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Okay, I'm getting back to work on this thing now that there seems to be some interest. I'll post up my Kubitt stuff in this thread as I work on it, both for feedback and for anyone to use. Though I mostly work with 3E stats these days, I'll also toss up some OD&D stats (and possibly 2E) here and there.
Kubitts Reimaginedby Andrew Theisen
A Brief History
A brief history and timeline of the Kubitts in the Outer and Hollow Worlds (still in progress):
- 2 BC: Governor Lucinius Trenzantenbium of Kerendas assassinates Alphatian wizards, declares himself King of Thyatis. The first Great War between Thyatis and Alphatia begins. (DotE, p. 6)
- 0 AC: Thyatian/Alphatian War is at a standstill. Economies of both nations wrecked. King Lucinius and Emperor Alphas VI conclude a peace treaty in the neutral city of Edairo on the Isle of Dawn. Lucinius returns to Thyatis with the kings of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands to conduct treaties with them; his chief general, Zendrolion, assassinates all three and, with the military's support, crowns himself Emperor Zendrolion I Tatriokanitas; his first activity is the conquest of the Pearl Islands and Ochalea. (DotE, p. 6)
- 12 AC: The Thyatians build a trading station called Cape Alpha in neutral territory on the Great Bay; this violates the Treaty of Edairo. (DotE, p. 6)
- 15 AC: Reavers from the Northern Reaches, paid by Alphatia, destroy the trading station at Cape Alpha; it is not rebuilt. (DotE, p.6)
- 20 AC: Emperor Zendrolion dies; his wife, Valentia the Justiciar, makes her Citizens' Proclamation. (DotE, p. 6)
- 50 AC: An Alphatian wizard, by magical experimentation with wood-imps and pixies, creates a small humanoid race he calls the Kubitts. They average a foot and a half tall; he gives them their name from an old Milenian word for the measurement a foot and a half. He makes them independent and strong, but when he tries to force them to perform deeds against their wishes, they rise up against him and kill him. The Immortal Vanya, smitten by these diminutive warriors, transplants the entire race to a hidden jungle valley in the Hollow World. (HW DM's Guide, p. 16)
(Dates are given in accordance with the Thyatian calendar, due to its pre-eminence in comparative Mystaran timelines.)
(Edit: I just noticed that the way I decided to fit this into the existing timeline negates Korubazunth as a Grand Councillor during the War; I'll have to go and fix that...)
At the turn of the century, the Empire of Alphatia was devastated by its costly war and occupation of Thyatis. In the wake of the disastrous ouster of Imperial Forces at the hands of General Trenzantenbium, the Treaty of Edairo was signed between the two nations, and the process of rebuilding began in earnest.
Even as the new Emperor, Alphas VI, attempted to restore the power of the imperial throne and to rebuild the corrupt Grand Council of Wizards, there were those who sought to profit from Alphatia’s weakened state. Some sought greater independence from the throne; others sought power over it; there were even those who still reeled at the Thyatian upstarts and hoped to regain territory lost to the barbarians far across the seas.
And then there was Korubazunth.
Korubazunth was a powerful wizard and a long-standing member of the Grand Council. Like many of his compatriots, he was largely uninterested in politics, and had remained neutral throughout the First Great War. He had avoided the temptations of zzonga addiction that plagued so many councilmen, consumed as he was with his own particular passion: the creation of simulacra.
Born and raised in Floating Ar, Korubazunth was educated in the traditional magical arts just as any Alphatian with the talent was. It was while on holiday in Ambur that he first became enamoured with the puppet shows he saw there; hand puppets, Ochalean shadow puppets, but most especially the Minaean string puppets. Though he noticed a few automata in some of these shows, the majority were either merely mundane constructs, either mechanically or (rarely) magically animated. He began to wonder at an entertainment provided entirely by magical constructs.
When he returned to school after the break, he found himself unable to tear his mind away from the concept. Increasingly, his studies turned to conjurations, then transmutations- he even dabbled a little in necromancy- all in the quest for the secrets to animating artificial lifeforms.
For his post-graduate studies, Korubazunth was accepted into Malebolge University, deep in the dark reaches of Blackheart. He barely passed the strict exams for admission, and feared the reputation of the university’s low commencement rate (and directly proportional high fatality rate), but Malebolge was- at the time- home to the Empire’s leading expert in fabricarcana- the art of making magical constructs. Korubazunth was willing to do whatever it took to learn from the best.
For years he soaked up all the knowledge he could learn about creating magical lifeforms, only to inevitably discard the usual forms as inadequate to his task. Golems were too lumbering and limited; homunculi too fragile; magen too costly. He needed something beautiful, yet enduring; flexile, but strong; compliant, yet adaptive.
Even as his obsession grew, Korubazunth’s heart hardened to the outside world. Several of his fellow students died in tragic accidents- summonings gone awry, thesis projects that blossomed out of control. The founders of Malebolge had hoped to create an institute in the vein of those of Old Alphatia. They had succeeded all too well. The program of study at Malebolge was designed to push the perfection of magic in all its forms as the ultimate end. Practicality, application, ethics- these were not secondary concerns; they were not concerns in the slightest. At times the lines between faculty and student blurred as the masters were overturned by the learners- or disposed of those who threatened their supremacy. It was even rumoured in some circles that the university itself was some kind of unnatural creature that fed on the unwary.
It was in this environment that Korubazunth was truly fostered. Any thoughts of entertaining others he might have had once faded into a singular purpose of designing a magical form that could mimic his childhood nostalgia. At this time he had no object beyond that; no goal. But the presentation of his final thesis loomed, and he had no breakthrough. The prospect of failure- and its likely fatal consequence- wore on him like a shroud.
The spirit of competition of the malevolent institute was Korubazunth’s inspiration. Mendred Snepus, a fellow student, was studying the effects of the great Ilmaryllian Blight upon the native fey creatures. When Korubazunth first laid eyes on the delicate forms of Snepus’ captive wood imps and pixies, he finally knew the form his project would- must- take. Regrettably, the cost of acquiring such specimens for himself were beyond his means, and certainly outside the budgetary parameters of his studies.
Tragically, Snepus was found murdered in his laboratory shortly afterwards. Some of the wood-imps had effected an escape from their bonds and turned on their captor. Before the creatures could be executed, Korubazunth submitted an effective appeal for their release into his custody. He had no fear that Snepus’ fate would be his own- after all, had it not been his own homunculus that had been responsible for the wood-imps freedom?
The passionate wizard continued his studies in a fever. He sought to create something that had not been done before- to merge the raw materials of the pixies and wood-imps with more traditional arcane materials used in the creation of golems and constructs to create a new form of life altogether. His deadline- figuratively and literally- raced ever nearer.
The Treaty of Edairo was broken in 12 AC, when Thyatians colonised the settlement of Cape Alpha in Norwold. The threat of war loomed once more over the Empire, and Alphas VI quickly moved to maintain the fragile status quo he’d barely begun to establish. If conflict were to break out once more, the new emperor feared he would not be able to furnish a suitable military body from his fragmented country. Alternative solutions were sought from his advisors and the Grand Council. Among these possible fallbacks was the creation of a construct militia. Such bodies had been employed by the Alphatian military machine in the past, but due to the expense and the relative mindlessness of most such creations, they were only small forces, with limited aims. Alphas VI sought something different.
Still struggling in vain to meet his graduation date, Korubazunth received a fortuitous (and unheard of) Imperial Reprieve. His work, as well as that of several known fabricarcanists, was viewed in a prospective light by Alphas VI. He was immediately given a rich grant from the Council and an unlimited time frame in which to develop his simulacra- though (ironically) with several strings attached. His work would need to be applied to military purposes; his laboratories were moved to a new, more secretive location (though still in Blackheart); and he would have assistants and handlers watching him. Korubazunth accepted these conditions mostly with grace- he no longer need fear for his life should he fail to complete his thesis (though the consequences of failure to the throne might not be much better), and he now had nearly unlimited resources to finish his research. The addition of military applications bothered him only a little- he had long since ceased to care about using his creations as entertainment. The one thing he did fear was that someone else might try to share- or worse yet hog- the credit for his creations. He secretly plotted ways to eliminate any possible rivals should that eventuality come about.
The crisis with Thyatis ended rather quickly and quietly. Northland pirates- paid handsomely by Alphatian agents- razed Cape Alpha to the ground in 15 AC. Emperor Zendrolion rattled his sabre at the slight, and skirmishing broke out across border territories on the Isle of Dawn, but war never truly broke out. Zendrolion died a few years later and was succeeded by his wife, Empress Valentia, who embarked upon a campaign of rebuilding and strengthening Thyatis in a manner similar to that with which Alphas VI hoped to achieve. The two empires settled back into an uneasy peace. Though his project continued to be funded, Korubazunth found that the imperial staff was gradually assigned elsewhere.
After several fits and starts, Korubazunth finally created what he’d sought after for so long. They were simulacra- living constructs; Korubazunth named them Kubitts, after an old Milenian word for the measurement of a foot and a half- which was the average size of the creatures. They were intelligent, and would follow orders given to them, but they also exhibited the ability to think for themselves and adjust to situations where they had no input from their handlers. The Kubitts were supernaturally strong and durable for their size, and could wield weapons and wear clothing designed for their tiny forms. They could also make themselves appear as lifeless as the dolls and marionettes they were created to resemble. Even better, the Kubitts proved capable of self-reproduction- not in a human manner, but through a curious process that resembled nothing so much as that of a puppet-maker; the parents would build the form of their progeny, and then donate certain parts of their own forms to it, bringing it to life.
Korubazunth presented his creations formally to the Emperor and Grand Council. Though many were impressed by his efforts, they were ultimately deemed unfit and unnecessary to the Alphatian rebuilding efforts, which had largely turned away from the military at this time. Only slightly chastened at the reaction, Korubazunth returned with his creations to Blackheart, to ponder what to do now that his life’s obsession was fulfilled.