Friday, June 30, 2017

Curious Riverine Fauna


Some notes from Sergeant Puppybones, a boxtoon bodyguard, sellsword, and amateur naturalist, based on his recent stint as security on the Fabulous Fingerling, a luxury ferry between River-Town and Frogport.

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The past seven months going up and back on the river numerous times (I've lost count, truly) have not only padded my purse but also taught me much.  The ferry-hands were all well-experienced sailors who knew quite a bit about not only the Great River, but also Shining Lake.  I regret that I lacked the foresight to take sound notes on their anecdotes from the get-go, but I shall endeavor to make good recollections in these correspondences to my journalistically-minded fellows.  I can't say what value some of these creatures might have to the scientifactually curious or magically-inclined, but as my dear father Master Sergeant Rumpsniffer used to say, "Everything's useful if you're clever."


YELLOWBACK BOOMERS

Among the strange fish that were pointed out to me by the sailors, the most memorable must surely be the yellowback boomer.  Featuring a bright yellow stripe along its spine and a flattened head, this narrow-tailed fish reminds me, in shape, of a bowling pin.  The yellowback boomer is not, it seems, a  native fish of the Wampus Country, or so the sailors say - it comes to us from some far-flung land, as evinced by its elemental nature.

Within each boomer is a tiny speck of elemental energy which allows the fish to sustain itself on light gathered via the yellow stripe (this explains why they swim so close to the surface).  This same magical energy is what makes the yellowback boomer so dangerous; should a yellowback expire while not exposed to the light, the corpse of the fish will explode when again it sees the sun.  In the natural order, this means the boomer's predators are all savvy enough to eat the fish at the surface of the water, or beyond it (as the flytrap pelican does); boomers dragged down deep to their doom have a tendency to take their predator with them to the afterlife.

One of the sailors aboard the Fabulous Fingerling had a strange method of using the boomers: he owned a stout wooden box whose sole round aperture was covered with black velvet, slashed through the middle such that one could reach into it without letting light into the box.  The sailor showed us how to fish for yellowback boomers, then immediately stuff them in his lightless box, where of course they would flop about and gasp for air.  The next day, when we were assaulted by some foolish river pirates, we took turns plunging our hands into the box, pulling out a boomer and throwing it, grenade-like, at our foes.  The fish each took a moment or two to explode, but they did so with considerable concussive force; we'd managed five or six of them on the deck of the pirate sloop before they all started going off in a deadly chain, severing a few pirates at the ankles.


ARLINE SNAKE

One of the animals brave and resilient enough to feed on yellowback boomers is the arline, a sort of amphibious serpent-eel which is happy to hunt in the water or on the marshy littoral.  The arline is milky white, with black and yellow spots.  The two varieties, so-named Eastern and Western, are easy to confuse, one bearing black-and-yellow spots, and the other yellow-and-black.  Yet is important for the wilderness explorer to know the difference, as the Eastern and Western are actually the males and females of the same species, who live separate lives except during mating season.  One week a year in the autumn, hundreds of the arlines swim toward one another, meeting in a massive sex-tangle just offshore (for the past several years a "Snake Sex Party Cruise" has set sail from Loon Rock in order to observe this lustful serpentine sargasso; an infamous serpent-priest serves as tour guide and party planner).  At the end of the frenzied spawning, each white serpent then returns again on its own, going back down the only path it has ever known.

The males of the arline species are mildly venomous; the females, however, are massively venomous and also poisonous to the touch.  In fact, the viviparous arline actually suckle their young on venom from their ample fangs.  I have heard that the heart and venom sacs of the female arline can be macerated with honey-mead and left to sit overnight to create an anti-poison potion.




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Weird animals created by The Boy; gamification and unnecessarily stupid gags by me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

That's A Pretty Hungry Orc

Fundraising demands spammage!

For the past two years I've thrown a mini-convention here in Maryland called TridentCon - always for charity, always rpg-focused.

This year, in aid of some special guests we're working on, I'm doing a little fundraising.

Witness, the hungry orc:


It's a pig-faced orc of the classic variety, it's great work by David Okum, and you can get it on a t-shirt by going HERE but only until July 15th.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Freakness

Much of Wampus Country is an equestrian society; it will come as little surprise that horse-racing is an appreciated pastime.  While there are varying levels of formality and tradition among races, one odd event of note is the Freakness.

Held biannually, the Freakness Stakes is a horse-race in which the first rule is that one may not ride an actual horse.  Other mounts are welcome: emu, hippopotami, large dogs, clockwork spiders, an animated settee, what-have-you; the stranger the better, hence the name of the race.  Many of the jockeys are wizards, or sponsored by wizards.  So, too, the prize money and the unusual enchanted items handed out to those jockeys or owners who win, place, or show.

This year's third-place winner, Handsome Dan "The Warlock Man" astride his war-ostrich, Penelope.


Below are this year's prizes, each a magic item of interest and particular use.

The Exaggerator.  This belt is made of braided storm giant beard-hair, bound in copper wire; when worn it has the continuous effect of making the wearer the most electrifying person in the room.  The Exaggerator accomplishes this by casting subtle illusions that make the wearer's appearance and actions seem more impressive or larger than they otherwise would.  While wearing the Exaggerator, your hair is shinier, your skin clearer; your pectorals and groin, slightly more bulging.  Further, the wearer seems a few inches taller, and their clothing more fashionable, tasteful, and expensive, even if only slightly.  These illusions may be temporarily dispelled by dispel magic and similar effects.
Effect: wearer has Advantage on all Charisma checks.

Cherry Wine.  This potent potable is more a potion than a beverage, although it began life as a very fine wine made from sour cherries.  Enchanced by a series of physics-altering spells, the cherry wine has one important effect, to wit: the drinker need not remove their armor in order to engage in fun physical activities such as swimming, climbing, jumping, and the like.  The spells in the wine somehow shunt some of the encumbrance of the armor into some other part of the world (possibly generating 'heavy' or reverse-gravity spots on other continents, which is pretty irresponsible wizardry).  The cherry wine intoxicates as normal when imbibed.
Effect: The drinker ignores any penalty to physical activity (marching, swimming, climbing, jumping, square-dancing, whatever) caused by encumbering armor for one hour.

Earring of Nyquist.  Forged in the Sulfurian undermountains by the eponymous sorceror-priest, the Earring of Nyquist has a protective function.  When worn, the earring has the ability to internalize 'samples' of any sonic attack to which its wearer is subject, which has two effects.  First, the earring attempts to produce counterharmonies immediately (although this is often too late).  Secondly, the samples of the sonic attack are then fed into the wearer's next sonic attack of their own (hence this item is really most useful to a bard or audiomancer).  The earring allows the cunning bard to learn from his misfortunes at the hands of those harpies, and channel a piece of that song into his next thunderous assault.
Effect: The wearer has advantage on saving throws against sonic attacks.  After surviving a sonic attack of any time, the wearer has advantage on their next sonic attack (if their attack does not require a roll, perhaps the target has disadvantage on their save).


Yes, the stats are 5e-ish, as I've been running 5e lately.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mascot Not-Monday: Superb Owl Insanity Edition

In the Long Long Ago, the Owls ruled what is now Wampus Country.  Their empire was sublime, and strange, and superb.

Hear now of the great madness of the Owls.


PUPPYMONKEYBABY 

Requirements: DEX 9, CHA 9

Ability Modifiers: None

Ability Min/Max: STR 6/18 (15), DEX 9/18, CON 8/18, INT 7/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 9/18

Pity the puppymonkeybaby, for it is a freakish and twisted creature of chaos.  A likely product of magical experimentation (an easy enough explanation for such blasphemy), the puppymonkeybaby seems to be a mix of three species - a poggle-like dogfolk, a small simian, and a human or halfling.  Not coincidentally, all three of these races were slave-races to the great and wise owls of the Long Long Ago, if sages are to be believed.  In the wild, puppymonkeybabies live in small familial groups, dividing their time between arboreal recreation and foraging on the ground.

On a good day, a puppymonkeybaby is childlike, happy, and cooperative; on a bad day, it is petty, self-centered, and whiny.  Perhaps it is the poggle in them, or the means by which they were originally created, but puppymonkeybabies tend toward Chaos.  Some few are Neutral, and may even glom on to human "friends", attempting to help them by hand-delivering beverages, but in the end the fickle and childish puppymonkeybaby typically bursts into a rage over some small or imagined slight.  When dealing with human society, some wear kilts or dhotis, but in the wilds of the trees, puppymonkeybabies like to let their stuff fly free, the better to strike horror and revulsion into the hearts of their neighbors.

A "tame" puppymonkeybaby, in use as a serving-lad.
As creatures born of Chaos, puppymonkeybabies are resistant to magic, and some few of them demonstrate the spellcasting abilities of a chaotic cleric.  Puppymonkeybabies are natural climbers and should receive an appropriate small bonus (15%, or +1 in 6) to climbing rolls even if they are not thieves.

Puppymonkeybabies may not use large and two-handed weapons, but they may use weapon and armor as indicated by class.  Nevertheless, some puppymonkeybabies eschew heavy armor in favor of their own natural agility and climbing ability.

Puppymonkeybabies can see in the dark with infravision up to 60 feet.

Puppymonkeybabies in Wampus Country can understand the common tongue, but are restricted in their speech.  Each puppymonkeybaby knows a number of words - mostly nouns and a few verbs - equal to its Intelligence score; the first three of these must be 'puppy', 'monkey', and 'baby'.  Companions of a puppymonkeybaby quickly learn to properly interpret the words used, in context or metaphorically.  For example, 'puppy' might be a command to follow today, but tomorrow the little freak is using 'puppy' to mean 'cute' or 'small'; often the slow recitation of 'puppy, monkey, baby' means 'totality' or 'to make whole', and may accompany the use of a healing power.  This linguistic restriction has no effect on a puppymonkeybaby cleric's ability to cast spells.


Puppymonkeybabies receive the following saving throw bonuses:
• +2 save versus breath attacks
• +4 save versus wands
• +4 save versus spells or spell-like devices
Puppymonkeybabies are creepy as shit, and as such they receive bonuses to defend against magical effects. In addition, their small size grants them a bonus to finding cover and avoiding breath attacks.

Civilized puppymonkeybabies may select from the following classes, with the indicated level limits.

PUPPYMONKEYBABY CLASSES AVAILABLE
Class Level Limit
Assassin 7
Cleric 7
Fighter 6
Thief 11

Puppymonkeybaby thieves receive the following bonuses and penalties to thief abilities:

PUPPYMONKEYBABY THIEF SKILL ADJUSTMENTS
Skill Adjustment
Pick Locks -5%
Find and Remove Traps -5%
Move Silently +5%
Climb Walls +15%
Hide in Shadows +0%


"It's a very difficult magical problem, Doctor Wiggins - the sort which, I'm afraid, can only be solved by painstakingly creating some kind of ridiculous and improbable hybrid animal-monster the likes of which future generations will question as completely insane, or deride as the insipid fever-dream of a syphilitic hedge-mage.  But such is the heady responsibility of  wizardry, and we must not shy from it for an instant."



Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Arrivals: Fresh Faces in Wampus Country

As the Wampus Country campaign once again stirs to life - however slowly - it behooves us dedicated Wampus-watchers to maintain an awareness of the movers and shakers, the headline-makers, and the interesting characters locals are talking about.  To that end, the following discussion of several people recently making names for themselves in central Wampus Country, as reported by the ever-reputable fishwrap and cage-liner, the River-Town Gazette.


The Mystery-Solving Pig

The casino floor and swill-halls are pierced by the pitter-pat of pork, and the tenderloin titters about tenderloin!  Some months ago a little piglet appeared on the scene in River-Town, taking work as an inspector-for-hire, recoverer of lost things, and general troubleshooter.  His name is J. Pinkerton Piglet, P.I. (Porcine Investigator), but the gossips and lovely ladies along the river just call him "Pinky".  Witty but fond of the sound of his own voice, Pinky seems to be quite educated for such a young-looking pig, and he has wielded his keen mind to not only solve several interesting cases, but also to evade the violent attention of charismatic criminal Reverend Tater.  Pinky is occasionally accompanied by his slime Friday, a liberal-minded meeb called Gleeble, whose quivering lime-green form has become quite welcome in River-Town since this boneless wonder rescued a pair of Scorpion-priests from the slavering depradations of a ruthless sewer-troll.  They have won our hearts most certainly - what could this strange duo next accomplish?  He's a genius talking piglet, and it's a brawny man-of-jam -- they fight crime!

Pinky's rumored dual pairs of Boots of Striding & Springing make him a formidible parkour badass.


Soiree of the Stylish Sorceress

Skulls spin when sartorially-splendid spellslinger Incantada Impossiblay enters the room not only because of her striking beauty and fashion choices, but due to the meandering orrery of precious stones which seem to orbit her head in a display of cosmic devotion.  After taking rooms at the Sumbitch Hotel several weeks ago, she has come down from the fourth floor only a few times to conduct whispered business with a series of shifty-looking out-of-towners; an unnamed source at the hotel reveals Impossiblay takes but one meal a day in the form of a bowl of clarified butter.  She is accompanied at all times by her presumed familiar, a murderous-looking porcelain doll-homunculus identified as "Mister Tickle-pants".  Another rumor suggests Incantada Impossiblay is the former partner - business or romantic is unclear - of the famed Ruprecht the Hill-Devil; unfortunately since Thunderbolt Black's Action Show is on tour at the moment, the furry trick-rider in question has yet to be interrogated on the matter.  The sorceress carries a wand made of some sort of exotic ivory, and wears long artificial nails of iridescent glass on the fingers of her left hand.  In the last week she has made some discreet inquiries about renting a hall for a party; this randy reporter wonders what must be done to secure a ticket to what may prove to be the most exclusive hoedown of the year.


Incantada Impossiblay, said to have dealings with the twisted fey of the Summerlands.



Too Many Cocks Spoil The Brawl

The swamp-fighting circuit in Frogport is no joke and has made - or ruined - the reputation of many a pugilist.  Recently, however, the masculine punching scene has been suplexed topsy-turvy by the uproarious arrival of a group of rooster-men who have taken on all comers in tag-team events and won a number of individual matches to boot.  They appear to be less natural-born roosters and more men who have become battling bantams via sorcery, but have no doubt that these cocks are game -- wild moves, surprising strength, and impeccable teamwork have put them over the top, and they are winning money wing over fist.  As a matter of fact, the four roostermen are in line to contest and win the biannual "Sweaty Summer Swamp Slappin'" tournament this year, to the tune of $5000 plus possible endorsements - not chump change.  Who are these fighting-cocks, and from whence have they come?  An obtuse source suggests they may be aligned with Baron Von Kluck, that feathered criminal mastermind, but when confronted about a connection or plans to win the $5000 via cockfighters, the wealthy Von Kluck demurred, stating he would not get out of bed for such a poultry sum.


One of the Frogport Roostermen, known in the wrestling ring as "Buck Hardbreast".





Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tome Forty-One: Theriospheric Transfigurations Released

Sometimes musical artists release albums named after the age at which they wrote or recorded the material.  In that spirit, I have released a small compilation of Wampus material to DriveThru as a pay-what-you-want pdf in celebration of my forty-first birthday.  Tome Forty-One: Theriospheric Transfigurations contains an assortment of animal-themed material from the blog (including a mess of spells) supplemented by some new material (including more new spells).

Perhaps next year I'll manage Tome Forty-Two; also in consideration, combining material generated by my son (aka The Boy) with some new material inspired by him, and call it Tome Eleven.  

I have a couple other themed article compilations in the hopper, in various stages of completeness.  Of these, I expect the one with the hexcrawl appended to be finished last!

New content in 'Tome 41' includes spells about cows.  You know you need that.



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Artifacts from the Cult of Freet

From the wizard-journal of Alphonse the Absurd, traveling sorcerer.  Alphonse's journal is magic-bound to another journal, kept safely in a vault in River-Town; whatever he writes in his leatherbound journal appears in the second copy within several hours.  It is from this secondary copy that we spy upon his meanderings.


It is with no small serving of joy that I am pleased to report that I have uncovered a buried cache of treasure, at the cost of only three henchmen and my green-and-gold waistcoat.  If this expedition to the pine barrens had not borne fruit, I would have certainly been most inconvenienced by the collection-daggers of Reverend Tater's debt-hunters, but now that eventuality has been dispelled.

Beneath an enruned outcropping marking the boundary between two pathetic Freeholder farms, I have located what is surely a noteworthy treasure of the north.  A child-sized golden coffin contained several priestly spell-scrolls, a goodly amount of northern-style jewelry and coin, and not one, but two enchanted items of old which I shall now detail, my investigations being complete.  The coffin also contained human remains, but I have yet to find a good way to monetize these.  All of the other contents seem related to the moribund cult of a godling called Freet, the Lord of the Burning-Deeps, once respected by the ancestors of the Freeholders, according to their own Smultringa Saga.


FREET, Lord of the Burning-Deeps
Presumably counted among the Vicelords, Freet appears to be a minor pleasure-daemon of gluttony and excess, truly a thing that should not be.  Painting himself as a welcoming father-figure, he encourages his followers to consume blatantly unhealthy yet delicious food as a means of worship.  Freet is portrayed in artwork as a relatively formless, lumpen brown mass, sweating oil.  Clerics who swear fealty to Papa Freet are taught all three of the spells below, plus a clerical version of the wizard spell grease; a priest who merely spends a weekend in the debauchery of proper over-the-top Freet-worship may learn one of the spells as a gift.

Ingesting the Abomination
first-level spell
While intoning the chants to Papa Freet that make up this spell, the priest breads or batters a nonliving item of any shape weighing less than ten pounds, then deep-fries the object (obviously a large enough fryer is required).  Once deep fried, the object may be safely eaten, no matter its size or composition.  The object is gently nestled within folded-space in the consumer's stomach, and can be disgorged (process takes 1d4 rounds) anytime within the following four hours.  At the end of the four hours, the gurgitator makes a CON save; if passed, the object is digested as nutritious food of equivalent mass (note that this can still be distressing if the object is large enough).  If the CON save is failed, the object pops out of folded-space and exists inside the consumer's body; this is probably really, really bad, and the GM will adjudicate the results accordingly.

Commanding Rejuvenation of Papa Freet
second level spell
The priest consumes a cup of hot oil (taking 1hp damage in the process).  For the next eight hours, his or her turning ability works against creatures of sucromancy or sweetness in addition to their normal targets.  Whether it's a cupcake golem, a sugarplum fairy, or a peppermint shrike, all sweets are "improved" by the touch of the Lord of the Burning-Deeps.

Freedom Fries
second level spell
The cleric performs a series of ritual cuts on a normal potato, inserts four coins into the potato (because freedom isn't free), then speaks the mystic words of the spell (reported in the Smultringa saga to be "Ia Ia Murka").  All nonmagical locks within ten feet of the potato immediately open.  The coins are consumed in the casting, but the carved potato remains.


ITEMS familiar to the FREET-CULT

The Onion Ring
A golden-brown ring worn on the pinky, this ensorcelled treat allows the wearer to change his or her appearance once per day, as an alter self spell, by slowly peeling off layers of their own skin and revealing the new form beneath (the process takes 1 turn and is pretty disgusting).  The transformation does not wear off; the wearer must re-peel back to their normal form the next day, if that be their goal.  A good proper dispel will return the onion ring's wearer to their normal form.

Aspergillum of St. Poutine
Although it appears to be - and functions as - a flail +1, this item is primarily designed to be filled with blessed gravy.  Ideographs along the length of the weapon can guide any cleric or chef to assemble the proper ingredients to cook up basic gravy sacred to Papa Freet, the Aspergillum of St. Poutine has a further secret.  If the holy gravy is made to contain the bones of a particular kind of creature - a wolf, a manticore, a man - then that batch of gravy, when placed in the Aspergillum, will make the weapon act as +3 versus that sort of creature.  This bonus enchantment lasts only until the gravy congeals within the Aspergillum (1d3 hours).

Druids who pay proper homage to Freet learn this variant of Goodberry.