By Mark O'Reilly.
Sometime ago, a story thread was needed that would create an awfully large amount
of death and misery. This set my devious little brain into overdrive and I soon
concocted the mythology surrounding a most dangerous substance called "Mythralgrain".
Our current gaming, Teigus, was magically created several millions of years ago.
This gave the planet enough time to develop the rich diversity of life that is
required for a challenging gaming world.
Unfortunately, the magic that created the planet is also responsible for the creation
of Mythralgrain. It is a common misunderstanding that this vile and dangerous
liquid shares some properties with the metal called Mithral. It's name does not
derive from Mithral, rather from Myth (as in it was always rumored that this material
existed, but never found) and Grain (the myth states that this substance would
be found very deep oozing from the grain of the rock).
So what is Mythralgrain?
Mythralgrain can be a very potent poison, capable
of killing virtually anything in seconds. [DM's note: This poison is so powerful
I would recommend that it is only heard of and never seen.]
It only effects
creatures that have a body that relies on internal
organs to live, such as humans, elves, dogs, cats,
cows, dragons, whales etc.
Mythralgrain in it's natural form is a rather foul looking, lime green, viscous
liquid with a oily-sheen over the surface. It's boiling point is about 90 degrees
Celsius. It omits no odor. It is very soluble in water. If a Detect Poison is
cast, Mythralgrain will not be detected as in it's natural state Mythralgrain
is not dangerous (read further for more details about this). Once Mythralgrain
comes into contact with the victim (via any form - gas, liquid etc.) is is quickly
distributed throughout the body using the normal blood flow as a vehicle. Mythralgrain
does not flush out of the body for about 50 years, if soil is polluted with Mythralgrain
any vegetation will continue to grow quite happily, but the flesh, fruit and leaves
of the plants hold sufficient quantities to kill. Mythralgrain will seep back
down into the planet in about 300 years. After this amount of time, the land is
clean. If any magic is used to destroy Mythralgrain it reacts spectacularly, causing
it to turn into gaseous form. The magic will only enable it to spread over vast
areas of land.
OK. So how does Mythralgrain become dangerous?
Mythralgrain on it's own is not dangerous, hence it can not be detected. But when it comes
in contact with adrenaline (at a certain level) it causes an unstoppable chemical
reaction that effectively 'liquidises' the insides of the victim. There is no
save against this. This process causes an unthinkable amount of pain which unfortunately
(for the victim) lasts for 10 segments. The reaction with adrenaline forms an enzyme compound. This compound lyses the
cell walls of living beings, acting upon the proteins and phospholipids that make
up this delicate membrane. Any cell attacked by the enzyme is rapidly degraded
causing it to rupture and spill its contents into the surrounding tissues. Once
the enzyme has reacted with the cell wall the adrenalin and lysed products combine
into a viscous gell. The Mythralgrain is released from the enzyme complex at this
point and is thus reactivated in its pure form, this self replenishment allows
further attack. In this way a tiny amount of Mythralgrain can rapidly kill a living
being. Death is a
sweet release from the effects of Mythralgrain. The level of adrenaline required
to set off the reaction would be the same as when mild panic sets in. After the death
of the creature, the Mythralgrain oozes from the skin of the body, into whatever
it is in contact with at the time. It may seep into the soil or into the arms
of a loved one.
How do you create Mythralgrain?
You can't create true Mythralgrain,
but the god Dietrik created a spell called 'Create Mythralgrain' that would recreate
the effects, but not the material. Even Dietrik couldn't do that! Mythralgrain
is created at the point where the outercrust comes close to the outer mantel of
the planet. It is here that the oldest magically created material 'rots'. This
'decaying' rock is replaced by the magical enchantments on the planet. Only a
thimble full of Mythralgrain is created every one hundred thousand years. How
much Mythralgrain is required to kill one person? Just contact with a drop is
enough to kill a normal size human. But DM's should note that the Mythralgrain
seeps from the body afterwards. So with that in mind, a small tankard could be
enough to kill the occupants of a very large city if Mythralgrain is not suspected
as the culprit.
Who uses Mythralgrain?
Mythralgrain is only known by the
oldest members of deep earth dwellers, where apparently small lakes of this evil
liquid lie. Most deep earth dwellers respect the absolute devastation that could
be inflicted with the use of Mythralgrain so do not share the knowledge with the
untrusted. The knowledge is normally shared with tribe leaders of racial elders.
But there could always be the chance of a small bottle being captured or discovered...
Perhaps the adventurers that find the bottle could mistake it for a potion of
healing ..? Oh the roleplay possibilities!
An example of the use of Mythralgrain.
Let's say that a nasty individual manages to get hold of a small quality of Mythralgrain
and he wants to worship his evil and powerful god by being responsible for an
unbelievable amount of death and pain. He first empties the Mythralgrain into
the village pool, where the water is collected for washing, cooking and drinking.
He waits for about three or four days. Enough time to let the villagefolk to become
'infected'. A quick abduction of a child would cause the panic of it's mother.
This causing the 'liquidise' effect, this would bestow panic into those that observed
it and soon the whole village would be a pool of liquid flesh. Those that (for
some reason) survived, perhaps they have been away from the village for some time,
would return - discover the awful carnage and leave to get help. But before they
leave, they fill their waterskins up at the pool first.... I hope that this material
can be of use to other DM's, my players still quake when they think of Mythralgrain!