"I don't really think I'm delicious. It's just fun to say."
"That you're delicious? Where did you hear it from?"
"I don't rightly recall. I think I heard it in town. Someone said they were delicious."
"Well, that's enough gabbing. I've got to get back to my cabbages."
Ten days later, everyone is saying it. Eleven days later a space dragon lands in the town and eats everyone's brains. Their brains are delicious.
|by Adam Hughes|
It is a memetic plague. An infectious idea. A few lines of insidious code that can corrupt the orderly programs of our souls. I've written about them before. There are several known memetic plagues, and there are even a few scholars that study them (very carefully).
From here on out, I'll refer to it as Delicious.
Among the memetic plagues, Delicious is not a very powerful one. It doesn't exert a strong compulsion, and it doesn't have any weird manifestations (like the madworms of Avool).
Delicious is just a certain enjoyment from saying "I'm delicious", and from hearing it.
But it's not quite the same as when you and I say it. There's a subtle inflection there--a tiny modulation of the voice that makes it contagious. This invisible tone is produced by diseased brains, and only diseased brains. So you can't catch it from just saying "I'm delicious", you need to hear it from someone who is infected.
What Happens Then?
Over time, your brain becomes delicious. It turns bright purple, and small "fruits" begin to grow in your brain. This has no noticeable effect on cognition.
But, purple brains produce purple thoughts, and purple thoughts can be "smelled" in the Ether. That's what brings the space dragon down. Her name is Callistrix and she is purple and black. She has two heads and her oral tentacles are suited for sucking brains out of much larger skulls, so she struggles to manage the small heads of humans.
She's actually quite pleasant and conversant, except that she believes that human lives are essentially worthless ("There's so many of them. And what do they do, really?") and she may be right about this. She has no interest in anything else on Centerra. (All of the interesting and valuable stuff is up in space.
But if you feed her a town of delicious brains, she could be persuaded to answer a quick question or do you a quick favor. As long as it's quick. She's very busy. ("The Lost City of Beyoc? When did you lose it? Nevermind. I can mark it on your map, if you have one. Or I could just fly you there. I'm heading in that direction.")
Callistrix has a complicated relationship with Forganthus Valore. Basically flip a coin to see if she currently loves him or hates him.
If your players want to use her as an oracle, they'll need to (a) get the memetic plague into a carrier, and (b) infect a hapless village. Most villages have never heard of a memetic plague and have no idea that it exists, but you can bet your ass that the Church's witch hunters know what's up.
Some Notes About Space Dragons
There aren't very many of them.
They all have two heads.
They are all unique.
They are more powerful than any mortal creature on Centerra. Treat them like plot devices, not monsters. This is why they will never have stat blocks.
They don't want anything you can offer them, except perhaps interesting food.
They call themselves Speakers of Truth. The idea is that each head holds half of the truth, and so when they speak in unison, they only speak truth. This is true, because they rarely lie when speaking in unison, but it is also true because whatever they say becomes true. (As wish.)