Wednesday, October 9, 2019

OSR: Durama

The Handsome Men are a democratic society.  They have no central leadership, but instead are split into competing confederations of where all within pursue their own goals and desires.  The only time these confederations fully band together is when they are faced with an outside threat, otherwise the Handsome Men act in their own self-interest, within their confederations and without.

The Handsome Men claim to have created a society without rulers, but this is not true.  The Handsome Society has elites, it's just that those elites do not exercise the traditional duties of elites.  They do not shepherd their people but instead feign equality with them.  Power in the Handsome Society is hidden, yet still makes its presence known.  The Handsome Society is held together through an iron-clad group consensus and strict group-think.  There are very clear borders of what is acceptable thought and what is not.

The Handsome Men are to always conduct themselves with grace and civility and are to never acknowledge anything evil, ugly or unsavory.  The lower parts of society must follow these standards when the Handsome Men are nearby, but when they are gone, they can be gross and unpleasant as they like.  They have fewer rights, but this is one of the few prerogatives they are permitted.  The Handsome Men do not share this privilege.  They are prohibited from every relaxing their guard, except on the rarest of occasions.  They must continually be Handsome. 

Perhaps the reason why so many Handsome Men are a little mad is because even they cannot withstand that much social pressure
forever.  Their peculiarities, obsessions, bizarre fixations even their temper tantrums and dark appetite for violence are all coping mechanisms to help them endure atop the hierarchical prison they have locked themselves inside.

But in every system, there will be those who reject that system to go their own way.  These are the Durama.

                                                         by astri-lohne

The Durama are those Handsome Men who reject their society's norms and strike out on their own to make their own lives.  These Durama usually have to travel a long way to find a safe haven, as they must escape the Handsome Men, they cannot join another existing society which will almost certainly not approve of their lifestyle and they cannot just head into the wilderness, as the Folk will not tolerate any intrusion into the wilderness, especially if it is by a Handsome Man, even one that has rejected some of their society's presuppositions and beliefs.  Perhaps it is no surprise that many of the Durama end up in the Veins of the Earth.  These aren't the only place they end up, but it is the most common.

So why did this particular Durama end up where they are?

1d6
1- Liberal.  He thought that the system of racial hierarchy was unjust and should be reformed.  He likely tried to change the system from within at first and after the tensions ramped up sufficiently, likely had to avoid at least one assassination attempt.  In the end, he had to flee for his life.
2- Deviant.  She thought that the Handsome Society's mores on some particular issue were unjust or immoral and rebelled against them.  She was summarily encouraged to stop and when she refused, she would have chastised repeatedly, until eventually she either left of her own accord or was expelled.  But nowhere could she find safe refuge but here. 
3- Expatriate.  He was a Handsome Man who willingly left.  Maybe he just found the Handsome Society stifling, or maybe he saw opportunities elsewhere.  Regardless, one night he packed up and left, never to be seen again.
4- Exile.  She was thrown out of Handsome Society.  She committed some crime that exile to the countryside or the frontier would not be a sufficient punishment.  She was instead banned from the the lands of the Handsome Men forever and ordered never to return, upon penalty of death.  It was a threat that she was right to take seriously.
5- Traitor.  Maybe he disliked something about his Society so he sought to change it through any means necessary, or maybe he decided that his society was evil and wanted to destroy it.  Regardless, he definitely left of his own accord, probably out of fear for his life.
6- Dangerous.  She was a screwball, a degenerate, a deceiver or something worse.  Something just wasn't quite right with her. Even with the broad latitude granted to the Handsome Men and the large amount of eccentricity from them that will be tolerated, she still overstepped the bounds.  She likely left willingly, either because she didn't want to face the consequences of her action or because she wanted to be able to continue her dangerous behavior in a new environment. 

What are they like?

The Durama generally think of themselves as righteous, rebelling against a system that is equal parts stupid and immoral.  Yet the Handsome Men, and the Durama, for all their glory, are still shaped by the culture they once inhabited.  So most Durama do not actually end up living that differently than Handsome Men, instead they practice a type of anticonformity, following the inverse, or perceived inverse of what the Handsome Men were.  Instead of constantly keeping themselves slick, genteel and beautiful they revel in gross, "icky" or disgusting things.  They were purposely ugly clothes and use their natural magicks to modify their bodies to give themselves deformities, scars or strange appendages.  And while they think of themselves as righteous, they take on the iconography of villains from the myths and stories of the Handsome Men to scare and frighten.  And in those stories, the villain is always less attractive, their physical imperfection outward evidence of their internal faults. 

Also, in general, the Durama do reject most of the folkways of the Handsome Men.  They speak plainly and do not bury the meaning of their speech in euphemisms and endlessly courtesy, they are okay with not always appearing beautiful and while they still use the Handsome Man combat technique of changing into their War Face, ie transforming their bodies into monstrous forms with magic, they don't conceal this fact from others, but do it right in front of people.  The reason why the Handsome Men hide while doing this is because its quite terrible to look at, being both terrifying and disgusting.  It is also extremely painful- for you. 

                                                      by Z-GrimV

What do they look like?

Roll on the table below to see what a particular Durama looks like.

1d20
1- He is covered in glossy fur, though he still has hair on top of his head.  He walks around mostly naked, except for a loincloth.
2- She has curling ram horns.
3- He is covered in fine scales that are flesh-colored and almost indistinguishable from flesh at a distance.
4- She has a tail.  It is 1d4 [1= Long and furry, can be used to grab things; 2= Made of corded muscle, whips people who come up behind her; 3= Thick and covered in overlapping scales, hits like a mace; 4= Thin, lightning quick and tipped with a stinger.]
5- He has 1d4 extra arms.
6- She has razor sharp claws emerging from the tips of her fingertips and from her toes.
7- He has 1d6 extra eyes scattered across his body.
8- She has long, floppy ears.
9- He has potruding teeth that stick out of his mouth.
10- She has bioluminescent skin that can glow various colors, like a comb jellyfish.  She can also switch her luminscence on and off at will.
11- He has a long, barbed tongue.  His throat bulges like a frog's, but when he wishes he can project his tongue out with a force of a stone flung from a sling.  Try not to get hit by it, or he'll put your eye out.
12- She is very alluring at first, but if you look under her skirt, you will see that she has a man's "equipment" as well.  And yes, her's is longer than yours. 
13- He has a large pair of breasts.  If you want to apply this option to a woman instead, she has 1d4 additional breasts besides her first pair.
14- He is totally hairless and utterly pale, white as a blind cave fish.
15- She is very muscular, but her muscles seem to twist and writhe underneath her skin like they're snakes.
16- He has bone blades potruding from various points on his body, namely his wrists, knees, elbows and on the back of his ankles.
17- She has sections of her body where her bones are exposed to the air.
18- His skin is partially translucent.  If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of what is inside him- though it doesn't resemble the innards of any corpse you've ever seen.
19- She has froglike feet and hands.  Can she stick to walls.  Yes, definitely.
20- His skin bubbles and flows like dripping wax or soda from a recently opened can.  Whenever he gets agitated it bubbles more rapidly, bits of him occasionally even breaking off and floating around the room as bubbles. 

What does this Durama transform into to fight?  What is his War Face?

1d6
1- A great, glistening white snake's lower half, with a humanoid upper body.  The humanoid torso has no head though, just a gaping maw in its place.
2- A dark shape, a flash of eye-shine, then it pounces.  The height of a great ape but skinnier, narrower, its fur a blue so dark it is almost black, its face covered in a dozen dark-piercing eyes.
3- A centipedal mass, with dozens of legs emerging from all sides of its torso.  Around its mouth it has a cone of antlers growing from its neck.
4- An enormous insect looking thing, with a hard shell, metallic claws on the end of its legs and the ability to fire blistering rays from its eyes.
5- A skeleton surrounded by glowing, transparent flesh.
6- A giant with rubbery, translucent green flesh.  The giant can transform from a solid to a liquid and back again.

And no, I'm not coming up with 20 of these things.  Use those creative faculties of yours if you need more- and if your players end up irritating more than six Durama, you'll definitely need it.

                                           by miniatureowl from tumblr.com


Who does this Durama rule over?

The Heinous:

These are the Durama equivalent of Elfmen.  Instead of mortals, perfected to be made into little copies of the Handsome Men, each one is hideous and monstrous, a unique work of macabre art, mutilated and altered until they were wonderful in their masters eyes.  Insane and broken, worshiping their masters and trembling with fear once they have gone.  When portraying them, remember that the Heinous should be as pathetic as they are monstrous.

1d6
1- Lily the Cat.  She's a Heinous with cat ears, a slit-mouth smile and dozens of needle teeth crowding her mouth.  Thin, delicate vines wrapped in thorns wind tight around her arms, thighs and torso, constantly piercing her flesh.  She stinks of blood and roses.  Her eyes blaze like gems in torch-light.  She is giggly and constantly upbeat, though she ruthlessly mocks anyone who she suspects or sees acting in a cowardly manner.  She is a masochist.  She is also secretly a coward, though she does not fear the blade or the rod.  She fears the fact that maybe she isn't the perfect little slave she portrays herself as- that maybe there is some hope for her yet.  The idea of someone caring about her, even loving her, it would send her into a rage or into the deepest despair.
2- Mary O'nette.  She's a Heinous with strings tied to her wrists, ankles and head.  The last one is tight, making ehr voice wheezing and her breathing labored.  She has stitches in her flesh, connecting her clothes to her body and her jaw flaps open and closed in a grotesque parody of speech.  She doesn't seem to speak in the normal way, her tongue never moves and her lips never move from the rictus grin she has when her mouth is closed.  The strings attached to her are always vertical, as if she is suspended from wires and being manipulated by an unseen puppeteer, hiding just out of sight.
3- Hunda.  She prefers to be called Bitch, but only when her Master is not around.  She has her lower body removed and replaced with the body of a dog, minus the head.  She has a dog's ears and her face has been stretched out to resemble something like a dog's muzzle.  She constantly whines at the pain, but doesn't dare touch her waist or face.  She's afraid if she scratches them, the stitches might come out. 
4- Li'l Beak.  This Heinous conceals his face behind a plague doctor's mask, staring out through narrow eye-slits.  He has vestigal wings stapled to his back, though he definitely cannot fly with them.  His bones are delicate and his flesh is stretched over his wings so he is oh, so careful, constantly wincing as if he is walking across hot sand in bare feet.
5- Jothu.  This Heinous has a permanent smile and a jolly crown, little bells tinkling to announce his presence.  He makes no sound but for his bells and a soft, pained laughter.  If you turn your light upon him, you will see his small, disfigured eyes and the melted metal of his crown, bonded to him when it was molten and now can never be removed.  You will see where it burned him, where his flesh seared like meat on a spit.  You might feel sorry for him at that point.  You should not. 
6- Rong.  Rong wasn't originally a Heinous.  He was once an Elfman, but the methods the Handsome Men use, while they make you beautiful, they leave you riddled with cancers and a greviously shortened lifespan.  Rong was desperate- he didn't want to die.  When he happened upon a Durama, he begged for help, said he'd do anything.  He did exactly that and the Durama agreed to help him.  These days, Rong is more cancer than man, a disfigured, deformed creature.  He'd like nothing more than to be able to die, but if he does that, it will mean all his sins were for nothing.  He hates that thought almost as much as himself.  So he lives- a shell of his former self.  He will weep when he attacks you and beg your forgiveness as he tries to kill you.

Swords of the Durama
1d8
1- Squidman Swords.  They are pale and white, their pallid bodies smeared with large patches of grey, black or blue.  They wield pairs of shortswords and fight with a dirty, brawling style, stabbing and feinting with terrible speed.  Their fleshy bodies are almost boneless, granting them longer reach and the ability to whip their arms through the air like whips.  Unfortunately, they're also quite fragile.  Tactic: Stab, then retreat.  Avoid being grabbed or trapped in a confined area for any reason.
2- Toad/Frogman Assassins.  If they were taken from the surface, their hides are pale and covered in numerous scrapes and cuts.  They wear almost nothing but for loinclothes and leather harnesses.  They blink at you with liquid eyes, silently begging to be set free, but they dare not say the world.  If they were born below they are absinthe green or brown-black, with ghostly bellies and eyes of cornflower blue or dazzling ruby red.  The latter kind do not beg for release, but croak through their smiles as they advance, daggers clenched in broad, webbed hands.  Tactic: Ambush by sticking to walls or ceiling, drop down or leap up out of the dark.  If there is water nearby, use it.
3- Slugling Spearmen.  Sluglings are adapted surprisingly well to an underground world.  They love the damp and the omnipresent warmth and even if their eyes aren't that good, down here they wouldn't be much use anyway.  Sluglings fight with long spears or hooked bills that can be folded up or extended as an action.  Tactic: Keep the opponent at bay, wait for you to attack, then finish you off with a stab.
4- Spiderling Silkfeet.  The Spiderlings from the surface are distrustful people, but they can be reasoned with.  They have been scorned by many so they keep to themselves, working their looms and tending their fields.  Down here, they are different.  They skitter across the walls and just out of reach of the light, those terrible octets of bottomless eyes watching, studying, waiting.  Then they attack.  Lassos come out of the dark, snare someone and pull them away.  You can pursue, but beware the nets.  Once you are tangled up and restrained, they will come with spears and run you through.  Then they will cocoon you and inject you with venom.  Once your insides are liquified, they will prick open your cocoon and drink you like fine wine.  Tactic: Capture one, use as bait.  Restrain the rest with nets and tripwires of sticky web.  Once everyone is restrained, kill them.
5- Kua-Toa Kill-Team.  The Kua-Toa of the ocean are a powerful and noble people- with an ancient martial culture and a civilization stretching back to the earliest ages.  These are not the heirs of that culture, but the refuse, the detritus left behind by an ancient Imperial retreat.  Despite that, they still remember a fragment of what their ancestors did and it is enough to make them capable warriors.  Tactic: The group will be 50% spearmen with shortened spears and flexible shields.  They will form a wall and prevent you from advancing.  The other half of the group will have atlatls and will pelt you with darts until you are too weak to put up any real resistance.  Then you will die, either because one of the throwers gets lucky or because the spearmen advanced and stabbed you to death.
6- Psychomycosis Megaspores.  The spores are about the size of a disco-ball, translucent green and utterly soundless.  They drift down from the ceiling of a cave, utterly silent.  They cover your face and you begin drowing.  Don't worry though- the acid will kill you long before that.  Once your face and brain has been mostly dissolved, the spore makes the corpse a puppet, lurching toward those nearby, beating them to death with its bare hands, then dragging their body to an isolated corner where it will watch them rot.  Ordinarily, these spores randomly prey on travelers, but this Durama believes it can control the spores using magic.  Maybe it can- like the Handsome Men before them, the Durama have arcane knowledge beyond almost any other creature.  Or perhaps the spores are merely pretending to be controlled.  After all, what does it matter how it acquires bodies, as long as they come?  Tactic: Attack in a mob and club those in the front to death.  The spore controlled corpse-puppets will always have a few unattached spores with them. 
7- Vampire Blood-Thieves.  If sunlight is your greatness weakness, what better place to hide then underground?  These Vampires are mostly new to this, but they still possess some of their vampiric powers.  They serve the Durama out of loyalty, but mostly because of the mixture of blood, psychedelic drugs and fungal wine they are all addicted to.  It is the only thing they desire, besides blood.  They fight with the skill of a junkie and aggression of a fanatic.  Tactic: Grab one person and isolate him, then restrain and suck him dry.  Repeat until there's no one left. 
8- Undead Puppets.  Undead are the perfect servants for the Veins.  They don't need food, the lack of light is no hindrance to them and there is no sun to restrict the use of them.  The only thing you have to watch out for is the Ghouls.  Tactic: Attack then retreat, lure the opponent into a trap.  Never hesitate, but never be stupid, either.

Horror from the Endless Dark*
1d6
1- 1 Calcinated Cancer Bear.  Once they were cave bears, many thousands of years ago.  Then the weather changed and forced them deeper underground.  It twisted them- their barely recognizable as bears anymore.  They're narrower, with canine muzzles and covered in a forest of bone spurs, spines and quills.  These cause it pain overtime and the only thing that cures this is fire.  It will fling itself into the flames and roll across campfires to relieve its pain and prevent its own armor from killing it.  It is mostly fireproof.  The Durama controls these bears through a combination of magical fires and meat.  They aren't quite tame, but they will maul those who enter their 'territory'.
2- 2d4 Zombie Coral.  These aren't controlled, so much as contained by careful slaves with spears and loops of rope or wire on the edge of poles.  The Zombie Coral desires blood and to return to the ocean.  It is prevented from doing the latter by being recaptured and stuffed into its trunks after every battle.  The former it can get as its handlers open the crates and let it loose on whatever enemy the Durama wants dead.  After the battle, a certain number of infected enemies will be inducted into the fold to replace the dead Zombie Coral.  The rest will be sterilized to prevent the out-of-control spread of Zombie Coral.
3- 4d6 Pyroclastic Ghouls.  They are honored guests of the Durama, filling the stone halls of the latter's fortress with ashy footprints.  They are unaware of the fact that the Durama has carefully hidden anything breakable or flammable, to protect it from smearing or accidental combustion at the hands of these charred, igneous nobles. 
4- 4d6 Spotlight Dogs.  They aren't actually dogs, probably, but the way they frolic around the Durama you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.  The Durama has polished the floors of his or her home to a mirror shine and draped themselves in glittering jewels and shiny fabrics, so just for a little while, they can remember what it was like to stand in the light and be looked upon by all as Handsome.  They will deny this, even though it is fairly obvious to anyone who has interacted with the Handsome Men. 
5- 1 Arachnopolis Rex.  A massive, artificial spider-hive made by a colony of spiders.  It can move by thousands of spiders manipulating it from within, lifting and moving its limbs with long threads, internal puppeteers piloting a lethal scare-spider.  Kept under control through frequent feedings and careful negotiation.  This has been a very profitable venture for both parties, but neither the spiders nor the Durama fully trust each other. 
6- 1 Gilgamash.  A mason's Frankenstein's monster.  The insane amalgamation of statues from a dozen different cultures awkwardly mortared together.  Is completely and utterly insane- but not unreasonable.  Insanity springs from reason, after all.  Not really under the control of the Durama, but the Durama is skilled enough in rhetoric to convince the Gilgamash that whatever the Durama wants it to do is actually what it wants to do.

*All these are inferior descriptions of monsters from The Veins of the Earth, which you should definitely buy if you haven't.

                                                 by michael-c-hayes

Durama Magic:

While the Durama generally have access to the normal magicks the Handsome Men, they prefer something that suits their new aesthetic.  Here are a couple of the spells they will cast on you if you irritate them and/or some of the magical treasure you can steal from their manses.

Food to Insects
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R: 30'        T: [dice] servings of food    D: [dice] minutes

[dice] servings of food transform into a swarm of insects under the caster's control.  After the duration is up, these insects recongregate and transform back into the food they once were.

Putrefy
---------------------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: all creatures in a 30' cone        D: one action

All creatures in a 30' cone take [dice] damage as a wave of necrotic energy passes over them.  Creatures at less than full HP instead take [sum] damage as their wounds begin worsening, their flesh beginning to die and rot from the wound outward.  Anyone killed by this has their flesh collapse off them into a slurry of decomposing flesh.

Stunt Mind
-------------------------------------------------------
R: 10'        T: one creature        D: varies

The Durama must speak a word to that creatuee.  It must save.  On a successful save, the creature is stunned for [dice] minutes.  It will snap out of this fugue after that number of minutes, or if someone comes over and slaps it, it may make another save.  On a second successful save, it immediately snaps out of it.

On a failed save, the creature has its cognitive functions reduced for [dice] hours.  For those hours, the creature may not do anything clever, intelligent or wise, unless it is unintentional.  The creature takes 1d6+[dice] damage each time it does.  The level of intelligence the creature is reduced too also is affected by the number of [dice].  At 1 [dice], the creature is reduced to the level of a slow-witted or deeply ignorant man.  At 2 [dice], the level of a child.  At 3 [dice], the level of an imbecile.  At 4 [dice], the creature is left on the rock-bottom of his mind, with only his feral lizard brain, his id and instincts to guide him.  Even at this stage he will be able to recognize his friends and swing a sword based on muscle memory, but any cognitive effort beyond that is impossible.

If this spell was cast on a player, he or she may dispute the damage if he can demonstrate to the Referee that such an action was actually stupid, conventional or so obvious even a simpleton could have thought to do it.   

Phantasmal Assassin
----------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: one creature        D: [dice] days

One creature suddenly sees another creature approaching them.  This is the Phantasmal Assassin.  The Assassin can look like anything to that creature, but it will always act the same.  The Phantasmal Assassin will track down the creature the spell was cast on and try to kill it.  To the creature that the spell was cast on, the Phantasmal Assassin is real.  It can hurt them, eat food, open doors and do anything else a living creature could do.  However, to all other creatures, the Phantasmal Assassin is not only invisible, but doesn't seem to exist at all. 

Someone with Sight Beyond Sight can see the Phantasmal Assassin, but otherwise it does not exist.  However, once you see the Phantasmal Assassin, it suddenly becomes real to you too, though it will still only pursue the original creature and will only target others if they get in the way.

The Phantasmal has [dice] HD and an AC equal to [sum].  It does 1d6+[dice] damage on a hit.  It can only be hurt by magical items or spells.  It will pursue the target until it is destroyed, the duration ends or the target dies.    

Flashbang
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R: touch    T: object        D: one action

One object the caster touches becomes infused with magic.  When the caster snaps their fingers, the object makes a deafening sound and unleashes a blast of bright light, dazzling anyone nearby whose eyes are adjusted to the light.  If this spell is cast with four or more [dice] the flash of light has the properties of natural sunlight.

                                                  by unknown

3 comments:

  1. This is good.

    Question: can Handsome Men be rebellious against the ways of their society (conformity, gloss) without going all way to body horror? For example, it is possible that Durama will aim to look average and nondescript instead of being the other side of beautiful?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well in theory, yes, there's no real reason a Durama/Handsome Man couldn't. But the thing is, for the Handsome Men, the worst thing one can be is average, boring, or normal. The Handsome Men are so different from us in stature- they radiate magical power till it shines out of them, they are unmarred by age or entropy and their physical abilities exceed ours by a good margin. This is why they have created the society they have, they think themselves all elites in a world of commoners.
      Each regards himself as a rockstars and CEO, s King and an ageless God. And of course, the Durama feel the same way.

      So I think you can understand why such creatures might fear being average.

      Delete
    2. Yes, this is a good answer.
      Are Handsome Men/Durama afraid of prominently boring/average people? There is a archetype, The Grey Man, meaning the person who is embodiment of averageness, of boredom, of bureaucracy and so on, but as if an ur-example of such things, not merely boring person, to such degree it becomes kind of like occult power (to bore people to death or to infect people with average-ness). If they are to encounter this kind of Grey Men, do you think Durama/Handsome Man will be actually afraid to them?

      Delete