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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

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joyblood's picture
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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

This discussion is of major importance, because right here, we'll define one of the most basic elements of the Hordling race.

The one big question that has not truly been answered about Hordlings is: What drives the race?

We can answer that question for the baatezu (power through the strength of law), the tanar'ri (*I* have the answer for how the multiverse should be like) and many other races, but all we know about Hordlings is that they tend to unite in large (very large) groups and tear down everything in their way.

Well, almost. Actually, we know the following:
- They unite to tear down everything in their way; there are Hordes of thousands or even millions of Hordlings, and while they journey together, they don't care the least bit for each other.
- The Hordlings (or at least, most of them) are the souls of mortals that have been drawn to the Gray Waste, the plane of hopelessness and apathy.
- Despite being drawn to this plane, Hordlings are, usually, ravaging beasts. They seem to have something like "passionate hopelessness".
- Most Hordlings have been larvae before they turned into fiends, having been herded by Night Hags. But, as far as we know, the Night Hags don't WANT their larvae to turn into Hordlings. So something must happen that gives each larva the power to turn into a Hordling by its own might.
- It's said Hordlings are stuck in their shape, and don't gain any more power later on. While I want to break this rule, there should be a reason why this "rumour" was spread in the past. I'd say Hordlings give the *impression* of being stuck. Not surprising, really, considering they are creatures of hopelessness.

So the big question is: How do we unite all this? What's making a Hordling a Hordling, from a mindset point of view? What's the passion in those creatures of apathy that drives them to run ravaging through the Gray Waste? And why do they unite?

I have my own ideas here, but before posting them, I'd like to see your points of view!

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Also, why do Hordlings make the impression of mindless destroyers, while Hordling intelligence and wisdom probably ranges from "dumb as bread" to "genius"? Is the "ravaging horde" image only an illusion, while the fiends actually have a subtle society of destruction in their ravaging Horde? And again, if so, what drives them to accept / adapt / enforce social rules?

Our final texts should be written in a way only hinting at the answers, but for us, we should come to a common understanding.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

My name is Legion, for we are many.

Here is my opinion: Hordlings maybe share some sort of hive mind, in wich individual hordling is not smart, but on larger scale they share sinister mind and alien inteligence with unknown goals.

As someone sugested that humans share colective unconsciounes maybe hordlings share some sort of nightmare mind or soul.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

I imagine the rabid hopelessness of horedlings to be akin to that of the Doomguard. While both the Bleakers and the Doomguard share the idea that life is pointless because its all going to go down in flames at the end (more or less), the Bleakers are subdued and only act to help others along and thus give themselves meaning. The Doomguard, on the other hand, acts constantly to bring about the very thing that takes away their hope. Perhaps the hordelings are similar to this. They are, despite their apparent insanity, all working toward bringing about some goal - the one thing driving them into a screaming rage and keeping the gray apathy at bay. This is, of course, opposed to the typical shades that petition the Gray Wastes, who are more of the subdued kind of hopeless and only act to bring others to the same fate (because they are, after all, evil to the core).

As for the hive mind thing, I like the idea but we have to differentiate it from Cranium Rats. At one point I was toying with the idea of having hordelings be various pieces of one personality. Thus, when a really evil person dies in some particular set of circumstances (perhaps being annihilated by holy energy or something), his mentality is shattered into numerous bits, each one different and representative of its original intent, but all raving mad from the dislocation and attempting to destroy as much Good as they all can before literally being devoured by their rage or falling back into the apathy and combining into... what? Larva? Night Hag? Perhaps becoming a Hag rather than a petitioner is what drives these berks forward. The only thing I can't figure out yet is why large groups of them work together. Are they all part of one person's shattered psyche or many people's with the same goal?

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Hmm, what about this?

Those hordlings that unite in a horde do stay individuals, but at the same time slowly create a "Horde mind", something like a creature of its own, a spirit of the combined minds of all the hordlings within one Horde. And the more hordlings, the more power to the Horde mind.

The interesting part about this: A really large horde could create such a powerful Horde mind that it becomes something similar to a power. Thus, a Horde that, for example, enters a Prime world could actually destroy it, even when the world is protected by powers.

Also, the (growing, advancing) Horde mind could be the secret of why the individual hordling doesn't grow in power - the individual doesn't change because it gives its "growth" to the Horde mind.

Of course, that leaves the question what happens to hordlings that actually travel alone: Those ones might advance, because they channel their powers into themselves.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

An addition to the Horde mind idea: This also fits well to the idea that the Hordlings are the "mortal spirit" counterpart to the Yugoloths (i.e. Baatezu/Tanar'ri/Hordlings - Ancient Baatezu/Ancient Tanar'ri/Yugoloths).

The 'loths are described as, at the one side, reaching for personal power, but on the other side, pushing evil forward even when they don't gain something personal (e.g. Faces of Evil - describing them as "living for the greater evil").

With a Horde mind, the hordlings would also live for a "greater evil", in a very literal way.

And it would explain why the other fiendish races do their level best to let Hordlings appear as weak and mindless. If people KNEW about Horde minds, the belief in the power of such creatures could easily make the Hordlings one of the most powerful races around.

Kay
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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

I admit I do not know much about Hordlings, still I have a suggestion or two:

The term "Horde" implies some sort of basic, destructive instinct rather than a collective "mind", so the Hordlings might be the incarnation of pointless war, destruction and death. In this they are the opposite of the bleak nature of The Waste - pure rage and instinct - and its manifestation - pointless struggle and despair - at the same time.
This does not reject the possibility of a "hive mind", only it is not a mind but the culmination of the Hordlings' added frenz. This way they aren't mixed up with the Cranium Rats or other hive-minded creatures that seem to be "popular like drow" to some. Eye-wink

With the ""mortal spirit" counterpart to the Yugoloths" thing, I'm not sure. Being a stripped aspect of life (or death in this case) sounds pretty cool, too. It would nicely fit into the battlefield-atmosphere of The Waste (didn't someone mention something like this before?.. mh, I think so, but can't remember on which occasion, or of the Hordlings were meant).

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Hordlings are Anonymous, and Anonymous does not forgive:

They are the spirit of anonymous hatred, cruelty, and apathy--of the killer who took your love from you and was never found--of the unknown person who strung your dog's entrails across the lawn and disappeared--of the man who stole your wallet when you weren't looking. Each possesses the exact same mindset--that is to say, no mindset at all. They are anonymous, and thus do not exist in a 'singular' state--each is merely the product of a Multiverse's worth of hatred, ire, and indignation directed at one person--Anonymous.

Strange things happen among Hordlings, sometimes. Every so often, a planar traveler who kills one will find something that was stolen from him by an anonymous thief long ago, or find evidence that the Hordling was the one responsible for killing his love. This, of course, makes no sense--Hordlings just aren't sophisticated enough for this level of chicanery. But it seems more and more that the Hordling are becoming representative of the faceless evil of sentient beings.

We Rage, Therefore We Are:

The Gray Wastes saps even the most passionate of artists of all their will to live; but for a select few, it does precisely the opposite. Where, after all, does all that emotion go--where do all those secrets, forgotten lore, passion, and energy end up?

It gets poured right into the Hordling's heads.

The Hordlings are those mortals who were immune to the Gray Waste's Fade effect, and thus became victims of the very passion and secrets that the Gray Wastes hold. The mind of a Hordling is a maze--but unlike a gray sister, it's a maze they have no way to navigate. The rage drives them to the brink of madness--most of them deal with it by just savagely killing things.

However, a Hordling's skull is full of the secret of the Gray Wastes, which means that the right researcher might be able to get something out of a Hordling (if they can overcome their seething cauldron of rage, or pick through their brains). This is a dangerous practice because that which drove the Hordeling crazy can easily drive you crazy.

Goddamn It, Someone Turn That Noise Off

The Hordlings are not a bunch of murderous ravaging beasts. At least, they're not supposed to be.

Once, a long time ago, they were a group of powerful fiends meant to patrol the Gray Wastes. They curtailed the various attempts by the Gray Sisters to basically take over and reduce the Gray Wastes to their stomping ground--and so the Gray Sisters struck back.

The Gray Sisters have produced a spell that creates a single constant screeching sound that only Hordlings can hear. This sound drives the Hordlings mad with rage--the only way to curtail the anguish and agony of the sound is to kill. Brief respite is offered when Hordlings slake themselves on the blood of non-Hordlings, but this is always temporary--the sound soon returns to them.

God knows how many centuries of this screeching buzz in their brains has reduced the Hordlings to mental mush. Some of them still retain their brilliance, but now all that brilliance is twisted towards desperate attempts to stop the noise, by any feasible means. Hordlings work together begrudgingly--the noise puts them in no mood for cooperation, but they're vaguely aware that more Hordlings = more dead things to turn off the noise.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

@Kay: I like!

And honestly... what's more frightening than an instinct-driven, destructive spirit with the power of a god? Especially if you think, even when it's instinct-driven, it can still be intelligent...

Anyone seen the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? They're fighting the "First Evil" there... an evil over-spirit that's described as the source of all the villains that were there before. It's intelligent, nasty, and yet appears extremely instinctive to me. Gets the feeling very well, if you ask me.

And its hellish minions are, in their own way, all ravaging monsters...

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

I kind of like the idea that the Hordlings actually represent one universally evil power that was shattered into a bajillion zillion pieces, and is constantly trying to reform.

It's not so much an interconnected Hive Mind as a vague impulse inherent in all the Hordlings which allows them to function together. The Gray Sisters are aware of this, and in an act of unique charity (not really, they just don't want him to come back and take over) do their best to suppress the Hordlings and keep the power from returning.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Or--and sorry for posting again, but I really like this idea--Hordlings can be bits and pieces of knowledge that have been forgotten/suppressed, and become gibbering hateful ravenous monsters as a result.

Each hordling represents a memory, a name, a piece of secret lore, or some bit of trivia that the Multiverse has forgotten or has been swallowed up by the Gray Wastes. Raging against the Multiverse itself, they savagely attack everyone and everything they can find that isn't another Hordling. They are the unsatisfied spirits of forgotten trivia.

Do they even remember the knowledge from which they are born? Probably, but only on a vague and instinctive level.

The more dangerous/important the secret, the more powerful the Hordling. There may be some seriously powerful Hordlings out there who represent IMMENSELY important, powerful secrets that everyone's forgotten. And what of the Hordling who's secret is the creation of the Baatezu, or another dark? So on, so on, et cetera.

Edit: You could also say they're the guardians of these secrets, but I think I much prefer that they're the rageful spirits of things forgotten better.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

On the one hand, I love those ideas.

On the other hand, I think we shouldn't twist & break the original canon too much.

Fact is, Hordlings are described as the third fiendish race created from mortal souls. There's much stuff out there already that people have written with this basic idea in mind, and I wouldn't want our articles to make all of that obsolete.

Still, we can, of course, throw out these ideas as "wild speculation" - but I wouldn't want the ideas as project canon. I AM open for using those ideas adapted to the original canon, though, just like I'm open for an instinctive Horde mind. Smiling

Of course, with all those ideas coming up, we should still care about keeping Hordlings from becoming super-fiends.

Finally, I'm not sure if it's a good idea to have both Night Hags and Hordlings be "keepers of dark secrets" - I personally prefer them to be a bit more distinctive.

What does everyone else think?

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

This is a point I'd like to discuss further:

'Kay' wrote:
The term "Horde" implies some sort of basic, destructive instinct rather than a collective "mind", so the Hordlings might be the incarnation of pointless war, destruction and death. In this they are the opposite of the bleak nature of The Waste - pure rage and instinct - and its manifestation - pointless struggle and despair - at the same time.

The "pointless war" might fit more to Acheron, but "pointless rage" would hit the theme quite well, I think. I always saw Hordling evil as being spawned by despair, souls that gave up morality when they gave up themselves... and when you give up yourself, little more than instinct remains, even when you have a genius mind.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Quote:
Fact is, Hordlings are described as the third fiendish race created from mortal souls. There's much stuff out there already that people have written with this basic idea in mind, and I wouldn't want our articles to make all of that obsolete.

My apologies! I was unaware; I'm afraid I'm groping in the dark when it comes to fiendish canon in the Planescape universe.

I'll think about this a little more. Most of it can be adapted around for the Hordlings, but (as you pointed out) it still hijacks the canon. I love the idea of the Yugoloth creating a device that produces a constant, mind-breaking buzz in the minds of Hordlings (thus keeping them ravenous and murderous) to suppress any aims they may have, but that doesn't really seem to connect too well to the Gray Wastes. Setting them up as a threat to the Yugoloth has a lot of potential, though.

I'll wait on hearing some other people's stuff and thoughts on all this before going crazy and spewing out thirty more ideas (or variations on the old) D:

(Just as a fast note--I also really like the idea of the Hordlings considering themselves the most pure evil, stripped of any self-delusions, ideals of grandeur, or mention of a 'greater scheme'--they exist only for their own perpetual self-interest, which is far more dangerous than the Yugoloths' general underlying dedication to the concept of evil. I'll think about that some more D:)

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Consider this a strong vote for Hippo's "Anonymous evil" idea. It's fantastic. And it works so well with the hordelings. They're contemptible, contemptuous, faceless, infinitely numerous, and have no purpose beyond evil. Combine that with the "serving only their own interest" distinction from the yugoloths, and they finally have a unique role in the Lower Planes, which might finally convince me to roll on those "hordeling traits" tables.

420
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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

'joyblood' wrote:
The one big question that has not truly been answered about Hordlings is: What drives the race?
Uh, I'm going to vote for "evil". Evil is what drives them.

-420

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Yes, I also love the "anonymous evil" idea. I'm just thinking about how we can include that without breaking the idea of Hordlings being a "normal" fiendish race, as well...

Kay
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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

'The Great Hippo' wrote:
Quote:
Fact is, Hordlings are described as the third fiendish race created from mortal souls. There's much stuff out there already that people have written with this basic idea in mind, and I wouldn't want our articles to make all of that obsolete.

I love the idea of the Yugoloth creating a device that produces a constant, mind-breaking buzz in the minds of Hordlings (thus keeping them ravenous and murderous) to suppress any aims they may have, but that doesn't really seem to connect too well to the Gray Wastes. Setting them up as a
threat to the Yugoloth has a lot of potential, though.

Yes, and I say combine the two!

When the first few million mortal souls entered The Waste first, they were pretty much harmless (or so it seemed). See, they weren't exactly immune to the taint of the plane. Those first petitioners that didn't end up in any pantheon's 'custody' were but unemotional heaps of spiritual mass, deformed in their appearance, grey as the plane they would now inhabit. Nevertheless, they showed a certain pattern of behaviour, namely they tended to crowd together in little mobs, either to protect eachother or because their instinct told them, no one knows. Maybe both explanations are correct, maybe none of them.

The 'loth, who of course took notice at some point, called them [insert wacky name] (which was later translated to 'Hordlings') due to this fact. This name should turn out to adhere to them forever. Yet, if a blood knew something 'bout the 'loth he could've told you that they wouldn't let the Hordlings stay there for long if they'd come up with an idea to make use of them. And they did.

You do not have to be very creative to guess what it was and a body can still see the results today. Also the intention was quite simple: to create the ultimate tool of destruction to be thrown against their enemies, allies, and entire prime worlds. Ultimate or not, the Yugs succeeded. They were pretty excitet about their new pets and they might still be, if the pets would've stayed pets.

(to be continued...)

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

'joyblood' wrote:
Those hordlings that unite in a horde do stay individuals, but at the same time slowly create a "Horde mind", something like a creature of its own, a spirit of the combined minds of all the hordlings within one Horde. And the more hordlings, the more power to the Horde mind.

I like this idea a lot.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Ok here's my stream of consciousness, I'll try to clean it up later-

If we are to assume that Hordlings come from the souls of dead mortals (which I would go with to differentiate them from Loths and to bring them into line with Baatezu and Tanarri although I did like the shattered god idea) then perhaps they act as living 'sinks' for the drained emotions of the wastes. I think the Obelisks already do something like this although my memory's a bit hazy so this could mean that the Baern wanted a variable drain to take up the slack- more hordlings=more vents. Too many vents? Kill a few thousand hordlings. It makes perfect sense if you are capable of calling the forced mutation of souls and wholesale slaughter a ‘design feature’.

Alternately the Loths don't have to have anything to do with this- It's simply a natural reaction by some souls to the draining effect of the waste- they’re passions are too strong to submit to the fade so like draws like and they end up receiving the drained passions rather than having those passions stripped (yes I am thinking of the creation of the Reavers in Serenity as I write this).

Something else to remember is that from a purely physiological standpoint rage, joy, love, fear are basically identical. It is the context in which we experience these effects to our sympathetic nervous system (and numerous other systems) that makes us label them as one or the other.
Now imagine you have all the drained effects of a thousand people washing around inside you and you live in the waste...

Even if we do not take this as granted most of the emotions drained in the wastes would be coming from fiends or evil mortals so it wouldn’t make much difference.

It could be argued that Hordlings draw energy from these emotions that suffuse them (rather uncomfortably) and release the emotions through the cathartic act of slaughter, rape and mayhem. If a Hordling could manage to restrain itself then it could conceivably reach far greater heights of power although this would be rare.

As to why they form hordes? Why not? Many creatures seem to and as long as there are external beings to rage against these groups wouldn’t self destruct. This could be due to a hive consciousness or it could simply be due to pheromones or a recognition of kinship. Many animals prey on their own species only as a last resort in this case it could only be because hordlings aren’t sure how powerful each other (or they themselves) are and don’t want to risk destruction.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

'joyblood' wrote:
Yes, I also love the "anonymous evil" idea. I'm just thinking about how we can include that without breaking the idea of Hordlings being a "normal" fiendish race, as well...

I've been thinking about this a lot today, and here's what I've come up with.

I'm going to combine a few ideas put out here. Keep in mind, I'm as clueless as they come when it comes to canon fiends.

This is a rough draft, blah blah, writing's not very good, blah blah blah:

---

The Gray Wastes does more than sap you of your emotions--it saps you of your identity.

Those who are consumed by the Fade slowly become forgotten by the Multiverse. The memory of past lovers disappears--documents concerning their exploits become lost--and the person's name fades from the collective consciousness.

One can see why the Gray Wastes is popular among the dregs, criminals, and wayward souls of the Multiverse. An opportunity to escape anything--including one's self--and start fresh is incredibly rare. For this reason, the Gray Wastes is immensely popular among repentant sinners and the guilt-stricken who wish to wash away their crimes in apathy and forgetful spirits. The plane is happy to have them.

Dangerous secrets--and those who keep them--also inevitably make their way to the depths of the Gray Wastes, where their owners seek to be forgotten (and sometimes forget the secrets themselves). This leaves the Gray Wastes ripe for pickings among the Yugoloths, gray sisters, and seekers of forgotten and forbidden lore.

Anonymity is a key feature of the Gray Wastes, and no where else is it more clear than with the Hordelings. Products of souls who have lost their identity, the Hordelings have completely sacrificed their sense of self and replaced it with a collective identity--the faceless, nameless evil of the Multiverse itself.

Some choose to become Hordelings rather than face their identities--stricken with guilt, anguish, pain, or ennui, they seek to lose themselves within the collective swirl of the Hordeling's Hive-Mind. Others lose themselves to it rather than be consumed by the Planes and reduced to naught but dust.

The Hordeling Hive-Mind is a compilation of all the minds of those swallowed up by the Gray Wastes--countless murderers, sociopaths, scoundrels, liars, cheats, swindlers, innocents, forlorn lovers, and many more. When consumed by the Hive-Mind, these personalities are subsumed in a greater whole where they become part of the cacophonic din that persists within the minds of the Hordelings. Thus, all Hordelings share the same mind.

This mind is an absolutely insane murderous sociopath with no degree of predictability whatsoever.

But some of the souls lost within the Hordelings' Hive-Mind are immensely strong, and have managed to maintain their individuality even within the swirling eddies of ennui and rage. These 'beings'--sometimes collectives of several strong-willed individuals, or a single mind capable of staying afloat in the sea of churning pathos--can exert control over an individual Hordeling for their own ends. Although they often prefer one Hordeling in particular, killing the Hordeling does not destroy these creatures--they can merely return to the Hive-Mind and select another Hordeling to control. So long as they can maintain their individuality apart from the whole, they are essentially immortal.

These Hordeling 'Overlords' constitute the basic leadership of the Hordelings. The strain of maintaining their individuality often erases much of their past, leaving them little more than mental husks with agendas--and most new Overlords only manage to maintain their individuality for a week, at best--but there are some sages who believe that certain Overlords have been subtly controlling the Hordelings as a race for centuries or even longer. Some even claim that a 'Loth willingly allowed himself to be subsumed by the Gray Wastes, only so he could become an Overlord and take control of the Hordelings.

Because of the nature of their control, Hordeling Overlords are incredibly difficult to notice. More often than not, no one has any clue what they're up to, or that they're even exerting power. This makes the Yugoloths (and anyone else who knows what the Hordlings are up to) very, very nervous.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

Rereading that--it's kind of confusing and blah blah blah.

My underlying idea is this:

All Hordelings are the same person--basically a raving murderous lunatic.

However, within this raving murderous lunatic are multiple personalities of particularly strong-willed individuals (and collective of individuals) with their own agendas. They can surface and take control of certain Hordelings, and even command the Hordelings. They strive and vi for power among one another, seek to subsume each other into their own consciousnesses, and otherwise have to constantly do everything they can to stop themselves from being swallowed up by the whole and surrendering to the power of the Fade (which creeps even into the Hive-Mind's collective consciousness). Rarely will an Overlord last very long.

But there may be a few very powerful, very willful minds in there--perhaps one or two which swallows up other Overlords to maintain its consciousness (thereby losing itself constantly, always evolving and shifting as it incorporates other strong wills into it to 'reinvigorate' itself and keep itself from being swallowed up). Anyway, these guys are the true powers behind the Hordelings, and the scary part is that if they're savvy enough, they can access the collective unconsciousness of the Hordelings and pretty much have access to all the collective knowledge of everyone who's ever been swallowed up by the Gray Wastes--and that's a LOT of frigging knowledge.

This may be tied into the Gray Sisters somehow, I'm not sure--still thinking it over. Something to do with this being the source of where all the Gray Waste's secrets come from (the minds of all the petitioners who have been subsumed by the plane). Or, uh, something.

Yeah. I'll think about it s'more.

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IMPORTANT DISCUSSION: What drives the Hordlings?

I like those ideas very much!

Here's some other points to think about.

Imagine you're a player, and you play an evil character.

Lawful evil? After death, you turn into a lemure. You might be slaughtered before ever getting the chance of rising... but you DO have a chance. You might become a pit fiend or even something beyond one day.

Chaotic evil? You might turn into tanar'ri food... or, some day, into a ruler of your own layer.

Neutral evil? This shouldn't end with losing everything that makes you what you are. I'm for the idea that Hordlings lose their identity - which fits perfectly to the Waste AND to the idea of pointless rage (rage that stays even beyond the point where you forgot why you were full of rage) -, but Hordling souls should still keep some bits of personality, like the other fiends do, too.

Actually, I think that's what's giving them their individual, always different shapes and powers.

In short: As they grow in power, they lose their individuality (meaning memories, personal aims, and stuff), but still keep their personality (at least if they're strong), meaning character traits, favourite ways of killing people, and the like.

That's my suggestion Smiling

As for the Horde mind, I'd suggest there's one for every Horde that comes up, although we could hint at an Over-Horde-mind - but that one should be more potential than reality. If that Overmind were at full power, Hordlings probably weren't as overlooked as they are. Unless... that Yugoloth you mentioned was successful. And I think it'd be even greater to hint at THAT, but let the reader decide what he wants to believe.

Finally, I had a thought about how Hordes are controlled... I was thinking of fish swarms. Not a single fish gives the command, but once enough fishes swim in the same direction, the entire swarm does. It's very instinctive, which fits what we discussed earlier.

Oh, and just remembered: Hordlings mainly attack others - but there are cases in which Hordlings also attack each other. I think I remember having read that, sometimes, a Horde's fiends turn on each other until only one remains.

Kay
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'joyblood' wrote:
Oh, and just remembered: Hordlings mainly attack others - but there are cases in which Hordlings also attack each other. I think I remember having read that, sometimes, a Horde's fiends turn on each other until only one remains.

I can almost here the buzzing... Eye-wink

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Hm. One of the problems here is dealing with the idea of individuality versus anonymity; it's mythically good for Hordelings to become completely anonymous (to be subsumed in a greater identity as a whole), but it's not necessarily good from a gameplay standpoint (or fitting with the symmetry of the planes, as joyblood pointed out).

When I first wrote what I did above out, my initial idea was that the Hordelings could recognize themselves as a singular entity ("I"), but all other Hordelings were the same person ("It"). Hordelings would go along with the flow generally (similar to the fish example), although all Hordelings might acknowledge the most basic of hierarchies ("I am a Hordeling who takes orders from It") ("I am a Hordeling who gives orders to It").

That's kind of complicated and robbing the Hordelings of some potential mythical structure, though. I think that your idea (joyblood) might have a lot of potential to keep the mythical flavor and still keep it in game-play--loss of individuality over time.

How about this:

Low-level Hordelings have a connection to their past, who they are, and what their agendas are. These memories cause them explicit, agonizing pain, and often leave them wracked with guilt and rage. For this reason, they tend to attack just about anything, including being hard to control and turning on one another.

The most important thing to a Hordeling is succession to the next caste state, which can only be accomplished by killing. With every succession upwards along the ladder, the Hordeling loses parts of itself which causes this state of agony, becoming more and more anonymous, reverting to a more and more similar state.

The upper caste of Hordelings are basically all the same person--anonymous. They control the lower caste (although it's very difficult since they're so goddamn rageful) and generally make themselves very unknown. Here's where the Overmind might fit; as Hordelings go up in the caste, the presence of the Overmind becomes more and more prominent, until in the upper tier of Hordelings the Overmind has completely control.

Whatever or whoever the Overmind is, they're subtle as hell. The reason no one's even heard of the Overmind (and the Hordelings are so anonymous as a race) is because 1) The Overmind doesn't want you to know, and more importantly, 2) The Yugoloth don't want you to know.

My basic idea is still that the Overmind is the collection of all the minds and passions of those swallowed by the Gray Wastes.

The Yugoloth can still be using a machine to drive low-level Hordelings crazy (adding to the chaos of the Overmind's attempts to control them), other Yugoloth may be trying to subsume themselves in the plane so they can corrupt the Overmind's agenda (it's not a singular being--but a collective of all the minds of the Gray Wastes, so if enough very powerful, willful Yugoloth give themselves up to it, they can hijack its agenda for their own perfect form of Evil), et cetera, et cetera.

In fact, it strikes me that the Overmind might not have any agendas--it's just a semi-sentient hatred that represents a collection of all the Gray Waste's loss. The Yugoloths, of course, want to turn it into a machine for themselves--and hijack control of the Hordelings in the process.

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Sounds like Zerg a bit. Laughing out loud

But no, thats not a bad idea, although the "upgrades" should be more subtle than, lets say, advancing from an Lion-faced Gibberling to an Insect with Dragon wings as with most of the other races. The upper castes should look a bit different, yes, but not so much. Maybe they do not advance caste-wise, but rather they become more powerful on a single scale. Means to advance could basically be: 1) eat something 2) kill something 3) kill something and eat it, so they'd feast on their prey. They don't have to know it makes them stronger since their instinct tells them to do.

In my version of teh story the 'loth would have created the first useful Hordlings from the emotionless spiritual mass they've been before. The Yugs wakened the rage (with the buzz!), only to recognise that Hordes became harder to control the more creatrues it contained, up to a point were it would turn against their supposed masters. The following slaughter was terrible and decimated both sides, so the 'loth searched for a save way to get rid of the plague. At this point I realized that I have no idea how they might have done this. Smiling

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Just a random idea inspired by the overview thread that talks about how all the 'ancient' fiends except the Yuggoloths have been overthrown by the newer, mortal soul-based fiends. The only reason that the Hordelings haven't managed to overpower/outbreed/outmaneuver the Yuggoloths is because of their inherent flawed nature. They are beings of Neutrality and Evil in equal parts, yet due to some internal or external stimulus seem to act in an outwardly chaotic way and have a more varied and chaotic body makeup than even the tanar'ri. Regardless of whether they are actually chaotic or not, or why this is the case, the common consensus of belief in the multiverse is that they are random little monsters of little consequence. Over time, that level of consistant belief by so many could actually influence the race as a whole, making them less than the 'perfect' NE that they could be

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Some more stuff I wanna throw in the room:

It's not the multiverse that doesn't care about the Hordlings - it's the other way round. The fact they don't get much attention is because they don't care enough to deal with anyone else.

It's not the Yugoloths who won the war - the Hordlings did. They just didn't care enough to wipe out the entire race. When the Yugoloths fled to Gehenna and left the Waste to the Hordlings, they were satisfied.

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So, as far as I can see, we agreed upon the following:

- Hordlings are driven by pointless rage, hateful for a reason they have long forgotten (or that has become unimportant, for the hatred would survive even if the reason existed no more). They act to bring down the very thing that takes away their hope - and that thing is Life (or rather, Existence).

- As for being *neutral* evil, their anonymity does not allow for the individuality so important to the chaotic side of the spectrum yet their actions and instinctive nature do not allow for the lawful influence that their otherwise organized horde structure would entail.

- Hordlings do advance, though subtler than the other fiendish races (details still need to be discussed). They are commonly "born" out of larvae that carry enough rage inside them to break out of their apathic state of existence. It might, too, be possible that some Hordlings are born from the very essence of the plane itself, just like it happens with tanar'ri. Noone knows for sure, though.

- Every gathering of Hordlings creates a "Horde mind", which is a mostly instinctive Hive mind that controls the Horde like a fish swarm is controlled by the movements of its individual members.

- The major conflict of any Hordling is that of individuality vs. anonymity.

- Hordlings lose individuality (but might keep an illusion of personality) as they evolve; but as they do, they gain more control of their respective Horde mind. Other aspects of what they gain and how they evolve needs to be discussed.

- Horde minds are closely tied to the Gray Waste itself; the ultimate Horde mind would be an incarnation of the very plane.

- Every Horde mind has access to secrets that have been forgotten in the Waste; the more powerful a Horde mind, the greater the secrets it knows.

- The ties and relations to Yugoloths are unsure; most probably, they simply are the third "mortal soul"-fiendish race, but noone really knows for sure.

- Hordlings recognize themselves as "I", even as they love their individuality, while they recognize their Horde as "It" (which makes sense considering the Horde is, in a way, the same as the Horde mind).

Correct me if I'm wrong somewhere, or if I've forgotten something.

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I have NOT yet summarized all the theories and other great ideas that you came up with, because first I want a good write-up of what we consider "canon" for Hordlings.

The theories, intrigue ideas and so on can be used later on without ever saying anything of that is "definite truth". As said before, contradictions are wanted Smiling

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Further ideas:

Hordlings in a Horde attack each other when, for whatever reasons, they recognize each other as individual Hordlings, rather than as a part of "It". That is, whenever any one Hordling is considered as an individual by the others, he's as good as dead (unless he's powerful enough).

Sometimes, it happens that a Horde mind collapses. These are the times when a Horde slaughter begins: All members of the Horde attack each other, until only a single one remains.

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'joyblood' wrote:
- Hordlings do advance, though subtler than the other fiendish races (details still need to be discussed).

Well, I imagine they do so somewhat like the Orcs of Warhammer40k. Getting bigger, more intelligent, more nasty.

*edit: Oh, one more thing: what should the Hordes have to do with any secrets if they're rampaging maniacs?

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What if larva, if left unchecked for too long upon the gray waste, will eventually just naturally just change into hordlings. The night hags, knowing this is really bad for business herd and sell them before this can happen.

The hordelings on the other hand are trying to stop the hags from achieving such ends. After all no selfish, ambitious person would want, or allow another to make a profit off its own being. And maybe they quarrel with the 'loths for dominance of the Gray waste. After all why is it exactly they have started moving towards Gehenna? A sort of second blood war, concealed behind the larger more agressive one.

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I think it is important to reconcile the seemingly chaotic evil nature of the hordelings to their canonically neutral evil alignment. I suggest playing upon their apathy for anything but slaughter, which ties them closely to the Waste. Also, their anonymity does not allow for the individuality so important to the chaotic side of the spectrum yet their actions do not allow for the lawful influence that their otherwise organized horde structure would entail.

Also, since everybody keeps trying to tie the little buggers to the 'loths, here's an idea that might be interesting:

Some bloods claim that the hordelings were once a rather more rational and less bestially organized form of petitioner than they are today. They were the stronger of the petitioners that came to the Waste and were not satisfied with fading into mere shades. The hordelings were as different a form of evil neutrality as they could be from the intelligently designed Yugoloths. Rather than plotting and scheming to get their end goals, the petitioners simply slaughtered anyone that stood in their path - may the strongest one prevail. The hordelings' rage and pure evil so impressed the Yugoloths that the latter decided to try and harness the former. After centuries of research, a specialized team of arcanaloth scholars developed a hitherto unknown form of mass mind control. The Yugoloth's entire standing army was arranged as support for the coming conquest as their Lieutenant General at the time, an ultraloth only slightly less powerful than the General of the Wastes, attempted to gain control of an entire race of petitioners. Everything seemed to be going to plan as hordelings all over the plane stopped in their tracks and simply waited. Unbeknownst to the 'loths, the process had backfired. The Lieutenant's consciousness merged with the billions of raging others. A mental slaughter began, until eventually only one utterly insane but now even more enraged mind remained, having absorbed and conquered the others. Whether it was that of the Yugoloth leader or some very powerful petitioner is anybody's guess, but by that point it didn't matter. The newly created Ultramind called all of its disjointed body together, bringing a horde of souls so great that its like has never before or since been seen. The horde converged onto the single broken shell of an ultraloth at its heart. Just as the minds had merged, so too did the bodies, creating a horrifying, unnatural creature plagued by a disease manifestated of the undiluted rage of billions of beings. This colossal monstrosity began to attack the very Yugoloth forces which had gathered to support it, and despite their best efforts it began to win. The 'loths panicked, bringing their considerable emergency system to bear. Their capital city, the center of their power and knowledge, was instantly cloaked and transformed, preparing it to be teleported to the neighboring plane of Gehenna via a one time emergency spell built into the very city's streets. Many Yugoloths followed their General by portal. Those that did not were slaughtered and absorbed by the ever growing Ultramind. Finally, the remaining few 'loths of the Waste made a last ditch effort to destroy their creation. Calling upon some dreadful pact with unknown powers of evil, the once Lieutenant General's major arranged for every single last member of the Veniloths, a now poorly replaced station in the race's hierarchy that was most skilled at the ministrations of poison, to be sacrificed - body, soul, and memory. The result funneled their infernal knowledge into the Ultramind, poisoning it to death over the course of a year. As its death throws progressed, the very plane was infused with its infinite hatred, and its body crumbled to gray dust, leaving but a single spinal column now known as Khin'Oin. As the 'loths struggled to regroup their divided forces and gain or regain footholds on both Gehenna and the Waste, they noticed odd peculiarities in the petitioners of their home plane. Those that were too stubborn to become shades now emerged as misformed monsters, stripped of all thoughts but their rage and a communal horde mentality by a plane that was simply trying to equilibrate itself after absorbing so much of a single thing. Then again, some old bloods say a lot of crazy things.

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I can already see Project #2 coming up: Creation myths of the Waste...
Cool

Quote:
What if larva, if left unchecked for too long upon the gray waste, will eventually just naturally just change into hordlings.

Definitely fits into canon, and also fits how I imagined it Smiling

The only difference I'd put there: It takes a strong inner rage to leave the stage of larva behind and turn into something "greater". So, not ALL the larvae turn into Hordlings, only the strong ones and those that are not shipped off to other planes before they had a chance to change.

Quote:
Oh, one more thing: what should the Hordes have to do with any secrets if they're rampaging maniacs?

Umm.. I thought we agreed they aren't just rampaging maniacs?

That's the impression they make at first glance, but if you look deeper, there's an instinctive intelligence behind every rampaging Horde. The most powerful Hordlings in a Horde can influence that Horde mind, and thus can drive the entire Horde to any action it wants.

But that's a good point there - we have a neat background for Hordlings already, but it's still hard to really set them up as interesting characters in an adventure.

How can we make a Horde become more than a "rampaging mass of monsters" while still keeping them as a rampaging mass of monsters?

I.e. we need to extend (but not change) the idea of what a Horde actually does.

Ideas?

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Edited my list according to the recent posts...

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Let's see what we got...

Hordlings are driven by a pointless rage and hatred towards anything other than "I" (the individual Hordling) and "It" (the Horde / Horde mind within which they exist), considering everything else an inacceptable disturbance.

Powerful Hordlings can influence the Horde mind, but the Horde mind also influences/controls every member of its Horde.

On a first glance, the Horde is a rampaging mass of monsters, which leaves the problem of making them *interesting* foes with more than one way to handle (i.e. more options than fighting a war against them).

Possible solution:

When being influenced by a single powerful Hordling (or a group of like-minded / like-spirited Hordlings), the Horde mind can be set to achieve a certain goal.

Being instinctive as it is, this is usually still the destruction of some "annoyance", but that doesn't mean the Horde can't act intelligently, even make complex plans to achieve the goal.

Also, there are various ways to destroy things. There's the blunt smashing and eating, but there are also more "spiritual destructions" like making a place slide to the Waste (destroying all hope at that place), or the like.

Examples:

A Horde somehow came to the Outlands. It attacks a fortress, and the locals set up an army to defeat the intruders. But after the first wave of attack, the Hordlings suddenly move to destroying all plant and animal life in the area - so that, even when the inhabitants of the fortress survive the battle, they have nothing left to eat.

Only when that is achieved do the Hordlings return to attacking the fortress itself. But even now, they focus less on killing people, than on destroying the very fortress. As towers and gates crumble to dust, so does the hope of the locals.

The battle goes on for long, and finally, most people in the fortress give up, not believing they have any chance of surviving this. The fortress slides to the Waste. The slide's impact crashes the damaged fortress, so that the inhabitants have no defense anymore.

Now, finally, the Hordlings come for a kill...

This idea can become way more interesting by creating "Horde mind powers", i.e. special powers of the Horde mind that go beyond the individual Hordlings' powers. I'd focus on spiritual abilities here, things more in the line of draining the land of its life rather than creating massive fireballs.

Further ideas are welcome Smiling

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Further ideas Smiling

It might happen that there are two Hordlings / groups of Hordlings trying to seize control of a Horde, which have conflicting ideas of how and what the Horde should destroy.

That Horde's actions might appear entirely contradictory, even stupid, to any outside observer, but looking closer, the two differing goals might be revealed.

For example, a Horde could be torn apart between destroying a city and a nearby forest. The Horde runs from one point to the other, like a headless chicken, always leaving one place of destruction just minutes after they got there.

The Horde could be pushed towards leaving the city alone by making the forest a greater nuisance to it. Or it could be drawn to some entirely different place by giving it a third, even greater annoyance to destroy.

Of course, the major problem would be to find out about all this at first.

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Here is some 2e canonical rant:

In Blood War box set there is legend (or Yugoloth propaganda) wich states that Ultroloths came to Gray Waste from another multiverse, and here, with help of Baraenoloths they created both Baatezu and Tanar´ri by purging larvae of Law and Chaos leaving only pure evil.

Next step was creation of yugoloth race. But what if the hoardlings were the first attempt to create slave race that was too agressive to control.
Also I is said that Mezzoloths were once planar race that yugoloths adopted ito their race. Maybe first Mezzoloths were hordlings that had traits desired by yugoloths and they were breed into new yugoloth subrace.

Also there are Guardian Yugolots (wich mages get when they try to summon yugoloth), wich are basicly constructs simmilar to retrivers. So I guess that hordling flesh is used in production of these things since they like hordlings exibit different phisical traits.

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Those are cool ideas & legends.

Here's one other.

Yugoloths ARE Hordlings, all the talk of them being one of the "original fiendish races" is but a lie. The only difference between 'loths and Hordlings is that the Yugoloths are caged into a specific system, much like the baatezu.

Leave a nupperibo in Baator for some eons, and it transforms into... something else.

Free a yugoloth from its caste system... and it might turn into a Hordling.

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@Squaf
This sounds pretty cool, fitting in all that twisted creation stuff. See, the Ancient Baatezu and Tanarri were failures, so were the Gehrrheleths (in the eyes of the majority) and now the Hordlings, too. After all that miserable failures the 'loth "invented" the caste system - and finally succeeded. The ancient progenitors of the demons&devils saw it was good, and copied it. Only that they used it to alter the petitioners and mini-fiends that would soon inhabit their planes.

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On a side note, there's another hint at this in some PS adventure (don't remember which one). At the spawning stone, the Slaadi are changed so that they have a given shape. The "unchanged" slaad actually transform all the time, their limbs getting longer or smaller, and so on, almost like their bodies were fluid.

So it seems that whatever powers forced the fiends into castes, did the same with the slaadi.

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'joyblood' wrote:
On a side note, there's another hint at this in some PS adventure (don't remember which one). At the spawning stone, the Slaadi are changed so that they have a given shape. The "unchanged" slaad actually transform all the time, their limbs getting longer or smaller, and so on, almost like their bodies were fluid.

So it seems that whatever powers forced the fiends into castes, did the same with the slaadi.

Haha, yes, and I say the Slaadi are a fiendish race themselfes! At least some of their superiors are.. I mean, look at the lords, they look like coming from the deepest layer of the Abbys!

But then.. whats with the Upper Planes' castes? Or Modrons. Though Modrons are obvious, being all Law and such. (That said, I don't like any caste system, but thats just me.)

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Question: What would you prefer, "Horde mind" or "Horde spirit"?

The first alternative makes it clearer what the Horde mind is, but the "Horde spirit" gives it a more mystical touch.

I vote for the second, but I'd like to hear your opinions first. And maybe someone even has a better idea. Smiling

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Quote:
On a side note, there's another hint at this in some PS adventure (don't remember which one).

It was from Tales from Infinite Staircase adv anthology. Smiling

I also like "horde spirit", "horde mind" reminds me too much of "Hive mind" (and we hawe enough of that allredy).
"Horde spirit" also implies some mysterious force that drives hordlings: like disembodied entity that uses hordlings for its tools, dark gods in making (or dead gods that still cling to life), alien mind from another plane, or even will/spirit of Gray Waste itself. Posibilities are unlimited.

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I love this, and already updated my entry in the Cant thread.

It also gives WAY cool possibilities for new adventure seeds: A Horde that gets influenced by the spirit of a long-forgotten, short-before-dying last spark of an ancient god might do... interesting things.

I think I'll use this as the basis of my adventure outline for our first PDF book. Smiling

Kay
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Third vote for the spirit. Also I'd say as Squaff: Leave the exact nature of the spirit vague.

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Agreed. We should have some common understanding to work with in our project team, but in the books, we should keep it just defined enough so a DM can work with it.

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Personally, I would suggest something along the lines of "Horde Instinct" or "Horde Sense", as "Horde Mind" really is too close to "Hive Mind" and "Horde Spirit" seems a bit too cheerleaderish.

Also, could anybody give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on my previous post in this topic - the Khin'Oin thing. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but its one of my first such submissions and I would like to know if I'm on the right page with everyone else.

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Hey Iavas,

I like "Horde Instinct" - it combines the "mystical" feeling with quite explicitly telling what it's about, even more precise than "Horde mind".

Any other votes?

As for your Khin Oin post, I like it very much, and think it'd make well for a story in a future project, as I've suggested somewhere before: A book about creation myths of Night Hags & Hordlings.

I wouldn't put it up as "canon", though, rather as one more of those contradictory theories/legends that go around.

And I love those. Smiling

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Quote:
Personally, I would suggest something along the lines of "Horde Instinct" or "Horde Sense", as "Horde Mind" really is too close to "Hive Mind" and "Horde Spirit" seems a bit too cheerleaderish.

Problem is that every name has its merits.
Why, not then call it "Horde Will"? It sugest the unknown mind/inteligece/instinct that drives the hordling horde.

EDIT: Here is one idea regarding "horde instinct": that sometimes "horde instinct" becomes so powerfull that starts influencing other individuals in horde vicinity (party of adventurers, for example) inviting them to join horde, rather to be lost to fade. But that kind of horde should be pretty big, and individuals under influence of "horde instinct" would end up as hordlings if not removed from horde.

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