Saturday, December 6, 2014

Les Chants de Maldoror

Not finding what I was seeking, I lifted my eyes higher, and higher still, until I saw a throne made of human excrement and gold, on which was sitting --with idiotic pride, his body draped in a shroud of unwashed hospital linen-- he who calls himself the Creator!

He was holding in his hand the rotten body of a dead man, carrying it in turn from his eyes to his nose and from his nose to his mouth; and once it reached his mouth, one can guess what he did with it. His feet were dipped in a huge pool of boiling blood, on the surface of which two or three cautious heads would suddenly rise up like tapeworms in a chamber pot, and as suddenly submerge again, swift as an arrow. A kick on the bone of the nose was the familiar reward for any infringement of regulations occasioned by the need to breathe a different atmosphere; for, after all, these men were not fish. Though amphibious at best, they were swimming underwater in this vile liquid!

... until, finding his hands empty, the Creator, with the first two claws of his foot, would grab another diver by the neck, as if with pincers, and lift him into the air, out of the reddish slime, delicious sauce. And this one was treated in the same way as his predecessor. First he ate his head, then his legs and arms, and last of all, the trunk, until there was nothing left; for he crunched the bones as well. And so it continues, for all the hours of his eternity.

Sometimes, he would shout: 'I created you, so I have the right to do whatever I like to you. You have done nothing to me, I do not deny it. I am making you suffer for my own pleasure.' Oh reader, does not this last-mentioned detail make your mouth water? Cannot whoever wishes also eat brains just the same, which taste just as good and just as fresh, caught less than a quarter of an hour before in the lake - the brain of a fish?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Desiderata: The Great Worm’s Treasures

Beyond the vast, alkaline southern desert lies a forest of silk-shrouded mulberry trees. Within this earthquake-afflicted region resides a vast subterranean creature whose horrid appetites for human flesh are all too readily met by its industrious worshippers who inhabit that portion of the world. The Worshippers of the Worm hide their shrines amidst the trees and the tremors, biding their time by spinning silk, raiding their neighbors for flesh offerings, and working magic into their sacred objects.

Some examples of their sacred objects follow:

Mulberry Staff

A rod of whitened mulberry wood, carven into the shape of an elongated silkworm. There are many of these staves in existence, each being the result of a consecration/sacrifice practiced yearly at the maw of the Worm. The staff has 10 charges, which can be spend to achieve any of the following effects:
  • 1 charge: Enchant a simple silkworm so that it will never stop growing or die of age, increasing in lengthy by about one foot per year until it is a purple worm.
  • 2 charges: Web (DC 15).
  • 3 charges: Protection from energy (lightning only). This version can be cast on trees or buildings as well as people.
The staff has 10 charges, regains 1d6 per day, and has a 5% chance of losing its magic each time the last charge is expended.

Samite Bandages

These fine silken bandages are highly prized for their great restorative power. So much so that many goodly persons and ministrative organizations who otherwise would not deign to truck with the followers of Great Worm are willing to hold their noses and trade for them.

These bandages can only be applied outside of combat. Each pouch of bandages heals 10 hit points.

The Serration Chants

A silk-bound tome of venerative hymns honoring the Great Worm. Most of the songs will inspire revulsion in sentient creatures, but a character with 13 or more Wisdom will realize that there is hidden meanings in the musical notation and lyrics. Each day that such a person spends studying the tome, they will discover another “mystery of the worm” from the following list:
  • A day-long ritual whereby a willing participant can transform themselves into a swarm of especially productive silkworms. Each worm retains a sliver of their intelligence, but they are no longer interested in much aside from eating mulberries.
  • A horrid song that is so simple that even a child could learn it. If any character ever recites the song a total of three times in their life, a purple worm will unerringly seek them out and attempt to devour them. It arrives in 1d10 days. Each copy of this song has slight variations attuning it to a different worm, and so loses its value if the worm to which it refers is slain.
  • An urgent, complex hymn that irritates Great Worm, regardless of distance. While you chant these, the Worm stirs and writhes, causing minor earthquakes in its vicinity. This song is normally used for holy days or to cow forces attacking the Worm’s worshippers. If this is used to the point of irritation, the worshippers will divine the source and send a well-armed team of “negotiators” to retrieve the tome. The hymn will under no circumstances cause Great Worm to move or otherwise change its behavior (believe me, they’ve tried).
The book also (correctly) claims that if you ever reveal any of the secrets from this book to others, you will fall into a deep, painless sleep from which you will never awaken.

Sericulture Draught

Within a few minutes of quaffing this foul-smelling potion, the consumer vomits up copious quantities of cloying, sticky silk. If the character is able to restrain their nausea (perhaps a CON check), they can exert a supernatural control over the silk produced, allowing them to produce nearly finished goods. One draught is sufficient to make a hundred feet of silk rope, a very rough kimono that will still nevertheless fetch 50gp if sold, enough silk to hermetically seal a normal-sized door, or whatever other purpose a player can devise.

This potion is completely unlike any the players are likely to have encountered before, and even characters with great familiarity with the field are unlikely to discern its effects prior to testing, though they are able to discern that it is not poisonous.

Scroll Of Silksteel

This ornate scroll may be expended to impart magical strength to a single object of silk that fits within a 1-foot cube. The resulting silk is as strong as steel, not only by weight (silk is already stronger than steel by this metric) but to the point where a kimono of this silk will confer protection similar to a suit of half plate. Similarly, a silk rope will function as a steel cable, and so forth.

Kimono Of Sowing Horrors

A masterpiece of painted silk craft, this kimono carries various depictions of Great Worm, often in the context of devouring thousands of people at once. The scenes are painted so cunningly that their details vary subtly depending on the angle from which one views it.

Any creature wearing this robe as armor enjoys a +1 bonus to AC and saves, and does not leave footprints (though scent-based tracking is more effective than usual due to a faint, anise-like vapor that cloys to the robes).

Any normal mammalian animal that you touch while wearing the robe will contract a horrifying infestation of flesh worms that will kill them over the course of the next month, leaving them a mostly-devoured skeleton covered in writhing, oversized maggots. Any human so unwise as to touch you will similarly be afflicted, but it is very rarely fatal (inflicting perhaps 1d6 damage at the start of each day until the parasites have run their course, perhaps three weeks).

Any well or other contained source of water touched by you will be rendered poisonous and vile, filled with swirling green poison. This toxic quality persists for 1d6 days.

Once a week, you can pluck a thread from the robe and hurl it on the ground, where it will transform into a putrid worm that will fight any creature you command (it has statistics similar to a cobra). It will revert to a silken thread after five minutes. Any corpses slain by the creature will slowly dissolve into a vile white liquid.

Silken Undershirt

Though expensive, these tightly-woven undershirts are designed to be worn beneath armor, imparting increased protection against arrows and similarly piercing ranged weapons. The undershirt confers resistance against the next such attack to hit you, but is then ruined.