Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

Polymar: Shadow Legacy

by Marco Dalmonte

As I promised you, this is my write-up about the polymar race. It details their history, their society and their goals. It should be enough to figure out how to use polymars in this intricate plot I've built around them, but it's not complete yet.

As references (I think u will note it), I based my article on a Japanese Anime called "Hurricane Polymar", on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (think about the Dominion) and on the recurring theme of the X-Files. Shaking the whole thing, I came up with this story. I hope you'll enjoy it! :)

Tell me what u think!

PS: in these four parts article I detail only the polymars. If time allows me, next week I'll introduce and describe more thoroughly the man who's fighting alone against the polymar race, the mysterious Hurricane Polymar...

Polymar: Shadow Legacy

The Shadow Folk

It is not a common known fact that a race of true natural shapeshifters exist on Mystara since the age of Blackmoor. These individuals managed to survive the Great Rain of Fire mainly because of their incredible polymorphing skills, which allowed them to turn into any creature as well as object they were familiar with. This race continued to live throughout the centuries, surviving catastrophes that annihilated other cultures and nations, withstanding the numerous wars that ravaged across the world and always remaining hidden in the shadow of the other humanoid and demi-human civilisations. Today, they are one of the most populous race living in the world, but theirs is a shadow nation with a secret and common goal that has kept them united throughout the millennia. Some people have discovered and battled them during the course of the centuries, others have chosen to ally themselves with these creatures, gaining access to secrets and powers they thought forever lost. Many are aware of their existence, while others serve or fight them unknowingly. Some sages speculate that they have reached positions of high power and importance in all the major nations of the world, but none can tell for sure. The only thing certain is their name: Polymar.

The Tale of Novar

The true history of the polymars is unknown to the world and to many of them as well. Only the older generations are keepers of the ancient secrets, among which is the Tale of Novar, the Father of their kind. This is the Tale as the Elder Ones tell is:

"Many suns ago, when the human race was indeed great and the Empire of Steel dominated the world, our Father, Novar the Blessed, was born amongst the people of the Black Moor. With his enlightened mind he rose to prominence inside the Empire of Steel, honoured by his peers and feared by the enemies of the Great Moor. For many years he studied and learnt the secrets of the world, acquiring more knowledge than the High Immortals themselves. And through Knowledge he discovered the Great Truth, that which the people of the Moor were trying to hide because they feared it. He peered right into the human race and discovered it was weak and miserable, and that he couldn't survive the Great Change. So he worked to help the humans overcome their weakness and to teach them his Knowledge, the only thing that could have saved mankind from extinction.

But the people of the Black Moor were jealous of Novar's intelligence and too arrogant to see their flaws, and so they banned him and threatened him not to reveal the Ultimate Truth, else he would have faced death at their hands. And theirs was the greatest of empires. But Our Father Novar was greater than the men of the Moor, and he feared them not. He took with him a few disciples and taught them the Ultimate Truth, and using his great powers he helped them going beyond the weaknesses of their human form, transcending life to be reborn into perfection. And thus the first of our kind came to be, and Novar was the First of us.

However, when the Empire of Steel came to know of our existence its leaders envied us and coveted our knowledge and our powers. So they sent a traitor amongst us, the Cursed One: Oregar. He approached Novar and with false words he won his friendship and that of our ancestors, learning our secrets and our powers. When the time was right, he fled with the stolen knowledge and went back to the Black Moor, revealing the secrets to its leaders. They built the Red Hurricane to use it against our kin, and we suffered greatly, but we were not defeated. Novar led us to find a new sanctuary, the Cave of Souls, and from there we fought back valiantly. Then the Great Change arrived. The sky turned red and the earth was shaken to its deepest core. The fields broke and the livings fell like dead autumn leaves, and under the Sky Fire the Empire of Steel was turned into ashes. But we, the Polymars, resisted. We changed, and we survived.

Yet to our great dismay the puny human race managed to survive as well, and Novar revealed us what had happened. The humans had stolen part of our power and tried to use it without the proper knowledge: for this reason they caused the Great Rain of Fire, which nearly annihilated the world. But using that same knowledge that destroyed their empire to protect them, some of the men of the Black Moor survived, and among them the Red Hurricane, to torment us with his deadly force.

Mankind refused to listen to Novar's guidance and instead tried to kill our father and our kind. It stole part of our knowledge and nearly destroyed the world, causing anguish and suffering to our ancestors. But worst of all, they cheated Fate, for they were not destined to survive the Great Change and only treachery saved them. We should have been the only survivors, we should have been the New Beginning, but they stole us our rightful heritage. They still live and rule the world, and from them a myriad of other humanoid races have evolved, polluting the world even more. Now it is our duty to restore history and claim what shall belong us: Mystara!"

The Truth about Polymars

It all began more than 4,000 years ago, in the sprawling metropolis known as Blackmoor Plus, on the continent of Brun. The Blackmoorian government was pursuing new scientific researches with the purpose of improving humankind and give the Blackmoorians the edge over all the other cultures and races, even over those who still insisted with their heretical magical practices. The goal was the perfecting of the human race in order to survive any climate and geological adversity. If this goal was ever reached, new frontiers would have opened up for the Blackmoorian society: first of all the colonisation of the sea and then of space. Two enlightened minds worked on the Project Overlord as head scientists of a vast group of researchers and specialists in the genetic and engineering fields: Professor Devon Oregar and Professor Kain Novar.

The first attempts were directed at potentiating and altering somewhat the human immunitarian system. They soon started experimenting on subjects (both volunteers and prisoners from the lowly tribes conquered by Blackmoor), but the first attempts weren't really satisfactory. It seemed that their efforts were failing because of a natural flaw in the human genetic structure they couldn't locate, a sort of barrier placed inside humankind to prevent them from attaining a permanent perfect form. In fact, as the tests went on, it seemed clear that many of the subjects were able to survive the alterations of their genes for no more than 24 hours. Those who didn't die or revert back to normal form at the end of the period often went mad or simply changed so drastically they didn't belong to the human race anymore. Professor Novar in particular became obsessed with finding a solution to this problem, and began experimenting with human polymers. Professor Oregar, on the other hand, reported the tests' failure to the city government, and proposed a new way of overcoming the difficulty: creating a device that could potentate humans without changing them permanently. The government gave him permission to further his studies while continuing to finance Novar's researches at the same time.

In the same years, the first D.I.V.E.R.G.A.N. prototypes created by Professor Demag began to be used by the Blackmoorian government in Davania, but they soon didn't prove as useful as predicted, and this pushed the high officers to experiment other solutions (particularly cybernetic systems). Soon a real scientific war erupted between biogenetic and cybernetic engineers to obtain the government's funds and trust.

And so it came to be that the two scientists finally completed their researches and announced that they had found the answer to the government's requests. Novar had invented a machine that polymerised the human beings, creating a new race of superior individuals he called Polymars. They were natural shapeshifters who could turn into anything they had memories of, and thus they could survive in every climate and geographical area by copying the living and non living beings that already lived there. Moreover, they had superior strength and were extremely resilient to any kind of harming effect. With his invention, he said, the human race would have evolved to a higher form of existence. Finally nature had been tamed and biogenetic engineering was the ultimate science, not cybernetics.

Many of the government officers were greatly pleased with this experiment, particularly the military, because of the obvious advantage it would have given to Blackmoor over any other race. Yet others seemed sceptical and supported Professor Oregar's project instead, which had far less dangers and didn't involve the mutation of a whole race into another living kind. Professor Oregar's invention was somewhat similar to Novar's since it was based upon the manipulation of human polymers too, but it was less drastic. Basically, Oregar had built an helm that exploited molecular polymers to heighten human capacities and resistances, with the only purpose to potentate the human organism in order to overcome any obstacle or threat. Novar's variant instead polymerised the human beings turning them into a completely different lifeform which could prove not only superior but also dangerous to the human race. Novar reacted vehemently to these accusations and tried to show that his polymars were intelligent beings capable of executing any order to the letter, that they were faithful to Blackmoor and would have served well the military, but unfortunately his reasons turned against him at the end. True, said the government, they were incredibly skilled and superior to human beings in every aspect, but they did have a different mind too, and an intelligent one: who could assure them that they would act as obedient soldiers and servants if they could think with their own mind? Moreover, Novar's invention assumed that the human race would have to be replaced with polymars, and that was not what the government had in mind. Blackmoor wanted to potentate humans, not to replace them with another race. For this reason, Novar's project was declared closed and he was assigned to help Oregar in producing more Polymer Helms, while the polymars already created had to be taken into custody for further studies or be eliminated.

Novar didn't expect this reaction, and when he realised his protests were useless, he began plotting against the government and against Oregar to have his own revenge. He collaborated with Oregar, secretly stealing his plans and going on with his researches in his private laboratories to improve his polymars. When he finally thought he had reached his goal, he experimented his own invention on himself... He gained the powers of the common polymars but managed to retain his physical aspect. Also, he managed to incorporate a secret weapon inside his new body, a devastating weapon that could easily destroy entire buildings in the wink of an eye. And finally he was even able to turn his body or parts of his body into pieces of machinery just like the polymer helms did. So he went to the high officers of the government who had opposed him and confronted them, showing them his new genetic masterpiece. He simply wanted to astound them, in order to have them recognise his genius, admit their incompetence and reopen the Polymar Project. But he went a bit too far with his show, and at the end the officers were so scared and pissed off that they called him a traitor for not having obeyed their orders and had him arrested. That was the last drop... Novar escaped using his new powers and freed the last living polymars, leading them in a secret hideout under the city. From there he plotted his final revenge, which included the elimination of all his enemies and the take- over of Blackmoor Plus by replacing the high authorities with polymars.

Unfortunately for him, Oregar began suspecting something was wrong when his project was suddenly closed without any explanations and some of the high ranking members of the city government were mysteriously assassinated. When he tried to investigate and to obtain support from the former officers who sponsored him, he found them unwilling to cooperate and somewhat changed... Finally, when some of the polymars broke into his laboratories to steal the prototypes of the Polymer Helm, he realised who was behind the machinations and tried to contact the government in Old Blackmoor. Novar obviously intervened and ordered his minions to slay him before he could ruin his plans, destroying every polymer helm they could find along with the technical data to build them.

Oregar and his staff fell to Novar's polymars, but he was able to send one of the last versions of his helm to his brother with all the information about Novar's doings in its memory. When Tarin Oregar finally managed to operate the helm, he understood what was going on in his city, and began a solitary crusade to destroy Novar, becoming the first Hurricane Polymar...

Then disaster struck in the form of the Great Rain of Fire... Many of the polymars survived to the shocking event for two reasons: first of all, they lived near Blackmoor Plus, in the continent of Brun, while the great cataclysms were mainly caused by the explosions in Old Blackmoor's nuclear plants on Skothar. Blackmoor Plus was a more advanced metropolis and had less nuclear plants than Old Blackmoor, and this helped containing the mayhem and the radiations that resulted from the obliteration of the Blackmoor civilisation. Also, due to their natural polymorphing abilities, many polymars survived deep underground (unlike Blackmoorians who also sought refuge under the earth) by turning into natural objects such as stones or by becoming tiny burrowers, becoming able to find an even better refuge. Yet some of them were obliterated by the explosions and others incredibly altered by the radiations, becoming moulds, protoplasms and the first scamilles. Many others were not affected physically but mentally, loosing their innate intelligence and becoming dumb creatures led by instincts.

When the unaffected polymars awoke from their slumber and reverted to normal form, they saw what had befallen their brethren. At first they tried to help the unfortunate ones recover their health and mind, but when they understood they were hopeless, they let them free to find their own fate. Then they began to look around to see what had become of their world. Novar, who was still among them, had been physically affected by radiations too, but he was still vigorous and unchallenged leader of the New Generation. He made the polymars live underground until the radiations in the outside world began bearable, teaching them the Tale of Novar and telling them about the new world they would inherit. Then, after many decades, they returned to the outside world to claim it... and found out the humans had survived as well, along with other strange creatures, some even deadlier than humankind.

So Novar began to brood over and finally devised his Grand Revenge against humanity: Assimilation. He gave his sons the instructions for the ultimate goal and then set his plan into motion. However, some years prior the Glantrian catastrophe he went into a deep slumber... and awoke no more in that century...

Present Day: the Hidden Threat

Today the polymars have reached all the four corners of Mystara and some have even braved into the Hollow World. They share a common philosophy: all other races are inferior and in particular humans, who shall perish for they have usurped the polymars' rightful ownership of the world. They also share a common goal: the ultimate control of the world obtained not through war but using subterfuge and stealth, to repay humans with the same treacherous tactic they used to steal the polymars' knowledge and powers. To fulfil this goal, they have secretly infiltrated in every living culture over the years, witnessing every move of their enemies and gaining precious information on their tactics, activities and skills. Some of them have also specialised in substituting important personalities in order to control the human communities without arousing suspicions and are now occupying high charges inside the ruling body of various nations.

Each polymar inside a community knows who the other polymars are and what's their secret identity (be it an animal, an individual or even an object!). In every polymar secret community (or cell) however, there is always a leader, usually an Elder One, who coordinates the operations and reports back to the central capital of the polymars (also known as the Invisible City) once each three months or when problems arise. Each Elder One is in contact with the Hierarchs via magical means of communication (Communication Scrolls being the most common, but Crystal Balls with Clairaudience and Communication Mirrors are also used). Every polymar cell has a general task (monitoring and infiltrating the host society) and some specific tasks for each member assigned by the Elder Ones, who are the only polymars to know what the others are up to.

In the Invisible City, located somewhere on Brun, the oldest and most intelligent among the Elder Ones pull the strings that make the Grand Revenge go on smoothly. They are the ultimate politicians and coordinators and need to be informed of everything that's happening on the world to evaluate the humans' moves and think about countermoves. They often collaborate with other secret organisations but without revealing their true nature, thus manipulating them at their own advantage. These polymars, simply called the Group, keep tracks of every single major event in any of the host communities and also keep reference scrolls about important personalities and known heroes, magical accidents and new discoveries, secret organisations and races in order to monitor the world situation. Currently, their major cells are active in Thyatis, Ylaruam, Wendar, Darokin, the Heldannic Territories, Glantri, Sind, Minrothad, the Isle of Dawn, Bellissaria, the City States of the Savage Coast, Hule, the Savage Baronies, Eusdria, Bellayne, Renardy, the Lizard Kingdoms and even Herath! Alphatia still have some as well as Shahjapur and the Milenian Empire in the Hollow World, though contacts with the outer world polymars are not possible and they are considered lost by the Group. However, they haven't access to all the sources they'd want, and the polymars scattered around the world are not as many as they need, so the picture they have has many holes and they know it. So far, only this lack of information has prevented them from accessing the highest positions in the major governments of Mystara: they need to find out everything their targets know and all their schemes before making their move to replace it, but this is not so easy even for master spies. This has slowed their master plan considerably, especially because the human nations seem to multiply every decade. This and the presence of a mysterious being that continues to haunt and battle them through the ages: the Red Hurricane...

But the polymars don't despair: after all they still wield a considerable power in the world and very few know or suspect of their machinations. And besides, they still have their Father who leads them, defying time and death like a true Immortal, the perfect example of what all polymars will become once they'll reach their goal and he will reward them with the secret of immortality. Indeed Novar still lives, though he is forced to enter a deep cataleptic slumber once each century, and can awaken only for a decade. He found out his tissues were debilitated after the Great Rain of Fire and that he required that slumber to regenerate them. However, he is not immortal and his body cannot sustain him for a great length of time nowadays: he cannot spend more than ten years every century in active state or else his body would decay and his mind die. So he sleeps in the Invisible City, guarded by the Group and his faithful sons, hoping that one day he will awake to find all humanity defeated and his revenge finally accomplished. That day he will use his weapon to immolate himself, resting forever in peace.

Polymars and Other Shapechangers

Polymars know of the existence of other polymorphing races and have contacts with some of them. Doppelgangers are believed to have descended from polymars affected physically by the radiations to turn only into humanoids. Doppelgangers are usually employed in two ways by polymars: as killers, because they have a natural knack for maiming people in stealth, and as scapegoats, when polymars don't want to be discovered and use doppelgangers to cover their tracks and be blamed for their crimes (obviously without the doppelgangers realising it until it's too late). Polymars know that doppelgangers' extremely selfish and malicious nature makes them unsuitable as long term allies and spies, so they rarely collaborate with them for long term goals.

Metamorphs (also called Metamorphosis) are also considered lowly relatives of polymars, who lost their superior shapechanging abilities due to the effects of the Glantrian catastrophe. They are a race of gentle and friendly individuals who shun humans not because they hate them but because they fear them, and thus are considered inferior and useless by most polymars. Others simply pity them but are on friendly terms with these pacific and solitary creatures. Normally, while doppelgangers are viewed as instinctive creatures that can be killed when they become dangerous for the polymars, rarely a metamorph is perceived as hostile to polymar society, so they are almost always left alone.

Finally, Baldandars, Adaptors and Randara are not related to Polymars in any ways, and few contacts exist with these races, mainly because each representative of its species has its own goals which not always fit into the polymar schemes. Quite the contrary: many times polymars find out that a baldandar or a randara is hiding inside one of their host communities and they have to dispose of it in order to accomplish their goals (and the reverse applies). When this happens, the unsuspecting community finds itself at the centre of a hidden war that usually provokes mysterious accidents and sudden deaths, which are often explained with the workings of fiends and other supernatural entities.