|Images of aboleths|
Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 8
The word aboleth in their own language, when translated into Taldane, is roughly equivalent to owner, master, or god. The creatures called aboleths are only one part of an anatomically diverse species who call themselves alghollthu, meaning the one who are all.
An aboleth's appearance is alien and bizarre; the closest analog would be some sort of nightmarish, prehistoric fish that has grown to huge proportions. The creature's outline is fish-like, with a powerful tail at one end and a pointed head at the other. The head bears no resemblance to any sort of known fish, having three huge, alien, red eyes located at its very front. The creature seems to have no other facial features, lacking even a mouth. Behind this hideous head is a slime-covered body. Further back it has a fish-like dorsal fin that helps with movement, but instead of the fins one would normally find on the side of a fish, it has two long, grasping tentacles on each side. From head to tail, an aboleth is around 25 feet long and their bulky bodies weigh well over 6,000 pounds.
An aboleth is a master of mind magic, able to weave illusions to confuse, or simply crush the will of those who oppose it. Aboleths have several unique abilities: their tentacles are covered in slime that weakens the flesh of those it touches. They also have the ability to release a cloud of mucus that removes a creature's ability to breathe air and instead make it breathe water. Aboleths normally use this to capture and make use of air-breathing slaves; it also ensures the controlled person's loyalty, as the effect only lasts a few hours and must regularly be renewed.
The first alghollthu awakened spontaneously in a pool of primordial soup on an unknown planet. Its first experience was to sense a cataclysm in the sky, which all alghollthus can remember in their cellular memory and agree to be the cause of the first alghollthu's awakening. The first alghollthu sensed myriad similar simple creatures around itself, but it was the only intelligent one. This is the source of the First Dictum of the alghollthus: life exists to be controlled.
The first alghollthu realised that it was mortal and absorbed the nearby lifeforms, but this was not enough for survival. Eventually, instead of fully consuming a prey item, the alghollthu merely ended its life before allowing it to perform its normal functions for the alghollthu's benefit. Hence the alghollthus' Second Dictum: an alghollthu is to control.
With its energy needs fulfilled, the alghollthu set out to control all lifeforms in reach. Its body grew larger from absorbed prey, but the alghollthu was still frail, its structures weakened, and its consciousness started to fragment, while the alghollthu was unable to express its rage. Eventually its membrane cracked and the alghollthu split: its being was no longer drained, its consciousness stabilised, and it realised that they were two. Thus the Third Dictum: alghollthus are eternal as many and one.
Eventually the alghollthus evolved and seeded their planet with multiple lifeforms, creating their first global empire. They ruled for millennia over the lesser creatures until something went wrong and their slaves rose up, catching the alghollthus unaware. The alghollthus resisted hard, but their former slaves were too numerous and tenacious, and the alghollthus were losing a war of attrition. Millions of rebels fell, but only a few thousand alghollthus survived, and they were forced to flee underground before they could be exterminated.
The alghollthus chose among themselves the wisest and most powerful, who sacrificed themselves to merge into the first veiled masters, who were more intelligent and capable of leading to their people's salvation. These veiled masters continued to study and master glyph magic; this took them 80 years, while the insurgents continued to push into their last territory, leaving less than a thousand aboleths alive led by a few dozen veiled masters. The veiled masters spent over a decade creating two powerful glyphs and uttered the Final Dictum: to overreach is to threaten the eternal. The first glyph was then activated, creating a series of portals to other habitable worlds, through which all but one of the veiled masters, each accompanied by a few score aboleths, went to build smaller colonies. When the first glyph expired and the rebels arrived to slaughter the alghollthus, the sole veiled master who stayed activated the second glyph, destroying the world.
The alghollthus arrived on Golarion during the Age of Creation. They ruled the oceans, while the land was the domain of the xiomorns. The two species came to war, which the alghollthus ultimately won. Aboleths claim to have had a thriving civilization on the oceans' floor before even the gods took notice of the world. These claims cannot be substantiated, as no record of this time has survived the intervening millennia. They themselves claim that they were among the first creations on the planet to gain intelligence and develop their own civilization.
During the Age of Legend, the alghollthus began to experiment with humans, raising the Azlanti humans from barbarism, teaching them their control of magic. The primary interactions between humans and aboleths were handled by the veiled masters, who used illusion magic to disguise themselves and walk amongst humanity in the role of powerful wizards. As the alghollthus nurtured the Empire of Azlant, they also secretly spread their own power through its ascendancy. This marked the zenith of the second alghollthu empire.
Eventually, the visionary named Xin discovered the secrets of glyph magic, and he was followed by other Azlanti who discovered the alghollthu manipulation. The alghollthus realised that they had to act but, this time, they used more subtle methods than those used back on their homeworld: omnipaths dominated agents to provide the alghollthus information, veiled masters in human guise sowed discord between Azlant and Thassilon, faceless stalkers assassinated leaders, and mimics wreaked havoc. None succeeded; in fact these punishments only strengthened humanity's resolve to eclipse their teachers.
Ultimately, alghollthu representatives from all worlds, the Mhalssthru, convened and authorised Earthfall on Golarion, which would devastate humanity and erase all traces of alghollthu involvement. For this, the Golarion speaker of the Mhalssthru was devolved into non-sentient single-celled organisms, and more than half of Golarion's alghollthus agreed to enter hibernation in the deepest oceans and caverns until given permission by the Mhalssthru to re-emerge. The alghollthus used master glyphs to reach out into the darkness of space and draw down a large meteor from the heavens known as the Starstone, and obliterate the upstart humans.
Humanity, however, was not without its protectors. When the Azlanti goddess Acavna learned of the aboleths' plan, she pulled one of Golarion's moons from its orbit to intercept the massive meteorite. The Starstone impacted with the moon, but was not slowed or deflected from its course. Instead it shattered into millions of pieces, many of which pierced the goddess' manifestation, inflicting lethal wounds. The Starstone continued on its trajectory and impacted with Golarion, completely obliterating the continent of Azlant and plunged the world into the Age of Darkness.
To the aboleths' great alarm, however, they had miscalculated the destructive power of the Starstone's impact. Not only did it destroy or severely cripple every major land-based civilization of the age, but also lead to a severe downturn of the aboleths' own advanced society on the ocean's floor, although most alghollthus survived, albeit asleep. Aboleths are known to have rescued a number of humans from the destruction of Azlant for their own reasons. Through their fleshwarping abilities, they were able to adapt them to the undersea environment, eventually creating the race known as the gillmen.
Habitat and society
Aboleths dwell in the deepest, darkest depths of the Arcadian Ocean, untouched by sunlight. There they dwell in vast, alien cities whose buildings are supported by the water, and which dwarf almost every human structure. These cities are hideous to look upon, as they are created with strange, alien designs that bear no resemblance to the tastes that govern human architecture.
Aboleths ruled the watery expanses of the Darklands in ancient times, claiming the Sightless Sea miles beneath the Arcadian Ocean. Although these underground cities largely were abandoned long ago, they are still known to dwell there in small numbers, as well as in the Darklands realm known as the Land of Black Blood.
Aboleth society is strictly atheistic, as it is thought to have existed long before the gods took an interest in the Material Plane. To them the deities worshiped so fervently by the land-dwellers are nothing but young upstarts, unworthy of the aboleths' attention.
One of the most interesting parts of aboleth society is their ability to mold and create new races of slave creatures to suit their needs. Many races of Golarion were originally created by the inscrutable aboleths, including the skum (who made up the majority of their armies in ancient times), cloakers, faceless stalkers, ceratioidi, and, some even believe, the shoggoth. As a result of this racial obsession with slavery and tyranny, aboleths are violently opposed by prydanu azatas and often find themselves the focus of their zealous crusades of liberation.
Paizo published a major article about aboleth, "Ecology of the Alghollthu", in The Lost Outpost.
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