Monday, May 19, 2014

Deep Purple Smog (Red Bestiary)

"...infectious diseases, as we all know, have spread beyond limit; in several towns the police seem to have disappeared, and, in nearly all, every vestige of decency; the results following upon the sudden release of the convicts appear to be monstrous in the respective districts; and within three short months Hell seems to have acquired this entire planet, sending forth Horror, like a rabid wolf, and Despair, like a disastrous sky, to devour and confound her..."
The Purple Cloud
by M. P. Shiel

Deep Purple Smog
Malevolent forces of rampant moral decay, grandiose delusion and pernicious toxicity, Deep Purple Smog is a constant threat within the tunnels, sewers and Low Streets of Wermspittle, spurring the formation of  public Smog Shelters and the Smog Bells set atop heavy metal platforms at strategic points along the major streets and avenues.

A typical Smog Event lasts for 1d4 hours, during which time an area ranging from a few dozen square feet to a space encompassing several blocks becomes occluded and murky with normal fog that eventually takes on a purplish appearance as the Deep Purple Smog mixes and mingles with it. In most instances, there are roughly twenty minutes to reach shelter or to get out of the area affected once the Smog Bells begin to sound the alarm. Many people report smelling something like burned molasses, both smoky and incredibly sweet, right before a Smog Event, however this remains anecdotal and is not considered a safe nor reliable method for detecting the onset of the Smog.

Those caught in the Deep Purple Smog must make a Save or are effectively blinded and quickly become disoriented as sounds tend to echo and distort oddly in the Smog. The smog itself is poisonous and intoxicating, causing 1d4 physical and 1d4 morale damage each round. Those exposed can attempt to resist the effects of the Deep Purple Smog by making a Save for either the physical or the morale damage, a successful Save reducing that particular damage type by half, however they then become blinded and disoriented by the swirling purple vapors that provoke a violent, ecstatic response causing those affected to suffer intense delusions, lowered inhibitions and a reversion to highly irrational base instincts. Emotions are intensified, all the repressed and suppressed contents of the unconscious are vomited forth and people become howling, gibbering, screaming and laughing orgiastic mobs as debased and debauched as they are destructive. The sheer utter madness and raw horror that takes place during these Events is beyond belief and mercifully takes place behind the swirling, billowing masses of richly tinted vapors that obscure such things from the view of those who huddle together within the shelters or other places of refuge.

Purple Amber repels all forms of purple miasmas.

There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead...
The Great God Pan
by Arthur Machen

A Temporary Mob...
Anyone having their Morale reduced to zero while within the Deep Purple Smog becomes a Smog Thrall until their morale is restored to normal, either by spell, potion or device. Morale damage inflicted by the Deep Purple Smog is recovered at one third the normal rate (3 hours to regain 1 point). During the time of their Thralldom, the victim is under the control of the Deep Purple Smog. Those taken over by the Smog as a Thrall gain an additional Save for every half hour they spend outside the bounds of a Smog Event. Former thralls retain no conscious memory of their servitude, but often report vivid and disturbing nightmares and flashbacks. They also revert back to their Thralldom state if reduced to zero Morale and then failing a Save during the next six weeks.

Smog Thralls (1d4) [AL N, MV 120', AC 7, HD 1+, #AT 1, DG 1d6, SV F1, ML 12 (While within Deep Purple Smog)/3 (Outside Smog). Special:  Immune to Charm, Hypnosis, Sleep and ESP effects, however they are extremely susceptible to illusions, phantasmal forces and ventriloquism. Smog Thralls gibber and gnash their teeth, roll their eyes, and are prone to remove most of their clothing and armor in order to run about mostly naked. They attack with bare hands and their teeth.]

An Involuntary Congregation...
Those unlucky souls who are reduced to zero hit points by exposure to the Deep Purple Smog disappear with the Smog. It is believed that they reappear at each subsequent Smog Event as a sort of horribly transformed congregation of undead figures who serve the whims and desires of the Deep Purple Smog forever more.

Purple Congregants (1d6) [AL N, MV 90', AC 6, HD 3+, #AT 1, DG 2d4, SV F3+, ML 12 (While within Deep Purple Smog)/3 (Outside Smog). Special: Take 1 point of damage per round outside the vapors of a Smog Event. Turned as a 4HD Undead creature. Immune to Charm, Hypnosis, Sleep and ESP effects, however they are extremely susceptible to illusions, phantasmal forces and ventriloquism. Anyone actually seeing a Purple Congregant must Save or suffer 1d6 Morale Damage and run away screaming at full movement rate for as 3+ rounds (based on HD of the creature).]

A Blasphemous Communion...
Various competing cults seek out the frenzied gnosis their leaders preach about and goad them into experiencing as a rite of passage. Most such demagogues refrain from descending into the miasmic inferno they venerate, but there are those driven mad with devotion who embrace the Deep Purple Smog body and soul...and it is rumored that some of these become transformed in the midst of their demented adorations, becoming twisted purple things that only ever come forth during the vaporous cacophony of a Smog Event.

Purple Proselytes (1d4) [AL N, MV 30', AC 4, HD 5+, #AT 1, DG 3d4, SV CL5+, ML 12 (While within Deep Purple Smog). Special: Immune to Charm, Hypnosis, Sleep and ESP effects, however they are extremely susceptible to illusions, phantasmal forces and ventriloquism. Regenerate 1 hit point per minute while within bounds of a Smog Event, however, they are automatically destroyed if they leave the bounds of a Smog Event for any reason. Cannot be Turned, only Destroyed as a 7 HD Undead creature. They can divide all damage they inflict between physical or morale damage as they will. They have the spell-casting and other abilities of a Cleric at a level half their current HD. There are rumors that these beings acquire a number of exceptionally vicious spells by way of their devotion and connection to the Deep Purple Smog...]

Survivor Guilt
Not everyone dies, is driven mad, or becomes a slave of the Deep Purple Smog. In fact, quite a few survive the effects of a Smog Event, though none who have tasted the pungent aerial-liquor of these malign miasmas walk away unscathed. Those who make it through a Smog Event retain no conscious memory of what occurred within the billowing purple miasma, but each survivor carries a nagging sense of nameless, wordless, ambiguous guilt that worries away at them, tainting their days with a persistent melancholy and causing them to suffer a -1 penalty on all Saves versus mind affecting spells, effects or items and a permanent reduction of -1 to their Morale.

Merciful Memory Loss
Clairvoyance, Remote Viewing, ESP and all such forms of spells, telepathy, empathy and so on do not function within the area affected by the Deep Purple Smog. Hypnosis, Mesmerism, Phrenological Surgery and related techniques cannot recover the memories of those who stumble out of the last gaseous tatters of a Smog Event. Whatever happens within the Deep Purple Smog is indelibly imprinted within the psyche and soul of its victims, but it is not something they can ever share or describe. It remains a very personal thing that no words can ever adequately describe or capture. It is this elusively inexpressible quality of the experience that drives Yellow Journalists, Accursed Poets and others to willfully enter Smog Events in order to attempt to be the first person to successfully describe, explain or capture the essence of the thing for posterity, and their eternal fame. Despite many a misguided attempt, none have succeeded to this day.

It Leaves a Mark...
Those who survive the Deep Purple Smog are often marked by their experience in a physical manner, in addition to the psychic scars they bear. Some exhibit a faint purplish tint or streaks in their hair or upon their skin, others have had their teeth turned vivid purple. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this process and it may in fact be entirely random.

Lingering Marks of Purple Smog Exposure
1Teeth turn light purple.-1 Penalty to Reaction Roll.Save (1d4 days) or Permanent.
2Streak of vivid purple in hair.Possible social stigma. Gain +1 bonus to all Saves within Smog Events.Save (1d4 weeks) or Permanent.
3Small, easy to cover-up splotches of purplish discoloration on skin.-1 penalty to CHAR if attempting to hide the discolorations, +1 on all Saves if left exposed.Save (2d6 weeks) or Permanent.
4Most of one limb is discolored by a distinctive purple mottling.-1 to all Saves within area of effect of Smog Events, +1 bonus to all saves on outside.Save (3d6 days) or Permanent.
5All your finger and toe nails take on a lustrous purple coloration.Gain clairvoyant ability to predict Smog Events up to 1d4 hours ahead of time.Save (3d6 Weeks) or Permanent.
6Lips and tongue become dark purple.Must make Save each time they wake up or speech is garbled into some unintelligible gibberish.Effect persists for 1d6 days.
7Majority of skin turns purple.Become invisible within Smog Events, however retains a dim purplish glimmer in normal darkness making Hide in Shadows impossible.Save (2d6 days) or Permanent.
8Blood becomes purple.Immune to Morale Damage from all Miasmas, +1 on all Saves versus miasma-effects, take only half damage from Miasmas, gain ability to Turn Miasmas as Cleric one level below current level.Save (3d6 days) or Permanent.

"The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.
The Call of Cthulhu
by H. P. Lovecraft

Centers of Pestilence
At the end of a Smog Event the swirling vapors do not disperse like most normal miasmas, but rather the Deep Purple Smog coalesces and recedes back to some central point where it condenses down into a gritty, granular purplish residue that settles like snow over a small section of some alley, back-street or neglected avenue. This dense, richly colorful material exudes a foul stench that exacerbates all infections, toxins and diseases, causing them to become twice as virulent as usual and inflicting a -1 penalty on all Saves versus disease, poison or similar things within a 20' radius. This stuff lingers for weeks, if not months, in places where it isn't exposed to sunlight or washed away by the rain. It is rumored that the longer a patch of this purple residue is allowed to fester and rot in the shadows, the more toxic the fumes it exudes and the greater the area it can affect with various forms of mysterious illnesses. Those areas where this sort of residue have become a persistent problem are designated 'Sick Spots,' and are usually quarantined by local authorities. Daring bands of medical adventurers have isolated more than six dozen different strains of pestilential residue retrieved from various sick spots where strange fevers, peculiar infections and bizarre afflictions have been reported. Some of these professionals, and quite a few enthusiastic and enterprising amateurs have attempted to come up with serums, pills and strange devices intended to mitigate the effects of the sick spots, combat the various forms of residue, or to provide relief to those suffering the lingering after-effects of exposure to these horrid hazards of the dim and neglected spaces.

The purple residue granules have sometimes been used in the creation of various forms of poison gas, skin irritants, psychoactive serums, purple powder and similar weapons by Cranley-Essen Chemowerks prior to the outbreak of hostilities between Pruztia and Franzikan Empire. There used to be a few attempts to research non-toxic/non-weaponized applications of the Deep Purple Smog residue, but those programs lapsed due to a lack of support or funding.

Sick Spots [Area of Effect: 10-40' radius, All forms of healing are reduced in effectiveness by half; all poisons, toxins, diseases and similar things are twice as effective as normal; all Saves suffer a -1 penalty. Cause Disease, Sicken, Breath of Pestilence and related spells become permanent environmental effects on a roll of 18-20 on a d20. All Cause Wounds spells gain a 30% chance to become infected.]

Purple Residue [AL N, MV n/a (Static), AC 5, HD 4+, #AT 1, DG (Special), SV F8+, ML n/a (Mindless). Special: Cause 1d6 damage on touch. Exude toxic fumes that produce Sick Spots (see above).]

Up From the Depths
The Deep Purple Smog originates deep underground, possibly within one of the pocket-caverns adjacent to the Hardwigg, Wysession or Lidenbrock Deep Reservoirs, but attempts to verify this have been unsuccessful due to interference by the Sewer Militia who control the Hardwigg and Wysession Reservoirs, and the Unterkorps who have laid claim to the Lidenbrock Resevoir. Neither group has been willing to allow independent expeditions to examine the perimeter caverns and chambers surrounding these very strategic areas. Seers working under the auspices of the Office of Independent Inquiry, a public-private partnership between a defunct governmental agency established under the Second Pruztian Occupation and the Academy, have reportedly uncovered a completely other and previously unsuspected point of origin for the Purple Clouds and all their derivatives, including the Deep Purple Smog. Details have not been forthcoming, possibly due to some sort of inter-departmental academic squabble.

A recent daring raid on the O.I.I. offices by Yellow Journalists has made several dozen previously classified files open to the reading public. One of which, labelled 'Purple Veil,' has been featured in a weekly series of articles detailing the efforts of a previously covert group of adventurers known as the Fabulous Five who have not been heard from since leaving to investigate mysterious ruins in a possible 'fourth reservoir.' The newspaper accounts are crammed with excess hyperbole and wild speculation, as always, but could there really be a fourth such reservoir? Could this be the birth-place of the various purple-tinted miasmas?

Minor Miasmas  |  Purple Wisps | Purple Haze | Deep Purple Smog |  Purple Rain 
Lesser Purple Clouds | Greater Purple Clouds

Sources of inspiration: Deep Purple Smog was inspired by M.P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Poison Belt, and The Comet by W. E. B. DuBois...with a particularly distinctive guitar riff playing in the background. You can find a copy of The Purple Cloud via Project Gutenberg, if you're interested, or you might like to try to listen to the audiobook version via LibriVox. The Poison Belt is the second Professor Challenger story and is also available at Wikisource. The Comet is included in Dark Water: Voices From Within the Veil available at Project Gutenberg. All three stories are highly recommended.


  1. Man, that looks like "smoke on the water"!

    1. I was listening to some classic rock, still with a slight fever, and this post that has been sitting in the queue for the last couple of years finally came together. Guess it needed that little something special.


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