They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.The translation here is more poetic and practical than literal — “destroy their offspring” literally means “cast away fetuses.” I always find it fascinating how little human behavior changes over time. The ways in which modern Americans behave in a similar fashion to pagan Rome and the ways in which Christians criticize such behavior in both contexts never ceases to amaze me.
In context of an FRPG this little phrase opens the door to a horror element in the campaign world that suggests one of my favorite intelligent undead. In the MMI, ghouls are described as “undead” with quotes:
Ghouls are “undead,” once human creatures which feed on human and other corpses…their change from human to ghoul has deranged and destroyed their minds…Ghasts are described:
These creatures are so like ghouls as to be completely indistinguishable from them…however…they exude a carrion stench in a 10’ radius which causes retching and nausea unless a saving throw versus poison is made.In addition, while the stat block of ghouls indicate they have low intelligence, the ghast stat block indicates that they are very intelligent.
Imagine, for a moment, that the reason the Empire so blithely “casts away fetuses” is that not only are they considered delicacies by the aristocracy, but are an important rite of passage for the upper classes. Regular consumption of dead human flesh turns the aristocracy into “undead.” This process destroys the minds of the weak, thus culling from the aristocratic class members who cannot stoop to such debauchery.
This all suggests that the elders within aristocratic houses are all ghasts and regularly hold fetes where human fetuses are the center piece of the main course. Since ghasts exude a rancid stench of such potency as to require a saving throw, perfume would be in very high demand among the upper echelons of the imperial elite.
In fact, I could well imagine an entire adventure centered around the theft of a shipment of perfume to a ghast just ahead of having to make a public appearance…
This all implies the delicious irony that PCs who throw their lot in with one of the aristocratic houses will be working for a baby-consuming ghast. It would be very interesting to see player’s reactions when they realize the truth.