Friday, July 13, 2012

Shrouded (Abdead/Wermspittle)

Some cures fail through malpractice, fraud or deceit. A rare and costly few succeed against all rational expectation or explanation. Others may well succeed far more terribly than any disease they might have alleviated, no matter how dire the outlook...

Shrouded
(Abdead Plague-Vector)

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2 (Turn as 4 HD)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 or by weapon (+Infection)
Save: F4
Morale: 10

Necro-Mesmerists have much to answer for, not the least of which is their role in the creation of the Shrouded.

Former clients of these self professed 'Masters of the Necro-electrical Fluid,' the Shrouded shamble about in an abdead trance-state, lashing out violently at anyone who disturbs their uneasy quasi-somnambulism. Neither fully dead nor alive, and not having transitioned through the actual death-state, these victims of pseudoscientific hubris linger on in a peculiarly fragile form of pseudolife.

The controversial experimental procedure employed in creating one of the Shrouded is a trade secret of the Necro-Mesmerists. Even with a tremendously ridiculous failure rate, they still attract volunteers hoping against hope that they might be that one-in-a-thousand who achieve a form of abdead pseudo-mortality. But even those Afflicted, Unfortunates and Patients whose procedures fail find some relief from the various poxes, plagues or diseases that torment them. Becoming one of the Shrouded is preferable to a slow death wasting away from one of the strange new forms of emphysema, tuberculosis or one of the other infections once thought extinct that have returned with a vengeance. Better some weird pseudo-life than the alternative, at least for some.

There are several academic inquiries as well as several publicly-posted theories currently in circulation asserting the claim that the Necro-Mesmerists are abject frauds, that they have turned their backs on legitimate Mesmerism and have turned to the use some obscure derivative of White Powder in their procedures, an allegation that they vehemently deny. Often at knife-point.

A Repellent Countenance
The Shrouded exude a profuse outflowing of yellowish ichor from their eyes. This yellowish ichor is a highly concentrated and contagious source of infection. The constantly dripping fluid forms a nasty, almost scabrous mess surrounding their eyes, leading some to pluck out their own eyes in a vain attempt to stave off the flow of pestilent ichor, but to no avail. Others simply don the gauzy shrouds for which they have become known and reviled. At least then, in dim light, there is a small chance that they might not be immediately recognized for what they have become. In any case, those who become one of the Shrouded take a -4 penalty to their Charisma as well as a -2 penalty to their Dexterity, and gain a +2 bonus to their Wisdom and Intelligence. Also, no matter what type of HD they might have had in their previous life, they must convert their HD over to D4s. The stats above are for a low-level specimen, there are quite a few Shrouded who possess levels as fighters, thieves, or other classes--and they retain all other class features/experience benefits. They now progress as spell-casters, should they seek to continue adventuring despite their delicate state.

Yellow Ichor Exposure-Effects
  1. Save at -2 or contract tuberculosis.
  2. Save or suffer a low-grade form of leprosy for 1d4 weeks, after which it clears up regardless/despite any attempted curative regimen.
  3. Gray Pox seeps into your skin. It remains dormant until you are reduced to under 5 hit points, at which point it will run rampant, very probably killing you. Many sufferers of the Gray Pox become Shrouded in an effort to save themselves from this terrible scourge. You might want to consider it.
  4. Asthma wracks your lungs any time you fail a Save. This hacking, wheezing fit incapacitates you for 1d4 minutes and lowers your current hit points by 1d4. It is said that the Midwives know of a reliable cure for this condition.
  5. You've been exposed to some random Plague, Pox or Disease.
  6. Maybe you should roll on the Dungeon Funk Table...
Those who choose this 'treatment' remain completely aware of every little change in their condition as their Intellectual faculties remain in tip-top working order up until the very end, when they aren't caught-up in a trance of deep introspection. The Shrouded are a melancholy lot, given to brooding and pondering upon their current precarious condition and what it might mean for their immortal souls or their chances for some sort of an after-life. In fact, they tend to be so obsessively pre-occupied that it can be very difficult to get their attention outside of physically touching or striking them. That, however, tends to drive them into a violent fit during which they lash out in 1d4 attacks on anyone/anything within easy reach. Once the fit passes, they are as normal as they ever can hope to be any more. A few Shrouded, seeking to mitigate the effects of such fits, opt to restrain themselves, either with special jackets, chains or by simply sealing themselves up inside a furnished attic room or asylum cell.

Rendered Wormless
The Shrouded lose all benefits/penalties incurred by parasitical infestation. Indeed, they can no longer support such things, so any worms, leeches or other such creatures are driven out of their system in the course of their treatment, clearing them of all such things permanently. The process is incredibly painful and there is a chance that the would-be Shrouded will be killed in the course of the vermin-extraction precipitated by their conversion. The specifics are left open to DM interpretation, as there are just too many variables to consider. All of them ick-tastic...

Reduced to a Wet Mess
Upon being reduced to Zero Hit Points a typical Shrouded rapidly deliquesces in a fashion similar to the Vile Transformation that reduces a White Powder addict to a Loathsome Mass:
 "...his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk—crumbled—absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence."
The Detestable Putrescence left in the wake of a Shrouded's demise is a stickly, sickly yellowish mess. Foragers collect this material in order to sell it to the printers of Scandal Sheets and other such purveyors of the lowest forms of so-called yellow journalism. There may be a connection to this rancid ichor and Yellow Wallpaper, but nothing conclusive has ever been proven. It may be possible to reduce the yellowish ichor of a deceased Shrouded to a quantity of Essential Salts, but it remains to be seen if any known techniques can in fact recover anything truly useful.

Inspiration
The Shrouded are based in equal parts upon The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and Ligeia, both by the one and only Edgar Allen Poe, with a more than passing nod to the The Novel of the White Powder by Arthur Machen and TheYellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, both of which have already been adapted to use in Wermspittle (White Powder, Yellow Wallpaper). We'll be coming back around for another bit of weirdness inspired by Ligeia shortly. And yes, there is a Detestable Putresence table. But we'll leave it for another day.


2 comments:

  1. Great stuff as always! You guys have a real flair for neologisms that really give Wermspittle and your other settings a unique flavor.

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  2. Thanks Trey. It was very nice of you to drop by during your vacation. We appreciate the comment. We're working hard to get caught-up with all those great ideas you and our other regular readers have suggested or requested...so, as Needles often says; Stay Tuned--There's lot's more to come!

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