Flesh Warps

The work of author H. P. Lovecraft—the so-called “Cthulhu mythos”—has been a cornerstone of RPG storytelling since E. Gary Gygax immortalized its influence in his “Inspirational and Educational Reading” list. Taking its name from Lovecraft’s famous story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” the mythos has become the backdrop for a subgenre of fiction sometimes called cosmic horror.

At the foundation of cosmic horror are two ideas: that the human mind is too tiny and weak to comprehend more than the barest glimmer of the vastness of the universe and the alien mysteries it contains; and that among those mysteries are entities so ancient, powerful, and malevolent that they could extinguish Earth’s insignificant civilization without caring or even noticing.

With that in mind, this section explores those “hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars” that Lovecraft and his contemporaries pioneered in their strange fiction. Herein you will find a host of forbidden secrets and eldritch lore; a clandestine sort of magic that is full of both cosmic potential and horrific consequences, and knowledge of which erodes the sanity of all who pursue it.

Flesh Warps
d10 Effect (Lasts Until Cured)
1 Barbed Hide. Spiny barbs protrude from the creature’s skin. Any creature grappling the affected creature takes 2d4 piercing damage at the start of its turn. The affected creature experiences constant pain while wearing armor or heavy clothing, giving it disadvantage on Dexterity checks made under those conditions. The creature has disadvantage on Deception and Persuasion checks unless the barbs are hidden from sight (which might require covering the creature’s face, at the GM’s discretion).
2 Eyeless. The creature’s eyes rot away, vanish (leaving behind smooth flesh), or otherwise become useless. The creature permanently gains the blinded condition. This condition can’t be removed without curing this flesh warp. The creature’s other senses are enhanced by the Void, granting it blindsight out to a range of 10 feet as long as the creature can hear.
3 Gleaming Skin. The creature’s skin takes on a waxy, unnatural sheen. It might be pale, translucent, or even crystalline in appearance. The gleam grants other creatures advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks made to locate the creature by sight. If the creature is in bright light when it is the target of a melee attack, it can use its reaction to add 1 to its Armor Class if the attacker can see its skin.
4 Pliant Bones. The creature’s skeleton becomes cartilaginous and pliable. The creature can move through a space as narrow as 6 inches wide without squeezing (provided the creature isn’t wearing rigid armor), and the creature’s Strength is reduced by 2.
5 Prehensile Tail. The creature grows a 3-foot-long prehensile tail. The creature can use the tail to make one melee weapon attack with a simple weapon weighing 2 pounds or less, or to make one unarmed strike that deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1d4 + the creature’s Strength modifier. The creature has disadvantage on Acrobatics checks.
6 Proboscis. The creature’s mouth mutates into a long, tubular organ like the maw of a mosquito, moth, or worm. The creature loses the ability to speak and has disadvantage on Deception and Persuasion checks unless the proboscis is hidden from sight. The creature can use the proboscis to make a blood-draining melee weapon attack. The attack roll can be made using Strength or Dexterity; a hit deals piercing damage equal to 1d4 + the creature’s Strength modifier, and the creature becomes attached to the target. While attached, the creature can’t attack but deals the attack’s damage automatically to the creature it is attached to. The creature can detach by spending 5 feet of movement. The creature being attacked or one of its allies within 5 feet of it can free the creature from the proboscis automatically by using an action to do so.
7 Sentient Tumors. Large cystic tumors sprout from the creature’s shoulder, arm, or back. These growths are sentient and emit a weak psychic field. The character’s mind cannot be read telepathically or affected by divination spells. If the character takes psychic damage, however, he or she must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or suffer the effects of a confusion spell for 1 minute. The character also has disadvantage on Deception and Persuasion checks unless the tumors are hidden from sight.
8 Stench. The creature exudes the stink of rotting flesh, acrid chemicals, sickly sweet perfume, or some other odious aroma. Any other creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the affected creature must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the start of the creature’s next turn. This stink clings to any objects that remain in the creature’s possession for at least 24 hours. Attempting to sell any such object might be impossible, or yields only half the normal price at best. Food in the creature’s possession spoils after 24 hours.
9 Tentacles. One of the creature’s hands twists into a nest of writhing tentacles. Any check or saving throw the creature makes to maintain a grip or a grapple is made with advantage. Any check or saving throw it makes involving fine motor control or Dexterity is made with disadvantage.
10 Tusks. The creature’s incisors grow into enormous, curved and discolored tusks like those of a boar or a warthog. The creature has difficulty speaking and must make a successful DC 12 Dexterity check to cast a spell that has a verbal component.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Deep Magic for 5th Edition © 2020 Open Design LLC; Authors: Dan Dillon, Chris Harris, and Jeff Lee.

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