The Maw of Chaos is opening. For aeons, Mal was a dead plane, a wasteland of sealed tombs and stagnant air. It was a forgotten side room of the Outer Planes, inhabited only by exiled fiends, thieves, vagabonds, and anti-social mages. They built ramshackle towers and shanty towns amid the ancient monoliths and cyclopean temples. Mal was just another mystery of the planes, a curiosity for archaeologists and tomb robbers.
Then the graves opened, and the Malites came forth. Now, the Maw of Chaos is caught like a dragon with a sword in its mouth; the seething hosts of chaos are poised to swarm out of Mal and overwhelm all the planes, but are blocked by the motley crew of squatters and smugglers. Somewhere in their encampments is the artifact that will muster all the Malites and open all the gates…if only they can find it.
Getting there… and BackEdit
Mal is rather hard to reach for a plane its size. Most of the ancient portals that lead there have long since decayed or been lost. A handful of new portals were constructed, but with the planar barrier surrounding the Maw, such portals were costly or compromised by draining the energy or magic of travellers. The planes close to Mal are hardly hospitable – on one side lie the flames of the Inferum; on the other, the warping tides of unbridled chaos. Only the Vault of Stars offers easy access to Mal, but no stars shine in its choked sky. No natural portal to Mal has manifested in many ages on the material world. Be thankful for that. Reaching Mal by spell is problematic, due to the planar barrier. While it is of a relatively low intensity and should prove little trouble to a spellcaster capable of casting plane shift in the first place, it can be an unwelcome surprise for a traveller in dire straits (a condition not uncommon in the Maw).
Survival in MalEdit
The environment of the plane is unwelcoming, but not immediately hostile – until the traveller takes a step. Motion tends to trigger the beetle winds, which can tear a traveller to shreds in minutes. An antilife shell or spell of repel vermin is ideal (alchemical repellent will serve in a pinch). Other regions of the plane have their own unique dangers – see below under Hazards. Mal has three distinct yet equally dangerous types of terrain; the plane is either composed of dunes of coarse dry sand, briny seas, or jagged mountains of broken bone.
The average temperature in the desert region is above 90ºF; the mountains average about 12,000 feet in height and are very steep (+5 DC to all Climb checks) and the seas are violent and storm-tossed. Consult Weather details for rules on handing such hazards. Winds in Mal never drop below Strong, and windstorms are common.
Features & PropertiesEdit
|Size||16||Infinite but repeating|
|Accessibility||12||Planar barrier DC 20|
|... to Astral||7||Coterminous|
|... to Tarassein||7||Coterminous|
|... to Infernum||7||Coterminous|
|... to the Vault of Stars||7||Coterminous|
Picture a plane-spanning city made of a foul greenish resin. Take a hammer to this city, shatter it into uncountable shards. Blindly pour a dozen desert’s worth of sand and five oceans of brackish water onto the ruin, not caring if some sections are submerged in rolling dunes, seas or plains of mud. Add bones of some tremendous horror punctuating the ruins. This is the landscape of Mal.
The Tombs of the MalitesEdit
The Malites are a race of creatures from an earlier epoch of creation. In a time before the gods were born, there was no distinction between law and chaos, between good and evil. Everything, they whisper, was different. At some point the rules changed, and the Malites could not adapt, so instead they slept. All this was learned through study of the great Tombs of the Malites. These tombs are everywhere in the sandy deserts of Mal; massive, ugly, organic edifices made of shaped green resin that strongly resembles the hives built by xenos in the Infestation. Originally, the sages thought that the grotesque faces and monsters on the tombs were nothing but decorative gargoyles, but they are long-dead Malite slaves and pets, some of which are identical to the xenos in Lados on the Material Plane, leading some scholars to believe that the Infestation is only a probe by the Malites to test the defenses of the Material Plane. Strangely, these trapped corpses are the only bodies in the tombs. The Malites are outside, in the desert. The grains of sand are Malite ‘mind-eggs’, and the tombs are in truth organic engines for remaking flesh and bone into new bodies for the Malites. These mind-eggs prevent the Malite soul from moving on or dissipating; instead, they wait bodiless and undimensioned for aeons. The vast mountains of bone are the remains of the first Malites, which were to be the raw material for these engines, but they feed even more eagerly on travellers. The tombs do contain certain ancient artifacts and treasures of the Malites, as well as all sorts of guardian monsters, constructs, and traps designed to liquefy and reprocess invaders and trespassers.
These pools only occur where the four dominant features of Mal – the briny seas, the cyclopean tombs, the sands, and raw material such as the bone mountains – come together. The spawning pool is a lake of vile slime exuded by a tomb, from which new Malites crawl. Most of the Malite towns lie on the shores of these pools.
The Rising TideEdit
The tainted ocean of Mal is distilled from formless chaos, and has a much higher Morphic trait than the rest of the plane (+2d8 Morphic), and the seas are rising. As the Maw of Chaos awakens, the briny waters will run throughout the rest of the plane, increasing the Morphic trait as the Malites leave their sleep to invade the other planes. Most of the outsider settlements on Mal have dug canals through the sand and tapped the ocean to give the area around the settlement the Alterable Morphic (Morphic 5) trait.
Mal is possibly the most innately hostile of the Outer Planes; the Infernum or Tarassein may be more dangerous, but Mal is a realm of hate and alien horrors.
Beetle Winds (CR6 + special)Edit
The sands of Mal are in truth eggs, as noted above. Any vibration can cause these eggs to hatch into tiny green beetles with four pincers and any number of legs. The beetles form into choking swarms that descend on whatever woke them, tearing at flesh and bone. The little fragments of gore stolen by the beetles are later fed into a tomb, to produce a new Malite body. One of the Malite souls attached to a beetle inhabits this new body.
Any character walking on the sands of Mal must make a Balance or Move Silently check at DC 15 each round. If this check is failed, a beetle wind forms. One beetle wind swarm arises for every check that was failed in any round. A beetle wind has the same statistics as a locust swarm. If any character is killed by the damage from this swarm, a Malite with a CR equal to the level or Hit Dice of the slain creature is born nearby within 1d10 rounds. Malite movement does not cause beetle winds to rise. When the stripped and ruined carcasses of the slain travellers fall into the sands, most beetles usually become sand again, but some fly up and join the constantly howling beetle winds of the upper atmosphere.
Resin Showers (CR10)Edit
The skies of Mal are thick with oily green-black clouds. Sometimes, a rain of liquid resin pelts down on the tortured landscape. Any creature caught out in the rain takes 1d6 points of acid damage per round. Furthermore, every point of acid damage (whether it actually damages the character or not) forms a glob of sticky resin weighing five pounds. After a few minutes of exposure to the resin shower, most characters will be severely overloaded and may even be entirely encased in resin (a character whose movement has been reduced to five feet per round due to the weight of resin being more than twice his maximum load will be unable to breathe unless someone else breaks a breathing hole in his resinous shell). The resin has a hardness of 4 and 10 hit points per inch of thickness. Any character encased in resin is assumed to have a two inch thick shell of resin. Once, these resin showers were under the control of the Malites, who caused their fortresses and tomb-cities to rain out of the heavens wherever they walked. The current resin showers are accidents, and therefore must be recycled.
1d10 rounds after the rain stops, any areas covered with resin are struck by lightning bolts from the sky. These bolts deal 6d6 damage per bolt, and keep blasting until all the resin has been reduced to dust (1d10 rounds later), which is sucked back up into the clouds. Characters struck by these bolts may make a Reflex save (DC 15) to take half damage, and any damage is dealt to the resin sticking to a character first. Mâlites are immune to the resin showers. Resin showers do not cause beetle winds.
There are no roads in Mal, no clear paths. Little of the plane has been mapped other than a few square miles around each active portal.
The Waking CityEdit
This is the largest known stronghold of the Malites (although travellers have reported seeing far greater resinous castles out in the seas), and the only one where they tolerate the presence of outsiders. The Waking City is a bizarre, incomprehensible pile of resin towers and twisted buildings, an urban viscera of winding corridors and living rooms. The Malites permit outsiders to live and even dwell in the city, but only in certain sections – and the laws and borders governing these sections change without notice. An outsider who has lived for six months in one chamber might return home to find an host of Malites waiting to evict him violently if necessary. The Malites are believed to be studying outsiders, especially their magic.
Life in the Waking City drives most outsiders insane. The Malites stalk the streets, engaged in strange rites and seemingly meaningless acts. The geography of the city changes with every rainstorm. The buzz of the swarming beetle winds is a constant nightmare hymn, occasionally broken by crackling fields of lightning that hang between the coiling towers for days at a time. Still, the city is safer than the deserts outside, and some of the lesser Malites will trade their wares for goods from other planes.
Before the Malites awoke, Mal was a backwater, inhabited only by thieves and treasure hunters who wanted a place to hide. The pirate city of Shantytown is located near several active portals (leading to the Orrery, the Plane of Air, Esqogalt on the edge of Chasm, and numerous other places). Shantytown is a ramshackle arrangement; huge nets and tattered sails protect the city from beetle winds and resin storms (although the insects still infest the city, though in lesser numbers, and acidic resin drips constantly from holes in the sails). The chief virtue of Shantytown is that it is a godless city – literally. Due to some quirk of Malite magic, the whole of Shantytown has a divine trait of zero; divine spells cannot function here. This has made the city popular among those who have offended a deity, and feared by servants of gods both good and evil. Clerics are disliked and are distrusted by most inhabitants of Shantytown – they may enter the city, but are forced to wear distinctive black hats on pain of death. Almost anything is for sale in Shantytown, although most of the commerce these days is in Malite tools and weapons.
The Gatechain is a rusted set of linked metal hoops, each one big enough for a great wyrm dragon to fly though wings outstretched and not strike the rim. Seven hoops emerge from the sands, although at least another four lie buried nearby. A different rune in the Malic tongue is engraved atop each hoop. Each ring is a portal of ancient design. When all the grains of sand in the desert have been converted into Malite warriors, when all the seas have turned to blood and the mountains recycled into flesh, when there is nothing here but cities swarming with uncountable hosts of Malites – then the Gatechain will float free of the desert, and all its thousand links will open to all the planes of creation, and the Malites will go forth and conquer. Until that fateful day, the Gatechain lies forgotten and broken in the sand.
The only denizens of Mal are the Malites and the handful of creatures who have come here from other planes. The Malites are creatures of chaos; not fiends, not outsiders, but something entirely other. They have apparently little attachment to their own physical form, so a Malite soul might be removed from one body and inserted into another as circumstances require. They find the current arrangement of the planes…distasteful, and intend to use planecraft to return the universe to a more chaotic, lifeless, and artistic state.
The Malites date from a time before the current conception of arcane magic. They cannot use arcane magic especially well, but are resistant to it. Many of their own spells no longer function (the weave of magic in the planes has moved on, and their incantations cannot influence it), so the Malites are desperately trying to learn new dweomers and spells. Mages and tomes of arcane lore are a primary target for Malite raiding parties.
Currently, the majority of the Malite race is still bodiless in the Maw of Chaos. Of the incarnate portion of the race, some are involved in reactivating all the tombs to build new bodies for their kin, while the rest are exploring the planes – reconnaissance for the time when all the Malites swarm out and the Maw devours all.
Medium Aberration (Extraplanar, Malite)
Hit Dice: 8d8+8 (56 hp)
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft., Climb 20 ft.
Armor Class: 21 (+1 Dex, +10 resin armor), touch 11, flat-footed 20
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +6/+8
Attack: +9 melee (1d12+6 or 1d8+5, resinblade) or +7 ranged touch (4d4, acid jet)
Full Attack: +9/+4 melee (1d12+6 or 1d8+5, resinblade) or +7 ranged touch (4d4, acid jet)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. /10 ft.
Special Attacks: Resin blade, acid jet
Special Qualities: Malite traits, psychic waves
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +6
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 12, Luk 12
Skills: Hide +13*, Listen +13, Move Silently +8, Spot +13
Organization: Solitary or hunting party (1d6+1)
Challenge Rating: 4
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +8
The figure skittering towards you is roughly humanoid, but it stretches that definition to its limit. Four limbs carry a form armored in green chitin towards you, and organs that might be some sort of eyes glitter at the end of facial cilia. A bladed spine coils and twists hungrily along the creature’s length.
These Malite bodies were based on the appearance of the settlers at Shantytown. They have four limbs like a human, but the limbs shift depending on the creature’s needs. It has no discernable face. The Malite warriors are scouts and foot troops, armed with the infamous resin-blade. This device is somewhere between a whip and a sword, and is often coated with acid or poison.
Malites have little need for self-preservation, so they are fearless warriors. They are cruel and cunning, and have come to understand the importance others place on the life of the weak, so a Malite warrior will often target children, familiars, and other non-combatants to demoralize his foes.
Resin blade (Ex): The resin blade is a two-handed slashing weapon that can be used as a whip with reach, or a blade with no reach. It does 1d8 damage in whip mode, and 1d12 in sword form; changing between the two is a swift action. Non-Malites cannot normally wield a resin sword.
Acid Jet (Ex): As an attack action, a Malite can spit a jet of acid up to 60 feet. It must make a ranged touch attack to hit with the jet, which deals 4d4 points of acid damage.
Psychic Waves (Su): Malite warriors produce psychic waves that weaken and disorientate their foes. Anyone struck in melee combat by a Malite warrior must make a Will save (DC 17) or be sickened for one round. The save for this ability is Charisma-based.
Huge Aberration (Extraplanar, Malite)
Hit Dice: 14d8+70 (133 hp)
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 27 (+1 Dex, -2 size, +18 resin armor), touch 9, flat-footed 26
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +10/+23
Attack: +13 melee (claw, 1d8+5)
Full Attack: Two claws +13 melee (claw, 1d8+5)
Space/Reach: 15 ft. /10 ft.
Special Attacks: Swallow Whole, Swarm Attack
Special Qualities: Malite traits, Create Malites
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +5, Will +12
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 13, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 12, Luk 12
Skills: Balance +10, Climb +5, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Listen +20, Spot +20, Search +19
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack
Organization: Solitary or hunting party (One custodian plus 2d4+3 warriors)
Challenge Rating: 11
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: 15-20 HD (Huge)
This green horror is four-legged and bigger than a horse, but it moves like a hybrid of feline and equine. Four bulbous organs like wasp nests sprout from its shoulders and haunches. It has no distinct mouth, but a seam appears to run the entire length of its body, opening and closing at various points. A ghostly blue haze of shifting energy patterns floats between the four hive-like growths.
Custodians are a variety of Malite used to create more warriors in areas where tombs are no longer functioning, or on other planes. They are essentially walking factories for producing more of their kin. The four hives contain mind-seeds, and the blue energy is the psychic communication of all the Malite souls anchored to these seeds. The main goal of a custodian is to produce more Malite warrior bodies for the minds it carries.
While a custodian is a powerful combatant with its resinous claws, it has no intention of merely rending its enemies apart – after all, their bodies can be used to spawn new Malites.
Swarm Attack (Ex): A custodian contains eight swarms of Malite beetles. Treat these swarms as locust swarms. Releasing a swarm is a swift action for a custodian, but it can only do so once per turn. These swarms can attack normally, but they can also attempt to control anyone injured by the custodian’s claw attacks by flying into the wounds. Anyone targeted by this attack must make a Will save each round (DC 14 + 2d6) or fall under the control of the swarm. If the wound caused by the custodian’s claws is healed, the control is broken. Characters under the control of the swarm must move as the swarm dictates (usually, towards the custodian). They are otherwise considered to be stunned. Bolts of blue energy leap from the haze above the custodian meaning while the victim is under the swarm’s control.
Swallow Whole (Ex): A custodian can swallow a creature whole if it pins the creature with a grapple attack. If the target is unresisting (such as the victim of a swarm attack), the custodian can automatically swallow him. A swallowed victim takes 2d8 points of acid damage per round. He may cut his way free by dealing at least 30 points of damage to the inside of the custodian with a light slashing or piercing weapon (the gizzard has an AC of 16). If the victim is killed while inside the custodian, he is transformed into a Malite warrior within 1d4 rounds. A custodian can hold one Large, four Medium, or eight Small creatures in its stomach at any one time.
Create Malite (Su): A custodian can create Malite warriors, as described under the Swallow Whole ability.
All Malites have the following properties:
Spell Resistance of 11 + their Hit Dice, against arcane spells only. Furthermore, this resistance is reduced by one point for 24 hours after a spell has been cast (successfully or unsuccessfully) on a Malite. Also, if the Mâlite prepares any arcane spells, his resistance is reduced by one per spell.
Displacement Field (Su): A Malite can project a displacement field, which gives attacks against it a 25% miss chance unless the attacker can perceive the creature by some method other than sight. It also has a +4 racial bonus to Hide checks thanks to this displacement field. True seeing penetrates this defense.
Immunity to acid.
Telepathy (Su): Range 100 feet. Furthermore, all Malites are considered to be constantly mind blanked.
Mslites only speak their own language. They can learn other languages, but it is exceedingly difficult for them (treat another language as a skill that the Malite must take ranks in and make skill checks to convey an idea).
Malite souls are not tied to their bodies; they cannot be raised, nor are they subject to death effects such as slay living. Only a spell like trap the soul can keep a given Malite from one day being reinstalled in a new shell.