Saturday, December 10, 2011

Grood: Hunchback Type II (Wermspittle)

Grood (Hunchback Type II)
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 30'
Climb: 60'
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2+1 (can improve, also gain levels as class)
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or by weapon
Save: F2
Morale: 6

Hooded, cloaked and wrapped in cast-off rags and make-shift scraps scavenged from abandoned hostels and burned-out theaters, the Grood are a study in contradictions and asymmetry. None of their limbs are the same length. Each side of their faces is freakishly different from the other. Even their fingers and toes are of differing lengths. The one thing that they do have in common though is the massive bulging mass of gristle, muscle and glandular tissues that grows from their backs and shoulders. A Grood's hunchback is their curse and their pride, a terrible burden and a powerful resource that they have learned to harness to their own crazed and demented ends. After a fashion. Of sorts.

The Grood's hump is a living alchemical formulary and biological incubator that can be used to grow replacement eyes, ears, noses, even fingers, toes and with effort patches of skin for burn victims and sometimes even sections of limbs. All they need is a small sample of the original tissue that they can graft onto their hump and, if their system doesn't reject it (make a Save), they can grow whatever is desired. Then all that is needed is to remove the new organ or limb and graft it to the recipient. Alas, this is the very root of how the Grood were once oppressed and enslaved by unscrupulous surgeons. But you see, the Grood are not stupid. Not any more.

Grood Sub-Types
A typical Grood is a contradiction in terms, obviously. Most of them strive to retain as close a resemblance to 'normal humanity' as is possible. Others adopt a slightly looser interpretation of such things and will grow extra eyes, ears, or other organs to suit their whims and plans. Others will occasionally go to the trouble to grow an extra limb. Almost all Grood who are not conscripted into one or another army know how to enhance their intelligence (gaining a +1 bonus to INT or WIS per HD).

Donors are the lowest of the Grood Medico-Military hierarchy. They are often pithed so as to make them easier to manage as bulk organ-growers, limb-formers, and skin-farms. Donors are almost never encountered outside of very heavily fortified installations.

Conscript-Orderlies all wear a stock uniform, carry a number of surgical tools in pouches arrayed around their body on belts and bandoliers and are armed with short swords or standard-issue bludgeons. They are forbidden to use firearms.

Cosmetician/Plasticians are those Grood trained in superficial forms of surgery and flesh modification. They repair the appearance of the wounded, give spies new faces, and fulfill something of a minor role in certain detached military medical units.

Prostheticians are skilled in the replacement of limbs and select organs. They are almost always officers and are more often than not required to belong to one or more Crafts-Guilds whose rules and by-laws dictate that they must include a set proportion of inanimate materials that have been hand-crafted for each individual patient or risk being disbarred, decommissioned and/or pithed so as to serve as a brute limb-farmer or organ-donor.

Free-Grafters are special Grood that have either escaped, deserted or earned their freedom in some way. They obey no rules and live lavish, hedonistic lifestyles supported by their wits, talents and abilities...and not a little luck, blackmail and less savory such practices. Unscrupulous manipulators of the flesh, these Grood create curiosities, prodigies and monstrosities to serve their ambitions, visions and those who hire their services. No one who deals with these beings can hope to do so without leaving something of themselves left behind, to be toyed with and tormented forever after...

There are some Grood that have become tainted, mutated or worse. It is suspected that the Cadaverionette and several of his contemporaries are especially twisted Groods. There are rumors of enslaved Grood being used by various abhuman and other factions to fabricate a wide array of flesh-constructs, war-beasts and worse. It is also suspected by some surgeons that the Grood, or someone tampering with the abilities of the Grood is responsible for at least some of the more terrifying forms of mutational plagues and mutagenic infections that have led to the collapse of at least one of the former Great Empires.

There are others, but few details are available concerning the Grood Dentists, Orthopedicians, or Breeders...
How The Grood Got So Much Smarter
Several generations ago, before the Gray Pox decimated the Western Reaches like wildfire, the Grood were a miserable, downcast people subjugated by the medical authorities of a few fortified colleges and the like. They were less than slaves, being regarded as little more than living machines or at best abhuman brutes who possessed an ability that could not be allowed to go to waste, i.e. unexploited. Surgeons grew rich and powerful as they raised herds of Grood to tend to the needs of their patients. Military surgeons led whole legions of Grood conscript-orderlies into the battlefield to tend to the horrible wounds incurred by officers and lesser ranks. And there were those then, as there are those now, who experimented upon the Grood to produce new sorts of organs, mutant glands, even to assist in the once-discredited arts of hybridization and surgical anthropomorphy.

But a funny thing happened back then. One conscript-orderly serving in a makeshift hospital on the Frontier observed that he was able to replace on of his own severed hands after barely escaping a retaliatory bombardment. What was more remarkable to the Grood was that in his rush, he had formed two replacement hands and both were functional and responsive. This gave him ideas and he quickly began to perform his own clandestine experiments among those too severely injured to be salvaged by the over-worked surgeons. He learned a great deal. He also kept a journal.

Big mistake.

The conscript-orderly Grood was found out, his handiwork discovered and he barely escaped from the field hospital with his life, if not his journal. The surgeons were horrified at the atrocities perpetuated by the Grood orderly whom they automatically dismissed and diagnosed as aberrant, unsound and insane. His journal was sealed away in a cabinet and forgotten. The whole matter was hushed-up and buried in the records so as not to impair anyone's career advancement and the whole matter was officially wiped from memory.

Except the Grood who got away survived. He regrew the limbs he needed, then he went farther and attached a secondary set of arms to assist himself in his work. That went so well that he then took a sample of his own brain and grew a second brain in his hump. This was unprecedented, unheard of, completely unknown territory and it did not go quite as he had expected.

The Grood's secondary brain was absorbed into his hump where it grew and developed and integrated itself into his existing nervous system. Instead of two distinct brains, the Grood found himself with vastly improved and enhanced mental function. He had made himself smarter. Much smarter.

Well, to make a long story short, that Grood made good use of his increased cognitive capabilities and set about liberating his people from the medical tyranny of the surgeons. But he was no fool. The former conscript-orderly knew that he could not just abolish the surgeons, nor could he simply remove his people from their state of bondage. That would not work. Instead, he used his new brains to orchestrate his take-over of a sizable portion of the medical system as an unregistered investor and patron. In just a few years he had made a huge fortune, bought-up hundreds of Grood, and even managed to establish a secret school for those Grood he taught the secret of self brain surgery.

But even the best laid plans of mice and Grood can go awry and no amount of sheer brain-power can hope to match the impact of emotions such as jealousy, paranoia and so forth.

Those Grood who were 'liberated' by the radical expansion of their brains dreamed their own dreams and schemed their own schemes. Each one who received the enhancement became a powerful rival among a growing host of competing geniuses.

Everything fell apart. Some Grood still serve the surgeons while others have won their freedom. Some have become benefic saints, others horrific monsters.

No one remembers the name of the first Grood who learned how to make himself smarter. Some say that he still survives, having become some sort of nebulous, mysterious and perverse polymorphous being people use in moralistic folktales calculated to scare small children into behaving.

Maybe he is still out there...

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