The qlippoth have endured longer than most other forms of life—perhaps longer than any form of life. Doubtless, those that exist today in the deeper parts of the Abyss are different than those that existed before the Abyss became infested with demons, who served so well to strip the Abyss of its previous dominant race and turn back the qlippoth tide. Yet still, in the varied shapes and shades of their forms and the tremendous monstrosity of their hunger, the qlippoth endure. They long to reclaim control of the Abyss, to realize revenge against the daemons, and to extinguish all demonic life, yet their primary goal is nothing less than the destruction of all mortals. For without mortality, sin itself will die, and the demon host will starve to death and be no more.
- Immunity to cold, mind-affecting effects, and poison.
- Resistance to acid 10, electricity 10, and fire 10.
- Horrific Appearance (Su): All qlippoth have such horrific and mind-rending shapes that those who gaze upon them suffer all manner of ill effects. A qlippoth can present itself as a standard action to assault the senses of all living creatures within 30 feet. The exact effects caused by a qlippoth’s horrific appearance vary by the type of qlippoth. A successful Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the qlippoth’s Hit Dice + the qlippoth’s Charisma modifier): reduces or negates the effect. This ability is a mind-affecting gaze attack.
- Except where otherwise noted, qlippoth speak Abyssal.
Source: Ultimate Magic (see Binding Outsiders for further details.)
Only the most insane or desperate spellcasters dare to call and bind a qlippoth. The qlippoth’s unpredictable nature, horrific appearance, and hatred for all mortal life make them some of the most dangerous outsiders to summon. They were once rulers of the Abyss, but were overthrown when the souls of mortal sinners arrived and transformed into the first demons. While qlippoth may bargain with mortal spellcasters, they don’t feel bound to follow such agreements, and often blatantly disregard the orders of their binders, no matter the consequences. Qlippoth are immune to cold, mind-affecting effects, and poison. They have resistance to acid 10, electricity 10, and fire 10. All but the least have an aura of fear and madness.
Augnagar: Stupid and ravenous, these cannibalistic qlippoth rarely bargain with their binders, but can be threatened into what passes for qlippoth service.
Chernobue (SR 23): These flopping and writhing things are only concerned with spreading their vile poison. They do not bargain with binders.
Cythnigot: The most common type of qlippoth found on the Material Plane, cythnigots are called by some chaotic evil spellcasters to act as familiars; a cythnigot latches on to a Tiny animal familiar the spellcaster already has.
Iathavos (SR 31): The powerful and singular iathavos never answers the call of a binder, even an epic one.
Nyogoth: These hungry, abyssal bottom feeders heed the calls of spellcasters, but typically only to find new things to eat in far-off places. Though not stupid, nyogoths are hard to reason with, and only respond when offered new and interesting things to eat.
Shoggti: Next to cythnigots, shoggti are the most common qlippoth found on the Material Plane. These masters of mind manipulation are always on the hunt for living slaves for their inexplicable plans. A shoggti quickly heeds the call of a binder, hoping to eventually turn her into its newest thrall.
Thulgant (SR 25 vs. lawful spells and creatures): These powerful qlippoth are too arrogant and self-important to answer the call of a spellcaster wishing to bind them.
Before the Abyss was taught how to process and transform larvae into demons—indeed, before larvae even existed or the idea of mortal life had been conceived—it was rife with foul life. These creatures exist still, yet in drastically reduced numbers and often only in the deepest pits of the plane. Known as the qlippoth (the singular and plural are identical), these fiends may well be the oldest form of life in the Great Beyond—certainly, they were already in existence before the proteans discovered them. Some believe that the qlippoth come from an unknowable realm on what might be described as the “outside shell” of the Outer Sphere, but if the qlippoth are to be taken as indicative of what order of existence rules in such a realm, it is a good thing indeed that this outer realm is so impossibly distant.
The qlippoth do not possess in their forms anything approximating the human shape except by cosmic fluke or sinister mockery. In their twitching, squirming visages, the mad might make comparisons to life’s most primeval shapes—spiders and cephalopods, insects and worms, and even baser forms of life. What this might imply about these lower forms of life has disturbed philosophers for ages, and is not a train of thought that many enjoy lingering upon.
Since the rise of mortal sin, the rule of the Abyss has passed from the qlippoth to the much more fecund demons. When the Abyss first “learned” how to transform mortal souls into demons, the resulting explosion of demonic life culminated in a violent and destructive war with the then-rulers of the Abyss—the qlippoth. For unguessed millennia this war raged across the countless layers of the Abyss. The qlippoth had the advantage of knowing their Ancient realm and, as a general rule, were individually more powerful than most demons, but the demons had numbers on their side. And as the demons continued to win battle after battle, new powers among their kind rose—balors, balor lords, nascent demon lords, and eventually demon lords themselves. Over time, the qlippoth were hunted nearly to extinction on the upper layers of the Abyss, and were forced to retreat deep into that realm’s darkest and most remote realms, to places even the demons feared to tread.
Here, the qlippoth have festered and lurked for ages. None can say how many qlippoth survived that Ancient war, for none can know how deep the Abyss goes. The qlippoth dwell in these darkest pits, periodically emerging to do battle against their hated demonic foes, yet their wrath is not limited to the demonic host. The qlippoth know that daemons played a role in “teaching” the Abyss how to birth demonic life, and their war with the denizens of Abaddon is one fueled more by a driving need to punish than any need for survival. Yet as the eons have worn on, the qlippoth have come to realize that the true enemy is not a fiendish race—it is mortal life itself. For as long as mortal life continues to sin and die, the Abyss can continue to birth demons into its pits and rifts. The destruction of sin, by changing the way mortals live, would halt demonic growth, yet the qlippoth have no concept of how this goal might be achieved—to the qlippoth, only the murder of all mortality can suffice.
As a result, all qlippoth possess within their minds a burning hatred of mortal life, particularly humanoids, whom they know to be the primary seeds of sin. When a qlippoth is conjured to the Material Plane, it seeks any way to escape control in order to maul and destroy humans—they have a particular hatred of children and pregnant women, and if given a choice between harming someone already dying or close to death and someone with a full life ahead of them, they always choose to attack the latter, save for the rare case where the death of an Elder or a dying loved one might result in a chain reaction of death among the young.
When called via spells like planar ally that require opposed Charisma checks or similar mechanics in order for the conjuring spellcaster to secure the outsider’s aid, evil humanoids take a –6 penalty when interacting with qlippoth due to the sin in their souls. The promise of a task that would afford the qlippoth the opportunity to kill many humanoids, or a sacrifice of a pregnant woman or a child, can sometimes offset this penalty. When a qlippoth shakes off the shackles of a conjuration, it attempts to remain on the Material Plane as long as possible, and during that time tries to murder as many mortals as it can, doing its part to deprive the Abyss of possible future sinful souls to build demons from.
Of the qlippoth most commonly encountered in the upper reaches, those most directly involved in the qlippoth war against demonic life are:
Augnagar: Tremendous in size and appetite, augnagars cling to the walls and ceilings of the deep rifts—apex predators of Abyssal life.
Chernobue: Believed to be the spawn of a powerful qlippoth named Shiggarreb, the chernobue are gelatinous monstrosities that creep along on cold tentacles. They can infuse mortals with a hideous poison that mimics an explosive and invasive pregnancy.
Cythnigot: Strange, spore-like forms of life, the cythnigots infest small creatures and reshape their bodies as needed. Capable of extruding vise-like stalked jaws from the flesh of their hosts, the cythnigots are favorite familiars of the truly mad.
Hydraggon: Although the reptilian hydraggon is not commonly found, it is quite common in certain regions of the Abyss, where its ability to wield weapons with its multiple tongues makes it a favorite addition to fiendish armies. These creatures are commonly found slithering through the deeper waters of the most remote reaches of the Styx.
Iathavos: The Iathavos is one of the largest known qlippoth species. Many believe that there is only ever one of this kind—that upon the iathavos’s defeat, the Abyss simply births a new one somewhere deep and hidden to take the place of the previous incarnation. A bloated, winged monstrosity, the iathavos wields a bewildering array of magical powers as it flops through the Abyssal skies on an eternal crusade against the demonic infestation and the infection of mortal sin.
Nyogoth: Appearing as nothing less hideous than tangled knots of intestines around gaping, toothed maws, the nyogoths are Abyssal scavengers, feeding upon anything cast aside and keeping the deepest depths of the Outer Rifts from clogging with filth and waste.
Shiggarreb: Unlike the case of the iathavos, there can be no mistaking the fact that Shiggarreb is a unique entity. Undeniably female, this monster most closely resembles a bloated drider, yet nothing in its chitin-plated, multi-armed upper torso suggests anything remotely human. Shiggarreb is the driving force behind the qlippoth goal of reclaiming the Abyss, yet many believe she is but a messenger in the service of even more powerful entities.
Shoggti: These repulsive, tentacled qlippoth serve as slavers, specializing in the use of demons and mortals alike to serve in their war for control over the Abyss. They consume their slaves’ intellect, keeping them nearly mindless and thus easy to control.
Thulgant: The spidery thulgants bear a strange resemblance to the more bestial augnagars, yet as feral as the augnagars are, the thulgants are possessed of a terrible and wicked intellect that they use to great effect. The thulgants, it is believed, are focused on murdering the demonic race and restoring the Abyss to their rule.
Stranger beings dwell in the deeper reaches of the Abyss: Squid-like creatures that swim through the air and feed with the tips of their tentacles. Vast, sheet-like, ghostly forms in which shapes best left unseen press against the surface. Clinging monstrosities and swimming nightmares in whose forms no earthly analogue can, thankfully, be discerned. Yet just as there are those among the demonic horde who have risen to the heights of power, there are qlippoth lords as well. The entity known as Shiggarreb may be the qlippoth equivalent of a nascent lord, yet whispers persist of qlippoth that rival the power of true gods, but which have never emerged from the deepest reaches of the Abyss.
What is known is that the evolution of chaos continues, and some of the entities known today as demon lords began their ancient lives not as demons at all, but as unique qlippoth. These demon lords were among the first to be transformed by those ancient experiments, and while other demons have risen beyond the power of the old qlippoth lords, those who survive today, transformed by infections of mortal sin, remain among the most powerful demon lords.
That the qlippoth have among their kind paragons akin to demon lords is indisputable, yet these powers rarely, if ever, emerge from the deepest realms of the Abyss to interact with the rest of the multiverse. They are only rarely worshiped on the Material Plane, but such cults, where they exist, are singularly destructive and ruinous.
Yet the power granted by mortal worship can have a curious effect on a qlippoth—it can, in a way, infect it with the sins of its worshipers. Qlippoth who become so infected are either murdered by their kin or forced to flee to the upper realms of the Abyss, where they complete their transformation and, instead of remaining qlippoth lords, become demon lords. One can know the nature of a demon lord that began life as a qlippoth most easily by its shape—those demon lords, such as ichthyic Dagon or foul and festering Jubilex, bear little or no sign of a humanoid frame.