This is part of my ongoing series on the Shattered World setting, which contains pieces you can drop into your own game. This post introduces the ashoka (a version of the aboleth).
Few people believe in the existence of ashoka. The very idea of giant, millennia-old, squid-like creatures floating placidly deep beneath the waves, commanding secret armies of brain-eating slaves can normally only be believed by small children.
But it is all true.
An ashoka’s gray body is about fifty yards long, with four fangs surrounding a toothless, twitching mouth. I have never seen or read of an ashoka eating, sleeping, or perform any other activity. They simply float and plan.
Ashoka do have telepathic powers, and so strong are they that most intelligent creatures that venture within a hundred yards of an ashoka are quickly overpowered. It’s as though all of one’s own thoughts are pushed out of one’s mind by the ashoka’s thoughts, and one feels as though one has become an extension of the ashoka itself.
Ashoka think in ways completely alien to that of any other intelligence I know. They seem to think in very long time scales, and their thoughts leap in directions that most minds simply cannot follow. A telepathic link with an ashoka is disorienting in the extreme, and often results in enslavement to the ashoka.
Ashoka are never seen with others of their kind, though they are usually attended by two or three naked, floating brain squids.
Mating and Young
Where do ashoka come from? This question baffles me even now. There are no records and no evidence of young or old ashoka. There are whispered mentions of ashoka-like creatures—usually called “Lurkers Who Dream”—going all the way back to the Dawn of Magic. But ashoka make such ideal boogie-men that the stories shift dramatically over time.
Perhaps they are cast-off descendants of the Old Ones, now abandoned on this world. Perhaps they were created by evil gods to fulfill some dark purpose. Perhaps they come from some other fragment of reality, and only visit this world for reasons of their own.