Friday, May 1, 2020


Long-dead, technologically advanced ancient civilizations are a staple in great settings. Not only do they
make for ripe gameplay and easy justification for why there are so many ruins and magic junk everywhere,
they also give players a sense that the world is much bigger and older than it might seem at first—it adds
that crucial dimension of deep time to the otherwise mundane fantasy world.

Many of the giants of Appendix N make use of antiquities, though mostly to reflect on anxieties of
degeneracy and decadence and how they could lead to the figurative and literal degradation of the
civilization’s people. These make for, if nothing else, great antagonists for the likes of Conan to
sink swords into.

What ever happened to Hyperborea anyway?

I am intrigued by the idea that the great ancient race persists long after their world was destroyed, now
merely remnants of a lost time, figments of history that have somehow persisted for longer than their own
good. It gives fantasy Rome or fantasy Tenochtitlan or fantasy(?) Atlantis more color.

These eternal remnants are incapable of integrating into modern society for one reason or another, or else
they would have assimilated and become something else. So the remnants of the lost civilization are by
necessity something Other, something maddened by the passing of the eons, always searching for what
was lost but never able to find it. 

The Eternals look like muscular humans with angelic wings, slate skin, and large sculpted heads. They
stand tall and puff their chest out, and they fly with outstretched arms and wings spread wide. 

While they lack a few dozen too many eyes to be mistaken for angels, they still seem beautiful at first
glance. A moment’s further examination reveals their subtle grotesquery. 

From Time Masters (1982)

Their eyes are eerie black, with luminescent red dots for pupils. Their musculature doesn’t quite match
up with ours—their arms have too many sections, their chests striate in weird wavy patterns, their quads
push out of their legs in weird places. 

Their movements shift rapidly from jerky and awkward to fast and reckless, as though they can’t wrap their
heads around the whole “having a body” thing. Their faces are rough and uneven like they were carved
from clay by a sculptor not accustomed to the medium. 

They do a lot of this sort of thing

They cannot communicate in any language we recognize, but those with the right sensitivity recognize
that they carry a powerful psychic haze—the eons of generational madness have compounded in their
minds to form a choking cloud of psionic energy. This inscrutable aura, combined by the Eternal’s sheer
physical majesty, makes anyone seeing them subconsciously resist doing them harm.

AC as light armor, HD 3, Slam 1d6, Movement 40’ / 60’ flying, saves as 5th level Cleric
Morale 8, Number Appearing 1d8 (3d6 in lair) Treasure mote of light (see below)

Dispassion - The first time a PC attempts to attack an Eternal, they must save vs. paralysis or
automatically miss. Once a PC has succeeded on their save and successfully dealt damage to an
Eternal every PC and retainer is immune to this ability for the duration of the encounter. 

When an Eternal is reduced to 0 hp their body disappears in a flash leaving behind only a small mote of
light that gently floats up to the sky, disappearing after two rounds. Perhaps it would be an apt time to
make an Akira reference, if your players are into that sort of thing. 

If the mote of light is captured in, say, a bottle or other vessel, it persists indefinitely. A purveyor of curios
would be willing to buy it for around 100 gold, but a wizard or occultist would likely offer more
(say, 2d100+300 gp).

Icarus might be too on-the-nose, but I like the painting

If the mote of light is swallowed, the imbiber gains a one-time use of a random first level spell
(decided at the time of ingesting—the player should know what spell they can cast before they cast it).
Because the spell is coming from ancient, alien memories, it cannot be transcribed into a spellbook. 

If someone swallows more than one mote within a 24-hour period, the imbiber must save vs. magic with a
cumulative -2 penalty for each additional mote. If they succeed they get the spell no problem.
If they fail they still get the spell, but permanently lose 1d4 points of Wisdom.

Groups of 6 or more Eternals are often led by a 5 HD Eternal Mystic with more advanced psychic powers.
They can shoot beams of psychic energy from their fingertips or eyes that deal 1d6 damage against sentient
creatures up to 60’ away, but due to the focus this requires they can’t move or fly during the round. 

They can also spend a round gazing at a sentient creature, which must save vs. magic or drop
their weapons and lie prostrate before the Eternal Mystic. No Eternal will harm someone who is
lying prostrate.

Eternal Mystics are generally taller but more wiry than their standard counterparts. They are identifiable by
their darker skin and the esoteric runes carved on their chest and around the top of their head like a halo.

What are these Eternals doing?
Building a strange contraption out of seemingly idiosyncratic parts. If the party chooses to hide and
see what they’re doing then after a while the Eternals will seem to get rapidly distressed
and angrily tear the whole thing down and break it apart. Then they will start again on a completely
new project with the same parts, as if nothing has happened. 
Digging a huge, crop-circle like symbol into the ground.
Standing perfectly still atop tree branches or rocky outcroppings
Clutching their heads and rolling around in anguish
Flying in lazy synchronization, tracing strange patterns in the air
Flying back to their lair carrying what look like large chunks of ancient statues

≤ 2
Will attack immediately and focus fire on a spellcasting PC; once they have made a kill they
will attempt to flee with the body back to their lair and devour the corpse
Will attack immediately and attempt to subdue the PCs in order to take them back to their lair,
chain them to black stone thrones, and worship them like effigies
Will fight if provoked, but otherwise will attempt to flee or drive the PCs from the area 
Totally indifferent, will give no indication they are aware of the PCs. Will flee if attacked
≥ 12
Will awkwardly bow and dance around the PCs. If the PCs join in on their dance, the Eternals
will soar into the air and trail the PCs for the rest of the day or until they engage in combat,
where the Eternals will do their best to defend the PCs. 

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