Marlowe, an Unwanted Shade of Grey
What happens when mommy archon and daddy fiend get together? That question has long been pondered by sages and loremasters the world over. Of course the question has been answered more than once, though it is not always answered the same way. Marlowe is one of these answers. The misbegotten child of the first fallen archon and his lover, Marlowe is half being of indescribable purity and half creature which had twisted this nature beyond recognition. (Kno the Planes DC 25) Called nephilim these halfbreeds of heaven and hell have massively varying powers and abilities. Of them all it is said the first was the greatest. Who his parents are is unclear in this modern age, some claim that his mother was Asmodeus and his father a now forgotten Throne Archon, others that his father was an archfiend long stricken from memory since the days of the the 28th dragon and his mother a solar not an archon. Whatever the truth, Marlowe was born of two extremely powerful parents, but without the approval and mandate of Heaven. Despite being born to Law, Marlowe was born with the stigma of Chaos, and while on the Planes Good and Evil have often joined blades together on the lines of Law and Chaos, Marlowe was of all four camps. (Kno the Planes DC 28) The power of Good flowed through Marlowe's veins, but the sins of the father ran deep, dreams of power coming to torment him nightly. His birth broke cosmic Law, tainting him forever in the eyes of the Lords of Order, for their control was stricter in the beginning for fear of the new found Order dissolving back into primal Chaos. Helped and accepted by the forces of Heaven Marlowe might have found peace between his warring halves of Good and Evil. Cast out the nephil wandered instead into the maelstrom of Chaos which was the early plane of Limbo. Shifting between its three identical layers, Marlowe's nightmares worsened day by day. One day Marlowe simply awoke in the Abyss. He had accepted Evil. He had accepted the Madness that flowed through his blood. Marlowe's birth had been a blaspheme against the gods of Law and Good, an act that caused an archon to fall, and now Marlowe's rebellion added to that blasphemy. (Kno the Planes DC 32) Marlowe allied himself with the forces of the Abyss, some say with the very malign sentience of that monster-plane, giving the primal obyriths of the plane two choices. Obedience or death. Those who opposed him, Marlowe killed, incorporating their soul-flesh into his own, becoming a creature unrecognizable as his former self. For a time even the Queen of Chaos feared Marlowe, knowing the nephil held his fiendish forebear's pride and would never stoop to serve an 'obyrith', if even he would serve another. Her forces avoided the nephil, and the nephil never even realized that the forces of Chaos were organizing. Marlowe led his train of obyriths from the Abyss, pouring onto the Outlands, screeching through the gate-town causing it to crash into the Abyss. He made for the then current gate-town of Mount Celestia, the first gate to the 7th Heaven, his demonic forces burning a swathe across the plane. The gods of Neutrality were enraged, demanding those of Lawful Good and Lawful Evil both bring their forces to bear. The gods were not yet willing to put aside Good and Evil against a common foe, so chose instead to each face his forces individually. (Kno the Planes DC 35) Evil met him first a mere token effort, after all he was after Celestia not Baator, which did little to truly harm his forces and more to allow the gods of Law and Evil to enter into a sporting Obyrith hunt. Good met him second, and met him in force, the celestial army that emerged onto the Outlands almost causing the gate-town to slip into Celestia then and there. The Planar Boundaries shifting as they fought Archon and Obyrith clashed. It was one of the Hebdomad, one of the original Tome Archons, who faced against Marlowe that day and whether they lived or not history does not tell, but the first nephil was brought low. (Kno the Planes DC 38) Few know, however, that Marlowe was not slain, but merely wounded, his planar nature leaking. He had heavily altered his soul-flesh, turning himself into an abomination, and his soul was literally falling apart as he fled. The nephil fled into the Lower Planes, last seen crashing into the River Styx itself, disappearing from the knowledge of gods and men (Kno the Planes DC 41).
Marlowe's goal was vengeance. The destruction of all Good and Law for their forsaking of Marlowe and his celestial forebear. It is for this cause he led a force of demons against Celestia. (Kno the Planes DC 32) The nephil has slept for millennia infused with the malign will of the Abyss and the soulstuff of dozens of obyriths, leaving him forever changed should he re-awaken. (Kno the Planes DC 35) Where once he wished to destroy Good and Law now Marlowe's goals are twisted and perverted by the madness that has been raging through his soulbody for the history of reality, leaving his goals liable to be just as twisted. (Kno the Planes DC 38) Tainted by this madness Marlowe is no longer a foe of Law and Good. Marlowe is now a foe of alignment itself, believing that Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos are all equally as tainted. (Kno the Planes DC 44) To destroy these forces, though, Marlowe must destroy the forces that generate them... Marlowe must destroy sentience itself, and infused with the power of the Styx he might just succeed.
Morose of the Mind
A mental fog drifts across the world, minds beginning to falter and grow sluggish.
General: Creatures which bind themselves to Marlowe are immune to the effects of this sign, as is Marlowe himself.
Faint: It becomes harder to form and access memories. Creatures suffer a -2 penalty to Int checks, and a -5 penalty to Autohypnosis checks to memorize information.
Moderate: Thought itself grows more difficult. Creatures suffer a -4 penalty to Intelligence (to a minimum of 1), and a -5 penalty to Knowledge checks or Int checks used in place of them (including Bardic Knowledge/Lore) this overlaps with (does not stack with) the -2 penalty to Int checks from the Faint sign. Autohypnosis checks to memorize information suffer a -20.
Strong: Creatures suffer a -8 penalty to Intelligence (to a minimum of 1). Autohypnosis checks to memorize information are impossible, and the Spell Mastery feat no longer functions. The Faint sign now applies to all planes.
Overwhelming: Intelligence is worn away and destroyed by Marlowe's power, the entire world quickly becoming as dumb as cattle. Creatures receive 1 point of Int drain every 12 hours until their Int is 1; creatures normally immune to ability drain instead suffer this drain every 48 hours but still suffer it. Memorizing spells is now difficult, each spell memorized counting as 2 spells of that level prepared. The Moderate sign now applies to all planes. Once there are no creatures other than Marlowe and those bound to him with 3 or higher Intelligence on a plane this effect becomes inherent to the plane even if Marlowe leaves or is slain.
The presence of Marlowe is an affront to the gods, and a flaunting of their powerlessness. Marlowe's existence is itself a hole in the power of the divine, a laughing, taunting mockery of them.
Effect: Divine Salient Abilities of deities with less than 21 divine ranks do not function within this malefic property's area of effect.
The nephil was frozen in a block of Styx ice, and washed onto a fledgeling Prime, the black ice of the Styx hiding him completely from divination submerging into a lake in the Prime. As long as the ice was submerged by water it remained frozen due to the magical nature of the Styx. Once it begins to thaw Marlowe's influence takes effect. When the sign reaches strong Marlowe is released from ice but is still weakened by the not fully stabilized souls within the nephil. While in this weakened state Marlowe will flee and hide, avoiding almost any confrontation. Once Marlowe has stabilized the souls within himself (his sign becomes Overwhelming) he will... continue to hide for the most part as he knows his sign will inevitably see his victory. He will however fight if attacked only fleeing if obviously outmatched (bring Dimensional Anchor).