Victoriana is as much fantasy as it is rooted in 1850s history, so as I wrote about chimney sweeps my mind wandered into more fantastic waters. Fire elementals and medieval bestiaries kept popping up, but I didn’t have room for them in my previous posts. So now, here are some ideas and rules for Salamanders in Victoriana.
While many cold-blooded creatures thrive in heat, the salamander is truly Pyrophillious. Unlike the amphibian of the same name, salamanders rest in blazing flames without burning or bother. Fire warms their blood, cleans their skin, and serves as a sanctuary for eggs about to hatch. Should a fire grow too hot for the salamander’s tastes, glands in its skin sweat a milky flame-quenching liquid, a teaspoon of which dripped into a fireplace quickly extinguishes all flames leaving only lukewarm ash and smoke. Salamanders wander into camps and homes in search of unattended hearths or open flames. Modern industry attracted salamanders out of marshes and forests into the cities of Europe and Asia in search of a nice warm fire.
A fully grown salamander spans 2-4 feet from their blunt nose to their thick tail and weighs between 30 to 70 pounds. Their four legs terminate with curiously human-like hands. Moist pitch-black skin mottled with bright yellow stripes or spots covers their long chubby bodies. Strangely, the temperature of the fire surrounding their egg when they hatch drastically affects their coloration and demeanor. If their fire grows too warm, orange or even red hues creep into the yellow patches and their ferocity grows to the point of attacking with little provocation. If the fire dies before they hatch, their pigmentation dulls to a dark brown and they have a more docile temperament.
A deadly poison covers a salamander’s skin, causing irritation, hair loss, and convulsions upon contact. Prolonged exposure or ingestion brings death in minutes. Some medieval legends describe predatory salamanders killing a full grown man by leaping on his head, and rubbing their belly on his face. Paradoxically, the salamander’s excretions and skin save countless lives every year. Tanned salamander hide loses little of its inherent flame-retardant qualities. Salamander skin gloves protect engineers and craftsman attached to prestigious firms and the most successful chimney sweeps wear full suits of salamander skin when battling chimney fires, although many only claim to own a salamander suit in order to raise their credibility. Salamander farms collect their excretions for fighting fires and a host of industrial applications.
Salamanders are not native to the British Isles. The nearest native population of Salamanders slither in the French countryside across the channel, despite the efforts of local hunters to rid their home of such a dangerous creature.
Health Pips: 4
Pyrophillious- Salamander’s bodies are adapted to heat and possess Armor Value 8 against any fire damage. A salamander may spend an action to extinguish flames touching its body.
Regeneration x3- (See page 294 in Victoriana 3rd Edition Rulebook) In addition to quickly regaining hit points, Salamanders can regrow lost legs or a lost tail a few days after their loss. A Salamander’s body loses its regenerative abilities at death.
Poisonous Skin- Any character touching a salamander with their bare skin must pass a Fortitude test against the poison’s potency of 8. Whether they pass or fail, the character’s skin exposed to the poison turns bright red and stings causing -1 to the character’s Dexterity.
On a failure, the character suffers -2 health per round and an additional -1 to their Dexterity. These effects continue until the character passes a Fortitude test (5 black dice), another character passes a Medicine test with 5 black dice, or the character’s death.
Damage: Bite (2)
It was pretty nice to just come up with a monster this week after wallowing in horrid squalor, however we will return to the worst jobs of Victorian England next week with a look at Rat-Catchers. I hope you enjoy.