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  1. DRAFT: Illthus

    Overview Illthus is a large planet in the backwater of the Grue Unity. The planet itself is 97 percent water, the tops of large underwater mountains form the insignificant land masses that dot it's surface. Flora and Fauna on these landmasses consist mostly of hardy plants able to survive the devastating storms that come with a planet of mostly water, and insectoid creatures and small mammals that make their homes in the caves of these small islands. The atmosphere is much thicker than most earth like planets, and the surface world is in a constant state of fog and cloud cover in most areas. Beneath the surface, Illthus is home to giant coral cities, rushing currentways that allow fast travel between these cities, and an abundance of marine life that is not easily quantifiable. All the intelligent life on the planet developed beneath the surface in the ocean, which explains the inordinate amount of time it took for the dominant species, Illthusians, to develop space travel. The predominant race that inhabits the planet today is the Illthusians, a race of bipedal creatures with a physiology similar to the earth Histioteuthis Heteropsis, or the Strawberry Squid. They have anywhere between 5-8 facial tentacles, and their skin is covered with pigment cells known as chromatophores, these allow them to change colors to communicate or to aid in camouflage, in fact the Illthusians spoke solely in a language of color change for millennia, until a written language was needed to record their history. As Illthusian society progressed beneath the waves the technology they developed relied on a mix of steam and geothermal power that was supplemented with Illthusian magic. This allowed the Illthusians to develop an advanced culture that was a mix of science and magic, and the ruling class was predominantly those with inherent magical abilities. Overtime the magical bloodlines became more and more dilluted, proliferating itself in smaller quantities throughout Illthusian society, however the Monarchy remained the ruling governmental system of the planet until the Grue Unity invasion and subsequent subjugation. Planetary Characteristics Illthus is a large planet, about twice the size of Earth. Its years are 423 Earth days long, and a day lasts for 33 hours. The atmosphere is dense and mostly consists of water vapor, keeping the surface temperature on the low side of inhabitable for earth species (around 20-55 degrees Farenheit). There are no continents and the small island land masses are separated by vast oceans that make travel between them prohibitive on the surface. Rules traits: The surface environment is inhospitable at best, the small islands are almost constantly wracked by violent storms, piloting any craft, aerial or otherwise is a dangerous proposition and requires a relatively difficult Pilot or Drive check of DC20. Travel from space to the inhabited world beneath the surface is mostly done via teleportation from a space station satellite orbiting Illthus. Illthus' atmosphere and gravity are within survivable norms for a Human, although the gravity is slightly higher than earth's at 1.02g. At the GM's discretion, tsunamis and hurricanes and tropical storms plague the planet surface. These will have a variety of Area effects at a variety of ranks, from Nullifying Electronics, to straight-up Blasts, Dazzle effects from blinding lightning, and large scale Obscure and Move Object effects from vast sea squalls and hurricanes. Fauna & Flora Save for a sparse spattering of hardy plants and insectoids living on the surface, most of the wildlife of Illthus is below the surface of the water. Many different species of fish, cephalopod, and marine reptile inhabit the underwater world. Finger Shark: A strange cephalopod and fish hybrid this creature looks much like a typical grey reef shark, but it’s mouth and face has several (upwards of a dozen) tentacle like protuberances. These protuberances have small mouth openings filled with six rows of sharpened small cartilage, much like shark’s teeth. The tentacles are used both for feeding and for feeling and digging for its prey in the ocean floor. The similarities between this animal, the Illthusians and several other marine species with facial protuberances has led some Illthusian scientists to the conclusion that the evolution of the creatures on Illthus may have been directed by an outside force like the Preservers. Scuttlefish: Illthusians aren’t the only species on Illthus with inherent magic traits. The scuttlefish is a strange creature that appears almost whale like due to it’s size and shape, but it’s head has a long flat disc that protrudes from behind it’s eyes like a horn, in every instance the disc is a perfect circle when measured and encompasses the entirety of the creature’s body. Somehow the scuttle fish is able to project blasts of kinetic energy from the ring, which it uses to destroy the structures it’s prey might hide in, hence it’s name. The devastation that can be wrought by a scuttlefish has led to the domestication of the creature as a riding animal/implement of war. Coralion: This structure resembles a tree made completely out of coral, and much like trees are home to many creatures that use it for food and habitation. These coral trees can grow to immense sizes, easily twice that of Redwood trees on earth, and many were the ancestral home of the Illthusians before they learned to shape coral growth into city structures. Still some use the Coralion for shelter, especially those that can not afford to live in the city proper, and those wishing to connect with their heritage. The School: The most dangerous and prolific predators of Illthus is known simply as “The School” these tiny fish swim in swarms that rival the size of some small cities and are made almost entirely of teeth. The only thing that these carnivorous nightmares can’t seem to eat through is an amalgam of coral and a metallic ore called Veridium that is native to Illthus. As such this composite known as Coridium lines the structure of all modern coral cities in Illthus, offering protection from The School when it’s mating season brings them within the inhabited parts of the deep. When two schools meet to mate it could be considered a fairly large natural disaster as the size of the school doubles and the voracious appetite of the creatures is compounded by their mating rituals, leaving large barren swaths of ocean floor littered with the fine dust that was once the skeletons of any hapless creature that happened to be in the path of The Schools. Illthusian Society Illthusians by nature were war-like, having constant skirmishes between small feudal states in its early development. With the harnessing of Illthusian magic came a dominant force however that brought the entirety of the race under the rule of a monarch. The rule of the monarchy was in many ways a stark dichotomy from the almost fatalistic pragmatism that Illthusians practiced beforehand. Living in such a hazardous environment led to a belief in utilitarianism that espoused function and benefit over any aesthetics. The Monarchy, having great powers in magic were seen as almost deific, and were worshipped in a way. Many monuments, ceremonies, and rituals were performed for their appeasement. Illthusian architecture also changed to incorporate both ideals. A beautiful (in Illthusian eyes) exterior combined with a spartan interior became the fashion, and this was modeled in everything from their philosophy, to the material they used to build said architecture (Coridium is opulent in looks, but serves a dire function of survival from The School). This monarchy lasted past the diffusion of magic throughout the populace, and would have lasted generations more if not for the invasion and subjugation of Illthus by the Grue Unity. The Grue conquered the Illthus with ease as the Illthusians were early in their development of space flight and had only traveled their own solar system, and had only colonized 2 of the 7 moons that orbited Illthus. Outmatched technologically, and no longer masters of magic as they once were, they were decimated by the invading forces. Under Grue rule Illthusian society has flourished to include many species and many new technologies, but the history and strength of the Illthusian people has stagnated and atrophied over the centuries. The thought of rebellion, the will to seek freedom has all but been eradicated from Illthus. This was most apparent when the last remaining member of the exiled royal bloodline led a doomed siege of Illthus in an attempt to free it’s people from Grue rule. The Illthusian people did not take the opportunity to attempt to overthrow their Grue masters and instead quietly watched as the fleet encircling the planet was destroyed. Many ships among the siege actually took the opportunity to plunder the water world and it’s moons, leaving destruction in their wake before making good their escape. This served as further proof to the Illthusian people that all hope for freedom was dead, and any would be saviors were actually just sharks in shrimp clothing, looking to devour or steal what they have cultivated. Notable Places Tempest Station: Not actually on the planet, this Space Station orbits Illthus and is the hub for most if not all commerce and travel to and from Illthus. This is also a "last stop" as it were before entering Grue space. As such the space station sees a lot of commerce for those willing to trade within the borders of such a dangerous nation. Tempest station is also home to a prolific black market that trafficks in both stolen/forbidden goods and the transport of prisoners or fugitives of the Grue Unity. Though often in disguise, many an outlaw or criminal can be found at the station, looking to sell their illegal wares or avoid the long arm of other space faring societies like the Lor Republic. Travel to and from Illthus is done from this station’s teleportation stations as direct travel to the surface is dangerous due to the constant storm activity. This station is run by the Grue Unity and has only a figurehead Illthusian official known as Curator Dor’Sall. Dor’Sall is nothing more than a lackey and dog of the Unity, having no empathy for the plight or cares of Illthusians as a whole, despite the station’s slogan as the “Jewel of Illthus.” Weather Lattice: Casting a wide net over the atmosphere of Illthus is the Weather Lattice, an interconnected web of telemetry probes that monitors the weather patterns of Illthus, this is used to predict storm patterns that may effect life beneath the surface as large enough storms can alter currents and temperature to vast degrees, it’s primary function, though is clandestine intelligence gathering of the populace. Each probe is outfitted with high tech sensors able to penetrate the waters and monitor the movements and activites of all denizens of the deep. The Grue keep this function secret, and only a select few Illthusian lackeys are entrusted with this secret and the operation of the Weather Lattice. The Hatchery: Before the Grue dominated Illthus there were thousands of Illthusian Hatcheries, one in every major city. However in an attempt to both control the population and breed out undesirable traits (such as magic) a great central Hatchery was built in the capitol of Marinus Voll, and all Illthusians that are born hatch from here, and have for centuries. Illthusians are not allowed to work in The Hatchery as the genetic alterations done by the Grue are kept in strict secret. Marinus Voll: The Capital city of Illthus, Marinus Voll is the center of Power of the Grue Unity and home to a staggering 40 percent of the world’s population. The City’s size is roughly that of the United States, but houses near to a billion residents. As such it is a very crowded city with many sections of poor or destitute familys. The largest of which is known as The Warrens and is roughly the size of Alaska and houses a quarter of all living Illthusians. For the most part the wealthier sections of the city were seized by Grue citizens centuries ago and barely resemble the beautiful masterpieces of coral growth architecture they once were. The ruling body of Illthus is in the geographical center of the city and resembles in shape the head of an Octopus, the waterways branch off from this center structure like tentacles, of which there are 10 major waterways with small branches protruding from them every few thousand feet. If seen from above the city itself looks like a massive, ten tentacle Octopus that lies dead and dessicated at the bottom of the sea. Illthusian Template: 14pp Stats: Str 10 (+0) Dex 14 (+2) Con 10 (+0) Int 10 (+0) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 10 (+0) 4pp Powers: Immunity 1 (Drowning) 1pp Swimming 1 1pp Additional limbs 3 (5 Facial Tentacles) 3pp Obscure 3 (Flaw: Touch Range; Ink Cloud) 3pp Super Senses 2 (Darkvision) 2pp 10pp Illthusian Adventure Hooks (Ideas for plots involving Illthus or it's peoples) A Hankering For Resources Following the beating The Grue took during The Communion invasion, The Unity is in need of replacement supplies. Ores for ships, technology, and fodder for their army. It is possible and even likely that The Grue Unity might decide to strip mine Illthus for it's Coridium to use in the making of ships, and draft it's citizens into it's war machine (more than they already do). A brave, and large group of powerful allies would be needed to free Illthus from Grue control and save it's peoples. The Transporter... In Space! The Tempest Station is sort of a way station in a galactic underground railroad that smuggles the slaves and wanted criminals of the Grue Unity to more acceptable areas of space. This is a great recruitment tool for the enemies of the Grue, and also a great set up for a rescue mission. A small group of heroes could be sent to Tempest Station to oversea the smuggling of said slaves or criminals, or perhaps the defection of a highly placed Grue intelligence officer with intel on the Grue that would be invaluable to a foreign power. Infiltrating the Unity Tempest Station also provides something that few other places do in the galaxy: preliminary access to The Grue Unity. It is possible that some spy types might wish to infiltrate the Grue Unity, posing as some official or ranking officer to retrieve intel to bring back to a foreign power.
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