Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alien Races for the Weird Horror Sandbox

Here's more work from my continuing exploration of Silent Legions - some sample alien races.  The book is targeted at helping the referee brainstorm, build, and run a modern-day Lovecraftian sandbox, but I'm going to use the material for something in the 17th century - either Colonial America or Gothic Yorkshire.  I went into the process knowing that I wanted to do something that reflected themes of folklore.  I'm calling the alien races "angels", "faeries", and "devils", although those tags were just to help guide some of the idea creation.  I'm pretty happy with how the book has been helping the development.

Race 1 - Angels

The "angels" are ethereal beings that have lingered on the earth since the prehuman past.  The earth-bound angels are exiles from their own species- perhaps from a crashed vessel from elsewhere in the galaxy.  They can possess humans as vessels and thus pass through human society perfectly disguised.  A handful of relics or artifacts from human lore and mythology are eldritch weapons from the time of the fall.  They've influenced human civilizations through the creation of organized religions, and they once controlled entire empires before they were actively hunted by the other alien races.  These days they focus on controlling small cabals and secret societies within human institutions, remaining aloof from the other alien races that hunt them.  They are Machiavellian in nature, admiring treachery in their human minions and controlling them through blackmail.

In their natural state, angels look like gaseous wisps of glowing white light, with many spider-like arms waving in the air (giving a vague appearance of wings).  Angel-possessed humans have great strength.  Open questions:  there is a terrestrial element that is quite deadly to them (what is it)?  And what are they doing here in the campaign area - perhaps a lone angel-possessed human (a captain of industry) is performing salvage operations to recover some vital mineral or ancient relic.

Race 2 - Faeries

The Fey are a gruesome, amphibian race that lives in caves and dwellings in fresh water.  In their natural form, they look like giant toads with a humanoid torso and head instead of a toad head.  Their skin is translucent and they have large over-sized heads.  If killed, their forms melt away, and their underwater structure dissolve away if left unattended, leaving little or no evidence.  The Fey have influenced human DNA and inadvertently activated psychic (or clerical) powers in humans through abductions and guided breeding.  They view humans like lab animals fit only for experimentation.

The Fey are divided into 'courts' and most of their energy is directed at avoiding treachery from within.  They use mind-control technologies to project glamours that hide their true forms from human sight, but folklore-myths like the nuckalevee, water horse, drowning fairy, or Rawhide Rex point to a deeper truth.  The Fey have accumulated vast mineral wealth in their underwater cities.  They still abduct humans and keep human slaves for debased entertainments.

Race 3 - Diaboli

The Diaboli are a cthonic race that escaped an alternate dimension - a place known to humans as Hell, Limbo, or Pandemonium.  Their activities are focused on cleaning up evidence of their presence on earth, and preventing incursions from their former masters (one or more of the elder gods in the pantheon).  Humans are disgusting and loathsome to them, but the Diaboli have taught sorcery to discrete individuals and train such humans to assist in keeping their presence on earth a secret.  Knowledge of the true nature of the universe is their greatest strength, and they wage a shadow war against the other aliens on earth (and the baleful influence of the elder gods).

The diaboli admire secrecy and deceit, striking at their enemies from the darkness.  Their gross appearance limits their influence over humanity, outside of the bizarre cultists and mad wizards who heed their fevered whispers or make 'deals' with them for knowledge and power.  Their physical form is that of a legless crawler with skeletal, telescoping arms and hands, and a circular mouth like a bladed maw.  They're able to burrow through the earth, and defend themselves with a poison stinger (in addition to their prodigious mastery of sorcery and magic).