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Service to the Outer Beings:by Geoff Gander
Although the Outer Beings are tremendously powerful entities, they are not without need of servants, to assist them in their foul plans. Sealed away in prison dimensions between the stars untold millennia ago, they are unable to work their evil deeds in the Prime Plane, and would be resigned to infiltrating the dreams of selected individuals, or partially manifesting aspects of themselves when the stars are in their proper alignment, and the barriers between dimensions are weakened.
Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for the Prime Plane, the Outer Beings do have a resource, upon which they rely heavily - their willing servants. These creatures, human, demihuman, or utterly inhuman, all have one thing in common: they have pledged eternal servitude to the Outer Beings, to serve their masters' aims, and to work towards their eventual freedom. Service to these noisome beings is not easy to enter, and it is impossible to leave.
To pledge service to the Outer Beings and their goals, one must first acquire lore of them. This is, in itself, an almost impossible task, but those who are psychologically inclined to such service, or those who have been deemed by the Outer Beings to be useful, will find themselves contacted in some manner. It can come in the form of a dream, or a cryptic note passed under one's door, or a face-to-face meeting with a Servant. In any case, the prospective servant is contacted, and he or she is told of the Outer Beings' power, and how, in exchange for eternal devotion, they will make the person strong, respected, and above all, all of his or her dreams will come true. This message is usually phrased in the most suggestive manner, in such a way as to make it extremely enticing. In every case, the prospective servant in studied for several weeks beforehand; the recruiter learns what the person likes and dislikes, and what he or she wants out of life. Afterwards, the prospective Servant is promised their heart's desire.
Attaining the status of Servant can be done only after 1d2 days of intense study with a recruiter, after which, at midnight, the new Servant recites the following oath:
"I do eternally pledge my Will and my Life to the Service of the Divine Masters,
They Who Watch and Wait from Beyond.
Never shall I speak ill of Them,
Never shall I disobey Their Thoughts, Words, or Deeds.
Their Wishes are my Wishes,
Should my Faith or my Service falter,
They shall strike me down for my impudence.
Glory to the Shadow, Glory to Those Who Exist Beyond the Stars,
Let the Light pass from the Land."
After the last syllable is pronounced, the Outer Beings send the tiniest fragment of their essence through the vault of space, down to the new Servant. This process is exceedingly painful, and lasts for 1d4 minutes. The new Servant must make a Save vs. Death Ray, or suffer 2d10 points of damage. Once completed, the tiniest flicker if dim green light appears in the new Servant's pupils - the mark of service of the Outer Beings - and the person's alignment switches to Chaotic within a week. Thus inducted into the Service, the new Servant then joins the local cabal, and follows his or her leader in the service of the Outer Beings. It should be noted that merely reciting the oath, without having studied with a recruiter, and without having a desire to serve the Outer Beings, will not make the reciter a Servant. It will, however, attract the attention of the Outer Beings, who, in their anger, will curse the impudent mortal with a -5 penalty on all attack, damage, and saving throw rolls until a remove curse spell is cast by a cleric of level 15 or higher.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Service:
There are a few benefits and penalties to being a Servant. Among the benefits are a prolonged lifespan (the Servant's lifespan is extended by 20%); the ability to sense the presence of other Servants within five miles, and to telepathically communicate with those within one mile; the ability to cast shield and cause fear once per day; and the ability to wield items and weapons crafted by the power of the Outer Beings without harm. Servants also develop the ability to speak, write, and understand the Carnifex tongue, which is the language used during meetings.
There are several penalties associated with Service, as well. Servants belonging to the various PC races, for some unknown reason, are affected by holy water, taking damage as regular undead when in contact with it. The substance known as evilbane essence, however, is lethal to all Servants. Those in contact with this substance must make a Save vs. Poison at a -2 penalty or die. Finally, those spells and weapons devoted to the destruction of the Outer Beings and their servitor races, such as many of those of Old Lhomarr, will have full effect upon willing Servants of the Outer Beings.
Rewards and Punishments:
As a final note, the Outer Beings keep watch constantly over their Servants, giving them orders in their dreams, and occasionally "rewarding" them with their "gifts". Such gifts can include seeing the Outer Beings in their true forms, or the dimensions they inhabit. Although partially inured to chaos and evil, the mere sight of the Outer Beings is sufficient to drive even the most fanatical Servant to the depths of insanity. Such Servants are viewed by their cabals as "blessed", and their fevered mutterings are taken as the Word of the Outer Beings themselves.
Even more fearsome are the physical "improvements" the Outer Beings have been known to give their most devoted Servants. For years of devoted Service, Servants could receive such "gifts" as tentacled appendages, wings, hideous bone-like armour all over their bodies, and other such things. In most cases, these are given to strong warriors devoted to the Outer Beings, to increase their strength or their durability, and to instil horror in their enemies. Again, such Servants are considered "blessed" by their cabal, and their words are given greater weight.
Just as the Outer beings grant power, so they can take it away. If a Servant falters in his or her Service to the Outer Beings, and they know of it (a 90% chance that they were observing the malefactor), they will immediately strip him or her of any powers, but not hideous gifts, that were granted, and the image of all the Outer Beings is burned into the person's brain. Cut off from the Outer Beings' essence that was granted when the oath was sworn, the failed Servant begins to age rapidly, and will die within a week. All the while, the former Servant will see the Outer Beings in the corner of their vision, driving them mad. After death, the former Servant's spirit travels to the prison dimension of the Outer Beings, there to endure eternal torment - even the chaotic Immortals are denied ownership of these souls. Being fickle, the Outer Beings sometimes vary in terms of what they consider to be a failure in Service, and what was once punished might now be allowed, only to be a punishable act in the future once more.
Contrary to the whispered lore of the sages of Selhomarr, Niscosenia, and other lands that know of the Outer Beings, worship of these evil creatures is considerable. In any given urban centre of 20,000 people or more, roughly one in every 10,000 people will be a Servant of the Outer Beings, serving in the local cabal. Each large city will have only one cabal, and Servants moving between cities, thanks to their abilities, will always know whether a given settlement has a cabal or not, and will therefore be able to join a new one without attracting attention. Thus, there are known followings of the Outer Beings in the Known World in such nations as Darokin, Glantri, Thyatis, and Karameikos. There could also be a small following in the Heldannic Territories, but, due to the eternal vigilance and attitude of the Heldannic Knights, being a Servant in that nation would be almost suicidal.
Cabals themselves are strictly hierarchical, being under the guidance of a leader. Under the leader, there are only Servants, graded in terms of seniority, the number of gifts they possess, and level of devotion. Junior Servants must obey their superiors without question, and disobeying a senior Servant is almost, but not quite, akin to disobeying the Outer Beings. Being in command, cabal leaders are granted a greater measure of the Outer Beings' power than their fellow Servants, but this could easily be taken away, and granted to someone else, if their usefulness in the eyes of those evil creatures is lessened.