|“||I dare not sleep, for in my dreams that song haunts my ever step. I hear it in the breath of others, in the chirping of birds, in the rustle of leaves, that damned song muttering in the background. The only way to silence it, to get some peace and quiet... is to silence... everything...||”|
|—Omerta Endecha, Half-Elf Bard, Diary of the famous bard Omerta|
Summary::Algollied, the Melody of Death, a sentient song whose presence drives its listeners mad. Those who hear it become unable to hear anything else, deafening them to anything but the song, and then preventing them to do anything but sing the terrible song until its victim dies of grief and exhaustion. A song born of sorrow, viral and cruel, a determined to have its creators final wish fulfilled: to let every being in existence know his sorrow.
The nature of the melody of death has had many creation stories, a tale told from long ago of an artist and his sorrows. The details vary, some posing that the artist was a deity of music who had rivals within the pantheon, others say he was a mere mortal man who angered the gods, or fell through some act of hubris. Whatever the story, the basics remain the same; a bard existed whose music was the most beautiful, the most pure and wonderful music of all time, leagues ahead of its age. He had wealth, he had health, love and all the things one wished in life, and was well on his way to completing his opus magnum. But through the acts of cruel fate or some terrible rival, all he had was lost and ruined, the man hounded, and finally slain by an ineffable evil force that tore him apart. (Knowledge History DC 28)
In that moment he passed death and tasted undeath as a bodak, where he roamed the earth causing suffering as bodaks are ought to do. However during his rage, he found something that sparked a memory within him so potent, reminding him of his unfinished opus and all the loss that he suffered. At once he set out to find and finally complete his opus, changing the ending to fit an end as he had suffered, a final empathic act towards the world before the madness of undeath overtook his mind again. And so he retreated to some far corner in the deepest shadow, far away from all others, to work upon the song. (Knowledge History DC 34)
And so the opus was completed, but perhaps because he had distanced himself so, or perhaps his evil had corrupted him so, the song was distorted, beautiful yet horrifying all the same. As he sung the lyrics back to himself, it triggered something terrible. The magic of his song resonated with the sorrow in his dead heart and desire for justice, and lived, claiming the artist itself as its first victim. Since then, the song has been said many times, the original playbook and its copies performed many times, and each time those who sung or heard it came unto a terrible ruined, until the work was known as cursed and forbidden. Yet the song will not go unheard, and the universe is vast. It only needs to start with one idle note... (Knowledge History DC 40)
The song wishes to be heard, wishes to be sung, so all may know its creator's final work and that those which wished to silence the bard may fail and in doing, justice served. (Knowledge Arcana DC 28) However it is uncaring and nearly mindless in its actions, interested only in spreading and not in the survival of those it touches. (Knowledge Arcana DC 36) While it is rumored that once the entire multiverse had heard the song only then the song will stop and release its hold on the universe, its just as likely that it would seal the fate and cause the extinction of all sentient life in the universe. (Knowledge Arcana DC 40)
Algollied in the Campaign Edit
It is uncertain the nature of the bardic magic used, but one aspect is clear. The song was tuned to the position of the stars and the rotation of the cosmic bodies above. It seems tied to the star Algol and its brightness. Every 182 years its presence grows stronger, and if the songbook had been previously lost it manifests once more upon the prime material, only to fall into the hands of a hapless mortal who will become its host and begin the cycle anew.
A possible campaign arc follows, complete with Encounter Levels so you may design adventures for the PCs and include various events that foretell the song's influence in the world.
EL 5: An up and coming bard named Omerta has gained a great deal of fame after some stunning performances, rising from nothing to superstar in short order. However it seems his fame has attracted the wrong kind of attention and "lunatics" are out to kill him. Omerta hires the PCs as bodyguards to keep him safe until the police investigate and arrest those responsible. Everything seems legitimate, and as far as can be told his opposition is just some wild cult who believes his music is evil. Once the danger is defeated Omerta thanks the PCs and retains friendly, if distant, relationships with them as his fame spreads into other planes.
EL 10 (Faint Sign): Omerta is known worldwide as a popular and famous singer, and as one might expect from there he has a following, some who seem obsessive. When word leaks of his magnum opus being developed and the song hidden somewhere obscure, it leads to several fanatical fans breaking in and stealing works from places they all suspect (unsuccessfully) where the song may be hidden, as well as rivals who wish to find his secrets and employ a similar song of their own. This leads to several incidents and small riots. Omerta publicly denounces those who would do such a thing, but even the negative publicity gives him more attention than ever. He announces a new concept, a performance that the entire multiverse can hear, matching up with the debut of his new opus.
EL 15 (Moderate Sign): Omerta's fame goes planar, and with it his friends and enemies. Noticing more and more of their troops falling victim to the "foolish warbling of a mortal", several powerful fiends begin to work their way to remove Omerta. Omerta capitalizes on the opposition, showing how his music has brought (relative) peace to the war-torn and normally heartless lower planes. In order to help spread his music and in doing so, influence more fiends into complacency he asks for the PCs aid in completing an arcane device that will project his song over a wide area evenly. The PCs aid him, while fiendish lords go to stop what they consider a weapon against their inherent vileness. Around this time, the PCs hear rumors of the same cultists from earlier, this time in a mad bid to build an "ark" to travel into the Plane of Vacuum, "the only place where it will be safe".
EL 18 (Strong Sign): Distressed over the growing fanaticism of his fanbase, Omerta enlists the PC's help as bodyguards again while he and his aids locate the ObservatoriumMotP where with his magical devices created before, he should be able to transmit sound to every plane in existence, where he certainly has an eager and willing audience waiting for him. The PCs encounter the cult again, who first offer the PCs refuge upon their ark, then are forced to try and break through in their bid to stop Omerta, who they say is false, using his unnatural fame as proof. If it fails to convince the PCs then, they will be convinced once Omerta has reached his goals, where he will force the PCs to leave him along within the moving demiplane either through diplomacy, charming, or physical force. Once successful, Omerta is safe from assault while he begins his long and dangerous song which will end the earth, using the Observatorium's inherent planeshifting powers to keep him untouchable and hidden, while he has access to the universe.
EL 20 (Overwhelming Sign): The song has begun to play, long, terrible, maddening. The PCs must find the location of the Observatium while mind-warped fanatics of Omerta try to stop them from preventing the completion of the song. The cultists who remain take off, in hope that the silence in the vacuum is enough to keep them safe until the world has died and they return to try and rebuild what has been lost.
As nothing more then sentient sound, Algollied has no corporeal body to witness, but it can be felt, and it can be heard. In a sense the original playbook, which has a way of always returning even if utterly destroyed, may be its true body. Those it takes on as hosts also count as parts of its form. However, in times of duress and when directly threatened, it may transform its host into a living incarnation of the song. In such a state it is a translucent being made visible by the constant sonic distortions in its spherical body, with a core deep within it glowing with distorted red light. A barely visible swirling gray mist within its form reveals the shape of dozens of tortured singing mouths and eyes which cry its deadly song. Tentacles of sound lash out and dig into the earth, its cacophonic cries signalling death.
The song is a true brown note, causing those who hear it to go mad, slowly preventing them from hearing anything but the song, haunting their thoughts, and finally causing them to sing. The song continues until they perish of exhaustion, and in extreme cases even long after they have died...
Faint: Those who hear the song begin to hear it all over, even when it is not playing. People must succeed on a DC 5 Listen check whenever spoken to or attempting to hear something actively. Failure means they heard nothing but the song playing in their head, causing them to blank out from possibly critical information.
Moderate: The mimetic song occurs more frequently, raising the Listen DC to 15. Those who fail the check are treated as being one step friendlier to the current host of Algollied for 24 hours. This is an extraordinary mind-affecting effect.
Strong: The desire to sing the song within your head becomes difficult indeed. Every time a creature vocalizes it must resist the urge to sing or hum fragments or entire sections of the song. Each week all intelligent creatures must make a DC 10 Will save or take 1 point of Wisdom drain, as exposure slowly drains their sanity. Those reduced to 0 Wisdom do nothing but sing until their bodies no longer are able to take it and they pass out or otherwise hurt themselves. The Listen DC to hear the words of other rises to DC 25, and those effected treat the host as two steps friendlier.
Overwhelming: The urge to sing becomes almost impossible to resist. At this point even the corpses of those affected continue to sing long past death, resulting in graveyards in a hellish underground chorus. To say anything at all, including spellcasting with vocal components, the creature must succeed on a Will save DC 25 simply to speak. Each creature must avoid wisdom drain each day, rather than each week, and the wisdom drain rises to 1d6. The listen DC to hear others rises to DC 35, and the charming effect of the song causes the creature to be three steps friendlier.
Malefic Properties Edit
Anathematic Secrecy: Immune to all divine divination spells and effects.
Discord and Woe: Incite killing rage in living creatures.EE
Encounter Information Edit
|Size/Type:||Large Outsider (Evil, Incorporeal, Psionic)|
|Hit Dice:||30d8+240 (375 hp)|
|Speed:||fly 60 ft. (perfect)|
|Armor Class:||41 (+12 deflection, +10 dex, +4 inertial armor, +6 profane, -1 size), touch 41, flat-footed 19|
|Attack:||Phantomic Lash +39 touch (10d6, 19-20/x2)|
|Full Attack:||Phantomic Lash +39 touch (10d6, 19-20/x2)|
|Space/Reach:||10 ft./10 ft.|
|Special Attacks:||Corrupt Bardic Music, Possession, Psionics|
|Special Qualities:||Apocalyptic Chorus, Blindsense 500 ft., Damage Reduction 20/epic and good, Darkvision 120 ft., Energy Resistance Cold/Electric/Fire 20, Immune to Acid and Sonic, Low-Light Vision, Pathos Opus, Regeneration 20, Force of Will, Sonic Body, Spell Resistance 41, Telepathy 1000 ft., Tomb Tainted, True Seeing|
|Saves:||Fort +29, Ref +29, Will +35|
|Abilities:||Str -, Dex 30, Con 22, Int 21, Wis 15, Cha 35|
|Skills:||Bluff +45, Concentration +39, Diplomacy +45, Gather Information +45, Intimidate +49, Knowledge Arcana +38, Knowledge Local +38, Knowledge Nobility +38, Perform (any) +45, Sense Motive +35, Spellcraft +38, Tumble +43, Use Magic Device +45|
|Feats:||Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Improved ToughnessCW, Improved Critical (Phantomic Lash), Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Epic Fortitude, Epic Will, Spellcasting Harrier, Epic Toughness|
|Environment:||Any but the Plane of Vacuum|
|Organization:||Unique, often surrounded by various CR 12 for higher thralls.|
|Advancement:||31-60 HD (Large), 61-90 HD (Huge)|
As you defeat the sinister bard he crumples, letting off a terrible death scream. Finally your task is over... yet the scream lingers in the air, echoing around you, growing louder and louder. Your eyes can barely make out the image of a swirling distortion, a dull red light eminating from its center, hidden by whisps of black clouds and glassy refractions in the shape of a dozen mouths screaming for your death. And the noise... never... goes away...
Algollied is a living song and barely has form of its own, instead appearing as a roughly spherical sonic storm vibrating rapidly around a glowing core of crimson light. Within its form are dozens of mouths which constantly sing its death song, managing to sound hauntingly beautiful and damningly cacophonous all at once. Always hidden within its host that it possesses, it only shows its true form when its body has been destroyed for good and there is no time to obtain another. It has but one goal in life, and that is to spread it's deadly song until the entire universe has heard it, even though hearing it is ultimately fatal.
Algollied speaks and understands all languages, but its many voices, constant singing, and apparent madness never allow anything coherent to escape. It avoids the plane of vacuum entirely, and it is possible that the plane would kill Algollied, or at least suppress it, for as long as it was forced to remain there.
Algollied always appears from the fallen body of its host upon its death, manifesting 1d4 rounds later, and often getting its opponents by surprise and already weakened, a state it is glad to abuse. It immediately employs three bardic music abilities, then uses its spell-like abilities while relying on its incorporeal nature to protect it from serious harm. It often attempts to disable or render at least one target helpless for possessing, preferably bards or other charismatic characters. It shuns silence, and while it can override the effects of non-epic silence, it prefers to avoid them.
Apocalyptic Chorus (Ex): The swirling mouths constantly emit a baleful song with the voices of all those corrupted by its memetic sound. It is capable of maintaining three bardic music songs at once, and its song and sonic effects bypass silence and similar effects (however those inside the area of effect get a bonus to saving throws against Algollied equal to the spell level, +3 in the case of the silence spell). Only epic spells which create a silence effect can silence Algollied. Regardless of what song is currently being sung, the other mouths constantly emit a mind-numbing din which grants Algollied an aura of mind-control out to 500 feet. Those in the effect must make a Will save DC 37 against the effect of charm monster. This is an extraordinary mind-effecting affect, and the saving throw is Charisma based.
Corrupt Bardic Music (Su): Algollied has all the bardic music capabilities of a 30th level bard. It is capable of beginning anywhere between one, two, or three bardic music abilities all in one swift action, and has no limit on the number of times it may use bardic music. Beyond its bardic abilities it may also start any of the unique songs detailed below. All musical effects are DC 37 when a saving throw is called for, and the saving throws are Charisma based.
- Sturm und Drang: Each round creatures within 60 feet of Algollied take 3d6 sonic damage, no save. As a swift action Algollied can end this song, and release a powerful blast of sonic energy which deals 15d6 sonic damage and being permanently deafened in a 60 radius foot burst centered on Algollied, with a Fortitude save for half damage and to negate the deafening. In addition, creatures are blown back to the edge of the radius, a successful save negates the movement.
- Lagrimas de Saudade: Creatures within 60 feet of Algollied have their voices stolen from them, preventing them from talking or using spells with vocal components for as long as they are in range, no save. As a swift action, Algollied can end this song to have one target within 60 feet lose their voice permanently with a Will save to negate. The loss of voice is a curse which can only be removed by limited wish, wish, miracle, or a remove curse of a 31st level caster or higher.
- Blue Sehnsucht: Each round creatures within 60 feet of Algollied feel a crippling depression coming over them, causing a cumulative -1 morale penalty to attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws, no save. The penalty goes away by 1 point for each round they spend outside of Algollied's range of the song. As a swift action, Algollied can end this song to break someone's spirit and send them into the throes of suicide. A creature within 60 feet must make a Will save or immediately use their next turn to coup de grace themselves with the most effective means available. If somehow restrained or unable, they cower for 1 round. This is a supernatural mind-effecting affect. If the morale penalty from the song reaches -10 or lower, the creature is automatically subjected to this forced suicide attempt every round until their morale penalty rises above -10, or they die.
- Weltschmerz Cry: Each round creatures within 60 feet of Algollied must make a Will save or take 2 points of Wisdom damage, as they slowly lose the will to resist. Creatures reduced to 0 wisdom immediately become thralls of Algollied, their wisdom damaged healed but utterly under the control of Algollied until Algollied is defeated. Otherwise it is only curable by a miracle or wish. As a swift action, Algollied can end this song and cause a creature within 60 feet to suffer the effects of the insanity spell of such potency that even on a succeessful Will save, the creature is confused for 1 round.
- Fugue de Schadenfreude: Algollied shields itself in destructive notes, causing harm to all that touch it. There is no aura effect, but anyone striking Algollied in melee with a non-reach weapon takes 5d6 points of sonic damage. Algollied is completely immune to ranged physical attacks short of siege weapons in this state. As a swift action, Algollied can end this song and surround itself in a spiritual maelstrom of force and sonic energy, rendering it completely immune to attacks for 1 round. However, it cannot attack, have its songs effect creatures (though it may maintain them), or otherwise effect any creature other than itself. It often uses this as an escape plan. Unlike other songs, it cannot render itself invincible for 2 rounds in a row, requiring a 1 round cooldown before it can end its song again.
Pathos Opus: Algollied is inevitably tied to the presence of the major artifact known as the Pathos Opus. It acts as a sort of phylactery for the elder evil, allowing it to respawn in 1d10 days if defeated. Only by destroying the Pathos Opus or ejecting it into a place Algollied cannot manifest safely such as the Plane of Vacuum will prevent Algollied's return. And yet still somehow every three generations or so, it seems to find its way back into existing, even from utter destruction...
Possession (Ex): As a standard action, Algollied can attempt to possess a creature within 60 feet, DC 37 Will save negates. A creature which makes their save is immune for 24 hours. If the creature is willing or helpless, there is no saving throw. While possessed, Algollied loses its physical form and enters the body of the possessed. It can make its presence subtle, making the subject believe they are not possessed at all, and have full abilities as they previously had. However at any time Algollied can force a Will save to make the possessed victim perform an action, succees means they are immune to that particular request for 24 hours, failure will have them perform it and attempt to justify it as their own idea. At any point in the possession (usually once its host body becomes suspicious that not all his actions are his own), Algollied can assume direct control with the same Will save. When this occurs Algollied has access to all of the host's abilities, but uses Algollied's skills, normal bardic music (but not his unique corrupt music), psionics, mental ability scores, alignment, and effective HD of the creature for the purpose of determining spells and DCs based on your HD.
Removing Algollied from a possessed creature is difficult as while within a body, Algollied is effectively untargetable. Killing the host releases Algollied into physical form, as does a successful exorcism attempt. Wish and miracle may be used, but have SR and a Will saving throw apply. Algollied employs this at all times when possible, staying in natural form to combat opponents only. It is also capable of possessing creatures who play the song contained in the Pathos Opus, regardless of the distance of planar orientation of where Algollied and the Pathos Opus are. Creatures possessed by Algollied are difficult to spot. It takes a DC 50 Sense Motive check to determine something is wrong, and DC 25 if Algollied has assumed direct control.
Psionics (Ps): At will - attraction, aura alteration, brain lock, conceal thoughts, control air, control body, control light, control sound, correspond, create sound, deja vu, detect remote viewing, disable, empathy, empty mind, energy ray (sonic only), false sensory input, far hand, forced share pain, hostile empathic transfer, mind thrust, psionic charm, psionic daze, psionic greater teleport, psionic suggestion, sense link, read thoughts, telempathic projection; 3/day - death urge demoralize, energy wave (sonic only), fate link, mass cloud mind, mind probe, mindwipe, psionic blast, psionic dominate, schism, shatter mind blank; 1/day - affinity field, decerebrate, empathic feedback, metaconcert, microcosm, mind seed, personality parasite. Manifester level 30th. The saving throws are Charisma based.
Sonic Body (Ex): Algollied is little more than a swirling ball of sound and souls, being both incorporeal and transparant. It takes a DC 40 Spot check to see Algollied, and see invisibility and true seeing do not reveal it, though effects such as glitterdust which light up or illuminate its body do work. If a creature passes through Algollied's square, they automatically take 5d6 points of sonic damage, and likewise if Algollied passes through the squares of other creatures it also deals this damage. Algollied will sometimes employ this on purpose as a battle tactic, though it provokes attacks of opportunity for moving through enemy squares as normal (and vice versa).
Tomb Tainted (Ex): Algollied, while a living being in the rough sense of the word, is powered through negative energy like its undead creator. It is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy.