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Hollow World: Path of the Despoiler

by Rodger Burns

The Path of the Despoiler is a unique Immortal Path for devotees of Entropy, linked to the Hollow World and the Spell of Preservation. It's unclear as to whether this path is just a karmic balance against the way the Hollow World protects lost and dying cultures, something that the Immortal Hel or other elder Entropic managed to engineer into the Hollow World's nature, or is of some other entirely different origin. Whatever the cause though, it exists and is responsible for the creation of several Entropic Immortals, as well as some distrust of the Hollow World among the Immortals of other spheres.

Like other Paths to Immortality, the Path of the Despoiler includes a Quest, a Task, a Trial, and a Testimony.

QUEST - The candidate must acquire an Entropic artifact able to manifest powers normally banned within the Hollow World. This artifact will be as difficult to recover as any other such; in addition, champions of non-Entropic Immortals will be trying to prevent the candidate from acquiring the artifact, and will try to steal or destroy the artifact once the candidate has claimed it. Once the candidate has acquired the artifact, he must use it frequently and flamboyantly in the Trial and other adventures within the Hollow World - causing Hollow World natives to question the limits of the Spell of Preservation and resent its restrictions.

TRIAL - The candidate must acquire at least three followers, each from a different culture within the Hollow World. Each follower must initially be kidnapped from their homeland against their will, and then coerced by the candidate into becoming a (mostly) loyal follower and abandoning their /Cultural Bias/. Force, deceit, physical deprivation, torment, and magic are all fair game in such efforts - but honesty and chivalry are frowned upon.

TASK - The candidate must journey to the outer world of Mystara, find a thriving tribe or culture, and introduce some flaw into its population. This can be a hereditary physical defect or deformity, an (im)moral belief or cultural precept, or adoption of a useless taboo or discarding of a useful one. It must have some visible negative effect, though, and must be enduring and self-sustaining. The candidate must stay with the tribe or culture for at least five years, thwarting any and all attempts by its leading citizens to overcome or destroy the flaw.

TESTIMONY - Once the Task is complete, the candidate must engineer some calamity or disaster that endangers his target culture's very existence, and causes its patron Immortal to transport some or all of the culture's members into the Hollow World. There, the Spell of Preservation will act to insure that the cultural flaw introduced in the candidate's Task will endure forever, weakening the culture and promoting Entropy's interests.

Design Notes: I see two possible uses for the Path of the Despoiler in a campaign. The first is as straightforward adventure hooks for high-level mortal adventurers - Stop the would-be Entropic Immortal. The second deals with Immortal politics - the question of whether the Path of the Despoiler is something that should be allowed to exist, an issue that cuts across the usual Entropy/non-Entropy faultlines. Some Immortals think it's a necessary evil, the thing that keeps Entropy from wrecking the Hollow World entirely; others think it's a nasty perversion of everything the Hollow World should stand for. Each side includes Immortals of all five Spheres (though the disagreement among the Entropics is of course more along the lines of "well, at least we get *something* useful out of the place" vs. "it's not *nearly* enough, let's do our Sphere's work and smash the whole thing"). Which leads to some *interesting* arguments and Byzantine plotting among the halls and council-chambers of Pandius.