"Once more, I need to emphasize that even if this works, it will be an extremely painful process," Daranoth said.
"Just do it," Wikkam said. The young man sucked in a breath, the air rattling in his thin chest. For all the frailty in his body, though, there was steel in his eyes. He had made up his mind.
"Very well, then," Daranoth said. He closed the manacles over the young man's arms, locking him to the heavy, stained, stone slab. They looked almost comical... as if they were made to hold someone several times Wikkam's size. The alchemist placed a leather-wrapped wooden bit in the young man's mouth. Wikkam bit down, the muscles in his jaw bulging slightly. "Let us begin."
The alchemist adjusted the flames on the bubbling beakers, watching the way their contents reacted. When they were ready, he drew each into a long syringe one after the other. He rested his hand on Wikkam's shoulder, pressed the tip into his vein, and slowly injected him. First his right arm, then his left, and then into the artery in his thigh. The young man simply stared into empty space, waiting as blood slowly dripped from the injection sites.
"Prepare yourself," Daranoth said. "Any moment no-"
His warning was cut off by Wikkam's scream of agony, only partially muffled by the gag. His eyes bulged with pain, and as the alchemist watched, the young man's muscles seized up. His veins throbbed, and rose to prominence as the different reagents met inside his body, and began to interact.
The bile of a white dragon, weakened through exposure to fire, but not destroyed, sought to bury itself inside Wikkam's body. It mixed with the potent blood of a chimera, the acid burning Wikkam from the inside out even as it mutated every part of him that it touched. The fiendish ichor followed the other two, healing damage as it was done, and tripling the reaction's strength.
Daranoth watched as Wikkam's body broke itself apart, only to remake itself once again. Bones snapped, and skin tore, only for the reagents to rapidly heal and regrow the damage. He nearly doubled in size, then tripled, the manacles barely able to contain him. Then, with a snarling roar, his jaw sheared through the gag, and his arms wrenched the restraints away, ripping them from the stone and twisting them into hunks of scrap. They were ejected with such violent force that the metal shards embedded themselves in the wall, quivering like crossbow bolts. Wikkam rolled off the slab, hitting the ground hard, curling up on himself as he snarled and howled, the sounds like nothing a human throat should be able to produce.
Time stretched as the transformation ran its course. Then there was a silence that went on so long Daranoth was about to declare the experiment a failure. That was when a huge, pale hand gripped the edge of the slab, and Wikkam stood up. A towering figure of rippling muscle, his skin woven with dozens of seamed scars, he fixed the alchemist with his gaze. Those eyes, and their steely determination, were all that remained of the boy who had lain on that table no more than an hour ago.
Magical Laboratories, And The Monsters They Make
From the halls of mages' colleges, to the ritual circles used by hedge witches and forest cults, to the underground laboratories of alchemical scholars, our fantasy settings are absolutely crammed with people performing all kinds of experiments. Whether it's attempting to harness new metamagic ideas, to test the effects of certain potion recipes, refining the creation of magic items, or any of a hundred other things, there are practitioners of the magic arts who are attempting to delve into the depths of what can be achieved.
And sometimes these experiments can have unusual results. Sometimes those results can make for really interesting PCs!
And while the initial thought for many players may be to lean into the magical aspects of a character, and to use a laboratory accident or experiment as an explanation for how a sorcerer gained their bloodline, I'd say that's a good start... but we can go even wider than that! Barbarians whose blood boils with draconic ichor, rangers whose senses were enhanced to superhuman levels by weird science, and even frail weaklings who were transformed into titanic fighters capable of feats of strength and endurance they'd never dreamed of could all be the result of laboratory experimentation.
While this background can be used to explain many of the unusual powers of your characters, from shape-shifting barbarians to draconically-empowered brawlers, how deeply it affects your story is up to you. For example, if you were experimented on against your will, then perhaps the organization behind what was done to you are the villains of the campaign, and you are pursuing your vendetta against them. Alternatively, you may simply have been a survivor of a particular program, or one of many creations like yourself who is now going out into the world to pursue your own ends... be they selfish, or heroic!
If you're looking for organizations who might be responsible for creating a unique character via an experiment, consider the following supplements:
- 100 Secret Societies: Working from the shadows, chasing their own goals and ends, these societies have access to a variety of rites, rituals, and materials. What better way to ensure someone's loyalty than by transforming them into an ideal tool for your use?
- 100 Cults to Encounter: Dark rituals combined with the dreaded blessings and magic of old and forgotten gods can make for terrible servants... even if they break free from those who made them to go their own way.
- 100 Fantasy Guilds: While a guild might be a respectable institution on its face, that doesn't mean there aren't dark deeds being done behind closed doors.
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That's all for this week's Unusual Character Concepts post!
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