The Warped Wood

March 22, 2019

The Whole Block are Seize the GM Stat blocks built to fit snuggly into certain genres. Instead of providing a single idea in the form of a person, place, or thing, they’ll provide a series of related items to help add the block into an existing campaign.

The Warped Wood
Sci-fi, Horror, and Dark Fantasy
Disease is a trope adds several dark story elements when used in games; body horror, loss of loved ones, and a general breakdown of social constructs just to name a few. When the plague is unnatural it’s resistant to normal cures and treatments and leads to unnatural horrors like zombies, the spawning of monsters, or the extreme eradication of entire population hubs.
When a new plague comes to town, seeking the aid of someone familiar with the disease might lead to a cure for a ravaged community. Or it might mean their demise.
The Bark Plague
Concept, Antagonist
It starts with an itch. Under the skin, typically around lymph nodes or fatty deposits. The skin swells and reddens when touched. Then the sprouts start. Mostly in the hair, the nails, anyplace where keratin naturally occurs in the body. It’s only when they become painful that a victim realizes something is wrong. The taste buds go next. Everything starts to taste oily, waxy, like the texture of a thick magnolia leaf. The victim starts to smell flowery, and those with allergies with find themselves reacting to the victim’s presence. At this point, the plague is spreading, and the real symptoms start to move in.
The skin tears open. Hard keratinous scales cover the limbs and stretches over the core. They look like wood and small twigs and stems sprout from them like a sapling branching out. The urge to be outside in the sun grows, but it is not all consuming. No, another hunger starts to spread within the bark boned. Their digestion system fails, but they still seek food. Bloodied soil draws them in, be it the blood of beasts or blood from those not yet succumbed to the plague, any soil that has been stained red will keep a bark boned captivated for hours until it has had its fill.
Bark Boned move with jerky movements the deeper into the plague they go. Eventually they move sluggishly slow as their skin converts to a hardened wood like armor. In time, they will eventually root themselves, and become trees of flesh and keratin. These blood trees no longer assault the living, but instead emit an odor like blood that draws less infested bark boned to them. Once in range, the trees will break the spine of these creatures, and consume them to strengthen their own growth. In time the trees begin to blossom, and fleshy beasts begin to spawn from the fruit on its branches.
Fitting the Bark Plague In
The Bark Plague is a nasty disease that can overwhelm an area given time. It’s best to draw out the disease by intermingling it with the introduction of spring into a campaign. Fresh flowery smells and the growth of nature can serve as a nice introduction to the horror that is to come. Once the disease has reached the tree stage it’s nearly impossible to hide what’s happening. And then the strange creatures begin to spawn from their branches, it’s too late to save a community.
The disease spreads from victims in the earliest and treatable stage of the disease. Bark Boned and Blood trees are not infectious. The beasts that spawn from the blood trees, however, are constantly spreading spores of infestation. Those infected with these spores turn faster than those infested by an early stage victim.
Patrik Wehnert
The belief of doing what must be done for survival can be taken to extremes, and the alchemist Patrik Wehnert lives by that mantra. Plague has taken from him family, friends, allies, and his birthplace. He has seen the bark boned, the blood trees, and the beasts that dwell in those darkened woods. And he has learned to treat it. His ways vary from kind and loving to brutal. Those in the earliest form of the disease he can cure almost instantly, as well as providing a plague mask that allows the uninfected to resist even the worst spores of the plagues. But to those beyond the first steps, he holds no mercy. He rips and tears, dissects, and sources all of the components he needs to resist the plague from those who are its victims.
Wehnert is a small man, but bulky and fast. He wears ashen and brown colors and perfumes himself with strong flowery notes. His face is oily, and his hair is sticky with sap and sometimes blood. He calls no dwelling home although he’ll setup labs within abandoned basements and hidden cisterns under cities. He’ll always have his tools handy be they guns, knives, or other accoutrements of his twisted craft.
The man will not trust those who have not proven themselves to have the gall to handle the worst necessities of treating the plague. If he finds those who can stomach what must be done, he is a dangerous ally to keep, but a powerful one. He will not turn his back to others, even those he trusts. Within combat he is like a man possessed, and is skills at taking down the worst of the beasts the warped wood produces.
Fitting Patrik Wehnert In
Patrik Wehnert will appear after any plague outbursts have been reported. He comes to rid the land of the plague, not to save those who are its victims. He is brutal and direct, and is not afraid to hurt and maim those who might halt his progress. If he is an ally it is only because the party’s interests align with his own, and no other allegiance should be expected. He will teach others the way of curing the plague, but only if they have proven they can commit to his level of brutality. Patrik has some medical knowledge besides the treatment of the plague, but very little is practical besides from an academic point of view. He knows not the ways of medicines or curing other diseases except those that work similar to the plague he comes to fight.
He can be used in any campaign with a particular nasty plague that can be fought in some manner. Be it the black plague, a zombie infestation, or some sort of super natural or sci-fi disease, he can be molded to fit the slot of a zealot in curing the infestation. His knowledge will often seem twisted and corrupted, and earning his wisdom will come with a gruesome price.
Dryad’s Curse
It’s a thick chuck of oak but stained a dark red. The smell that comes off it is like deep rich mud, and it feels soft and mailable but resists heavy blows against rock and iron. When held, it gives the wielder a sense of purpose, a desire to protect and shield the wilds around them. And it forces this belief on them as roots start to burrow from it into its wielder’s skin.
The Dryad’s Curse is a gift and a punishment. It grants its wielder the ability to repair damaged tissue on all life, plant or animal. But repaired tissue becomes plant matter. Nails and hair become bark-like, skin becomes stalks of chlorophyll. The flesh is repaired but it is forever changed.
Fitting Dryad’s Curse In
The curse is a tool of woodland creatures to restore their lands. In magical games it is a gift and curse from a nature goddess. In science fiction, it represents nanotech released without consideration of its consequences. It does heal injuries, it does save those who are dying. But it changes them into something they’re not.
The curse is meant to restore injuries. It is not meant to cure disease. Diseases treated by the Dryad’s Curse change into something far worse, becoming something able to infect both beast and plant. Something that causes plants to gain aspects of the creatures that once feed on them.
Using the Warpped Wood
The Whole Block
The trio of entries serve as a foundation to a dangerous encounter for any party. The plague stars slow and becoming a rapidly spreading nightmare if it is allowed to reach its final fruit bearing stages. Worse, the plague is extremely contagious when it hasn’t even been diagnosed yet and carriers will be amongst those treating and dealing with the first victims. Patrik Wehnert makes for a good introduction to understanding what the plague is after exposing bark boned to a party, and having him show up to kill one should give them confidence in being able to put the monsters down.
Most parties will find just the plague and Patrik, but those who delve deeper into the mysteries will find that the source of the disease comes from something intended to be helpful. The Dryad’s Curse was meant to be a gift to the healer’s arts, but when the chirugin treated their own sickness they converted the first signs of plague into the sire of the bark plague. The Dryad’s Curse is still melded to their hands although by the time the party finds them, the first victim should be a blood tree.

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