Werewolf: The Apocalypse: 20th Anniversary Edition: Book of the Wyrm by Kurieg
Introduction: The Wyrm's CallOriginal SA post
So last time I reviewed a terrible book. Now it's time to review a book with a terrible subject matter.
Know Your Limits posted:
This book includes a lot of disturbing subjects, from body-horror to necrophilia, from child abuse to sexual violence. Bringing these topics up in the context of a game can cause real problems for the people involved. Whether you’re a player or a Storyteller, talk to everyone you’re playing with and ask them one simple question:
Is there any subject you’re not comfortable with the game touching on?
If anyone says yes, listen to them. Don’t ask for an explanation — some people will back down if you insist they justify their discomfort, playing along while the story you’re telling makes them feel like shit. Just skip right past that element.
Don’t put it in the game.
Likewise, everyone should know that they can say when something that comes up in the game makes them uncomfortable, and you’ll cut that element out. Again, don’t ask questions. Whatever it is, it’s not worth including.
In a word, Yes .
Book of the Wyrm 20th Anniversary is not a pleasant book. It is an unblinking gaze into the steaming heart of a corruption that wishes nothing less but the destruction of all that exists. That said it is still a good book, it is well written and tries to treat the material with a respect that the pre-revised Book of the Wyrm didn't really bother with.
Introduction: The Wyrm's Call
As much as the Garou rail against the Wyrm and his Corruption, they aren't really solving much of anything. Killing ten thousand Formori won't clean the air above China, and the blood of a Black Spiral will not make the oceans run clean. But that's what their rage drives them to do, and the Rage in a Garou's heart is a splinter of the Wyrm itself. That violence, that hatred, that drive to the easy solution to difficult problems just so they feel like they're accomplishing something. Each time they indulge that lust for violence. And in the deepest depths of that rage they fall into the Thrall of the Wyrm, a literal connection to the great Corruptor of all.
That's not to say that the Wyrm can't be subtle. Endron is one of the largest subsidiaries of Pentex, and it floods the seas with toxic waste on a daily basis. They also produce the most environmentally friendly electric cars in the world, and each one is just a little bit Wyrm Tainted, not through any travesties in it's process, but just to fuck with the Garou and distract them from the more important targets. Formori can look monsterous or as human as you or me until it's too late. O'Tolleys does not need to put wyrm poison in it's food, empty calories and horrible business practices do the Wyrm's job better than it could if it actively tried. For every head of the Hydra that vomits balefire, two more destroy the world through mundane means.
Featuring the Wyrm
The Wyrm is the primary driving force in any Apocalypse game, but it isn't really the antagonist. Garou can see what the minions of the Wyrm do, but each of those minions is a being with it's own motivations and prejudices, perhaps working at cross purposes with each other. At the same time the Wyrm is literally a spiritual force of entropy and decay, so any plans it could have would warp within the infinite labyrinth of it's own mind. The Wyrm exists on a cosmic scale, kin only to the Weaver and the Wyld. Not even Gaia is it's equal, being either mother of them all or their greatest creation. Regardless it doesn't really matter. The Wyrm is unknowable, it isn't intelligent on a scale that we can comprehend, so don't try to define it's motivations beyond one thing. "Corrupt Everything". Asking why is meaningless because that implies you could comprehend the answer.
Theme: A Symbiotic Relationship
The Wyrm is the spiritual force of corruption in the World of Darkness. It is manifest in every act of petty evil. It is in the company that docks wages because the employees would starve if they quit, and the man who goes out drinking then takes his shitty day out on his wife and kids. It is disgust and self-loathing made manifest. For all that, it doesn’t cause domestic abuse and inhuman business practices. Those are the fault of humanity — “The Devil made me do it” is just as much bullshit now as ever.
Mood: Heroism and Futility
Unlike a Lovecraftian god, the Wyrm cares about humanity, the Garou, and everything else. It hates everything. Fully one third of reality will not stop until it has cursed and corrupted the world, dragging every last living thing down to share its Hell. Against such a foe, the Garou hope to win, but it’s a shallow hope. All they’re good at is killing things. Sometimes that’s useful, like excising a tumor before it metastasizes; but usually it does more harm than good. Killing someone’s abusive spouse doesn’t make his life better. Often it makes things worse, as he propagates a cycle of abuse that spreads like a disease. Fear and terror and pain, all these things feed the Wyrm. Faced with this horrible cosmic truth, what’s the point in fighting?
It sure as hell beats the alternative.
So it's a task for the Storyteller to take a step back every now and again. Even if every victory turns out to be Phyrric, if they don't have a solid win or a light hearted adventure every once in a while the players will get ground into the dirt and no one really wants that.
Lore of the WyrmOriginal SA post
Chapter 1 Pt.1:Lore of the Wyrm
After the intro, it's time for some backstory, and by "some" I mean "A lot".
Back when the world wasn't completely fucked up, and the Wyrm wasn't corruption incarnate. The Wyrm, Weaver, and Wyld existed in harmony. The Wyld is creation incarnate, generating matter and energy in an endless profusion. The Weaver is order and stasis, imposing form on the Wylds creations to prevent them from being an endless mutating multitude. The Wyrm, was the balancer between the two. It hedged in the other two if they ever grew too powerful, preventing creation or stasis from taking over the world. Thus the entirety of existence continued for a nameless eternity.
Of course, something had to change eventually. Somehow, for some reason, the Weaver became self-aware. It looked at the entirety of creation and saw no meaning in its structures. It wanted more, but that pesky Wyrm kept on destroying what it created. So it snared the Wyrm in its webs. Trapped, and unable to maintain balance between the Wyld and the increasingly ambitious Weaver, the Wyrm went mad. It lashed out in an orgy of random destruction, but even in this the Wyrm was limited. Since it couldn't just flat out consume anything anymore, it learned to use its prison in its work. Pulling at the strings, twisting the Weavers creations so that they would destroy those around them, and eventually themselves. The Wyrm had found Corruption. The Wyrm had become corruption.
Entropy, death, and destruction weren't anything new, they're a part of the cosmos and have been occuring for as long as the dance of the triat had been going. But Corruption was new, and with it came new tricks. Parasites, autoimmune diseases, and cancer all became more virulent than they had previously been. Toxins that could rend the fabric of the umbra itself and affect spirits came into being. The Wyrm also created corruption incarnate, radiation.
Which... radiation is just a thing that happens when elements decay. So as long as elements have existed there should have been radiation. But it's a conceit that's been with Werewolf with the beginning so just go with it.
The Triatic Wyrm
As the Wyrm struggled in the pattern web, the strands pulled tighter cutting it to pieces. Which tore each other into other, smaller pieces. These pieces gained their own desires, and became aware on their own. The Garou call these pieces the Hydra, and one of the first acts of the trapped Wyrm was to use the Hydra's many heads to make contact with potential allies, leading them to where the Wyrm was imprisoned, the corrupted realm of Malfeas.
Every creature acting in the Wyrm's service actually serves one of the Hydras three heads. But what the Garou do not know is that the heads of the Hydra is a separate entity, connected to the others only through the bulk of the Wyrm itself. They don't communicate, and often end up in conflict as each tries to do the job of destroying reality in their own way. The savvier Garou have managed to engineer these situations, making sure that none of them actually get their way.
Beast-of-War: The Calamity Wyrm
The Beast-of-War is a corrupted reflection of the Wyld. In every way that the Wyld is a force of creation the Calamity Wyrm is a force of destruction. In it’s purest form it is absolute devastation without possibility of regrowth or healing. It is also the manifestation of the Wyrm’s desire to be free of the Weaver. A mindless beast motivated by an unrestrained appetite for violence and an unending hunger for destruction. The Silver Fangs have a legend of a time in the ancient past when they prevented the Beast-of-War from manifesting, though this appears to have been it’s only attempt.
That’s mostly because it doesn’t have to . Every war feeds it, every time a member of the Changing Breeds gives in to Rage it gets a little stronger. When battle lines are drawn and you can’t tell friend from foe it is the Beast-of-War you have to blame.
Eater-of-Souls: The Consuming Wyrm
Eater-of-Souls is a mockery of the Weaver. Mindlessly consuming everything in a vain effort to free the Wyrm. It is greed and obsession, it is that voice in the hearts of jealous lovers who kill their partners rather than see them be happy with anyone else.
Physically it manifests itself in cancerous tumors and wasting diseases like HIV. It is also the most active of the Hydra in that it seeks to satisfy its hunger. In the sixteenth century A.D. it even attempted to manifest in the physical world, and it took the sacrifice of an entire Garou tribe to stop it.
The Defiler Wyrm
The Defiler Wyrm is the Wyrm’s twisted reflection of itself. It is manifested self loathing turned outward in an effort to bring everyone else down with it. It is insidious and powerful, seducing and tempting people into all manner of self destructive actions. Suicide, addiction, self-mutilation. It is the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. It’s also the only Wyrm who lacks a Maeljin servant and has not tried to manifest physically. It probably thinks it beneath itself.
Trapped in the Web and unable to act, the Wyrm yearned for release. These desires fed on its desperation and panic until they became separate entities unto themselves. The Garou call them the Urge Wyrms. Urge Wyrms are emotions taken to a pathological and self destructive extreme. Someone touched by the Urge Wyrm of Despair not only has all his feelings of despair magnified, they seep into him for weeks and months, eventually becoming a constant part of him, finally consuming him utterly.
They are the most active of the Hydra’s heads, but as creatures of pure emotion they lack a physical form. A fight against an Urge Wyrm is a personal one, fought in your mind and heart. This means the Garou are ill equipped to fight them directly, though there are rare and powerful rituals that can shield people from their influence such things are usually the endpoint of a lifetime of searching.
The Maeljin Incarna
Not being able to manifest physically doesn’t stop them from having representatives, though. The Maeljin Incarna, or more simply the “Dark Lords”, were all once human. But posessed by an Urge Wyrm to such a great degree that it transformed them into an avatar of spiritual corruption and malfeasance. Though as a part of the Wyrm’s body, they too are more driven to fight against each other than cooperate.
Each Maeljin serves in their position until it either fails in its duties or a more powerful avatar replaces it. They can be killed but such acts of transgression are usually so vile that their murderer immediately becomes their replacement. Even barring that a new avatar would eventually arise, but the world might be free of their influence for a year to a decade.
According to the legends, each Maeljin has a unique weakness. Someone who knows this weakness could destroy a Dark Lord and prevent it from rising for over a century - if they don’t destroy it outright. Destroying a Maeljin Incarna also weakens the associated head of the Hydra, and until it gains a new avatar its influence in the world would be weakened. Though actually exploiting such a weakness would be difficult to exploit. Not to mention that killing a Maeljin in such a way would probably be a great undertaking. Doubly not mentioning that discovering such a weakness may be just this side of impossible.
Humans wishing to serve the Wyrm often approach one of the Incarna and pledge loyalty to them. Black Spirals prefer working through their totems as they find the Maeljin Incarna too prone to infighting. And Pentex hates the Maeljin Incarna because they’re at roughly the same level in the Wyrm’s power structure. Smart employees will pledge their service to the board of directors. Very smart employees will game an Incarna to replace the board of directors.
Foebok, the Urge of Fear
If the legends are to be believed, the first Urge Wyrm. Born of the Wyrm’s terror at its captivity, it magnifies fear into mindless panic and all consuming dread. Since it is such a primal emotion it lacks a Maeljin Incarna. The Black Spirals are able to call upon its power through their totem Hakaken, the Heart of Fear.
Vorus, the Urge of Greed
Born of the Wyrm’s scrabbling at everything in reach. The grasping for anything avaliable became Vorus. Victims of this urge find that everything they obtain just inflames their desire for more. Conspicuous consumption and the drive of the ultra-wealthy to increase their worth are both the hand of Vorus at play. He has no Incarna, because sharing consciousness with another entity is just as antithetical to it as any other form of sharing.
If you need further inspiration
Though in fairness, Vorus did come first
Mahsstrac, the Urge of Power
Mahsstrac is the desire for dominance and control, not as a means to an end but as an end in themselves. Under Mahsstrac’s gaze they lose sight of their original goals and become obsessed with expanding their power and retaining what they have. It has no Maeljin since it lives in the heart of everyone who selfishly serves the Wyrm. The Black Spirals can call upon it’s strength through the Green Dragon.
Karnala, the Urge of Desire
Karnal is untamed desire. It can attach itself to any goal, but once attained its victims quickly find something else that they must pursue. It feeds on yearning, not attainment. They are also blinded to anything beyond their desires, especially long term consequences. In many ways it is the opposite of Vorus. A Gambler in Vorus’ thrall would not risk anything unless they were assured of a win. One under Karnala would risk anything just for the next thrill.
The Countess Desire, Empress Aliara
Rumored to have originally been a popular courtesan during Caliph Haroun al-Raschid’s reign, she has a profound understanding of peoples innermost desires and spurs them to act on them with reckless abandon. She appears as the ideal object of desire to whomever she speaks. An incarnation of wanton sexuality, maternal nurturing care, or the most loving child imaginable. When she wishes, everyone she deals with sees her differently. And while everyone desires her, she sees others as nothing more than disposable tools.
Destruction: Aliara can only be destroyed by someone she desires. They must be under her influence, temporarily resist her charms, and while seemingly captivated by her, declare fealty. Then they must steal a weapon from her collection and use it to deliver a killing blow. The major problem being that the influence and fealty are both true. They are in service to the Wyrm, and failing in their task means that they are bound to her for eternity. Aliara has a ever growing collection of would-be assassins.
Abhorra, the Urge of Hatred
Born of the Wyrm’s hatred for the Weaver. It is pure and potent loathing in search of a target. In its grip dislike and discomfort turn into disgust and rage. Every action taken by the object of their loathing is a threat worthy of retaliation, and so Abhorra spreads.
The Duke of Hate, Lord Steel
The current Lord Steel was once a conquistador who sacked the natives of Central and South America, eternally clad in black armor and a contorted mask of black steel. He thrives on all forms of hatred, but especially that directed at large groups of people. His devotees offer him sacrifices of burnt flesh in hopes of gaining vengeance on their rivals. He cares nothing for the political maneuverings of the other Maeljin, lost amid a sea of his own ever shifting hatreds. He leaves his throne only to lead his Bane armies in war.
Destruction: Some believe that only an Innocent challenging Lord Steel to battle can defeat him, but an Innocent would merely die. Others believe that only one filled with Hatred for Lord Steel can defeat him, but such divine hatred would merely replace him. The only thing that can defeat Lord Steel is himself.
A would-be Assassin must remove his black mask, weakening him by revealing the rather ordinary looking human face within. Then he must be captured and brought to a well-lit chamber with mirrors in all directions, forcing him to always look at his own face- the shock of which will keep him contained. After a full lunar month imprisoned in such a fashion he will rip himself apart in self-loathing, dying in the process. Of course his aforementioned bane army will be tracking him during said lunar month.
Angu, the Urge of Cruelty
Believed to the be the foul offspring of Abhorra, Angu seeks to inflict the Wyrm’s pain on others. Its touch erodes sympathy and compassion. Victims first try to justify the suffering they cause but eventually even that falls away in their enjoyment of suffering for suffering’s sake.
The Caliph of Pain, Lady Aife
Aife was once a torturer for the Spanish Inquisition. She cares only for inflicting as much suffering as possible, sometimes seeking advice from the Countess of Desire to find out what her victims care about most. She threatens to destroy these objects to both torture her victims, and to force them to torture others lest their desires crumble. She appears as a beautiful woman who sends shards of glass flying every time she tosses her flaming read hair. She rides a steed made of rusted metal and wields a pair of jagged glass whips.
Destruction: Only something that is aware of pain but entirely indifferent to it can kill her. A pattern spider, or the Nameless Angel of Despair are two examples, but actually motivating such an entity to kill her is almost impossible.
Ba’ashkai, the Urge of Violence
Second only to Foebuck in its relation to primal emotion, Ba’ashkai begins as a drive to use excessive violence in some situations and becomes a desire to use violence as the first and only answer to all problems. Unlike Abhorra, it is not motivated by hate, nor by Angu’s suffering, it is violence for violence’s sake because a problem can’t bother you if it’s dead.
Chieftan of Rage, General of the Armies of the Wyrm and Patron of Abuse, Hellbringer.
As an incarnation of brutality, this Maeljin serves both Ba’ashkai and the Beast-of-War. Hellbringer is the general of the armies of the Wyrm and the patron of abuse. Anyone struck by a bolt from his crossbow attacks whoever is nearest. He has never been defeated in battle and were one to try, they would surely replace him.
hellbringer has another face, that of Malik Harjaq, the Master of Mayhem - a Viking berserker with a dozen arms each wielding a different weapon.
Destruction: Obviously you can’t kill these guys in battle. Hellbringer must find himself in a situation where he is entirely alone and compelled to stab himself with his own crossbow bolt. Thus enticed to kill himself he must be provided with a weapon sufficiently powerful to do the deed. But everything must be by his own hand. No one else can wield the weapon or engineer the bolt’s path.
Malik Harjaq periodically sates himself in a post-battle revelry, where he must be killed by a potent Wyld-poison, the recipe of which is a well-guarded secret for reasons.
Khaaloobh, the Urge of Consumption
The most mysterious of the Urge Wyrms, it goes by names such as Consumption, Indulgence, and Decay. In all ways though it is a breakdown of order, in the mind, will, emotions, or body. This progressive collapse has brought about the downfall of many of the Wyrm’s minions as well as its foes.
Knight Entropy, the Wyrm’s Spawn
The Knight Entropy’s gaze rots its target and its touch turns people and targets to duch. It never negotiates, even with its fellow Maeljin, and it’s impossible to coerce and control. Instead, anything or anyone pure, honorable, or perfect attracts its deadly gaze. It appears as a fearl human of indeterminate gender wearing the tattered remains of a crusader’s amor.
Destruction: The only thing that can destroy Lord Entropy is the pure and creative energies of the Wyld. Directly exposing it to the Flux realm would instantly Kill it. Alternately some of the changing breeds could figure out a way to channel several Caerns into a single powerful site. If he tries to drain such a Caern of its power, as he has so many others, it would surely obliterate him.
Pseulak, the Urge of Lies
Lying for gain, convenience, or the enjoyment of deceit feeds Pseulak. It always starts out small, a few lies of convenience that lead to a habit, and eventually a web of falsehoods so complex and cloying that the victims only choice is more lying. The spiral of hypocrisy causing them to lie to everyone, even themselves. The only falsehoods that do not serve Pseulak are the deceptions inherent in the natural world - Camouflage and feints used by hunting animals.
Corruption’s Advocate, the Chamberlain of LIes, the Honorable Main duBois, Esquire
The most accomplished liar in any realm. He most often operates by convincing others to act for him, especially previously innocent politicians and bureaucrats. He dresses in an old fashioned suit that is tattered and drenched in slime, and he is constantly followed by a fluttering storm of paper and papyrus.
Destruction: Profiting at his expense when negotating a contract with duBois is merely a way to take his place. To destroy him someone must make him sign a contract that requires him to forfeit his title if he fails to uphold his end of the bargain. Beyond that no one else can profit from either his success or failure. If he cannot uphold his end of the bargain he instantly ceases to exist.
Sykora, the Urge of Paranoia
Allied with the urges of Fear and Hatred, Sykora causes personal failure and random misfortune to appear to have malevolent causes. Some retreat from the world, but Sykora encourages those who lash out at phantom enemies. The lack of trust and narcisistic view that the victim is the center of a vast conspiracy are like sweet wine to her.
The Archbishop of Madness, Doge Klypse
A short and pudgy man with a round hairless head and sunken mad eyes. He is dressed in black robes threaded with a hypnotic purple pattern, and forces his victims to kiss a ring made of a shiny purple tumor. Said kiss drives them insane. The Doge also becomes lost in bouts of madness where he kills everyone around him.
Destruction: Rumor has it that, somewhere in Malfeas, there exists a small box that contains the name and memory of the last person Doge Klypse trusted before he became an Incarna. If this box is found and opened the memory will return to the Doge rendering him temporarily incapable of being Sykora’s representative. Suddenly mortal he must perform an hour-long ritual to purge the memory into a new box, during this ritual he is vulnerable.
Gree, the Urge of Dispair
Gree devours its victims’ will, destroying their desire to act or take control of their lives in even the smallest ways. The most common result of possession is Suicide, either through deliberate action or passive neglect.
The Nameless Angel of Despair
The patron of suicides, it can manifest in many places at once and feeds on sadness. It cannot speak, communicating only in the negative emotions it projects, and has the innate ability to appear wherever its presence would push someone over the edge. It takes no part in Maeljin politics but all the Wyrms servant fear its gray robes and the cold, dark despair that comes with it.
Destruction: The Nameless Angel is the source of the Harano that sometimes grip the Garou, but this Harano is also its weakness. To destroy the Nameless Angel the Garou once created a legendary ritual to fill themselves with hope and rage. This rite can only work at a Concolation, a grand moot of Garou from far and wide. Garou from three different septs must simultaneously work part of the ritual at their caerns. At the end of this ritual they howl their rage at the Wyrm in one terrible instant. This surge of emotion is the Nameless Angel’s undoing. Unfortunately the details of this ritual are lost to time - and once the ritual occurs the Angel will know exactly what is happening and work to stop it.
Lethargg, the Urge of Apathy
The child of Gree replaces will with a growing loss of feeling. Its victims grow indifferent to the lives and suffering of others and then stop caring about their own lives. The most fully possessed lose themselves to catatonia or fall into comas. Today, Lethargg causes the masses of humanity to ignore the horrors and injustices of everyday life. Better to ignore anything beyond the immediate scope of your life, nothing you can do will improve the world.
Unsurprisingly, Lethargg is one of the more successful Urge Wyrms.
The Master of Stagnation, Lord of Disease, Thurifuge
Devoted to plagues, stagnation, and water pollution, Thurifuge has devoted himself both to Lethargg and the Eater-of-Souls. He both fosters illness and pollution and encourages those around him to ignore it. He appears as a tall, lean man with corpse-like skin that has an oily shine, and a fetid pool of slime surrounds him even in the cleanest of places.
Destruction: Somewhere in the world at a powerful caern there exists the spring of the purest healing water in the world. Splashing a few drops of this on Thurifuge will weaken him enough for an attacker to drown him in the springs waters. But they only have once chance, if he does not drown when immersed in the spring he will pollute it, forever destroying both it and the Caern.
As the Triatic Wyrm is a corrupted reflection of the Triat, the Elemental Wyrms are hideous mockeries of the four sacred elements. The Maeljin of the elements were never human, but are elevated from the strongest elementals of their type.
Hoga, the Essence of Smog
Hoga is corrupted air. Noxious fumes that corrupt or poison all who breathe it. It manifests in the physical world in exhaust from cars and factories, and the foul smoke from burning refuse. Limited exposure produces shortness of breath and muddled thoughts, while larger amounts cause breathing disorders like asthma and fatal lung diseases.
The Master of Smog, Lord Choke
Lord Choke enjoys both the metaphorical smothering of a person’s freedom as well as the literal smothering of, you know, choking. He commands his servants to clog the air with smog and smoke, and he delights equally in stalled rush hour traffic and burning oil wells.
Destruction: Only the four most powerful air elementals working together can disperse Lord Choke. Of course they all hate each other, and Lord Choke can defeat any one of them singularly.
Furmas, the Essence of Balefire
Balefire is both the corruption of fire and the spiritual representation of radioactivity. It is the Wyrm’s blood and it twists whatever it touches, it’s also found naturally in isolated pockets deep within the earth’s crust. Unsurprisingly this is the Black Spiral Dancer’s favorite element.
The Master of Hellfire, Lord Kerne
Kerne has grown fat on the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Although his spirit form seems cadaverous and frail, he is composed of tainted lava and his breath is atomic fire.
Destruction: To destroy Lord Kerne he must first be frozen solid, and then his frozen form must be encased in lead. Such encasement must be complete and finished within an hour, or he will melt his prison. Even once defeated if anyone breaches his prison he will spring back to life, so have a good hiding place in mind.
As an aside, i do appreciate that the lord of radiation can only be contained and remains a danger even after defeat, since this is a real problem that we’re trying to find a solution to How do you communicate to future civilizations that you’re hiding something actively dangerous and not delicious delicious treasure?
H’rugg, the Essense of Sludge
The corrupted earth, H’rugg represents the solid portions of the Wyrm’s body. It lives in the toxic dumps and landfills, and it’s nature turns everything it touches into more sludge. And it… “Makes victims cling to their beliefs even when presented with clear evidence that disproves them” ..what?
The Master of Sludge, Lord Collum
Collum is a creature of raw sewage, his influence extends throughout the sewers of all cities allowing him to gather a great number of secrets. It tries to corrupt all the dwellers of the sewers, including the Ratkin, Nosferatu, and..well.. whatever else is there. He is the consort of Lady Yul, fertilizing her toxic eggs and adopting some of her darker children. He appears as a roughly humanoid figure made of raw sewage.
Destruction You must find the seeds of five rare magical plants that posess a supernatural ability to purify toxins, then plant them within lord Collum’s body. Over three days he is slowly transformed from a sewage to a plant elemental. But if sludge elementals can capture him they can reverse the transformation because that’s what sludge does.
Wakshaa, the Essence Toxin
Toxin is corrupted water, as well as the remnants of the not-blood liquids in the Wyrm’s body. It physically manifests as a brightly colored chemical poison. And can be found in any number of industrial chemicals and corrupted street drugs. In large doses it kills instantly, in smaller doses it causes mental and physical instability.
The Mistress of Toxins, Lady Yul
The Maeljin of Toxins in all forms, from drugs to poison and acid. As in literal acids. She’s a veritable database of genetics and biochemistry so agents of the Wyrm sometimes ask her to create custom organisms for them, sometimes in such specific ways as to create an organism that breathes carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. And she always has enough eggs in her to birth a small army if needed.
Destruction: Legends hold that there’s an herb known as Moly that is an antidote to all poisons, and could cure Lady Yul. But it exists now only within the deep umbral realm of Pangaea. The Mokolé or Nuwisha might be able to help find it, but harvesting it is as dangerous a task as any visit to a realm populated by dragons and gryphons would be. And she has to eat it. So good luck.
The Wyrm In the Umbra
Though the Wyrm may be bound in Malfeas, it’s influence is long reaching in the umbra and Penumbra.
Blights are umbral manifestations of human misery and suffering. They appear in locations where people live in dehumanizing conditions, like the worst housing projects, slums, labor camps, and prisons. Their suffering shapes the umbra, turning it into a featureless arid land devoid of life beyond a few banes. Most buildings don’t have umbral reflections, and those that do appear as large featureless blocks. The ones that do resemble their physical counterparts are foci of extreme negative emotions, meth labs, crack houses, brothels where the hookers are enslaved by pimps, etc. Their umbral reflections are twisted and malevolent, burned, broken at the very least. They are filled with banes that feed on the suffering within and encourage more to perpetuate the cycle.
Sometimes a building associated with a positive emotion will show up in a blight, like a church or a popular community center. Banes steer clear of these places and they can be refuges for those trapped in the Umbra. Creating more beacons of hope in a Blight can shrink or destroy it, the reverse is usually more common. If Wyrm spawn destroy the umbral reflection, it’s physical counterpart will usually fall out of favor in the community. It is in the Garou’s best interests to keep that from happening.
These are the reflections of toxic waste dumps, nuclear testing ranges, and the sites of industrial accidents. They were once blessedly rare but they’re becoming increasingly common. In the Umbra they appear as scorched deserts where the cracked rocky ground allows subterranean toxins to boil up from toxic pits. Others appear as tar pits, stagnant lakes, or oily mud flats. The remains of dead animals and trees litter the landscape even though no earthly creature could leave them. In some hellholes the sky is lit by burning gases in others the sun is replaced with a ball of banefire. Either way any nature spirits that wander into a hellhole are quickly killed or corrupted into banes. Banes are attracted to Hellholes even more than blights, particularly elemental banes, and each Hellhole is unofficially consecrated by one of the Elemental Maeljin, depending on its earthly composition. As with Blights, it’s possible to cleanse a Hellhole either from the Umbra or the Material realm, but it can be the work of a lifetime, if not longer.
Calumns: Wyrm Domains
Calumns don’t correspond to physical locations, instead they represent strong ties to one of the Urge Wyrms. They manifest in the near umbra and anyone who stays there too long finds the emotion becoming increasingly prevalent, if not becoming entirely tainted by that particular Urge Wyrm. Powerful Banes rule most Calumns, and the entire domain’s landscape warps to better suit the emotion represented by the Calumn. Most Calumns are bland dreary affairs, with the ones that aren’t being riots of color to entice would be victims.
Far Calumns: Anchorheads to Malfeas
Far Calumns are places where the Wrym’s corruption reigns unchecked, and a direct path to Malfeas for anyone dumb enough to want to follow them. Their appearance is similar to whichever part of Malfeas it is linked to as the corruption from the other side seeps through. Most are found near the border between the Near and Deep umbra, but a few are in other realms, especially the Atrocity Realm and the Scar. Anyone who wants to find them only has to follow the trail of banes going to and from the Calumn.
The Black Spirals revere the Abyss as the Wyrm’s all consuming Maw, and they’re mostly correct. Anything that descends into the Depths of the Abyss is never to be seen again. But there is a path to Malfeas hidden within. A short way down from the Abyss’ vast entrance, there are rocky outcroppings that lead into a complex of caves and tunnels. Banes and other Wyrm creatures stalk these tunnels looking for the few slaves that manage to escape from Malfeas.
The Spirals have marked a few pathways with their own corrupted Pictish runes, marking the way to Malfeas to anyone able to read them. Eventually the paths will open up onto a pit that looks like a Miniature Abyss, and anyone willing to throw themselves into the pit will find themselves in the Dungeons of Castle Cthonus.
The Atrocity Realm
There are more Calumns here than can be meaningfully described, but the most well trod one sits in a copse of dead and blackened trees that the Atrocity Realm’s denizens use as Gibbets. It leads directly to the duchy of the Hellbringer who often visits the Atrocity Realm to partake of the suffering found here.
While escaping from the Scar to the rest of the Near Umbra can be difficult, traveling to Malfeas is horrifyingly easy. A dark mockery of a Train Station exists known as the Last Junction, and most spirits in the Scar avoid it judiciously. A black train traveling to and from Malfeas arrives here regularly. It comes empty but it always leaves full- of prisoners, fetishes, and building materials. Powerful banes man the Black Train and they’re more than capable of capturing all but the most powerful Garou.
The Wyrm Reaches
The Wyrm Reaches are a mockery of Umbral Outer space, full of warped and dying stars, thick clouds of toxic stellar dust, dead planets, pitted asteroids, and strange and alien banes that will open a path to Malfeas for the right price. Balefire elementals also offer a path to Malfeas, but they just eat anyone dumb enough to follow them.
When claimed by the Black Spiral Dancers, these places are known as “pits”, they relate to places in the Physical world so filled with corruption that they become focuses for unclean energies. In most other respects they are identical to their Gaean counterparts, with different focuses and strengths, but stepping sideways always results in a blight or hellhole instead of a thriving umbral glade. The most powerful Wyrm Caerns lie deep under the earth’s surface, filled with corrupt microbial slimes that feed on deadly acids, or toxic volcanic gasses, or near veins of radioactive ore. They are known only to Banes and the Black Spirals who tend to them.
MalfeasOriginal SA post
Chapter 1 Pt. 2: Malfeas
The Wyrm’s Home Turf, if the Wyrm can exist in a single place, it is here. This is where the Weaver captured the Wyrm long ago, and it’s foundation are the ragged remains of the Wyrm’s body. Malfeas is a disparate collection of partial realms that fit together in ways mortals were not meant to comprehend. Drawing a map of Malfeas is a hopeless task, as the result would look like the scribblings of a lunatic that would drive anyone who reads them mad. Even though it exists only in the Deep Umbra, it is horrifyingly easy to reach.
Above all, Malfeas is a realm of corruption and degradation. Spending time here warps victims in mind and body, such mutation is a result of the background radiation present in Malfeas itself and will occur even to willing visitors free from the torments that rulers inflict on their captives. Anyone who stays in Malfeas longer than a day begins hearing foul whispers, he can see patches of his skin or fur turn grey and sickly. If he escapes before his body finishes warping, he will heal within a week or two. However while he remains in Malfeas there is no force that can quiet the whispers or heal the degraded flesh. Should they remain longer than three months, the whispers will accompany them long after their departure. their skin and fur becomes gray and withered looking, and the transformation does not heal when they leave. Only powerful healing rites can cure these taints.
The overlords of Malfeas are the Wyrm’s most powerful servitors, including the Maeljin Incarna. They rule their domains with brutal discipline and only a very lucky visitor can escape their notice. Important prisoners captured by the Wyrm usually end their lives in Malfeas.
The Warring Hydra
Of course the various factions of the Wyrm don’t get along, so internecine conflict is common. The Maeljin lords know full well that their peers will simply be replaced if killed. But a newcomer is more likely to be an ally or an unwitting dupe due to their inexperience. That said most of the Lords stay far away from the front lines of conflict- so most of the warring is over resources, territory, or prisoners and manpower.
The Central Duchy
Most Moon Bridges that lead to Malfeas end up in the Central Duchy’s courtyard. A large circular stone inscribed with a spiral sits in the middle of the large, irregularly shaped area. It’s surrounded by massive, elaborately menacing buildings each more than a mile high. One such building is the Grand Cathedral, with a massive stained glass window depicting the heads of the Hydra bursting forth from the earth. It is dedicated to all of the heads of the Hydra and welcomes anyone loyal to any of the heads. The Ruler of the Central Duchy, known only as Number Two, regularly holds services here. During each service the most powerful and important captives are sacrificed. Hundreds of black iron cages located halfway up the walls of the Cathedral hold the decaying bodies of sacrificed captives, as well as those left to die of exposure rather than sacrifice, or those who haven’t been sacrificed yet, it’s usually tough to tell the difference.
Located across from the Cathedral, the Castle is the tallest structure in Malfeas. It is a black twisted tower mounted by barbed crenelations, and its surface is slippery and viscous like living crude oil. It engulfs and devours anything that would try to climb it, limbs of would-be climbers jut out of the otherwise smooth surface. But even these protrusions drip with the same oil. The only visible entrance leads to a seemingly endless spiral staircase and three groaning, rickety elevators.
It is the home of Malfeas’ ruler, Number Two. And it’s both the tallest and deepest structure in Malfeas, its basements are filled with a multitude of dungeons and torture chambers. Slaves spread rumors that the bottom level is just a maw of the Eater of Souls, but very few who have ventured sufficiently deep have returned. These escapees speak of caverns on the edge of a dark pit that lead out of Malfeas into the Abyss. Destroying Castle Cthonus would badly weaken the Wyrm and plunge Malfeas into a turmoil that would last several years. But the only way to do this is to ascend to the upper reaches of the castle without Number Two’s knowledge and enact a lost rite.
She was once a Black Spiral Dancer that served the Wyrm so well that all of the heads of the Wyrm united to elevate her into an Incarna. A popular legend goes that she was the first Garou to walk the spiral. Her original name is allegedly lost to time, even that she does not recall it. As befits the leader of Malfeas she is a brutal tyrant who fears having her power usurped, and kills anyone who she suspects is plotting against her. Her guards consist of a dozen of the most powerful Spirals, aided by 7 of the most powerful Banes, all magically bound to take damage in her stead, leaving her unharmed. She avoids the Politicking of the Maeljin Incarna, instead sending intermediaries to deal with them. After all they really only want her power. She can appear in any number of forms, but most often as a hideously scarred and blood-caked Glabro.
Destruction: Anyone who learns her Original Name can shout it in her presence, removing the enchantment that protects her against damage and leaving her vulnerable. But they must work quickly because Number Two knows a magical phrase that can purge her name from the memory and records of anyone who hears it. If she can whisper it to everyone who knows her name, her protections return. This phrase is a terrifying truth about the nature of the universe and corruption’s role in all that is, and hearing it would drive all but the strongest of wills mad. Killing her would set off a civil war that would distract the Hydra and the Maeljin for years.
The Temple Obscura
On the outskirts of the Central Duchy but within sight of the Grand Cathedral lies the most sacred site to the Black Spirals. The strangely discordant exterior made of green veined marble conceals the entrance to the Black Spiral Labyrinth itself. The interior of the Temple consists of 9 rooms in sequence, with the final room consisting of blank walls, a bloodstained altar, and the entrance to the Labyrinth in the rear wall. Any of the Changing Breeds can spend time in the first 8 rooms and gain valuable insight into the nature of the Black Spirals, but also become mentally tainted. In the last room the urge to walk the spiral is almost impossible to resist. Those who have stood in its presence and survived tell of thoughts filling their mind of how they could win great victory by entering the Labyrinth and destroying it from within, no one has actually succeeded at this and all who attempt it have been lost. The Labyrinth contains aspects of all of the Hydra’s heads. It permanently and irredeemably corrupts anyone who traverses even a single circle. Any werewolf is capable of surviving it if they accept corruption into their soul, others who attempt the feat die horribly partway through the first circle. Sometimes Spirals bring their captives to the mouth of the spiral, and give them the choice of either walking it or being sacrificed upon the altar as a meal to those who will.
The Labyrinth is eternal, but the temple is not. Destroying it would demoralize the Spirals, and a proper demolition might render it inaccessible, forcing the Spirals to find a new way to create more of their kind.
The Wyld Founts
Just off of the central courtyard exists the largest of Several Wyld Founts. This structure consists of a vast sphere, 60 yards in diameter, a six story tall scaffold raises it above the ground. It is transparent and filled with shifting multicolored light, it contains a portal to the Wyld-Dominated realm of Flux. The scaffolding contains a stairway that leads up to a large airlock style door in the side of the Sphere. Occasionally dead victims are thrown into the airlock to dispose of them, and sometimes the Black Spiral Dancers travel to the Flux to capture Englings to drain for power or torture for other reasons. The airlock exists to prevent any direct contact between the Flux and Malfeas. Destroying the Sphere or forcing the airlock open would cause raw chaos to smash into Malfeas, seriously damaging it.
That isn’t to say that the Wyrm would do away with this if it could, the Wyrm cannot create on its own, it needs these Wyld energies. They pump energy out of the sphere through a pair of slender pipes, each no more than a foot across, into a pool at the structure’s base. A series of corruptive filters poison the energy so it properly resonates with Malfeas. That Pool is the Wellspring, a torrent of foul water fountains almost 100 yards into the air, banes and other creatures slowly form out of the mist at the fountains edge, and the rest of the liquid flows either into the great river that ends in the Duchy of Toxin, or is diverted into the various factories throughout Malfeas.
The Nightmare Garden
One of the ornate gates from the central courtyard leads into this large and terrible garden. The first part seems exceedingly well kept, but venturing deeper reveals disorder and sickness. All of the plants have sickly and unnatural colors and smell of rotting meat. Many have long barbed thorns. Banes and Spirals dangle victims over carnivorous plants, hanging them from thorns and then torturing them. The many plants are fertilized with their blood and corpses. Few denizens of Malfeas venture deep into the garden because the deeper portions aren’t entirely inside of Malfeas. The paths have a powerful magic that separates travellers who aren’t holding hands or otherwise physically connected. The deeper paths turn even narrower, bushes given way to trees until each visitor is wandering through their own dark wood, unable to find their way back to the garden.
The Dark Wood is a portal to the Dream Zone specifically a corrupted region that is home to nightmares. Any who wander this area find clearings full of their personal nightmares. A lone wandering might suffer the death of their friends, betrayal of loved ones, or find themselves thrown back to their childhoods to suffer the torrent of abuse they feared their parents might unleash. It’s possible, though tricky, to change the course of these nightmares. But since the Garden links directly to Malfeas only violent and debased acts like slaying children, torturing innocents, or foul and forbidden magic can change the course of these visions. The Gardens cannot corrupt a visitor but the actions they’re forced to take to escape will have them questioning their motivations. Once they’ve left the garden and found their way into Nightmare they are free from the enchantment that separates them, a skilled umbral navigator can find their friends and eventually find their way into the Dream Zone proper.
Reason and Unreason
In an easily overlooked corner of the Courtyard sit a pair of small, unguarded doors. Beyond them lie a pair of tiny conjoined realms. Reason lies beyond a white door covered in precise but complex black linear patterns. Unreason lies behind a room of several shifting colors patterns that move constantly across the door. Both lead into single large rectangular rooms.
Reason is a large, well organized library containing books, databases, and any other form of information storage that the occupant might be familiar with. All of them contain useful advice for planning and executing military campaigns, commando raids, hostile corporate takeovers, and similar hostile maneuvers. As befits the Wyrm’s realm, all of these plans are exceedingly vicious in their damage to the victim, and quite ruthless. Executing one of these plans always requires betraying allies, killing or impoverishing third parties, turning trusted comrades over to their mortal enemies or similar atrocities. Anyone who carries out a plan concocted in Reason begins dreaming of either Hellbringer or Maine duBois, as the dark energies of the place begin to corrupt their minds. In addition to that the Realm of Reason allows for an escape from Malfeas, a Moon Bridge opened in the realm of Reason transports to one of the largest and densest webs in the Near Umbra.
Unreason is more akin to a bizarre art gallery with shifting walls and strange tricks of perspective. Focusing on any of the pieces of art can provide insight to a particular mistery that the character is hoping to solve. The price for this insight is madness. The longer they remain in Unreason the more disoriented they become. Common objects appear strange and distorted, and she no longer understands how to perform simple tasks such as typing, driving a car, or even brushing her teeth. She believes she still possesses the knowledge but performs the steps out of order that produce useless or dangerous results. It takes a few days to relearn but from then on they suffer no loss of ability.
But in that brief bout of madness a link is formed between them and Doge Klypse. In addition to being mentally tainted, the next time they enter Frenzy Doge Klypse can ask them to perform a relatively brief task and they will do it. Anyone who opens a Moon Bridge in Unreason travels to a large wyldling in the Near Umbra.
Dark Satanic Mills
That’s a hell of a title heading.
Malfeas is full of Factories, and several of the Maeljin have ordered their servants to construct more. The largest is a mile long and half as high, and each is hideously unique. Some are made of brass and black steel mirroring victorian workhouses, others appear organic with organs pumping deadly fluids, and others still are combinations of the two. All of them use slave labor, either humans or werewolves captured by agents of the Wyrm and given the option of death by torture or death by work. Others are servants of the Urge Wyrms who have been commanded to come and serve.
A few factories exist only for the pleasure of their Maeljin, their only “product” being the suffering of those employed there. Few slaves survive more than a year, requiring a steady supply of replacements. Other factories refine raw materials shipped in from the Elemental Duchys or the waters of the Wellspring. Many produce the concentrated corruption that nourishes the banes and formor, while others create the contaminated industrial food for the slaves, or exotic chemicals that mutate and transform the living into terrifying and useful horrors.
A growing number of factories have begun creating product for export to earth. Either the highly concentrated additives that Pentex needs for food and medicine, or materials that Pentex can’t create themselves on earth. Working conditions are macabre and horrific, slaves risk life and limb to service large living machines. The majority of workers are effectively living zombies. Some have parasites attached to their necks making them stupid and obedient to the point of self destruction. Long IV Drip lines render others placid and compliant. Conditions in Malfean factories are “somewhat worse” than the most appalling factories on earth where those who make consumer electronics become seriously ill or commit suicide due to their working conditions. The major difference being that death is not an escape in Malfeas.
A few slaves serve as testbeds for the additives or esoteric sigils or mind-eroding sound effects that Pentex places in their advertisements. Although the food and medicines sold by Pentex contain only a small amount of these additives and their advertisements contain only a second or two of the subliminal content, the rulers of Malfeas wish to learn what their product can do in ideal conditions. Most slaves die but some become unique and monstrous formori. The Overlords long for the day they can unleash the full force of their industry on earth without the Garou’s notice.
The Maeljin Duchies
The Central Duchy is surrounded by a massive wall made of stone and fossilized bone. And the domains of each of the Maeljin abut this wall, surrounding it on all sides. There are treacherous razor sharp spikes on top, regularly decorated with the bodies of anyone who has particularly displeases that domain’s master.
A huge gateway of black iron connects each of the Maeljin Duchies to the Central Duchy, and warriors employed by both sides guard these gateways. The Maeljin also possess hidden portals into the Central Duchy, these don’t need to obey any kind of geometry and tend to go from a nondescript building in the Central Duchy to the center of the maeljin domain. The paranoid Number Two has done what she can to find these portals, but she cannot close them permanently and many remain lost.
At first glance this appears to be the most Luxurious and beautiful portion of Malfeas, which should give you reason to be suspicious. The entirety of Ailara is a vast pleasure palace filled with a mixture of massive halls, small private rooms, open gardens, and an abundance of people. The walls are covered in baroque carvings of people engaged in, and dying from, various kinds of excess. And the heavily perfumed smoke is used to hide the scent of rot and decay.
It is a realm of pleasure, but the pleasure is devoid of Joy. Its denizens pursue a single vice with mindless and obsessive dedication, continuing to eat, drink, fuck, or shoot up because they are literally incapable of stopping. Every possible source of pleasure is available in the Duchy and each is highly addictive. Visitors find that their previous addictions are increasingly difficult to satisfy within Aliara’s walls, driving them to find more intense and extreme forms of “pleasure”.
The Maeljin Aliara and her most favored servants derive great pleasure from preventing visitors from indulging their addictions and then either watching them beg, or promising them access to their vice once they’ve performed a simple task. A few Changing Breeds who visited Malfeas now work for Aliara, doing anything she asks just for a few hours of access to their addiction.
Her servants, including some of her addicts, kidnap humans and bring them to her Duchy for a few days of pleasure, returning them to Earth with a promise that if they perform various useful tasks they may return. A special reward is offered for anyone who kidnaps a Kinfolk, because that’s an avenue to corrupt the Garou. Her Seneschal is currently working on a plan to bring humans to her domain in their dreams, and gain their service through addiction to sleeping pleasures.
This entire Duchy consists of a single massive modern office building, with countless floors, mazelike corridors, and elevators that start and stop at random. It contains the offices of a multitude of clerks, lawyers, researchers, PR execs, and similar individuals. These offices are home to Maine DuBois and have links to the headquarters of Pentex’s senior legal and advertising execs.
DuBois’ minions create advertising campaigns for Pentex and defeat their legal detractors. They also negotiate deals with spirits and finalize contracts and alliances between the Maeljin Incarana and other personae in Malfeas. Some of their contracts bind ancient Banes and other powerful entities. The Duchy is open to all visitors as long as they come seeking its services. Anyone who needs the perfect contract to betray an ally or destroy a rival, anyone who needs a speech to sway listeners or a means of bending the law to their whim can come here. But only a fool thinks they can get away with offering duBois simple money.
The workers are more than happy to satisfy any request that directly aids the Wyrm, and don’t really mind any other request that doesn’t harm the Wyrm’s interests so long as the appropriate price is paid. They do twist any requests that aid the Wyrm’s enemies or directly harm its interests, so that they satisfy the letter of the clients request but further the Wyrm’s ends more than they could ever harm it. The clients are overjoyed to receive exactly what they ask for, only to watch in horror as everything falls down around them.
Anyone coming seeking a specific service finds the office they require after no more than a half an hour of walking and elevators. Anyone unhappy with previous service finds themselves lost in weeks of bureaucratic hell- forms filled in triplicate and countersigned by an undersecretary - just to get directions to the office that has the paperwork they need to request a meeting to get the permission to find the forms needed to file a complaint. The more hostile the plaintiff the more bureaucracy they have to navigate. But even the most hostile visitor finds an office that can solve their problem - for another contract. Even someone seeking to kill duBois can find an office that can help, for a price.
In addition to the main gate(which is rarely used) one may access Duchy Aife via doors leading directly from the lower levels of most of the other Duchies, and even some of the worst Blights and Hellholes. In the basement levels next to these back doors Aife’s denizens perform every torture imaginable with pervasive glee. Lady Aife watches the most intense torments when she isn’t busy doing it herself. All the torturers know that terrible magics make certain that their victims survive regardless of the horrors inflicted on them.
Almost all visitors who willingly venture to the Duchy bring a captive to interrogate. The torturers here pride themselves on their ability to both obtain useful information and enact exquisite suffering. They are even willing to admit Gaian Garou who bring a Black Spiral Dancer to interrogate. Of course, visitors must witness, and possibly take part in, all of their captive’s torments. Those who would seek information in such a manner are usually well on their way to falling to the Wyrm anyway.
Duchy Klypse is a giant maze made of brich and stone corridors twisting at impossible angles. Even gravity shifts at a whim and perspectives are not fixed. The corridors contain elements from every nightmare about getting lost or searching for a location that’s impossible to find. Sliding panels and secret doors exist to make the Duchy even more confusing, as do the shadows and half-seen threats that sneak up on anyone who stands still for more than a few minutes. Of course it’s all pointless, as all paths eventually lead to the center and to Doge Klypse himself. Only those who have his permission can ever find their way out. Klypse amuses himself by making certain that some visitors that come to slay him spend decades or centuries wandering his halls, never finding what they seek. Most go mad and set upon anything they see, becoming yet another part of Klypse’s defense system.
This Duchy is an enormous sprawling city, most of which is part of a single giant complex that is both hospital and factory. Here, duke Thurifuge engages in research that results in more terrible drugs for Pentex. Insane and monstrous researchers perform experiments on slaves and prisoners, observing the progress of diseases and attempting to create new and more terrible ones. A surprising number of researchers are Ratkin who have fallen to the Wyrm, and some of them offer the services of the Duchy to others of their breed who seek to bring the Apocalypse with a deadly plague - without disclosing their employer, of course. Most come to this realm in search of a disease or to sell slaves, but a few come to thrill at the suffering of the diseased. Fewer still come to free a test subject.
The Hellbringer’s realm is a war-torn landscape surrounding a blasted city. Here slaves and captives battle for their freedom. They must defend areas against the armies of the Hellbringer. If they succeed for at least three days they go free. Of course almost all of them die in the attempt, and those few who win sacrifice so much that, left warped by the experience, they willingly join the Hellbringer’s armies. Duchy Hell contains portals to most of the other Duchies, as well as the Atrocity realm. When captives are in short supply, or occasionally to provide a diversion, the Hellbringer attacks the central Duchy. So far he has never succeeded. And even if he did he would simply become the new Number Two, and cause a new Hellbringer to appear.
The “Border Duchies”
There are two Duchies that aren’t really a part of the greater politics of Malfeas. The larger of the two is a massive desert that lies between the Maeljin Duchies and the outer four elemental realms. Here a hot black sun in a curdled violet sky dominates the days, and the freezing nights are almost completely devoid of light. This is the realm of the Nameless Angel of Despair, and legend states that each grain of sand is a soul who ended their life by their own hand.
The other realm are the fetid swamps that fill the space between the Maeljin duchies. They are all connected through dark paths somehow, and they seem to be growing larger despite the fact that the Duchies remain roughly the same size. The swamps house deformed and twisted formori who fled other portions of Malfeas to live here. It’s also home to Banes who have displeased their masters. Each group lives in small isolated bands that prey upon each other and any visitors they can capture. Knight Entropy claims these swamps as his own, and stables his horse in one, though never the same one twice.
The Earth Pit
The Earth Pit is a Canyon between the swamps and nameless desert. It’s a wide region that duplicates the overall features of many of Earth’s most pristine and thriving landscapes but as toxic parodies. The Great Barrier reef is an open sewer filled with dead fish and cancerous coral. A duplicate of a vast African veldt is a radioactive wasteland filled with dying mutant animals, and instead of pristine wilderness, this version of Africa is awash in a hungry living oil.
The greatest danger is that any moon bridge opened in a Blight or Hellhole will often open up in the Earth Pit. A shapeshifter battling minions of the Wyrm may try to escape only to find themselves trapped somewhere far worse. To the natives of Malfeas the Earth Pit is a dream come true, whereas the Garou see it as a visceral reminder of failure.
The Elemental Duchies
The outermost edge of Malfeas is ringed by the four elemental duchies. The palaces of their Incarnae sit at the center of each Duchy, destroying these castles of corruption might weaken the element, particularly if they also destroy the Maeljin Incarna
The Duchy of Smog is covered by billowing toxic clouds. Without special senses, vision is limited to five yards in any direction. Only creatures that are immune to poison can breathe for any length of time in the Duchy. Choke lives in a huge archaic looking factory of black iron that belches forth the fog that fills the realm, and he is attended by eyeless banes and strange mechanical servants that are powered by engines that make still more Smog.
The Duchy of Balefire glows with the blue glow of Cherenkov radiation. The center of the Duchy is a large balefire volcano that spews rivers of radioactive lava. Hideous formori wander the realm, the remnants of human captives chained in cages until the Balefire did its work, and they live only to serve Duke Kern. After seven years of service they become especially monstrous banes that Kerne sells to other Duchies. His Kastle sits embedded in the side of the volcano, and from foundation to ceiling is filled with veins of plutonium.
The Duchy of Sluge if a frigid realm filled with mountains of frost rimed debris and glaciers of frozen sewage. The largest glacier at the center of the realm is topped with Collum’s Castle, carved out of polluted ice. The castle consists of an endless array of winding tunnels inhabited by Banes that resemble many armed worms that can tunnel through the ice and attempt to devour all visitors not under Collum’s direct protection.
The Duchy of Toxin is a vast warm sea filled with multi-colored toxin, swiming with great and terrible aquatic banes and occasionally wyrmspawn from Gaia’s oceans, like giant Lamprey and mutated squid. Near the center of the realm is a huge Archipelago inhabited by lady Yul’s mutated brood. The largest island is a huge laboratory complex filled with her most deadly experiments.
Up next: Pentex