Loremageddon 2019, Day Ten: the Marrow-Mangled, Arcanatech, Vampiric Lineages

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day 10–I may have stayed up too late last night and be regretting my actions, but there’s no rest for the wicked. Indeed, that’s something of a theme for today’s entries: first, a tortured class of creatures warped by the Uncanny Marrow, then a milder detour into Arcanatech, and then we wrap up with a brief overview of vampires in the Twin Spirals. Now then:

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Snippet #1: The Marrow-Mangled (World: Creation’s Fringe)

The Marrow-Mangled are those countless, hapless creatures whose ancestors had the misfortune to stumble into the Uncanny Marrow and run afoul of its otherworldly energies. While some can be recognized as the remnants of this or that species on Creation’s Fringe, most have become so distorted over time that they no longer bear a meaningful resemblance to the creatures they emerged from. Of the Marrow’s entire self-contained ecosystem of strange entities and eldritch powers, the Marrow-Mangled are the only category most adventurers live long enough to see.

The Slevath offers a perfect example.

A quadrupedal creature which clearly originated from some Fringer predator or other, the Slevath’s anatomy has distorted under the Marrow’s influence until it barely looks organic. Its legs and body feature long plates and fluted flanges sprouting from beneath its skin, which has become so smooth that it looks like polished, living stone. Its “feet” are distorted messes of hooks sprouting from steep arched pads, and its head–improbably stretched and narrow–has split partly open along the sides. Its maw has hooked, prong-like growths.

The Slevath makes but one showcase for a few possible mutations from the multitude. Many Marrow-Mangled creatures have lesions, or crystalline growths; some even have metallic appendages. Some few are rumored to be psionic, though if so, this poses uncomfortable questions about whether the Marrow’s influence can elevate a species to sapience, and if so, why.

Humans and other civilization-building creatures are just as vulnerable to these effects. Those who survive their mutations claim that both their mental and physical capabilities are enhanced, and that they’re much less fearful than they once were. However, they also profess a pronounced lethargy and acute sense of wrongness when they’re away from the Marrow. This would explain why Marrow-Mangled creatures mostly prefer to stay within the Marrow–namely the outermost layer, which has been dubbed the Coronal Mire. The operative word is “mostly.”

Events within the Marrow’s depths can drive the Marrow-Mangled from it, for there are far deadlier beings in its depths than mere animals…

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Snippet #2: Arcanatech (Worlds: Any)

The term arcanatech in itself is self-explanatory, but a little explanation about its particular meaning in the Twin Spirals seems helpful for all. It refers to any device which mixes mundane mechanical engineering and magic in order to gain the benefits of both. The best arcanatech devices use these elements in harmony to mitigate drawbacks as well. The worst use magic to fulfill so many of the given device’s functions that a raw enchantment might as well have been used.

Badly-crafted machinery creates failure points, and continuous magic makes them more likely to fail–not a prime combination. Even among high-magic societies which have existed for a long time in the same places such that most or all individuals possess the Gift, a proper mage is rare; it takes dedication, intelligence, and grit to become skilled at magic. Numbers do nothing to sidestep this. Mages skilled enough to apply their magic to technological constructs are even rarer, and moreover should be specialized in doing so.

They are, of course, called technomancers; it is not within this article’s purview to discuss whether they are familiar with the concept of beats per minute.

All the above is to say that arcanatech is damnably expensive stuff on most worlds–you’d not be paying for it to make your stove a stove, that’s for certain! On Creation’s Fringe, arcanatech is most common among the nobility and adventurers, the latter actually having a slight edge in gaining it because they possess something more valuable to a technomancer than any mere coin, trinket, or title: lore about past arcanatech. It helps that the adventurers do sooner or later acquire a lot of coin, though.

There’s no point having the knowledge needed to create actuator enchantments upon a sealed armor suit to enhance the user’s strength and endurance if one can’t afford to have the damn suit assembled, after all! The best technomancers also learn engineering, metallurgy, and mechanics, but like all masters, these driven folk are the rarest finds of all.

Snippet #3: Vampiric Lineages (Worlds: Canno, Creation’s Fringe)

“The Cannoans ruined it.”

Thus runs a common lament among Fringer vampires who would rather their millennia of subtle ruses hadn’t been undone by their offworld cousins–many Fringers didn’t know they existed and had too many other monstrosities on their minds to care. Canno’s vampires, meanwhile, have always been embroiled in the power struggle between the living and the undead, and it never occurred to them that they might be able to hide from the world in the first place. Besides, the necromancers would likely have taken this cowardice ill.

The two worlds have completely separate vampiric lineages with separate points of origin and differing codes of conduct. Canno’s vampires all stem from a rather unfortunate pact made between an ancient mage and a Demon of Bonds. The demon, of course, couldn’t refuse any of the mage’s requests after the fact–going back on its word might actually have Shattered the hapless being–and was forced into an ever-worsening death-spiral of counterbalances in order to trade off the power cost of adding additional perks to the deal.

Had the mage kept to the original plan all would have been well.

Fringer vampires, meanwhile, may answer to any of a multitude of lineages which all have their own array of powers and come from completely different places. The Vernschau are the most archetypal of these–elegant, cultured, and seductive. The Kosmerniy lineage are original to the Novgori Communes, meanwhile, and as far as anyone can tell, they exist because an ancient Novgori mage thought it would be fun to make herself a vampire! The Kosmerniy are hyperactive and take themselves less seriously than other vampires.

Each of these lineages has different ways of passing on the curse, or gift depending on one’s perspective. Cannoan vampires inflict the change just by feeding directly, and so must get their fill of blood by indirect donations. There are more than a few mortals who, having acquired a warded amulet to stop the curse passing on, find it especially stimulating to tempt their vampire partners into breaking this custom.

The Vernschau need to drain all of a partner’s blood and then bestow some of their own on the new corpse. The Kosmerniy can have children as normal, which over time has led to many families in Kechutsk Commune being open vampires–not only is this accepted, but given that prominent fangs are considered attractive in Kechutsk anyway, a Kosmerniy spouse is a point of pride!

Both the Vernschau and Cannoan vampires are ageless, though the latter often wish they weren’t. The Kosmerniy have greatly increased longevity, but it isn’t indefinite. On the other hand, direct sunlight doesn’t kill them instantly. The Kosmerniy are in effect symbiotic where their counterparts are parasitic. Through methods which aren’t well understood, a Kosmerniy purifies their current partner’s blood of any illnesses and impurities while feeding directly, as well as inducing euphoria and a sense of connection in both partners. In long-term relationships, the partner receives the Kosmerniy’s longevity even though they do not become a vampire themselves.

Again, Kosmerniy spouses are highly sought-after.

Cannoan vampires do not have any special psychological abilities, but do grow stronger over time and have superior physical abilities compared to most other lineages–enough so that their bodies, still flesh and blood though dead, cannot always take the strain! The Vernschau, of course, have all the seductive and manipulative abilities one would expect.

The one thing all can agree on is this: it does, in fact, hurt just as badly as the real thing when a mage or priest strikes them with a blast of simulated sunlight.

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And that’ll do it for Day 10! You know the litany: comment, like, share, et cetera, influencer tactics to increase long-term engagement–that said, I do genuinely enjoy hearing from you all and seeing the regulars report in via likes, as it were. Your efforts to uphold my fractured psyche are appreciated! Otherwise, you could always follow me on Twitter for a drip-feed of nonsense without any of the writerly thought. If that’s something you’d like, I mean.

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