… in those days there flew from the plains of Hell a shadow of brimstone’s smoke, borne fast and silent as the hawk by 10,000 burning wings; in secret places it wove dark spells, and spoke beautiful lies, and spread terrible poison. The shadow befuddled the wisest of sages, struck dead the strongest of warriors and seduced the most beautiful of virgins, while coiled deep within corpses wrapped in the finest of silk.

No blade could strike this unholy shadow, no fire could burn it; neither could iron bars contain the flickering thing nor magics drive it out. In this formless beast’s passing, naught but misery and sorrow dwelt – only scorched fields, the sobbing of widows, and the stench of smoldering, unburied dead.
Photo: Alain Labat 2006
In time, a holy woman of esoteric faith and weird learning came to confront the shadow: an ascetic of the Tear-Vanished Seas, who could call forth water from the desert sands and lightning from the skies. She journeyed to the Gold-Hewn Port, where the shadow dwelt behind the mask of a wise advisor to the fat and smiling Appa-Pasha of that glimmering shore.

In the court of the Appa-Pasha Talriyq al’Fiyid, the holy woman spoke the secret language of the Pyre-Kindred, and the shadow was stirred. [More…]

Spoke the shadow: “Who are you, old whore, to dare challenge Ia’Affrat the Insatiable, Scion of Arbeyach, the Flames of All Waste; I, the Desolation Ever-Abundant?” The shadow belched forth great gouts of cinders and poisonous smoke, slaying all those who stood near. At a stroke, the courtyard became a stinking charnel house.

Said she: “I am the Heart of Winter’s Ocean; come to send you back to your Hell.”

With that, she spoke a prayer and brandished a silver sign; the beast spat curses and killing spells against her, flew at her with potent venom and flame, but she did neither relent nor fall, and it came to be that the nameless shadow was driven away.
                               — fragment from the Book of Stone Recounting

The immortal nightmare called Arbeyach, Prince of Swarms (detailed in Kobold Quarterly #3) has few servants: despised by other devils, worshiped by a handful of insane mortal cultists and trusted by none, the cold and solitary Prince surrounds himself only with decay and the insects that feed on it. Still, his alien calculations and perfection-obsessed focus on consumption and despair have provided him one potent ally; the culmination of centuries worth of work, the beast Ia’Affrat acts as this Hellish Prince’s emissary to the courts of his rivals and to the mortal world as diplomat, spy, assassin and scourge.

Unknown to rigid and resolute Arbeyach, his unique creation – a potent hellwasp swarm granted sorcerer’s magic and the stolen power of a foolhardy Efreeti betrayer – bears little loyalty to its creator. Soon the silver-tongued and world-wise Ia’Affrat will seek to drain the power of the demigod out of the veins of the Prince of Locusts. Until then, Ia’Affrat’s shifting hive-mind is consumed with an unquenchable lust for arcane mysteries, for human interaction, and for the material pursuit of 10,000 unwholesome flavors.

Description
Physically, Ia’Affrat is composed of 5,000 individual evil elementals, each one a black, thumb-sized wasp glowing with the heat of a low-burning coal and wreathed in foul-smelling smoke. And yet the hive mind of this creature identifies as male – and even as human. He cares nothing for the fate of the individual insects that constitute him, concerned only that the swarm does not become damaged enough to strip him of his mind. That fate he equates to a temporary death.

Eerily, the Insatiable dotes on the fleshy bodies he briefly inhabits before heat and rot take their inevitable toll. Although he discards the broken corpses with little ceremony (covering his tracks only if he is operating as a saboteur), while they live Ia’Affrat regards each body he takes as precious, the way a rich man might enjoy a fine cigar.

When stripped of an inhabitable body, a tall, human-like shadow can be glimpsed within the shifting smoke and chitin of Ia’Affrat. This is his idealized form, a man composed of darkness and fumes, and he takes great pride cutting such a figure. Indeed, he seems as vain of his shape as singer or poet who might take pride in his hair.

In Your Game
Ia’Affrat is the inverted reflection of his unkempt yet overly-unyielding creator. He delights in comedy, wine, song, dance, torture, public humiliation and food; he is a rapacious devourer, gluttonous and greedy of all transient pleasures. Ia’Affrat abhors all permanency and leaves nothing in his path but ruin: he laughs with glee at the shattering of keystones, the stench of burning paint, and the hollow echoes of a library reduced to rubble. On long errands and absences from the Court of Arbeyach, he might be found in 100 different places, always hiding behind a different sly smile and leaving a new wake of destruction.

An immortal makes an excellent recurring villain or even a henchman to a series of escalating villains. Ia’Affrat’s fees are low and easily negotiable, and he has no moral qualms about the most blasphemous acts. As an assassin, he wields incredible subterfuge and powerful magic, and can access remote places well-warded against humans, constructs, outsiders, shape-shifters and undead.

Ia’Affrat cultivates his deepest hatred for priests and prophets, hoping that all who bow in worship might be slain. He may be rebuked by a cleric with the Fire domain and turned — or even destroyed — by a cleric with the Water domain, so the Insatiable avoids them, and temples to water gods are often safe from his depredations. Nearly invulnerable to all other assaults, his only truly fear supernatural frost: a potent caster might slay him outright with a single cone of cold, and so he does not dally when confronted with such threats.

Ia’Affrat the Insatiable          CR 15

Smoke Hellwasp Swarm; Sorcerer 12 (see Smoke template from Advanced Bestiary)
Diminutive Elemental (Air, Extraplanar, Evil, Fire, Swarm)
Init +13; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Cloud Sight (see Special Qualities, below), Low-Light Vision; Listen +18, Spot +18

DEFENSE
Armor Class 23 (+4 size, +9 Dex), touch 23, flat-footed 14
hp 111 (12d8+15; 12d4+12)
Fort +13, Ref +21, Will +15
DR 10/magic
Immune fire, poison, weapon damage
Vulnerable cold
Air mastery, elemental immunities, swarm traits, +50% damage from spells or effects that affect an area

OFFENSE
Spd 5 ft. (1 square), fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee Swarm (3d6 plus poison; strikes as Magic and Evil)
Ranged Touch +27
Melee Touch +27
Special Attacks Breath weapon, distraction, inhabit, poison, spells
Space 10 ft./10 ft. (shapeable) Reach

TACTICS
Before Combat Ia’Affrat prefers to fight on his own terms, and seeks to fight in burning or smoke-filled locations. He becomes invisible (along with the body he inhabits, if any), casts see invisibility, and sets his surroundings ablaze.

During Combat Ia’Affrat will abandon an inhabited body as soon as he can, although he may set it alight to terrorize his foes. Once free to swarm into the spaces of his foes, he stays with them and employs his breath weapon plus magic missile, scorching ray, and disintegrate.

Morale If below 50 hit points, Ia’Affrat uses vampiric touch – he knows he will lose both control and spell-casting abilities if pushed below 25 hit points. Below 30 hit points, he will immediately teleport away. If at 24 hit points or less, Ia’Affrat loses cohesion and becomes mindless. In this state, he cannot cast spells and will seek only to kill all aggressors – or to flee if badly outnumbered.

STATISTICS
Str 1, Dex 28, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Atk +18; Grp
Feats Ability Focus (poison), Alertness, Eschew Materials, Greater Spell Penetration, Improved Initiative, Spell Penetration, Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +15, Hide +24 (+29 in areas of fog, smoke or clouds), Knowledge (arcana) +13, Listen +18, Spellcraft +13, Spot +18
SQ Air mastery, cloud sight, hive mind, smoke travel, smoky form

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Air Mastery (Ex): Any airborne creature takes a -1 penalty on attack and damage rolls against Ia’Affrat.
Breath Weapon (Su): Once every 1d4 rounds, Ia’Affrat can breathe a cloud of superheated smoke and cinders. This cloud fills a 20-foot cube adjacent to or surrounding Ia’Affrat. Every creature within the cloud takes 2d6 hp fire damage each round (no save). Furthermore, any breathing creature within the cloud must succeed on a DC 23 Fort save each round or take 1d4 points of Con damage.
A creature within the smoke can hold its breath on its turn to avoid taking the Con damage in subsequent rounds. The smoke grants concealment: A creature within 5 feet has concealment (attacks have a 20% miss chance). Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can’t use sight to locate the target). The smoke remains in place for 5 rounds regardless of prevailing winds; thereafter, the smoke disperses normally: a moderate wind (11+ mph) disperses the smoke in 4 rounds; a strong wind (21+ mph) disperses the fog in 1 round.
Cloud Sight (Ex): Ia’Affrat can see through clouds, gases, fogs, mists and smoke (including his breath weapon). Creatures and objects do not gain concealment from Ia’Affrat due to these conditions.
Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with Ia’Affrat in its space must succeed on a DC 17 Fort save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Inhabit (Ex): Ia’Affrat can enter the body of a helpless or dead creature by crawling into its mouth and other orifices. Inhabiting requires 1 minute, and the victim must be Small, Medium, or Large (although four swarms working together can inhabit a Huge creature). Ia’Affrat may abandon the body at any time, although doing this takes 1 full round. Attacks against the host deals half damage to the hellwasp swarm as well, although the swarm’s resistances and immunities may negate some or all of this damage.
If the Insatiable inhabits a dead body, he can animate it and control its movements, effectively becoming a zombie for as long as the swarm remains inside. In a living victim, it can neutralize the effects of its own poison and control the victim’s movement and actions as if using dominate monster (no save) on the victim. The hellwasps quickly consume a living victim, dealing 2d4 points of Constitution damage per hour they inhabit a body. A body reduced to Constitution 0 is dead.
A hellwasp-inhabited creature is easy to spot, since its skin crawls with the forms of insects inside. Ia’Affrat may hide this telltale sign beneath loose clothing or a large cloak. He must make a Disguise check to conceal his inhabitation of a host, with a -4 penalty for a Small host.
A remove disease or heal spell cast on an inhabited living victim forces the hellwasp swarm to abandon its host.
Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 17, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Dex. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Hive Mind (Ex): Any hellwasp swarm with at least 1 hit point per Hit Die (or 24 hit points, for Ia’Affrat) forms a hive mind, giving it an Intelligence score. When a hellwasp swarm is reduced below this hit point threshold, it becomes mindless.
Smoke Travel (Su): At will as a move action, Ia’Affrat can use dimension door (CL 24th) to move from any area filled with smoke to any other smoke-filled area that he is aware of within range.
Smoky Form (Ex): The smoke that constantly wreathes Ia’Affrat’s semi-solid body makes it hard to determine his exact location in combat. Attacks against Ia’Affrat suffer a 20% miss chance, though true seeing allows the caster to ignore that miss chance. This ability does not grant Ia’Affrat concealment. The effects of blur or displacement do not stack with this effect; only the best miss chance applies. If he chooses (such as when discretely inhabiting a body), Ia’Affrat may suppress or resume use of this ability as a free action.
Spells: Ia’Affrat casts spells as a 12th-level sorcerer; he has a +4 to overcome Spell Resistance.
Spells Known (6/7/7/7/6/5/3; save DC 13+ spell level); 0- arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, light, mage hand, message, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue
1st- charm person, disguise self (may disguise inhabited body), magic missile, obscuring mist, true strike
2nd- blindness/deafness, invisibility, knock, scorching ray, see invisibility
3rd- dispel magic, hold person, tongues, vampiric touch
4th- charm monster, dimensional anchor, phantasmal killer
5th- feeblemind, teleport
6th- disintegrate

ECOLOGY
Environment Any, native to Hell in the Court of Arbeyach
Organization Solitary or with a fright of hellwasp swarms (2-4 swarms)
Treasure None
Languages Common, Ignan, Infernal
Alignment Lawful Evil
Swarm Traits The being called Ia’Affrat consists of more than 5,000 individual hellwasps, and has the following swarm traits as summarized in the SRD.
Combat To attack in melee, Ia’Affrat must enter an opponent’s space, which provokes an attack of opportunity. He can occupy the same space as any creature of any size, since he crawls all over his prey, but he remains a creature with a 10-foot space. Ia’Affrat never makes attacks of opportunity, but can provoke attacks of opportunity.
Unlike other creatures with a 10-foot space, a swarm is shapeable. It can occupy any four contiguous squares, and it can squeeze through any space the size of a human thumb.
Vulnerabilities Of Swarms
A weapon with a special ability such as frost deals its full energy damage with each hit, even if the weapon’s normal damage can’t affect the it. Typical means of attacking swarms, such as torches or lit lanterns, have little effect against the fire-immune Ia’Affrat.
Traits As a swarm composed of Diminutive creatures, Ia’Affrat is immune to all weapon damage. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent.
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) – in these instances, Ia’Affrat is treated as a single entity. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.
Ia’Affrat is susceptible to high winds such as that created by a gust of wind or wind wall spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on Ia’Affrat, treat him as a creature of Diminutive size.

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