Bestiarium of the Black Goat: Morskfarch

“The beasts broke free… there was no where to go. Just the ship. And them. Ye ever seen a morsk go crazy with killing rage? Well, I haven’t much either– because I jumped overboard with a few others. They died, I lived. Last I saw was the shapes of men on our ship, in the fog, and they were all… screaming. Not for long, though. Not for long.” — Jameaton Gallehir, only survivor of the Mariah vin Aumark

The places found off the coasts of Fylgr are filled with many kinds of curiosities, excitement, mystery, and pure horror. Throughout the Maelstrom Seas and Northern Drink, many islands can be found, all harboring strange, new, and often reemerged treasures and creatures, thanks to the onset of the Kyrbus.

scary_walrus
Morskfarch, known to many as simply morsk, are one of these creatures. Thought to have died out thousands of years ago, these seal-like monstrosities have popped back up, starting the morsk trade anew. A practice called “farching” has begun to grab some coastal communities, and woe betide those families who must watch their loved one head out to trap, kill, and sometimes retrieve morskfarchs.

You see, farching is extremely dangerous for a few reasons. The morsk is a creature virtually immune to nearly all magics, poisons, and has a hide that turns away most weapons. Its sub-dermal blubber is a substance of myth and legend and highly sought after. But morsks are extraordinarily aggressive, especially during mating season…

And it’s always mating season for the morskfarch.

This creature does have many uses. With the right blacksmith/armorer- alchemist, it’s hide and blubber can be turned into insanely tough and magically resistant armors. Its tusks and bones make for vicious weaponry, but it takes a highly specialized weaponsmith to make them just right. Otherwise, one is stuck with simply a tusk– one that can punch right through plate armors. Morsk teeth are used for special marksmen’s and assassins’ arrow/bolt heads. It’s meat and blood are also poisonous to most species, causing a frenzied hallucinatory state  which normally results in death. The morsk’s pancreas is edible, though, and fetches quite the price on the exotic food market.

Entire expeditions are put together for farching. Whole mini-fleets might be set up by wealthy merchants and kings in order to bring in one or two morsks. Some folks who specialize in hunting and trapping sea creatures, like Leviathaneers, can go from rags to riches overnight with a small elite crew and one morsk kill.

While maps with “mosrk marks” are valuable, most sailors use these maps to avoid the islands where morsks are. Crews train on how to best evacuate an island as soon as possible when a morsk sighting occurs. It cannot be stressed enough just how terrifying a morskfarch is.

morsk_close_up

Not long ago, a rookery of morsks appeared near Aumark, making for the first sighting of morskfarch on the Fylgrian realms’ mainland in over a thousand years. Panic spread fast, and it took a small army to drive them away, with only one pup being captured, its fate undetermined.

It is likely that pup was taken away to be trained. Morsks that are trained in servicing their masters are mind-breakingly effective “attack dogs”, and it’s known that a few expeditions into savage, untamed Kulm in the southwest of the Fylgrian lands have had trained morskfarch with them, fighting fire with fire as it were.

BIOLOGY: The morskfarch is a creature comprised of anger, hunger, and aggressiveness. Its psychology seems to revolve around its rookery, or family group, which it seems to love more than anything else. Famous Leviathaneers talk about how a morsk bull will sacrifice itself for its rookery, going on a killing spree for long enough for its family to get away. Morsk cows are every bit as deadly as the bulls, and even their pups are dangerous not long after birth. There are few animals as pernicious as the morsk. When you consider that even this species’ babies can wipe out a hamlet in under an hour, you would begin to wonder why Fylgr hasn’t been overrun with them.

These creatures have large frontal tusks that they can use with expert proficiency. The morsk has an interesting jaw structure, allowing for it to spear its prey and begin separately chewing it while it shrieks in abject fear. It’s saliva has a sweet and salty smell, which some survivors have described as “the sweet old man of the sea” and claim that they always smell it wherever they go, for the rest of their lives.

Morsk hide is like steel, with its leathery skin protecting against most mundane weapons, and its special blubber being almost impenetrable, turning away most blade. Even gunpowder weapons and siege weapons have a difficult time taking these beasts down. Its teeth are like razors, its tusks spears of death. It even has claws, but those are almost incidental when one considers everything else… the claws help with quick maneuvering.

Yes, morsk are swift on land as they are at sea.

It should go without saying that they’re very strong, tough, have great endurance, and are infamous for their tenacity.

Morskfarch breed very slowly, with a cow birthing maybe two pups at one time every decade or so. The pups’ survival rate is high, but they need more nutrition from the primary source of food the morsk have: the knau fruit. While adult morsk are omnivorous, they never stray far from the hardshelled knau fruit, which has a delicious and sweet creamy “flesh” inside. The knau resembles a large nut that grows on trees on various islands, and is considered to be quite nutritious, provided one can penetrate the shell. The morkfarch have zero problems with the shell, using their tusk to penetrate it.  The average lifespan of a morsk is around 90 years. They have a long memory to boot.  Morskfarch are known by hunters for their grudges…

Adult morsk usually develop a taste for meat– warm meat– and so many will go from island to island hunting for animals. Study of this creatures shows that them seem to get excited over the amount of noise their prey makes, so screaming humans are a fan favorite of the morsk. Still, they need knau to survive, it would seem, and so the mainlands are safe… for now.

Play the morskfarch as a scary boogeyman creature in your games, having it stalk and mess with the players. Think of these critters as something truly terrifying and dangerous, only using them sparingly. Though a full on “morsk hunt” can make for a good series of nail-biting adventure. Especially if the commissioners of farching expedition want to capture morsk pups. As you may guess, playing dead around these monsters certainly helps with the whole “surviving an encounter” thing.

A morsk grudge can also be worked into a game. Revenge is the ONLY thing that will motivate a morskfarch to leave its rookery and knau supply to head for the mainlands in order to find its intended target. Old morsk bodies of those who have perished (most likely from starvation) can be the impetus for adventure, making for a delightfully and deliciously grave treasure hunt. After all, a morsk corpse is a trove of amazing wealth and power.

morsk skeleton

There’ll be more about the morskfarch in the future, to be added to BGG products. In the meantime, take this information and run with it. Sure, a walrus creature seems silly– and use this to your advantage, fellow gamemasters. Like dire penguins, these critters can be used to make your players laugh whilst you brutalize them. The morsk is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to be alive to kill people, with its very corpse being invaluable. Hmmm… what about an undead morskfarch?

Perilous ideas abound, indeed!

All images in the public domain.
Morskfarch created by Nicole Turner and Steven G. Saunders
Your thoughts are always welcome! Comment or email kissthegoat @ blackgoatgames.com

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