Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Distracting and Disturbing Sounds (Wermspittle)

was pretty well accustomed in my Jermyn Street chambers to passing sounds; usually I did not concern myself, sleeping or waking, with the doings, however noisy, of my neighbours. But this noise was too continuous, too insistent, too imperative to be ignored. There was some active intelligence behind that ceaseless sound; and some stress or need behind the intelligence. I was not altogether selfish, and at the thought of someone's need I was, without premeditation, out of bed...
The Jewel of the Seven Stars, by Bram Stoker
(1912 edition, available via the official Bram Stoker site.)

What Was That Sound?
  1. A dull, ticking noise echoes softly, yet monotonously from beneath the floorboards. This time it's (2d4) Deathwatch Beetles. You were expecting something else perhaps? Live specimens can be bartered to Nagrothean Refugees for various illicit ointments and contraband salves. Do you think that they eat them?
  2. The severed hand of a poet scratches out the verses of an obscure sonnet in Old Cazigillian. Thirty-Six lines. Repeated, repeated, and repeated again and again. Each letter formed one after another, smeared with necrotic debris and infused with a palpable sense of lingering anguish. The particular dialect used is particularly troublesome to translate, even for an accomplished academic. One line will render itself more clearly sensible with a modest effort: 'Let the dead past bury itself!'
  3. Voices. Garbled and garrulous. They urge you to extinguish your lights before someone sees you. 'Hurry you fools. They're coming.' Then nothing.
  4. A tap, tap, tapping in the night, as though someone were rap, rap, rapping on a window, followed with the flash and over-loud 'BANG!' of a blunderbuss. You're not sure whether you heard a squawk just prior to the incident, but it is quiet now. Very quiet indeed.
  5. (1d4) Schrillers have clustered along the eaves of an abandoned property. Their horrid calls weft and wend their way past the waxed-up gaps in storm-windows and most other domestic precautions to torment sleepers with restless insomnia.
  6. Somewhere overhead a Harpy screeches in frustration as it is forced from its comfortable perch.
  7. The faded echoes of a lunatic's ravings can still be heard, if you know which alley to go to and listen for them. One of the younger Street Urchins will lead you to the alley in question, for a small consideration. Perhaps it's just some cohort of the would-be guide that's making the noises in order to pique the interest of the gullible. However, when you find the body of another Street Urchin sprawled across the rubbish piled-up along the side of the alley, you begin to wonder. Have they been murdered? Or are they suffering from 'The Gurgles?'
  8. Crumbling, tumbling stones, or broken brick? Sifting, shifting, a long, low creaking shivers through the walls and floors. You feel the tremor, more and more clearly with each passing breath; the roof is collapsing!
  9. (1d6) Caco-Zombies thrash and smash, lash and gnash wildly, madly, obscenely in dozens of languages. Each one argues vehemently with the other voices spilling from its twisted and decaying lips. Not one of them can agree on a course of action. Perhaps, with luck, they will remain so involved until the Sewer Militia can arrive and take care of them properly.
  10. Some blasted idiot is playing a medley of distinctively discordant folk tunes from Ullijoz on what one suspects can only be the traditional femurbone flute.
  11. Wet, slurping noises seep upwards through the floor-boards as a Corpuscular Sludge oozes into the someone's room. Did the occupant wake in time to escape? Are they calling for help? Or is it their screams that you hear now?
  12. Sniveling. It just keeps on. Just on the very edge of perception. It might as well be wordless for all that you can understand of it. But the tone. The very timbre and quality of the seemingly endless whining right at the threshold of your hearing is really getting on your nerves. Everyone else claims that they can't hear anything of the sort. But you know better. It's not all in your head. Somebody, somewhere out there is sniveling plaintively and pathetically and it is driving you mad. Maybe that's what your so-called friends want. Maybe they're all in this together. Lying about not hearing the whining. Trying to get you to crack up. That's it. You're certain now. They're trying to make you think that you're crazy. But why? What are they trying to get from you? Revenge for something you've forgotten? Perhaps they're just jealous. Whatever it is, you need to figure it out and do something before they succeed in driving you out of your mind with this unrelenting noise they all claim not to hear.
  13. A terrible, long drawn-out fart shudders and rattles out from the broken windows of a nearby cellar. Quickly, everyone in the immediate area extinguish all open flames and the call goes out for the Sewer Militia. A plucky one-eyed vagrant, just a child really, scurries out from another cellar window and jabbers at anyone who will listen to her: 'Gobb-gobb. Gobb-gobb.' Her lank, dirty hair reeks of Red Weed. You can tell from the off-kilter cut of her colorfully dyed clothes and tiny brass bells stitched into her too-long scarf that she's most likely another refugee from Xalmicar. Most by-standers ignore the girl and her idiot pantomime until an old man tries to force open the outside door to the cellar. It collapses on top of him and his screams are cut short by a massive surge of foul-smelling flesh rolling out of the cellar. It's a Type IV Gobbling Grout. A big one.
  14. The locals have been complaining about strange lights and some clumsy bastard plinking away on a badly tuned harpsichord in the boarded-up ruins of an old bordello. The one where the antique chandelier fell onto a huge party of revelers three or four years ago last Spring. Whomever they are, they play the same handful of bawdy tunes, very badly, over again and again, for hours on end. The Street Patrol along this stretch have taken to referring to it as 'The Phantom.' It's a nuisance, but so far no one has offered enough of a reward to make it worthwhile for anyone to go in after the Phantom. Especially since some of the locals are afraid it may well be some sort of demented geist or restless spirit haunting the place, and no one wants to attract the (expensive) attention of a zealot or karcist; they tend to be bad for business, especially when they tarry overlong in a place and start to get all preachy or demanding tithes and extorting payments for 'ongoing spiritual protection.'
  15. The Bells are ringing. Someone nearby seems to think that there's an army out there. No one is sure which army. Nor if it's a real siege battalion or just another group of half-starved soldiers cut-off from the front-lines and wandering about lost. Someone else is certain that it's a long over-due caravan, the one their daughter is riding with from out of Lesser Balzin. Another man grows increasingly hysterical and begins to run about wildly, screaming about a fire no one sees. People let him go. Maybe he's right.
  16. (4d4) Feral Children in torn and ragged cast-off clothes scavenged from unguarded clotheslines and elsewhere are bickering and wrestling over some sort of carved wooden box. There are at least two distinct factions involved in this dispute. One group follows the commands the black-haired girl who carries a rotting pig's head skewered upon a Jelzian bayonet. She is opposed by a Yellow Kid who claims to have discovered the box while scrounging through the attic of a nearby Unclaimed Property. The box reeks of old magic. It contains the still-beating heart of a Terrible Old Man whom no one remembers any more*.
  17. Scraping noises shiver up from below. Muffled voices mutter and swear in a coarse jargon most people would recognize as Morlock Ditch-Cant. Another tunnel? Here? Is that a good idea?
  18. A high-pitched screech. Three rapid shots taken in desperation. Some one falls to the street yelling for someone to grab their hand damn it. A meaty thud. Another screech--cut short by an over-charged gonne. Fragments of what used to be a gargoyle rain down across two roofs, clanking and pinging as they bounce off of the eaves and clatter onto the cobbles of the street below. Amateurs.
  19. Voices. Arguing. Heated and vociferous. Excessively foul language punctuated by terrifying, gurgly screams. You're not the only one to hear the noise and come out to investigate. The sounds only get louder as you pursue their source. Some moron caged-up a blatherer in the downstairs privy. It isn't funny.
  20. >POP!< The noise-ward fails. A herd of red-speckled black penguins panics, breaking loose from their rickety pens in a local attic. The plump birds stampede down the stairs of a half-vacant boarding house, leaving the stairs a slippery mess of trampled bodies, feathers and bird shit. The teenager hired to watch the old Tsalalian blacksmith's unlicensed flock wakes up in the midst of this "penguingeddon" only to get carried downstairs and out into the street by the tumultuous tide of screeching, flapping, frightened birds who quickly scatter in every direction. Looks like practically everyone but the owners of the flock will be eating penguin tonight.

*Some of the local Old-Timers might recognize the box, but they're probably mistaken or lying. If you take it to Schroedinger & Cave, they will offer you 1,000 open-looped silver sestrii on the spot. Then they will call the Red Watch and immediately turn evidence against you for being involved with a notorious war criminal known only as 'The Vulture.'


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Trey! It's always handy to have a way to deal with some of those odd sounds and such that pop up every now and then, like when player's are trying to get some sleep...

  2. It can't be easy sleeping in Wermspittle, that much rings out very clear. Some of these are chilling.

    1. Sleeping can get you killed. Somnambulists, Oneirists, Dream-Thieves...going to sleep just adds a whole other set of encounter possibilities into the mix...unless your character have the right wards and such...


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