Monday, November 11, 2019

Dungeons are Gender-Neutral Washrooms

We as game masters elide lots of little parts of the human condition in the name of convenience and decency. Players rarely have to deal with the mundanity of their characters drinking water, shuffling items around in their bags, or dealing with the assorted traumas of slaughtering dozens (minimum) of other thinking, breathing, people for money and power. Still, sometimes digging a little deeper can reveal parts of the adventuring lifestyle that are rather horrifying, when you put your mind to it. Case in point: when you're delving into a megadungeon, a multi-day trek into the bowels (pardon the pun) of a vast ruin, where do you go to the bathroom? Let's reducio ad absurdum the idea of simulating more bits of survival for greater immersion and explore some possibilities for how adventurers dispose of their waste.

Monsters. Carrion crawlers subsist on virtually any organic waste in a dungeon. Think of them like house centipedes, except instead of amalgamating all the bugs in a house into one larger bug, they amalgamate all the waste in the dungeon into one larger disgusting mass. Incredibly efficient; they don't seem to leave any waste of their own, and they leave dungeon floors spotless. Otyughs can also do this, though they prefer live vermin. If a dungeon seems particularly clean, despite no sign of habitation, watch the ceilings and the pits. Occasionally, adventurers bring their own creatures into the dungeon to clean up after them. Tame gelatinous cubes in buckets are favorites, though you have to ensure it's fed - but not too much.

Destroy it. An enterprising efficiency-minded wizard once spent their life developing the cantrip Remove Waste. A very tailored, watered-down version of the Disintegrate spell, it scours 1 square foot of offending detritus and leaves the area shiny and clean. Does no damage to living non-waste tissue (if it did, you wouldn't be able to wipe with it). The wizard in question, now possessed of the power to never leave their laboratory for want of a wash, proceeded to realize that they spent decades more time developing the spell than the time they managed to save, and went mad.

Hide it. You can't afford to leave a trail when wandering monsters are looking for any evidence of a tasty next meal. Loose cobbles can work to bury shit, as can dirt floors. Sometimes you might even find something valuable while you're digging! Score! Alternatively, if no loose dirt is forthcoming or you (heavens forbid) forgot to bring a shovel on your ill-fated expedition, you can always pack it away in a bag of holding or something else desperate. Bring strong perfumes if this might become the case.

Digging In A Dungeon
1. Loose change. 2d10 copper.
2. Someone or something's skull.
3. Older buried waste.
4. Nest of small monsters.
5. The next floor down's ceiling!
6. Lost memento.
7. Graffiti.
8. Shiny rocks! Not valuable, but pretty...
9. Random mundane weapon, rusted away (1d4 damage and both wielder and target save vs. tetanus)
10. Pottery shards from a bygone age.

Don't reinvent the wheel. Dungeon locals need to dispose of bodily fluids too, and they've usually found their own solutions. Even goblins have a limit to their propensity for filth. Finding outhouses in dungeons can be a chore, especially if they're currently occupied, but it's usually far more convenient than any other method once the dirty work has been done. Also, no one will usually notice the stench of monster bodies you've hidden in the foulest parts of the dungeon.

Portals. Perhaps an extension of the "Hide" and "Destroy" options, more enterprising wizards in the days before Remove Waste created several pocket planes to store a variety of things too hazardous to keep anywhere in the material world. Lazy wizards extended this to other kinds of waste, and a few civic- and environmentally-minded ones connected entire sewage outflows to great portals to prevent the spoilage of the natural world. While great for the world in the short term, all these waste-planes merged due to their conceptual similarity, and formed one great Elemental Plane of Refuse. Its emergent denizens - elementals of sewage, smog, radiation, and other awful pollutants - now loose themselves in the landfills and septic tanks of the world, the byproducts of civilization returning with a vengeance. While you can absolutely open up portals to dump your trash and shit, and it's a very convenient option, be warned that these doors are very much two-way.

A less potentially-horrific version of this is the Summon Outhouse spell, developed by a cabal of wizards who realized how much they'd messed up after the Great Interplanar Landfill Collision of 1XX6. There's only one outhouse and everyone using this spell has to share. 2-in-6 of it being occupied by a disgruntled wizard when you summon it.

Nothing. You animals.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Exploring the Meatropolis

Imagine a heart, the size of a country. Hang it from arteries as thick around as a mountain, that weave around impossibly great ribs. Slice off the top of the heart with a clean cut; this creates a great ocean of blood, advancing and receding as the heart slowly, powerfully beats its last beats. Its coasts of muscle are scarred thick and high, crusted in scabs and running with rivers of pus. Upon these coasts lies the Meatropolis: the largest city that still stands in the corpse-belly of Ogoath, the turtle who once bore the world upon its back.

The towers of the Meatropolis are spines of freshgrown bone banded with blood-iron from the shoreline foundries. Less fortunate citizens live in the jerkied slums of flash-grown muscle, or worse yet in the parasite burrows beneath that serve as impromptu sewers. It is a brutal city, where food is plentiful but health is in short supply. Fleshcrafter families curry favor with each other and the Council in the highest towers, ever-modifying themselves to fit the latest fashions. Butchers work tirelessly in the streets below, hawking meat from every corner of Ogoath. Chemists purify water from what passes for weather, or from the shores of the Blood Sea. And everywhere, life goes on, so far from the encroaching decay and the inevitable final night.

Igor Vitkovskiy
Walk down the scar-streets of the Fleshmarket. The perpetual half-light shining through cracks in the shell miles above casts everything into stark relief; lower down between the streets, floating bioluminescent bladders shine a soft cream-yellow. Hear the rhythmic thwack of cleaver against board. A thousand merchants hawking their wares, shouting in dozens of languages (most notably the warbling creole of Tongue), pervasive smells of meat in every stage of life or death. Customers barter prices in scraps of blood iron, purified rations, gobs of brain matter, or sacks of salt, eyeless fleshbeasts laden with sacs of goods meander between stalls. Every facet of mortal life is on display for perusal and sale.

Adventuring Supplies
1. Autowomb: A basketball-sized hairy sphere with a slavering maw splitting it into hemispheres. When fed with 2 rations, an autowomb will gestate a particular item over the course of 24 hours and regurgitate it through its mouth.
2. Bladder: Glass is expensive, custom-grown organs are cheap. Holds liquid.
3. Blood Vials: Dark, smoky glass filled with blood. Restores 1 health and lets you travel for another 4 hours without rest; more expensive strains of custom-bred blood will restore more or have additional benefits.
4. Ink Sac: Fist-sized sac of smoky ink, dark as the void. Break it to create a 20' radius ink cloud, or dip a stylus in it to tattoo indelible messages deep into flesh.
5. Long-Eyes: A human eye, rubbery, and inflated to the size of a fist. A long optic nerve (30') trails from the back, with a needle at the end. Stab the needle into your pupil to see through and move the eye.
6. Meat Hooks: A set of iron hooks connected with sinews that grip deep and won't let go. Anyone with a set can climb vertical surfaces without rolling, and trying to remove one against it's wielder's will deals d4 slashing damage to whoever it's stuck in.
7. Osteopath: A roiling mass of bone, too heavy for its small size. Throwing it at something biological causes it to grow over the area as a spiky, hard shell (radius 10'). Disintegrates after an hour.
8. Scarstick: Bonds together two bleeding surfaces. Works to seal wounds, or in larger quantities to stick two sections of meat together.
9. Sinew-rope: A 50' length of extensible corded tendon. Slash it to extend it or retract it.
10. Sterilizer Tabs: A chalky pill that when broken purifies 1 ration's worth of water and meat, but leaves it barren of life and nutrients. Any ration created this way fills your belly, but won't restore health or cure wounds.
11. Thinker: A blob of brain tissue in an eyeless, jawless skull. Give it a logic problem and it will attempt to solve it (the base Thinker has INT 13). The GM will always tell you a solution that the Thinker provides, but will not tell you if it passed its test or not.
12. Tunnelgrubs: A flask of small yet voracious grubs in a suspension that keeps them docile. When broken, they hunger greatly, and their rotating serrated jaws go to work on the nearest meaty surface. The grubs multiply rapidly, and will bore a 5' diameter tube through 20' of flesh before their little bodies expire. Too slow to use as a decisive weapon (d4 damage per round), but a brutal interrogation tool.

Children of Meat
One shop with reinforced walls descends deep beneath the surface. In the pit that dominates the shop floor hang dozens of cages, each with a different fleshcrafted beast inside. The proprietor specializes in chimeras: from insects that crawl on fingers for legs and act like cats (if cats had bulging many-pupilled eyes and wings of rough dry skin); to great reptilian pack mules on a hundred legs of knitted human limbs, and you can find yourself a seat to ride deep within the warm recesses of its toothy carapace.

Minor Fleshbeasts
1. Bone Spider: Weaves webs of bone. Hates bright light. Size of a dinner plate. Slow, but turns up just where it'd be most unnerving. Some find this endearing.
2. Crabcat: A crab, with small furred paws instead of claws. Common, loyal housepet. Adorable, curious, cowardly.
3. Hands Octopus: Too smart for anyone's own good. Forty sticky fingers of trouble. Likes taking things, but not having them.
4. Skinmoth: Cloaked in skin. Blends into any skin. Content to relax, violently rends with fangs when disturbed. Can grow to size of a cape.
5. Trained Mimic: Trained" is perhaps a strong word. Mostly means that the mimic won't bite hard enough to break its owner's skin. Shapeshifts into useful things with the right command word, and if it's been fed well.
6. Turtletoma: Like a hydra, if the hydra was a turtle and covered in eyes and tails. Tremendously strong, if slow. A popular conveyance when not in a hurry. Not bright enough to realize that you're bringing it into a dungeon.

A Whole Mu You
A stall you're directed to by a series of brightly-colored advertisers sells temporary mutations in the form of small blobs of undifferentiated, throbbing stem cells. Some give cuttlefish skin or chameleon tongue or any number of other minor animal traits of things long extinct, others just compound upon existing functions, creating extra organs that protrude from beneath the skin.

At any point, 10 non-negative mutations from the list are on sale. All mutations have a 1 in 10 chance of coming with a complication, giving a related negative mutation as well (let the buyer beware). All wear off in a week's time, unless you pay double for a month-long upgrade.

Bloodbath & Beyond
A goliath with four arms on one side and two on the other urges you up a rickety set of stairs to their emporium. They sell weapons, and run a well-renowned sword breeding program responsible for many designer lineages. Each has its own characteristic patterning, wicked sharpness, and nigh-magical effect borne of its alien biology. Feed your blade, wield it, and fight with courage, and it will trust you for life.

Living weapons are just as common as unliving ones. Figure out what base weapon it's most like, then add a mutation from the list below. It only works when fed, and requires rations as if it was a party member. Hungry living weapons can't use their abilities and step down their damage dice. Starving living weapons can use their abilities, but only to try to eat whomever's closest (usually, their wielder).

Weapon Mutations
1. Acid Secreting: Deals acid wounds in addition to its normal damage type.
2. Biting: The business end is actually a mouth. Can grab enemies and tear at them. Can't be used while it's biting someone. Escaping the bite either requires a successful DEX test or the sacrifice of d4 HP.
3. Carving: On 6+ damage, leaves a random Cut behind as Butcher.
4. Edible: Counts as rations (3 per inventory slot it takes up, each consumed part gives -1 damage until it's all gone)
5. Flying: It has wings! It's rather clumsy and can't sense anything but it can keep going in the direction it's pointed, and fly back to its owner. Can be thrown at targets without penalty, and returns at the end of the round.
6. Implanter: On 6+ damage also implants specialized grubs in the target.

1. Marker fly larvae: Hatch in 24 hours and fly back to you, will show you path to target
2. Spider eggs: They're actually rather harmless, but they hatch in 24 hours and hundreds of tiny spiders crawl out of the wound and imprint on the target as a parent. They love the target very much and won't leave them alone, or even leave their body. Hope they aren't arachnophobic!
3. Tunnelgrubs: Truly awful. Tear through flesh to beating heart. 1 damage per round until removed. They dig deep, fast.

7. Metamorph: Can transform into another weapon type or tool at-will.
8. Sanguine: Drinks blood. Grows as it drinks more. Each HD of blood it consumes steps up its damage die once until the end of the day. Needs to feed daily.
9. Shattering: Can be detonated in a massive directed blast of bone and gore. 30' cone, d8 slashing damage (save for half) and covered in blood. This kills the weapon.
10. Tongue: Sticky, can taste through it, can reel things in as whip.
A large, spindly creature at a simple skin-tent hawks mutant fruits from the under-city orchards. The fruits keep very well as rations, though they tend to whisper when they don't think you're looking. They also have a selection of  spices traded and harvested all across Ogoath, and the creature informs you that its master left it in charge of the shop while venturing out with old adventuring comrades to discover new flavors in the fleshy wastes.

1. Boomberry. Like a grapefruit-sized raspberry. Explosive in d6 minutes (as hand grenade) when damaged unless neutralized with stomach acid.
2. Hydranana. Rapidly multiplies when chopped with a silver blade (into d20 hydranana). Delicious grilled or in ceviche.
3. Hyperlemon. Uniquely acidic. Juice melts through anything besides meat.
4. Kiwi fruit. A strange combination of flightless bird and fruit. It walks around, chirps, and tastes juicy and delicious when you bite through its furry skin into the green, seeded flesh beneath.
5. Screapple. Screams while eaten.
6. Sprouts. When planted and watered with spinal fluid, will grow into a d10*d10' tall meaty facsimile of a tree within 10 minutes. Bone for bark. Hair for leaves. Flesh inside. 

The Hormone-monger
A woman in a long coat (how does she wear that in this weather? she must be sweltering) ushers you into a back alley. You visit her regularly for her services as a hormone-monger. Ogoath's many bile-soaked pancreata bloat with hormones known and strange, from the common sex hormones, insulin, and adrenaline, to the arcane phlogistin, necrine, and octarin. The inside of her leather trenchcoat is lined with vials and syringes. Many glow. She knows every adventurer in the Fleshmarket, and ensures they each get their own personal touch.
All hormones are delivered in metal and bone syringes, and last for 24 hours unless otherwise specified.

1. Adenosine: You can gain the benefits of a daily rest in 4 hours by taking adenosine after waking up. Addictive.
2. Adrenaline: Succeed on all initative rolls, but can't do tasks that take more than one round.
3. Cytokinetics: For 10 minutes, grow one size category, as an Enlarge spell. When you shrink, you're left immobile for the rest of the day.
4. Dopamine: Disadvantage on all mental tests while blissed out on happy juice.
5. Necrin: Causes sleep instantly. While sleeping this way, the body stops moving and mimics a death state, breathing once every ten minutes. Wake up upon taking damage or in d6 hours. While asleep, inflicts horrifying dreams of being digested.
6. Octarin: Extracted from the roots of wizard teeth. Provides the user with one empowered Magic Die for spellcasting (a d4+2). The die is expended after use.
7. Ostein: When you're wounded, the wound seals with bone. Disadvantage on DEX tests with that area, but the bleeding stops.
8. Phlogistin: Every ration you eat causes you to heat up. 1 ration makes you comfortably warm, even in freezing temperatures. 2 rations makes you hurt to touch (1 fire damage). 3 rations at once sets you on fire.
9. Polymorphine: Each dose gives you a random temporary mutation. The first is positive, the second is positive or mixed, all further can be from any table.
10. Psionine: Comes in paired doses (or larger sets). Everyone with a dose from the set can empathically communicate ideas and concepts. Can't lie or obscure truth over empathic connection.

This shop is a mimic! While it appears to be a nice resting place on the scrimshawed side of a fallen rib, when unwitting patrons enter it shifts and opens its fleshy maw to reveal the goods of everyone who's passed through and refused to buy something. It's jovial, if rather confused as to why some fight, instead of staying to browse and purchase, but such is the life of a mimic.

Roll up 3 new adventurers. Their corpses and items are neatly laid out before the party, on stands or in glass cases.

Internal Beauty
A goliath of the Mhorl family has deigned to descend from his bio-laboratories in a rib spire to sell entirely new organs for people to implant within their abdomens! They unerringly improve some function you find lacking in the human condition (this changes with the seasons, as all fashions do). Still, with the speed he develops them, he hasn't the time to work out all the side effects, so let the buyer beware - new organs come with a rather short warranty.

The Mhorl family is an illustrious gene-line of fleshcrafters dating back to the Cyclopean Empire. Read their following promotional materials for more: Adulterated Lineages of the Primordial Flesh.

As Above, So Below
Three starfolk, one green and chitinous, one made of a strangely chunky grey substance, and one blood-red with bone nubs all over sell trinkets from beyond the stars! Many peoples came to Ogoath fleeing their own dying worlds. Ironic, for they found this world dying too, just far slower. With them, they bring new ways of being and knowing, machines of improbable function and incomprehensible material, unique among the stars - for the factories that made them are worlds away.

They sell items from this table of oddities, or any other Weird Items table (sci-fi items fit well here - they might have cybernetics, or a worn-out mech...)

Relics of Yester-aeon
A gnarled old human sells relics of the Old World out of a curio shop. No one remembers the gods on the statues or the languages in the parchment scraps of book. Many buy them for some hope that the world will yet return from tumbling through the endless void; others buy as historically significant objets d'art, building a collection to impress their friends and family. The proprietor is notorious for sending adventurers to seek these wherever they go, whether the rumors they've heard are true or not.

Ancient things of dubious provenance and potential historical value, or any other item table you want to throw in that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else.

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