Lore and Tactics: Antilings, the Harbingers of Hunger

You wouldn’t know it, but a great hunger presses against our plane of existence, gnashing and grasping against the thin veil that separates us. Little is understood of the anti-material planes and why it is so driven to invade the material realms. Some mistake it for the void between planes; a great nothingness that strives for equilibrium like air in a vacuum. Others, an entire ecosystem of ravenous entities worming their way through planar crossings. The true nature of the anti-material plane, however, is to simply end. End you. End me. End our entire plane of existence, as well as itself.

When a small tear appears in this veil, the anti-material violently seeks out the material, resulting in mutual annihilation. This phenomena may even appear as an entity freely moving through space; a manifestation of annihilation known as an antiling. Though it may appear to act intelligently, an antiling’s sole driver is to seek out and annihilate it’s own existence with the highest concentration of matter or energy.

A Force of Annihilation

Anti-material phenomena like the antiling behave more like forces of nature than creatures. When manifested, they are drawn to dense concentrations of material and energy: volcanic mountains; dense cities; powerful magic items. This includes potential concentrations of material and energy, like a wizard brimming with magical spells or a druid capable of massive wild shape forms.

As an entity composed of anti-material, an antiling near any source of material immediately begins to break it down and negate it with its own existence in self-annihilation. Tendrils of anti-material lash out from the antiling, inflicting massive amounts of damage to its target as well as itself. The energy emitted from anti-material creates an aura of suppression around an antiling, suppressing all magical and supernatural properties and disrupting a creature’s mental and physical abilities.

If encountered, an antiling will take the most direct path towards it’s target, which is usually a straight line. Any object or creature in this path is targeted with anti-material attacks until it or the antiling are annihilated. Although its behaviors are simple, the powerful anti-material properties of an antiling make it incredibly dangerous and difficult to neutralize. A single one of these entities could bore a hole through an entire castle in pursuit of its target if left unchecked.

Playing an Antiling

An antiling is a powerful seek-and-destroy adversary, so the most important information is what its target is. If an antiling spawns away from the party, its target will likely be the nearest potential concentration of magic or material. This could be a powerful magic item worn by an archmage in the city, a pocket of magic obsidian in a nearby hill, or a dragon in its mountain lair.

Adventurers are typically powerful creatures filled with potential and magic, so if an antiling were to sense the party nearby, it may gravitate towards one of them. The powerful magic in a spellcasting party member is typically a solid target for an antiling and can lead to a tense battle as they are usually the most vulnerable. If the antiling’s original target is nearby or its influence is too strong, the antiling may ignore the party and continue its linear path, which will still serve as an interesting adventure hook.

At some point, an antiling will need to be dealt with. Remember, any damage the antiling inflicts is also subtracted from its own HP, which effectively turns its pool of HP into a resource for damage. Anyone within 10 ft. of the antiling is subject to its suppressing aura along with necrotic damage, effectively reducing them to single melee attacks. Flavor this as a sort of withering radiation, robbing a character of magic and dulling their abilities. This aura will also neutralize magical effects and attacks made outside of it, fizzling out burning hands or magic missile spells. Although magical ammunition will be stripped of its magic damage, the physical bolt or arrow will still apply its damage. Typically, only non-magical damage will affect an antiling, and the especially gritty Dungeon Master may inflict damage back upon the weapons used to deal it.

Encounters with an antiling present the party with an incredibly unusual enemy that could be dealt with in a variety of creative ways. Some adventurers may wisely keep their distance and pepper it with ranged attacks once they discover its suppressing aura. Others might drop a massive boulder on it or gang up on it all at once. However your party chooses to interact with it, it is sure to raise some eyebrows and maybe open up a curiosity for these anti-material aberrations.

You can find the antiling among other unique custom creatures in Core Pack I of our reference card decks.

Leave a comment