The most fearsome drow aren't satisfied with the mere defeat and death of their foes, preferring to defile their enemies in horrific ways. The most gruesome form of transformation assaults their enemies' very essence through the complicated process of fleshwarping.
Fleshwarping is the practice of altering a creature's physical form and mental state by way of a grisly mystical and alchemical process. It starts with submerging the subject in a vat filled with a magical and alchemical goo concocted of strange reagents, and infused with a multitude of living insects and other vermin. The goo dissolves and reshapes the flesh and bone of the subject while the vermin eat away at unwanted flesh, making way for the new, alchemically grown flesh to take hold. The process is torturous, and the subject is kept alive and conscious throughout it.
Depending on the base creature being fleshwarped, the heinous process lasts days, weeks, or even months. The entire time, it's overseen by a fleshwarper—a craftsperson whose perverse curiosity trumps any regard for life or sanity. This fleshwarper pokes and prods at the subject, flaying the skin and committing other atrocious tortures when necessary, manipulating the vermin as needed, and making sure the mix of reagents in the fleshwarping goo is correct at every stage of the occult process. Once the process is complete, the transformed abomination is expected to free itself from the fleshwarping goo; those that fail to do so are summarily slaughtered.
The end result is something both more and less than the base form. Though the process is basically the same for every type of creature the drow experiment on, the results are drastically different. A fleshwarped drow becomes a drider. A fleshwarped elf becomes an irnakurse, and a fleshwarped troglodyte becomes a ghonhatine. Some races seem to resist the process of fleshwarping altogether—dwarves have never been successfully fleshwarped, and most fey are particularly resilient to the process. What is generally true about fleshwarping is that inherently evil creatures that go through the process tend to be more useful to the drow than those who start out good. The most useful of the fleshwarps are those created from other drow. These unfortunate subjects are typically those who fail their house or are born with physical or mental defects. Unlike other fleshwarps, who tend to be sterile or lack the organs or ability to procreate, driders are a race unto themselves and are capable of procreation.
The process of creating a fleshwarp is dangerous to the base creature and expensive for the creator. During the process, the subject is wracked with excruciating pain, and takes 2d6 points of Constitution damage (Fortitude DC 15 half ). The reagents that constitute the goo cost at least 10,000 gp, and the rarer specimens of vermin used to facilitate fleshwarping can cost just as much if bought on the open market.
It's often said that the drow learned the gruesome art of fleshwarping as a reward for obscene pacts they made with some demon lord, but the identity of the demon lord who bestowed knowledge of the foul process changes with each telling of the tale.
There are other cultures that also understand and use fleshwarping, but they tend to be either ancient or very secretive and xenophobic. Sinspawn, fleshdregs, and the lamia-based hungerer are just some examples of non-drow fleshwarps.
Drow fleshwarpers continually experiment to discover new fleshwarps. Here is a list of the most common fleshwarps.
- Drider (drow): Driders are the first and most numerous of the fleshwarped creatures created by the drow. They are the only fleshwarped creatures known to breed true.
- Ghonhatine (troglodytes): These fleshwarps are nearly twice the size of troglodytes and are far more bestial and fearsome.
- Gomnits (gnomes): Gnomes subjected to this process are transformed into something that resembles a vicious, mushroom-like humanoid.
- Grothlut (humans): Fleshwarped humans are transformed into mindless, sluglike things.
- Gublasks (goblins): Goblins transformed by fleshwarping grow a chitinous skin, and their arms are transformed into whiplike stingers.
- Halsora (vegepygmies): Fleshwarped vegepygmies grow stockier and stronger, and their sunken eyes release a stream of acidic black tears.
- Irnakurse (elves): Drow particularly prize these tentacled treelike horrors created from their hated kin.
- Jashoi (halfling): Fleshwarped halflings become bizarre, doglike quadrupeds which are annoying and difficult to control. As a result, drow rarely fleshwarp halflings.
- Oronci (orcs): An oronci has the upper body of an orc and the lower body of a centipede, complete with poisonous spittle.
- Urgoci (ogre): An ogre's hind legs shrink down to vestigial stumps. Its forearms lengthen, and are used to pull the vestigial lower body along. A mass of serpentine tentacles sprouts from its shoulders and upper torso.
“Fleshwarped” is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal creature. The resulting creature retains all of the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
CR: +1, unless the fleshwarping weakens the creature’s primary means of attacking and defending.
Special Abilities: A fleshwarped creature gains a single special attack, defense, or quality chosen by its creator—typically a physical ability, such as +2 to natural armor, a new natural attack like a bite or a tentacle attack, a new movement mode, a new sense, or an ability such as a breath weapon, ferocity, or grab. The new ability should be comparable to those of other monsters of the base creature’s CR.
Abilities: A fleshwarped creature gains a +4 bonus on one ability score and a –4 penalty on two other ability scores, as chosen by its creator.