Monday, February 6, 2012

Achromic Powder (Wermspittle)

New and Improved
Achromic Powder is produced from the dried-out remains of Loathsome Masses that have been mixed into a proprietary solution combining naptha, glycerin and one or two other, special ingredients. (One questionably documented source claims that a portion of jeweler's rouge is one of the 'secret ingredients' in this mixture, but that remains to be proven definitively.)

The resulting mixture is thoroughly stirred together until it forms something resembling an evil gruel that is then fed to Gunpowder Grubs. After a few days the grubs die. (It is categorically untrue that they scream horribly. Gunpowder Grubs make almost no noise whatsoever, unless detonated.) The dead grubs are then slowly dried until they harden into a dense, whitish packet of salt-like granules that gives off a peculiar vinegary scent. The clear yellowish fluid that collects from these grubs is toxic, but otherwise useless and tends to get disposed of by soaking old rags and stuffing those rags into crevices and holes in the wall to kill vermin or pests.

White Smoke
The 'Achromic Grubs' produced in this process can be used in a wide variety of gonnes, but the powder tends to corrode and foul most weapons and the ultra-distinctive and unmistakable cloud of writhing white smoke produced is both irritating and somehow seems to hasten infection or corruption, even precipitating gangrene, thus most musketeers, soldiers and the like strenuously object to its use. Grenadiers, however, like to pack their petards, grenades, and bombs with these grubs every chance they get as the lurid white smoke tends to disrupt enemy morale and often can do more to get a recalcitrant enemy to shift position than more powerful explosives ever could. A dirty trick used by some grenadiers is to grind up a portion of one achromic grub and add a bit of the resulting powder to their other explosives in order to give the impression that the bomb was achromic in nature. Simple white smoke alone won't do the trick; the peculiar properties of the Achromic Powder are unmistakable and tend to fill an observer with a sense of dread, disgust and revulsion that is all but indescribable and certainly not something easily counterfeited. There's a strange motion to the way the white smoke moves, almost as though it were writhing in agony, and the horrific discoloration it causes, as well as the acceleration of decay and promotion of gangrene--nothing else is quite as foul, despicable or hated quite so much as the infamous white smoke produced by Achromic Powder.

Salt Shot
One particularly vile and despicable tactic that has come into vogue among certain of the more unscrupulous commanders in the field is to have their marksmen cast hollow balls that they then pack with Achromic Powder. This style of shot makes a distinct puff of white when it strikes its target and is referred to as a 'Salt Shot.' The wounds produced by these wicked things tend to go foul and septic within hours and those who receive such a wound are said to age years overnight. Often those who suffer such a wound find that it never fully heals and that a portion of the affected area has a tendency to go necrotic if untended. The use of so-called 'salt shot' has resulted in a great number of field amputations and the effects of the achromic powder in the wounds often cause the victims to no longer be able to receive grafts or replacements from Grood medical-attendants. Salt Shot also tends to interfere with most healing spells, causing them to do only their minimum effects. Mercenaries who resort to Salt Shot often find themselves the target of every other unit on the field, including those whose side they ostensibly were on. It is curious to note, however, that salt shot has proven effective against some forms of Necrostasy and low-order undead such as plague zombies...when it doesn't make things far, far worse.

White Out
Another use for Achromic Powder is as a powerful, even spectacular toxin. Assassins and poisoners are notorious for spiking their victim's flour, sugar or salt supplies with Achromic Powder. The results are horrid, painful, and most often thoroughly fatal--anyone ingesting Achromic Powder quickly rots away from within. The Achromic Powder is much like a super-concentrated form of the notorious Vinum Sabbati and ten times more feared and reviled. Most curative spells won't ameliorate the damage wrought within the vitals of someone poisoned in this manner and those who are eventually reduced to a seething mass of corruption by this horrid stuff are completely unrecoverable.

White Face
There is a tale circulating among the less respectable establishments of the Lower Town Districts that someone once mixed a portion of Achromic Powder into the make-up of a famous courtesan whose once beautiful face was completely ruined before a surgeon's apprentice was able to somehow stop the progress of the corruption and save her life. She now wears a golden mask and has become something of an expert and authority on all the various formulations and applications of Achromic Powder...and it is whispered that She is either a member of the wicked cabal behind the Corruption Trade or perhaps she is seeking to bring it down, but the story is quite garbled, as if by some sorcerous interference, so no one knows exactly what Her connections or interests might actually be in this regard.

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