The Drowned Library
I don’t know about you, but, to me, there’s few things more horrible than the destruction of books. The Abyss is a realm of unremitting horror, so…
The power struggles among the demons of the Abyss are legendary, though their names cannot be mentioned due to the Rites of K’hopee. Nonetheless, while his power is now somewhat diminished, in the time of primordial chaos, the fabled Lord of Ooze was much stronger, and at one point scored a decisive victory over the dread Goat-Headed Ruler of the Undead, taking from him a private realm where he had kept a massive collection of forbidden and blasphemous tomes. The Slime Lord’s victory was short lived, though, and while he was beaten back, the plane itself was left tainted by his omnipresent corruption, and it was abandoned as well, becoming a forgotten backwater of the Abyss. Strange magics persisted, though, and the realm has recently been rediscovered, and while demons of any power do not care for it, many mortals seeking the darkest secrets of the arcane have begun to venture into its murky wastes.
Picture the grandest library you can — a massive complex of marble and iron, of granite and dark glass, a mausoleum maze dozens or hundreds of miles across, filled with twisting shelves and curious reading rooms, with desks of screaming wood and chairs coated in manskin leather. Now imagine this place, already a bastion of corruption, darkened further, its every surface coated with dripping acidic slime, books half-dissolved and rendered illegible, and things shuffling through the halls and rooms, things torn between memories of servitude to one master and the imposed will of another, now both long gone. Add to this wandering parties of the powerful and insane, who come here from many different mortal worlds, seeking knowledge lost for aeons. Such is the Drowned Library.
There are many reasons for heroes, as well as villains, to come here — to seek knowledge of a black ritual so as to counter it, to destroy the last known copy of a forbidden work, or to stop some madman from finding out things he was not meant to know. There are no guarantees that what you desire will be intact, of course — much of what is here is partially or completely destroyed. But even fragments of these diabolical relics can reveal much.
Allegedly lost among the countless ruined and wrecked books here is The Desudain Codex, a book of dread secrets about the Far Realm.
The Desudain Codex (Paragon Tier)
This great book can barely be held in two hands by a strong man. It is best not to think about the materials used for the bindings or the pages. The words seem to writhe and twist whenever you do not look directly at them. Large portions of the lower half of the book are covered with an unremovable slime that renders reading impossible, but even those fragments which remain are enough to drive men mad.
Body Slot: Implement. The Codex acts as a +3 Implement for any Arcane wielder. It adds an additional +1 to damage for any Star Pact warlock power. Because of the size of the Codex, it must be wielded in both hands.
Property: The wielder gains a +2 to Arcane checks, and an additional +2 to any monster knowledge checks regarding any creature with the Aberrant keyword.
Power (Encounter) Immediate Interrupt. Trigger: You are included in an attack made by a creature with the Aberrant keyword. Effect: You are not included in the attack. The creature may not change targets based on this fact.
Power (Daily) Short Rest: You may use the book to make a divination. You must expend a healing surge to do so. This acts as a casting of the Hand Of Fate ritual, except no expenditure of resources is required and it takes only 5 minutes. You can do nothing else during this short rest.
Goals Of The Desudain Codex
The ultimate goal of the Codex is to corrupt its reader and bring the strange creatures of the Far Realm into the Mortal Realm. It seeks to pass on its knowledge to others, so that strange cults and societies will spring up to keep its teachings alive. It originally comes from a world pulled entirely into the Far Realm, and it wishes to spread that fate to others.
Roleplaying the Desudain Codex
The codex reveals its will through cryptic messages it writes into itself as its owner studies it. It will seemingly communicate with its owner, opening itself to an appropriate page or drawing a symbol or map as required. It will try to lead its owner to places where the Far Realm is strongest — if the owner needs a magic item, it will lead him to one in a lost temple where he will perhaps be tricked or cajoled into performing some ritual to weaken the boundaries between this world and the Realm. Always, it will show its owner strange visions and terrible portents.
| Owner Gains A Level
| Owner aids or befriends an Aberrant creature (Max 1/day)
|Owner makes a knowledge check to identify an Aberrant creature. (Max 1/Day)
|Owner kills an Aberrant creature. (Max 1/Encounter)||-1|
| Owner summons an Aberrant creature from the Far Realm (Max 1/Day)
| Owner closes or destroys a portal to the Far Realm
| Owner mutilates or scars himself (Permanent -1 to Charisma for each such action)
The codex has taught you all it can, and it is preparing to move on. However, it has not yet found the right time to leave, and so, you can still glean a few bits of knowledge from it.
I see… I see it all! The perfect clarity of perfect madness… it is all so right!
Property: The bonus to Arcana checks increases to +6.
Property: You gain a -5 penalty to Diplomacy checks against all but Aberrant creatures; you gain a +5 bonus to all Charisma based skills when dealing with Aberrant creatures.
Power:Daily, Standard Action: You may summon an Aberrant creature of a level equal to your own -2 to aid you for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma bonus (minimum 1). This creature is free-willed and will act according to its own judgment, but it will not directly harm you or your allies unless attacked first. It will be inclined to serve your goals but will do so in keeping with its own nature.
This sigil… it suddenly makes sense! Oh, what a fool I was!
The codex has shown you so much… so much… but there are yet more secrets you must take from it. It hopes it can lure you to greater acts on behalf of its true masters.
Property: The bonus to Arcana checks increases to +4.
Property: You gain a -2 penalty to Diplomacy checks against all but Aberrant creatures; you gain a +2 bonus to all Charisma based skills when dealing with Aberrant creatures.
Power: Encounter, Move Action: Realmstep. You may teleport up to 8 squares.
Power:At-Will, Minor Action: Spend a healing surge. Realmstep recharges.
There is knowledge here… but it is so hard to understand!
The Codex must lead you into its depths in small steps, training you with each reading.
This… this blasphemous writing, these foul ideas… they cannot be true… can they? Perhaps one more reading…
The Codex is frustrated at the owner’s lack of understanding. It will show him how wrong his perceptions of the world truly are…
Property: You take a -2 penalty to all Insight and Perception checks.
Special: Any time you fail a Perception check, you suddenly realize that all it wrong with the world, and you are dazed for one round.
Angered (0 or Less)
I must cast it into the fire! But it will not burn! It will not burn!
The Codex has decided you are useless; you cannot be taught to see the truth. It leaves you with a final gift of madness.
Property: You take a -5 penalty to all Insight and Perception checks.
Property: Whenever you roll initiative, you are given a vision of unearthly realms and vile creatures, crowding out all sight. You are blinded (save ends).
Property: Any time you use an Arcane attack power and miss by more than 5, you suffer 1d8 points of psychic damage.
You have learned all you can…
The Codex is done with you. You are either its eager servant or the maddened husk it leaves behind; either way, it leaves. If the Codex was pleased with the owner when it left, it will summon an aberrant creature of the owner’s level -2 to serve as an ally for a time. (The nature of the creature and how long it serves is up to the DM; the creature is not a slave but a being who sees the owner as a vehicle for its own designs, and will act accordingly.) If the Codex is displeased, it will initiate a standard encounter (against mostly-aberrant creatures) and then depart.