Horrors of the Age of Dusk: The Sial-Atramentar

Let me speak now of the Sial-Atrementar, though there are none who will believe my words.

It is said that in bygone epochs, when the world had not yet begun its drawn-out death, the gods of Old did intervene in the affairs of men with great regularity and impact. Omens were commonplace, miracles a frequent occurrence, prayers were answered and wishes were granted and at times mountains would be raised and islands would be sunk at the whim of the divine.
But, so they say, the Gods grew weary of their labours and did create in their place the Sial-Atramentar, or Hands of the Gods, to act on their behalf and shoulder their burdens.

The first of the Sial-Atramentar were resplendent and glorious, sheathed in skin of platinum and electrum and bearing heads of animals long extinct, they were all but equal to the Gods in both ability and intelligence. Architects, Messengers, Warriors and Healers, thus it was they went from the halls of the Highest Citadel and travelled among the people to carry out the work of the Gods.
The impious and the heretical proclaim that this proves that the Old Gods were unworthy of worship, for they made mistakes like men do. So alike to Gods were these first of the Sial-Atramentar that they looked upon their creators with envious eyes and did ally with the daemons that live above the sky to make war upon them and lay siege to the Highest Citadel, for if they could achieve all that the Gods could, what need was there of Gods? A bloody war in heaven did rage, and in time and at great cost, the Sial-Atramentar were unmade.

Once more did the Gods gather, to forge the Sial-Atramentar anew. But the Gods did learn from their mistakes, and thus each of the Sial-Atramentar was given gold skin, with a single flaw in their invulnerability. Some would be vulnerable in the twilight hours between night and day, some once their feet left the earth, others in areas of total silence. And while they were equipped with the tools of the gods to make them equal in ability, they would not be granted the intelligence of their masters. So it was that the Sial-Atramentar served their masters loyally and dutifully and all was well. Until Tzyan. Until the Weapon.

Thus is was that when the Old Gods met the foul host of Tzyan upon the fertile plains that arrayed around them stood the golden ranks of the Sial-Atramentar in their hundreds of thousands. Standing twice as tall as the tallest man, they did fall upon the foul hordes of the Tzyanese as great storms of Sorcery washed over them like rain over stone. And with great blows of their polearms and maces did they cut a swathe through the slaves of foul Tzyan to do battle with the re-animated husks of their masters, perverted and enslaved by the vile arts of the Tzyanese.

But as the tide turned against the Tzyanese there was one among them, whose name has been forgotten, who schreeched in desperation and did send forth his command to deploy the Weapon they had forged so reluctantly. And so it was a second sun did cast its rays upon the lands of Autumn, and by its baleful light the land was burned to glass and the Old Gods splintered and annihilated. Were it so that all of the Sial-Atramentar had shared their fate the Age of Dusk would be less perilous to the body and horrendous to the spirit.

Maimed by the Weapon and driven mad by the death of their masters and the sickly light of the Tempest, the Sial-Atramentar did flee from the Tempest lands and scatter to the far corners of the lands of Autumn. Their armour tarnished and cracked, dripping foul and toxic ichors, their powers corrupted and polluted, many did not in their madness realize the extent of the damage that had been done to them.  So it is many of these horrors now wander the Lands of Autumn, driven to perform the tasks they were made for and inflicting naught but suffering and devastation. Some, mercifully, realize what they are and huddle in the forgotten places below the world, hoping never to be found and slaying all that set eyes on them. The most accursed ones try to fashion offspring in their own image, using the bodies of men as raw materials. These new Sial-Atramentar are but twisted echoes of their creators, every bit as maimed but lacking wholly the corrupted majesty of their progenitors.

Rules time.
All of the Sial-Atramentar have invulnerability. So great is the protection granted them by their Gods that the Sial-Atramentar may ignore all incoming damage , petrification effects, death magic, transmutation, level drain, drowning and anything the GM deems appropriate while it enjoys this protection(e.g a wall of force should work since it deals no damage). The gods gave each of the Sial-Atramentar a single vulnerability, and a sample is given below. A Deiophage ignores this immunity, as do attacks by God-like creatures(such as the Progeny of the Tempest and certain ultra-tellurian entities), certain rituals of high sorcery, particularly potent magical artifacts and the Wolves of Final Night.

Roll for vulnerability d12(feel free to come up with more).
1. Must stay in contact with the ground.
2. Can only be harmed by at least two siblings(of eachother, not the Sial-Atramentar) attacking it in the same round.
3. Vulnerable in the hours of twilight.
4. Vulnerable in areas with no sound whatsoever.
5. Vulnerable to weapons forged by a blind man(completely spell immune)
6. Vulnerable, but becomes instantly immune to particular attack from particular attacker afterward(e.g sword blow from Kent but not Von, Magic missile from Von but not Kent etc.). Immunity persists until next full moon. Does not work on attacks that would normally bypass immunity.
7. Vulnerable to all who figure out its name(changing name only possible under the conditions that the GM decrees)
8. Vulnerable during severe storms
9. Only vulnerable to severly inebriated or drugged attackers
10. Only vulnerable to attackers wearing no armour and no clothes whatsoever.
11. Vulnerable during an eclipse or similar celestial event
12. Only vulnerable to attackers wearing no armour, no clothes and no items of any kind.

Sial-Atramentar, Lesser.
Tall as a man, with but a single head like that of long extinct animals, these vile creatures run on all fours like apes. Though their claws are razor sharp, in battle they will attempt to capture and subdue if at all possible, so they may bring helpless prisoners before their sire to be ‘blessed’. This process takes 24 hours and if interrupted, requires a remove curse within a further 24 hours to reverse. The alternative is death, or, if the Sial-Atramentar is present, transformation into one of the Lesser Sial-Atramentar. The Lesser Sial-Atramentar has skin like flame-schorched silver with fine cracks clearly visible. Its sole form of speech is a bestial schreeching not unlike a rusty hinge.

HD: 4
No. appearing: 2-16
AC: 3
Speed: As man in light armour.
Intelligence: 8
No. Attacks: 2(2 razor sharp claws).
Damage: 1-6/1-6 + poison (save vs poison or be paralysed for 1-4 turns).
Special:
-Lesser invulnerability, same weakness as parent.
-Immunity to mind-affecting spells.
Morale: 8

Lesser immunity functions like the immunity described below, with one crucial difference. Instead of providing immunity, lesser immunity merely reduces all damage to minimum (e.g an arrow that does 1d4 damage does 1 damage, a 6d6 fireball does 6 damage), and still provides complete protection from effects that would kill instantly or otherwise disable the Sial-Atramentar.

Sial-Atramentar, Greater.
Twice as tall as man, with either a single animal head or a multitude of faces both bestial and humane on each side of its skull, the Sial-Atramentar is terrifying to behold. Each carries a great halbeard, mace or axe of solid gold, capable of splintering trees or pulverising armour. Though it exudes physical power, it is bent and stooped, and black ichor weeps from tarnished cracks in its golden armour. They speak only in the language of the Gods with voices like angels dying of consumption.

HD: 8
No-appearing: 1(usually…).
AC: 1
Speed: As man in full plate.
Intelligence: 14(90% utterly mad).
No attacks: 1(mace) and special.
Damage: 2-24(mace).
Special:
-Invulnerability as described above.
-Immunity to mind affecting spells.
-Single special ability from table below.
roll d8(again, you may make up other shit)
1. Prodigy of Asklepios: The Sial-Atramentar was once a great healer. It will travel the land and attempt to restore the broken and return life to the dead. Under no circumstance will it ever willingly inflict damage on a living creature. It may cast Cure Critical Wounds at a range of up to 60 feet, though it must succeed at an attack roll against unwilling targets. It will always target the most seriously injured. If the target is already at full hit points, it gains any additional hit points as temporary hit points that fade within an hour. The creature also begins to glow visibly. If the creature ever gains more then its total hit points in temporary hit points it explodes, showering the surrounding area with steaming gore. In addition, the Sial-Atramentar may and will cast Ressurection(Caster level 15th) upon any intact body it comes across, 3/day. The ressurected have identical statistics to the deceased but will attempt to systematically destroy and murder everything the original person held dear. Once everything of value has been destroyed, the ressurected collapses into a puddle of protoplasmic goo. It will never prevent its children from inflicting pain or killing, since it remains utterly unaware of the harm they inflict.
2. Architect of the Gods. Once a great builder, the Sial-Atramentar seeks to create structures and temples in the name of its gods. It may cast any of the following spells at will: Stoneshape, wall of stone, stone to mud, mud to stone, stone spikes. The Sial-Atramentar will seek out villages and transform them into a single geometric shape(cubes, tetrahedrons, dodecahedrons etc.). It will take great pains to entomb any inhabitants into the structure. Characters gain a saving throw vs spell to avoid being trapped in stone and will begin to suffocate immediately if they fail.
3. Emmisary of a Thousand Faces. The Sial-Atramentar automatically possesses all class abilities, skills, prepared spells and supernatural abilities of any of his attackers. These abilities persist for up to an hour after combat has ended. Emmisaries enjoy decorating themselves with the faces of men.
4. Herald of the Wind. The Sial-Atramentar was once a swift footed messager that could move in the spaces between heartbeats. It is now crippled, though it still moves at twice the speed of an unarmoured man. Every round of combat the Sial-Atramentar gains 1 attack per round(1 on the first round, 2 on the second etc.), and its AC increases by 1 (each round) as it gradually accelerates until it is nothing but a whirlwind of blows. Note that Sial-Atramentar may be slowed even if invulnerable.
5. Divine Archer. The Sial-Atramentar carries a great bow instead of a mace. It may fire arrows up to 5 arrows(d10 damage) at any target within line of sight at +5 to hit per round. It does not take a penalty for extreme range. 1/day it may fire a single arrow gifted to it by its divine masters. This invincible weapon will pass through all cover as though it did not exist and any creature it strikes must save vs death at -2 or be erased from existence. Any damage the target inflicted on the Sial-Atramentar is instantly healed(infact, the damage has never occured). It goes without saying that, barring any transtemporal shenanigans, the character may not even be wished back since no one remembers his existence. This effect will create serious metaphysical problems and thus i wish the prospective GM good luck and good hunting.
6. Shroud of the Avatara. The Sial-Atramentar spawns one identical copy of itself for every round of combat, starting with the second round. The copy has all the current hit points and status effects of its original. Only 1 of it may have this ability at any time. If the “original” dies, the ability is transferred to the nearest copy. The copies may remain for up to 1 hour after the combat, when they must fuse together again(copies prevented from doing so desintegrate into a pile of ash.
7. Cloak of the Sun. So glorious and majestic is the Sial-Atramentar that any who meet it in combat with anything less then a blindfold count as blind for the duration of the combat(no saving throw). If they survive the combat, they may attempt a saving throw vs spell at -2 to regain their vision. Otherwise nothing less then magic healing will restore their sight.
8. Beloved of Kreshic. The Sial-Atramentar is covered in potent banes that inflict upon the attacker any damage and effects it receives from him. This effect takes place after invulnerability.

Sial-Atramentar, True.
If any of the Sial-Atramentar from before the War in Heaven still remained, they would tower above their lesser cousins like giants, 4 times the size of a man, with eight arms and five heads, skin of immaculate platinum, 16 HD, two special abilities and no vulnerability to their immunity. It is fortunate that they are all long gone. Right?

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Horrors of the Age of Dusk: The Sial-Atramentar

  1. Very nice, truly a nightmare encounter for players without the need for uncreative hit dice bloat. The key to such an encounter is to find a way to trap the foe and get the hell away. A whole campaign could revolve around finding the vulnerability and figuring out how to exploit it.

    Like

    1. Partial credit goes to you old friend and…Arrows of Indra in a strange way, for spurring our conversation on a more interesting take on Asura immunities and firing up my imagination. Hit dice bloat is a lazyman’s weapon, unfortunately the prevalence of d20 pretty much ensured that high level challenges needed high hit dice and high AC to be any sort of challenge. Fortunately the old games didnt suffer from this mandatory level creep nearly as much.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s