Underworld Lore | D30 Unnatural Resources

Like in the title!

For inclusion in the Bandits & Highwaymen issue.

Name an otherworldly resource (eg. ethereal timber; red adamant; plucked fairy wings; etc.) and define its properties. Explain how it affects characters and/or environments. It must have some recognized value as a commodity within the game's economy. Rarity of the resource is up to you.

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  1. 1. Elf Tears. Exactly what it sounds like. They have two uses, both unsavory. First, they function as an aphrodisiac among demons. Second, they can be used to polish mirrors better than any other substance. (This second usage may sound trivial, but it is of utmost importance to certain types of scryers.) Relatively large amounts are needed (ounces) and so the systematic torture of elves becomes almost a requirement. In practice, elf tears are usually distilled own into a pale blue liquid, and sometimes sold under the the name of "scryer's water". Possession of elf tears is usually considered comparable to murder among elf societies, and claiming ignorance of its true nature is no defense.

    1. More sophistication methods of harvest include catheters or fistulation.

  2. 2. Toadstone. For reasons unknown to modern understanding, toads sometimes crawl inside the earth, where they are then discovered by miners. Some of these toads do not survive the journey, but are instead petrified. These are toadstones, and they are quite rare and exceptionally ugly, being an uneven admixture of both geologic and batrachian components. They are prized by witches (and some wizards). Freshly pulverized toadstone can aid in the summoning of more powerful familiars, and can influence certain magics dealing with disease.

  3. 3. Pickled Goblin.
    In some parts of the underworld, highly acidic minerals have leeched into goblin burial cairns, effectively pickling the goblin corpses. These rare specimens are highly sought after, as they make excellent light sources when burned. The unique minerals somehow preserve and transform the goblin corpse into a wax-like substance that can burn brighter than the light of six torches for hours on end. It is said a single pickled goblin finger was used to map the entire five levels of Solomon's Cave, including the underground reservoir.

    An entire pickled goblin once went for over 1,500gp at auction at Haversham Sons Auctioneers in Taverntoss. However, most dungeoneers consider it bad luck to remove a pickled goblin from its final resting place and settle for breaking off just enough to meet their needs.

  4. 4. Weep; also sold or sought as Calmour, or the Mind Billet. The restless essence of beings who perished while lost, abducted or otherwise disappeared; an unsettled semi-corporeal residue. Drawn to and coalesced by purity of spirit, forming a gentle, imperceptible cushion around a physical form, worth a save modifier equal to wisdom bonus to any who pass by even a quart. Most commonly met by lone travellers at peace in the wilderness, condensing as pillow and mattress for the weary frame, restoring an additional 1 HP per slumber. Often exploited commercially, skimmed from ascetics and transported as gallon reservoirs on the bodies of innocents kidnapped and driven like cattle; they too at death may add to the total reserve.

  5. 5. Driftstone.
    Found in rare caches within the underdark, usually near underground rivers which flood their banks in storm season and move massive amounts of rock. Driftstone is considered prime ammunition for slings and slingshots due to its nearly perfect spherical shape and aerodynamic properties. Shaped in the tumbling torrents of the underdark waterways, driftstone is heavier than normal shot but flies at twice or sometimes triple the speed and goes thrice the distance with the same effort expende. Additionally, driftstone is shatterproof; the stones will not break or crumble under even the most excessive force. The strange properties of these rocks has been the subject of many treatsies at alchemical colleges. It is said that driftstone is formed from the remains of a fabled magical mountain that was destroyed by an Elder God long ago, before the Cataclysm that shaped this world; others believe that it was the magical waters of the River Fey which enhanced the stone. Whatever the true origin may be, driftstone is highly sought after by expert slingers, who will pay top gold for even a small handful of the stones.

  6. Crumblestone - this porous mineral is used to make porous steel, called crumblesteel or tonesteel. This steel will break into shards if a certain note is played within 90 feet. It is used to equip enemies with faulty weapons or armor. Because of the rarity of the mineral and the necessary investement it is mostly used in gladiatorial games with high bedding, but there is talk of a tribe of orcs getting outfitted with this steel and subsequently getting destroyed by a gnomish clan. Crumblesteel weapons or armors cost five times the normal cost. A flute tuned with the right note to destroy the steel costs 25gp.

  7. Earthscrement - in the deepest dungeons of the underworld (or sometimes near the surface - no need to be overly dramatic), the earth itself oozes a sticky black gum. After it has had some time to dry it becomes clumpy and exudes a foul odor. It is often claimed this the presence of this substance indicates that demons dwell below or have visited. True or otherwise, lumps of the stuff can be used by a master smith to forge weapons that cause additional damage to truly evil creatures, doubly so to those that are of demonic origin. A more mundane use, though, is to carry a clump in an open basket. The scent will drive away most vermin and weak creatures. Of course, stinking to high heaven gaining surprise is unlikely.

  8. Cave Scream - in places where rocks and tunnels become small, the air currents pick up speed. In these places, a moss-like fungus will often grow in long strands. The effect is to create a high pitched keening (which is often the only actual "monster" in a cavern the locals prattle on about being haunted). If harvested when fully mature but just before it blooms, Cave Scream can be used as a spell component to enhance any spells with a sound component (usually a 5%-30% boost in intensity or duration). The dangers of harvesting cave scream is an infection - if it begins growing in a man's throat it will cause their voice to change pitch, gain a constant wheezing for a few days, then suffocate the poor fellow in his sleep.

  9. 9 Bottled Dusk - fairies sell this sleeping draught and spell component, that is made from satyr sweat and nymph's hair. If inbibed it leads to erotic dreams, and in this form it is highy addictive.
    A magic user can use a dose per casting to augment any spell that works with sleep or dreams to also incorperate erotic moments or augment them by erotic components. If a spell actually is about erotic dreams somehow, this dreamspell is doubled in potency.
    A dose costs from 50gp to as much as 200gp in prudish, prohibiting communities.

  10. 10. Fizzy Pebbles.
    Naturally occuring pea-size gravel composed mostly of calcium carbonate. When wet with wine or vinegar, they will bubble and fizz and melt away, letting off a slight noxious odor that grants a +1 to WIS for 1d4 hours per 5 pebbles--but this requires a special hookah-like instrument in order to get the full effect. Highly sought after by apprentice mages cramming for exams.

    11. Ambersilk.
    The fossilized remains of giant spider webs, usu. found in underground petrified forests. Pale yellow in natural light, they glow with green iridescence by torch light. Extremely rare and highly sought after for their curative power; when ground and inhaled, these grant 1d24 HP recovery per day. An even rarer find is ambersilk with fossilized prey trapped inside. It is said that one lucky adventurer once found a trove of ambersilk with the corpses of nine long-lost princes of the Corwinian bloodline trapped inside and received a handsome reward from the then-ruling king.

    12. Hag’s Curtain.
    Officially known as watermoss by most herbologists in the realms, this grey, stringy moss gets its nickname from its resemblance to a witches’ pubic hair. It grows chiefly near underground waterfalls close to volcanic fissures, and thus is fairly rare in the upper levels of the underdark. Hag’s curtain is primarily used as an ingredient in Mummy Tea and other potions used to ward off the greater undead. A poultice of hag’s curtain, fizzy pebbles, and red wine is widely known to halt the spread of gangrene, and in some cases may cure it altogether.

  11. 13. Chicken Salamander
    Often found in underground lakes and streams, the chicken salamander resembles a small, slimy, plucked chicken with a long, prehensile tail; they are about the size of a human hand. They use their tails to propel themselves through the water in search of blind fish, cave frogs, and other food sources, which they then grasp and strangle with their tails and swallow whole.

    The chicken salamander poses no known risks to adventurers. More than one adventurer in need has dined on a satisfying dinner of chicken salamander--mixed with pickles and a diced hard boiled egg, it is said to make an excellent impromptu meal. Oddly, chicken salamander is considered a delicacy at several royal courts throughout the realm; for example, Prince Albert in Haverford has a standing bounty of 5gp per live chicken salamander. Unfortunately, they tend to die rather quickly when exposed to sunlight, as their slimy covering reacts poorly to ultraviolet light.

    14. Hohboy
    Every summer and winter solstice, billions upon billions of these tiny, hermaphroditic, hardshelled insects gather for annual mating rituals deep in the bowels of the underdark. Although they only live for a maximum of three years, they make their way back to their spawning ground each solstice to partake in this most ancient of insect rituals. There are roughly twenty known hohboy mating sites, but given the ubiquitous nature of the hohboy in every clime and terrain, it is obvious that hundreds if not thousands of these sites must exist throughout the known world.

    Normally resembling dull grey pillbugs with housefly wings, hohboys turn a sparkling, iridescent blue in mating season. This blue only lasts until the hohboy has mated six times during a solstice gathering. When they gather in such great numbers, their mating appears as wave after wave after wave of churning ocean trapped upon the surfaces of the cavern.

    Hohboys are a crucial ingredient in the formulae for blue dyes used by wizards and alchemists to color their potions. Live hohboys in rut are fed a special concoction to enhance and sharpen their natural iridescence, then are boiled alive to separate their carcass from their shells. The shells are then ground to a fine powder and mixed with other stabilizing ingredients to create a rich, blue dye that imparts a sweet tang to any potion.

    Wizards will pay top gold for live rutting hohboy: 5gp per bushel.

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  13. 15. Bitch’s Brew
    A thin, runny, milk-like substance seeping from some pervy elves (see dungeon slang entries here) in the lower levels of the underdark. Drinking six mouthfuls of this fluid grants the drinker the ability to see in the dark in the complete absence of light for 1d6 days, but renders them blind in the presence of a light source. Often bottled and sold by unscrupulous rock gnomes to unwary adventurers as “Infra Vision Potion,” bitch’s brew is best imbibed fresh from the source. No one knows how it got its name.

    16. Chalk Gum
    A strange, white, tar-like substance that leaks from some underground chalk deposits, chalk gum is prized for its ability to seal burns and bleeding wounds with only a slight amount of discomfort. Chalk gum itself is not a curative, but only a long-lasting, skinlike bandage. It is also edible (yet flavorless), and is often used in small amounts to settle sour stomachs. While not rare nor in high demand on the open market, chalk gum is nonetheless recognized as a useful tool in any healer’s arsenal and demands a reasonable price of 10gp per pint bottle.

  14. 17: Dwarvish lotus
    A chambered, black-and-purple fungus that resembles the seed pods of a lotus, Dwarvish lotus is unusual in that it produces both spores and seeds. The spores are a powerful soporific used in sleeping potions and poisons, as well as its use as a recreational drug. The flesh is inedible to any but dwarves without substantial alchemical processing, but is widely considered a delicacy. The seeds are edible by all, but have a myriad of other uses, much like peanuts-- indeed, the dwarvish alchemist Kharfvur once published a treatise listing over fifty he had personally discovered.

  15. 18. Beholder Eye Fluid Jelly Bones
    This delicacies are made by drow alchemists for the orgies and debaucheries of the highest class. They are quite literally created using the eyes of beholders, and differ in effect depending on wich eye they were made from. They look all the same though, and all add a stupifying happiness, to the consumers brain, that results in a -2 on all throws for a as long as they work (1-100 turns). Roll for the specific effect:
    1 Feel somewhat compassionate towards all other sentient beings +1 Cha
    2 Feel somewhat compassionate towards all other liveforms +1 on Saves vs. Poison
    3 Getting sleepy, calm and introspective +1 Wis
    4 Feel somewhat lighter than before +1 Dex
    5 Feel more robust and heavyy +1 Con
    6 Feel a little nonexistant -1 [+1] AC (better)
    7 Feel a little skittish +10 movement
    8 Feel a little sluggish -10 movement
    9 Have light pains in arms or legs -1 HP
    10 Sure to be terminal ill immune against all fear effects, but may do really stupid things (save vs spells or will save (DC 20) to avoid)
    11 All spells cast in 10ft radius have a 25% chance of missfiring
    12 roll two times with a d10
    If more than one BEFJB is consumed, the positive effects and the durations stack, but not the -2 malus. If someone eats mor BEFJBs than his level, he drops into a coma until the maximum duration has run out (100 turns per Bone).
    Beholders can smell the BEFJBs and will hunt down and attack everyone carrying them.
    BEFJBs are seldom for sale, but could fetch as much as 300 gp per bone.

    1. Oh, and I forgot: Elves, that consume a BEFJB must make a saving throw against poison or die horribly. In fact, this is an effect of the secret recipe that was added by the drow alchemists to the original, elf-save one.

  16. 19. Stirge Guano.
    In some areas of the underdark, especially in areas near a relatively stable troglodyte population, stirges can be found in numerous numbers--and where there is a stirge roost, there is a thick supply of stirge guano. In some caves, deposits up to 75 yards deep have been reported.

    Stirge guano is a crucial ingredient in many magical powders and explosive charges, as it is rich in nitrates, ammmonia, phosphates, and magnesium, and is also slightly magnetic due to the iron-rich stirge diet. Fresh guano is slightly less desirable than dried guano; fresh guano sells for 5gp a bushel, while dried guano goes for up to 9gp per bushel.

    Elves are highly allergic to stirge guano; any elf even breathing in a slight bit of dust from such a deposit suffers –5 to CON and -3 to STR for 1d4 days. Drow usually construct warning sigils at the entrance to known stirge roosts.

  17. 20. Hell Snot.
    Found only near volcanic rifts deep in the underdark and by all appearances to be small, thin stalactites, hell snot it actually a large colony of thick, mucus-like, highly acidic bacteria. These organisms are chemosynthetic, feeding on the volcanic gas and whatever water vapor drips down from upper cavern levels, and emitting a highly toxic acid as a waste by-product, which then serves to protect the growing colony.

    Hell snot is highly corrosive to all metals save mithril; even enchanted weapons are not immune to its effect. Anyone touching hell snot must Save vs. Poison or suffer 1d6 acid damage. Sentient weapons which come in contact with hell snot must also make an appropriate save or suffer psionic damage (the specifics of which are left to the DM’s whims).

    Hell snot is known to be one of the only substances toxic to rust monsters.

    Due to its hazardous nature, hell snot is sought by many alchemists and necromancers, who will pay up to 50gp for a mere beaker of the stuff.

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  19. 21. Fireclay.
    A geological formation usually found immediately beneath a coal bed in some caverns. It is heat resistant, easily processable, and provides protection against all forms of magical fire. It is in high demand for making fire bricks for chimneys, forges, ovens, wizard towers, etc. However, due to its weight and wetness, it is difficult to transport by hand; mining operations are most prepared to deal with fire clay as a profitable sideline. A tonne of unprocessed fireclay normal sells for roughly 50–75gp, depending on the quality of the deposit.

    22. Wetcoal.
    A dense,semi-consolidated deposit of carbonized organic matter (plant material, spores, algae, ancient animal life, etc.) found in stagnant or standing bodies of underdark water. It shares similarities to both peat and semi-bituminous coal, as it is a damp, brittle semi-coal with a high fuel ratio and burns without smoke. Wetcoal is extremely rare, and only a few known deposits have been uncovered by rock gnomes and dwarven miners.

    Wetcoal burns with an intense green flame. This flame is anathema to the undead, turning all lesser and greater undead as if a 15th level cleric. Additionally, being exposed to burning wetcoal dampens the ability to use infra-vision for 1d6 hours.

  20. 21. S'plorgorp's Pudding

    Rumored to be the jellied manifestations of a petty slime god, this ooze can often be found coagulated at the bottom of pools of fetid goop. If eaten, it provides ample nutrition. A few days after eating, one's skin begins exuding a thin patina of slime that never seems to dissipate despite numerous attempts at bathing.

    Believers hold that this substance brings you closer to S'plorgorp and that there is great power to be had upon consuming more and more pudding.

    Nonbelievers suggest that believers have simply gone spelunkmelt (a peculiar mental illness associated with exploring dungeons for too long) and are eating the offcast sloughings of cave oozes and jellies.

    Thieves find it a boon for slipping out of knotted ropes or squeezing into tight places, but are often frustrated by their newly realized inability to climb even the roughest walls without difficulty.

  21. 22. Pagostone

    Light blue crystals that are very cold to the touch regardless of the ambient temperature. Large quantities brought together actually decrease their total temperature. Frost and ice crystals have been known to form around large deposits of Pagostone, and in humid conditions the stone will actually turn the air around it into a light snow, yet the stone itself never feels wet with snow or slick with ice. The surface of Pagostone is incredibly hydrophobic and even water will slide off leaving the stone dry as a bone.

    Very rare and valuable. Wealthy noble houses use small quantities of Pagostone to keep foodstuffs cool and preserved. The largest store of Pagostone is rumored to be kept by a desert king who uses them to keep a room in a palace freezing.

    A thorough magical examination of Pagostone's properties and origins has never been conducted.

  22. S'plorgorp is 23.

    Pagostone is 24.

    Whoever is up next, please start at 25.

    1. Indeed. Was inputting it I suppose as you posted. Apologies.

    2. No bigs, man! I just didn't want folks after you & Patrick to get confused!

  23. 25. Sky Ore

    An iridescent blue metal with a slightly powdery texture, this extremely rare mineral is found deep underground. It is commonly believed by cavefolk that the first time the gods of the Underdark saw the sky they were jealous of its beauty. They carved out pieces of the sky itself and took them down with them, hiding them away in the deepest parts of their realm.

    When smelted, sky ore undergoes a chemical reaction that causes the metal to give off a constant glow. This light has the illumination properties of any common torch, though there is some variance depending on the ore itself--the deeper the deposit of sky ore, the brighter its resulting light will be. The glow naturally dims over one hundred years or so, but is otherwise constant and permanent. Its radiance is not known to be harmful, but current alchemical research on the subject is incomplete.

  24. 26. Spoor of Rhan-Tegoth
    Deep in the bowels of the elemental earth reside the wastings of Rhan-Tegoth, the Great Old One. Deposited by the sphincter located in each of Rhan-Tegoth’s tentacles, the spoor are perfect oval of dense, nonluate* matter. Preserved by the dry air of such deep caverns, the spoor nodules are often as fresh as the aeon they were shat.

    The spoor nodules are often found only one or two at a time, and rarely in more than groups of three, spread about the deepest of the deepest of the deep. A large cache of spoor was once found in a sprawling underground temple of Rhan-Tegoth in the frozen wastes of the Northland, but that cache is said to be no longer accessible due to a minor cataclysm, according to the records left by its supposed discoverer, Roger of Orobona.

    Spoor of Rhan-Tegoth is highly prized by psionics and soothsayers, as it provides the ability to see all the infinite outcomes of an event 1d4 days in advance; the soothsayer must concentrate on a specific action while ingesting a spoor nodule or inhaling its dried remains. Only a highly talented prophet can select the correct strand of events (99% chance of failure) without divine guidance. The spoor is known to cause incurable madness in those not gifted with psionics or the gift of prophecy; Save vs. Insanity or be forever, incurably insane. The last known spoor nodule sold for over 75gp.

    *nonluate: like jale, ulfire, and dolm, nonluate is color out of space and time that defies normal descriptions. It is said to be “so outside the spectrum we are meant to perceive, the best the human eye can manage is to temporarily perceive a more familiar color” (Guest Giantbat, first rank adventurer, who once glimpsed a Carcosian rainbow and survived madness to write about it). In that regard, nonluate is described as a painful chalky white tinge of silver that is lush, bountiful, and fertile.

    see http://www.yog-sothoth.com/wiki/index.php/Rhan-Tegoth

    1. that should be 7500gp -- accidently deleted the zeroes.

  25. 27 Garguano - The feces of gargoyls. Is created in the usual way in colder climates, wherever gargoyles feast on a lot of seagulls, penguins or other fisheating birds. A peach tree, that is fertilized with these foul stinking substance (double chance of wandering monsters while carrying it), creates fruit that give immunity to cold for ca. 1d6 turns. Because of the logistical problems of getting the garguano to the climates where peach fruit grow, and surviving the journey, it is really expensive (as much as 150 gp per pound) in warmer climates, but earns only 1% of that in colder climates.
    The coldpeaches, or fuzzy peaches, with their fuzzy white down, that spoil as easily as normal ones, are sold for 50 gp per piece.

    Garguano from gargoyles that prefer other diets is worth, well, scat. Some unscroupolous traders mix fish oil with ordinary garguano, wich results in the doubled encounter chance, but in the end just in ordinary peaches. Even though it is a good fertilizer.

  26. 28. Bloosh. Dense, heavily-faceted deep-blue stuff with a consistency of anthracite coal, only Bloosh tends to be slightly translucent. When burned this stuff gets colder, forcing anyone attempting to us it in smith-work to go through three times the normal amount of fuel to get anywhere on a particular project. the hassle is worth it, usually, as the Bloosh will eventually shatter into a very fine blue powder that can be worked into the metal in a process similar in many respects to Damascus steel is made. Once tempered and honed into as blade (never a blunt object!), the weapon made with Bloosh will inflict normal damage, with any magical bonuses embedded into it, of course, and it will do an additional 1d6 damage of whatever elemental type is most destructive or injurious to the target. If hit with a Shatter spell, the blade will explode, inflicting 4d6 damage in a 30' radius, similar to a fireball...only it will be damage that each victim has the least resistance, lowest defense modifier, etc. The weapon gains a Save, each magical '+' granting it an additional +1 on its Save.

    Making weapons using Bloosh tends to be expensive; most likely it would cost three times the normal cost, at a minimum, and require three times the usual time. However, those who do go to the expense and effort rarely let such a weapon pass out of their hands.

  27. Toskian Vinegar. Originally the spoiled, sour dregs left-over from producing wine from violet-spotted fungi, this stuff was discovered to cure leather better than the typical method of boiling. Just immerse the leather in a vat of this worthless stuff they've been dumping out back and the hides come out with a +1 on all Saves (acids, oozes, fungi, poison, etc.) and in some cases even a +1 defense bonus. All leather so produced has a distinctive violet speckling and has a lingering scent that displeases most cats (-1 Reaction with cats/ +4 Reaction with dogs/canine-things). The use of this stuff hasn't caught-on quite so much as it might have, if it weren't for the multitude of feral felines constantly making their displeasure wetly evident on a regular basis wherever Toskian Vinegar tends to be found in any significant quantity. A few well-trained war dogs tend to take care of things pretty well, in most cases...and the dogs do like to drink-up the left-over vinegar, even if it does tend to give them very pungent flatulence.

  28. 30. Basilisk Inner Eye-Lids. When removed cleanly, and properly preserved in clean alcohol, these translucent membranes can be worked into a set lenses that grant a +1 bonus to all forms of visual petrification (Medusa-gaze, basilisk-gaze, etc.) When tinted with the appropriate substances, the lenses can also be made to render the invisible visible, reveal the auric glimmering of magical energies, as well as other, more esoteric capabilities. The techniques and processes utilized in manufacturing these lenses are contained within a book bound in basilisk-scales that is notorious for petrifying those who mis-handle it. Locating even a partial copy of the book, perhaps an apprentice's working-copy, could open-up a fairly lucrative cottage industry, especially in those regions where basilisk, meduase, etc. are a clear and present menace.