Friday, August 7, 2015

Ghond OR: The Terror From Below!

Daring devourers of dangerous data of the world of AEthrem - prepare yourselves! Fridays in AEthrem has returned with grim tidings from the very ground beneath your feet! We're speaking of the ever-present boogeyman of human societies, lurking in forgotten ruins and deep caverns - ghond!

In ancient times, before humans had mastered writing or agriculture, ghonds lived as a unified species and culture, dominating nearly half the world. They covered the landmasses of Pelifor and Otaru in their colossal stone cities. Members of their species were the first to form pacts with ryn, making ghonds the first thandi in AEthrem.

Early humans could not compete against the advanced ghond society, and their early hunter-gather tribes were forced to the wildernesses of the world or bound in servitude to ghond masters. If modern archaeologists are correct, ghond civilization flourished for over three centuries on the backs of human laborers. However, their rapidly-growing culture came into sudden decline following its first encounter with the reptilian ss'ra.

The ss'ra were expanding into new lands just as the ghond civilization was growing into the same regions itself, and had technological marvels that the ghonds could only dream of. (Marvels, dear reader, that we will read about in the next thrilling installment!) The two species almost immediately began conflicts over vital resources necessary for their respective new settlements. Over the course of a century, these early skirmishes blossomed into a massive and devastating war.

In the end, the ghond population had been reduced to a tiny fraction of its former size. Early human legends claim that a desperate, powerful ghond thandi made a terrible bargain with their ryn, fragmenting the communal society of the ss'ra beyond repair through arcane means. As a sacrifice worthy of this act, central Pelifor, once a fertile land and the core of the ancient ghond civilization, rapidly shifted into the arid Lahana Desert as it exists today. While modern scientists scoff at this as superstition, a rapid change in the local climate did occur (whether natural or mystical), and devastated the ghond culture even further.

Reeling from war and disaster, the ghond were no match for an uprising among their human slaves. Ghonds had been using humans to bolster their waning forces in battles against the ss'ra for decades, and human veterans shared their knowledge of fighting and tactics with others on their return home. Local rebellions turned into regional movements of liberation, with humans easily outnumbering the weakened ghonds.

Humans eventually claimed the surface world for themselves, while the ghond that did survive the human retribution were forced underground, besieged in the underground storehouses of their cities. Those in the core cities fared the best, as the surrounding land turned inhospitable prevented vengeful human armies from prolonged sieges. In time, these survivors expanded their tunnels into the store rooms and caverns in neighboring cities, contacting other remaining ghond survivors.

As the human population exploded on the surface, flourishing in the wake of their former masters' departure, ghonds slowly rebuilt some semblance of their former glory underground. They now dwell in a warren of natural and hand-carved caverns, living a harsh life under the Boudon, a caste of philosopher-priests. For centuries, the leaders of their new, subterranean society have kept one goal in mind - retaking the surface world from the human usurpers.

Luckily, human civilization and technology advanced by leaps and bounds while the ghond culture was still rebuilding. They are no match for humans in weaponry (most still use spears, bows, or scavenged human rifles) or numbers (the limited resources underground prevent much population growth). Instead, they have had to express their hatred indirectly - striking out at targets of opportunity or subtly manipulating things within human society to their advantage. Many of the worst disasters in human history are supposedly the work of a ghond thandi agent, or a human pact-bearer trained by one, according to paranoid gossip.

Actual encounters with ghond are rare, and mostly limited to archaeological expeditions below their ancient cities deep in the Lahana Desert. The few accounts on record describe them as tall and lanky by human standards, with lantern-like faces and large, black, pupilless eyes. The ages spent underground have left the hairless bodies of the ghond with a pallid complexion, and they wear hand-woven headdresses and body wraps for warmth in their subterranean environment.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.