Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Problem with Aboleths

This is a good example of one of the problems I have with 3.5.

I have a player who wants to be a Psionic character in the next game and spoke of belonging to the Order of the Sanctified Mind. When I Google this Order, I find Faerun –which is not going to happen – and the book Lords of Madness, so I started reading. Naturally, when I finished reading what it had to say about the Order of the Sanctified Mind, I turned to the beginning of the book and started there.

Regarding Aboleths we read – on page 18 – that Aboleths are "typically seized with the urge to lay eggs once every five years. It lays 1d3 eggs at a time . . ."

On page 19 we are told that "a young Aboleth remains close to its parent for approximately ten years . . ."

So, killing "young" Aboleths should be damn near impossible. With their psionic abilities, the parents can easily handle "Jaws" or Dragon Turtles, so . . .

Then, on page 19 we are told that "Aboleths are effectively immortal."

Okay, so, Aboleths are never really alone, there are always several of them, even if it is only their young, who are "born completely cognizant and mature, their minds instantly absorbing and assimilating the knowledge and memories of their parent." (Page 19)

So these uber powerful aberrations live in underground rivers, streams, lakes and oceans and roam them at will. They have offspring every five years, so that when the ten year olds "move out," a new batch "moves in." And, of course, the five year olds are still "living at home." Now add to this the fact that Aboleths are "effectively immortal." And it's been this way pretty much since the beginning.

Personally, I find it curious that Lords of Madness gives no definitive explanation as to why these things haven't literally "taken over the world" . . . yet. They have offspring that are almost guaranteed to "grow up," a.k.a. grow larger. They don't "die of old age" and they reproduce quite frequently, at every five years.

Aboleths should be the undisputed "Masters" of the world. So why aren't they? They should have taken over – a.k.a. over populated – the underground water sources long ago and moved out into the "surface" oceans. Sailing from one point to another should be just about the most dangerous undertaking in the world. After all, the Aboleths actively seek to take over the world, which means they would actively seek to control or destroy any intelligent creature sailing the ocean's surface.

Here comes a House Rule. Just about all of this will be changed . . . if I ever use Aboleths in my game. There is no logical reason for them to not be "rulers of the world" the way they're written up in Lords of Madness and the Monster Manual. It makes no sense a'tall, ma'am.

So I'm going to need a House Rule to make sense of this – nonsense. Of course, I could simplify matters by simple continuing my present practice of . . . not using these creatures in my game.

Hmm. On second thought, that is the easiest approach! I'll do it!


  1. When they first appeared (I6), they were just nasty and smart - but nothing was said about them being rapidly-reproducing that I can recall. Just bits about being dangerous, and unproven rumors of big cities and vast knowledge.

    Personally I think they work better as rare creatures rather than hordes, but I feel the same way about mind flayer and ninja - the more their are, the less special they are.

    1. I mean the more "there" are, of course, not their.

    2. You and I definitely agree on that. Lords of Madness seems to have change things a bit. It adds all those details that didn't exist before. Being as long lived as they are, they should definitely reproduce more slowly. When a mere Suggestion protects their young from sharks and other predators, then they would fill up the underground water system quickly, within mere centuries.

      There needs to be an adjustment to this.

  2. I had a similar discuss on my blog years ago about uber monsters. I did a post about doppelgangers and one of the comments I received is how do they not take over the world and simply make the races cattle. The on critter I think of as an uber monster is the Bodak. Death gaze. Dead. Wait a second, another Bodak. If one Bodak got into a city...

    I'm sorry I can't speak much about psionics since I think I've used them once in my decades of gaming. Aboleths I know are nasty and remember their appearance in I6. Like you and Peter, I prefer them as a solitary sea horror.

    1. Tim, what can I say, but: Honored you joined my blog.

      The Bodak are, indeed, another case of "too powerful" to run around the Material Plane in any great numbers. Such creatures can be long lived -- or "unlived" -- no problem, but they certainly can't multiple quickly, or easily. An uber powerful aberration that multiples asexually -- and relatively often -- is going to take over any world fairly quickly

      And this applies to Bodaks as well. As you pointed out, let one loose in a city and -- viola! -- you'll have thousands of these things in less than 48 hours. Now that's "reproduction" on a large scale.

    2. I would have joined earlier, but I thought I already had. I do that. I'm glad to have you on my blogroll.

  3. I am the player who wants to play a psychic. However, my interest had nothing to do with the Book Lords of Madness. The Society of the Santified Mind is a lesser known order of St. Cuthbert. Much like the billets, stars, and chapeaux are different orders in the hierarchy. I'm not interested in additional feats or powers. I just want to develop what the society stands for. In the society many different character classes comprise this order. They work to defeat evil psychics or psychic creatures. So who better then a psychic to combat a psychic? These were merely my thoughts. As far as uber monsters go, I don't see anything wrong with having something that is near immortal. However, it needs to be tempered in other ways. Otherwise, you just end up saying why is this game not Aboleths vs Bodaks?

    1. Didn't mean to give the wrong impression, Argon. Your wanting to use the Order of the Sanctified Mind is the reason I started reading the book. Your request certainly had nothing to do with the creatures outlined in the book. Once I started reading it, however, it supplied me with a good example of why I change some things in my game.

      By the way, I told you you could use that. :P