The desert port city of Maril has a dizzying number of assassin temples that train their monks in the arts of sabotage, poison, and esoteric anatomics. Taking in prospective students by kidnapping particularly healthy street urchins and accepting nobles’ newborn bastards that need to be out of the picture, these temples fulfill a crucial role in Marilian politics.
Either working for the temple or loaned out to noble houses as advisors and agents, these assassins are masters of the perfect accident and keep house squabbles civil and out of the streets. They also, in true Udish guild fashion, are responsible for regulating their own trade; hunting down criminal cutthroats not sanctioned and certified by guild law.
The following are the various accoutrements of temple assassins, some highly esoteric and others available on the black market.
A powder-fine glittery dark red neurotoxin which for a brief time was scarily common in Maril until authorities cracked down hard on it. It is still distressingly easy to produce, though the penalty for buying, selling, or possessing it is death. There are a thousand different ways to make it cheaply and easily, but proper alchemical equipment and skills are required to make the pure and side-effect free version described here. The cheaper versions are one percent the cost of what’s given below, but always have horrific random side-effects.
The primary ingredient in council red is vermillion salt creep, a common silica-based slime/mold in the lower ruins below Maril. It’s organic classification has alluded scholars for ages, but its existence is well known. Nothing about its nature is suggestive of what can be refined from it. It can be scraped and ground to be used as a savory spice, it has immense use as a structural preservation aid, and it can be a useful ingredient in healing alchemicals. Despite its uses, and much to the outrage of the guilds, cultivating VSC is in itself (regardless of intentions) now a crime due to its use for Council Red.
Through repeated acid washing, calcination, and distillation, finely milled VSC can be refined into Council Red. It has completely meshed itself into the seediest parts of Maril’s black markets, and determining the good stuff from the bad can be a daunting task (DC 23 alchemy check). Many cheap varieties have stabilized one of its possible side effects, and though these always have another horrific random side effect they are marketed for the stabilized effect being the primary, rather than what the properly refined stuff is capable of.
With the autonomy and grey area that assassin temples enjoy, they have been producing limited quantities of the stuff for their own use to great effect. As long as they can keep it under wraps, they haven’t committed a crime.
Council Red in its proper form must be ground to 10X fineness and must be somehow applied to a mucous membrane or directly to the bloodstream to have any effect. If mixed into other substances, it only has a percentage chance of working equal to the percentage of volume it makes up in the mixture. Victims of Council Red are unknowingly incapable of effectively using divination or detection effects, magical or mundane. They think their skills or magic are still functioning fine, but the detection always returns a random result. These random results become cemented once used on an area, item, or event. For example when using augury, they return a random result which remains consistent if used again.. Or when detecting magic or poison, they detect a random result on that area, which becomes the truth for them and is the same result if used again on the same target. There is no save against the primary or secondary effects of Council Red.
Nasty little piece of work, this. It’s a hollowed-out stiletto dagger with a long, thin coil of copper wire inside that alchemically responds to moisture. Upon plunging the blade into a victim, the alchemical coating on the coil responds to the moisture and springs out, elongating and whipping about from the pressure of expanding out of such a tight space. The alchemical coating for the metal is used commonly among desert cities and nomads as a critical part of humor pumps for the collection of moisture, so it’s surprisingly affordable to have a replacement coil produced, though the smithing involved in making the dagger itself is a mite pricey.
The weapon deals damage as a dagger, but if the blade actually makes its way into the victim, it deals the internal bleeding wound. Internal bleeding has a 15% (minus a CON roll) chance every hour of killing the creature. This chance goes up by 1% every hour. Proper healing (not just restoration of HP) is required to heal a wound. A Fyxian spoke fully prepared with a coil costs a hundred times the normal price of a dagger, and a replacement coil is ten times the cost of a decent pint of beer.
This colorless and tasteless extract is now the base for many official temple poisons and drugs. It is carefully massaged out of an immuno-gland in a particular breed of cuttlefish that the temples have cultivated in their subterranean blue gardens over the past several decades. When the species was found almost 60 years ago in Maril’s Bay, dozens of specimens were collected and the rest exterminated. The temples have contacts in various academic institutions that eliminate any new members of the species found in the wild.
This new breed has been cultivated to enhance the size and productiveness of this unique gland and are fed special fatty oils which aid in the specimen’s libido. Every generation of new cuttlefish, the bottom two thirds of cuttlefish with the smallest or least productive glands are removed from the population before they can breed.
Obtaining the extract is a careful process involving the paralysis of the cuttlefish, cutting it open just large enough to fit two fingers in, perforating the gland with hair-thin needles, and manually massaging the gland while wicking off barely visible droplets. The cuttlefish is then closed up with an adhesive and returned to its pool in the blue gardens. A given specimen can be “milked” like this starting a couple months after birth and can be milked once every six weeks, each time producing between 10 and 12 microliters. The extract can then be refined to eliminate spoilage, which reduces its volume by 20% and involves a precisely measured fat washing by temple alchemists.
Nishox aids in the absorption of a substance into an organism. If a drop is added per ounce to a poison, drug, or any other substance which requires a saving throw, the DC for the saving throw is increased by 3. If a milliliter is added, the substance becomes absorbable by touch and no saving throw may be attempted. This substance is tightly controlled and almost never found outside of official channels, but if one does find a contact who can supply it they can expect to endure a heavy vetting process and to pay with a diamond that is flawless, round, perfectly cut, and at least one grain (just shy of one third of a carat) in weight per drop. An unauthorized owner of Nishox is at great risk of getting a nasty visit that they will not see coming.