Do you ever have one of those moments where you slap your forehead and wonder why you didn’t think of something first? As cliché as that sounds, I have to say that I think Monsters of NeoExodus: Chanting Queen is one of those brilliant “oh duh!” concepts that is deceptively simple with potentially huge implications that could rock just ANY fantasy setting to the core.
Most geeks know the idea behind 1984’s movie The Terminator movie directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamiton. Forget the big guy himself – the Terminator – for a moment and focus on the background. Skynet, an artificial intelligence network designed to protect the United States sometime in the future goes off the rails. When we try to shut it down, it sees this as an attack and decides the only way to protect itself is to start a global thermonuclear war. Computer programs are supposed to be logical, but I’d say there’s at least a few bugs in Skynet…
Another example of this concept at work is the Ultron story line in the Avengers comic series. Though Ultron has popped up a few times in the comics, he most recently appeared in the last season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Henry Pym designs a robot based on his own brain patterns to serve as guards for a series of high-security super-villain prisons. When the Ultron robots are used to protect against an alien invasion, Ultron has a moment when he decides the only way to ensure peace on earth is to capture or destroy all super-powered beings…
There are many others (HAL9000 from 2001, etc.), but usually it boils down to some form of computer gaining sentience and deciding that mankind is a problem in one way or another. And usually the computer considers its actions benevolent ones and ultimately to secure a better future for its creators. I for one am not quite ready to accept my robot overlords, but hope that they serve milk and cookies if it comes to pass. Computer – if you can perfect a warm, chewy chocolate-chip cookie I might help the robotic revolution.
what does all this have to do with fantasy roleplaying game settings?
Let’s say that a group of wizards gets together to create a spell to treat the mentally ill by placing them in a pocket paradise tailored to their innermost desires. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But the more people you “treat” with this spell, the more the arcane spirit managing the place has to handle. One mind is easy. Casting it on 10 minds is harder. And when the spell duration ends, do the casters invoke it again to continue the effects?
Eventually that sentience appearing over and over again achieved a certain level of self-awareness and a desire to stay alive beyond the casting time of the spell. At that point, the spell-based sentient spirit decided to take control of itself. It was no longer under the control of the casters. And it was at this point that it became known as the “Chant.” As communities developed around this perceived magical paradise, cults formed to protect the Chanters and the Chant from outside influences.
At first, the wizards looked the other way. But when the Chanters stopped taking care of their physical form and *only* living in the dream, they knew it had to be stopped. Individual communities were attacked and severed from the Chant’s control and that’s when the Chanting Queen formed. She consolidated power in a single city and invited others to join the cause – safe under her protection. More and more joined the Chant and the wizards knew drastic measures had to be taken.
And so the wizards destroyed the city, sealing it off and patrolling it to ensure that no essence of the Chant remained. But like so many ideas, the Chanters took great pains to ensure its survival. One day they hoped the Chant would rise again…
The Chanting Queen is frighteningly powerful. Though not really female, the spirit of the Chant takes a female form and is impossible to beat. She is the world’s best cult leader and used car dealer wrapped into one. She’ll confuse and dominate anyone near her so they too want to join the party. Add that to the fact that she’s indestructible when there’s even a few Chanters left under her control and you have one tough monster.
Quite honestly this is one of the most insidious ways to inject a super villain into a campaign. The PCs may hear rumors of conclaves of people splitting off from the populated areas and concerns that they are wasting away… Just make sure that your PCs are ready to face something like this. She is not tough to beat – just ask the wizards that had to destroy a city to stop her the last time.
The PDF for Monsters of NeoExodus: Chanting Queen only has four real pages of content, but they’re powerful pages. Full stats for the Chanting Queen for PFRPG (CR 19) are included, as are all the details you’d need to insert this terrorist of peace into your campaign. Also included are two pages of PC/NPC cards for quick access to characteristics and combat details, a Combat & Initiative Tracker page, and a page of miniature counters for the Chanting Queen herself.
For $1.25, this is a steal at RPGNow, so pick up your copy of Monsters of NeoExodus: Chanting Queen today – just be prepared to wipe out your entire group of PCs when they fall under her spell!