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Draug (Secret World)

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Putrid souls, stippled with eel holes, these unquiet dead, these hungry dead, with their milk-cataract stare. A few seagulls even remember the name: Draug-draug-draug-draug!
~ The Buzzing
The Draug are a major villainous species encountered in the Funcom MMORPG The Secret World. Based on the myths of Norse undead, the Draug have been reimagined as a Lovecraftian menace emerging from the depths of the oceans to plague Solomon Island; heralded by dense clouds of unnatural fog and the resurrection of the dead, they will not stop until the population of Kingsmouth has been converted into incubators for the next generation of Draug.

Basic Characteristics

A monstrous fusion of undead human and living aquatic life-form, the Draug spend most of their time deep in the Atlantic Ocean: from their hidden island in the Sargasso Sea, their hunting parties venture out to ensnare ships that drift too close to their territory, hauling them back to their mysterious isle in order to expand their numbers and territory. For this reason, the Draug have become the source of many oceanic ghost stories: among the more nautically-inclined Secret Worlders, tales of fog-shrouded graveyards of ancient ships strewn with red weed and swarming with the living dead are met with considerable fear and trepidation.

All Draug exhibit at least some piscine traits: lesser castes like the warriors and the witches remain predominantly human, only demonstrating features like barnacle clubs, lobster-chitin blades and lengths of octopus tentacles. The higher the caste, the less human they appear: Draug Behemoths are little more than giant two-legged crabs with only the barest hint of human ancestry protruding from their exoskeletons, while Draug Lords present no sign of human features whatsoever, being essentially warped hybrids of octopus and jellyfish.

In keeping with these traits, Draug are primarily amphibious: though they can survive on dry land easily enough, they prefer damp environments close to the water, only venturing far inland if they have no other choice. For this reason, most of the Draug horde attacking Kingsmouth remain at the shoreline to guard their spawning grounds, leaving inland fighting to the zombies they have created. On the few occasions when they do leave the beach, they often travel through the sewers and rivers, both for the sake of remaining close to the water and to launch sneak attacks on their inland prey.

Though they are similar to the slower breed of zombies encountered around the island, they are actually much more intelligent than these lesser forms of undead: divided into a strict hierarchy of castes and clans of varying intellect, most are capable of some degree of magical power, and are more than capable of appropriating human technology for use in defending their spawning grounds. Furthermore, lower-caste Draug can actually speak, and can often be heard shouting warcries in the Old Icelandic tongue of the original Draug; by contrast, the Lords of the upper caste communicate exclusively through telepathy, directing their underlings by will alone.

Unknown to most of the Secret World, the Draug are in fact the result of a unique strain of the Filth found in the waters of the Sargasso Sea, and thus serve the Dreamers just as loyally as the rest of their forces on Earth. In sharp comparison to the Filth's usual modus operandi of propagation through infection, the Draug expand their numbers through a much more concrete reproduction cycle, though it is still possible to become a Draug through exposure to the red weed of the Sargasso island - as Joe Slater found out the hard way.

Life Cycle

Though it might seem a bit contradictory for undead to possess anything close to a "life cycle," Draug follow a logical progression of spawning, birth, death and recycling - along with potential for metamorphosis. However, for all their lifelike attributes, they are still essentially undead and require zombies in order to expand their ranks, either gathered from the murdered crews of ships they've captured, from townsfolk lured out to sea by their siren song, or from graves their necromatic spells have permeated. As soon as zombies are secured, the majority of them are sent out to acquire more from inland, killing those who survived the initial siren song and allowing them to return to the shore as new zombies.

Those zombies who remain behind will be impregnated by the Broodwitches, transforming them into Incubators; hideously swollen by the developing egg sacs they carry, they wander around the beach for a time until the gestating embryo is large enough, whereupon they find a suitable spot to plant themselves. There, they transform into brood pods, giant eggs from which new Draug will eventually be born: the most common of these pods belong to warriors and witches, with higher-caste brood pods hidden deep within Draug territory; in contrast to their lesser counterparts, these pods are massive, often requiring significant quantities of biomass to form.

From there, the newborn Draug settle into predictable routines: the warriors defend the spawning ground, the mistcallers and the seacallers magically manipulate the weather in the favor of their clan, and the broodwitches go about making more zombies. After a few years of unlife, the overwhelming majority of these drones eventually dissolve into fertilizer to fuel the growth of new pods, assuming they aren't killed in battle. However, a few hardier specimens mutate further, ultimately developing into the Broodsources and Behemoths of the upper castes; in turn, these entities only grow more powerful as the centuries continue: the oldest and most powerful of the Draug are those who were first infected in the aftermath of the Darkness Wars.

Having been born from an infection of the Filth, the Draug still possess the potential to infect, though only through the red weed and toxic environment of their homeland in the Sargasso Sea: to date, Kingsmouth fisherman Joe Slater is the only modern example of a Draug infectee encountered in the game. According to the Bees, his transformation process was just as horrific as that of any infectee, if not worse, featuring barnacle sores, sprouting tentacles, varying species of coral fighting over his chest cavity, and many other horrific symptoms.

Castes

Warriors

The most common of all Draug encountered in the game, the warrior drones exist to protect the spawning grounds and destroy threats to the clan. Basically human in their appearance - decaying flesh aside - their only concession to their aquatic nature are the coral-formed weapons that have replaced their left arms: either wielding a barnacle-studded hammer or a thin blade of coral and chitin, they are often referred to as Maulers or Impalers for their choice in weaponry. A few (like Joe Slater) occasionally possess prehensile tentacles and other octopus growths. Many of these warriors demonstrate mild thaumaturgical abilities - though rarely to the extent that their cousins among the Witches do, only using their powers as an opening attack prior to a brutal melee. During the conquest of Solomon Island, these are the Draug most likely to be found on dry land, being numerous and expendable enough to be thrown at the enemy alongside the zombies.

Witches

A multipurpose caste exclusively comprised of female Draug, the witches serve a number of purposes around the shoreline spawning grounds, either turning the weather against their enemies, protecting the brood pods - or creating more of them. Descendants of the mages who tried and failed to cure the original Filth infections, Draug witches all wield magic in pursuit of their duties; many of them are locked in the same ritual trances their ancestors died in so many centuries ago, but instead of hearing the voice of the Norse gods and other benevolent spirits, now they exclusively hear the whispers of the Dreamers. They possess a greater capacity for independent thought than the warriors, and tend to act alone in combat in contrast to their regimented counterparts; perhaps because of this intelligence, they often perform more important tasks: Seacallers and Mistcallers manipulate the weather against their enemies, obscuring their spawning grounds with airborne Filth while calling upon the waters of the ocean to drown any intruders; the rare Deepcallers shepherd powerful Deep Ones into battle, and are often accompanied by Abyssal Atlantic Mutants. However, most important of all are the Broodwitches: easily recognized by the long tentacles sprouting from their chests, they impregnate the roaming zombie with Draug egg sacs injected by these very tentacles; however, they also know the magic of the Callers, and their tentacles are prehensile enough to serve as effective weapons in close-quarters.

Broodsources

Ascended witches swollen to monstrous corpulence, these Draug nobility interface frequently with their lesser counterparts, providing them with the enzymes needed to fuel the growth of new brood pods. Essentially living biochemical refineries, their bloated bodies churn out solutions to produce new Draug and enhance the speed of gestation: in emergencies, they can use this ability to drive lesser Draug into a frenzy of enhanced violence against the enemy. However, they also possess a much greater capacity for magic than they did in their Broodwitch days, bombarding enemies with foul waves and rolling Filth; next to the Lords, these are the most magically-inclined of all Draug.

Behemoths

The inevitable result of Draug warriors surviving their time of dissolution, Behemoths have grown immensely since then: colonized by countless forms of sea life, armed with massive crab claws and girded with a mixture of chitin and coral, these entities serve as living weapons for their clans. Next to the warriors, these can often be seen the furthest from the water, usually leading their lesser brethren in massive assaults on priority targets. As "The Search For Tyler Freeborn" demonstrates, they are capable of incredible feats of strength and resilience, capable of withstanding automatic gunfire from a helicopter and launching Orochi surveillance cars into the air.

Lords

The leaders of the clan, the jellyfish-like Lords direct their underlings through telepathy, commanding every stage of the invasion with vast, alien intellects. They only enter the fray when a problem demands their urgent attention - and even then, they rarely stray from the ocean, being the most aquatic of all Draug. In combat, they often hover several feet above the ground while bombarding their enemies with powerful magic; for this reason, they are usually at the very end of a combat mission, appearing only after all lesser threats have been dealt with. Unusually enough, the Lords are the only Draug with a lifelike maturation system: Draug Lord young are tiny creatures often referred to as "puppies," only growing into the colossal monstrosities encountered in the field after they have devoured enough corpses. Despite this rather morbid aspect, Draug Lord puppies are often encountered as pets available to the players.

Unique Draug

Joe Slater

A resident of Kingsmouth, Joe was a crewman aboard the Lady Margaret, a small fishing vessel regularly docked in Kingsmouth harbor. On one particularly unfortunate voyage into the North Atlantic, the ship was swept off course by a freak storm: when the sea calmed, the crew found themselves approaching an area not mentioned on any of their charts - the home of the Draug. As the Fog closed in around them and the first of the derelict vessels came into view, Joe spotted something floating in the water among the sunken wreckage of a Viking longboat: a strange sword, glowing mysteriously amidst the red weed. Intrigued, Joe dived in to retrieve it, and though he passed out soon after clambering back onto the Lady Margaret, retrieving the sword was enough to push back the Fog. At that point, the Draug rose from the derelicts to investigate the intruders, prompting an immediate retreat from the Sargasso.

Soon after, the Lady Margaret returned to Solomon Island, where the fishermen reluctantly handed over the mysterious sword to Innsmouth Academy for analysis. However, Joe had not escaped his brush with the red weed unscathed, nor had the rest of the crew: over the course of the time at port, he and several other fishermen scheduled appointments with Dr Bannerman regarding unusual ailments they'd acquired since returning to Kingsmouth; while Lawrence and Derrick Creed reported headaches, paranoia and night terrors, Joe demonstrated more disturbing symptoms - delusions and obsessive self-harm. Recognizing the change he was undergoing, he would periodically lacerate his arms and chest in an attempt to remove the new flesh, and in his attempts to blot out the phantom noises he heard, he actually went so far as to jam Q-tips in his ears until his eardrums finally ruptured. Dr Bannerman believed that Joe was suffering from schizophrenia, until he happened to notice the unnatural physical response to the cutting.

However, he had no opportunity to study it in detail, for that same day, the Fog descended on Kingsmouth: most of the Lady Margaret's crew were killed and resurrected as zombies, with Joe the only survivor. Having locked himself in his house for the duration of the disaster, he continued to change, his body warping and twisting out of shape; though he tried to keep his transformation in check by directing all his thoughts against it, the sight of Draug marching down the street likely didn't help his concentration. In the end, he found his house too dry to tolerate, and he retreated to the damp confines of the town's sewerage network.

Eventually, players arrive in Kingsmouth looking for answers, and their inquiries eventually direct them to the crew of the Lady Margaret: with Lawrence Creed dead and Derrick Creed eating his corpse, they are forced to make do with Joe Slater, eventually following the trail of slime down a manhole and into the sewers. By now, Joe is almost completely transformed into a Draug warrior: his face is pockmarked with barnacles, his left arm is deforming into a coral club, and his right arm is writhing with tentacles; for good measure, he seems to be suffering respiratory problems as he grows more aquatic. Unbidden, Joe explains everything to the player, from the arrival in the Sargasso to the theft of the sword; knowing that he is likely responsible for bringing the Fog to Kingsmouth, Joe has given up any thought of being saved, being content to wallow in the sewers until his transformation is complete. Unable to help him, players reluctantly leave the malformed fisherman to his fate.

The Varangian

At present, the Varangian's true name is unknown: "Varangian" is simply a common name given to Vikings by the Greeks between the 9th and 11th centuries. What is known is that he was one of the leaders of the Norse expedition sent across the Atlantic at Odin's behest, and the one member of the warparty that had the honor of wielding Excalibur. When the Vikings reached Solomon Island and found the local Wabanaki overwhelmed by Mayan cultists, the Varangian distinguished himself in battle against the Filth-corrupted sun-worshipers; when all seemed lost and the Mayans were on the verge of releasing the Dreamer imprisoned beneath the Blue Mountain, the Varangian led the final charge against the Mayan sorcerers and their mighty warbeast Wayeb-Xul, Hound of the Nameless Days. In the Varangian's hands, Excalibur healed the wounds of the Wabanaki defenders and gave them the strength to fight on, while simultaneously burning the Mayans to ashes with purifying beams of anima. As such, he is a major ally to the players in their vision of the Darkness War, disabling the defenses around the rift and allowing the players to defeat Wayeb-Xul.

Tragically, the Varangian was among the Norsemen claimed by the Filth on the return voyage, lost in the depths of the Sargasso Sea along with Excalibur. Remade by the Dreamers into one of the first true Draug, he survived his early years as a drone and the onslaught of the currents that might have dissolved him into compost, eventually growing into a mighty Draug Warmonger. As such, when the players meet him next, he is defending the wreck of the Polaris, all his days of heroism long forgotten: though he provides a challenging boss fight by deploying both magic and the electricity of the ruined tanker against the players, he is ultimately slain in combat.

The Ur-Draug

The most powerful of all Draug, this gargantuan monstrosity coordinates the invasion of Solomon Island from the wreck of the Polaris, providing oversight even for the monstrous Primordial Dweller. A massive creature formed from the recycled biomass of the first Viking Draug, the Ur-Draug is capable of casually swatting helicopters out of the sky and even tearing open the fabric of reality to assault the players on other planes of existence. However, even this Lovecraftian monster is tiny compared to the Dreamer that commands it - the Dreamer it was sculpted to resembled.

History

It is not known if the Draug of Norse mythology ever truly existed before the events of the Darkness War, for though they were feared throughout Viking culture as undead monsters, it's possible that they were entirely fictional - or at the very least, extinct by the time the Norsemen set sail for Solomon Island. What is known is that the Vikings who aided the Wabanaki against the Mayan invaders payed a terrible price for their heroism: though their possession of the Excalibur allowed them to drive the cultists off the island and prevent the Dreamer buried under the mountain from escaping, there was no victorious welcome awaiting them when they returned home. Their voyage homeward led them into a region of the North Atlantic known only as the Sargasso Sea, and there, in a lost and eldritch isle shrouded by fog and smothered with red seaweed, the Viking fleet was exposed to a unique form of the Filth: many of the Norsemen never left that weed-clogged isle, their longboats consumed alive by the clouds of Fog, and even Excalibur could not save them - the great sword eventually being lost along with those who'd once wielded it. The heroes of the Darkness War never received a proper Viking funeral; indeed, the majority of them never died at all.

Those who managed to escape the Sargasso Sea and make their way back to their home villages found themselves beset by a strange disease unlike any Filth infection on record. As they descended into catatonic delirium, those who tried to help them quickly became infected as well: family, friends, the mages who tried to cure them, and eventually everyone in their villages was consumed by the plague. Like other Filth infectees, they changed - but differently: the Dreamers had invaded their minds, and in their anxiousness to learn more about the world, they discovered the legends of the Draugr. Delighted by this new inspiration, they brought the legend to life in the bodies of the infected, transforming them into a new and terrible breed of monster - the first of the Draug.

In the following months, outsiders would find the afflicted villages left abandoned and empty, with no trace left of their inhabitants - save for the footprints leading from the deserted houses into the depths of the ocean. There, in the frigid waters of the Sargasso Sea, they united with the brethren claimed earlier in the returned voyage, and set about patrolling the ocean for new victims to populate their ranks. As the centuries went by, they became the source of a great many oceanic ghost stories, acquiring permanent enemies in the form of the seagoing Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors; however, they also gained allies among the Deep Ones. Living in the lightless abysses of the Atlantic, these human-fish hybrids had long worshiped the Dreamers as gods, and came to revere the Draug as their prophets on Earth. Together, they enjoyed a long and monstrously profitable alliance.

Some time prior to the events of the game, the Fog surrounding the Sargasso graveyard was unexpectedly breached by the Lady Margaret, a humble fishing vessel from Solomon Island. Having been swept off course by a freak storm, the fishermen found themselves in uncharted waters, lost amidst the Fog of airborne Filth and surrounded on all sides by the many ships that the Draug had claimed over the centuries, from modern luxury cruise liners to the Viking longboats of the first Draug. It was among the sunken remains of one of these ships that crewman Joe Slater noticed long-lost Excalibur, glowing brilliantly beneath the seaweed-choked water. Entranced, he went so far as to dive in to retrieve it. Soon after, the Lady Margaret left the area as quickly as possible with Excalibur in tow, spooked by the sudden appearance of Draug rising from the depths of the watery graveyard.

In the days following their return to Kingsmouth, any crewmembers who'd made the mistake of touching the sword found themselves subjected to the same infection that had transformed the veterans of the Darkness War - though only Joe Slater had a chance to truly metamorphose. The rest died - along with a significant percentage of Solomon Island's population.

Both the Fog and the Draug had followed the Lady Margaret back to Kingsmouth: the Fog swept across the Island, forming an impassable wall around it; any who tried to escape through the Fog died horribly, leaving only those with access to Agartha and the Secret Roads with an escape route. However, the Draug then cast their siren song upon the Island, luring the townsfolk out of their homes and into the depths of the ocean: there, they drowned en mass, and were swiftly brought back as zombies. The few citizens who'd withstood the song were either asleep, trapped, unable to hear, or under some form of magical protection; as the Draug went about producing brood pods from the majority of the zombies, the remaining undead were sent inland to eliminate these survivors to produce even more zombies. Elsewhere, the Draug marched up the beaches in search of other corpses to animate and impregnate: Solomon Island's bloody history had left the area scattered with mass graves and hidden tombs, all easily exploited by the Draug Lords as they continued their conquest of Solomon.

By the time players arrive in Kingsmouth, the Island has been almost completely overtaken by the Draug army, with only a few locations holding out against the invasion: the police station and the Wabanaki trailer park have been rebuilt as improvised fortresses by the defenders, while locations such as Innsmouth Academy and Kingsmouth Church have been enchanted to destroy intruders. And though the Draug find themselves facing opposition from other prospective invasion - such as the Hellspawn invading through the portal at the Overlook Motel - the situation shows no signs of improvement...

Gallery

Trivia

  • In keeping with the Lovecraftian elements of the game and the Dreamers in particular, the Draug draw particular inspiration from Lovecraft's seagoing monstrosities, such as Dagon, Mother Hydra, and Cthulhu himself; quite apart from the fact that the Ur-Draug closely resembles the classical depiction of Cthulhu, the Draug actually go into battle accompanied by the Deep Ones of Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • In further Lovecraft references, Joe Slater is named after the possessed hillbilly in Beyond The Wall Of Sleep.

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