. D&D characters, generally speaking, are too empowered to work as horror protagonists. But powerful heroes need horrific monsters to defeat, and I think I can do Illithids better justice than the default setting does them.


        Onyx Path Forum Moderator

        My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

        Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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        • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
          On a related note, I’ve been pretty interested in Illithids lately.
          Can't remember where i read that but it said the Illithid came from the future to ensure their survival. Now the thing that tickled me is that it stated that whatever they needed to do to make sure they become the absolute ruler in the future was already done and they were just chilling until said future arrived.
          Now like i said i think its a very funny concept in a ''you are already doomed'' kind of way. But practically there isn't much to do with that for the players.

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          • I think Pathfinder couldn't use illithid but made due with intellect devourers.

            I've always wanted to use them, but yes, those are problems, another is (or at least was) the mechanics of psionic mind control.

            I had fun with an aboleth as a recurring enemy in a particularly long campaign, though in the end that was all about slavery and revenge as well. They had the benefit of being more of a physical threat in addition to illithid stuff.
            Last edited by nofather; 11-30-2017, 03:55 PM.

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            • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
              The other thing that bugs me is they’re not alien enough. They’re supposed to have these vast but incomprehensible intellects, and yet their motivations are so familiar. Hive-mind species that sees itself as superior, seeks to subjugate, assimilate, or eradicate all inferior species, yeah I’ve heard this one in every sci-fi story. And it’s not just that their motivations are cliche, I could work with that. But their methods are so damn human. Hell, they’re downright sophisticated. Why ruin a perfectly good alien menace by making it act like Machiavelli?
              Well, it's worth remembering that Illithids, as they exist, were first presented forty years ago back during 1977. And back then (in the very early days of D&D) the idea of little tadpoles being implanted into your head, which would turn you into a monster that would go around and eat other people's brains was fairly new and original and spooky. And hive-mind aliens like them were also fairly original back then.

              But yeah, these days we've seen it all before and Illithids definitely don't elicit the kind of response that they elicited four decades ago. Unfortunately the Illithids are largely chained to the fluff and material that was written for them 30 and 40 years ago. I imagine that most fans probably wouldn't be fairly happy to see them rewritten to be more "edgy" or at least re-imagining them to play up the body horror aspect or making them truly alien and incomprehensible.

              For the most part I think the truly alien and body horror creatures tend to be Aboleths, which have weird ancestral memory and casually twist creatures into underwater breathing monsters and live down under the ocean and do weird stuff.

              *EDIT*

              The one thing I always did really like about Illithids was how, if an Illithid tadpole isn't implanted in someone, if it continues to grow and get larger it eventually turns into a gigantic gibbering, insane worm-creature called a Neolithid, and regular Illithids are terrified of those things and view them as the most horrible of monsters.
              Last edited by AnubisXy; 11-30-2017, 04:39 PM.

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              • Originally posted by Maitrecorbo View Post
                Can't remember where i read that but it said the Illithid came from the future to ensure their survival. Now the thing that tickled me is that it stated that whatever they needed to do to make sure they become the absolute ruler in the future was already done and they were just chilling until said future arrived.
                As I understand it, this was sort of a 3e invention based on a very literal interpretation of a story seed from 2e. In 4e they dropped the time travel part and just had them be from the Far Realm (which in 4e is effectively another multiverse), and in 5e they leave it up to interpretation which origin is correct.

                Originally posted by Maitrecorbo View Post
                Now like i said i think its a very funny concept in a ''you are already doomed'' kind of way. But practically there isn't much to do with that for the players.
                I actually think the core concept of them being from the future and coming back to insure their future survival is a neat concept, as long as you allow the future to be malleable. Sure they’ve already done the thing that leads to their total domination of the multiverse in their past, which is our future. But since they’re in our present they still have to actually execute that thing, or else the future they are from won’t come to pass.

                I have been re-watching the new Dr. Who series lately, and in the Shakespear episode Martha points out that she’s living proof that the world didn’t end in 1599. And I always thought a more appropriate response than the one they had the Doctor give would have been something along the lines of, “of course not, because we were here to prevent it. So we’d better prevent it now, or it will have done.” Same thing with the Illithid if you go that route with their origin. Predestination kind of saps the meaning out of player choices, so you’ve kind of got to say they came from a possible future that the PCs need to prevent.

                Originally posted by nofather View Post
                I think Pathfinder couldn't use illithid but made due with intellect devourers.

                I've always wanted to use them, but yes, those are problems, another is (or at least was) the mechanics of psionic mind control.
                And 5e doesn’t even have proper rules for psionics yet, it just kind of models their psionic powers as spells and says “but they’re not, like spell spells.” Which is honestly fine by me, the magic vs. psionics division has always been weird and out of place in D&D if you ask me. I liked 4e’s explanation the best, where all psionic power originated in the Far Realm. Under that model, it’s effectively just a different multiverse’s version of magic.

                Originally posted by nofather View Post
                I had fun with an aboleth as a recurring enemy in a particularly long campaign, though in the end that was all about slavery and revenge as well. They had the benefit of being more of a physical threat in addition to illithid stuff.
                Aboleths are interesting. One of the few ostensibly alien entities in D&D that actually feels passably alien to me. I’d like to further develop on the relationship between them and the illithid in my campaign, since they have so much in common. Both come from the Far Realm in my preferred cosmology model, both control their victims through psionic power and transform their bodies via weird semi-biological perocesses, both have four tentacles, both have shared ancestral memory, they have similar methods of reproduction... Too many parallels not to use them together.


                Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                  Aboleths are interesting. One of the few ostensibly alien entities in D&D that actually feels passably alien to me. I’d like to further develop on the relationship between them and the illithid in my campaign, since they have so much in common. Both come from the Far Realm in my preferred cosmology model, both control their victims through psionic power and transform their bodies via weird semi-biological perocesses, both have four tentacles, both have shared ancestral memory, they have similar methods of reproduction... Too many parallels not to use them together.
                  Plus they're big and scary in a way illithid aren't. Granted, you can winnow down an aboleth to 'fish with tentacles and psionic powers,' but that's still more alien than 'purple human with mouth tentacles and psionic powers.' My players like big monsters as baddies more, so it might just be a table thing. If I recall correctly during the fight the rogue was actually on its back and stabbing it as it crushed another in its tentacles. The rogue ended up taking out one of its eyes and after a while it retreated. But it followed them via underground waterways and popped up at a really inconvenient time.
                  Last edited by nofather; 11-30-2017, 04:37 PM.

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                  • I love aboleths, particularly in pathfinder where you have the Gillmen (in the advanced race guide) great for doing sort of mythic fantasy with more than a touch of horror,

                    also one of my dnd (3.5) characters a squishy level 15 (i think, it was there abouts) wizard, killed one while it was in the air, and then was killed by its falling dead weight

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                    • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                      I have been re-watching the new Dr. Who series lately, and in the Shakespear episode Martha points out that she’s living proof that the world didn’t end in 1599. And I always thought a more appropriate response than the one they had the Doctor give would have been something along the lines of, “of course not, because we were here to prevent it. So we’d better prevent it now, or it will have done.” Same thing with the Illithid if you go that route with their origin. Predestination kind of saps the meaning out of player choices, so you’ve kind of got to say they came from a possible future that the PCs need to prevent.
                      Or they accomplished everything they needed to bring about for it to happen... except they accomplished it and now they've changed the future so they don't know what other people might do that could prevent it. Time travel is rarely that simple to affect only the change you want.



                      ​When noise turns to silence, when colors dull and pale, when reality no longer makes sense, there shall you find me. There, in the dreams of the River of Faceless Millions, do I dwell.

                      http://harenm.deviantart.com/gallery/ for my art.

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                      • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                        To give an example of what I mean by that... Ok, so they start out as these larval tadpole things, right? And then they get implanted into the skull of a living creature (usually, but not always, a Medium-sized humanoid), devour its brain, and hijack it’s nervous system yierk-style. Then they gradually they undergo metamorphoses into a mature Mind Flayer, right?
                        I'm not sure when and why the whole 'grow up in some other creature's brain and then tranforms into an adult ilithid' thing got added to the species, but it's definitely not an original part of them which explains why the body horror aspect is not capitalized upon - since that would mean a complete re-do of what the monster even looks like, and would definitely have rubbed some fans the wrong way (such as me, who missed that this "ceremorphosis" shit slipped in half-assedly to replace what was originally said about how mind flayers grow even thought here wasn't any reason to mess with it and now there is no reason for them to hatch as tadpoles rather than any other type of life form, but would have immediately noticed if the art was more mutilated corpse than classic purple squid-dude).

                        Back in AD&D, the books said that mind flayers "spend the first 10 years of life as tadpoles, swimming in the elder-brain pool until they either die (which most do) or grow into adult illithids." And I'm sticking with that, despite some author's poorly thought out choice along the way to make mind flayers less unique by having their reproduction method become more like slaadi and the other types of brain- or body-thieving creatures that already exist. Feels a lot like "It's supposed to be alien, so nothing about it can resemble 'normal' creatures". A fucking tad pole that grows up into a brain-eating psychic squid-faced humanoid hive-mind that is bent on world domination is alien enough, and is actually diminished by trying to make it "even weirder" in the way of adding "they have to put a tadpole in your nose or something... then it eats and replaces your brain... and somehow makes whatever the fuck you were look just like all the other illithids out and about."


                        Not so noble anymore.

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                        • Originally posted by nofather View Post
                          I think Pathfinder couldn't use illithid but made due with intellect devourers.
                          Yeah, WotC reserves illithids as a piece of intellectual property so other folks can't use them.

                          I've always found it strange that they didn't also reserve intellect devours, since those are a creature created by illithids. So other companies can use the monster that illithids made up, but have to re-write their origin to not specifically name the race that created them. I guess the choice was made because there was once a point where it wasn't officially stated that mind flayers created the little goobers, just that they raised them and their origin was "unknown."


                          Not so noble anymore.

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                          • Originally posted by Drake View Post
                            I'm not sure when and why the whole 'grow up in some other creature's brain and then tranforms into an adult ilithid' thing got added to the species, but it's definitely not an original part of them which explains why the body horror aspect is not capitalized upon - since that would mean a complete re-do of what the monster even looks like, and would definitely have rubbed some fans the wrong way (such as me, who missed that this "ceremorphosis" shit slipped in half-assedly to replace what was originally said about how mind flayers grow even thought here wasn't any reason to mess with it and now there is no reason for them to hatch as tadpoles rather than any other type of life form, but would have immediately noticed if the art was more mutilated corpse than classic purple squid-dude).
                            That would definitely explain it. At a guess, I’d say it probably happened in the 3e era, along with the “they’re not just alien, but also time travelers” bit.

                            Originally posted by Drake View Post
                            Back in AD&D, the books said that mind flayers "spend the first 10 years of life as tadpoles, swimming in the elder-brain pool until they either die (which most do) or grow into adult illithids." And I'm sticking with that, despite some author's poorly thought out choice along the way to make mind flayers less unique by having their reproduction method become more like slaadi and the other types of brain- or body-thieving creatures that already exist. Feels a lot like "It's supposed to be alien, so nothing about it can resemble 'normal' creatures". A fucking tad pole that grows up into a brain-eating psychic squid-faced humanoid hive-mind that is bent on world domination is alien enough, and is actually diminished by trying to make it "even weirder" in the way of adding "they have to put a tadpole in your nose or something... then it eats and replaces your brain... and somehow makes whatever the fuck you were look just like all the other illithids out and about."
                            Yeah, cutting out the brain/body jacking part would be an equally valid solution. Personally, that was what appealed to me about them, and their legacy appearance and personality was what kept me from thinking seriously about them as antagonists until just recently. But one way or another, ceromorphosis and their traditional appearance doesn’t mesh. They should either be evil psychic squidmen or brain-controlling parasites, but being both really doesn’t make sense.


                            Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                            My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                            Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                            • Borrowing an argument from elsewhere: do you believe necromancy is inherently evil?


                              Call me Regina or Lex.

                              Female pronouns for me, please.

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                              • It depends on the level, but in Dungeons and Dragons, sure. Not necessarily in other settings, though this thread is clearly about D&D and PF.

                                I think it's Libris Mortis that says that every undead has a connection to the Negative Energy Plane, so that every undead even 'good' ones or ones not actively harming people are passively taking life away from the world. If you view the extinction of life as an evil thing, as D&D does, then it's evil. That said, that's just creation of undead and entropy magics, so the 'level' of magic would matter. I think cure wounds spells were considered necromancy in some editions, so edition would factor in too.

                                As restrictive as the D&D alignment system can be, it's pretty clear cut about morality issues.
                                Last edited by nofather; 11-30-2017, 06:27 PM.

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