Aboleths in Midgard

Aboleths in Midgard

It’s Midgard Monday! Each week, we visit a corner of the wide world of Midgard. Look for standalone content you can drop into your campaign—whether it’s in Midgard or your own homebrew. Find new inspiration each Midgard Monday!

Of the many creatures on Midgard, among the most reviled are the aboleths. These beings of evil and alien intent are behind one of the greatest disasters in Midgard’s history, the sinking of fabled Ankeshel.

Primordial Monsters

No one knows the true origins of aboleths, since the horrid aberrations only ever speak of it in passing. It appears that they arose from the muck of Midgard’s oceans around the same time that the gods first created the world.

These early aboleths were not as evil or intelligent as they are now. They lived in obscurity during the early wars between the gods, feeding off fish and crustaceans.

At some point during the Vanir War, the aboleths encountered the unfathomable evil within the Void. Their intelligence drastically increased even as the Void’s dreadful whisperings corrupted them.

Within a few millennia, the aboleths had built a mighty empire beneath the waves. Their influence was curtailed only by their inability to conquer the surface world and powerful aquatic rivals such as krakens and sahuagin.

Attempted Dominion

Some 4,000 years ago, the aboleths pushed to dominate all of Midgard. Their first step was to conquer the island of Ankesh in the Western Ocean, subjugating the primitive humans on the island and granting them magical power and vril technology to enable them to invade Midgard’s mainland.

For centuries, the Ankeshelians waged war on the aboleths’ behalf, gradually bringing more of the mainland under their control. Eventually, the humans discovered the power of the gods and turned on their aquatic masters, wresting back their destiny.

The aboleths responded by unleashing the legendary isonade against the island, sinking it beneath the waves and devastating most of Midgard’s western coast.

After the Fall

After the sinking of Ankeshel, many aboleths left the ocean depths and ventured into the planes seeking greater power. These eventually becoming the dreadful nihileths (see Tome of Beasts 1).

Other aboleths explored Midgard’s underworld, where they set up outposts to contest the authority of the drow and duergar.

Despite this, the bulk of the aboleth race has remained obscure. Some believe aboleths are hatching a millennia-long grand plan to destroy the surface world. Others believe they are weakening and in decline.

Aboleth Variants

Aside from the standard aboleths of the oceans, several variants demand special attention.

Deep Aboleths. Most aboleths found in Midgard’s underworld are standard aboleths, but a few have adapted to the lightless subterranean environment.

While all aboleths are cartilaginous, deep aboleths lack even that rigidity. This reduces their AC by 2, but grants them the squeezing ability and resistance to non-magical bludgeoning damage, enabling them to navigate the cramped tunnels and passages of the underworld.

Ghinaurath. Aboleths have long practiced the art of flesh-shaping their servitors such aspale screamers (see Tome of Beasts 2). Yet, aboleths are not above experimenting on themselves.

For example, the ghinaurath has transformed two of its four tentacles into bat-like wings and coats its body in mucous while out of water. A ghinaurath has only two tentacle attacks but gains a flying speed of 60 feet. In addition, a creature striking a ghinaurath in melee with a non-reach weapon is affected by its mucous unless it succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw to resist the effect.

Nihileth. Introduced in Tome of Beasts 1, the nihileth were regular aboleths that ventured into other realities seeking knowledge and power. They used esoteric and forbidden techniques to transform themselves into undead, similar in some ways to liches or mummies. The nihileth have gradually returned to Midgard, on their own grisly agendas.

Aboleth Glyph Magic

While aboleths are responsible for many strange and warped magics, they are infamous for their glyph magic, often seen as a perversion of dwarven rune magic (first taught to the dwarves by Volund shortly after their creation).

Using aboleth glyphs requires the Rune Knowledge feat, which allows you to learn up to two aboleth glyphs. Mastery of an aboleth glyph involves the Rune Mastery feat. Read up on these feats and information on how runes and glyphs work in the Deep Magic sourcebook. [Ed. Note: And, find out more about Deep Magic 2 now!]

Here is a selection of aboleth glyphs that PCs might discover during their explorations.


This aboleth glyph appears as an inverted Y below a wave. It can be sketched onto your body or another available surface.

Benefit: You gain a natural Swim speed of 20 feet, or your existing Swim speed improves by 20 feet.

Power (4th Level or Aboleth): You gain resistance to cold damage and extreme pressure changes (such as suddenly being teleported from the surface to a depth of several thousand feet below sea level) for 10 minutes. When traced on an object, that object becomes immune to cold damage and the effects of extreme pressure change for 1 hour.

Mastery (8th Level or Aboleth): You inscribe the glyph onto a solid surface. Allied creatures within 30 feet of the glyph gain resistance to cold damage and immunity to extreme pressure changes for 1 hour.


An egg-shaped symbol with multiple spokes radiating from its curved surface, this glyph is typically sketched onto arms or tentacles.

Benefit: You gain advantage on unarmed strike attacks.

Power (3rd Level or Aboleth): Your unarmed strikes deal an additional 2d6 acid damage for 1 minute.

Mastery (6th Level or Aboleth): Treat your unarmed strikes as magic for 1 minute. In addition, add 2 to the DC for any effect you deliver through your unarmed strikes (such as poison or disease) for 1 minute.


This glyph appears as three black lobes above a spiral. It causes unease in humanoids who gaze upon it.

Benefit: You have advantage on Charisma checks when dealing with aberrations and creatures from the Void.

Power (9th Level or Aboleth): By inscribing the glyph onto a solid surface, you can infuse your surroundings with the energy of the Void, creating a zone of dead air or dead water in a 100-foot radius. Creatures entering the zone cannot breathe air or water and immediately begin to suffocate. They must also succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or become slowed within the area.

Mastery (13th Level or Aboleth): When this glyph is inscribed onto a solid surface, it replicates the effects of the symbol spell, choosing from the death, hopelessness, or insanity options.

The Midgard Worldbook is an acclaimed campaign setting with a decade of support from Kobold Press.
Want a more focused start? Try the Zobeck Clockwork City Collector’s Edition! This detailed sourcebook includes ready-to-run adventures within the Clockwork City itself!

about Phillip Larwood

Phillip has been writing for Kobold Press and other companies for many years. From multiple articles in the early days of Kobold Quarterly magazine to recent books like Tome of Beasts 2 and Vault of Magic, Phillip is never more satisfied than when he sees his name in print. Something that he points out to his family and friends over and over and over again.

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