Wednesday, May 19, 2021

On Assassins, Geckos, and Leprosy

My very bad and scribbly attempts at drawing examples of Eggsmen in their cloaks, hats, and masks.

The city of Humakuyun is home to the headquarters of the Order of the Egg, the most extensive such organization in the whole of the Enlightened Empire. They are sanctioned murderers, a clan of criminals given a wide berth here in the east. The only person they fear is the Kanarang; not even the King of Kings himself scares them. They make themselves identifiable with tall flat-topped hats and wear masks that hide their true identities. They give themselves new names, for their old names are forfeit when they take their first blood.
An oviraptor, the symbol of the Eggsmen

The Eggsmen have a crest in the form of a oviraptor clutching to a clutch of cracked eggs. They were founded centuries ago as a raptorial clan in the realms of the ancient Dinosaur Kings, granted official license to keep rival family lines in check and regulate the law of death by bringing all assassination into one association. Only their clan could kill with impunity; the only other given that right were the armies of the Dinosaur Kings themselves. When the Conquering King marched his armies into the northern valleys, the raptor assassin clan saw the writing on the wall and betrayed their lords. The Eggsmen sent messengers with missives to kill the Conquering King back to their senders, their eyes torn from their sockets.

In the generations since, the clan has become a secret society, one that accepts initiates of all peoples and nations. Its saurian leadership has receded into the secretive depths of its most exclusive circles, while its network has expanded to reach far north, south, and east. The Enlightened Empire, otherwise opposed to such criminal networks, has allowed the Eggsmen to continue to operate solely because of their reach, influence, and... usefulness.

It is rumored that the patriarch of the Eggsmen is still a dinosaur, wrapped up tight in linens and silks, their sharp-toothed snout peeking out from behind the curtains that only the grandest of guests or the deepest of initiates get to see.

The assassins of the west resent the Eggsmen for having state sanction and for their influence. It is not uncommon for western assassins to try and steal Egg secrets for their own gain, or try to take out high-ranking Eggsmen... the reach of the westerners is fleeting and clamoring, however.

Source: Iguanamouth, A Book of Creatures

A favored weapon of the assassins is the humble gecko. Geckos, especially the ones from the shores of the southern seas, spread leprosy. Their wrinkly skin festers with disease, and reminds fearful hearts of the melting of their own skin. The assassin releases the lizard into their target's chambers, and leaves it to fate. It is a slow and painful death, but one that gives the assassin many options. They can kill the target while they are at their weakest, leave them to fester alone, or push for their exile to a leper colony across the mountains. A social death is still a death, after all.

Coming into physical contact with a transmitter of leprosy prompts a save vs. disease (poison). You must make this save for every potential vector if in contact with multiple (for instance, multiple geckos). On a failed save, you have contracted the disease. It takes 1d4 weeks to begin to show effects; after that amount of time, you take 1d2 points of damage to CHA and CON per week, and -1 to save vs disease/poison per week. You are also able to transmit the disease yourself. Cure disease only cures one week of leprosy; it takes serious intervention to heal the disease.

(Hex 19,15)
Terrain: Rocky arid wasteland in a wide valley between looming mountain peaks.
Main Feature: A quarantined leper colony, connected to the satrapy to the north by only a few isolated mountain paths. Its ostensible head is a long gone leprous priest named Zurva Baba, his tattered robes eroded down by desert wind. They have small gardens on the edge of the isolated oasis they cling to.
East: Camel graveyard. Home of a desert hermit who despises the leper colony nearby. Haunted by disembodied screeching at night.

(Hex 15,10)
Terrain: A hilly and rugged land coated in a consistent covering of deciduous trees.
Main Feature: An abandoned village, only recently depopulated by disease. Its houses still stand, empty and forlorn. It is crawling with geckos, coating just about every surface. The statue of the goddess of the morning star that sits in the town's shrine has an angry look about it, deprived of sacrifices for several months.

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