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Ukusgualu - The Lamprey Hosts

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  • Ukusgualu - The Lamprey Hosts

    For my Paris game, I wanted to add another type of Host into the mix. I love the body horror element of the Hosts, the paranoia they introduce, the way they muck with the Gauntlet and the general different set of issues werewolves face in dealing with Hosts compared to their other foes. The Azlu and Beshilu are both great already, but I like to throw in occasional new things too, just to catch even veteran players off guard.

    Having used the Locust Hosts in a previous chronicle, it seemed appropriate to go with something else this time. Pondering the rest of my supernatural palette for the Paris game, with its themes around transitions and change, it came to me that a Host type that can stand in for vampires (either entirely, or alongside them to help confuse the issue) would be nifty. Lampreys quickly leapt to mind - those horrible round sucking mouths, the parasitic existence that some lamprey subspecies have, their wriggly, eel-like appearance, all lending themselves towards the gribbliness I look for in a Host. People erupting in sickening sprays of writhing lampreys when killed, or monstrous and squirming, slick-skinned humanoid horrors with circular maws of teeth and teeth and teeth, and a Gauntlet that you can no longer trust, that no longer stays static as it should do, but flows and shifts with currents like a river...

    So Lamprey Hosts it was, the Ukusgualu, blood-drinkers and parasites of the Gauntlet.

    In this thread, I'll be posting my thoughts and notes on the Ukusgualu. Once the 2e corebook is out, I'll put up rules and mechanics for them too.


    - Chris Allen, Aberrant Line Developer, Freelance Writer

    ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

  • #2
    You totally need visuals of thick, tubular bulges under human skin writhing independently of each other and a peculiar fishy smell being in the area...

    ... Watch the movie "Slither".

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    • #3
      didn't knew about Lamprey were before this thread. Just googled it. Thanks for the nightmares :P


      Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

      I now blog in here

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      • #4
        Lamprey Hosts, then. How's that work?

        Pretty easily, to be honest. It's not hard to envisage the Shards - squirming, leech-mouthed eels. It's not hard to envisage the human hosts, their wet flesh bulging and shifting from the writhing nest of lampreys within them, opening their maws to reveal the hungry parasites within. It's not hard to envisage the hybrids, from slick-skinned humans with lamprey jaws to huge wyrms whose last vestiges of humanity are the withered little limbs or the oddly twisted bone structure.

        The Ukusgualu are strongly tied to water and to blood. In terms of water, it's because the Shards themselves usually dwell in rivers, stagnant ponds, sewers and fetid pools; take a Shard out of the water and, sure, it can flop and snake its way along with remarkable determination, but it's not going to move spectacularly fast and it'll suffer the same fate you'd expect of an aquatic animal if it can't find a new damp home fairly quickly. The Shards can breathe air as well as water, but they still dry up fast and are very vulnerable on land. Once a victim has become infested by the Hosts, their ability to rove farther is greatly extended, although the hollowed-out carcass still needs to bathe at least once a day. You can expect the Ukusgualu to pick their hunting grounds from areas around rivers or lakes, marshy regions and wetlands, and in climates that receive regular rain. They flourish in the rainy seasons of tropical climates, but a Lamprey Host in an arid climate is very much a fish out of water.

        As for blood, that's how they survive. The Ukusgualu need to drink blood; the least Shards latch on to other water creatures or anyone unfortunate enough to venture into a river or lake, just like normal lampreys, but infested humans retain the same requirement, vomiting up lampreys onto victims to let them feed before swallowing the fish back down. More advanced Hosts, on the route to hybridisation, develop enough of a lamprey jaw to suck blood directly, and retain this ability as hybrids.

        As for how they affect the Gauntlet, that's perhaps the most terrifying thing of all for the Uratha to discover. At first, the Ukusgualu don't seem that bad. Unlike the Beshilu, who gnaw through the Gauntlet, and the Azlu who thicken it to spirit-deadening levels, Ukusgualu seem to 'mend' the damaged Gauntlet; they worm their way into it, and their writhing and squirming in the invisible membrane between the worlds shapes it back to a normal level. Letting Lamprey Hosts do this comes at a great cost in terms of the damage they do to the human population, since they require a great amount of blood to fuel their Gauntlet-warping efforts, but an Uratha might - might - consider their presence to overall be beneficial in an area already damaged by other Hosts.

        An Uratha who realises how and why the Host is doing this knows better. The Lampreys exude out Essence-tainted blood 'within' the Gauntlet, inasmuch as the Gauntlet might be thought of to have a 'within'. This blood turns the Gauntlet from something static, something solid, into something fluid. The Gauntlet 'repairs' itself because, like a fluid, it flows to a level state. It doesn't stop there, though. The Gauntlet becomes more and more changeable as the Ukusgualu worm through it. It begins to move. Like water stirred by currents, it ebbs and flows, and achieves a state where the Ukusgualu can fully exploit its properties.

        For the Ukusgualu, a liquid Gauntlet is easily manipulated. It becomes their very own spawning pool and hunting ground; they can lurk within it, watching both Flesh and Spirit for passing prey. Lamprey Hosts can simply emerge out of the Gauntlet as if wading out of a pool, appearing nearly anywhere with terrifying ease. They can feed on people from within the Gauntlet. Even minor Shards are no longer tied to their watery homes; they can swim the Gauntlet instead, hunting for prey as far as the blood-taint reaches.

        Blood begins to seep back through into the real world, here and there. It drives people to madness when they see it or, worse, ever drink it. Those affected become bloodthirsty or blood-venerating; they start to form cults; they start to build eerie and occult structures, pyramids that shape the Gauntlet around them into a whirlpool that pierces into the Hisil, they start to worship strange entities whose influence oozes through the Gauntlet of which even the Lamprey Hosts seem to only dimly understand. When enough seeps through into one place, enough to pool such that a hybrid Ukusgualu can bathe in it, then any hybrid that does so begins to change further - it becomes a bloated leviathan, growing fat and massive until it ruptures and spills a fresh generation of Shards out into the world.

        If that was all the Ukusgualu did, then they would be a vile plague. The flowing Gauntlet they create has even larger ramifications for the Uratha, though. They make any attempt to sculpt or affect the Gauntlet extremely difficult, because it simply flows back like a fluid within moments. Uratha who attempt to breach the Gauntlet, whether through spiritual powers or a Locus, sometimes find themselves drowning in bloody water that throngs with squirming lampreys. At its worst, the currents of the flowing Gauntlet start to pull entire Loci with them, moving them about. Packs and spirits alike suddenly find their watering holes are gone; if they're lucky, the Locus settles down somewhere else, although it may well be a rival's territory. If they're unlucky, the Locus just keeps flowing and moving, a hole between the worlds that snatches up unlucky humans, coughs out unsuspecting spirits and occasionally vomits out ravenous Lamprey Hosts.

        So what is the drive that the Ukusgualu feel? It's not simple fear, although they possess a fearful loathing of the Uratha born from their progenitor's fate. It's not simple, animal hunger or survival, although the hellish landscape that the Lamprey Hosts create are suited perfectly to their needs. It's something more, something to do with tides and currents - something to do with the sun and the moon, with Helios and particularly with Luna. The Ukusgualu seek a promised sea, an otherworldly ocean of blood and tides, and they work intelligently towards that goal.


        - Chris Allen, Aberrant Line Developer, Freelance Writer

        ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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        • #5
          I'm working on a WtF2 game set in Detroit (as much as I can without the book) and am delighted to discover that the Detroit River is infested with salt-water lamprey. I look forward to the rules when you put them out, so I can infest the waterfront with the writhing monsters.


          Eric Christian Berg
          Onyx Path Freelancer
          Promethean: The Created Second Edition, Dark Eras Companion

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          • #6
            Oh my god.


            I am no longer participating in the community. Please do not contact me about my previous work.

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            • #7
              So this is beautiful.


              I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

              So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

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              • #8
                The actual life cycle of the Lamprey Host is a bit trickier for the Ukusguala than for the Rat and Spider Hosts. If the Hosts have already infested an area, the Shards can easily attack their prey by squirming right out of the Gauntlet's membrane, but without such favourable conditions they have a much harder time locating victims. A Shard usually first infests a human who enters the body of water that the Host is dwelling in; a swimmer going for a dive in a lake, a sewer worker wading waist-deep through effluent in a tunnel or a hapless drunk who is unlucky enough to fall into the river. Rarely, usually during heavy rainfall, a Shard worms its way out of the water and thrashes across the land on the hunt, seeking to find a comatose human to attack - in the first world, that usually means a sleeping drunk in the street as normal homes are too well sealed. Sometimes, during floods or real downpours, a whole squirming tangle of Shards will attack a building by coming in through the pipes, the vents or any other point of ingress that their slippery bodies can slide through, attacking anyone and everyone they can; turning on the tap fills the sink with alien worms, pipes rupture and spill them into rooms and even the spaces between the walls can become crammed with a living tide of ravenous lampreys.

                Infested Hosts have to be careful how they act. They need blood, and lots of it; they can't just murder and drink dry every human and animal in the area without attracting notice. Instead, Lamprey Hosts attempt to meld into society as best they can, trying to retain the existing social links of the victim to give them a herd of prey to parasitically feed from. Lamprey Hosts commonly exude a mind-altering toxin in their saliva, letting them bite and drink from victims who are left in the spasms of delirium or even pleasure. The Ukusguala will likely find that the immediate circle of contacts that can be maintained are not, however, sufficient for their appetite or are just accidentally killed through blood loss, and thus begin to look for new victims - and so the lampreys slither through thronging clubs, shake clammy hands with other attendees at Anonymous meetings or, in this modern age, sign up to dating websites and trawl chat rooms for the vulnerable and the easily persuaded.

                The worst part of this is how the Ukusguala spread their infection further. A Host that is able to drink from the blood of a victim will leave behind a trace of itself within them - it may inject larval lamprey into the flesh of the prey, leave some of its teeth embedded in them or little pulsating, liquid-filled eggs smeared in the wound. These will usually die off within a few days, until which the victim has the unpleasant and nightmarish sense upon occasion that there is something shifting under her skin, and the victim's immune system tends to take such a battering dealing with the foreign bodies that prey end up very vulnerable to other, more mundane infections in the meantime. The real horror is reserved for if the Host is destroyed in the meantime. Like other Hosts, a dead Ukusguala vomits forth a torrent of squirming lampreys that wriggle away in search of sanctuary from their killer. If a single one of these escapes, the Shard lives on - but unless the Host was in or near the water, it's much easier to kill all the lampreys flopping around on the ground than it is to catch all of a tidal wave of rats or spiders. Yet if that Host has fed upon victims within the last few days, and its leavings are still chewing through their flesh, then through a last expenditure of Essence and will it can transfer itself across to such a victim instead, gaining new life from the fecund taint that it left behind. The freshly invigorated Shard will quickly chew into the throat and guts of the victim, a Host made anew. For Uratha who slay such a Host and crush all the parasitic fish underfoot, they can find their illusions at having destroyed the Shard for good brutally shattered.

                Where the Gauntlet has been fully corrupted by the Lamprey Hosts, it's far easier for Shards to feed. Hapless victims can find themselves slowly losing their energy and their will to live, strange bite marks appearing on their increasingly pallid flesh and never able to sense the parasites that have latched onto them, dug into the Gauntlet and going wherever the victim does - one human could have as many as twenty ravenous lampreys latched onto them, drinking their blood. Infested Hosts can simply emerge into the dwellings of sleeping victims and drink from their slumbering forms. The true hybrids, often monstrous beyond any hope of disguise amongst humanity, can lair in the Gauntlet and storm out to drag their food screaming into the bloody waters that now lie between worlds. The lucky drown before the hybrid starts to drain them dry.


                - Chris Allen, Aberrant Line Developer, Freelance Writer

                ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                • #9
                  This may be the most horrifying monster I have ever read about for the World of Darkness.


                  Revlid wrote:
                  Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aiden View Post
                    This may be the most horrifying monster I have ever read about for the World of Darkness.
                    I'd have to disagree, personally, but they are wonderful body horror.


                    I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

                    So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by amechra View Post

                      I'd have to disagree, personally, but they are wonderful body horror.

                      They feed into my fear and loathing of things in bodies of water that I can't see and that can get inside me.


                      Revlid wrote:
                      Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

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                      • #12
                        Valid; everyone's got their fears.


                        I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

                        So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So the Gauntlet becomes a giant soup for crazy bloodsucking Shards, and the worst can pop in and out of the Zathu at will and drag victims back, who may or may not be dead from drowning in bloody spirit-water.

                          Welp. You win. This is terrifying.


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                          • #14
                            Now imagine the poor unfortunate territory that has Azlu, Beshilu, and Ukusgualu battling it out over who gets to decide the fate of the divide between realities.


                            Revlid wrote:
                            Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yeah, this is vile. I love it.

                              I was worried at first that they wouldn't have 'human' hosts, so it would be just straight lamprey to something like Flukeman from X-files. But I read further and am loving the Infested Hosts, especially how their feeding can get them a bolthole if they're lucky.

                              Honestly though I think the most interesting part of it is what they do to the Gauntlet.
                              Last edited by nofather; 02-25-2015, 07:48 PM.

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