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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    One thing I don't really get in D&D is why Slaads have never been assimilated to aberrations - they look like frogs, they deal in entropy, and they breed by implantation. They even have a Lord of Entropy and an amoebic Lord of the Insane. I used Ssendam in my last campaign (as a Far Realm entity) and so won't be using it again this time round, but want to use Ygorl. I especially like his "travel back in time" schtick - I think that will fit nicely with some other ideas I have around the Far Realm, the Abyss and the Dusk War.
    Because the D&D Outer Planes embody concepts from -our-* universe**, and while vast and oftentimes taken to such extremes that they can be terrifying and bordering upon alien, they're ultimately familiar concepts: good, evil, law, chaos. The Far Realms (and several similar extra-cosmological domains in D&D history) exist outside of the normal D&D cosmos and don't share the same rules or even concepts that "ours" does.

    The Slaadi may have wierd, grotesque breeding practices (some of their colors anyways) but ultimately they epitomize a concept we can in theory wrap our brains around. Many tentacles horrors beyond conception from the Far Realms... not so much. At least that's the intent.

    *our universe in the sense of the normal cosmos, be it the Great Wheel, World Axis, etc with the Far Realms usually defined as somewhere "outside".

    **4e this is less overt compared to the classical D&D planes perhaps in that regard, but the Elemental Chaos at least adheres to a defined (if jumbled) elemental froth and the slaadi more or less have the same deal going on.
    Last edited by Shemeska; Tuesday, 6th November, 2012 at 07:05 PM.

 

  • #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomBitonti View Post
    I would myself have aberrations be incomprehensible with a touch of possible comprehension. "Virtually" muddies the writing: Almost incomprensible implies slight comprehensibility, which doesn't seem right. To me an aberration might make a subtle chattering on the edge of comprehension. Or, be voiced as a drowning susurrus hinting at vast cosmic knowledge. Compelling, but forever out of reach. If approached to closely, causing insanity, or worse.
    If it helps to clarify the discussion, I found this post virtually incomprehensible. It didn't make any sense to me at first, but as I studied it more carefully I gleaned some meaning from it.
    Drew Melbourne,
    DrewMelbourne.com

  • #33
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    ° Ignore pemerton
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemeska View Post
    Because the D&D Outer Planes embody concepts from -our-* universe**, and while vast and oftentimes taken to such extremes that they can be terrifying and bordering upon alien, they're ultimately familiar concepts: good, evil, law, chaos. The Far Realms (and several similar extra-cosmological domains in D&D history) exist outside of the normal D&D cosmos and don't share the same rules or even concepts that "ours" does.

    The Slaadi may have wierd, grotesque breeding practices (some of their colors anyways) but ultimately they epitomize a concept we can in theory wrap our brains around. Many tentacles horrors beyond conception from the Far Realms... not so much.
    But this isn't actually true. The Far Realm, HPL etc were all conceived of by human beings just as much as slaads were.

    When I read the descriptions of slaads in (say) the Fiend Folio, the 3E or 4e Monster Manual, or any Manual of the Planes, there's not some profound difference of accesibility between the chaos they are said to embody, and the "unknowability" of the Outside. These may be useful rhetorical conceits for a writer to adopt, but they don't answer my question (whch I can in fact expand following @Pour's post upthread): what purpose is served by having, within the gameworld, demons, slaads and far realm entities? Even, what purpose is served by distinguishing between chaos (including entropy - the dissolution of all things) and an "Outside" whose principal effect on "our" world is to dissolve it and reduce it to madness and entropy?

  • #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking Bastard View Post
    Lovcraftian horror gets much the same treatment in D&D as it does in superhero comics, and for the same reason: You need to be able to beat it up.
    ... and take its stuff. Its, icky, green goo-covered, stuff.

    FWIW, I think much of the preceding discussion on this topic evidences views about Lovecraftian-style horror that don't mesh well with the basic D&D thesis mentioned by Viking Bastard.

    I have always used aberrations and the Far Realm in my D&D campaigns, and loved some of the underlying "fluff"; I particularly liked some of the concepts for aberrations coming out of D&D 3E Lords of Madness, for example, such as aboleths being "creatures from the dawn of time", illithids being "creatures from the end of time", and neogi being "creatures from outer space".

    However, aberrations are just monsters that can be dealt with by sword and spell. They might look or behave a bit weird, but PCs can learn stuff about them, where they come from, what they can do, and how best to deal with them. They are not Lovecraftian horrors. Vanilla D&D doesn't "do" Lovecraft. It does heroic fantasy. While everyone can Lovecraft-up their aberrations in their own campaigns, don't look to the designers of D&D monsters to cater to that.

    Cheers, Al'Kelhar

  • #35
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    ° Ignore Shemeska
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    But this isn't actually true. The Far Realm, HPL etc were all conceived of by human beings just as much as slaads were.
    No, I think you're missing my point a bit. Out of game, yes they were all created by human beings. But in-game or in-universe, be it D&D or the wierd fiction genre, cthuloid entities or things from the Far Realms both are by intent not supposed to be truly fathomable to the mortal mind. That's the point of cosmic horror (and it doesn't always translate well to D&D).

    My point was that by overexposing them, statting them up, defining them more fully, you lose touch with their origins in Lovecraftian fiction. Slaadi and such on the other hand were never intended to be "unfathomable", they're exemplars of chaos and entropy which we can in-game relate with, even when it's taken to extremes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemeska View Post
    No, I think you're missing my point a bit



    Slaadi and such on the other hand were never intended to be "unfathomable", they're exemplars of chaos and entropy which we can in-game relate with, even when it's taken to extremes.
    I guess I'm not sure what "fathomable" exemplars of chaos and entropy are.

    According to 4e,

    Slaads' "hold on reality is tenuous at best. Their thoughts are clouded with maddening images, they seem aware of things beyond other creaturesĺ perceptions, and they attack without provocation." (MM p 237)

    They "seek to spread chaos and disrupt all that is logical, sensible, and chained to universal rules ofcause and effect. They hope to scar reality itself enough to create a hole into the wider multi verse their maddened leaders believe exists." (The Plane Below p 142)

    "Those who are not insane might have difficulty trying to understand a slaad's bizarre mindset. Even a simple conversation is a frustrating experience. Attempting to learn anything from a slaad can be downright maddening." (The Plane Below p 26)

    That does not strike me as something never intended to be unfathomable!

  • #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    That does not strike me as something never intended to be unfathomable!
    But they monster sheets tell us that they are just like any other D&D monster and this is the point: HPL does not match D&D, unless we are talking about a teenager-superhero-like version.
    F I G H T E R

  • #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I guess I'm not sure what "fathomable" exemplars of chaos and entropy are.

    According to 4e,

    Slaads' "hold on reality is tenuous at best. Their thoughts are clouded with maddening images, they seem aware of things beyond other creaturesĺ perceptions, and they attack without provocation." (MM p 237)

    They "seek to spread chaos and disrupt all that is logical, sensible, and chained to universal rules ofcause and effect. They hope to scar reality itself enough to create a hole into the wider multi verse their maddened leaders believe exists." (The Plane Below p 142)

    "Those who are not insane might have difficulty trying to understand a slaad's bizarre mindset. Even a simple conversation is a frustrating experience. Attempting to learn anything from a slaad can be downright maddening." (The Plane Below p 26)

    That does not strike me as something never intended to be unfathomable!
    The middle bit at least is certainly a departure from previous lore on slaadi, but otherwise nothing else there strikes me as even the least bit Lovecraftian or Far Realms'ian. They're chaotic and at-times bonkers, not elder horrors from beyond the wall of sleep or [insert lovecraftian location descriptor].

    But if you want them to be otherwise in your own game, all's fair.

  • #39
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    Melding Lovercraftian horror with the heroic fantasy of D&D certainly does take some finesse. "The Unknown" and insignificance are central themes, and a game all about killing stuff with stabby fire does seem at odds with it. Lovecraftian Horror requires an emotional connection to the characters and world, not just hack-and-slash dungeon crasshing. It is not, however, impossible. Lovecraft has a story with aliens that can be shot and killed, but their corpses disappear in the span of a day. They have knowledge that the most theoretical fringes of our science can only dream about. Their reality is our science fiction on acid. The horror in that story comes from being powerless against the overall situation, and the twist ending. Also, horror is different things to different people. Here is my stab at stattable Illithids and Lovecraftian Horror.

    Illithids are not "unfathomable horrors from beyond". They are the effect of said horrors upon our world. Ceremoprhisis twists a normal human, turning them into a sort of union between the two worlds. It is the elder brain that is the cosmic horror. Elder Brain=Cthulhu; Illithid=Deep Ones or perhaps their human crossbreeds (not in appearance, habits, or any implied narrative connection, but in terms of "fathomability").

    The party returns home after an adventure to find some of the townspeople, including a dear loved one, missing. Accounts say that raiders of several races led by heavily robed masters kidnapped the people and headed to the west. The party tracks them into an ancient jungle. Some of the people living there speak of a mighty city-state that offended the gods and was cast down many years back. They eventually are able to discover a general idea of where the city may be, but noone will lead them directly there.

    The party comes across great pyramids and the wreckage of many smaller buildings overgrown in the jungle. Carvings show religious ceremonies where humans were sacrificed into a great pool deep beneath the city. They discover the presence of Illithids, who seem to have taken over the city in the absence of it's founders. They also discover signs that the townspeople were taken into the darkness, and stealthily follow. As they venture underground, they eventually discover with horror that the Illithids didn't conquer or claim the ruins of the lost civilization. They ARE the lost civilization. After some tense infiltration sequences they discover the slave pens on the other side of a great pool. The pc's aren't fools, and take great pains to skirt around the pool without being noticed.

    Upon arriving at the pens they find the townspeople and others, all guarded by a single Illithid, which they are able to defeat. As they quickly release the slaves, a PC notices a strange mark on the now dead Illithid. It is the birthmark of his wife/foster son/sibling/etc. As they quickly leave the chamber they notice a slight stirring in the water of the pool. Each of the pc's feels a strange pressure, as though the air has become much thicker, or that they need to pop their ears but can't.

    The rescuers and rescued are able to stay just out of reach of their pursuers, but as they reach the surface exist the pressure in the air builds to incredible levels and they are all hit by a sudden piercing headache. Describe how a pc falls to the ground in agony and can feel blood on their head. They turn to the side and see another pc also on the ground and with a head wound. There is movement in the wound, and a brightly colored spider crawls out. It bites the ground. As it's venom spread into the rock the tunnel changes to pulsating, living flesh. As they turn they see many of the rescued townspeople dancing and laughing, as foul liquid drips onto them from the ceiling. Then the pc stumbles forward and sees that they are outside in the sunshine. The party and about half the townspeople made it, but some are still within, faces contorted in screams, but no sound comes out. Their pursuers are upon them, and any attempt to rescue those who remain behind would be suicidal. They flee, or die. Thus the adventure ends, though the pc's a troubled by nightmares for weeks afterwards.

    The next adventure involves discovering who is behind a recent assassination attempt on an important personage. A PC eventually realizes he is gaining the ability to sporadically read minds. With it comes the realization that all he thinks is also being transmitted to someone else. Perhaps a remove curse could free the pc, but should they wait until after they are able to discover who the assassin is? During a climactic battle to defend said important person, a pc is suddenly overcome by an effect similar to a command spell, and strikes down a bodyguard as he attempts to escape with their charge (said important person). After the battle the pc's realize that the guard was in on the assassination and would have killed the person the pc's were protecting as soon as they got away. So there is the obvious horror (get it outta my HEAD!), but also the more disturbing and subtle. Why would the elder brain have helped the pc's and protected their charge? Is it trying to ingratiate itself with the party? Does it have plans for this important person? Perhaps on down the line one of the people they rescued who became an important npc begins to change, in disturbing ways.

    After seeing the huge wall of text I just wrote, I would like to thank everyone for their patience. And to not completely derail the thread. I really liked what I read in the WOTC article. Though I always thought using an aboleth in place of an elder brain and having a connection with Illithids would be interesting.
    One edition to find them all, and in the basement bind them.

  • #40
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    ° Ignore pemerton
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    Quote Originally Posted by avin View Post
    But they monster sheets tell us that they are just like any other D&D monster
    In the relevant sense, so is a Mind Flayer or Aboleth.

    Quote Originally Posted by avin View Post
    and this is the point: HPL does not match D&D
    That might be your point. My point is that, in D&D, slaads, (perhaps to a lesser extent) demons and Far Realms entities overlap in the concetual territory they are trying to occuy.

    In 4e, gianst, titans and elementals have a clear niche - they are creation, passion, destruction, energy, becoming. They are counterpoints to the gods - order, being, cognition, sensation etc.

    But entropy and corruption then have obyriths, demons, slaads and Far Realm entities all occupying much the same space. I reckon there might be one too many there.

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