Dragon: The Aberrant Souls

I'd recently had to shelve an aberrant-heavy campaign due to one of the players quitting, complete with the potential for characters to become corrupted and mutated by exposure to energies from Xoriant. So when I read articles like this it feels like fate is mocking me, because it is both a good article--amidst a dearth of subpar releases--and ideal for my unfortunately expired campaign. It's mostly about taking primal characters and adding a dash of Lovecraft, with the first four pages going over how your character might first come into contact with the Far Realm, how society handles it, an organization called the Morphic Web, and how the corruption manifests itself.

The how/why section isn't very long, providing only four generic examples, while society's reactions are divided into two extremes, summed up as they either like you or hate you. The last paragraph assumes that regardless as to whether you're loved or hated, you'll probably just become an adventure and gain a series of increasingly powerful abilities that'll let you save the world anyway. The Morphic Web was interesting, a group of aberrant souls that try and keep in communication, watching each other to see who is about to crack, but I found the sample dialogue to be weak. If nothing else, it will provide a character with plenty of potential adventure hooks and NPCs. There's no cost to join, so its something you'll need to ask your DM about.

There's a background associated with a bit of Morphic Web story: someone went crazy 20ish years ago and massacred most of his tribe in the process of giving free hand-me-outs. It gives bonuses to Dungeoneering and Insight, or you can pick up Deep Speech. As an added option it also pitches you several personal quest ideas (which I heartily approve of)

The last bit on Far Realm corruption asks how it manifests itself, which has a sidebar on the same page that suggests 10 different mutations you can roll of choose from, such as tentacles for hair, eyestalks, or mouths in your hands, with the option of rolling a new one each level that replaces the existing one...or adds to the mess. The corruption is more than skin-deep, however, and the article provides a few examples for role-playing mental degradation due to visions and dreams from your aberrant totem. These provide another method for the DM to feed you information, with a sidebar recommending you to not overdo it.

The mostly-flavor part of the article wraps up with a new 13th-level Divination ritual that lets you pick an aberrant creature when you master it, and spend healing surges to make Dungeoneering checks to ask it questions. You can spend more healing surges to contact a different creature if the one you talked to doesn't know the answers you want. The good thing is that members of the Morphic Web can master this ritual without having Ritual Caster.

Last but not least, paragon paths. There are four, with two tied to class features, and the other two specific classes. Most are primal, but one also allows monks and rangers. You can multiclass or hybrid to meet the prereqs, so there's some flexibility.

Formless predator requires wild shape, and is associated with the chaos beast. 
  • 11th-level grants you a damage bonus after using wild shape for the first time in battle, can choose to take on the form of an aberrant beast instead of a natural one, can end an effect and shift when you burn an action point. You also get undulating pseudopod, which lets you shift and make an attack that deals some hefty damage with a daze kicker.
  • 12th-level lets you end a polymorph or petrification effect and gain some temporary hit points, all without spending an action.
  • 16th-level lets you apply the Beast Form keyword to any one of your 1st-level attacks.
  • Finally, at 20th-level you can make a melee attack that deals a lot of damage, blinds the target, and deals ongoing damage that scales up with each failed save.
Herald of madness is for barbarians, monks, and rangers, and is associated with the gibbering mouther.
  • 11th-level causes creatures to take psychic damage whenever they attack your Will, force creatures you hit with action points to attack another creature of your choice, and allow allies to reroll failed saves by taking some psychic damage.
  • The 11th-level attack deals weapon-based damage, and also causes the target and adjacent enemies to provoke opportunity attacks from you even when shifting or teleporting.
  • At 12th-level you gain a stance that causes enemies to deal half damage between you and any other enemy adjacent to them.
  • The 20th-level attack, babbling rage, deals a shitload of weapon-damage and causes all adjacent enemies to grantt combat advantage to you.

The ocular adept was from 3rd Edition, though I can't recall from which book. Unfortunately, its for hunters and seekers instead of wizards (if I recall correctly). I'd be tempted to playing a multiclassed character just to get it. As the name implies, its associated with the beholder.
  • 11th-level lets you transform your weapon into a "spiriteye", which is basically the same thing as whatever weapon you're using, except it doesn't require any ammo or actions to load it (if any). You can burn action points when using it in order to make an extra attack that targets another creature, but it has to be a ranged basic attack.
  • Also, the 11th-level encounter attack requires the spiriteye, which deals weapon-damage, has a variable kicker, and lets you fly 6 squares by using a move action.
  • 12th-level causes you to grow a couple eyestalks, allowing you to fly for a turn and prevent combat advantage from flanking.
  • 16th-level lets you use your spiriteye without even using your hands, and when you make ranged basic attacks you don't draw opportunity attacks.
  • 20th-level is a Stance power that lets you make one ranged basic attack as a minor action and you can shift if the attack hits.
Last but not least is the phrenic master, which requires call spirit companion and is associated with the mind flayer.
  • 11th-level is really nice: any enemy that kills your spirit companion is dazed for a turn, and attacks you make using an action point take both a -2 penalty on any saves and grant combat advantage for a turn.
  • The 11th-level attack power is like a poor man's mind blast, dealing paltry damage with a daze kicker. It also has a slide effect, and your spirit companion can use it if you want.
  • Speaking of your spirit companion, the 12th-level utility lets you force your spirit companion to take a hit for you.
  • The 16th-level class feature is sweet: your spirit companion can use any of your ranged or area-effect attacks, and if its not next to any enemies you don't take opportunity attacks.
  • The 20th-level daily lets you dominated a target (or daze on a miss), and if the target is next to your companion when you turn starts, you can slide both the target and your companion 4 squares until they shake off the domination/daze effect.
I really enjoyed this article. It would have been great quite awhile back during my primal campaign, and if I revive it I'm going to make sure my players are aware of this article. I'm not sure what the intended audience for it, however, since its not for purely primal characters, nor is it for psychic characters. If you want to play a primal character that becomes corrupted by the Far Realm, then it will be a nice fit. Mostly, I think it's best for a DM who is trying to pitch a particular kind of story (Far Realm invasion).

1 comment:

  1. I find these to be the best kind of articles. The ones that deal with a really specific subject, like a primal character that has been tainted by the far realm.


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