Whatever he was, whoever, that personality, that mind, is just tattered shreds now. A mess of torn cloth held together by vicious instinct. The person you knew is dead. The Ortug is something else.
– Maol Walker, Anhur Company
Also Known as: Demon, Cursed, Mutants, Abominations, Orug, Urgog, Muj.-Yogo, Neh.-Ravana, Oss.-Phenax
Hazard Level: Variable
Ortug are strange and dangerous aberrations that lurk in ruins and wilderness, living either as solitary horrors or assembling savage followers through fear and power. Both monstrosity and victim, the Ortug is the horrifying result of exposing any animal to an arcane shadow. These shadows are areas of residual occult phenomena that boil flesh, warp bone, and ravage the mind of any unfortunate entity that lingers within. While the term ‘Ortug’ is applied to any animal that survives this grisly process, it is most often used to refer to humans who have undergone this torment. Most victims are driven into a permanent psychotic state, their minds lost beyond all hope of recovery and their bodies rendered into unnatural weapons. Each Ortug is unique, with no universal shape, but there are a variety of traits that seem to be most common and are listed below. The relative danger posed by an Ortug depends entirely on the nature of its mutations.
Ortug are the mutated children of the Urul, spawned from the wounds that were inflicted on the First Imperium. The immense arcane forces that shattered Imperial cities and shifted the very landscape of the world left shadows of arcane energy scattered across the continent. These shadows now breed Ortug and while they are found in the greatest numbers in and around the Badlands, Nehep, the Chillwaste, and certain parts of Mujin where the necessary conditions are most common, they can occur anywhere the war of the ancients was waged, making any Urul ruin a potential source of Ortug.
While there is no common physical description of Ortug, legends and stories have made their aberrant traits well enough known for most travelers to recognize them; hideous parodies of normal biology that evoke visceral fear, disgust, and despair in those who look upon them. Loping, skeletal figures with tentacles spilling from their mouths and hardened chitinous flesh, hulking, horned creatures with too many eyes and mouths, or oozing, hairless, lopsided entities with arms sprouting from their stomach.
Whatever the shape, human’s are the most common raw material for Ortug as savages, explorers, and soldiers are often drawn to the darkest of first age ruins in pursuit of glory and profit while most animals are instinctively driven to avoid such places.
The intelligence of the Ortug seems to be tied to the species from which they were spawned, but the personalities and minds of the Warped are always unstable and most are reduced to basic primal impulses, seeking only to inflict pain and torment, to feed, and most grisly, to breed. Only a fraction of the species retains any semblance of sanity [see Ortug Vos below] One of the more distressing traits of the Ortug is that their traits can be passed to offspring and these unfortunates sometimes propagate their warped bloodlines by breeding.
While the conditions that give rise to Ortug are fairly well known, the exact nature of the Ortug condition is a topic of speculation among many lorekeepers:
- The most common and accepted viewpoint suggests chaotic mutation via unnatural force; an unfortunate affliction without any greater meaning.
- The more religious view the condition as a celestial curse; Ortug aren’t merely unlucky, they are targets of divine wrath, typically that of the laughing Ayr; the Scourge, the Tyrant, and the Deviant.
- A few lorekeepers who have dared to study this foul phenomena and managed to capture an Ortug for observation, have suggested that there is more than mutation occurring in these monstrosities; they have suggested that the minds of the Ortug are not precisely mad, but are instead possessed by some malevolent spirit. They believe the Ortug have been hollowed out, made home to dark and alien intellects not of this realm who sustain their hosts through the terrible process of alteration. They point to the strange and incomprehensible gibbering of many Ortug, a combination of some unknown language and the hosts own native tongue, as support for this theory.
Ortug, Sucha, and Xia: To those who study them, there are several similarities between the Ortug and mistborn Sucha of Mujin, from their hideous forms and malicious intellects to the strange and otherworldly conditions that spawn them. It is equally notable then that in the rare instances they interact, Sucha will go out of their way to slaughter Ortug and vice versa. Some Mujinese records even tell of Sucha abandoning easier prey in order to pursue Ortug. Whatever the ancient, unknown enmity that drives both species, the result seems to be a suicidal rage that results in the death of one or both. Even more curious is that some Ortug demonstrate several traits similar to the warrior-errants of Mujin known as the Xia.
Ortug Vos: Though the term is relative, some Ortug are more cogent than others, but no less dangerous for it. These “Ortug Vos” as they are known are less feral and aggressive than their cousins and, driven by nebulous goals and logic, seek to speak their abyssal litanies to audiences of man and beast. (Some rumors suggest that when such Ortug slip into the common tongue their words can drive their audiences insane). It is Ortug Vos that tend to gather followers, human and otherwise, who perceive some meaning or truth in the Ortug’s seemingly incomprehensible ramblings. Extended exposure to such Ortug has the effect of driving many mad, but also granting them strange abilities of perception, glimpses into alternate axes of reality.
Anechoic: The creature has developed an immunity to the Lingua Arcana.
Barbs: The creature grows rows of barbs on the arms, back, legs, and even face that are sharp enough to cut flesh.
Chromatophores: The creature develops a layer of colour shifting cells that allow it to change its colour and blend into any environment.
Creep Fingers: The creatures fingers grow long and numerous.
Demon Flesh: The creatures skin is hardened to a natural armour.
Digitigrade Legs: The creature develops digitigrade legs.
Endoparasitic: The creature gains the ability to implant a larval offspring in the body of a victim. This parasitic offspring will consume the victim on birth.
Exoskeleton: The creature develops chitinous plates of armour across its body.
Extra Limb(s): The creature grows one or more new limbs from their spine, shoulder, or gut, often with hook like hands or grasping talons.
Eyes: The creature grows additional eyes on its body, often distinctly alien in shape and colour.
Gaunt: The creature’s fat sloughs from their body, leaving only a sinewy, skeletal form.
Glabrous: The creature sheds all hair.
Glue Tongue: The creature develops a long and extremely sticky tongue, longer than its body.
Gut Tendril: The creatures stomach splits open and grows a mass of powerful tentacles.
Hive: The creature’s body becomes a nest for some other species; a hive of parasitic wasps, a clutch of serpents, or gnawing rats.
Horns: The creature sprouts twisted or jagged horns from the brow or skull.
Hunched: The creature’s spine arcs and twists, leaving them hunched and loping.
Inverted: The creature’s insides are on its outside.
Lingua Sensitive: The creature has become sensitive to the Lingua Arcana.
Lopsided: The creature’s torso and limbs grow asymmetrically, leaving them mishapen and lurching.
Luminescent: The creature emits light in some fashion, either through bioluminescence or a more arcane mechanism.
Lure: The creature emits some signal or sign that attracts wildlife, people, or even other Ortug.
Mass: The creature grows significantly in both height and weight, in some cases up to doubling its size.
Maw: The creatures mouth becomes a horrific and gaping maw filled with rows of mismatched teeth and a blackened tongue covered in barbs.
Miasma: The creature develops overactive glands which exude a repellent smell.
Mighty: The creature’s body experiences massive muscle growth and the associated might.
Mouths: The creature’s body develops new mouths, often in strange places such as the chest, stomach or hands.
Mucosal: The creature’s flesh secretes a constant sheet of slimy mucus.
Out of Phase: The creature gains the ability to move in and out of phase with reality, much as Xia do with their Blink ability.
Photosensitive: The creature’s flesh is highly sensitive to light.
Protean: The creature’s traits continue to mutate and change, even long after exposure.
Proboscis: The creature’s mouth has become a sucking proboscis, not unlike an insect.
Protruding Skeleton: The creature’s skeleton has begun to protrude from its flesh.
Regen: The creature develops rapid healing that allows them to recover quickly from wounds.
Rotting: The creature’s flesh or organs rot, creating oozing wounds that exude putrescence.
Screaming: The creature is able to generate a constant and deafening noise.
Shadow Aura: The creature carries around a portion of the arcane that mutated it, warping other entities it comes into contact with.
Spine Barbs: The creature’s spine extrudes, creating a sharp fan along its back.
Swollen: The creature’s body bloats and sags like an overstuffed sack.
Tail: The creature grows one or several tails.
Talons: The creature’s hands are blackened and hardened into claws as hard as steel.
Tentacles: The creature’s arms and hands mutate into a sticky tentacle.
Toxic Blood: The creature’s blood has become extremely toxic.
Vaporous: The creature’s body seems to be at least partially ephemeral, able to pass through otherwise solid objects and control their density to strike through the armour of foes.
Vampiric: The creature gains sustenance and power from feeding on the blood of other species.
Withered: One of the creature’s limbs has withered into a bony, useless nub.