From the upcoming Ocean Game sourcebook…
There are bugs underneath the skin of the world.
Scratch, and they come out. Scurrying around in darkness. Fly the light.
They start out small. You’d mistake ‘em for silverfish, those little crawly things, like little white termites. But they grow. It’s when they’re as big as fat cockroaches that you see how wrong they are. Every one of ‘em’s fucked up in a different way. Too many legs, not enough. Too many heads.
Things like that shouldn’t live. But they do.
I hear them, gnawing at the wood in the walls. I hear them, crawling under my bed.
Under the skin of the world.
Under my skin.
Steerage are the vermin of the Outer Dark, the lowest grade of scavenger. They’re one of the smallest entities of Unremitting Horror, and so they can exploit the narrowest gaps in the Membrane. The appearance of a Steerage infestation is the first sign of an incipient breach (the Ordo Veritas closely monitors the records of insect exterminators and forensic entomologists, using Steerage as an early-warning system). Once in our reality, Steerage rapidly reproduce and grow, each generation of greater stature than the last. The Steerage that break through are almost microscopic; within a few months, you can get bugs the size of housecats on the wrong side of a breach.
Steerage are carnivorous. Small specimens can gorge themselves on skin flakes and shed hairs; bigger bugs won’t attack a healthy adult human, but would eager devour a corpse or attempt to take down a child or a vulnerable adult. Still, they’re not especially dangerous.
They are especially hideous, though. Steerage insects mutate with each generation, sprouting new limbs, organs and other body parts, becoming increasingly unfit and hideous. They integrate bits of debris from our world into their bodies, fusing with rubbish like discarded cigarette lighters, empty beer cars, crumpled fast food wrappers. (In the days of the pandemic, flying steerage became more common, making wings out of old surgical masks).
The presence of Steerage indicates a nearby gap in the Membrane. Ocean Game Players use Steerage as an indicator of Outer Dark activity – if there are Steer-bugs scuttling around, there’s a breach nearby.
The stats below are for a swarm of large Steerage; individual bugs are of no threat.
Abilities: Aberrance 4, Hide 10, Health 15, Scuffling 6
Hit Threshold: 2
Armor: None, but firearms and other projectiles deal no damage, and most other attacks only deal one damage. Area attacks (fire, bug spray) deal full damage.
Awareness Modifier: -2
Stealth Modifier: +2
Damage Modifier: -3 (swarm). Each successful attack by the swarm on the same target increases the damage modifier by 1. Moving away from the swarm resets the damage modifier.
That Which Remains
Outdoor Survival: The species is not native to the area – and doesn’t match anything you’ve ever encountered before.
Investigative Procedure: The corpse was completely stripped of all flesh and muscle tissue – even the cartilage from the kneecaps is gone. There’s no way to gain any useful information from it.
Notice: Hey, there’s a bug crawling out of that crack in the wall.
Science: The rate of mutation implies exposure to a powerful source of radiation or another mutagen – toxic chemicals in the water supply, maybe?
Fear Itself is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the creatures of the Outer Black? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.