Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Psi-Wars Alien Races: Skairos, the Devils of Persephone

Alternate Names: The Devils of Persephone, Time Shadows, Corrupted Sabines, Jotans.
Homeworld: Persephone (?)
Other worlds: Unknown (but most sightings seem to be on other Labyrinthine Worlds)

Akashic mythology describes “the Devils of Persephone” or “the Skairos” as strange monsters found within the caverns beneath Persephone. According to these myths, sharp teeth line their maws and they hunger for humans; their milk-white eyes or the emptiness where eyes should be, can see without seeing, moving through darkness as one moves through light. According to myth, they live in shadows or are crafted of shadow, having inky black skin or the air of unreality to them. Some stories even suggest that one can only perceive them with psionic power. These devils held the secret of the Akashic record and gave it to humanity, showing them the Coming Storm, and giving them the tools necessary to found the Akashic Order.
What are they? Perhaps they’re literally monsters, strange aliens that lurk in the caverns of Persephone to this day. Perhaps they’re a distorted representation of the remnant of a wise and ancient race that lived within the caverns of Persephone and walk among mankind even now, posing as some minor, unimportant race and hiding their true identity. Perhaps they’re a misrepresentation of a genetic bloodline, one especially capable of reading the future, that arose on Persephone and may exist on Persephone still (and might even taint the Sabine bloodline!). Finally, perhaps the Skairos don’t exist at all! Perhaps they’re a metaphor for the dangers of viewing time, or the perils faced on the journey to uncovering this ancient secret. 

The Skairos can be whatever the GM decides they should be; the following offers guidelines for treating them as an alien race.

Ancient, and often fallen, alien races clutter the galaxy. While the Glorian Rim developed has a paucity of aliens, that doesn’t mean no such aliens exist. Aliens could certainly have colonized the stars, had their wars and then fallen long before humanity ever reached them, leaving the Labyrinthine worlds as their legacy.

The Skairos could be one such race. In this version, the Skairos have innate, racial ESP and perfected its use centuries ago. They predicted their own fall, the rise of humanity, and the one hope their people had of weathering the Coming Storm: teaching humanity their art of deep time and guiding them over the hurdles that it would cause.

When humanity first crept into the Skairos caverns, confusion reigned. Humanity did not understand the aliens that lurked in the dark, and some of the Skairos lashed out in return. A short war flared up, in which the colonists dehumanized the natives of the world to better justify their destruction, but humanity lost the war and were forced to offer their women up to the Skairos. The Skairos didn’t devour the offerings, of course, but communicated with them, explained the situation, and showed them the secrets of the Akashic Record and the Coming Storm, and then initiated them into the Akashic Mysteries. The human oracles became the new face of the Skairos, and their ritual veils and blindfolds allowed the Skairos to walk among mankind undetected.

The Skairos could still exist, a conspiratorial alien race that lurks at the heart of the Akashic Mysteries, or that works side by side for the safety of the galaxy with their human allies. To prevent war, they keep themselves secret, lest the rest of mankind panic and abandon the Golden Path necessary for the safety of both humanity and the Skairos. This also explains the secretive nature of the Akashic Mysteries.

Such a race likely has its own culture and its own language (Skairos), but this is a cultural concern, not a racial element.

Skairos Racial Template: 60 points

Traits: HT -1 [-10]

Advantages: 360° Vision (Panopticon 2 +60%, ESP -10%) [37], Chameleon 2 (Only in darkness/shadows -20%) [8], Chronolocation [5], Dark Vision (ESP -10%) [23], ESP Talent +1 [5], Exposition Sense [1], Injury Tolerance (No Eyes) [5], Sharp Teeth [1]

Features: May reach ESP Talent +5 [0].

Disadvantages: Blindness (Mitigator, Psionic -80%) [-10], Psionic Beacon 5 [-5], Secret (Skairos) [varies].

Skairosian Traits

Chronolocation: Chronolocation tells the character not only when she is, but also when she is seeing. It allows her to know the probability of any vision she sees, the time and place of any vision she sees, and her exact location in time if using temporal travel.  She may also roll IQ to detect if anything is temporally "wrong," such as the presence of a time-shade.

Psionic Beacon: Add +5 to all attempts to sense or locate a Skairos with psychic abilities. 

Secrets of the Skairos: The Skairos keep their presence among humanity a secret, and this manifests as a Secret disadvantage. Just how much of a secret depends on the GM.  If the Akashic Order or the Skairos are willing to kill to keep the secret, then they have Secret (Skairos) [-30].  If the revelation of the Skairos risks the character or members of the race falling into laboratories and major secrets about the true nature of the Akashic Order coming out, then they have Secret (Skairos) [-20].  If the Skairos presence is largely an open secret but a major social faux pas to reveal, or might result in the Skairos being subjected to their status as disdained minority, then they might all have Secret (Skairos) [-5].  The actual value is ultimately up to the GM, but should be treated as part of their template, reducing its cost as appropriate.  The recommended value is [-20].

 Mailanka Muses on the Skairos

The Akashic Mysteries describe the Devils of Persephone, and this is a good example of what I like to call the "Black Canon," elements of the setting that are entirely optional, not just in whether or not they exist, but in how the GM chooses to depict them.  I released the Skairos to my patrons as "secret insider knowledge," and then asked them to vote on whether this should be released and which options, and they voted for all options to be released.  I've only released this one here because we're discussing aliens specifically, and I don't want to clutter it with alternate bloodlines and space monsters.  Those will come out eventually, but I'm not sure in what context.

The Skairos are an interesting race, as they tie deeply into the Akashic Mysteries, giving them at least one interesting alien race to play with, and offer a "secret" option for players in a game set primarily in the Glorian Rim. They also serve as a seed for exploring the secrets of the Labyrinthine world, the ultimate answer to which I leave, again, to the hands of the GM.

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