First Edition AD&D
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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!



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