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The Apocalytes

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Azure's picture

Queen Vlaakith CLVII had reigned longer than the memory of any living githyanki, despite the fact that they dwelt on the Astral where time could not touch them. When her Incursion into the prime spheres brought disaster, it left many of her people broken and devoid of hope, but no less fierce in battle.

The githyanki Incursion was larger than most outsiders realized. Nine prime worlds were invaded by the bulk of Lich Queen's armies, and over a dozen more saw either major raids or the establishment of new fortified outposts.

The fall of Vlaakith CLVII traveled with the speed of thought to the githyanki. Worshiped as she was, many githwarriors were broken by the news, void of purpose, confused, and angry. Many fled back to the Astral via hidden varsh'isk fortress-nurseries that still maintained color pools. The ones that could not, or would not, prepared themselves to die bitterly, surrounded by enemies.

The Apocalytes had been born.

On the Incursion worlds, even those nations who had not seen a githwarrior knew that something had happened, though what exactly it was could not be wormed out of the insular githyanki. The collapse of the prime githyanki empires was more like an unexplained retreat than a military rout, as the githwarriors fell back to defensible positions. Those who remained, who could not find alternate portals to the planes, and those who embraced nihilism, fought like cornered tigers to hold on to what they still possessed. Sometimes they are dismissed and underestimated as dead-enders, but only by fools who never faced githyanki in battle, and then only once. Constant battles, first of conquest, then of survival, have honed them to be hard, deadly veterans and elites.

The githyanki forces themselves are not without allies. It is githyanki custom to recognize and respect true martial skill, even among graith ('barbarians'). Moreover, the strategic realities of the Incursion required them to recruit from conquered territory those native fighters who survived the initial githyanki onslaught, or cultivate opportunists from among the fractious graith nations. Most of their barbarian allies proved, predictably, unreliable betrayers once it became apparent that the githwarriors were cut off from the Astral and reinforcements. Yet others have remained loyal, and continue to fight to maintain the Githyanki Empire. Thus, Apocalytes are far more likely than any other githyanki to associate with, and even accept, graith.

Unknown (at first) to the nations of the sunlit world, the Underdark was where the githyankis' true target lay. The realities of fielding a fighting force of any size in the barren, hostile environs of the caves and tunnels require access to food and clean water. Hence, the output of conquered territories fed a war-machine against the Great Enemy, the illithid.

Githyanki maintain hidden fortress-nurseries, maintained by the Varsh caste, teachers, trainers, and testers. Most contain well-guarded color pools to the Astral. They were used to good effect in the Incursion. Most varsh'isk are of two types, hidden and well-defended caverns or mountain aeries. In the underdark, the illithid, as well as other denizens, faced well-supplied striketeams. On the surface, the nations of the graith faced swarms of red dragons and flying astral ships. The Astral side of these color pools are controlled by the warbands, and are fortresses in themselves.

A great many of these color pools are kept in or near the Astral cities of the githyanki. When Vlaakith CLVII fell many of the high-ups in these population centers banded together to form The Heartforce, opposing an ascension of a new queen. They required a solemn oath of loyalty to the new regime in order to pass. This action solidified the Apocalytes as a power bloc. Most of the remaining survivors, and frankly, rearguard, refused to be directly commanded by generals and governors-militant on the Astral.

Relations between the Heartforce and the Apocalytes remain complex. Varsh'isk are split along warband lines, whose loyalties between the power blocs can shift like quicksilver. They remain a vital link and supply line in both directions, and are far better defended than before the Incursion. The two power blocs are forced to work together, and both accept certain tenets concerning the fall of Vlaakith, but there is no love lost between the two. Many curses are sworn in cities of the Astral and on the primes, directed at the other.

The Apocalytes tend to be one of two different mindsets. The first are those that believe they can hold on to certain core territories and maintain a githyanki empire on the prime. Far more numerous are fatalistic foot-soldiers and doomsday zealots. Many believe that without Vlaakith, and with the fracturing of the children of Gith, they are facing the end of their race, and wish to sell their lives bitterly rather than face it.

Another complex relationship exists with the Apocalytes and The True. Many of the former are also the latter. They believe Gith's return is a sign of the end-time, which they refer to as 'The Closed Circle'. An equal number reject The True, and there are heated philosophical debates among the two sides. In fact, the Apocalytes include among them some individuals who were at the Battle of the Darkfields along with the original True, but who do not share their interpretation of events there.

The red dragons featured prominently in the Incursion, especially in conjunction with the githyanki flying ships which conquered the surface worlds. With the fall, the Dragon Pact was broken, and the Cult of Tiamat formed. The Cult monopolizes the new Dragon Alliance, but has remained very close to the Apocalytes. Indeed, their forces often intermix, and the Cult tries to be a subtle guiding hand on affairs on the primes. Still, loyalty to a Power does not sit well with most githyanki on a personal level.

The Ascendancy is utterly rejected by the Apocalytes. Most Incursion survivors felt betrayed by Vlaakith and are unwilling to accept the rise of a new queen. They remain, along with the Heartforce, one of the major impediments preventing Loyalist influence from expanding. Their rejection of the Ascendancy includes the Cult of Tiamat's princess. Thus the candidacy of the Singer of Fire for Vlaakith's empty throne remains a major item of contention between the two otherwise close power blocs.

The Apocalytes rely, as do other power blocs, on the Silver Eyes, but are physically farthest from their direct influence. Operatives of the Eyes sometimes work with front-line troops, but contact is limited. By revealing illithid lore and locations of hidden septs, the Silver Eyes have a great deal of tactical influence over the Apocalytes, but they tend to underestimate them, especially concerning their fervor.

The Reconciliation and the Apocalytes remain wary of each other. The githzerai by and large did not interfere with the Incursion, except in very specific, very secret ways. Nor are they seemingly taking advantage of the current situation on the primes. This lack of visible interference does not reassure the desperate survivors, who would still shiv a zerth, or zerth-lover, if ever they met one.

The Apocalytes' greatest strength comes, not surprisingly, from their strength of arms. Specifically, they still retain many well-armed and armored flying astral ships. There are also many new hidden fortifications brimming with githyanki willing to sell their lives in exchange for an illithid's.

Githyanki do not discuss their internal politics with graith. What most prime-planars know of power blocs are the bitter blades of the Apocalytes.

Zimrazim's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2007-01-14
I love this article. 

I love this article.  Smile

__________________

BoGr Guide to Missile Combat:
1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

Burning Spear's picture
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Joined: 2007-12-02
Zimrazim wrote:I love this

Zimrazim wrote:
I love this article.  Smile

 

Agreed, this one got 5 stars from me Sticking out tongue

Dunamin's picture
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Factor
Joined: 2006-06-13
Great stuff! The

Great stuff!

The Apocalytes certainly seem a more multifaceted group, which I think one might also expect considering that they are a power bloc more by needs for survival than unity of philosophical beliefs. I particularly like the doomsday outlook that features prominently. Smile

I'm a bit puzzled by their relationship with the Cult of Tiamat, though. True there were probably quite a number of red dragons dispatched in the incursions, but offhand I didn't have the impression the Court of the Chromatic Dragon would have such vested interest in the surviving stranded troops of a failed planar-scale military campaign, especially considering how they reject the Singer of Fire.

Anyway, keep up the excellent work! 

Azure's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-17
The interest Tiamat has in

The interest Tiamat has in the hordes of trapped githyanki can be summed up in a single word.

Tools.

Bladedancer's picture
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Namer
Joined: 2008-05-21
Re: The Apocalytes

Aww they deleted the spam! mow my witty comment makes no sense. But on a serious not good job for getting rid of it so fast!

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