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The Bhut of SindGiampaolo Agosta
In the lands of Sind, many shapeshifter races have thrived for a long time, before the purges of the V century AC, brought on by the Sindhi Jadugeryas. These races were collectively known as the "chambahara". Nowadays, only a few Rakshasa, some prides of weretigers, and a number of Doppelganger clans remain in the Rajahstan.
However, one other race of shapechangers has never been challenged by the Sindhi Magi: the Bhut. These humanoids, harnessing the powers of both the lycanthropes and the undead, have managed to remain undetected for half a millennium.
The Bhut are not a numerous race, and travel and hunt in small bands, not conspicuous enough to let the suspicions bypass their magical protections. They are endowed with great physical abilities, and often with a keen intellect as well, but are short lived, as if their bright life energies burned too fast, or the undead part of their being took over in time. Anyway, a common Bhut rarely lives over 60 or 70 years.
Greater Bhut are much more powerful, but their numbers are even more limited. They are slightly longer lived--still less so than a common human, but their reproduction rate is even lower. However, once in a while a son of one of these "noble" families will be a "scion" of the clan patron immortal. These especially blessed individual have the potential to become clan leaders, and have superior intelligence and wisdom, in addition to a much longer life, slightly over the human norm.
The Bhut have a complex religion with a large pantheon, led by three Immortals who oppose in Sind the three personae of Ixion--Ayazi, Himayeti e Aksyri, that is the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer.
The Creator is opposed by an Immortal who perverts creation, the Preserver is opposed by a champion of Entropy and Destruction, and the Destroyer by a Master of Undeath. The Immortals who form this triad are among the most powerful Entropics, and are Loki, Demogorgon, and Hel.
Bhajyagwani, the Veiled One, is a female aspect of Loki (also known as Lokar, Farbautides, or Bozdogan), and is patroness of the Daytime Masquerade, the human form which the Bhut assume during the day, to mix in their chosen prey's society and lure their victims to their death. As the goddess of the distortion of truth, Bhajyagwani opposes Ayazi, the Creator, by hiding its work behind veils of illusion. Bhajyagawani's form is that of a young, slim, fair-skinned woman.
Dhamurgani, Queen of the Night, oversees every aspect of fighting and combat. She is the patroness of the Nightly Hunt, and feeds the Bhut with human flesh. As the goddess of pure destruction and entropy, she is directly opposed to the Preserver, Himayeti. Dhamurgani is known a Demogorgon in the eastern lands, and as Goron in the west. Dhamurgani is represented as a feral reptilian humanoid, or as a beautiful green skinned woman.
Kali, the Black One, rules the Future and holds the Fate of each Bhut in her hands. She is portrayed as a dusky-skinned woman with several hands, with one half of her body replaced by a pure black shade. She is considered by the Bhut the patroness of Undeath. Note that the Darine gypsies revere Kali with a very different attributes. The Darine's Kali is a persona of Valerias, while the Bhut's goddess is an aspect of Hel.
According to Bhut myths, the three goddesses generated three children, Mavasa, Jammudaru, and Maravidya. The father of these three gods is not clearly specified by the Bhut myths. Some clans believe it was an act of parthenogenesis, while others introduce a male counterpart of the Veiled One, Bhajyagwana, but do not elaborate further on this character. Others jet claim the father to have been one of the major demons of Sindhi lore, but these last myths seem to bear the influence of non-Bhut mythology.
Of the three children Mavasa, the Herald of Corruption, was the son of Bhajyagwani, and provided the Bhut with their ability to pass undetected among the normal humans. He is known as Masauwu to the other nations. The Bhut portray him as a normal human, with one hand lying across his chest and the other hidden behind his back.
Jammudaru, the Herald of Destruction, was generated as a shapeless mass by Dhamurgani, Queen of the Night. He later took the form of an horrible Ogre to spread destruction in Sind. He gave the Bhut their resilience and fighting prowess. He is not widely known outside Sind, but he is revered by certain ogre tribes in the Broken Lands and even farther. Jammudaru is rarely represented by the Bhut through statues. When they do so, they portray him as a muscular, angry ogre. Otherwise, they see Jammudaru's image in the lava or in various ooze monsters, which are sacred to Jammudaru's followers.
Maravidya, the Herald of Undeath, was the last of the second generation gods. The Dead One is the son of Kali, and was born already undead. He gave the Bhut their undead-like special abilities, and a promise of eternal unlife. Maravidya is also known as Marwdyn, though he is not very popular in eastern Brun. Maravidya is represented as a semi-mummified, decayed body, sometimes with a noose hanging from his neck.
Each of these Children generated in turn one of the progenitors of the Bhut by mating with Chandri, the Mother of All Creatures. This gave birth to different breeds of Bhut, with different focus and abilities: the Children of Jammudaru are the most vengeful and proactive, while Sons of Mavasa are subtle and reactive, and Children of Maravidya have much in common with the Undead. In a campaign, Children of Jammudaru might be the first met, while the reclusive Children of Maravidya are more likely to be encountered only later.
Each of the three Children also represents one of the aspects of the Bhut, namely the human façade, the beast within, and the undead.
Bhut Pantheon Table
There are three clans of Bhut, each claiming descent from one of the original Bhut, fathered by Maravidya, Jammudaru, and Masava. Each clan uses special naming rules, and gives a special title to its elders. Additionally, powerful Bhut of the different clans develop different abilities, each focusing on their chief patron's portfolio.
Jammudarava, Children of Jammudaru
Naming rules: personal name, family name, plus a compound name formed by the name of a vanquished foe + sudana ("destroyer of ____") Title of clan chief: Kshayanatha (Master of Destruction)
Progenitor: Hara, the Destroyer, son of Jammudaru, is said to have been a terrific fighting machine, with unparalleled shapechanging abilities--as far as Bhut shapechanging goes, anyway. He is said to have been killed by the Immortal hero Halava (Halav), who was led to Sind for this purpose by the gypsies on a command from Jayavani (Djaea). After the battle, Halava and Jayavani generated the god of animals, Jirchava (Zirchev), and the goddess of defence, Pitari (Petra).
Clan specialty: Destruction. Children of Jammudaru are the most direct and warlike of the Bhut. They revel in bloodshed and battle, and like to employ their physical power to overcome their foes. Their clan pose usually as bands of travelling mercenaries. Children of Jammudaru kill and eat almost any sentient being, except ogres, who are taboo for them. Gypsies are another special enemy of the Children of Jammudaru, since they are said to have helped in the destruction of their ancestor Hara.
Maravideya, Children of Maravidya
Naming rules: personal name, family name, plus a compound name formed by name of a vanquished foe + çava ("corpse of ____") Title of clan chief: Anantanatha (Master of Eternity)
Progenitor: Ananta (The Eternal One), son of Maravidya, was, or perhaps is, the first of the Children of Maravidya. He is supposed to have reached full undeath at some point in the past. His descendants believe he is still hiding somewhere, gathering the corpses of their dead relatives and bringing them to eternal unlife.
Clan specialty: Necromancy. Children of Maravidya are the philosophers of the Bhut race. They prefer to employ undead minions in battle, and are rarely seen as travelling bands. The clans will pose as monk cloisters or philosophy schools, rather than as bands of gypsies.
Mavasaputra, Children of Mavasa
Naming rules: personal name, family name, plus a compound name formed by a name of a beguiled or vanquished foe + çanti ("death of ____", but also "prosperity of ____") Title of clan chief: Çantinatha (Master of Peace, but also Master of Death)
Progenitor: Mayavati, daughter of Mavasa, was the first of this clan. She was a powerful magician, and had a key role in the advancement of the Shapechangers in Sindhi society. She disappeared from the shapechangers' society far before the purges brought on by the Maga Aditi, and never resurfaced. An important legend in the Bhut folklore tells that Mayavati was sent to the chief of the Rakshasa, Danal (Danel Tigerstripes). She seduced the immortal and brought him under the control of Bhajyagwani.
Clan specialty: Deception, Illusions. These Bhut are usually found in small travelling bands, mimicking the gypsies. However, there is a centuries-long feud between the monsters and the true gypsies, who hunt down the impostors when they detect their presence. Members of this clan enjoy a special bond with Rakshasa (+3 bonus to reactions), and any travelling band is 10% likely to host one of these evil spirits.
(pronunciation note: ç is read as ch in French "chat", most other phonetic marks are omitted)
Hara, Mayavati, and Ananta are supposed to be either "Monsters of Legend" of Paragon rank (if AD&D rules are being used) or Exalted Monster Rulers (if rules from WotI are being used).
Herebelow, the three Progenitors are described as Paragon Bhut under AD&D 2e rules from the DM's Option: High Level Campaigns book.
*Hara, the Destroyer, Paragon Bhut
AC -8, 32 HD (240 HP)
Dmg 3d8/3d8/3d10, Wounding 2d6/round
Magic Resistance 100%
Regeneration 4 hp/round
Fear Aura (50', ST at -4)
Hara looks like a huge, muscle-bound, savage Sindhi warrior during the day, but when the sun goes down he transforms into a horrible monster, similar to a cross between a werewolf and a gurrash.
*Ananta, the Eternal One, Paragon Bhut
AC -8, 32 HD (200 HP)
Magic Resistance 100%
Regeneration 3 hp/round
Priestly Abilities: 20th level Priest
Ananta is a unique individual, of near undead status. He looks somewhat like a well preserved lich, or a desiccated ghoul. However, he does not cause fear in those who behold him, rather, he transmits a deadly calmness to the onlooker. During the night, his features change to match those of the corpse of a common bhut.
*Mayavati, the Seducer, Paragon Bhut
AC -8, 32 HD (160 HP)
Magic Resistance 100%
Regeneration 3 hp/round
Wizardly Abilities: 20th level Illusionist
Mayavati appears as an stunningly beautiful and sophisticated Sindhi young lady, even during the night, since she is covered in layers of illusionist magic. However, she uses disguises so often that she might not have used her "true" form since a century or more.
The three Progenitors may or may not be still around in Sind or somewhere else in Mystara, or they might have been destroyed, or they might just be somewhere in the Outer Planes of their patrons. In any case, Ananta and Mayavati fit better in Sind than Hara, who would be too easy to spot. According to Bhut legends, Hara was destroyed by Halava (Halav), while Ananta is still alive and hiding somewhere in the Sind Desert. Mayavati's whereabouts are a mystery even for the Bhut--perhaps she's hiding in Bhajyagwani's home plane.
OD&D NPC Bhut Class
OD&D Bhut character class, starting at 2HD and going up to Normal Monster, then up to whatever level limit the DM wants to set for classed monsters (20 is suggested). XP progression should be pretty slow, probably twice slower than a fighter of level equal to the Bhut HD). A Bhut saves as a fighter of level equal to one and a half the Bhut's HD, round down.
Semi-Paralysis (1 round, +5 initiative, -1 to hit)
Immunity to Enchantments
Immunity to Poison/Gas
Spellcaster, lvl 1*
Special Ability I
Spellcaster, lvl 2* <br> Full Paralysis
Spellcaster, lvl 3* <br> Special Ability II <br> Full control of Shapechange
Spellcaster, lvl 4*
over 9+3 HD, the Bhut gains 1 spellcasting level and one hit point per level, while other abilities stay at the same level as other Greater Bhut.
* only those Bhut who choose to become Shamans or Witch Doctors. All other Bhut receive one extra hit point per level, and attack as monsters with two more HD then they are.
Animate Undead Animals 2/day
Spoil Food & Water 2/day
Hypnotic abilities as wolfwere
Control Undead as priest of level 3+
Cause Disease w/ touch (debilitating)
A Bhut of at least 8+2 HD can become a Shaman or Witch Doctor. The table below is mostly for use with AD&D Bhut (which can derived from the OD&D version with the necessary modifications), but it can be used to decide which spells the OD&D Bhut spellcasters have access to.
+ minor access only