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Meet the Burrowers: Klarkaszh the Corrupter

by Andrew Theisen

"Annals of the Great Burrowers" by Wastoure

At the dawn of human civilisation on Mystara, the Immortal Hierarch of Entropy, Thanatos, embarked upon a plan to create minions capable of wreaking mass havoc and destruction upon the world of mortals. With his own powerful magicks, combined with the otherworldly and otherdimensional workings of other cosmic entities, Thanatos created a powerful assortment of monstrosities indeed. These he unleashed upon the interior of Mystara, that they might conquer the so-called "Hollow World" and use it as a base of operations from which to spread their contagion across the face of the world.

These creatures, collectively known as the Burrowers, actually encompassed a wide range of species. Some of them, such as the near mindless Annelids, still roam free today. Their effectiveness as forces of Entropy are greatly reduced, however, without the guidance of their overlords, the Greater Burrowers, who have all been incapacitated by the Spell of Preservation cast thousands of years ago by the Immortal caretakers of the Hollow World.

As the Burrower presence predates the existence of most civilisations, there has been very little information about the individual identities and functions of the Great Burrowers. What follows is the information I have pieced together over many years, from societal myths and legends (many of which resulted from distant contact with the minds of these powerful creatures), ancient texts from the Empire of Selhomarr, and my own communions with several of the Great Burrowers.

Chapter 1: Corruption

History: Before his ascension, Klarkaszh was a kopru- an amphibious creature of great intellect and evil, distantly related to the reptilian Carnifex. Like most of his kind, Klarkaszh was decadent and cruel, delighting in the torment and abuse of his human servants. He was noted for his tendency to manipulate his charges into turning on one another, in exchange for favours granted. He prided himself on his keen understanding of human nature, and preferred to use psychology rather than his own innate powers of domination to turn mankind against one another.

Klarkaszh was a reigning Chronarch in the kopru empire at the time of its destruction. When the Immortals buried the cornerstone of kopru might, cutting the Chronarchs off from one another, individual kopru struggled in vain to maintain control over their holdings. As he watched his kingdom going down in flames, Klarkaszh was approached by Thanatos, who brokered a deal. "Swear allegiance to me," whispered the Hierarch of Entropy, "and I shall give you power enough to fight the Immortals themselves!" Seething with anger and thoughts of revenge, Klarkaszh agreed, and was whisked away from his crumbling dominion, where he was subjected to endless magical rites and bargains with alien powers. His ascension had begun, and he was to join the ranks of several others who had been similarly recruited by Thanatos.

Klarkaszh was given the epithet "Corrupter" and his abilities to influence and manipulate the minds of mortals were greatly enhanced. He was deposited in the Sea of Rax, and charged with destroying the civilisation of Selhomarr. He took to his quest with relish, remembering stories of the conflicts between the ancient carnifex and the Lhomarrians of the outer world. Klarkaszh assaulted the fledgling empire both physically- attacking their navies from the sea, sending armies of sea creatures against the mortals- as well as in more insidious ways. He often used his power to assume humanoid form, and go among the Selhomarrians, spreading his corruption. At the height of his powers, he had several mortal identities well established in places of political influence.

The most telling account of Klarkaszh's might is found in an ancient Selhomarrian legend. It speaks of a servant sent by the Immortals- it is unclear whether this servant was mortal, or a fledgling Immortal. Upon arriving in Selhomarr, it began an intensive investigation of the corrupting influence on that empire, and even combated publicly several lesser Burrowing creatures- servitors of Klarkaszh. Eventually, the servant managed to discover the identity of his true foe, and confronted Klarkaszh in the Bay of Lokam. There, the Corrupter unleashed his most potent ability- his enhanced Domination power- and turned the servant of the Immortals into his own personal plaything, unleashing it on Selhomarrian society for a brief, destructive time, and then sending it back to Pandius to attack its masters.

When the Immortals cast their Spell of Preservation, Klarkaszh was immediately and dramatically affected, like the rest of his Great Burrower brethren. His body liquefied, becoming a vast, bubbling, putrescent mass that floated off into the Sea of Rax. His powerful mind was paralysed, though the barest fraction of it may still reach out and touch the minds of lesser mortals still. Its present whereabouts are unknown, though tales occasionally reach the ports of seafaring nations- such as Antalia- of attacks by vicious, mutated sea creatures, floating fleshy masses, and crews suddenly mutinying with no prior indication.

DM Notes:

Klarkaszh the Corrupter

Sphere: Entropy
Status: Exalted
Power Points: 300
Anti-Magic: 60%
AC: 0
HD: 25 (120 hp)
MV: 30' (10')
Swimming: 300' (100')
Attacks: 4 tentacles or dominate or spell Damage: 2d4 or charm or by spell
No. App.: 1 (Unique)
Save As: MU36/IM5
ML: 10
St: 18 Dx: 15 Co: 13 In: 30 Wi: 16 Ch: 25

Klarkaszh appears as a giant (25' tall) kopru- two large eyes and a sphinctered, tentacled mouth. A large fin runs from the centre of his forehead to his lower neck. Like other kopru, His lower body ends in three fluke like tails, though they lack the customary ripping claw at the ends. Instead of arms, Klarkaszh has four long, powerful tentacles (two per shoulder socket). His epidermis is completely transparent, revealing ropy white and purple muscles and inner organs.

Combat: Klarkaszh's four tentacles can reach opponents up to 10' away, though he may not attack more than two targets at the same time. Each tentacle is covered by dozens of sharp, jagged claws, which rip into victims for 2d4 points of damage each. If a victim is hit by two tentacles in the same round, he is considered ensnared, and will be pulled to Klarkaszh's mouth for a bite attack (3d4 damage) on the next round. In order to break free, both Klarkaszh and the victim must make a strength check on 1d20- whoever succeeds the roll by the greatest amount is the victor in the battle of strength.

Klarkaszh may also use his power points in order to create magical effects, though he forsakes any physical attack during the round in which he does so. He may duplicate any of the standard effects useable by an Immortal of Entropy (Gold Box DM's book, inside back cover). He may also use his power to affect the duration and range of said effects (as per Gold Box Player's book, p. 16). If using the Wrath of the Immortals rules, Klarkaszh may spend TP to cast any number of spells per day, as a standard Immortal may (p. 59 of WotI Book One). He casts spells as a 36th level magic user.

Like all kopru, Klarkaszh is naturally more magic resistant than most creatures, and the enhancements he received upon his ascension increased this ability to its current levels. He has a natural Anti-Magic of 60%, and he makes his saving throws as either a 36th level Magic-User (against mortals) or a 5th level Initiate (against Immortals). It may only be affected by weapons of +2 or greater enchantment.

Perhaps his most devastating attack is his enhanced Domination ability. He may use this attack in lieu of other attacks in any given round. Mortals must make a saving throw versus death ray (at a -6 penalty due to Klarkaszh's great charisma) or else become completely devoted and obedient to the Corrupter. The victim's thoughts and memories become known to Klarkaszh, and he may control up to 10 mortals at once (with no range limitations). The domination may be broken by a dispel magic spell (cast against a 36th level effect), or by the death of Klarkaszh. Victims may make another save after 6 months, to attempt to break free. A victim who is unaffected by the domination may never be affected again (although Klarkaszh may use other techniques- such as a charm spell- to achieve similar results).

As an exalted being, Klarkaszh's domination ability can even affect Immortals. The victim of such an attack must make a saving throw versus mental attacks, but at a +4 bonus to the roll. If unsuccessful, the effects are as noted above, but the Immortal may make a new saving throw at the beginning of each week. Klarkaszh may only control one Immortal at any given time.