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Who is in secret, a veiled master?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Theory: Based on the description of the greater form of Aboleth known as a veiled master[ first revealed in the Inner Sea Bestiary, I have had a strong suspicion that a famous/infamous NPC in Golarion history is actually a veiled master.

Given the amount of influence they can obtain and their ability/tendency to shift and influence entire nations, I have two strong theories:

1: Lord Gyr of Absalom

Guide to Absalom wrote:


Lord Gyr spent his earlier decades as a wandering adventurer, returning to his home city in 4660 AR, gaining a high seat on the Grand Council, and using his own troops to quell the rioting in the city. Proving himself politically capable, he brokered deals with the warring parties and the disputes mostly settled. Astoundingly, within 6 months of his arrival in Absalom, he was elected primarch.

Suspicion: Gyr's sudden rise to power among the greatest human city in existence aligns with the Aboleth's actions with Azlant, inserting themselves into a city's infrastructure and political theater in order to work their own agenda. Where better to keep one eye on humanity and one eye on the future that at the hub of human civilization?

2) Mengakare, the Shepherd of Light

Campaign Setting wrote:


Mengkare is an ancient gold dragon who rules the island kingdom of Hermea. Mengkare created the island country in 4552 AR as a response to the long and painful history of humanity. His goal was both simple and extraordinary ambitious: to create a utopian society, ruled by absolute good, within which he could sculpt humanity to a form befitting their enormous potential.

To join his utopia, all citizens must sign a contract yielding absolute authority to the gold dragon. Uncorrupted by this power, Mengkare gives each citizen as much freedom as they can handle.

The dragon periodically sends agents throughout Golarion to seek out the best, the brightest, the wisest, and the most beautiful to join him on Hermea in pursuit of utopia.

Andoran, Druma and Taldor have all sent ambassadors to Hermea in search of an alliance. All such overtures have been politely rejected. However, Mengkare presented each ambassador with a sliver of golden crystal. There are reports of other visitors being gifted with similar items. They are apparently shards of a potent artifact known as an Orb of Dragonkind. If so, Mengkare presumably still holds the rest of the pieces.

Suspicion: Mengakare and Hermea seem too good to be true. A utopian human society run by a good aligned dragon? It seems like the kind of story that would be served up on the surface, but the land of Hermea seems rife for the concept of eugenics and controlled breeding. If Mengakare were secretly an aboleth, then Hermea would be one of the darkest secrets in the world. A utopia on the surface, but secretly a laboratory for breeding a new stock of slave race.

Who do you think is secretly a Veiled Master?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Neat ideas. Will be giving this more thought.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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This thread is awesome.


[redacted]

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I wonder if it is possible if there is at least one who is a member of the Decemvirate or if all of them are...

PF wiki wrote:
Because their identities are unknown, some say even masked to the gods, members seem ageless. It is assumed that the position is passed down through a hidden method, although it is not beyond reason that the Decemvirate age very slowly or are truly immortal

The masks could be focuses for their powers or serve another nefarious purpose.

On the reverse of the same coin, maybe the Aspis Prophet is one? Or a Patron of the ASPIS Consortium.

What if different sects of veiled masters secretly run both organizations, using them as pawns in a twisted competition to gain power, knowledge, or even just for S&G.

A veiled master could use the information and artifacts gleaned by the organization(s) for the next destruction the aboleths plan to visit upon Golarion. Or collecting items to prevent humans from stopping the disaster.


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Cosmo...

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Eando Kline, of course.

Contributor

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I would go with:

3). Durvin Gest, famous founder of the Pathfinders, and an unnamed member of the Decemvirate since.

Look at it this way: The Pathfinders start out by exploring lost Azlant and "discovering" amazing Azlant technology--the Wayfinders--which they use to track down all sorts of secrets and bring them back for the masters of the society to keep in their vaults.

This is a dead simple plan for veiled master. Once the main work is done of creating the "famous hero" persona, let him "disappear" on one final adventure, then take the place of a member of the Decemvirate who holds a swing vote for the council. Rinse and repeat as necessary over the years so as to puppet the council and thus the Pathfinder Society.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Galt and Rahadoum both seem like they could be showing signs of that kind of Illuminati-style manipulation. Rahadoum in particular strikes me as an intriguing possibility, as the aboleths likely would prefer humanity spend their worship on something less complicating than the gods...


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I'm adding my vote to the Decemvirate option. A lot of what the Pathfinders find just... disappears. It's stored, cataloged, and never seen again.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Or perhaps they're all veiled masters ... watching us ... testing us ... everywhere ... the eyes, the eyes!


I'm not sayin' anything, just sayin' ....

Aroden would be a candidate.

A good reason for Earthfall would be to destroy a too-powerful aboleth, bent on taking the slaves away from the masters. And then hey, he survives and raises the Starstone.

And the rest, as they say, is history...


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That's easy: Mikaze.

Wait, do you mean on Golarion? Oh. Hmmm...

Gorbacz wrote:
Eando Kline, of course.

Yeah, but he doesn't know it either. At least until he pops into the local REKAL franchise for a "spy vacation" package.

Edit: PKD would have made an excellent veiled master.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I wonder if it is possible if there is at least one who is a member of the Decemvirate or if all of them are...
PF wiki wrote:
Because their identities are unknown, some say even masked to the gods, members seem ageless. It is assumed that the position is passed down through a hidden method, although it is not beyond reason that the Decemvirate age very slowly or are truly immortal
The masks could be focuses for their powers or serve another nefarious purpose.

One of my pet theories is that the Decemvirate are wearing the masks of Old-Mage Jtembe's Ten Magic Warriors, who helped bring magical teaching back after Earthfall. Entirely possible that one of the Ten was a veiled master...

Silver Crusade

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Liz Courts wrote:


One of my pet theories is that the Decemvirate are wearing the masks of Old-Mage Jtembe's Ten Magic Warriors

Oh please let this be true.

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
That's easy: Mikaze.

Close.

I can't help but want to place one somewhere withing the leadership Druma(and the Kalistrade) or somewhere in Razmir's hierarchy...

Contributor

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:


On the reverse of the same coin, maybe the Aspis Prophet is one?

I think that they've been retconned out, as of the Inner Sea World Guide. Correct me if I'm wrong James?

Contributor

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4) Aspex the Even-Tongued - Founder of Cheliax

Keep the humans fighting amongst themselves by breaking apart a unified Taldor into its constituents. Extra points for Taldor being the center of Aroden worship.

Sovereign Court Contributor

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Mikaze wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:


One of my pet theories is that the Decemvirate are wearing the masks of Old-Mage Jtembe's Ten Magic Warriors

Oh please let this be true.

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
That's easy: Mikaze.

Close.

I can't help but want to place one somewhere withing the leadership Druma(and the Kalistrade) or somewhere in Razmir's hierarchy...

It's weird. I read that as "I can't help but want to place one somewhere writhing in Druma(and the Kalistrade) or somewhere in Razmir's hierarchy...

Silver Crusade

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5) Merivesta Olinchi, the halfling playwright and author of The Conception Exception who was assassinated in 3923 AR by the Red Mantis cult before the premiere of her famous play.

Suspicion: Merivesta Olinchi and her actual play were targeted not because of rivals or vengeful targets of her criticism, but because The Conception Exception was a "King In Yellow"-style apocalyptically dangerous memetic WMD engineered by aboleths to spread like a plague and implode densely populated centers of civilization. This unholy masterpiece was the culmination of the work and research of "Merivesta's" direct ancestral line.

The Red Mantis were acting solely on divine mandate, not only stopping the aboleth plot and replacing it with a harmless manuscript but also claiming this alien form of killing for themselves to research, from which they have derived less powerful but more precise forms of death-dealing songs and images.

Jeff Erwin wrote:
It's weird. I read that as "I can't help but want to place one somewhere writhing in Druma(and the Kalistrade) or somewhere in Razmir's hierarchy...

o dammat


Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I wonder if it is possible if there is at least one who is a member of the Decemvirate or if all of them are...
PF wiki wrote:
Because their identities are unknown, some say even masked to the gods, members seem ageless. It is assumed that the position is passed down through a hidden method, although it is not beyond reason that the Decemvirate age very slowly or are truly immortal

The masks could be focuses for their powers or serve another nefarious purpose.

On the reverse of the same coin, maybe the Aspis Prophet is one? Or a Patron of the ASPIS Consortium.

What if different sects of veiled masters secretly run both organizations, using them as pawns in a twisted competition to gain power, knowledge, or even just for S&G.

A veiled master could use the information and artifacts gleaned by the organization(s) for the next destruction the aboleths plan to visit upon Golarion. Or collecting items to prevent humans from stopping the disaster.

The Decemverate are such a great possibility for this. Not only would having an army of tomb-robbing explorers at their disposal benefit the Aboleth, but it would allow them to have the perfect cover for digging up the secrets of their own past without anyone being the wiser.

One veiled master runs the Aspis Consortium, one runs the Pathfinders, and the two play a virtual game of chess to keep the humans dancing to their puppet strings, while in secret both groups coordinate to recover all that was lost to them.

Delicious!


Liz Courts wrote:
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I wonder if it is possible if there is at least one who is a member of the Decemvirate or if all of them are...
PF wiki wrote:
Because their identities are unknown, some say even masked to the gods, members seem ageless. It is assumed that the position is passed down through a hidden method, although it is not beyond reason that the Decemvirate age very slowly or are truly immortal
The masks could be focuses for their powers or serve another nefarious purpose.
One of my pet theories is that the Decemvirate are wearing the masks of Old-Mage Jtembe's Ten Magic Warriors, who helped bring magical teaching back after Earthfall. Entirely possible that one of the Ten was a veiled master...

If one of the Ten was a veiled master, perhaps that is why Jatembe disappeared. He became wise to the secret and either retreated in order to put into motion some sort of saving grace of a plan, or was imprisoned by the Veiled Master who now walks as a different identity continuing its own goals.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

6) Kalistrade (or Druma's leaders)

Inner Sea World Guide wrote wrote:
Followers of the Prophecies of Kalistrade have weathered the recent change in ages quite well-they feel sheltered from the panic and turmoil surrounding Aroden's death, and point to this as proof of the inherent superiority of following this philosophy over blind allegiance to a god. Gods can die. Thought and tradition do not. Many followers of this philosophy believe a time of transformation is at hand, a transition into an age where the gods become relics of the past, and the true followers of the prophecies shall inherit the world.

Suspicion This seemingly harmless philosophy of achieving wealth through denial of the physical world has a hidden agenda: make gods obsolete by replacing them with a doctrine of greed. The aboleth are nothing but notoriously atheistic in their long-lived existences and only look down upon the gods. If they could replace theistic faith with a completely material doctrine (whose high ups could easily be replaced without godly intervention mucking things up), the aboleth could much more easily take over. Furthermore, the refugees from nearby lands seeking wealth and prosperity in Druma make for easy pickings to enslave and devour since they won't be missed. And of course, the Prophecies are based upon the writings of an obscure, so-called mystic from the Age of Enthronement...

Sovereign Court Contributor

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Dreaming Psion wrote:

6) Kalistrade (or Druma's leaders)

Inner Sea World Guide wrote wrote:
Followers of the Prophecies of Kalistrade have weathered the recent change in ages quite well-they feel sheltered from the panic and turmoil surrounding Aroden's death, and point to this as proof of the inherent superiority of following this philosophy over blind allegiance to a god. Gods can die. Thought and tradition do not. Many followers of this philosophy believe a time of transformation is at hand, a transition into an age where the gods become relics of the past, and the true followers of the prophecies shall inherit the world.

Suspicion This seemingly harmless philosophy of achieving wealth through denial of the physical world has a hidden agenda: make gods obsolete by replacing them with a doctrine of greed. The aboleth are nothing but notoriously atheistic in their long-lived existences and only look down upon the gods. If they could replace theistic faith with a completely material doctrine (whose high ups could easily be replaced without godly intervention mucking things up), the aboleth could much more easily take over. Furthermore, the refugees from nearby lands seeking wealth and prosperity in Druma make for easy pickings to enslave and devour since they won't be missed. And of course, the Prophecies are based upon the writings of an obscure, so-called mystic from the Age of Enthronement...

I always found the taboos - never detailed or described - of the Prophets - kind of fishy :).

Just what are they supposed to never do? Why? What does sexuality have to do with greed or prosperity? Does it simply make them vulnerable, and that's all they are trying to avoid, or do they "cover up" or some other practice that somehow keeps certain... body practices or modifications... unseen?

Shadow Lodge

The entire Decemvirate.

Dark Archive

Dotted for future reference. Awesome thread.


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Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I wonder if it is possible if there is at least one who is a member of the Decemvirate or if all of them are...
PF wiki wrote:
Because their identities are unknown, some say even masked to the gods, members seem ageless. It is assumed that the position is passed down through a hidden method, although it is not beyond reason that the Decemvirate age very slowly or are truly immortal

The masks could be focuses for their powers or serve another nefarious purpose.

On the reverse of the same coin, maybe the Aspis Prophet is one? Or a Patron of the ASPIS Consortium.

What if different sects of veiled masters secretly run both organizations, using them as pawns in a twisted competition to gain power, knowledge, or even just for S&G.

A veiled master could use the information and artifacts gleaned by the organization(s) for the next destruction the aboleths plan to visit upon Golarion. Or collecting items to prevent humans from stopping the disaster.

IF YOU ARE MY PLAYERS, DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS

Spoiler:
This is the endgame of my home Pathfinder game, actually, inspired by the Cults of the Dark Tapestry from Carrion Crown and the fact that a cleric of Zon-Kuthon is listed as one of the Patrons. Aspis is, unbeknownst to the lower-rung members, actually an effort designed to mold the future of human history in the interests of Nyarlathotep. As the most "Human-Like" of the Outer Gods, Nyarlathotep is uniquely suited to running what is essentially a multinational corporation.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Shalelu Androsana.

Oh so many Rise of the Runelords, Second Darkness and Jade Regent Spoilers:
Shalelu is behind the creation of the Imperial Seals of Minkai which have invested the "divine right" to rule Minkai. In concert with the Oni she manipulated the Amatatsu line to flee Minkai in order to get to the runewell in Sandpoint because the runewell there required the death of a royal to activate properly. She did this in order to wake Karzoug and have unwitting adventurers slay him. Her true target was to claim his extra dimensional plane and more importantly its link to Leng.

She then manipulated the Elves to attack the Drow and in so doing managed to corrupt an elf to pull down a dormant fragment of the same asteroid that the Starstone came from. Having then arranged for the deaths of her erstwhile Drow allies she then manipulated an unwitting Ameiko Kaijutsu to return to Minkai, depose the Jade Regent and the rest of the Five Storms and restore the rightful heir to the throne.

With these pieces in place she will then kill Ameiko in the Well of Demons creating a rift as the rightful Empress of Minkai's soul is taken to be judged by Pharasma. As this happens "Shalelu" will connect the rift in the Well of Demons to the link to Leng in Karzoug's demiplane. The resultant link will be catastrophic and will result in a psychic backlash which will destroy every deity in the multiverse.

This will cause havoc throughout human civilisation allowing the Aboleths to rise, unhindered by any form of divine power.

It's so obvious I can't understand why anyone hasn't seen it before.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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Amazing thread. Thanks, everybody!

Grand Lodge

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Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

3). Durvin Gest, famous founder of the Pathfinders, and an unnamed member of the Decemvirate since.

Look at it this way: The Pathfinders start out by exploring lost Azlant and "discovering" amazing Azlant technology--the Wayfinders--which they use to track down all sorts of secrets and bring them back for the masters of the society to keep in their vaults.

This is a dead simple plan for veiled master. Once the main work is done of creating the "famous hero" persona, let him "disappear" on one final adventure, then take the place of a member of the Decemvirate who holds a swing vote for the council. Rinse and repeat as necessary over the years so as to puppet the council and thus the Pathfinder Society.

Ever since the "City of Serpents" chapter of Eando Kline's story my theory is that Gest was an agent (possibly unwitting) of the Serpentfolk along with the (mostly unwitting) Pathfinder Society.

The Serpentfolk City:
The Ioun Stone in his Wayfinder lead Kline to Sverenagati (the lost capital of the Serpentfolk), which was located underneath Varisia.

The timeline is intentionally vague, but we know that serpentfolk civilization declined and was eventually driven underground during the late Age of Serpents/early Age of Legend to make room for the rising (Aboleth supported) Azlanti civilization.

Xin’s exile happened some time later during the Age of Legends. Which means the serpentfolk had plenty of time (some of the Age of Serpents and much of the Age of Legends) to secretly build their capital city under Varisia before the Thassilonian Empire was founded above them. Xin had to travel a good distance in exile before he finally put down roots at the Hollow Mountain and built his empire, which implies this was a pretty remote area ideal for an underground evil serpentfolk empire to set up shop, and he didn’t seem to build an defenses/take any precautions against the serpentfolk. Even if he didn’t like the Azlanti Empire much, he was a pretty forward thinking guy who would most certainly have recognized the danger posed by having a serpentfolk city directly underneath his growing empire. So it’s a small leap of logic but (I think) a reasonable one to assume he didn’t know and they were largely a secret. They definitely had spies operating in Thassilon:

Into the Darklands wrote:
Utilizing techniques stolen from Thassilonian architects, much of the ancient City of Coils was constructed to last, magical augmentation lending support and protection from the passage of time in much the same way the monuments of Varisia endure above.

…Plus, I’ve read The Shadow Kingdoms by Robert E. Howard, so the idea of a secret civilization of serpent folk dwelling beneath the kingdom of Valusia and operating in secret under the nose of an exiled king of Atlantis seems to fit nicely with the ancient serpentfolk city hidden beneath the country of Varisia operating under the nose of the exiled Azlanti king.

”The Serpentfolk Sanctuary”:
We know from the Serpent's Skull adventure path that the Azlanti never reached Sverenagati, and there’s no indication that it was ever attacked by the Runelords. Not long after killing Ydersius Earthfall happened and the destruction from Earthfall saved the serpent-folk from being wiped out.

We also know that the elves had enough advance warning of Earthfall that they were able to evacuate the planet. Their gate network would have made evacuating their far-flung city states possible, but it still took a bit of time to accomplish (We get a peek of society’s reaction to the impending Earthfall in Pathfinder #15: The Armageddon Echo. Specifically the events inside the echo of Celwynvian). Multiple adventure paths have shown that the Runelords of Thassilon also figured out what was coming and were able to make arrangements.

It's not a huge leap of logic to assume that the serpentfolk (a powerful, magic-using race at least as old as the elves that were successfully spying on the Runelords) could have anticipated the destruction of Earthfall.

They had time to prepare, but not a ton of time. So they built protective chambers to sleep in:

”City of Serpents” wrote:
And ringing the room, what I’d been pursuing for thousands of miles, what my ioun stone must have been created for, what had cost me all my sacrifices and brought me all my adventures: dozens of identical stone cylinders, each carved to be scaly smooth like a reptile’s belly and set upright into the stone of the floor.

They're serpents, so the thematic resemblance to clutches of eggs is purely coincidental, right? :-)

The serpentfolk sealed themselves up in these magical stone egg-things to wait out Earthfall. But they didn’t know how long the resulting destruction would last and they couldn’t assume that their minions outside the sanctuary would survive.

”The obvious plan”:

We don't know what goes into making an ioun stone from scratch, but apparently the pressed-for-time serpentfolk could only make a few "keystones" that they then released into the world. Ioun stones in general are incredibly useful tools, created or at least perfect by their ancient Azlanti enemies. Sooner or later some foolish adventurer will find one, follow it down to Sverenagati, and release the serpent-folk back into the world.

It works, right? The serpentfolk go to sleep and wait for the destruction to run its course and for civilization to reboot itself. Eventually someone will bring a stone down and release them, which is incidentally a great job interview for the much needed “favored slave” position since the darklands are pretty dangerous and anyone who makes it that far would have to be pretty competent. Since the serpentfolk are relatively few in number and would be re-entering a world that has probably changed a ton, they’d want to use trickery (disguised agents/spies like Yarzoth from Souls for Smuggler's Shiv) and powerful dominated agents (like Eando Kline would have been if Desna hadn’t intervened) to enact their plans.

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

…except … well …

”Pretty much everything”:
Some of the serpentfolk cities were apparently destroyed when the caves collapsed. Others were abandoned. The minions living in Sverenagati have devolved into “brutish clans prone to infighting and canabalism” and the city has been taken over by gugs and drider and other unsavory outsiders. So not relying on local minions was obviously a good call.

The ioun keystones are still out there but there’s no guarantee that any of them would have survived destruction of Earthfall. Even if some of the stones survived, what are the odds that the person finding one would also have access to a wayfinder? I mean, the whole setup pretty much requires you to have a wayfinder. You put the stone into a wayfinder, it shows you where to go, and when you get there it even shows you how to open the sanctuary:

City of Serpents wrote:

It was then that something caught my eye. The necropolis's zigzagging floor mosaic branched, in another radial design, to the foot (or tail?) of each sarcophagus, including this one. But, with my sunrod glowing on the floor, I could see that at each radial arm's tip was a familiar shape made of tiny green stones, with a curious fingernail shaped gap at its exact center

Heavy with foreboding, I set down my pack and crouched, studying my wayfinder. As I suspected, the gap matched the device's ioun stone perfectly. I pulled the stone loose from its setting and pressed it into place in the floor.

The "familiar shape" at the end of the radial arm wasn't specifically identified but since the trained pathfinder viewing it immediately crouched down, heavy with foreboding, and studied his own wayfinder I think it's a pretty good bet that the tiny green stones surrounding the "keyhole" to the stone cylinder were in the familiar shape of a wayfinder. The serpentfolk thoughtfully included an instruction manual for how to unseal the sanctuary eggs. They even made it simple enough that those warm-blooded monkeys with delusions of grandeur could figure it out by imitation.

City of Serpents wrote:
Along each wall stood imposing oval portals, each as wide as three men. I took a step toward the nearest and my wayfinder swung toward it. I took two steps to the left and the needle twirled, settling on the second portal I was now approaching. No single artifact, but something in each of these chambers, was attracting the wayfinder's ioun stone.

This implies that he would have found generally the same setup no matter which door he picked. Which means that even if time/natural disaster/enemies/failing magic/whatever were to disrupt some of the chambers there were multiple backups in place for when an unsuspecting visitor arrives. It doesn't matter which stone chamber is opened, the trap will work. In fact, the purebreed that Kline randomly selects says as much:

City of Serpents wrote:
"One enough deepdown one enough to awaken us all us all us all in the deepdown deepdown I am HE he who will awaken others."

So it only takes one person to come down and awaken all of them and, awesomely enough from the perspective of that serpentfolk, he was the one selected. Now he can wake all his friends (and, probably, not the serpentfolk he dislikes) and have all the glory of being the first to awaken and lead the proverbial charge.

The serpentfolk WANT someone to come down and open the door. So they just left the keys laying around where no one would notice. We know that the Azlanti made heavy use of ioun stones so it would be easy to slip a few extra into rotation on the sly (Azlanti wizards would think they were made by Thassilonian wizards and vice versa. By the time anyone figured it out Earthfall would cover everything up). We also know that wayfinders existed back then because Seeker of Secrets say so:

”Seeker of Secrets” wrote:
Though any spellcaster with the proper ability can create a new wayfinder, most of those owned by Pathfinders are decades or centuries old, passed down from mentor to student or through family lines. Some are even older, dating back to the Azlanti civilization.

The serpentfolk subverted the tools of their enemies. How sneaky and appropriate. Except ... this leads to a couple serious problems.

The master plan requires our hypothetical future adventurer to find two different needles in a post-apocalyptic haystack. A specific type of ioun stone and also find a specific tool used by the enemies of the Serpentfolk that will also have to survive Earthfall despite the fact that wayfinders are the size of a compass.

But what if…

”The serpent folk are smarter than that?”:
First off, we don’t actually know where ioun stones came from. Yes, the Azlanti made heavy use of them and supposedly invented them, but couldn’t they just have easily have developed ioun stones based on stuff left behind from the previous civilization?

This bit clicked with me while I was reading a bit of Lovecraft. We all know James and the other Paizo crew HATE Lovecraft and avoid drawing any sort of inspiration from his work … but bear with me.

I was reading Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars” and Lovecraft’s sequel, “The Hunter of the Dark “. You know, the book where Bloch killed off a character based on Lovecraft so Lovecraft killed off a character based on Bloch? In it there is The Shining Trapezohedron *cough*original ioun stone?*cough* that was brought to earth by the Great Old Ones (specifically Nyarlathotep), who left it to the previously mentioned serpent men of Kull fame, who were wiped out by the warriors of Atlantis (except for the ones who lived on beneath Valusia and ended up on the wrong side of Kull in his very first book). After the whole “continent sinking” thing it ended up in Egypt and, eventually, New England.

Oh, and the trapezohedron was built on the planet Yoggoth. Of Fungi from Yoggoth/Mi-Go fame. Wait, isn’t there a Great Old One on Golarion that looks like a broken “reptilian skeleton” mixed with fungus that crashed to Golarion because of Earthfall and landed in some lake? Xhamen-Dor, I think his name was? If he came down on a comet sucked down to Golarion by the falling Starstone maybe he impacted not far from the Inner Sea. What about Lake Encarthan, which borders Kyonin, which is where Treerazer, former minion of Cyth-V’sug is hanging out? Yet … the demon lord of fungus and parasites, one of the oldest demon lords in the Abyss, hasn’t gone after Treerazor. Maybe it’s because there’s a Great Old One of fungus and decay chilling off the coast, and Cyth-V’sug is moving veeeeery carefully? Oh, and isn’t Lake Encarthan where the Island of Terror is located? Xhamen-Dor doesn’t have anything to do with Undeath or Necromancy, does it?

So … what if the ancient Azlantians picked up ioun stones left behind by the collapsed serpentfolk civilization that preceded them and made use of them? If ioun stones were originally serpentfolk “technology” then it would help explain why the serpentfolk thought to use ioun “keystones” for their sanctuary. It also fits snugly with everything else we know about the world.

”And another thing…”:
…where did these “half-understood Azlanti artifacts” that served as the prototypes for modern wayfinders come from? We’ve seen plenty of examples of ancient Thassilonians using ioun stones, but I don’t remember any of them using ancient wayfinders.

What if the wayfinders were invented by the serpentfolk? The Thassilonians living above their capital city experimented the whole “embedding ioun stones into flesh” thing. Maybe the serpentfolk took this idea and ran with it (or leaked ideas about embedding ioun stones to the Thassilonians and used them as beta testers for the concepts later used in wayfinders)? If the serpentfolk invented the wayfinders then they could control the distribution of them to help ensure some survive.

We know that not all the purebred serpentfolk are sleeping. They have agents walking around trying to put their god back together. Why are those agents focusing on restoring Ydersius instead of finding the keystones to wake the rest of their sleeping society? Part if it could be that they are waiting for humans to ripen, as explained to Eando Kline:

City of Serpents wrote:
Thousand thousand upon years waiting long years we dreamt we dreamt for you shoeshod man all men grow strong ready serve men serve you kneel you KNEEL you kneel.

But part if it could be that, just maybe, they don’t feel the need to search for the keystones since they already have a globe-trotting organization of rubes doing it for them?

”The Serpent Society”:
So here’s my theory. The Serpentfolk made the keystone ioun stones AND the wayfinders needed to use them. They know that by the time the smoke clears from Earthfall no one will be able to tell “genuine Azlanti artifacts” from “artifacts made by serpentfolk that look a whole lot like Azlanti stuff and use technology that are iconic to the Azlanti & Thassilonian empires.” Ioun stones are useful and wayfinders interact with them in even more useful ways, so that gives everyone who finds one an excuse to use it without asking too many questions beyond “how do I make more”?

The serpentfolk seed the keystones far and wide, to maximize the chance that some will survive. The wayfinders are new technology so the serpentfolk make fewer of those. They’re kept under heavy guard or hidden in well-protected caches. Aroden’s survival delays the serpentfolk plan, since they don’t want to risk moving too much while a living god descendent from their ancient enemies is still walking around. They wait until he ascends into the heavens and starts acting through his heralds, then they wait until his earthly kingdom has its hands full with an “Everwar” before they start seeding wayfinders into ancient Azlanti catches. Like baiting a hook with a worm.

The serpentfolk minions wait and see who finds a cache and, more importantly, what they do with it. Eventually some of the wayfinders fall into the hands of a group of successful adventurers who have organized in Absalom. It would be easy for the serpentfolk to infiltrate the nascent group, especially since they know all sorts of awesome ruins they could “uncover”.

The pathfinders are an organization that accomplishes everything the serpentfolk want. It breeds competent future slaves who gather all sorts of artifacts together that the serpentfolk may be interested in. They’re smart enough to realize the benefits of ioun stones and wayfinders (so they’re actively looking for ioun stones). They craft new wayfinders ensuring a good supply and they all carry them as symbols of their organization (ensuring that when they eventually find a keystone they’ll be able to do something with it).

A little encouragement early on from serpentfolk can help shape the organization’s culture in ways favorable to the serpentfolk (i.e. wayfinders as a symbol). Everything almost falls apart after Koriah Azmeren explores the darklands and sniffs a little too close to serpentfolk territory, which eventually attracts the attention of Durvin Gest. After he goes “missing” the fifth Pathfinder Chronicle gets recalled. Gest uncovered bits and pieces of the plot to infiltrate/control the Pathfinders. The serpentfolk don’t want too many people to ask questions, the non-serpentfolk members of the Decemvirate also don’t want word to get out that the integrity of the organization is questionable at best. They resolve themselves to search out the truth, unsure of which other members to trust.

It takes 50 years of quiet, behind the scenes maneuvering before things finally come to a head. The “disagreement over Society government” that leads to lodge-wide violence and results in the Decemvirate masking itself is fallout from the shadow war between uncorrupted Decemvirate members who don’t know who to trust, and serpentfolk agents trying to gain control of the organization. The masking is accepted by both groups, both of whom believe they will win if they could just have a little more time to finish their plans, because it allows the conflict to continue without tearing the whole organization apart.

Remember, Eando Kline went out to Kaer Maga looking for that ioun stone on orders from the Pathfinder Society. If he had picked it up and returned it to the Society, whose hands would it have ended up in? Even Durvin Gest didn’t fully trust the organization…

”End of the Road” wrote:

Shevala reached over and pulled my hand from my hair, a surprisingly intimate gesture.

“Look, Kline,” she said, voice soft. “Even Durvin Gest didn’t give up all his secrets to the Society. Only fools like Belzig think that’s all there is. I trained you better than that.”

”Oh, and one more thing”:

Speaking of that living god thing, has anyone noticed how eerily similar the description of Ydersius is to Aroden’s thing?

”Sanctum of the Serpent God” wrote:
Long ago, Ydersius took an active role in the affairs of his people. He was the embodiment of the might and power of the serpentfolk empire, a living god who walked among his worshipers and led them to great victories. He commanded serpentfolk armies, raised great cities, and bred with mortal serpentfolk females to produce semidivine offspring that led and ruled the far-flung outposts of the serpentfolk empire in his stead.
I mean, the breeding with mortal females bit doesn’t really mesh, but Aroden did seem to like his lady heralds. Maybe Aroden didn’t sleep around because he was a bit racist and there weren’t any of his people left to hook up with?

Liz Courts wrote:
One of my pet theories is that the Decemvirate are wearing the masks of Old-Mage Jtembe's Ten Magic Warriors, who helped bring magical teaching back after Earthfall. Entirely possible that one of the Ten was a veiled master...

I agree with your theory. If one of the Ten was a veiled master or some other infiltrator, it may explain why

”spoiler”:
only nine of the warriors participated in the creation of the Ring of Nine Facets. The 10th realized that Jtembe was trying to trick him into giving up some of his blood, which could potentially be used to prove he was a traitor. The fact that only nine warriors participated showed Jtembe that there was an infiltrator in his ranks, which justified his decision to slip away.

Which, actually, makes me think that there are multiple factions within the Decemvirate. Perhaps the serpent folk and veiled masters each control a small piece, but then so does Old-Mage Jtembe. He could have met Durvin Gest when Gest found the fountain of youth, and that could have lead him to the new Pathfinders. Realizing the potential he could have secretly helped guide them from afar, just like the serpentfolk and aboleths. They could all be engaged in a secret war for the soul of the society.

Also, I just spent way too much time writing this and should probably go to sleep. Yikes.


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The Hermea theory disgusts me. Why can't at least one place be genuinely good without being suddenly corrupted as hell by some dark secrets in it? Hell, Andoran has Falcon's Hollow in it, and that country is supposed to be the ultimate good guy place in the Inner Sea region. And really, if some darn aboleth had the nerve to impersonate a dragon, I'm pretty sure another dragon would pop in and make sushi out it.

With that said, the theories about the Decemvirate, Aspis Consortium or the Prophets of Kalistrade having a Veiled Master sound good...


Quote:
The Hermea theory disgusts me. Why can't at least one place be genuinely good without being suddenly corrupted as hell by some dark secrets in it?

Because the dragon ruling it doesn't sound like a completely cool guy?

Quote:
However, there are rumours that Hermean society is not the utopia it appears. Some foreign sailors perceive an undercurrent of fear beneath the citizens’ apparent contentment. There are even tales of rebels opposed to Mengkare’s rule hiding out in the forests at the far side of the island. And are the charred corpses that sometimes wash up on the shores of the island really the work of pirates?

You do know that gold dragons have fire breath? I wouldn't go so far as to say that he's an aboleth, but I'm of an opinion that he went too far with the whole 'for the greater good' idea.

Shadow Lodge

Icyshadow wrote:
The Hermea theory disgusts me. Why can't at least one place be genuinely good without being suddenly corrupted as hell by some dark secrets in it? Hell, Andoran has Falcon's Hollow in it, and that country is supposed to be the ultimate good guy place in the Inner Sea region. And really, if some darn aboleth had the nerve to impersonate a dragon, I'm pretty sure another dragon would pop in and make sushi out it.

1. Whatever he is, Mengkare isn't exactly a good guy.

2. Dragons are no more able to see through the veil than anyone else.
3. Even if they could, a dragon vs a powerful aboleth with an entire nation at his disposal is just as lopsided a contest as you are implying...only tilted in the other direction.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Even the developers argue about what Allignment Mengakare is. Personally I find Hermea to be a horror show of a place. Any society that treats humans as breeding stock and rejects those who do not come up to exacting standards of achievement? Yeah, I'm not seeing a shining beacon of righteousness and good there.

Hermea is deliberately a mystery, open to interpretation. That said, everything points to it being a sinister experiment.

Also as kthulhu said Veiled Masters are not your average run of the mill aboleths. If one were to be statted it would be at least a BBEG for an AP possibly even more powerful than that...

Actually an AP against a Veiled Master would be awesome. Anybody else agree?


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I, for one, would welcome an Aboleth-centric AP with much celebration. Pretty much the Aboleth and the Dominion of the Black are my most anticipated AP subjects.

If those two were rolled into one AP I would probably fly out to Seattle to buy every writer a drink.


Kevoth-Kul, he lost the desire for conquest and starting calling himself the Black Sovereign.


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FallofCamelot wrote:


Also as kthulhu said Veiled Masters are not your average run of the mill aboleths. If one were to be statted it would be at least a BBEG for an AP possibly even more powerful than that...

Actually, there's one in

Spoiler:
Shattered Star

And that reveals a lot about how they work. Being the "front man" of a nation or an organization leads to too many opportunities to be revealed. Being the "power behind the throne" and offering little nudges of advice once every generation or so is more their style.


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Lucent wrote:

I, for one, would welcome an Aboleth-centric AP with much celebration. Pretty much the Aboleth and the Dominion of the Black are my most anticipated AP subjects.

If those two were rolled into one AP I would probably fly out to Seattle to buy every writer a drink.

+1

Early on, I thought Second Darkness was going this direction, but then it became something very different.


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Love this thread.
BTW here's the Veiled Master entry on d20pfsrd
Some excerpts:

Quote:


Azlant's nations had veiled masters walking among them, whispering into their leaders' ears. The people knew the veiled masters as powerful wizards, and there were murmurs that the mysterious cabal was more than human, but few suspected the truth for very long.
The veiled masters handled such suspicions by doing violence to the bodies and minds of those who proved too curious.

...
Today, the veiled masters live on. They walk among the humanoid races again, watching and waiting. The time to teach a new lesson draws ever closer.

So there are Several!

And probably we're looking for wizard or sorcerer typ covers, behind the throne types not leaders and for mysterious disappearances of people who came to near...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It seems likely to me, then, that there'd be some in Rahadoum (with their hatred of the divine mirroring the Aboleth's own) and Razmir (with his faking divinity simply another sham). I could also see some running around Galt, or even Chelliax (precious few devils have truesight).

FallofCamelot wrote:
Even the developers argue about what Allignment Mengakare is. Personally I find Hermea to be a horror show of a place. Any society that treats humans as breeding stock and rejects those who do not come up to exacting standards of achievement? Yeah, I'm not seeing a shining beacon of righteousness and good there.

See, here's the thing. It's his land. He invited people to stay there under certain conditions. They agreed. If those conditions aren't met, he turns them out (under the assumption/hope that their improved nature might 'enlighten the gene pool' or something by a bit*). He has every right to evict people that he's allowed to stay off of his land that he owns and he permitted them to stay on in the first place after they agreed to abide by his rules. The fact that he cares nothing for race, gender, or any other element except superior specimens of humanity (with the ultimate purpose of uplifting humanity) tends toward the good side, while the strong "this way or else" leads toward the lawful.

Mengekare the Gold Dragon is being set up:
IF he's a gold dragon? Seems far more likely to be someone trying to set him up.

The rumors of him killing folks that simply disappoint him? That doesn't make any sense, if he's a gold dragon, and is a very bad decision for his own purposes.

Gold dragon. Breath weapon. No body left to be found.

After a certain point, heat begins to cause things to simply go away** and that much damage (considering how many hit points structures have compared to what a breath weapon can do) is far, far exceeded by a dragon's fire breath.

As far as Mengekare's methodology making anyone feel... uncomfortable... about how he treats/looks at humanity... well, why? Is it because we are humanity? Because it's been 'done wrong' in the past in the real world? Keep in mind, Mengekare, being a dragon, doesn't have humanity's prejudices about itself... he's got his own, but he's got an outsider's perspective with an eye for what "makes us better". Humanity is as far below him on the intelligence/sentience scale as dogs are to us (literally, just tally up the numbers) - he's literally slumming it, intellectually, for the sake of a people that aren't his own. And do recall that this is a fantasy world - good gods are intricately linked with cultural elements that individuals in this world may find abhorrent, while evil gods have potentially head-scratching portfolios, and neutral gods have both just as much as not: in this fantasy world, though similar to our own, morality is not quite the same, and it's mostly defined for respect for sentients and people (which, Mengekare could still have, even with his "breeding program" mindset, seeing them as having amazing enough potential to spend a substantial portion of his draconic life working on refining).

Megekare the Veiled Master is in a precarious position, but one that might just work:
IF Mengekare is a veiled master or some such... okay, I could see that. Using a few fire spells allows him a bit of fear, then okay, it sounds good.

Point in fact, Mengekare's wouldn't be the first attempt to 'uplift' humanity for the express purpose of making better servants. (Note that while Mengekare is the absolute sovereign, he doesn't exactly treat them as 'servants').

Using himself in such a prominent position on an island nation of humanity's paragons is... a difficult proposition, especially since he's so very, very prominent. However... it's doable.

If the Veiled Master did manage to murder the real Mengekare quite some time ago (probably after watching for some time to determine a decent dragon with fewer-than-normal connections to its own kind and a slight eccentric bent; perhaps even tending a love of humanity), perhaps implanting a narcreous gray sphere ioun stone to extend his own lifetime - we don't know how long they live 'naturally', I don't think -; then it would be easy to hide (or even completely re-purpose/eat/make stuff out of) the body, have Mengekare suddenly sever what few ties he had and sink all of his vast, vast horde into his newest hobby (and old-time favorite): humans. Simply rebuff the (already very few, mind) other dragons that come to see him, and you're good to go.

This plan does have many flaws within it, not the least of which is that pretty much any creature with True Seeing on has the ability to learn the truth at any moment, though if they tried to spread their truth, it could likely be spun back on them (and they are likely to be the ones 'quietly disposed of' - the burnt bodies, in other words) and it's expensive and temporary; and, given how much Mengekare is informed of everything going on on the island, likely he's difficult to 'surprise' with such tactics (and has a whole population that doesn't particularly want to 'surprise' him with effects like that anyway mostly because they are content and accept the reality in front of them).

But mistakes do happen.

Still, negating organized religions (but not banning the existence of religion) and insisting that outsiders "keep out" of his crib/experimental place does help minimize such intrusions a fair amount, and his ability to consume memories would aid greatly in hiding many small things. Drop in a couple of his allies (completely unsuspected, of course, as Mengkare himself approved of them, and nothing gets by the dragon...) means he has a few fellow moles working with him to create a new breed of Azlanti.

And besides. They can handle any problem that comes up. After all, their last experiment was incredibly successful...

It seems like it might be more likely for a Veiled Master to attempt to infiltrate Hermea, but it would be difficult, given that they have to avoid being in water like the plague, lest their mucus cloud ability give them away (again a place experiencing a drought, like Rahadoum, and really all of northern Garund, for that matter, seems like it might be a great place for them to hide).

I'm all for having Mengekare be lawful good and being set up by enemies, personally, and I think those who cry "eugenics are icky, ew" are not getting that fantasy morality and ethics don't completely equate to real-world morality and ethics (even if they're similar in many regards). I can see the arguments the other way, however, and they paint a compelling and interesting story too.

* Which, by the way, we've got hard game-evidence that this does happen. In two different ways. (New nomenclature on the d20pfsrd site notwithstanding.)

** I do mean that literally. The heat so-excites the molecular and atomic structures involved that they simply move as fast as they can in any direction but here and separate from themselves, and thus literally "go away".


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

EDIT: whoops! Had saved my last post "just in case" in addition to this one. Nevermind!

I have to say, though, Lord Gyr makes a tremendous amount of sense.

Especially as...

Inner Sea World Guide, pg 39 wrote:
The Primarch is also traditionally the Sea Lord of Absalom’s navy, giving him considerable military might, but Lord Gyr has instead named himself First Spell Lord, granting himself authority over the magical institutions of Absalom.

You know.

Because he wouldn't want to accidentally fall in and have his mucus cloud just go off all over the place. That would be embarrassing for everyone, really, and he'd have to execute an entire boat of witnesses with none the wiser, and really it's just a pain better to be avoided... by keeping his very watchful eye on those who are likely to have access to True Seeing...

It's just better for everyone that way.

(Not to mention the delicious irony of having power over the city created by the very last and most arrogant stupid member of your previous experiment's race.)


Dot


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The case for Gyr being a Veiled Master is growing!

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

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As Jacobs and Erik said: this thread is RAD.


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Mikaze wrote:

5) Merivesta Olinchi, the halfling playwright and author of The Conception Exception who was assassinated in 3923 AR by the Red Mantis cult before the premiere of her famous play.

Suspicion: Merivesta Olinchi and her actual play were targeted not because of rivals or vengeful targets of her criticism, but because The Conception Exception was a "King In Yellow"-style apocalyptically dangerous memetic WMD engineered by aboleths to spread like a plague and implode densely populated centers of civilization. This unholy masterpiece was the culmination of the work and research of "Merivesta's" direct ancestral line.

The Red Mantis were acting solely on divine mandate, not only stopping the aboleth plot and replacing it with a harmless manuscript but also claiming this alien form of killing for themselves to research, from which they have derived less powerful but more precise forms of death-dealing songs and images.

Please, please, pleaseeeee let this be true. I love ideas like this. I ran a whole GURPS (modern) campaign based around a CD that caused mass-suicide when listened to. I'd love for the Conception Exception to originally be a "King-in-Yellow, Hastur on Alderbaran" type media.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

mind blank trumps true seeing ... the Veiled Masters (assuming that they are aboleths) are reasonably assessed at higher than a run-of-the-mill aboleth's CR 7 ... at 34 HD, just what kinds of nastiness does a CR 20 aboleth have access to?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If Lord Gyr was a veiled master, him lording over the city that can create Deities must drive him crazy. Having taken over the magical institutions, maybe he's covertly having them research how to neutralize the starstone?

Shadow Lodge

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Maybe the reason a lot of people who take the Test of the Starstone and die trying isn't always because the Stone or the Test kill them....


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Turin the Mad wrote:
mind blank trumps true seeing ... the Veiled Masters (assuming that they are aboleths) are reasonably assessed at higher than a run-of-the-mill aboleth's CR 7 ... at 34 HD, just what kinds of nastiness does a CR 20 aboleth have access to?

Um...all of it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:
mind blank trumps true seeing ... the Veiled Masters (assuming that they are aboleths) are reasonably assessed at higher than a run-of-the-mill aboleth's CR 7 ... at 34 HD, just what kinds of nastiness does a CR 20 aboleth have access to?
Um...all of it.

^___^ Are you pondering what I'm pondering?


Turin the Mad wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:
mind blank trumps true seeing ... the Veiled Masters (assuming that they are aboleths) are reasonably assessed at higher than a run-of-the-mill aboleth's CR 7 ... at 34 HD, just what kinds of nastiness does a CR 20 aboleth have access to?
Um...all of it.
^___^ Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Yes, but you say first.

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