(evil, extraplanar, lawful, velstrac)
|Environment||Any (Shadow Plane)|
Source: Alien Archive 2, pg(s). 128
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Velstracs, also called kytons, fleshweavers or apostles-in-chains by mortals, are a race of cruel, amoral fiends from the Shadow Plane obsessed with sadomasochism and self-perfection. They seek to "help" mortals attain a higher state of being, reshaping the flesh and soul with a fanatic's zeal.
The first velstrac, named Aroggus, coalesced in Hell from the first depraved thoughts of the earliest mortals, long before the devils existed. The gods, astonished by Aroggus' power and hideousness, chained him to Hell. Aroggus, knowing the folly of rebellion but unwilling to accept his imprisonment, learned the first truth of the velstracs: one must never accept weakness.
Aroggus spent ages developing himself until he freed himself and realised the second truth: one must always strive. Hell responded by chaining Aroggus back and further torturing him, but he knew that he succeeded. Thus the third truth: pain is the reward of victory.
Aroggus continued to forge his willpower over ages of pain until he ceased resistance, tore his chains from Hell and took them for himself, learning the fourth truth: willpower honed to perfection is power beyond compare.
Gazing upon Hell, Aroggus saw fertile, imperfect material, and discovered the fifth truth: perfection must be imposed upon anything unwilling to seek it. He then cut into Hell's quintessence to create more velstracs in the same way he created himself, and tortured them in the same way Hell tortured him, learning the sixth truth: the quest for perfection must be propagated through pain until weakness is purged; and later the seventh truth: pain is a guide to the self and the perfection thereof, but it cannot liberate—liberation is achieved only through an application of will in which resistance ceases and suffering along with it.
As Aroggus created more children, the velstracs left him to explore, and their discoveries revealed the eighth truth: there are limits to what one might discover alone—revelations and inspirations can be found in the works of others.
Most velstracs are created from the mutilated petitioners, who followed their philosophies in life and were sent to the Shadow Plane after death. The mutilated are broken and remade countless times by velstrac surgeons across centuries, in the same way Aroggus was tortured, until they are transfigured into new velstracs.
Velstracs ruthlessly raid the Material Plane to hunt mortals. Velstrac victims are usually doomed to live the rest of their lives in agony, but sometimes become velstracs themselves through various terrible methods. Most such mortals become anchorites, whose first act as a velstrac must be to cut off a portion of their own flesh, beginning a self-guided evolution. Every velstrac has its own unique ninth truth which each must decipher and must not reveal to others. Velstracs believe that the strongest of them are former mortals who became velstracs with the least aid.
Velstracs feed on pain, entering a state of arousal simply by witnessing the destruction of flesh. Transformation requires a velstrac to excise parts of itself. Over the centuries of its immortal existence, a velstrac mutilates itself and grafts new parts onto its body over and over, metamorphosing into forms ever closer to perfection.
Velstracs delight in technology, due to its potential of perfection and painful torments. Many of them modify their own bodies, and they are also intrigued by mortal body modification, taking opportunities to study them.
Velstracs are utterly amoral and consider themselves above good and evil. They engage in their search for the perfect sensation with the passion of scientist-artistes, and consider no cost too high for the secrets of perfection.
All velstracs are commanded by a clear hierarchy. According to them, lesser beings exist to serve greater ones and are seen as nothing more than stepping stones during their path to perfection. The velstrac demagogues are the strongest members and rulers of their race.
Due to their divergent goals, velstracs rarely congregate in large numbers; the most regimented kytons are usually Zon-Kuthon's servants. Velstracs usually gather around and learn from those known to have had some brush with the sublime, like the velstrac demagogues or powerful ones like ephialtes, eremites and termagants.
Velstracs have discovered spaceflight long ago, and their starships can traverse both the Material Plane and the Shadow Plane. They seek to explore all planes to discover all secrets or search for victims. Velstracs are intrigued by the rebuilt, and secretly sabotage medical equipment to create more rebuilt.
The god Zon-Kuthon is not a velstrac but shares their amoral, cruel mindset. Many velstracs are drawn to Zon-Kuthon's sacred places, and his worshippers consider velstracs his emissaries and are willing to aid them. Some of Zon-Kuthon's velstrac followers seek to follow a pilgrimage beyond existence, known to transform them into devourers, as a mirror of their god's rebirth, and lead mortal cults who want the same fate.
The lairs of velstracs are twisted according to their owner's nature, needs, abilities and quest for the ninth truth. They prefer hostile environments and hazardous lairs, and can afford to disregard safety due to their regeneration and defences.
On the Material Plane
Velstracs see Absalom Station as a useful place: it is cosmopolitan enough that they can blend in without arousing suspicion, its underbelly is a good source of humanoid prey, and some powerful velstracs are said to have plans on the Starstone. On Castrovel, velstracs form hidden hedonistic cults among lashuntas and Forlorn elves; some of these cults also worship fertility, which has resulted in the birth of velstrac-spawn tieflings. Velstracs are interested in the elebrians' ascension to undeath, but are rare on Eox: a few seek the knowledge of the bone sages, or work in brutal reality TV shows hosted in the Halls of the Living.
Velstracs cannot live in gas giants, but are interested in the barathus' adaptability. They sometimes secretly visit Hallas, telepathically communicating with hallajins and inflicting torment on each other. Some academics suspect that the Taking of Melos was done by velstracs, but evidence is scarce. The light-absorbing natives of nightmarish Thyst are speculated to be tied to velstracs. Some velstracs visit Aucturn, working as mercenaries to the Cults of the Elder Mythos or the Dominion of the Black to study these factions and experiment on the living planet itself.
Verces is the planet in the Pact Worlds system with the longest velstrac habitation: it is theorised that the Augmented tradition might have stemmed from velstrac philosophies. The cold Darkside of Verces is home to a few velstrac monasteries. Since the Gap, some velstracs on Verces have started to whisper about a cyber-demagogue who wants to eclipse Triune and allow those who properly augment themselves to join its paradise.
Velstracs have long been employed by the Azlanti Star Empire as torturers, and in turn they find the Azlanti to be easy targets to indoctrinate. Similarly, Daegox 4 employs them as jailers, and their influence is far greater than the Daegox Corporation is aware of. Velstracs are interested in the Swarm's capacity of creating lethal lifeforms, and some seek to shatter their lack of individuality, turning freed Swarm components into their own army.