Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
The Secret Art of Fleshcrafting:by Geoff Gander
Special Thanks to Sharon Dornhoff, John Hare, and James Ruhland for their insight
Centuries ago, several enterprising Alphatian wizards devised a means, using their considerable magical resources, of providing medical aid to soldiers who had been grievously injured in battle - in many cases losing limbs, or suffering severe internal injuries. Beforehand, such unfortunates, if they could not gain access to high-level clerics, were doomed; healing potions could not restore them, and Alphatia, not being overly supportive of religion as a whole, lacked powerful clerics.
This embryonic craft, known as "fleshcrafting", enjoyed initial success. Unbeknownst to the craft's creators, however, was the fact that the new spells they were developing would be desired by non-combatants. What commoner, who had lost a limb to a job-related accident, or who had been incapacitated by an internal injury, would not wish for a chance to become a productive member of society once more? As word spread of what these "Fleshcrafters" could do, their skills were called upon more and more, and soon these mages were running low on "raw materials" - such as the limbs and organs of the recently deceased, which were used when the patient's own body parts were not available. Increasingly desperate to help the thousands of people who soon came to them, the Fleshcrafters resorted to bribing volunteers to donate their body parts, and taking them from unwilling slaves. While many Fleshcrafters felt guilty for having to resort to such a tactic, others saw it simply as a means of accomplishing their self-appointed tasks, or as an obscene novelty. Many of the latter group, after details of their practices became known, fled the ensuing outcry to the kingdom of Blackheart, where they could practice in peace.
Even after these desperate measures were taken, supplies were still running short. It was at this time that the less scrupulous Fleshcrafters - many of whom having moved to Blackheart by this time - began to experiment with the grafting of foreign tissues onto their patients. If human body parts were not available, would it not be possible to substitute them for elvish equivalents, or perhaps even goblinoid? So intrigued were some of them by these possibilities that they greatly expanded the breadth of the craft, adding many new spells to the repertoire. Some even went as far as to breed creatures whose sole purpose was to provide spare parts, and others actively experimented in the creation of new creatures through the grafting of body parts from different species together, or in "enhancing" willing (and high paying) customers with foreign parts. This latter practice, though officially outlawed in many Alphatian kingdoms, thrives in Blackheart, and many wealthy customers come here to be "enhanced".
As Fleshcrafters do not obtain their additional spells from any power source similar in principle to the Radiance, the spells given below are like those available to "normal" spellcasters. What separates them from conventional spells is that, as they are part and parcel of this secret craft, it would be nigh impossible for an outsider to obtain them. Fleshcrafters, although an individualistic lot, are surprisingly cohesive where their spells are concerned: They will not tolerate any Fleshcrafter sharing their secrets with anyone - period. Those who break this unspoken, but understood, rule are eliminated ruthlessly, and those who obtained the spells illicitly are hunted down.
The chart below provides a guide to determining level and circle equivalencies:
Level of Spellcaster Circle Attainable Equivalent Spell Level of Circle 5 1 1 10 2 2 15 3 4 20 4 6 25 5 8
Effect: Reattaches a severed body part, or melds a foreign part of the same race with a patient.
This spell, among the first ever learned by the prospective Fleshcrafter, allows the caster to reattach severed limbs, or to attach a foreign part. The process is painless and instantaneous, and works only if the patient and the part to be attached are of the same race. This of course applies if the patient is trying to have a severed limb reattached. This spell works only on external body parts, and the size of the body part to be attached cannot be larger than one leg; organ transplants cannot be performed with this spell. To cast this spell, the Fleshcrafter holds the two ends together and recites the spell - the severed ends will then rejoin seamlessly. Patients who undergo this treatment will have to spend 1d6 months relearning the use of their reattached body part - DMs should assign attribute and skill penalties as appropriate, though a good range is -1 to -4.
Effect: Allows the caster to perform minor healing.
This spell is basically an equivalent to the clerical spell cure light wounds, though it is designed for magic users. Unlike its clerical equivalent, this spell only restores 1d6 hit points, and the caster must be much higher than second level before he or she can first cast it. This spell is also capable of removing bruises and healing minor fractures and burns. Originally intended as a stopgap measure to keep injured soldiers alive until their more serious wounds could be tended, this spell has found use elsewhere as a supplemental healing spell, primarily in adventuring parties.
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 6 turns + 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Destroys and wards off all germs within a 10' x 10' x 10' area.
Another spell that is among the first learned by the Fleshcrafters, sanitise allows the wizard to perform his or her experiments without fear of infestation by germs, known to permeate almost everything. The very first experiments were plagued with disaster, until it was realised that an antiseptic environment was required. This spell, for its duration, destroys all free-floating germs existing within a 10' cube, allowing the Fleshcrafter to work without fear that the living parts with which he or she is working will be infected by some foreign microbe. Germs which enter the cube while the spell is still in effect will be killed instantly. Sanitise does not, of course, kill off the germs inhabiting living creatures within the area of effect; this would likely prove fatal, as some bacteria and the like are required for a living body to function.
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Allows caster to mutate living tissues.
This spell enables the caster to mould living tissues in any way he or she wishes, such as stretching limbs, thickening flesh until it becomes hard and leathery, or hollowing bones. All the caster needs to do is touch the area to be mutated, and recite the spell. As long as the spell is in effect, the caster may manipulate the body part in question, though once the spell's duration ends, the body part "sets" in its current shape; subsequent shapings must be accomplished through further castings of this spell. The form in which the mutated body part finds itself is permanent unless mutated further, or undone through a wish. This spell cannot be used against internal organs, and the changes it can perform are largely confined to superficial ones. Each casting of this spell can affect only one part of the body; a caster cannot shift the spell's focus to another body part. The length of time required to perform a given mutation is up to the DM, though complicated tasks should take more time. The process, although painless, is disconcerting to the patient, and a sanity check may be required, at the DM's discretion. This spell is used by "legitimate" Fleshcrafters as a means of performing cosmetic surgery, as facelifts and other alterations can be performed by this spell, and as a means of disguising wealthy customers who do not wish to be recognised (such as assassins).
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 1 turn + 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Allows to caster to be immune to polymorph spells.
Being involved in a trade where magical means are used to alter the physical structure of creatures of all sorts, Fleshcrafters of all stripes soon realised that practitioners of their art required some means to protect themselves from any fallout from their experiments. In the early days of this craft, some bold experiments went awry, and the enterprising wizards who were conducting them found their magics reflected back at them, with hideous results. This spell was quickly developed as a result, and is an essential component of any Fleshcrafter's repertoire. This spell, for the duration, renders the caster immune to any polymorphing spells cast by spellcasters of up to his or her level. Polymorphing spells cast by higher level spellcasters have a base chance of 2% of breaking through this immunity, plus 1% for every level of difference between the two spellcasters. Thus, if a 20th level Fleshcrafter wizard is attacked by a polymorphing spell cast by a 22nd level wizard, that spell has a 4% chance of breaking through the Fleshcrafter's immunity. If the level difference between the Fleshcrafter and the other wizard is in the Fleshcrafter's favour, then the offending spell has a base chance of 4% of being reflected back at the other wizard, plus 2% for every level of difference.
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Places a test subject in suspended animation.
This spell allows the Fleshcrafter to place his or her patient into suspended animation for the duration of the spell. While in effect, stasis ensures that the patient will not be awake while invasive surgery is taking place, and that, while working with the patient's innards (as with the spell transplant), the Fleshcrafter need not worry his or her patient will die. Even if the heart or other essential organs are being removed, stasis will sustain life at a comatose level - long enough for new organs and other body parts to be transplanted.
Effect: Grafts two pieces of organic matter together.
This spell allows the caster to graft one piece of organic matter to another. Its most common use is in the construction of the engineered horrors of Blackheart, in which ordinary tissue is removed, and foreign replacements are added. In this fashion, appendages and other "enhancements" may be permanently attached to the patient. All that is required is for the original body part to be removed, and for the two severed ends to be touched together. The process is instantaneous, and painless, though the initial amputation may not be. This spell can only be applied to limbs, bones, muscles, wings, and other such body parts; organs cannot be attached in this manner. As foreign body parts have different genetic makeups, there is a base 20% chance that the grafted part in question will be rejected by the body, in which case it must be removed, and replaced with another. If the part is not rejected, assume the recipient's body has adapted to it.
Duration: 1 turn + 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Allows the caster to transplant organs and other internal body parts.
The transplant spell allows the Fleshcrafter to remove organs (such as eyes, hearts, lungs, and so on), and implant them into another body. For this spell to operate, the caster merely touches the part to be removed, and recites the spell. The organ then detaches itself cleanly from the original body, and it can be implanted into its new body. The spell also sustains the organ while it is disconnected, so that no cellular damage occurs. While the transplant spell ensures that the new body will not reject its new organ, and that it will begin functioning as soon as it is connected, the Fleshcrafter may have to mutate some of the tissues surrounding the body cavity beforehand, so that the organ can be accommodated (i.e.: muscles may have to be reshaped, or veins may have to be extended). Once the transplant has been accomplished, the organ works as it normally would, with the only duration being that of the patient's lifespan. This spell allows the transplant of organs between different races.
Create Flesh Golem
Effect: Allows caster to create one flesh golem.
This spell, when cast at a large quantity of flesh laid out in a semblance of a human being, melds those body parts together, and animates it - producing a golem of living flesh. The flesh that is used for this spell must not have been separated from its original body more than two hours previously (before cellular damage begins to set in due to decomposition). Any physical aspect the caster wishes the golem to have, must be present in the pile of flesh, and in the desired location in the pile, at the time of casting. For example, if the caster wished her flesh golem to have three eyes in its head, those eyes must be placed in the rough location where she wishes those eyes to be. Unlike many other spells, create flesh golem has a limited chance of success - a base chance of 3% per level. If the Fleshcrafter sews or melds the body parts together beforehand, the base chance is increased by 10%. If the spell is successful, the flesh golem comes to life, and will serve the Fleshcrafter until it is destroyed. The amount and quality of the body parts used in the spell will determine the power of the flesh golem; to determine hit dice, roll 1d6+6. All flesh golems, no matter how powerful they are, will have the same level of intelligence, movement rate, and attacks (see flesh golem description, below). Being simple creatures, flesh golems have no reasoning ability, though they can comprehend simple spoken commands.
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Allows the caster to sustain and transfer a brain to another body
By casting this spell, the Fleshcrafter is able to sustain a brain that has been removed from a source body, and transplant it into another, without fear of having the experiment fail. For every level of the caster, a brain may be sustained for one turn. In other ways, this spell works in an identical manner to the 3rd circle transplant spell - the caster touches the brain, which then neatly detaches itself from the spinal column. The sustained brain may then be implanted into its new body, though the Fleshcrafter may have to mutate some parts of the recipient body to ensure that the brain will fit, and that it will be connected properly. The brain will not be rejected by the new body, and the only true limit on the spell's effectiveness is the lifespan of the patient afterwards. It should be noted that, for the purposes of determining insanity, this constitutes a major alteration.
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Allows the caster to mutate him- or herself.
This spell allows the caster, for the duration of the spell, the mutate him- or herself, or a part of his or her body, into whatever form is desired. If the caster wished, he could thicken his flesh to bone-like durability (with the attendant AC bonus), or he could turn his arms into vicious tentacles with which to whip his enemies. This spell also allows the caster to grow wings in order to fly, or develop gills to breathe underwater. There is literally no limit to what the master Fleshcrafter can do with this spell; he or she is limited to imagination. Each mutation takes only one round, and is maintained as long as the caster wishes. The only restrictions on this spell are that the caster cannot exceed his or her original body mass by more than 100% (that is, a Fleshcrafter could not turn himself into a giant or a dragon), and that he or she cannot duplicate any special abilities available to any monster, such as a basilisk's paralysing gaze. At will, the Fleshcrafter can end this spell before its full duration passes.
The Consequences of Fleshcrafting:
Every magical craft possesses its own inherent risks, but fleshcrafting has an added danger. Being a subject of fleshcrafting - that is, being a patient, or being experimented upon - can make one demented. Minor alterations have a flat 20% chance of causing insanity in the subject the first time they are altered. Major ones a flat 40% chance the first time they are altered, previous minor alterations notwithstanding. Each subsequent modification has a 10% chance of causing dementia, whether it is a major alteration, or a minor one. As an alternative, DMs may use the optional rules for determining insanity, as written in Insanity, Horror, and the Outer Beings in Mystara, in which case major procedures are treated as having a Horror Rating of 8, while minor procedures have a Horror Rating of 4. Subsequent alterations have a Horror Rating of 1, regardless of whether they are major or minor. This is a function of the chance that, no matter how many precautions the Fleshcrafter takes, something will go wrong. Even if this comes to pass, the Fleshcrafter may try to "cure" his or her patient through magic. Ultimately, it is the DM's choice as to what happens. Insane characters are often simply disposed of as failed experiments by the Fleshcrafter.
The above rule does not apply in the case of melding one's severed limb back in place, or undergoing minor cosmetic surgery. As long as the part that is being grafted was originally the patient's own, or as long as what is being done is purely of a minor cosmetic nature, there is no risk of insanity. If a patient wishes to reattach a lost limb, but it is unavailable, the Fleshcrafter may, at a substantial additional cost, grow a Clone for the patient's use. Before the Clone reaches awareness, the Fleshcrafter can remove the required body part from it, and meld it to the patient, thus avoiding any chance of insanity and reducing the risk of tissue rejection. The ethical issues involved in such a process should be obvious, but it should be just as apparent that Fleshcrafters are not known for their morality, as a group.
All modifications involving foreign body parts tend to dehumanise the subject, and sometimes make them less intelligent. All minor modifications cause -1 to Wisdom, and Charisma, though -1 penalties to Dexterity and Intelligence are possible. The former, in the case of new, unfamiliar limbs being melded or grafted onto the subject, though this can be recovered through physical training. Intelligence is reduced by 1 for any modification made to the brain, even those intended to enhance it (such as the granting of psionic abilities, for example, or increasing its size, or even moving it to a different location in the body). Some modifications, however, have attribute-raising goals in mind, so reductions can be considered temporary, depending on the operation in question. How attributes are affected is up to the DM.
Major modifications can reduce Wisdom, Charisma, and Intelligence into the "Low" (5-7) range as the subject becomes more brutish and devolved, or simply more horrific. This depends on the type of operation involved, and so final discretion is up to the DM. For this reason, Fleshcrafters never make alterations on themselves (save by the self-mutation spell), and no spellcaster ever willingly submits to fleshcrafting. Subjects with Intelligence in the "Low" range retain enough intelligence to respond to commands and react creatively to expected situations.
3. Susceptibility to Control
Fleshcrafting makes the subject more susceptible to outside command or domination. Their free will is dampened. For this reason they have a -6 penalty to all saves vs. Charm-type spells cast by the Fleshcrafter who altered them, and have -3 to saves vs. Charm-type effects produced by any spellcaster or monster.
Getting around the Drawbacks:
In campaigns where it might be appropriate to have characters willingly become the Mystaran-equivalent of cyberzombies, ways to avoid the above drawbacks might be introduced. Exceptionally skilled Fleshcrafters can alter the subject without statistic penalties, and cut the chance of insanity in half (spells can be used to cure, but that will cost extra). Really trustworthy ones might be able, and willing, to make alterations without the will-sapping effects described in point #3. Many if not all Fleshcrafters will "back door" themselves, though: the subject will avoid the -3 to saves vs. all charms cast by other wizards or creatures, but will still have weakened resistance to the Fleshcrafter's own spells. For some of the more neutral Fleshcrafters, this is done just in case the customer gets "buyers remorse" and starts threatening the Fleshcrafter with legal or other action, or otherwise gets unruly.
These spells are used mainly to create lab assistants, superpowered guardians, and hideous freaks of nature to show off during the social season. Cosmetic surgery, because it lies outside many Fleshcrafters' interests, and takes valuable time away from research, is generally more expensive than "conventional" services. This is perhaps a function of requiring rare ingredients; increase costs by x2 or even x3, depending on the extent of the modification. The actual cost for performing an "enhancement" (as alterations are frequently called) is up to the DM, but even a simple reattachment of a severed limb should cost at least 100 gp. Some Fleshcrafters are not above casting a geas on their patients, to force them to perform a service in return for the enhancement.
Below are some examples of what Fleshcrafters might produce in terms of engineered horrors. Some of these creatures might end up in Blackheart's army, while others could be sold to the unscrupulous as bodyguards, or as a personal army.
Warrior - Implanted giant ant chitinous exoskeleton in chest, back, and abdominal regions to protect the innards (AC 6), implanted insect eyes (180 degree vision, infravision to 60'), offhand removed and replaced with lobster-like barbed pincer (damage 1d6 + STR bonus). More advanced units have an extra set of limbs below the arms (possibly grasping tentacles).
Scout - Dragonfly wings implanted in shoulderblades, insectoid eyes added, bones are hollowed (as with avians) to reduce weight and thus increase lift capacity. Movement rate is 240' (80') flying.
Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 7-12 (L)
Move: 60' (20')
No. Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Save As: F 7-13
Treasure Type: Nil
XP Value by Hit Dice: 7= 450; 8=650; 9=900; 10=1,000; 11=1,100; 12=1,250
Flesh golems are a rare variety of construct, seldom found outside the kingdom of Blackheart or other areas where fleshcrafting might be practised. Being constructed from the still-living tissues of other creatures, there is no one description that would be suitable for all flesh golems, though they all tend to follow a general form. All flesh golems are bipedal, humanoid constructs measuring between 7' and 9' tall, with two arms, two legs, and one head. Though their arms may not end with hands, all flesh golems are limited to two attacks per round, which do 3d6 damage per attack. Thus, those with hands would punch for this amount, while those with claws would slash. Regardless of how the attack is made, all flesh golems attack as detailed above.
Although constructed from living flesh, these golems are not truly "alive"; they do not breathe, eat, tire, feel pain, or express emotions. They do, however, possess a rudimentary intelligence, enough to enable them to follow simple commands, and have a sufficiently long memory. Thus, a flesh golem could be ordered to guard a gate, and kill any passers-by not bearing the proper seal or badge, or it could be ordered to seek out and kill a person matching a given description.
As with all other golems, flesh golems are immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells.