Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Obliterat and the House Unheard

It is understood that much of reality only exists because it is observed.  The Authority is capable of seeing all things, and therefore the world is stabilized and made persistant by his unwaverig gaze, watching the world from atop the Throne. 

Who gave you your eyes?  The Authority?  Do you trust him?  To see that which is hidden, then, requires you to stop looking with your eyes.  The void monks pluck out their eyes so that they might see more clearly.

The void monks offer peace, forgetfulness, lobotomies, absence, and the release of oblivion far beyond the reach of petty gods and unfair afterlives.  (Is it any wonder that they were founded by orcs?)

The most important monastery of the void monks is the Obliterat.

Within the Obliterat, the monks attempt to answer difficult questions.  When we are obliterated, are we truly gone?  Or is there just another place we find ourselves?  Is there anything after the end of time, or before the beginning?  What forms these boundaries?

They investigate these things through meditation, astral projection, and psychotropics (occasionally used as a crutch by the younger members).  The philosophical body that they have created is called the Annihilum.

"I think, therefor I am." is an empty phrase to them.  Thinking something is not proof of anything.  To them, the human mind is an echo chasing itself back and forth across a canyon.  It is an empty loop, repeating meaningless symbols, signifying nothing.

But the players do not care about most of this.  More to the point, the monks also study the lacunae.

by Chris from

The Lacunae

There are holes in the world.  The monks know this better than any, having created so many themselves.

And that is why the monks of the Obliterat have become the best surveyors in the world.

From the crossroads at Dzorum, walk exactly 5000 feet south.  Then walk exactly 5000 feet west.  Then walk exactly 5000 feet north.  You will find that you are exactly 4851 feet away from where you started.

At the imperial quarry at Clavenhorn, it is clear that four stone gloryboats have clearly been cut away from the cliff at roughly the same time period.  The second emperor began the practice, and the fourth emperor ended it.  Where is the missing emperor?

The calendars do not match up.  The equinoxes have shifted too much.  The eclipses do not fall where they should.  Something has been corrupted.  Something has been stolen away.

The astronomers of the Obliterat have calculated that there is over three hundred years of missing history that occurred within the bounds of recorded history (a little over 700 years).  A third of the last millennium has been lobotomized, and no one knows what is missing, much less how.

The dinosaur cults have long been suspected.  But the dinosaur cults have been allies with the void monks in the past, and even when they met as friends neither could discern the truth of it.

The other possibility lays with the Order of the Owl, but who can question them?  If they ever knew the truth of it, they've long since chosen to discard the memory.

by Loch at

The Obliterat

The Obliterat was once a lighthouse.  That much was once apparent.

Like most lighthouses, it was probably built on a promontory, or at least an island.  But in the long years since it's construction, the foundation must have been washed away or eroded.  Now, the Obliterat floats above the ocean, held aloft by time-and-space-locked void monks.  The whole tower is wrapped in an enormous black sheet, like a flag over a corpse.  It flaps in the wind.

The tower itself exists in a lacuna--a gap in space.  If you hunt for it, you will never find it.  It is hidden, like a raisin under a fold in the tablecloth that you will never see, much less touch.  

But there is a way to get there.

Here is the traditional method.
  • You must not intend to reach the Obliterat.
  • You must not know where you are.
  • You must be close to death--the boundary of the smallest oblivion.
Traditionally, the most common way for someone to get there is if their friends (or allies) conspire to send them there.  The unfortunate soul will be drugged, or plied with drink.  They will be given a near-fatal dose of black lotus.  They will be placed into a row boat below the Bastion of Medurak, when the tide is going out.  A thousand gold coins will be scattered over their unconscious bodies.  And then they will be pushed out into the churning sea.

It works best in spring.

From there, the monks will find you, hopefully.

If the gold is sufficient, and if you seem like an honest supplicant, they will take you in and tend to you until you recover. 

It is, of course, much bigger on the inside.

Honestly, the other void monasteries are a lot easier to get to.  It may be easier to just ask those void monks how they get to the Obliterat.  They can't all go through this every time they want to visit.

DM Advice

It's difficult to get the whole party to the Obliterat without railroading them.

If a single PC is trying to get to the Obliterat, they can't get there.  The only way a PC will get to the Obliterat will be if the other PCs conspire in secret to send them there.

Like, Alice and Bob will have to pass the DM a note that says "tonight we're going to get Charlie drunk, dose him with black lotus poison, cover him in gold, and send him to the Obliterat".

It's up to you what the chance of success in.  Maybe 5-in-6, if done in spring.

If Alice and Bob are smart, they'll send Charlie out at night and then go looking for him in the morning.  If he got picked up by the Obliterat, they'll never find him.  If he didn't, maybe they'll find a rowboat with their confused friend in it.

If Charlie makes it to the Obliterat, don't spend too much time 1-on-1'ing with him.  Elide the visit if you can, and/or include the rest of the party (they can suggest ideas to Charlie).  Then send him home.

The House Unheard

The void monks are the most extreme and most visible followers of the Annihilum.  But there are lay people who follow as well.  This is the house unheard.

They are functional nihilists.  They are not a death cult.  They might believe that life is pointless, but they don't seek to destroy the world.  They recognize the absurdity of their births, but they still love their mothers.

These are the people who support the monks.  They donate food, money, clothing, and other things besides.

The monks provide comfort.  Traumas can be wiped away.  Painful emotions can be burned out.  And if you insist on suicide, your loved ones can be made to forget that you ever existed, to spare them sorrow.

Most people love their mothers.

The Powers of the Obliterat

And they can, of course, easily hide anything that you need hidden.

They may even be able to find things that have been hidden, perhaps better than anyone else.

 The void monks have access to the roads that have been scrubbed from the maps.  The world is shaped differently for them (because they see the world as it is, not as it is seen).  The monks can move faster overland--sometimes shockingly so.

There are lost cities, erased from the world as thoroughly as they have been erased from the maps.  Did you think that Foxentown was the only one?  The void monks use them as an escape.  

Not as a shelter, though.  Lost cities might be lost to men, but they are not lost to everything that wanders.  Strange things stalk those empty streets.

The void monks have even learn to sing a few verses of the false hydra's song.

They sometimes align themselves with Zala Vacha, but mostly to share their protection.  They do not share most of Zala Vacha's convictions.  Why destroy anything when everything is already destroyed?  Does it matter if the void claims us now or in a thousand years?

The King of Nothing

Who rules the Obliterat?  It is said to be the King of Nothing, a person who close to oblivion that they have become unknowable.

Despite this, the King of Nothing is believed to be an actual person who walks around, holds meetings, and issues orders.  Void monks commonly experience missing time, and find strange orders in their pockets (in their own handwriting).  The instructions on these notes are followed.  They are from the King of Nothing.

That's the leading theory anyway.  The second theory is that the King of Nothing is a living Orb of Annihilation (or something very close to it).

by Kev Walker


  1. If anyone wants to draw the Obliterat, I'd love to put the art at the top of the page.

    Basically just a huge obelisk, obscured beneath a huge black sheet, floating above the ocean in a breeze.

  2. Sweet. Honestly, you can start any adventure off wonderfully with amnesiac characters with handwritten notes in their pockets.

  3. 1d10 Ways To Get A Bunch Of People Into A Place When Only One Person Is Admitted

    1. Portable Hole. The old classic. Sew it into the lining of your coat. Party climbs inside with a deck of cards, a few pig bladders full of spare air, and a lot of hope.

    2. The Back Passage. A variant on 1. People check for portable holes, you see. So if you want to hide it, you’d better put it somewhere nobody wants to look.

    3. Dream Key. A silver key on a chain. Antique, heavy. Insert it into a sleeping person’s ear, turn it, and climb into their dreams. All you need to do is time your exit, avoid detection, and avoid the (very real) dangers inside your friend’s head.

    4. Waxenbeans. Eat them to turn into a tiny wax figure of yourself for 12 hours, give or take. Let’s hope the monks don’t discard material possessions before it wears off.

    5. The Sigils of Conjoined Destiny
    You’ll need two logs, scaffolding, rope, paint, and very trusting friends. Rig the logs up like they’re going to strike a bell, except the bell is you (all of you). Paint the sigils (carefully!) on the ends of the logs, ensuring they’ll collide at the correct alignment. Place your heads at the impact site. Release. For up to a week, or until someone catches on and unravels you, everyone hit by the hammer will be one person for the purposes of... everything. It’s difficult to say if you have one body or several bodies, because you’re also subject to the same entanglement.
    6. Reduction To Essential Salts
    Requires a lot of trust a tolerably dry environment. Not anyone’s first plan.

    7. The Lover’s Gate. One of those ridiculously forlkoric spells every hedge mage claims to know, but which most can’t cast. It’s an old spell, probably older than language. Calls a willing person to your side no matter where they are, provided you have mixed your blood with their blood (or the folkloric equivalent, if you get my drift). Has the baffling tendency to punch through wards, antimagic fields, glamours, and time itself, but only temporarily. The summoned person slowly feels themself drawn back to their origin. For the first few minutes, walking is easy. Then it feels like walking uphill. Then a run. Then a sprint. Then striving against a hurricane until they are torn away, tumbling, back to whence they came.

    8. Living Tattoos. For two fat hogs and a barrel of red wine, there’s a man down Treacle Alley who will put you in a flask and tattoo you onto a person’s skin. You can run around in that warm flat world until someone draws you out with a lodestone. No refunds.

    9. Dimensional Shivering
    The Illusionists invented this once accidentally. You’ll need two full-length mirrors (and I do mean full length, unless you want to lose your feet), a source of octarine light, and ginger (for the nausea). Fold yourself flat. Your friend then rolls you up and slips you into a cigar or a belt. Unfolding yourself is a trickery process, requiring a quartz prism and octarine light (or, in a pinch, sunlight, though you’re likely to come out greyscale for a few weeks).

    10. Thomas Contagion
    Anyone who eats a piece of Thomas Infolded can, until their spiritual immune system kicks in, ingest other people, in the same manner as Thomas Infolded. Unless you can hover, you’ll also take on their mass and ailments. Imagine they’re standing on the soles of your feet, but upwards. When your body decides that this is wrong and kicks the interlopers out, expect a lot of mess and turmoil.

    1. Nice. Here are some thematic negations which might apply too (no idea how gameable they are).

      1. The aforementioned easing of suicide turns the lesser oblivion of death into a grander retroactive unravelling of history. To the monks' regret this process is not perfect and sometimes grief for someone who was now never there can guide exceptional individuals (PCs, literal soulmates, bootstrap scenarios etc...) to the obliterat.

      2. Holes are made useful by their emptiness and echoes make nonsense of speech, for these reasons some sects consider wells to be holy. As sound is a wave interference can cancel it out, with magic the same can apply to light, scent and texture. These "emptiest empties" are only ever temporary sanctuaries from the din of existence yet sometimes when they clear those within find themselves below the obliterat.

      3. The "fictitious" Annihilated Ones paradoxically persist as while individual monks might periodically amputate their memory any alterations to the ad-hoc canon tend to stick around as an influence on the whimsy of others. Aside from esoteric questions like if anything which changes can be said to be the same entity lobotomy cycles and deliberate library burnings can synch up to produce complete erasure. In this moment the AO who may or may not have ever been can perform a miracle without it impacting their supposed reality in the slightest. Everyone including the blessed are none the wiser (memory lapses are easily explained away around the monks).

    2. These are good. I especially like #1. I imagine they will probably make a new word that means "sadness for someone who never existed".

    3. Skerples ideas are all wonderful and make this post 200% more useful to DMs.

    4. I'd start looking here.

  4. Void monks as speedrunners finding holes in the world's code has got me "right proper chuffed" as the Brits say

  5. The whole party winding up in the Obliterat, due to the machinations of individuals unknown for purposes they'll need to discover, sounds like a pretty neat start to a campaign. They all wake up in the care of the Void Monks after weeks of near-death delirium. The first act of their adventure is retracing their steps to where they were first drugged, and why that happened.

  6. Knowing the monks they probably reach the Obliterat by not knowing it exists. Negative theology applied to an entire philosophy rather than a single infinite godhead would be neat. Maybe some sub-sects obsessively memorize all other scriptures in search of the unnamable gaps, a bit like the Nonmen in the Second apocalypse series (to them interstitial spaces were sacred).

  7. Now I'm imagining a false hydra teaching monks to sing.

  8. This write up reminds me of the antimemetics hub of stories on the SCP database, which could be a useful repository of situations where you have to rely on thinking backwards like an alien to even notice the holes in your perception. Maybe the players realize from their mismatched equipment (spoons and tea, but no bowls, pots, or cups for example) that some npc member of their party was missing, an unnamed casualty that never existed. And when fighting a monster that eats your memories, it's never your first time.