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    The Six Great Night Hags
    Posted on Wed, January 05, 2005 by Dongul
    Wykthor writes "Ever since Incabulos started his first travel as the Black Rider, he has been accompanied by six night hags, all mounted on nightmares, like the Greater God. It is unknown if they were created by the god himself or were once normal hags and were later elevated to a favored position. But it is known that these six females have vast power, perhaps the mightiest hags in existence (excluding those who achieved godhood), and all serve different aspects of Incabulos’ portfolio. In the same manner his clerics are the god’s agents in Oerth, these hags are his main planar agents, manifesting his will and dealing with powerful entities of the lower planes. Each one of them has a specific agenda, according to their patron’s designs. From yugoloths of Gehenna and Hades to devils of the Nine Hells and the demon princes of the Abyss, reaching even slaadi, formians, celestials and undead everywhere, all are targets of their dealings, trickery, bribes and killings.

    The Six Great Night Hags
    By: Wykthor
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    All six of the hags have given names (their original names, if ever existed, are long forgotten) related to a particular aspect of Incabulos: Malevolence, Despair, Pestilence, Famine, Tragedy and Insanity. Although they are totally independent, there is an unspoken hierarchy between them. This relationship is subtle, as each one has different strengths and flaws and even the weakest of the sextet has powers the other hags fear. To measure this hierarchy, it directly relates how far a particular hag and her nightmare are from Incabulos and his mount during their occasional multiplanar ride. Those closer to the greater god have more status and are considered to be held in high favor while those who stay behind are considered wanting in their obligations, so all (in a greater or lesser scale) strive to a closer position to the Black Rider. Each one will also be referred as the first night hag (who rides right behind Incabulos), the second night hag, down to the sixth night hag (who finishes the evil entourage at the back). In game terms (D&D 3e), each night hag is considered to have maximum monstrous HD advancement (16 HD), 20 levels in a class, possessing also a pool of benefits and a special unique power, both granted by the greater god. They are epic creatures with an estimated CR of 25. Finally, each great night hag once bore a child with Incabulos, the result of such unholy union being a creature of terrible power (each briefly described in its mother’s entry). The following description of these major servants of Incabulos will obey the riding hierarchy, starting with Malevolence as first hag, ending with Insanity as the sixth.

    Malevolence (The Hag of Malice): The first night hag sees herself as the true representative of Incabulos, as her role is focused in pure, undivided, evil and malice, the most primordial urges and goals of the Black Rider. The only member of the sextet who wields arcane power (i.e. wizard levels; you may instead use the witch class from Green Ronin’s Witch Handbook), possessing intelligence enough to humiliate a pit fiend and instill envy in the most cunning ultroloth, Malevolence is arrogant and sees her sisters as lesser minions and pawns. However, the first hag is too smart to ignore their powers, much less to forget that all serve the greater god’s designs. The fact that several of her plots sometimes involves her sisters (whether they want or not) changes her attitude of superiority to a belief that she should lead the others in a subtle way, so the different goals of each hag become concordant with Incabulos’ long-term goals. So, generally speaking, she is generally diplomatic with the others, acting as counselor with a healthy bit of condescension, but getting annoyed with unpredictable postures of Tragedy and Insanity. Malevolence has a good relationship with Despair, for her sister being almost as powerful and cunning as she besides the fact the second night hag provides plans, items and artifacts the others lack. Pestilence is seen as an important pawn, as her clerical powers are considerable and her aspect plays an important part in Incabulos’ faith in the material plane. It is a pity the ego of Pestilence gets in the way of their relationship, showing an outspoken desire to assume leadership as first hag, an attitude that only breeds distrust and disdain from Malevolence. However, the third night hag is the main contact of the sextet with the reigning Oinoloth of Hades (Mydianchlarus or Anthraxus, depending of your sources), so any plot that involves yugoloths may anticipate their reactions in both Hades and Gehenna, for Malevolence resides in the notorious Crawling Citadel (cf. Manual of the Planes 3e), as “guest of honor” of the yugoloths and representative of the greater god’s interests in the Blood War, feigning neutrality and using her services in favor or against both warring factions (as the yugoloths do). More than once the first night hag participated in the plans of the General of Gehenna and vice-versa. In some of these plans Malevolence counted with the aid of Tragedy, which generally only figures in highly destructive plots.

    Famine worries about Malevolence due to her martial skills, believing also the fourth hag’s predatory nature might someday forget any kinship or loyalty to the Black Rider. But for now, Famine is fulfilling her role as a feared weapon Incabulos has at his disposal to unleash against his enemies. Also, her residence in the Nine Hells and her dealings with the devils guarantees a powerful agent of the greater god in that plane. Finally, the hate of the fourth night hag towards Pestilence works well for Malevolence, as this hampers the efforts of her rival against her leadership. Tragedy is seen as a chaotic but needed factor, as she is the strongest pawn of Incabulos in contact with the armies of the Abyss, easing the creations of short-term alliances with the demon princes and also granting the opportunity to avail the demonic perspective in the Blood War. Finally, there is Insanity, the only sister who is seen by Malevolence as an unnecessary load. The sixth night hag rarely participates in joint efforts with the others and her mental unbalance is so great that Malevolence cannot predict the effect of her actions (which more than once ruined the machinations of the first night hag).

    The son of Malevolence with Incabulos was Ynaeth, an atropal (cf. Epic Level Handbook) who rebelled against his father, refusing to serve. Too powerful to roam free without a leash, Malevolence, Despair, Famine and Tragedy killed the abomination in a horrifying, bloody battle.

    Despair (The Hag of Nightmares): The second among these hags possesses a curious relationship with Incabulos. In the Prime Material Plane, the clergy of the greater god would affirm that madness and nightmares are closely associated, but these traits are not only divided between two night hags as Despair (who asked for this name for she enjoyed the result of her aspect in mortals more than the nightmare itself) is also the second of the sextet with a reduced aspect. It is speculated that in the beginning there were five great night hags, one of them representing both insanity and nightmares, but was so unstable the Black Rider destroyed her and created or invoked two other night hags to fulfill separate roles. The intelligence of Despair, her skill in plotting and the importance her god gives to dreams in the influence of mortals contributed to her ascension. The dream world is a domain that can be visited by any living being and can be as powerful a tool as direct planar intervention (and much more subtle), so a strong agent in this field was vital. Also, the second night hag’s reduced role in the portfolio of the greater god leaves her with much more time to manage and watch her sister’s ongoing plans than Malevolence (as the role in the Crawling Citadel consumes most of her time). Despair may be one step below her sister, but her relative freedom of time grants an opportunity to manage and directly counsel her sisters’ plots, making the second night hag an “informal leader” much more effective than Malevolence. The charisma and manipulative skills of Despair also avoids most infighting (from verbal abuse to downright menace) when 3 or 4 of the sextet are reunited. She considers a fight with Malevolence for the preeminent place would just weaken her favor from Incabulos and no real advance would be done. In this way, Despair accepts her sister as the first hag (at least for now) and both come satisfied with a mutual “upper alliance”, for it helps to control the conflicts with the other sisters. Regarding Pestilence, the third great night hag is satisfied with the “no wish for leadership” of Despair and tries to convince her with a joint effort against Malevolence. Despair plays with the hopes of Pestilence, helps her in several minor plots and feigns sympathy while claiming neutrality, “for such action would go against Incabulos’ plans”. This attitude galls Pestilence, but she knows without Despair her bid for command becomes almost unviable, not knowing the second hag has no intention in helping her and just make use of this sympathetic stance to advance her own plots. Famine is avoided by Despair, though she believes she can hold her own against an attack from her sister (a treacherous act that occurred long ago). But once in a while the second night hag involves Famine in her plans through persuasion or bribery. Tragedy is seen as strong, militaristic and a dependable ally, as long as her chaotic nature can be dealt with. Insanity is watched with hate and fearfulness by Despair, who covet her powers but at the same time is afraid of what would happen with her sanity, even despite being immune to her deranged sister’s songs.

    Despair is the indirect agent of Incabulos in the Prime Material Plane, manifesting his most important plans by speaking in dreams with the Black Rider’s clergy, using the priests and other greedy mortals who contact her in their sleep to fulfill the goals of the greater god. Despair resides in her cave in the first layer of Hades, surrounded by undead minions. The result of her union with Incabulos generated Razzagroth, the first dream larva (cf. Epic Level Handbook) known. Thanks to actions of other gods (such as Sehanine Moonbow and Rao), such a being has extremely limited access to the mortal mind, but Despair is able to bring him from the dream world (note: I use the demiplane of dreams in Manual of the Planes 3e) to reality in dire emergencies.

    Pestilence (the Hag of Plagues): Maybe the most repulsive of the sextet, Pestilence embodies disease itself, with body wholly functional yet bearing the marks of uncountable plagues, pustules and necrotic lesions. The third night hag sees this as a special blessing of the god and as a sign of preeminence among her sisters. Her dedication to Incabulos is also unmatched, readily aiding the plans of the other hags if she judges them beneficial to the faith. Even her envy and enmity with Malevolence does not impede Pestilence from cooperating, especially if that plan may put her in a more favorable condition than just let the first night hag reap all the god’s attention for herself. If there is anything that can distract Pestilence it is her hatred toward Famine, whom she sees as a failure, too preoccupied with her own hunger to act in behalf of the Black Rider. Unless Malevolence or Despair are present to part them, both night hags clash in fierce combat whenever they happen to meet. The results of such fights varies, but the victor never delivers the fatal blow, as both remember the occasion when Incabulos himself appeared and brutally castigated both combatants, who were on the brink of extermination - the dead do not serve for any purpose of the Greater God. Pestilence tries to win Despair’s favor to come closer to her patron, an approach that is giving little result. The relationship with Insanity is a strain for her patience, for the third hag tried to be as cordial as possible with her “younger sister” in order to comprehend her madness (i.e. if there is any recognizable pattern) and then use it for her own gain. Although Tragedy is too chaotic, she recognizes the destructive streak in her sister can be very useful to the unholy cause.

    The obligations of the Hag of Plagues made her an agent of Incabulos in Hades, even more than Despair, though occasionally the third night hag visits the negative plane. For Pestilence, Hades is the source of all diseases, and she is quite welcome in the Wasting Tower of the Onioloth of Khin-Oin, where both conspire and create new diseases while the night hag tries to uncover the next steps of the yugoloths in the Blood War. Pestilence also has agents scattered in the prime and other planes as well (Carceri and Pandemonium, especially). Rarely, Pestilence reveals “the secret of immortality” to a particularly powerful, devout follower of Incabulos who focuses in the study of diseases. The result of this reward is the transformation of the mortal in to a repulsive life form called Worm that Walks (cf. Epic Level Handbook), living in a thousand living bodies, each representing decay and a potential carrier of disease. Pestilence bore a Mu-Spore (cf. Epic Level Handbook) in her union with Incabulos, which achieved enormous dimension. As with Malevolence’s child, it resisted being commanded by Pestilence, but the hag did not want to destroy something that represented her faith, so she allowed the monstrous being to escape, knowing that even without guidance it would infect the planes with its spores.

    Famine (The Hag of Hunger): The fourth hag, with a skeletally gaunt complex, is so unpopular among her sisters as Insanity, with the difference the sixth night hag isn’t even understood by the others. Famine sees the multiverse as a great harvest, ready to be devoured to quiet her ever-aching belly. But her principles are not based on the chaotic voracity of a mindless beast but in the logical reasoning of hunter and prey. If the hag starves and she is able to tear down the herd of sheep, why not do it? Some rangers try to follow this natural law, but Famine considers them amateurs and too dependent on the tools and abundance of the wilderness. The fourth night hag codified the simple law of predator and prey into a true martial and spiritual philosophy which requires its student to eat using only his body, no matter the place, the scarceness of meat, the weather conditions and the lack of shade to ambush. From her taloned fists Famine hunts and communes with her beliefs, considering the Black Rider as a very successful member of her philosophy. Contrary to her sisters, Famine does not worship Incabulos because he is a god, but for his ability to devour anything, living or dead, no matter how mighty, tricky or fast. Some refuse to accept the natural law, others see it in a clouded way, like the devils that patiently wait those enrolled in a bargain to die and then feast on their souls. And finally there are those who wisely observe Famine’s view, like the sahuagin, a race she loves to prey (the shark folk nickname her as “The Ravenous Crone”), but who acknowledge also there is always a greater predator. This lesson was taught once to the hag herself, being forced to run from Sekolah after eating too many of his acolytes. She harbors no resentment against this episode as she considers humble enough to assume occasionally the role of prey. By the same logic, the hag teaches and demands her victims to behave likewise. So, when she is devouring a victim, it is not just a matter of self-fulfillment but also a profoundly spiritual experience for both parties. While Famine rips, kicks, bludgeons and bites her prey to death, she is deeply in communion with her beliefs and strives to “teach” her lesson as best as she can, as a sort of philosophical obligation. Of course, no onlooker (much less the victim) would believe this onslaught is actually anything else than sheer savagery.

    For the fourth hag, Incabulos is not the Black Rider, but the Taker. The starvation he causes in mortal races is just the planar reflex of his divine appetite. Famine feels pity for her sisters who do not partake in such beloved philosophy, so it falls to her shoulders the duty to show the logic of her fists and fangs. It is an even greater pity to the fourth hag the dilemma of not being able to consume her sisters (excluding Insanity) who refuse to cooperate neither as prey nor as hunter (excluding Pestilence). Unable to solve this problem, she is content for now (or better speaking, for the last millennia) to focus her predatory instincts elsewhere, while occasionally cooperating with the others when it suits her needs. Regarding her feelings toward each sister in particular, Malevolence and Despair are too embroiled in their petty plots to gain power, Tragedy is a rudimentary creature who destroys without much reverence or insight of it, which saddens Famine. What use destruction has if not conducted in a principled way? But it is Pestilence that makes the fourth great night hag really mad. Not only living a delirium of grandeur, thinking herself as the avatar of the Taker, Pestilence does worse than refuse to hunt or be devoured, she spoils. While disease is an important aspect of Incabulos (for it is just another kind of hunger, from inside and in a slow pace), all that Famine sees her sister do is enjoy the spread of disease, not caring if a particular victim dies or not. Large scale suffering and non-contemplative death are the only goals to Pestilence and this irreverent mockery of the Taker’s philosophy is outrageous to Famine. Insanity is a different case. Sometimes Famine thinks there cannot be a better company than her “younger sister”, vigorously defending her from any threat. The fourth hag considers Insanity as the perfect prey. In a world of hunters and hunted, this relationship does not exist just in a physical way. The last member of the sextet just stays still, chanting in the Abyss or Pandemonium for several weeks. For Famine, Insanity is a spiritual prey who offers her soul to anyone who appears, letting those potential predators to devour her words and songs which are just an extension of her body and spirit. What else can you expect from someone who bares his throat for the wolf locks its jaws? Famine sometimes spends hours devouring the music (and to her belief, the soul as well) of Insanity until she feels satisfied and with much disorientation, leaving then to “digest” her sister’s kindly offer.

    Famine spends most of her time in the Nine Hells, indulging herself with the devilish offers to not predate their property, going instead to the manor of another rival or perhaps the opportunity to chew a demonic force in the Blood War. Among the sympathizers of her philosophy, many Rakshasa agree and follow the natural law and pay discreet (and distant) homage to the fourth night hag. From the bloody and ravenous sexual relationship Famine had with Incabulos, she bore a single entity which embodied the hunger itself: A ruin swarm (cf. Epic Level Handbook). The pregnancy term of such voracious being escalated Famine’s appetite to unprecedented levels. Her hunger in that period was so great that she left entire areas in the Outlands bare and sterile, leaving no trace of a river, not a single blade of grass, much less sentient creatures. Such areas are still avoided today.

    Tragedy (The Hag of Doom): The catastrophe aspect of Incabulos’ portfolio does not need to confine to natural disasters, extending also to accidental or planned actions of living beings. Whether an avalanche crushes a band of dwarves or haughty pride causes the declaration of war between two kingdoms, the clergy of the Greater God claims it was his responsibility. All this destructive focus is the area of concern of the fifth night hag. Many consider Tragedy just a lover of war, but that is a simple-minded definition. While she truly appreciates the clash of arms, battles are not her sole province. The formians of Nirvana know well the menace of Tragedy and the mere mention of the hag is enough to inspire a quick mobilization in their colonies. The Hag of Doom works well with Malevolence and Despair, understand the use of Pestilence (for history already demonstrated when flood and war arrives, disease soon follows) but do not concern with the so-called “philosophy” of Famine or the ravings of Insanity (which, for Tragedy, destruction has already left its trail in her sister’s head).

    Tragedy sometimes travels to Limbo, observing the disassembling of formerly stable structures and enjoying the company of slaadi. In other occasions, the fifth night hag stays in the Abyss, dealing with several like-minded demons. However, there are times that Tragedy decides to impose her view in the more lawful, stagnant, planes, being especially active in the Blood War against devilkind. An interesting fact is that twice in history she encountered Famine in the other side of the battlefield. In the first occasion, the two hags fought among themselves, with the victory of Famine and the retreat of her sister. The second time, the devils arranged for another encounter between them. When Famine discovered that, she turned against the baatezu with the help of the fifth hag. Together they annihilated the diabolic army, to the exultation of the demons and then, for their surprise, both hags turned against the abyssal horde for different reasons (Famine was still hungry and Tragedy wanted to show how capricious a disaster could be). When the fifth night hag became pregnant of Incabulos, her gestation prolonged for an indefinite period and she didn’t feel any corporal formation inside her womb, though there was definitely the presence of a life force, with a strong bend toward chaos. Fearing for the fate of her child, Tragedy decided then to create a body to house this life-force. Traveling to Acheron, in the layer of Thuldanin, the fifth hag found the ideal birthplace of her “baby”: a battlefield strewn with destroyed war machines. So she extracted the spiritual force of her womb and channeled it into the existing metallic husks, trying at the same time to shape them to a form that could shelter the soul born of a destructive union. The result was the birth of Doomseeker (note: I think that there is a similar name or the same term in the Star Cairns Adventure... it is either Doomheart or Doomseeker, but when I created this monster I was not aware of it). Composed of a jumble of siege weapons, murderous equipment of war, all of iron, silver and adamantine and not a single pound of flesh, Doomseeker is a chaotic neutral Anaxim (cf. Epic Level Handbook, but with a different origin of the standard LN anaxims born by gods of the forge). This large-sized construct accompanies Tragedy in her battles ever since, but its destructive urge are so great that its perceptions are sometimes clouded, extending its attacks to Tragedy. Sometimes the fifth night hag leaves her child to roam at will in a lower plane, either to wreak some gratuitous havoc there or to lend its services to a scheming demon lord.

    Insanity (The Hag of Madness): The sixth and last night of the dreadful ride of Incabulos can be easily recognized by her crazed look, the unkempt white hair, and the moaning voice that gradually erodes the sanity of anyone who dares listen. Insanity deserves her name and she is accordingly shunned by almost everyone. The Hag of Madness makes her decisions according to her interpretations of the Greater God’s unspoken desires and thus has been treading a tortuous path for a very long time, acting in strange ways without any obvious intent, often pausing when her thoughts roam free of guidance. But occasionally, at the least expected moment, Insanity suddenly appears to spread madness and disgrace, shaping events that later resolve in a most beneficial way to the Black Rider. Her relationship toward her sisters is of total incomprehension, for they do not understand the real goals of Incabulos, manifested through the voices and sounds she creates. Even Famine, who occasionally visits her, is deaf to the god’s edicts, but she sees Despair as the greatest unbeliever of the six and this – she “rationalizes” – will be her undoing.

    There is no routine for Insanity, but she passes most of the time in the Abyss, especially Pazunia (or Plain of Infinite Portals). The demons who hear her approach (always chanting and singing in a most disturbing manner) flee in earnest, especially when the hag is accompanied by Famine. The most powerful local lords do not bother with them, as they can be easily ignored if their forces are withdrawn. Occasionally, Insanity can be found at howling Pandemonium and her voice is heard just at short distance. It is interesting to point out that in this plane, the sixth hag walks and behaves with abnormal stability and even her voice is described as “bizarrely harmonious with the screeching winds” which quickly revert to their maddening chant when she leaves this plane. The union with Incabulos produced the incarnation of madness: a Maddening Mouther (a gibbering mouther with the Abomination Template). Its current location is unknown, but there are rumors of a powerful gibbering mouther in the prime, who rules a city deep in the Amedio Jungle, as a god among its lesser (standard) kin. Others say both creatures are unrelated.



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    Re: The Six Great Night Hags (Score: 1)
    by Osmund-Davizid on Wed, January 05, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal)
    Fascinating read! Very apocalyptic of you to make the hag riders embodiments of each aspect of Incabulos. A good follow up would be to describe any cults dedicated to these hags that exist on Oerth. Otherwise this is a top rate article - a five in my book!

    Great job.

    O-D



    Re: The Six Great Night Hags (Score: 1)
    by mortellan on Thu, January 06, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Dude! I am glad to see you wrote on the 6 Hags, and this is even better than I imagined it would be. You have done the god Incabulous a great service with this piece. *malevolent laugh*



    Re: The Six Great Night Hags (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Thu, January 06, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal)
    I like this alot. Sort of like Greyhawk's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I think this is a really nice development of Incabulous. Look out Nerull!

    GVD




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