Dragon Empire Setting: What if Star Things and Soul Flensers are the Same Thing?

Written by Grimcleaver.

Stars Things, Soul Flensers & Deep Krakens

The soul flensers & deep krakens are introduced in 13 True Ways. In recent times something has begun to rise from the deepest parts of the Underworld, vast tunneling things like an unthinkably large worm with a tentacled head like a vast cuttlefish. After shaking the surface world with their subterranean circling, they suddenly go quiet, disgorging weird octopoid things into the world, that slip out into the world and begin stealthily stealing into people's residences, carving off a piece of a soul at every stop. What they need these soul fragments for is a mystery.

The star things are introduced in the organized play adventure Race to Star Port. They reside in living dungeons bound together into stars, imprisoned by an ancient incarnation of the Archmage and set adrift in the far Overworld. A group of them escape and begin to lay seige to Star Port. They possess living weapons they use as servitors. They can infest a living thing with barbed tentacles they use to force the host into bondage. Even the dead can be dragged into service as marionette-like creatures called xombies.

Is there a connection between them? I'm not sure there was meant to be, but it's a fun connection and it makes for a good story, so I like to think there is. If you like it, use it!

In ages past the world was overrun with octopoid, soul eating monsters that go by two different names in the modern era: star things for the ones that were banished to stellar prisons which periodically dock with Star Port to recharge and repair their wards and which allow their powerful wardens to rotate shifts and refresh themselves. In other parts they are known as soul flensers. Long ago, when the others of their kind were being bound within living dungeons by an Archmage, they escaped the purge by infesting the Underworld’s equivalent of koru behemoths, massive tunneling worm creatures known as deep krakens. They subverted them with their parasitic star masks, forcing them into tunneling escape pods. They burrowed far into the earth, down out of sight of their enemies. They have waited therein the depths all this time, slowly orbiting and looking for signs that the time has come to return.

It would be an interesting justification of the gods departure into exile if the soul flensers had begun to feed on them, having risen to a level of power where they could attack the lords of creation with impunity. Even after having been locked away by a titanic effort between the combined efforts of the gods and early Icons, the gods found themselves forced to retreat from the world to heal and rebuild their strength and numbers. This is why for much of known history the gods have been concidered remote and detatched. What has caused the return of the soul flensers in this age? Increased activity by the gods roused them: the return of a Priestess and her ties to the Gods of Light; the Crusader and his war to unite evil under the banner of the Dark Gods. They have given the signal the Soul Flensers sought for their return.

If they are to devour the gods, they must strike quickly before their power rises beyond their ability to overcome—but they cannot strike too quickly because the atrophy of millenia have sapped their powers too, forced to subsist on the strange creatures in the deep Underworld. Therefore their host krakens remain at the edge of the world’s perceptions as scouts poke up through the tunnels and snatch the most powerful heroes they can, building their stockpile of power for their eventual divine assault. The subversion of Star Port was a gambit to reunite with the others of their kind. Had they destroyed it, the heart of civilization would be overcome by a Living Dungeon of massivle proportions, filled with hungry soul flensers. After Star Port's fall, the stars would have nowhere to replenish themselves and would have fallen, spreading more dungeons across the world. The failure of this scheme has set them back and provided a lot of messy clues that informed adventurers could use to reveal their existance and plots—and so their strategy has changed. Instead of focusing on careful infiltration and stocking of resources, they have transitioned  to panicked cleanup. They seek to kill or subvert all witnesses and destroy all evidence left behind. They seek to root out any who seem overly interested in the event, or any with an interest in the area to silence them. Despite their ferocity in keeping their secret out of the hands of others, it may well be their own zeal that brings their dealings into the open.

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