Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

About Old Ones

by Bruce Heard

The question always comes up about who -- or what -- the Old Ones are. We know very little about them, other than vague references in the original D&D Immortals boxed set. That's it. Nothing more.
If we know that the Old Ones are as far removed from the Immortals as the latter are from their mortal kin, then their powers must be absolute and without limit. The question is, who could wield such power... and why? Even now that the World of Mystara is a part of the AD&D Game's universe, the question remains. Admittedly, traditional AD&D Game gods are more powerful than Immortals in several ways, but their power is neither absolute nor limitless.
Simply put, the only creature I can think capable of achieving such unfathomable power over all mortal and divine beings of all the planes of existence and their infinite universes is... well, me. "That's it," you think. "Bruce has finally lost his wits! He's fallen off the deep end, forever discarding all remaining shreds of humility and given in with reckless abandon to the ultimate manifestation of his ego!" <smile>
Well, not quite. Yet. <smile again>
Along with any DM and the players who constantly mold the imaginary universe in which their heroes dwell, I share the unlimited power of the Old Ones. In that regards, can I or any DM create entire universes? Indeed! I am omnipotent? Of course! Can I, in a blink of eye, destroy billions of mortals and their gods? Yes, for I am the very substance of all energy, thought, matter, time, and entropy in all the worlds of which I dream. They are mere figments of my imagination! I think, therefore they are. <smile once more>.
Now that we've tied the existence of real life DMs with the cosmogony of Mystara, let's see how that could impact the philosophies of the mortals and the Immortals' understanding of their world.
Virtually no one in the Mystaran universe would truly know who the Old Ones are. It'd be frightening to discover that you and your entire universe were all an illusion, a part of someone else's dream. You don't exist and your every-day thoughts and acts are actually controlled by someone else. No one on Mystara would certainly believe it. Instead those who had ever heard of the Old Ones could believe they created the universe and that they observe quietly. Immortals still would be the driving force behind churches and temples, but any belief of the Old Ones' existence would somewhat overshadow the Immortals' power. The Immortals would have no reason to believe otherwise. They would probably endeavour to uncover any information about the Old Ones, like Rad did (Etienne d'Amberville's Immortal alter-ego) in Wrath of the Immortals. Their assumption is that perhaps Immortals could themselves grow to become Old Ones. Eventually, Rad was "abducted" by the Old Ones at the climax of the adventure for finding out about just that. In other words, Rad was pulled out of the campaign world after having discovered the existence of his DM! As far as some of the Old Ones were concerned (a few others and myself), Rad had gotten out of control and it became necessary to alter that character. Etienne was originally created as a lawful (read lawful-good) character. He was later made to become the Immortal Rad and to tangle up in Mystara's endless intrigues. As a result of the plot behind Wrath of the Immortals, Rad either became insane (Immortals going insane?), or shifted alignments. Either way, Glantri without Rad lost some of its colour, thus Rad's "abduction" and later return to Mystara.

What would Rad remember of all this? He'd recall nothing at all if we wished it so (it's good to be the DM, isn't it?) or perhaps this:

"The Immortal stood on a huge wooden plateau, staring around him at a new and bizarre universe. Strewn about were oddly shaped, multi-coloured objects with numbers on them. Statues of painted lead lay about, silent parodies of heroes brandishing their swords at unseen dangers. A large crystal cylinder stood incongruously in the distance, filled with a bubbly, black ichor. The Immortal visitor had a moment of panic when, suddenly, a gigantic mountain in the distance shifted on its base, seemingly leaning forward.
"But a mountain it wasn't. There, behind a colossal wall showing scenes of dragons, lizardmen, and warriors, appeared an insanely huge person. Pointing a gargantuan finger at the Immortal, he thundered: "I liked you better before. I shall keep you out of Mystara until things calm down, and then, I shall send you back with the thought that you only are a reflection of my dreams. You shall meditate about this when you are not fighting the forces of darkness in Glantri. Yes, I think that will be fine."
"The Immortal attempted to utter the words of a spell, but his mouth wouldn't move. He struggled to raise his arms, without success. He conjured from within him all the storms of magical Immortal power he had ever unleashed, but to no avail. He stood there, puny and utterly helpless, staring back at the Old One. Only then did Rad discover that he too was a statue of lead, hopelessly paralysed and mute. All things then vanished, and as Rad tumbled into oblivion, he knew then that he had learned one very obvious thing. There was such a thing as Humility for Immortals."