Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Famous Explorers of Wampus Country, Part One

Many of the most famous explorers of Wampus Country are martial types, quick with a pistol and a blade, the better to survive in the often-dangerous wilderness.  But some get by purely on their wits, or with a little magical aid.

One such is a daring young lady called Izzy of the Gifts; she is so-named for the several enchanted accoutrements she bears which aid her in her travels.  Although young, Izzy has ranged far and wide over the countryside, using her skills to cover ridiculous amounts of ground in a short time.  Plainly dressed and kind of word, Izzy is quite happy to nonviolently aid any who cross her path.  Her surname is unknown, perhaps abandoned in the old country, but rumor has it she hails from a magically talented family.  Indeed, both she and her cousin James are known to possess the power to speak the tongues of animals, and travel in their company.  Izzy's primary traveling companion is a banderlog who enjoys human fashion; James prefers the company of a young spotted wampus-cat.  Like many Wampus Country wanderers, Izzy has had her share of strange adventures, including once being transformed (temporarily) into a mermaid.  Despite being peaceful at heart, Izzy of the Gifts has earned several enemies in her travels, including a larcenous kitsune who has become obsessed with her in a dark and inappropriate way.

This adventurous explorer's magical items are detailed below:

Fortuitous Rucksack - A leather bag, with shoulder-straps, of the sort commonly worn by adventurers; the worn calfskin shows great age, and the wrinkles and folds almost seem to twist into a smiling face.  The fortuitous rucksack has the singular magic ability to produce, once per day, a mundane item which the user either needs immediately, or will need within the next six hours.  The rucksack radiates both conjuration and divination magic, and can additionally function as a normal container of its type.

Fateful Cartographic - The fateful cartographic bears similar divination sorcery to the rucksack; once per day it can alter its appearance so as to become a guide to the requested destination, so long as it is within 24 hours' travel.  The cartographic does not display words, numbers, or distances, instead using primitive petroglyphs to represent obvious landmarks along the journey.

Izzy's cousin James, known to be a druid of some power, is also the bearer of the fantastic metamorph of salvation, a gaily-colored item which can transform from a bag into a means of transportation (canoe, dinghy, bicycle, hang-glider, hot-air balloon, etc) once per day for an hour.  The similarities in form shared by the metamorph and the fortuitous rucksack suggest that James and Izzy's family line may have been wizards specializing in container-related sorcery.

Rumors that these adventurous cousins may have other relatives who share their magical skills, or variants thereof - for example, the ability to speak to inanimate tools - are yet to be confirmed.

The Candy That Kills

In the Halloween spirit, some scraps about candy...



(The below excerpted from The Candy That Kills, a propaganda pamphlet which occasionally turns up in Wampus Country, origin unknown)

In the distant east, the punishing heat of the rising sun bakes the land dry and makes brittle the hearts of men.  There lies the harsh realm of the Witch-Queen, her bizarre sorcerous creations, and the put-upon Kandylanders.  Who is this dire harridan?  What does she want?  How can regular folks like you and I protect themselves from her depredations?

The Witch-Queen of Sugarplum Castle is a horrible faerie of some sort, immortal and dark and cruel.  Do not be fooled by tales of her beauty, for she wears an elegantly-sculpted face of fondant over her true, daemonic visage.  Her castle, constructed of confections and chocolate, perches like a buzzard on a high basalt cliff overlooking the impoverished villages of Kandyland.  The Kandylanders themselves are like unto slaves, toiling day and night in the fields and mines, digging defensive trenches for the coming war which their regent believes to be inevitable.

Once before, her armies marched out, cutting a swath of devastation seaward into the marches of Khelibesh before she was driven back, at great cost to the southlanders.  It is only a matter of time before the call to conquest sounds yet again, and the Witch-Queen unleashes her full fury on the frontier settlements of the Wampus Country!

Beware the Witch-Queen!  Her spies are everywhere!


There are many dark, odd, or nearly-forgotten magical lores floating about the Wampus Country, but none of them inspire as much whispering as sucromancy, the magical manipulation of sugar.  Most wizards - and some well-traveled adventurers - have heard of sucromancy, perhaps in connection with the semi-mythical Witch-Queen of Sugarplum Castle.  Perhaps the unschooled believe the dark art to be solely involved with crafting weapons or constructs of sugar, candy, and chocolate; but, in truth, these manifestations are but the first circles of sucromancy, as practiced by the Witch-Queen's many mage-vassals and those independent wizards who stumble upon the art via experimentation.  The true secret of sucromancy is not the manipulation of sugar crystals, but of carbon itself - and through it, all life.  An initiate of sucromancy can create a peppermint sword, or sculpt a marzipan golem and bring it to life, but a true master of the art can kill with a sidelong glance.

Apprentice sucromancers - who are already wizards of note before being accepted into the order - tend to specialize in a particular manifestation of sugar: hard candy, peppermint, ice cream, bubblegum, chocolate, etc.  The type of candy is not chosen by the mage, but comes to them naturally, as a representation of their understanding of both magic and life itself.  A spiteful sucromancer may command the bitterness of dark chocolate, while a fun-loving homebody embraces the pillow-like wonder of marshmallows.

Through the centuries, the immortal Witch-Queen has groomed many sucromancers (some of whom were perhaps also lovers); she tired of many of them, tossing them aside or slaughtering them for tactical failures, personal offense, or imagined slights.  The lure of secret magic is great, and there are always more wizards looking to learn, no matter how dangerous the apprenticeship.  Notable sucromancers in years past include the wizard Rheez (chopped into pieces, parts of his corpse are said to be enchanted; survived by his own apprentice, his daughter Marie-Jeanne), and the Triumvirate of Swordsmen (all of which were slain by righteous rabbitjacks).


as reported by Sweet Jimmy Peppermint

Sugarfather - A huge, gloppy caramel monstrosity which spawns a swarm of halfling-sized sugarkinder as it charges into battle.  Possibly related to some vanilla-filled caramel minotaurs spotted on the grounds of Sugarplum castle.

Balloonheads - Able to inflate their taffy-like heads and float about, these vile humanoids are known to descend on their prey from above with a fusillade of rifle-fire.

Wailing Infants - Tumbling ever-forward as a mass of screaming toddlers, this hiveminded monstrosity cries out with a hundred mewling voices as it denudes the countryside of plant and beast.

Gummy Owlbear - Perhaps too horrible to think about, this beast blends the worst parts of a ferocious predator and a gelatinous cube.