Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Golden Heresy: Known Threats of Rustidium


World 937, nicknamed "Rustidium" by the Celestial Cartography Guild is an example of a world where industrialization went horribly wrong. At some point a mix of tainted magic, pollution, and disease pushed the dominant civilizations into a resource rush, and then into global war. Biological, chemical, necromantic, druidic, robotic, and eventually "dirty" atomic warfare between Superpowers led to a massive collapse of several nations. Full-out atomic war followed, leaving a planet incapable of sustaining civilization at all.

Tainted by wild magic, roaming undead, lingering disease, and radiation, Rustidium would be the list of Forbidden Planets, but the Guild, at the urging of the Chaos Wizards has kept an observation station over the planet to let the world serve as an exemplar as to why certain technologies and magics are forbidden, even to the Godless.

Accordingly, many of its most significant threats are catalogue by the CCG to assess dangers to forays both on Rustidium and similar worlds.


Mutagenic Plagues

Many engineered viruses remain in spore form in ditches, cisterns, underground chambers, etc. Especially tainting water and local flora. Most cannot be cleansed simply by boiling the water. Magical purification is the only means available that can be certain to render local foodstuffs safe. If it is unavailable, focus on eating meat protein and gathering rainwater. Do not collect standing groundwater.

These diseases are not immediately lethal. They are designed to transform humanoid life into biological weapons. Most of the viruses themselves have mutated and decayed over generations of mutation and radiation exposure. They are now far less predictable than they were when they were used 1300 years ago.


Low standing water is also often tainted by radioactive fallout. While this fallout is fairly decayed, it still can cause burns that cannot be cured by normal means. 


Much of the landscape of Rustidium is covered with jagged metal from the ruins of industrial-era technology. Just navigating the landscape exposes explorers to the danger of being cut on razor sharp rusted metal. Any visitors are advised to seek immunization to tetanus before visiting this world and wearing protective gear. 

Unexploded Munitions

Left-over shells, land Mines, and booby traps litter the most devastated parts of the landscape. A specialist should scout ruins before any other team members enter them. 

Flora & Fauna

Biting Melons

Thorny yellowish "rust melons" grow all over the ruins of Rustidium which are one of the safest food sources available. Their vines naturally filter radiation and viruses, ensuring an edible if tough and difficult to eat fruit. Those wanting to eat the melon must contend with a leathery rind and protruding spines that emerge at odd angles from the melon's core. It is advisable to cut flesh from the melon and examine for thorns before eating. 

The larger risk is from a species of carnivorous plant nicknamed the biting melon. This ambush predator settles down near a patch of melons and remains motionless. It is nearly indistinguishable from the rust melon until its "melons" reveal themselves to be snaggle-toothed maws when it attacks. 

Both rust melons and biting melons produce vines that are tougher and lighter than hempen rope and can be used as such if the outer skin is carefully burned off. 


There are a few small clannish groups of Humans and Dwarves can be found scattered across Rustidium. Despite having over a millennium to rebuild, they remain scavengers with no meaningful civilization beyond simple farming. It is evident that generation of exposure to the Mutagenic Viruses left in the environment have affected their levels of aggression and cognitive abilities. 

Attempts to offer aid and membership in the Great Liberation have been met with deception and then violence; they have stake, killed, and eaten every off-worlder they have encountered. 

Gamma Raptors

Heavily mutated dinosaurs can be found all over Rustidium, and are usually shy of humankind, but dangerous if threatened. The Gamma raptors, however, will actively hunt humans. These turkey-sized feathered predators use hit-and-run tactics to weaken prey, then swarm wounded targets that fall behind. They hunt in packs of 3-12. Their bite often carries local toxins. 

Hot Zombies

During the wars that devastated Rustidium, zombified bodies were sent into tactically sensitive areas with orders to kill anything that enters their vicinity. Normally, zombies are limited by their decay; eventually they become too rotten to move, begin to fall apart, and deanimate. However many of these weaponized zombies were heavily irradiated. They still remain too radioactive for saprophitic bacteria to settle on them, and so they do not rot. They continue to patrol their interdiction zones and attack intruders, often causing radiation burns with their touch. 


These noisy, rattling bicopters are the remnants of an AI-driven experiment in automated warfare. They are designed to be able to self-repair and assimilate new equipment. Over the centuries they have modified themselves to run on heavy water. They have built in ammunition factories, and are often equipped with strange weapons. They would be more formidable if they were not reliant on corroded junk for materials. 

As it is, they have become unstable, prone to malfunction, and easily confused. They often swoop down to check the identity of wanderers, only to fly off satisfied that they are authorized personnel of armies gone 1300 years. They occasionally start following Dwarves like lost pets. Other times they kill on sight. 


Megaroaches are only seen deep underground or in areas with dense ruins at night. These dog-sized cockroaches are afraid of light. They will never enter an area of bright light, but they are brazen about attacking lone targets in the dark.  Their spittle is highly caustic, and can damage armor.

Slow Mutants

These creatures are what is left of the human and demihuman populations that tried to hide from the apocalypse in subway tunnels, basements, cisterns, and other unsealed underground hideouts. Bombarded with dark magic, mutagens, bio weapons, and radiation, they have been reduced to quivering, semi-gelatinous things that shamble in the darkest deeps, living on rats and megaroaches. Their kissing, slurping, and babbling sounds are known to make explorers go mad with fear. While they are individually slow and weak, they live in numbers and work together to drive prey into crowds.


  1. The whimsy of the Killdrones is a nice, lightening touch.

    1. Why, thank you.

      The way I figured it, any fool can add an unfeeling killing machine in their game. If you wanted to take it to the next level, it could be cute or lovable... But final boss level? Make the PCs both want it around, and be aware that it is a ticking time bomb. 😈

      I have a soft spot for Drones, anyway. My XK Innovations X-380 is my baby.

  2. Replies
    1. You definitely have a seat at the table, if I ever actually get this one off the ground.