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Milgrak advised me to contact you as soon as you brought him an unusual gown your slain vampiress was wearing, apparently the work of the peerless Borcan fashion designer Bertold Iacomo. On your life, let no one know you possess the Iacomo Rose! It’s not cursed in the typical sense, but it’s hunted by many desperate and resourceful parties, servants of the one who took a thing of beauty and made it a venomous weapon. Many who have vanquished immortal creatures of the night have been unprepared to face the true ruthlessness of mortals in the daytime. I will tell you what I can….
Master poisoner Ivan Dilisnya’s creativity and cruelty have borne strange and bitter fruit that take many by surprise. PC’s with plenty of antitoxin can still fall prey to these stranger facets of Ivan’s poison politics.
1) Borrowed Time
Ivan’s inner circle of guards knows that if he dies, he takes with him the formula for Mercy, the temporary antidote that delays the fatal Borrowed Time in their systems for one more day. Of course, these servants cannot travel far without additional Mercy to take with them, but there are rumors that a few have magical delivery methods for long distance travel. Having learned the hard way that some would spend their last day in suicidal revenge, Ivan considers carefully before starting the week-long process of poisoning a new recruit, and prefers condemned criminals who genuinely see the poison as a reprieve.
2) Gravitas Gravis
The faux-Darkonese name is painful, but no one would dare correct Ivan’s grammar. Upon hearing of Somnos wine from Darkon, he created his own fast-acting intoxicant to loosen lips. A mind clouded by it is prone to rambling and finds everything funny, but nothing more hilarious than divulging their own secrets. Many screams heard in Degravo are actually the sounds of people recovering, realizing that they have gleefully destroyed themselves with barely any interrogation at all.
3) The Iacomo Rose
This blush-colored taffeta gown was worth more than a small farm when Ivana gave it to a foreign agent provocateur to help seduce Ivan. Wise to their intrigues, Ivan used his Envenom ability to infuse the dress with strength-draining contact poison, but the woman inexplicably ignored the effects and fled to Dementlieu with the dress. Now Ivan seeks the dress in the hopes of understanding what went wrong. The lethal poison actually prevents mold and mildew, and if handled with the accompanying unvenomed gloves someone might live long enough to try it on.
Similar in some ways to catalytic poison, banewort preparation is blended with another plant to make the victim allergic to that plant for several hours. Some of Ivan’s quislings are fond of blending it with wolvesbane to make “varcolac,” which makes it appear the victim is infected with lycanthropy. Victims may isolate themselves from their allies if they believe the ruse, and may draw the attention of monster hunters either way. Rumor has it that Ivan has created similar alchemical preparations that create temporary allergy to a specific metal, such as silver, gold or cold iron.
A form of catalytic poison combined with ether, naptha and a sample of the victim’s hair, this oily liquid slowly evaporates to create thick vapors that cause one specific person to lose consciousness. The poison runs out faster when burned but the effect is much stronger, and dried tobacco can absorb quite a volume in lampwick and still remain flammable. Many of Ivan’s more subtle hunters are fond of lampwick pipes or cigars, surrounding themselves in clouds of smoke in situations where they might confront a target in public, and even blowing a puff of sleep-smoke as a direct weapon.
6) Night Ride
This poison has two possible effects, both diabolically subtle. A single dose up to four hours before sleeping will disrupt sleep ever so slightly, causing the victim to talk or even walk in their sleep. A clever person can manipulate the sleeping victim into confessing secrets, implant a suggestion, or direct specific actions of the sleeper. A double dose will allow the victim to sleep normally to observers, but they will wake exhausted, the poison having prevented them from getting any rest. The former is popular in situations where blackmail is preferable to murder. The latter is generally part of a gaslighting campaign, or to keep a foe from restoring strength.
Ivan’s obsession with eternal youth led him to rumors of a Valachani sorcerer’s elixir of immortality. All attempts to reproduce the formula yielded only spectacular deaths, but Ivan saved one of the failures for when he isn’t concerned about collateral damage or cleanup. A bottle of this bright green liquid grants acid and fire immunity and fast healing, but the victim suffers increasing nausea, interspersed by vomiting monstrous oozes and slimes made from their own dissolving organs. Over the course of three days, the victim continues to live sans spleen, stomach, lungs and finally heart, growing thinner and paler with each purge until they collapse into a featureless puddle. No one knows if the original person’s mind remains intact. If so, and if they are truly immortal, this may be the worst fate Ivan has inflicted on anyone.
I don’t mean to frighten you, nor would I extort your property from you. My offer is a fair price for a dress that cannot be safely worn and attracts unwanted attention, and none of the others hunting it will make such an offer. Indeed, you may be lucky if they let you keep your life.
Dr. Phillippe Delapont
Leyshon Campbell has been playing and writing for Ravenloft for over twenty years, from the Kargatane's Book of S series, playtesting D&D 3E in a Ravenloft campaign, to the ill-fated Masque of the Jade Horror. He married his wife on Friday the 13th after proposing to her on Halloween. By tradition, the first story read at birth to each of their three children was The Barker’s Tour, from Ravenloft’s “Carnival” supplement.
Picture Reference: https://io9.gizmodo.com/strychnine-a-brief-history-of-the-worlds-least-subtle-1727903421
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