The aboleth…impossibly ancient and impossibly evil. These masters of the deep are the implacable foe of many adventurers.
One of their most dangerous and insidious powers is the ability to dominate almost anyone unfortunate enough to encounter them. Using such powers, they set friend against friend, unleashing betrayal from among their enemies’ midst. Thus has been spelt the doom of many adventuring parties.
The effects of an aboleth’s domination wear off with its death. Such domination effects, however, can also have subtle, long-term effects. Use the table below, to determine what lingering side effects the unfortunate adventurer suffers:
- Your dreams are full of visions of sunken cyclopean cities and huge, teeming schools of strange, bloated fish that swim about the seaweed-choked ruins.
- Your abhor the smell of fish and no longer eat them (unless in dire extremis).
- Occasionally, you feel a scratching on the surface of your mind as if something was trying to break in…or break out.
- You crave the sea and take every possible opportunity to swim in its salty waters. You get cranky and short-tempered, if you can’t go swimming in the sea at least once a week.
- You feel a special affinity to the sea and begin to believe the sounds of its waves conceal whispers of secret lore destined only for your ears. If given the chance, you sit for hours on a beach or dock listening to its sibilant whispers.
- While you were dominated, the aboleth commanded you in its ancient, abhorrent tongue. Mortals were not meant to utter such blasphemous sounds, but you seem to have gained the ability to utter a few basic phrases including, “Yes, master” and “By your will”. Occasionally, you unwittingly use them in place of normal speech.
- Doubts about the natural order of the universe begin to creep into your mind. In particular, you begin to ponder the nature of the gods and whether they are really deserving of worship. (Note this could be a particularly “fun” side effect for a cleric, druid or paladin).
- You begin to be more dismissive of other people and their petty woes. Don’t they understand the lurking terrors hidden beneath the ocean’s endlessly churning waters? You become introspective and morose.
- You develop a taste for raw fish—the fresher the better. Why would anyone ruin such a meal with cooking
- Having a powerful will in charge of your every action was strangely comforting—after all, you could do no wrong while carrying out is command. Now stripped of this certainty of purpose, you become stranger hesitant and unsure of yourself.
I wrote this article because in recent sessions of my Shattered Star campaign (sessions 59, 60 and 61) two of the party were dominated by an aboleth. Both of the party members turned against their fellows and only clever thinking averted total disaster.
I think it worth marking such a landmark event—the campaign almost ended in death and disaster, after all. Generating minor long-term effects of the domination can also provide the afflicted PCs with some cool role-playing possibilities—after all I’m sure being dominated by such an alien intelligence is a rather traumatic experience! (And—if my players are reading this—who knows what other effects may emerge over time…)
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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