Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gore Worms: Dubious Medical Applications (Wermspittle)

Nasty Things
Unlike leeches, which can be useful in various forms of healing, gore-worms are foul, detestable things that pollute the very blood they feed upon. Anyone not treated, usually by surgical removal of the things, and who manages (somehow) to not become a host, will eventually have their blood turn septic and die a painful, feverish death. The gore-worms will then go dormant and await the opportunity to seek out a new source of blood or a host. It is a vicious cycle.

Certain medical professionals within Wermspittle have been tampering with gore-worms in order to breed or create a new form that devours polluted, corrupted and poisoned blood instead of the fresh stuff.

Hazardous Research
Several established surgeons have admitted casually that this could be a somewhat helpful thing in certain cases, but no one will openly support this line of research as it runs afoul of various undead who see this as a direct threat against them, especially certain ghouls, cadaverists and of course the vampiric Ignobles with reputations for bad tempers, cruel dispositions and a penchant for eliminating their enemies in grotesque, even spectacular ways.

But there are those who hunt and kill the undead who might be willing to back this sort of project...

Discredited and Disregarded
So there are always rumors about one or another disgraced doctor, defrocked cleric or such-like person of learning and erudition who might be dabbling along these lines. Packets of unpublished papers containing research transcripts, old medical journals, even musty old books salvaged from one of the banned libraries all circulate among the various academics, philosophers and other interested parties who make their home in Wermspittle. Some of those manuscripts and notes may contain essential clues or hints or even records of past attempts that could prove useful, even critical to this sort of thing. Anyone having knowledge of such items or information can always find a discrete buyer, if they know whom to approach and which ones to avoid.

Enter Lucius Stroden
One such person might be Lucius Stroden. Wild-haired and given to fits of rage, the erratic surgeon has been performing a number of experiments upon maimed and grievously wounded refugees. Experiments involving the grafting of tissues derived from gore-worms and other such creatures onto the wrecked bodies of his subjects in order to replace lost limbs and restore function to damaged organs. He has paid a group of Gronk mercenaries to keep guard over his 'clinic,' and to keep things quiet. But of course, Gronks being Gronks, several of them have taken to grumbling in the local taverns about some of the odder things that they've seen take place so far. A few of the dimmer Gronks have even formulated a few theories regarding what might be going on, but so far nothing has quite reached the level of a rumor. At least not yet.

But Lucius Stroden isn't the only one exploring the possible medical applications of gore-worms. Far from it. 

The notorious assassin Katarine is alleged to have stolen certain personal effects from one of the closed estates and used the sorcerous secrets they revealed to develop her own special sub-type of gore-worm that she now uses as her murderous calling card. The original research she used was focused on converting gore-worms into transplantable replacements for damaged livers. That original research could still be of great use to legitimate surgeons.

Worm-Mongery & Cut-Rate Replacements
Wilm the Limberatician left his apprenticeship to the worm-monger and has gone into business for himself providing replacement limbs to those who've been maimed in the sewers and other such deep-places beneath Wermspittle. He keeps moving around, but with a few coins he can be found easily enough. As long as you're not a meddlesome Noble or one of their hirelings. It gets dangerous down below. People disappear all the time. Especially those who might be seen as potentially interfering with the good work of a pillar of the underground community. Sure, Wilm replaces people's limbs with bundled masses and bunches of wriggling worms, but his methods work and his technique gets livable results that are both cheaper and less intrusive (and far less prone to infection) than those quacks who try to inflict mechanical, clockwork or even more exotic prosthetics upon those who've already suffered the loss of a limb.

Julia Has Worms
Julia raises very special gore-worms that she believes to be symbiotic partners, friendly things that can help recover the memories, minds and personalities of the aged, infirm or even recently deceased and transfer these essential things into fresh bodies. She just hasn't quite worked out all the details yet. Unfortunately word of her work in this area has reached the ears of certain jealous rivals and possibly a particularly zealous Puritan with political aspirations. Julia could really use a friend or three, especially if those friends could watch her back  or maybe help her with her work before things turn really ugly.

Among the Dispossessed
Among the refugees of the shanty-camps there are a number of former doctors, surgeons and others who either carry closely guarded secrets or who are looking to take advantage of the disorder and disruption to pursue various experiments. Some of them have scruples, many of them have ethics, but all of them have patients and clients and all manner of atrocities are being committed on a regular basis. Heavily armed and disguised vigilantes have started to 'handle' the more egregious infractions, but those who are drawn to this sort of thing tend to be from the upper-crust and they overlook the less glamorous situations. Perhaps someone from the lower rungs of society might rise up to fight for those the glory-seeking would-be heroes have passed over?

Wild Claims, Unfounded Accusations and Still More Rumors...
There are also less credible claims that someone has managed to distill or drain-off some sort of serum derived from gore-worms that is either a powerful hallucinogen, potent restorative, the cure for all diseases of the blood, or possibly some sort of longevity elixir. Perhaps those scruffy-looking bully-boys down behind the Pissing Wyvern Tavern who are buying particularly large specimens of gore-worms know a little something about all this?


  1. Good stuff. A lot of setting gems packed in a small package. Wermspittle recalls Mieville's New Crubozon for me in some ways here--but more lurid! :) Nicely done!

  2. @Trey: Thanks! We'll be posting a bit about the roots, inspirations and influences on Wermspittle...but probably over at Old School Heretic since that's our place for theory and such. Mieville is a wonderful writer. We're very pleased to be favorably compared to such an author, and we're very happy indeed to be considered 'more lurid!' with an exclamation mark no less. You have made both our day. Loads more Wermspittle coming soon!


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