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Tomes of Mad Science

The following notorious texts contain some of the mysterious and dreadful secrets of mutation and mad science.

These books may be unique or there may be multiple copies of each, and they may be found in the collections of rich dilettantes and dabblers or kept as the sacred scrolls of secret societies. If taken, these organizations may stop at nothing to recover them and silence those who would spread their hidden and awful truths to the uninitiated or unworthy.

“Regarding the Clockwork of Capillaries – Collected & Annotated Notes On Engines of Sinew, Bone, and Nerve”

This odd medical treatise explores the raw, rude mechanics of the humanoid body from a purely hypothetical, inhumanly emotionless perspective and includes a multitude of truly shocking diagrams, illustrations and charts. Individual chapters are accumulated from a variety of banned and heretical works on vivisection, extreme pain tolerance and amputation studies, the limitations of physical recovery from shock-trauma and exploratory, invasive experiments on extended families for purposes of “codifying the pure template of man.” Several variations of the book exist with each editor revising it and adding their own awful annotations, sometimes redacting the more restrained experiments of their predecessors in favor of their own more ambitious (and more horrific) chirurgical blasphemies.

Appearance. Bound in worn yet pliable and moisture-resistant hide, these rare tomes are typically blood-spattered as their users often consult with the grimoires at close proximity to the subjects and objects of their experiments.

The pages are bound with gut and glue, interspersed with numerous tabs and colored marking ribbons. In addition to bound parchment the book is stuffed with unnumbered, ring-mounted loose-leaf pages, scrawled marginal notes, and step-by-step instructional diagrams with tiny preserved tissue samples mounted on packets or slides. The whole volume is copiously spattered with blood, unidentifiable visceral fluids, and alchemical reagents.

Reading. The reader of this tome develops an all-consuming obsession with blood, vital organs, and observing anatomical bodies flayed open. Whenever a living creature adjacent to the reader suffers a critical hit from a weapon that deals piercing or slashing damage, the reader becomes stunned for 1 round (DC 16 Wisdom saving throw negates) as they observe the flow of blood. Consuming too much knowledge from this grimoire causes a reader to become deranged; each week a creature reads from the pages of this book, they must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw (DC 5 + 5 for every 1d4 pages read) or risk developing a multiple personality disorder. On a failure, a cold, calculating, and cruelly clinical Lawful Evil version of the character takes root in the reader’s psyche and each time they finish a long rest, there is a cumulative chance the alternate personality is in control until the next long rest (roll 1d20 after the first day and on a 1 the alternate personality takes control, on the second day of uninterrupted control roll 1d20 and on a 1 or 2 the alternate personality takes control, and so on).

Benefits. Once a creature has read 10 or more pages of any edition of this work, they gain a +2 bonus on all ability checks made to use the Medicine skill to treat deadly wounds. If the creature has the book open and available when making a Medicine check, they gain advantage on the check. The reader also gains a +2 bonus on checks made to produce medicinal alchemical items.

The tome contains the methods for all of the chirurgical procedures and the formulae for creating a number of constructs (including cranial dissectibots, flesh golems, and as many other mechanical horrors as the GM deems fit).

“Omnia Mutandis”

This text, penned over the course of five generations of the Morrodox family, reflects a simple ethos: All things must change. The book is the compiled record of a family tradition of study and experimentation into the manipulation of bloodlines. Rooted originally in the simple hybridization of plants and husbandry of animals, the early research-driven genetic principles of Nathaniel Morrodox were taken by his son Arnim and especially his grandson Essex into their application to higher life-forms, including humans and their kin. Essex became obsessed with the idea of manipulating the breeding lines to perfect the humanoid races, culling impurities and reinforcing the strongest bloodlines with the greatest potential for advancement and power.

Not content to simply breed the best, he experimented with the use of magical and alchemical reagents to forcibly jumpstart evolutionary (and sometimes devolutionary) responses latent in the genome. Essex’s daughter, Zola, became his rapt disciple, even volunteering her own womb as the creche for Essex’s experiments. They carefully selected the most refined male specimens they could find, taking their seed and tainting Zola’s developing brood with alchemical solutions, rare metallic suspensions and tinctures from the deep places of the earth, and the star-flung residuum fallen from deep space. Her two eldest offspring, Edgar and Herbert, were both born hideously deformed and survived only a few years each, but in her third child, a girl she named Wyndam, she saw perfection. Beautiful, strong, and brilliant at an early age, Wyndam seemed an early validation of the evolutionary theories of her mother and grandfather.

However, the rigors of experimentation took a terrible toll upon Zola’s body and mind, and it was not long before little Wyndam became Essex Morrodox’s new favored pupil.

Zola became their new Patient Zero, living out a tormented existence as her father and daughter studied their erstwhile kin bit by excruciating bit, leaving Zola partially vivisected yet clinging to a tormented half-life for years on end as they explored the aftereffects their many experiments had worked upon Zola’s genetic structure. Essex and Wyndam used these insights to forge an entirely new race of bestial mutates, crafting horrific hybrids to serve them as laborers and soldiers.

Wyndam cultivated and cloned her mother’s corrupted and diseased tissues, forever searching for new branching germ lines to weave together her twisted experiments, guided by her grandfather’s ever-closer guidance. Together they mastered the science of achieving stable, controllable, and even heritable mutations.

In time, the two of them shared their own genetic material, further perverting the grotesque mockery of family they had already become. However, though Essex thought himself the guiding partner in their affairs both scientific and salacious, Wyndam’s foresight and cruelty were more precocious than he had guessed. After taking what she wanted from her grandsire, the clever coquette arranged an “accident” that left him crippled and helpless. Wyndam then smugly saw to it that her grandfather suffered the same fate as her own mother, leaving herself the sole repository of the family’s line and wisdom. Aided by her mutate servants she began growing her own replacements, mutated and (to her deviant mind) perfected clone versions of herself, infused with her grandfather’s essence. Little did she realize however that her grandfather had not taught her all his secrets; having mastered the arts of cloning before Wyndam was born, Essex had prepared multiple clones of himself, and he had subtly tampered with the formulae in Wyndam’s notes, causing her clones to devolve horribly and run amok, while the risen clone of Essex absconded with his captive granddaughter. Wyndam has never been seen since and her final fate is unknown and unrecorded in the book.

What is known is that rampaging mutates and mutants destroyed the family homestead, putting the despicable laboratories that warped them to the torch before scattering to the four winds. Essex Morodox had long since planned to abandon the place for a more secret and secure hidden refuge, having assembled a duplicate laboratory and library there. He did not find Omnia Mutandis amidst the wreckage of the family manse, but having already transcribed the data and theories contained therein he considered the book itself little more than a family heirloom, a workbook and history rather than an essential text. Considering himself to have evolved beyond base sentimentality, he cared little whether it was destroyed or simply lost. In spite of his disinterest, the fact that numerous owners of Omnia Mutandis have gone mad or simply disappeared gives rise to unfounded rumors that the sinister patriarch of the Morodox may yet hunt for his family’s legacy. Sooner or later however, the book always appears again in the hands of an academic with more ambition than restraint, and the horrors contained within spill out once more into the world. The following paragraph should be deleted in the compilation, but not in the independent product.

Appearance. Omnia Mutandis is a hefty tome with covers of acid-washed non-reactive alloy, with a spine crafted–as a grotesque joke–from the spine of a mutated humanoid of short stature. Several discs of burnished metal and polished crystal are embossed onto the book’s cover, core sections of rare elements whose now spent emanations fueled the mutagenic experiments of the book’s creators. Strange tendinous membranes stretch from the spine of the book across its covers and into its pages. When stimulated with heat, electricity, or sonic vibration these tissues can be incited to expand or contract with some precision, allowing it to be held open or propped in a variety of positions, or even suspended from the black tendons as they are deformed into hooks and hoops. The text within is a madcap amalgam of different branches of research, and the script within is no different. The Morrodox handwriting ranges from decorative to simple, with impatient scrawls alongside elegant and refined penwork, clearly the product of multiple authors and with annotations throughout forward and backwards.

On nearly every page is a stain of some sort; the most benign might simply be blood, the others too terrible to contemplate.

Reading. Reading Omnia Mutandis is sometimes a bewildering exercise in synergizing the higher functions of alchemical metacalculus interwoven with the connecting strands of magic. In order to learn or copy any of the spells contained within this tome, the reader must succeed on an Intelligence check (DC 8 + spell level). In addition, each week a creature reads from the pages of this book, they must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw (DC 5 + 1 for every previous reading) or develop a form of insanity chosen by the GM.

In addition to the mind-rending effects of studying this tome, the residual alchemical creations developed by the Morodox clan infuse the pages of the Omnia Mutandis.

Though present only in trace quantities, continued exposure to the book can lead to mutational complications for the reader. Each day spent studying the book forces the reader to make a Constitution saving throw (DC 5 + 1 for every previous reading). On a failure, the reader takes reduces one randomly determined ability score by 1d4-1 (minimum 1) and the saving throw DC resets to 5. If the reader ever rolls a natural 1 on this saving throw, they contract a permanent mutation from the mutation spell. As long as the reader has any form of insanity, they are unwilling to admit that handling the Omnia Mutandis is dangerous, unless they have reduced their ability scores by a total of 4 or more.

If the reader spends at least 24 hours studying the book, they gain advantage on Intelligence (Arcana) checks related to polymorph magic and spells, checks to notice that a creature is a shapechanger (whether it is transformed or not), and checks made using alchemists’ supplies.

Feats. Studying Omnia Mutandis for 24 hours allows the reader to select the Mutagenic Summons, Xenophilia, or Xenophobia feats whenever future feat slots are acquired, even if those feats are not generally available in the campaign.

Fleshcraft. Like Regarding the Clockwork of Capillaries – Collected & Annotated Notes on Engines of Sinew, Bone, and Nerve, the Omnia Mutandis contains the methods for all chirurgical procedures, though only those directly related to the working of flesh.

Spells. The Omnia Mutandis contains the following spells: alter self, blightcore meltdown, enlarge/reduce, fleshcurdle, genetic purification, mutagenic mist, mutagenic reversion, mutant plague, mutation, mutation (mass), one of us, polymorph, summon horde of flesh, summon mutants, unstable isotope.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Mutants and Mad Scientists (5E) © 2018, Legendary Games; Authors: Jason Nelson, Mike Myler, and Clinton J. Boomer.