Friday, May 25, 2012

Breakdown: Angry Kite Versus Psychic Badger

In the 'Breakdown' we take an unusual picture and try to appropriately Wampus-ify it and extract stuff for the setting.  I have a whole folder of weird illustrations suitable for this exercise, so this should become a regular thing. Here's today's picture.

"Okay, okay, calm down.  Let's make it...fifty dollars, the psychic badger, and two baked potatoes.  Do we have a deal?  Fantastic.  Enjoy your new Angry Kite Person, sir."  
Today's pic is a cropped version of an illustration from an 1869 German alphabet book; as it's the "D" illustration, I can only presume that much of what appears begins with a "D" in German.  Because of that "wtf" juxtaposition, there's so much weirdness in here I instantly fell in love with the picture (and others from the same book).  Let's go through some of the prominent elements and see what we can do with 'em for Wampus Country.

THE SCENE.  The "Three Aces", an adventuring compact composed entirely of magic-users, cut a deal with a merchant to offload their latest haul.

THE LADY.  Although human in appearance, this adventuress, Kassandra Flip, is actually one of the more human-looking Lakeborn; her hoop skirt obfuscates double mermaid tails.

KITELING.  The kitelings are a dying race, crafted long ago by unknown ancients by stretching shmoo-hide across a wooden frame and awakened by forgotten rituals.  Each kiteling is diamond-shaped and pale or white in color, with an immense human-like face (of either gender).  Long tails of ribbon or flowers trail behind them as they fly; and the kitelings are accomplished flyers, when not tethered down by an oppressive string.  Although they lack hands, some kitelings have found employment as scouts, shepherds, or even bodyguards.  Some warrior-kites will partner with a human, who holds an attached string coated in glue and glass; their enemies may initially chuckle at being confronted with an animated kite, but most laughter ceases once the sharp string winds around their throat a few times.

THE MONKEY.  The monkey called Fumble was once the familiar to a sorceror; said wizard foolishly applied multiple doses of Doctor Higgenfrother's Patented Brain-Enhancing Powder to little Fumble.  In time, the monkey rose up, strangled and cannibalized his master, and became a wizard himself.

THE CAMEL.  Dromedary Larry is Fumble's familiar (and mount, obviously).  Fumble has fed Larry a dose of Brain-Enhancing Powder; Larry secretly stole another.  It is only a matter of time until Dromedary Larry eats the monkey and becomes a sorceror.

THE MERCHANT.  "Starchy Bill" hawks baked potatoes out of a box on the streets of Thistlemarch; he is also willing to buy and sell unusual acquisitions.  His dog is called Lumpkin.

THE BADGER.  A rather handsome example of the Northern Frangbadger, which is known to be somewhat telepathic and have the ability to psychometrically "read" objects, sniffing them then pantomiming the life story of the item's previous owner.  The badger's street value is enhanced here in Thistlemarch, which lies south of the beast's normal range.

THE MUSICIAN.   The third of the Three Aces, the man known only as Piper casts fell enchantments through his bagpipes.  He has a penchant for cheap whiskey and his partners plot to murder him the next time he screws up and costs them money.

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