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With the Redsky playtesting about to begin, Ken, Alex, and I wanted to give more context for Ikhish! We are so happy that a select group of dozens of DMs and players will be interacting with one of our favorite factions. In an ideal world, we'd have legions of artists working on providing you imagery for The Thalkast and the struggles of the Sporespawn species. For now, we are just grateful that the playtesters are helping us work towards that future by having some fun today. Wish them all the best of luck with all the D20s about to be rolled!
Without further ado, here is some quick information about the Freespawn.
The Freespawn and Ikhish
The Freespawn are a nation of free Sporespawn individuals who cherish their consciousness and independence. They reside control the subterranean city known as Ikhish. After the severing of The Overmind into hundreds of thousands of sentient Sporespawn drones in The Sundering, the population of Ikhish was left with a stark reality. Situated on the far borders of the northern Thalqet, much of the ponderous supply lines linking the Ikhish hive to its neighbors had collapsed. The city’s settlements happened to be situated in the nesting grounds of many cavern beasts, horrific monsters that quickly preyed on the recovering drones finding their footing in the dark. The food supply was even more dire.
The losses Ikhish Sporespawn took from starvation and predation wiped out a majority of the original population. It was only through a live-or-perish burst of innovation and planning that the remnant lived on to secure its internal borders. This was done through what may be the closest form to true democracy that exists in Dema.
A random and large subset of the citizens of Ikhish meet regularly to reach Consensus. The right conditions allow Ikhish Sporespawn to temporarily meld minds with one another in order to reach a truly democratic consensus about how the society should proceed.
Compared to the blind obedience demanded by Unrul, or the loss of consciousness and their ‘souls’ by merging with Tohol, the Ikhish view themselves as the true successor to the Overmind, one that is free and just. For this reason they refer to themselves as “Freespawn.” This quick transference of perspectives and ideas has allowed a degree of adaptation and resilience that stands out from the more collectively ponderous approaches of their kin. It allowed them to determine which tunnel networks were beyond salvage, or had to be closed off entirely to prevent being overrun by Cave Horrors.
Of special note is the effect Consensus had on the Ikhish Freespawn when it came to researching the world around them. They possessed vast repositories of Eldertech stored deep within their reinforced halls made of chitinous trama material. Many factions would covet the opportunity to recover the Eldertech in the Thalkast, though they definitely would not envy the Ikhish for being in such proximity to the dangers that often guard every ruin of civilizations even older than The Overmind. The Freespawn are constantly studying and (ideally) reverse-engineering Eldertech from the moment of their formation as a people. By the Exodus Era, their advances in both biological and mechanical engineering placed them as the most scientifically minded nation in all of Dema.
This progress is driven by, but also kept in check by the fact that Ikhish is a city under constant siege. They face swarms of Everborn attempting to assimilate them and destroy their individuality, the armies of the Unruul who would subjugate them to The Allspawn, and tides of mechanical golems which pour forth from the deepest and most forbidding parts of the Thalkast. Each of these conflicts are held at a perilous stalemate, every side looking for an edge tip the scales and the wars beneath the surface.
The Freespawn fight back against the Everborn and the Unruul by attempting to liberate Sporespawn individuals. To this effect, they attempt to awaken individual consciousness in captured Everborn bioforms, and clear away the authoritarian ideology of captured Unruul Sporespawn. Disrupting control node connections sends the Everborn Swarm into chaos as they scramble, disconnected from the Throne of Thorns. Unruul defectors and prisoners take longer to come around to their freedom, but take comfort knowing few secrets can survive Consensus. The Golems, however, do not surrender. They do not cease. Their ends are apocalyptic for the Ikhish and all Sporespawn. Keeping them from discovering routes back to the Hive Hall is the only means of surviving this scourge. Entrances that cannot be fortified are sealed shut.
The Freespawn maintain a number of small enclaves in Mundi and Etherea. They maintain these small outposts of Ikhish for the sake of Eldertech trade and diplomacy. It is not uncommon for small groups of Freespawn to be separated from the main faction for long periods of time, far off on excursions to gather more information for the good of their kind.
On your travels through the Thalkast, it will be up to your party to find the most meaningful way to engage with these resourceful thinkers. Hopefully the mysteries of the Hive Halls give ample opportunity to tell stories that echo through the dark.
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