Monday, January 23, 2012

In the Belly of the Beast

Leviathans are perhaps the largest and most mysterious denizens of the ocean depths. These gigantic creatures dwarf both whales and reptilian sea serpents. Their name in the gurgling language of the sea devils translates roughly as “monster-thing stronger than even the gods.” Despite their great size, the creatures are seldom seen, and carcasses are rarer still.

Some have suggested that the size of leviathans is impossible and therefore indicative of a magical nature. It has been theorized that the creatures' rarity is a by-product of the fact that they actually swim through the etheric substructure of reality, only passing through the physical world’s oceans incidentally.

The discovery of a leviathan carcass always instigates a mini-”gold rush.” The flesh and bone of the beast are of interest to alchemists (synthetic insulating blubber was an outgrowth of study of the leviathan) and thaumaturgists who use various leviathan parts for spell materials. Leviathan ambergris can be used to make perfumes and colognes easily infused with charm or suggestion properties. It’s also a psychoactive and can be smoked to produce a euphoric effect and intense sexual desire that in some individuals manifests a a mania lasting 10 x 1d4 minutes.

Less scientifically minded individuals hope to salvage treasure swallowed by the leviathan in its journeys. Whole ships laden with cargo are sometimes found (this is facilitated by the fact that internally leviathans are cavern-like, evidencing a strange paucity of organs). The loot-minded must be wary, however. Strange miasmas are sometimes produced inside a dead leviathan that can cause death or mutagenic effects on the unprotected.


The Angry Lurker said...

I take it like the Kraken seen in certain modern pirate movies?

Trey said...

I haven't seen that one, but probably. I was thinking more like the whale that swallowed Jonah or Pinocchio.

Gothridge Manor said...

I have a leviathan mythology in my world also. I think every gaming world needs one. I'll have to post mine later.

Hoping to get my hard copies of Weird Adventures today or tomorrow.

George said...

Sweet. I like this.

Tim - funny you should mention that. I'm hoping to get mine today or tomorrow. :)

garrisonjames said...

Carcass-divers; now there's a weird profession! Wow. What a great premise for some fiction!

richard said...

Some mystics claim that our own world is contained in the belly of the greatest of all Leviathans, or alternatively that we live on the carcass of such a monster, and its rich interior might be reached if only the opening could be found.

The Leviathan is also associated with law and the authority of the state, while the ship is the standard symbol for the body of the state (and therefore metonymically for the body of the head of state). The discovery of a leviathan that has swallowed a ship is therefore regarded as an extremely ill omen by sitting governments - a herald of revolution - because it symbolizes the law bursting the bounds of the state's body, and holding its leaders to account.

Attempts to preserve leviathans and use their bodies as gasbags for zeppelins have so farbeen unsuccessful.

Trey said...

Well played, Richard!