Aberrations and more await you within the pages of Lords of Madness! With this D&D accessory, you can learn more about aboleths, beholders, mind flayers, neogi, grell, Tsochari, and more. Additionally, PCs who wish to hunt these creatures can add new feats, spells, magic items, and grafts to their list of options. (Plenty of choices abound, so be prepared to start making even tougher decisions on what your character should do or get next!) Our sneak peek of this book includes a look at chuuls, beholder magic, mind flayer goals, neogi defilers, grell anatomy, Tsochari, half-farspawn, some sample feats, and a couple of prestige classes.
The Origin of the Chuuls
The monstrous, rapacious chuuls are a created race, brought into existence artificially through magic and science. Chuuls were created several hundred years ago by the archwizard and would-be emperor Ashranezr. A man of rare genius and ambition, he was also quite mad. Regarding himself as an incipient deity, he set his sights on nothing less than the conquest of the world.
Ashranezr first attracted notice because of his unique physical characteristics: He was half-man and half-sahuagin, but not by birth. Through self-surgery and magical techniques of his own devising, he had infused himself with the hardiness, strength, and savagery of the sea devils. None of his notes survived his demise, and he had no pupils or apprentices, so the exact process of transformation was lost with him. Most would judge that to be a good thing.
Ashranezr's home lay in an island chain, in an unknown location beneath the water. In his submerged stronghold, using the secret procedures perfected on his own body, he began experimenting with the breeding and alteration of other creatures. Strange, hybrid creatures were commonly seen in the vicinity of his lab for many years, but none were replicated in large numbers or caused much havoc. During those years, Ashranezr was considered to be an extreme eccentric, but not terribly dangerous. He kept to himself, and his odd creatures, while startling, were short-lived and shy. Nearby wizards' guilds gradually lost interest in Ashranezr's activities and left him completely alone. That was what he wanted.
At the culmination of decades of research and experimentation, Ashranezr bred the first chuuls -- part crustacean, part insect, and part amphibian -- to serve as terrifying warriors in the army of conquest he dreamed of creating. The chuuls were not Ashranezr's first creations, but they were his first true success. The chuuls were not simply altered from existing creatures. They were entirely new creations, with attributes and powers never before seen in natural creatures. At the beginning, the greatest obstacle was their short life span. Typically, one of Ashranezr's hybrid creatures would survive only a few months or a year before suffering fatal tissue decay. When the wizard found the solution for this problem, he didn't merely extend their lives to a normal duration. He hit upon a method that eliminated aging entirely. Barring violence, Ashranezr's creatures would live forever.
With his great breakthrough, Ashranezr's dreams of godhood reached fruition. He could (and did) easily make himself immortal. How could such a man bow to any mortal? What sort of position could the world offer a man such as Ashranezr? The only reward worthy of his genius was an honor that did not exist: to be emperor of the entire world.
The first step would be to create an army of chuuls. Ashranezr's soldiers could survive nearly anywhere, land or sea. They were terrifying and powerful, but the process of creating chuuls was slow and difficult. They could not be produced quickly or in great quantities. After about a century of steady work, he had assembled approximately six hundred chuuls. Ashranezr was a patient man, but not that patient.
Rather than continuing to build in complete secrecy, Ashranezr decided to put his six hundred chuuls to work. While he expanded his army, they aided his cause by disrupting the flow of daily life in nearby kingdoms and empires. The wizard sent his chuuls in teams to assassinate generals, attack shipping, raid coastal towns, and spread terror and chaos wherever they could.
It was a terrible miscalculation. While Ashranezr kept to himself, the world paid no attention to him. When he turned his monsters loose against his neighbors, it didn't take scholars long to rediscover what had been forgotten about the eccentric wizard who created abominable lifeforms from bits of numerous creatures and who had transformed himself into a part-man, part-fish monstrosity.
With his chuuls dispersed across the world looking for trouble, Ashranezr himself had little means of defending himself against the magical assault loosed against him. In only a few months his lair was located and stormed, and Ashranezr himself was slain in a magical onslaught. His chuuls, however, were still loose. They never received any instructions to desist. Unaware that their creator was dead, they continued wreaking havoc as ordered. Their depredations slowed down over the centuries as attrition and madness took their toll. The surviving chuuls now proceed cautiously. Some learned of Ashranezr's death and abandoned his program. Others abandoned their original instructions in order to pursue their own agendas. Some reverted to little more than clever but wild beasts, due to defects in their construction.
Of the six hundred first chuuls created by Ashranezr, perhaps two hundred have survived the centuries since their creator's destruction. Each one of these survivors is extraordinarily large, strong, clever, and cruel. From these first-born chuuls, generations of younger, lesser chuuls have spawned. (For game purposes, the first chuuls are advanced specimens of Huge size and maximum Hit Dice, while the succeeding generations are represented by the standard chuul in the Monster Manual.) Without the special procedures and infusions of Ashranezr's laboratories to strengthen them and extend their lifespan, these chuul-spawn are mortal, living little more than one hundred years. They lack the power of their specially bred forebears. However, they are far more numerous, and their numbers are slowly growing. While chuuls might never conquer the world as Ashranezr once dreamed, they have certainly brought terror, havoc, and death to many lands and waters.