Friday, January 27, 2012

Scenario Seed: Ghoulish Delight [Wermspittle]

Blood goes bad. It rots. When you slaughter meat for the table, you must drain the blood from the carcass. It's the same with human cadavers. Just ask any Goule. If you know any, that is.

The Goules of Latterkamp are very traditional. They still wear the same blackened leather plague-masks and heavy cloaks that their grandparents wore from before the Air War and the bombing of Janiska or the burning of Neditesh. Goules have long memories, all the better to carry grudges with, or so the saying goes. And there might be some grain of truth to that saying; Goules live long lives below the streets of their chosen refuges, such as in Wermspittle. They have forsaken the bright lands of the Day-Sun and spat upon the silvery mirror of the Moon in order to claim the deep, dark places below. In the old rites it is said that they have scorned the amber and taken up the rough iron. They have sworn the oath of salt, flame and blood and there is no going back for them. They are no longer human, any more than a man who eats a joint of beef is a bull.

Very much alive and vital, the Goules still have appetites and desires. They have ambitions and dreams, such dark and phantasmagorical dreams as intoxicate deranged dreamers and outlaw oneirists who become addicted to the concentrated effluviums and essences that the Goules sometimes make available to those with a predisposition to such things, for a price.

Goules feed upon flesh. Whether it comes from the creaking carts of alley-hunting Gibbet-men, or from licensed butchers or underground abattoirs matters little to them--just so long as the blood is removed.

Questionable Meat
The Goules are most fastidious. Definitely not squeamish, they are certainly quite strict about their dietary requirements. No one who wishes to be able to do business with them (or anyone else) another day will make the mistake or deliberately try to cheat the Goules. Those that err, whether by accident or through stupid greed, are never seen again.

One of the little known and grossly under-appreciated aspects of this fascinating clandestine trade in questionable flesh is what happens to all the blood that must be removed before any of the meat can be sold to the Goules.

In the old days it was generally standard practice to hang the cadavers and carcasses from rafters and let them drain as they hung there aging. When it was suitably drained and properly aged, the meat was then taken down and hauled away to the deep markets. This was a problem for those seeking to deal in this particular specialized trade in many respects, not the least of which was that it took a good bit of time. Time in which the stores of meat might be discovered, especially in the worst part of the winter when roving gangs of butcher's boys would be on the look-out for caches of meat that they could plunder for their masters. In the winter things get harder, more desperate. People tend to ask fewer questions. The butcher boys get a lot more motivated in the performance of their duties. They start to look in places they were steered clear of previously. It's a real bother and a real problem. Bribery carries little influence when people are starving. Threats mean a lot less when whole families disappear in the night and violence can't save the secret caches ear-marked for the Goules, not when things are that grim and the butcher boys are that determined.

Disruptive Insights
Then one winter a flunked apothecary student who had been turned out from his dormitory on account of his extreme laziness and horrid hygiene (and some minor scandal concerning one of his Professor's daughters) was wandering the alleys of Wermspittle just around Solstice-time. He was attacked by a Worm-tongue only to have the creature torn to bits by a family of refugees. Not having any other prospects, he joined the refugees for their impromptu supper. In short order he was initiated into the clan and taught the ins and outs of procuring, pick-pocketing and a dozen other illicit trades and skills. It seemed that he had found his calling, but then he learned of the underground trade in meat and the troubles that people were having because of the Goule's unreasonable demands. The former student taught them how to use Gore Worms to drain the blood from the carcasses and cadavers.

The blood-bloated worms are then sold off to the legitimate butchers or processed through alchemical baths of various salts, reagents and infusions either bought or otherwise acquired from the Goules, in order to create wine-skins and cigar-wrappers, among other things that have powerful, debilitating hallucinogenic qualities. The desperate dregs of the back alleys and the dabbling dilettantes of the university alike clamor for the sweet release of Ghoulish Delight.

Things That Might Happen Next...
  • The Professor mentioned above is looking for their former student. They are willing to pay an expert to locate the young man. So far they want him brought to them alive, but if their daughter miscarries, then it will be a simple assassination instead of a kidnapping that they will be trying to arrange.
  • The daughter is pregnant, but not with the student's baby, exactly. Part of why he was kicked out was that he was doing experiments with implanting eggs from one species into another. Why he placed an adulterated Gore Worm egg in the one person who really believed in him and actually loved him is a question that she would like to ask him personally.
  • The custodian who used to help supply the students various extracurricular experiments is nervous that the professor might start an investigation and put an end to the custodian's fairly lucrative career. He might hire bullies to jump the Professor, or he might offer to 'help' the daughter to track down her errant miscreant beau...or he might decide to eliminate the student himself, so as not to lose his little side-business.
  • The process that is being used to prepare Ghoulish Delight has been contaminated with a mysterious necrotic taint. One batch has caused a horrid wasting disease in those who've used it. Another batch causes those who use the stuff to transform into actual ghouls. It is unclear if this is the result of tampering by a rival, or some trick being played upon the student by the Goules, or something else entirely.
  • A stash of Ghoulish Delight was dropped down a drain to avoid discovery by parents, teachers or other authority figures. The foul, necromantically-polluted stuff has affected a very large Type IV Gobbling Grout in all the worst possible ways and it may be on the verge of going on a rampage once it gets out of its cellar cess-pit.
  • The Goules of Latterkamp have no interest in being connected to the drug-peddling mischief of the student. They have survived, even prospered below Wermspittle by being unobtrusive and literally beneath notice. The recent series of unfortunate events centered around the Ghoulish Delight side-line that they mistakenly allowed their underlings to get caught up in needs to cease immediately. They intend to make their extreme displease known with all due prejudice, just as soon as their agent can locate the missing student.
  • An outlaw Oneirist has discovered a way to use Ghoulish Delight to fuel necromantic projections, allowing him to interview ancient mummies, bored liches and other forms of undead via dreams. So far it has been tolerably safe and effective, though he has been feeling kind of off in a strange way.
  • Ghoulish Delight is highly toxic to actual Ghouls, making them vomit themselves to death in a gruesome fashion that often results with their guts literally hanging out of their mouths. The Ghouls are not amused. They are very curious to know who is responsible. They intend to return the favor ten-fold.

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