Matthew here, following on from Rich’s tease of the klo’tha in Monday’s blog!
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the art for the klo’tha show up during Rich’s Inktober campaign, during which he illustrated, drew, or painted a different beast for The World Below each day of that month in 2022! Rich subsequently posted about the klo’tha with one of their original setting write-ups, to give any of you World Below enthusiasts a little more information.
Now I’m going to give you some further information and lore, still.
The klo’tha are one of the many peoples inhabiting the World Below. One of the questions that comes up often in the game is “who has the right to be here?”, as the subterranean realm in which adventures take place is home to native peoples, refugees from the surface, invaders from realms hidden in the deeper darkness, and alien entities seeming to spring up from nowhere. As resources become contested and many groups feel they have “the right” to exist in the World Below, murderous campaigns of slaughter rage from level to level, making some strata death traps for anyone unable to ably defend themselves.
The klo’tha are one of the peoples with the greatest mystery surrounding them. They’re undoubtedly predatory and have their own sense of hierarchy, but neither the people indigenous to the World Below nor the former surface-dwellers have ever encountered them before. Not until the exodus from the surface, and all the chaotic change it wrought on the Great Underneath. It seems the klo’tha rose up from the Abyss, beneath even the mapped strata of the World Below, and they’re certain something is hounding them, wanting to drag them back into the void. They’ll fight, claw, and devour their way upward to ensure that doesn’t happen.
The klo’tha are disinclined to communicate their schemes. They aren’t the most social of creatures; at least, not outside their own society. One thing’s for certain: when caves, tunnels, and resources find the klo’tha on one side and another intelligent species or society on the other, peace rarely abides for long. These alien monstrosities consume what they kill, and adopt the bodies and minds of their victims.
Now, I know some of you are fiends for lore, but equally, I’m sure there are those of you who want to know about systems, abilities, powers, and such. With that in mind, I’m presenting below the unedited klo’tha traits, so you can get a read on the kind of creatures you’ll be dealing with. Some of the terms may change between now and crowdfunding of The World Below, and between then and release, but please enjoy the current iteration of these vile beings.
The klo’tha rise from abyssward, pushing skyward as if their lives depend on it. A solitary one might keep a façade of elegant courtesy long enough to analyze your thoughts, but the ruse merely hides the contempt and hatred they feel toward us. Never saw one? Well, although they keep coming, klo’tha are still a rare sight, especially in upper strata. There’s no chance you’ll mistake them for anything else: each is a slender creature, featureless aside from their empty white eyes. They seem to be made of a substance similar to tar, which shifts and wanes in veins and pseudopods according to their mood. When their visage splits open, revealing a mouth filled with dozens of sharp needle-like teeth, you have only a few instants before a cluster of grasping tentacles unfolds from within, eager to crack your skull open.
Among the deadliest threats in the entire underground, the klo’tha are an organized force of malevolent invaders. Although creatures of the Abyss, the klo’tha fear the void more than anything else in the world. Spurred by primal terror, their species flees upward, eager to find a new home far from the tendrils of the Abyss. At best, klo’tha consider the other inhabitants of the underworld as hated competitors for resources and spaces that belong them by right of superiority, each a candidate for either slavery or extermination.
In their natural form, klo’tha resemble pitch-black tentacled lampreys, but that appearance isn’t the one most people associate with them. If a klo’tha manages to enter a sentient creature’s skull and devour its brain, it can use the memories to initiate a metamorphosis’ process and transform into the alien horrors they’re known as. Outside of the Abyss, klo’tha resort to surgery to create more of their kind faster, opening their captives’ craniums to insert their larval kin inside. In a bout of twisted irony, their abyssal nature is what allows the klo’tha to unleash psychic ruin upon their enemies, the same ravenous imprint driving them to feast on brains and memories to escape the dread of the void.
Drive: Conquer the World Below and enslave inferior beings to ensure their species’ survival away from the Abyss.
Primary Pool: 8 (Scheming, Psychic powers, Subjugate minds)
Secondary Pool: 6 (Research, Physical combat)
Desperation Pool: 4
Enhancements: +1 Psychic powers, +1 Scheming
Qualities: Attentive, Consume Kaos, Drain, Hyper-Intelligent, Multitasking, Natural Weapons 1 (Tentacles, Claws), Quick Reactions 1, Reach, Robust 1, Swimmer, Willful
Dread Powers: Bend Minds, Dreadful Gaze, Hypnotize, Kaos Wielder, Mental Disruption, Read Minds, Telekinesis (Short range)
Special: Klo’tha leaders use the Scourge template, gain the Monstrous Metamorphosis Dread Power, and 1 Intellect Advantage; The klo’tha’s Consume Kaos relies on them feeding on brains rather than flesh.
• Brain Drain Quality — If a klo’tha inflicts damage during a grapple on an incapacitated or Stunned opponent, it causes the Aggravated Wound Status Effect
• Telepathy Quality — Klo’tha can communicate with others of their species within the same Area without uttering words
So we’re starting out with introducing one of the beasts you’re least likely to want to encounter at the early levels of adventure!
Next week, we’ll post a blog entry about one of the following, but you have to comment below to say which one you want to see. The choices are:
- What Happened to the World Above?
(points of view regarding the event that forced the mass exodus into the World Below)
- The Forbidding Realm of Longdeep
(an in-depth look at one of the many abandoned, ruined, alien, or hostile settlements in the World Below that you may visit, avoid, or where you’ll find yourself an unwelcome guest)