Full Item Description
Despite its impressive name, the Saristreea Grenade is a lackluster weapon. It is normally a five gallon sized hogshead barrel that has been sealed with wax and marked with dire and ominous warnings. Loaded into a trebuchet or a catapult, the barrel is flung into enemy strongholds and fortified positions. Upon impact, a vaporizing agent in the mixture quickly renders the liquid inside into a cloying cloud of dense white smoke.
The war between the city-states of Nimz and Cheelstat was a long and brutal affair. Rather than the clash of swords and clatter of knightly hooves, the field of battle was scarred and rent by the massive siege engines and war golems of the Nimzians and their nationalist foes, the Cheelstat Regime. Within two years, most of the land around the city of Nimz was a bleak wasteland of trenches burrowed into the ground by special automata. Towers rose from this labyrinth of trenches, command posts, and siege batteries. On the opposite side of the Nimzian lines were the fortifications of the Cheelstaters, an equally dense maze of trenches, towers, and palisade walls.
The war proved that neither side could win by sheer force of numbers or by mobility. It had turned into a meatgrinder between poorly armed and trained militia companies, scattered bands of mercenaries and crews of repeating crossbowmen, arbalesteers, and trebuchet engineers.
As this war dragged on, the powers that were demanded new weapons to defeat the enemy, pushing their mages, alchemists, and artificiers to find more effective ways to terrorize and slaughter their foes. Crossbow design changed more in the first three years of the conflict than it had in more than 300 years of basic use. Another thing that was created were special munitions to be fired from the trebuchets. The Saristreea Grenade was one of the most terrifying and effective of the Cheelstat Terror weapons. As the wooden canisters fell and shattered, the corpses of the dead rose up from where they were and fell on the living as zombies are want to do.
Eventually the grenade was countered, not by alchemical means but by battlefield triage and recovery and removal of bodies. Eventually the Nimzian Sawbones and cartmen were able to keep their trenches clear of dead bodies which greatly reduced the effectiveness of the Saristreea grenade.
The vapors put off by a destructed casque of Saristreea are caustic to living tissue. While not as effective or lethal as mustard gas or chlorine gas, it is certainly signifigantly more potent than modern tear gas. Protracted exposure can cause death, but most survive the gaw with burns to the eyes and mucus membranes and loose the ability to smell.
As mentioned above, the effect of the gas on the dead is much worse. Sloughing the outer layers of skin, and often some layers of fat and muscle, the corpses of the dead staggering into undeath. This is a short term magical effect, and zombies and skeletons animated by this cloud only last for a few hours before collapsing to the ground. While this limits their effectiveness, there is no limit to the number of times a corpse will rise to the call of the Saristreea.