Bethias the Many
Loef Bethias was a recluse and eccentric who lived alone on the outskirts of a village. In his early life, he lived as an Aeon Priest, but left them as he could not stand the close quarters with the other priests, the ignorant villagers he was called upon to help, or the elaborate ceremonies which he vehemently decried as frivolous.
After leaving the Aeon Priests, he traveled alone for many years collecting numenera and stealing to survive. Ultimately he settled down, owing to his numerous old injuries and brushes with death, and became yet another subsistence farmer on the outskirts of a remote village.
Bethias's neighbors found his behavior suspicious. For the many years he lived there, he rarely ever ventured forth from his farm, and when he did he wore an enormous wide-brimmed hat and high-collared coat, regardless of the weather. Rumors circulated that he consorted with demons, with whom he held counsel all night.
In truth, one of Bethias's old items of numenera turned out to be the receptacle for a powerful nano-spirit named Flastor. Flastor had been imprisoned in the data receptacle by a rival datasphere god eons ago, and desired release. In exchange for release, Flastor offered Bethias a boon of his choosing. Bethias asked for companions that would understand him, and Flastor was all too happy to oblige.
Over the next several years, Flastor instructed Bethias in the construction of a machine that would make cloned replicas of himself and program their brains with his memories and personality, making more or less physically and mentally identical copies of himself. The locals remember with awe and horror the day that a run-down farmhouse disgorged fifty identical copies of Bethias, each carrying a piece of numenera equipment.
Bethias and his duplicates dismantled the machine and carried all of its components and various other supplies out into the wilderness. There they established a crude settlement they dubbed Insulum, to be populated solely by Bethias and his duplicates.
Effusively thankful of Flastor for help achieving this dream, Bethias asked how he could free the trapped spirit. Again, Flastor instructed Bethias to build yet another machine that he claimed would project his consciousness into the aether. The machine was built, but Flastor had double-crossed Bethias. All of the duplicates had been engineered with a brain implant that allowed Flastor to seize control over them, and he used them to imprison Bethias in his new home.
The region surrounding Insulum is now given a wide berth, as the many bodies of Bethias the Many, as Flastor calls itself when dealing with mortals, are known for their violent hostility towards outsiders. As Flastor can make any number of duplicate bodies, those that encounter trespassers are suicidal in their effort to defend their town.
Those who succeed in approaching Insulum will find simple wooden shacks built in a radial pattern around a large central building, from which extends a transmitting antenna. Bethias-clones move about on their assigned tasks, utterly silent. The central building was the original Bethias's home, and now houses the cloning machine and the transmitting machine, both of which are essential to Flastor's plans of revenge against his invisible rivals.
Using Bethias the Many in Your Game
Bethias the Many and Insulum can be located anywhere off the beaten path, so long as it is a few days travel from another village or community. Players might hear of Bethias the Many and the region's evil reputation from the inhabitants of Bethias's old village. Depending on how the PCs came to that village, Insulum could be a site of adventure or a dangerous obstacle between them and their destination.
- The Amber Papacy's resurrected computer banks have suffered datasphere attacks recently. They have been able to track the source of the attacks to a region of remote wilderness, which they believe to be deserted from their outdated maps. They need someone to travel there, find the source of the attacks, and shut it down.
- An aging nobleman craves immortality. He has heard the rumors of Bethias the Many and his cloning machine, and seeks to hire adventurers to retrieve it for him.
- Bethias the Many requires a specific item of numenera to further his plans, but lacks the ability to get it himself. Fliers advertising the job appear in every town and city throughout the region.
- Nanos and a few other people throughout the region have been experiencing repeated glimmers of a haggard old man begging for help and offering a glorious reward. This is in fact a distress signal from the original Loef Bethias, who is still alive and trying to call for help from a jury-rigged transmitter.
The original Loef Bethias is an old man at this point, and is a level 2 NPC with skill in numenera and farming as a level 5. The following stats represent the bodies controlled by Flastor, a.k.a. Bethias the Many.
The following stats represent a single instance of Bethias the Many. He, or it, rather, appears as a pale, thin man with lank black hair anywhere between the ages of 20 and 35, indistinguishable from any other hermit or farmer. Bethias the Many destroys bodies that age past this threshold.
Level: 4 (12)
Motive: Revenge against unknown other nano-spirits
Environment: Insulum and the surrounding countryside
Health: 12 hp
Damage Inflicted: 4
Modifications: Lying and persuasion as level 6, numenera as level 10
Combat: A single instance of Bethias the Many who encounters intruders in the vicinity of Insulum will first attempt to verbally warn them away. If they refuse, it will attack with a sword or a club, and will fight suicidally in an attempt to stall the intruders while reinforcements arrive.
These stats represent the coordinated attacks of ten or more Bethias clones. Use the stats for a single Bethias except where noted below.
Level: 6 (18)
Health: 36 hp
Combat: A mob of Bethias clones will attempt to surround a group of intruders to attack from all sides and keep them from fleeing. A mob can make up to three attacks per round against all creatures in immediate range, and a character who attempts to move outside that range must succeed in an opposed Might or Speed check.