Friday, January 3, 2014

Ten Most Recently Reported Types of Black Smoke (Wermspittle)

 was heavy, this vapor, heavier than the densest smoke, so that, after the first tumultuous uprush and outflow of its impact, it sank down through the air and poured over the ground in a manner rather liquid than gaseous, abandoning the hills, and streaming into the valleys and ditches and water-courses, even as I have heard the carbonic-acid gas that pours from volcanic clefts is wont to do....
The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells

The Ten Most Recently Reported Types of Black Smoke
(Using The Songrieve Scale, of course)
  1. Type I: Save or suffer 1d6 per round of exposure. [Sub-Types denoted by damage caused: A=1d6, B=2d6, C=3d6, and so on.]
  2. Type II: Save at -2 penalty or suffer 4d4 damage for next 2d6 rounds as blood transforms into a toxic black ooze. Nullified by water, but becomes extremely flammable if exposed to alcohol and will burst into flames inflicting 3d6 damage in a twenty foot radius.
  3. Type III: Inflicts 1d4 damage per minute for the next 3d6 minutes, then goes inert. Skin affected becomes permanently mottled with lurid, bruise-like blotches. Victim now permanently heals at half their normal rate and must fail a Save to allow healing spells to function normally.
  4. Type IV: Kills any living creature with 4 or fewer HD, those succeeding on their Save take 1d2 damage per round. Those with 5+ HD take 1d4 damage per round exposed, Save means half damage. A new Save is required each round of exposure. Persists for 3d6 turns, unless treated with water/steam.
  5. Type V: Causes 1d8 damage per round for next 4 rounds. Victim suffers a cumulative -1 penalty to their Save each round, success means half damage. [Sub-types increase in damage per round: A= 1d8, B= 2d8, C=3d8, D=4d8. Sub-Type E though J are only ever encountered as a consequence of Military Ordnance, usually from aerial bombardment or rockets.] There are unverified accounts of a more persistent version of this type allegedly trapped in ruined cellars and collapsed houses within the Burned Over Districts. 
  6. Type VI: Causes 6d6 damage as it shrivels and blackens the victim's flesh over the next 2d12 hours, during which time the victim cannot be healed by any magic or medicine, though medical professionals are working on a variant form of Cure Disease that they feel confident may prove effective. Standard Procedure in these cases is to amputate the affected area(s) before it can spread. The black rot becomes contagious after 1d4 hours, even after the victim dies.
  7. Type VII: Sticky and insidious, this type of Black Smoke burns the victim's flesh to cinders, beginning at the extremities, and burning its way inward to the more vital areas, inflicting 1d6 damage every minute it remains in contact with their body. This type of Black Smoke lingers around its victims, affecting anyone within 3 feet of anyone already affected. This stuff remains volatile and deadly for up to ten or more days, after which time it tends to settle-out into a granular, gritty layer that cling to everything.
  8. Type VIII: Thick and dense. Clings to the skin, staining it black. Causes 5d6+5 damage while airborne. Settles to the ground within 1d4 hours leaving a black filmy coating over everything within a 20 foot radius. The lingering particulates cause 2d4 damage on contact with exposed flesh and remain dangerous for up to 72 hours.
  9. Type IX: Inflicts 8d8 damage on anyone coming into contact with the viscous, coiling mass of deadly acidic vapors. Those who succumb are burned to blackened skeletons. Typical patch covers roughly 10-20 foot radius. Seems to dissipate after an hour, but this is misleading as there's a base 40% chance of re-releasing the Black Smoke should anyone disturb the darkened area where it has settled.
  10. Type X: Stains everything it touches a greasy black while causing 3d6 damage to anyone caught within its 30 foot radius of effect. Save for half damage, but a new Save is required every round of exposure. Has a tendency to follow its victims at a rate of 1d4 feet per round. This seems to be some sort of simple chemical effect, the vapors having somehow bonded to the victim, and not due to anything like intelligence.

There are reports of new types of Black Smoke all the time. Most of these reports are simply faulty accounts from hysterical survivors or possibly malicious rumors perpetrated by persons suspected of being in league with various foreign intelligence services. The fear-mongering of certain disgraced academics prattling on about the as-yet-to-be-verified effects of Black Smoke upon already documented forms of Miasmas, Foeters, or other Vaporous Horrors and Hazards is considered both premature and self-serving in the extreme.

Since the Wall Guard, Cellar Inspectorate, and Sewer Militia have all adopted the Songrieve Scale, it has taken on a form of legitimacy among most other agencies and institutions that deal with the Black Smoke on a regular basis. Of course, this being Wermspittle, there are at least three other conflicting and incompatible taxonomic or qualitative indices for measuring and comparing instances of the Black Smoke currently in use, including the so-called 'Three-Fold Scale' in use by the Street Patrols and Red Watch. But for most intents and purposes, the Songrieve Scale is as definitive as anything gets in this place.


  1. Dangerous stuff! Is there a way to know what form of black smoke one might be about to encounter before encoutnering it? Are there black smoke forecasts?

  2. Yes. There are certain signs and indications that Black Smoke may be present. The most well known indication is the peculiar combination of menthol and anise that some people claim to smell right before the stuff rolls in. Most experts dismiss this as wishful thinking and folklore, but people in the Low Streets swear by it. The Sewer Militia carry special tokens that detect Black Smoke within a 300' radius, but they never allow those tokens to go unaccounted for, and they almost never carry them into the upper air. The Wall guard have a few specialists trained to discern the flow patterns of Black Smoke and other vaporous horrors; these specialists issue warnings and sometimes forecasts, but they aren't always as accurate as people would prefer. There's too much chaos in the turbulence of the vapors and miasmas for them to really pin things down accurately. Midwives have been known to make predictions regarding Black Smoke that do tend to be fairly accurate, if you can figure out the actual prediction from the poetic gibberish.

    The papers and scandal sheets print their own predictions and warnings regarding Black Smoke and other things, but not all of them are very useful. Some of them just make stuff up. sometimes those are the most accurate.

    There are Black Smoke Detectors situated along the Outer Battlements and Inner Ramparts, as well as at certain important locations, such as the Main Square and so on. Some of these have been kept in reasonably decent working order. Others are defunct, a couple have been stolen or dismantled by scavengers.

    The Wall Guard has an alarm that they use when Black Smoke is reported to the Inner Ramparts. The other alarm system formerly maintained by the Red Watch doesn't work any more. It was abandoned as 'unnecessary and redundant' by the accountants who oversee the operations of the Red Watch.

    There's a great opportunity for whomever develops a reliable and accurate Black Smoke forecast. such a thing could make a person very rich, and fairly influential. If they can get all the permits and licenses out of the way and not run afoul of the gas companies...

  3. Nice--dangerous and creepy at the same time. Any of those would make for a good dungeon trap effect as well.

    1. Thanks. Rest assured, these do make for some nasty traps...

  4. Are there Black Smoke-proof shelters that citizens can flee to if there's an outbreak? Were there ever?

    1. There were shelters, of a sort, used in some places, but they never proved very effective. some forms of the Black Smoke tended to infiltrate these places, making them death-traps. There are wards available, but they aren't cheap. The Wall Guard, especially those units assigned to the Guard Houses along the Inner Ramparts and Outer Battlements have a few defenses unique to them, which we'll be detailing once we to the Wall Guard. The Sewer Militia also have some specialized defenses against the Black Smoke, as well as various other vapors and such. The Cellar Inspectors tend to rely on cheap knock-offs based on the Sewer Militia's stuff, or they rely on what each commander can acquire on their own. We'll be providing more details about all that as we take a look at the Local Authorities in the next couple of weeks. We're finalizing some of the details for the Pre-Gen characters for Con of the North...


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