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Fleshgine

Fleshgines are constructs of flesh combined with other materials designed for a specific purpose. They might pump water from a city’s reservoirs into rooftop cisterns to supply the inhabitants with running water, or they may lift or pull — anything a humanoid body can do. But fleshgines are built to improve upon a humanoid’s ability through modification and vast strength. While they are not uncommon, they often operate out of sight; their disturbing appearance being something the civilized locals choose not to acknowledge. They can be heard though — their steady stormy breathing, the asthmatic wheeze behind a grate, the slithering of flaccid limbs between floors. They also have a strong odor — a sort of organic sweatiness that can smell of the many other odors from the things they work in and around, which they absorb and amplify.

Fleshgines come in all shapes and sizes, and while no two are ever alike, they often fall into a set pattern. Each is very strong, and many — an uncannily large number — are weakly sentient creatures in their own right. Different fleshgines tend to have different abilities; some are simple brutes that occasionally go mad, some are more cunning, lurking and growing behind plaster and wainscoting and brooding their dark, strange dreams and wants.

All fleshgines have the trait Berserk Every time a fleshgine is injured in combat, roll d100. If the result is less than or equal to the total number of hit points the fleshgine has lost so far in this combat, its elemental spirit breaks free and the fleshgine goes berserk. The berserk fleshgine attacks the nearest living creature; if no creature is close enough for the fleshgine to attack with a single move, it attacks an object instead. The fleshgine’s controller can try to reestablish control, provided the fleshgine is within 60 feet. The controller must use an action to speak firmly and authoritatively to the construct and make a successful DC 15 Charisma check. A damaged fleshgine that spends at least 1 minute outside combat has its chance to go berserk reset to 0 percent.

Sentient Fleshgines. While most fleshgines are simple, mindless servitors made of flesh stitched and grown to inorganic parts and contraptions, some grow into something altogether different. Sentient fleshgines take on aspects of their humanoid neighbors that seep in from their close proximity on a daily basis. These aspects include tics, habits, language, and even some of their vices. These creatures are often bloated by the desires and madness of Between and become enraptured by it, seeking new directions and becoming fixated in disturbing ways. These constructs often form complex alliances with those who dwell behind the veneer of the Blight, particularly with the ghouls of the Fetch (who have enough inert humanity to understand and fear the construct). Some say the thoughts of the Crooked Promethean violate their dreams and awaken them; others say that it is a simple accident of nature. These sentient constructs lurk in plain sight and are driven by whatever twisted needs or goals have grown within their warped consciousness.

As more complex fleshgines are grafted from darker sources of flesh and bone, so too the risk of disaster becomes greater. Philosophers within the city-state already worry what fleshgines might do if they rebelled en masse. They point to the curious whale-song that occasionally haunts certain nights, and which seems to come from the fleshgines calling to each other across the city. What are they saying or planning, they wonder? The golem-stitchers and homuncule wives laugh at such suggestions; their creations are simple flesh-and-blood machines after all. What maliciousness could possibly lurk within this humble framework?

All sentient fleshgines that have gone berserk at least once in the past develop an urge toward murderous abduction called “take” or “taking.” Occasionally the fleshgine’s habits and needs drive it to seize a victim at least one size category smaller than the fleshgine. The fleshgine is always cunning in this action and manipulates its manifold parts and surroundings to camouflage its action. If the fleshgine’s Stealth check beats the victim’s passive Perception, the victim doesn’t see the attack coming and the fleshgine gets to make a grappling attack with advantage. If the victim notices the attack coming, then it’s just a normal attack by the fleshgine. While the victim is grappled by the fleshgine, it’s also restrained, muffled (unable to cry out or speak), and suffocating. After a number of rounds equal to its Con modifier (minimum of 1), it becomes unconscious. At that point, the fleshgine hides the victim in some convenient location around or within its body. The victim remains unconscious until it dies or it’s rescued.

Casual observers notice the hidden victim if their passive Perception exceeds (10 + the fleshgine’s Stealth bonus). Anyone specifically looking for a victim taken by the fleshgine must win a contest of their Perception against the fleshgine’s Stealth or Deception (fleshgine’s choice). A taken victim is found automatically if the fleshgine is destroyed, but also might be injured, depending on the type of attacks used against the fleshgine and the size difference between them; GMs can apply their own judgment in these cases.

If a victim escapes the fleshgine’s grapple, the fleshgine might attack or flee, depending on the situation.

A taken victim takes damage equal to any one of the fleshgine’s melee attacks after every 24 hours. The taken victims are used to vent the leeched needs of the fleshgine — whether they be simple hunger, torment, or sexual — before their dead and broken remains are cast away.

A sentient fleshgine is always torn between its urges to seize a victim and the knowledge that discovery means certain punishment and death. It therefore carefully watches its chosen victim, often for weeks or months before striking.

The following entries describe three sample types of fleshgines. Many more are possible.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Tome of Blighted Horrors, © 2016, Frog God Games, LLC; Authors John Ling, Authors Richard Pett, Pete Pollard, Alistair Rigg, Jeffrey Swank, and Greg A. Vaughan.

Additional Credit Author Richard Pett.