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CC: On the efficacy of utilizing Slimes for Civic Waste Removal

When you fail to emulate Mr. Clean's footsteps.
I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to anyone.

Hello friends, this is Chet Huntley coming to you this week with a concerning issue. Today's column in the Oenopion Opine is one that concerns us all. As you know, our fair city has a tradition of . . . how would you call it, nonstandard waste management? And, while I understand the value of our unique heritage, I would be negligent of my duties as an investigative journalist if I did not re-examine the pros and cons of such practices.

I'll not sound the alarmist note of caution some of my peers in the fourth estate, regarding the so called 'danger' of keeping a heaping pile of ooze as a communal pet. History has made it abundantly clear that, as long as we keep it fed, it remains quite docile.

The downside of this policy being that the slime pit must be culled more often. Like the vines that overgrow your patio trellis, this pool of filth must occasionally be pruned back. The more it is fed the more often it must be pruned. And that my, dear colleagues, leads to two issues.

The first of these problems comes in the form of those that do the pruning. More often than not, the city guard lets this job to contractors. These contractors come from far and wide. And they bring with them all manner of strange behavior, crude mannerism, and general chaos. These are vagabonds, often criminals, that we invite into our fair city to clean up our mess.

Take, for instance, one group hired for just such waste disposal disposal duties this week. I spied the first member of this group the a few nights ago, on his way to the temple of Calistra. A gnome, someone tall for his people, with an air of mischief. His clothing marked him as an outsider. His manner marked of anticipation.

Now, you all know that I would never invade a citizen's privacy, but my legendary nose for news sniffed something irregular about him. And you should be glad I did, for he met with none other than Alia Irvere, the Anti Paladin of that same temple. Any of you who've followed my column up til now are aware of the dangers of this woman.

I was still grappling with the possible implications of their meet when the two went back inside. It was not long before it became obvious as to what the two were doing: namely each other. Their loud exclamations (many far too vile to report here) echoed through the church's halls for what seemed like hours. I must say, I was quite tempted to end that inquiry right there, but a good journalist learns to weather unpleasantness for the sake of the truth.

Not much longer than the sounds had died down, the Anti-Paladin reappeared, this time dragging a body bag. I surmised the contents (one foolish gnome) and followed. But, instead of dumping the body, as was her normal wont, she delivered it to the inn The Uptight Banker. The body was passed to what must have been the shortest Tiefling I've ever seen in my life.

The Tiefling showed no respect for the dead, taking the body and dragging it inside, head banging on the steps. I waited a reasonable time and then entered the lodge and booked myself a room as close to there's as I could manage.

The next day showed very little of interest. The party seemed six strong: a Tiefling Alchemist (we can only guess what trouble he'd get up to in our fair city), a Tiefling (Yes, another one) Cavalier, a Dwarf Barbarian (who would no doubt try to drink our slime pool if left unattended), a Werebat Rogue (Probably here for the town's purse), and a Human Fighter (Because apparently even this group must have one normal character).

The Dwarf in the party left in the morning, returning a few hours later with the announcement that he'd 'found work' for them. This my deepest fears; they were itinerant workers, most likely vagabonds, and judging by the concern they showed for their dead comrade, probably wanted outlaws. Exactly the type of people our watch is supposed to be keeping out of the city, yet here they were being hired to clean up our slime!

Normally I'd have had enough for this article and bowed my way out. But the puzzle of their dead gnome still intrigued me. There was no way a group like this had the ability to resurrect him, and there were no jobs for their like that would pay well enough for one. Yet they kept their rigor mortis addled ally around.

In fact, as I watched, the Tiefling removed said 'ally' from the bag, shaved his beard in the Fu Manchu style, died the back of his hair pink, and oiled his (presumably) belongings. Then he shoved said 'ally' back in the bag and resealed it. Nothing else of interest transpired until the next morning.

The next morning the corpse began moving in the bag.

I of course assumed the worst: Necromancy. In this I was pleasantly relieved.

The Tiefling opened the bag almost immediately, asking if the Gnome was okay. A shaky hand raised slowly out of the bag before making a thumbs up. This was followed by the statement "Worth it!", uttered from the bag. Then the Gnome clambered out. At that point, I knew he wasn't a zombie, but the means of his resurrection still eluded me.

The Gnome immediately went through his things, using Prestidigitation to remove the oil from his gear, and the pink on the back of his head. He then used it to add pink to the Tiefling, without ever asking who was responsible. They clearly knew each other.

Then the Gnome attempted to cast a Scorching Ray at the Tiefling, missing horribly. It's pure luck he didn't burn the inn down, a point immediately addressed by the inkeeper's bellowing voice. Did that stop this brotherly spat? Of course not! It was as the Gnome cast magic missile on his opponent that I realized the horrifying truth: they were brothers! As if a Tiefling wasn't bad enough, here we had a Gnomish Tiefling.

The inkeeper clearly agreed, for he apprehended, and thrust the two brothers outside, telling them to keep their squabbles there. Of course, that did not abate their little feud. They created quite the spectacle for passers by for near of an hour before tiring of their game. If you were on Alabaster Way two days ago you may have even seen it.

They only calmed down when the watch showed up. It was at that point that the Tiefling brazenly presented his hat, as if what we'd witnessed were nothing more than an innocent street play. But, I know magic my readers; this was the real thing, and it could have gone horribly wrong.

Afterwards the group retired to the inn's parlor, where the Dwarf tried to lay out the job they'd been offered. But, before he could the Gnome produced a small twenty sided object made of bone and rolled it on the floor. He immediately began to emit a foul stench. The Tiefling took up the die and rolled it, and immediately became paralyzed.

I must admit, it took me a few moments to realize what was happening. In my defense, I never thought I'd see a Knucklbone of Fickle Fortune in my life. And I always figured that if I did, the owner would treat it like the chaotic danger it truly was. I certainly didn't expect to find the owner playing with it like it was a toy!

But, considering what came next I can't say I was surprised. Upon seeing the self inflicted plight of the Tiefling, his brother promptly went over and sat on his chest. Other members began moving his arms around to create distasteful (often to the point of disgusting) poses.

Eventually the woman in the party tired of this and moved the paralyzed Tiefling to the table. The Gnome offered to vote in proxy for his brother. There was no argument. Despite the fact that he'd previously been inflicting his stench on the helpless Tiefling.

But finally the Dwarf was able to get out his job offer. The group agreed quickly, too quickly if you ask me. It was clear that they were used to leaping into danger without a moment's thought. No doubt, when they die (and I pray its not here) some important person will come to inquire as to why. And trust me, that person will not take the explanation that they were idiots.

So agreed, the group dispersed. The Dwarf then hefted the Tiefling and walked out, saying something about using him as an explanation for why they couldn't do the job today. The Gnome followed, whether from curiosity or potential amusement I cannot say.

I can't say what happened as they left, but I imagine the old man offered them the standard compensation for slime fighting. I chose to stay and gain information on the rest of the group, though I must admit I failed to learn much more. I did learn that they call themselves 'The Delicious Cupcakes' for reasons I cannot possibly fathom.

An hour or so later the trio of representatives returned. The Tiefling was depositied in the yard where the Gnome continued to pose him. In the few hours remaining before his paralysis wore off he was: swimming, juggling, peeing, a scarecrow, a dog, the various stages of a cartwheel (which I have to admit was impressive) and saluting the passersby.

Once he regained control of his limbs things were relatively calm until the next day. The group mustered, as they'd been told to do, and were given a side of the square to defend. The lesser slimes came out when prodded and attacked.

Two things surprised me about this fight. The first surprise came in the form of the Gnome (naturally). He stood in the back, as any caster would, but failed to cast any spells. Then, when an ally took damage, he cast a flaming sphere on said ally. At first I thought this to be yet another of his twisted jokes, but then I realized that the flaming sphere was actually healing his allies. He was a phoenix blooded sorcerer. Can this group do nothing normally?

The other surprise came in the form of some new abilities on the parts of the slimes, and figures into my second point. The slimes began manipulating this group. The first set seemed to cause great resentment and distrust between them, although how they ever trusted each other to begin with is beyond me. The second set were able to cause fear and rage amongst the fighters. The third set came with a wide array of emotional options. And, from what I could see, these . . . cupcakes, managed to hold by the skin of their teeth. Several other groups were not as lucky.

{Player's Note: The third fight consisted of 6 slimes. One type lowered one's AC by 4 but increased their attack and damage by 1. One lowered attack and damage by 4. One made affected persons take any AOO they were offered, be it a friendly target or not. One required a will save just to be able to move away from an adjacent enemy.}

{Player's Note: Ironically, this was a ~CR 11 and a third fight for our APL 6 group that had just fought two other fights. To say that it was tough would be a bit of an understatement. Fortunately we have a ridiculous tank and an off healer that just happens to fly. By the end the barbarian was out of rage for the day, the sorcerer was out of spells, the alchemist was out of bombs/extracts, and the cavalier hadn't issued a single challenge. Because he might need it later . . .}

That's right friends, as we continue this cycle of feed and cull, these slimes are gaining new abilities. They are evolving. They are becoming more dangerous. How much longer can we allow the mayor to carry this on as thought it were business as usual? How much longer until random travelers will no longer be enough? How much longer until the slime pool is unstoppable? Friends we have to act now while we still can. This cycle cannot be allowed to continue.

#CC #CaravanOfChaos #OpEd #StopTheSlimes

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