Sunday, January 27, 2013

Santicore: Marlborough's House of Enigmas

Never leave a Santicore behind!  Sometimes Santicore requests or submissions fall between the cracks in the floor and must be dug out and dusted off, or replaced at the last minute.  Or, as in this case, a good while after the fact.  But the mighty Santicore of course desires all his supplicants to be happy at the end of the day, and late is far better than never!

THE REQUEST:  A write-up of that old store down the dark alley, the one with the books filled with apocrypha and the elixirs of mysterious makes.  And of course a halfling should run the place!

In response, I've cobbled together some extant tables and a new one and put them together in one post with a short write-up of just such a dubious shop, all systemless.  Hopefully this will suit the requester's needs - and perhaps yours as well.

1.  The Wampus Country d100 potions table, or any other potion-description table you like
2.  This shiny new Big Elixir Table which will generate components (of the "eye of newt" variety), disease to be cured, and method of preparation
3. I strongly suggest you supplement the above liberally with Ian McDougall's Snake Oil table.  Ian blogs over at Benign Brown Beast and you should check his stuff out.
4. If you need tomes and other written materials, consult d100 Arcane Books and d100 Treasure Maps.


At the end of the street in a ramshackle neighborhood sits the plain and fading storefront; only a small scrawled sign in the smoky window - House of Enigmas Closed At Mealtimes - betrays the nature of what lies within.

The interior of the shop is cramped and dark, with scattered lonely candles sitting here and there upon dusty stacks of books which seem to cover every horizontal surface, as though they sprung up there organically like some kind of moss.  Upon myriad shelves sit phials and beakers, repurposed hatboxes, small coffers, and rusty tins labelled with titles like Doctor Orpheon's Tell-Tale Witch-Burning Powder.

The proprietor and sole employee will gladly let visitors poke about before he approaches them, typically startling customers by stepping out from behind a tall stack of books on the floor.  He is the self-titled "Maestro of the Bizarre", Marlborough Fenwater - a portly halfling with slicked-back hair and a probably-fake goatee who minces about in black clothing and natters on about "protecting oneself from invasion of the nethers" (although whether he's talking about aliens from a grotesque nightmare realm, or venereal diseases, one can never surely say).  He sometimes smokes a meerschaum pipe carved to look like a devil's head, and his clothing often smells of the clove-and-vanilla pipeweed blend he favors.

Marlborough is gregarious enough and will happily banter with customers and attempt to lead them to just what they need, even if it always seems that what they really need is conveniently the same thing of which Marlborough has an entire box full.  He is quick to diagnose seeming maladies and prescribe powders, elixirs, and marginally-occult self-help books which will "clear that up in a right jiffy", whether the issue is baldness, excessive flatulence, or possession by pain demons.  Marlborough claims to have occasional contact with "evil spirits" and the like, and enjoys pretending to be edgy, transgressive, and possibly in league with diabolic forces. The halfling himself is not a spellcaster of any sort, but he does claim to "know people" of any given specialty; he will name-drop wizards and witches from whom he received a rare product or a choice piece of advice.  Mostly he's full of crap, but there's a reasonable chance he has had dealings with some of the other local movers and shakers - he may even owe them money...  

He does have a ridiculous amount of stock, however, and there is a 1% chance that should customers be looking for something specific - a given book on magic, a certain kind of potion - that he will indeed have just the thing somewhere in the shop.  How long it will take him to locate the item in question is a rather separate matter.  Marlborough keeps a wide variety of books and scrolls, elixirs and potions, and occasional other trinkets.  Some of them are even genuinely magical.  Marlborough will buy and sell strange items, and may prove a useful contact when it comes to monetizing less-obvious treasure.  ("The severed hand of a ghoul, you say?  I'll give you ten gold for it!")   Also living in the shop is a mangy old tomcat, usually asleep - the sort of cat that just hates people and refuses to be petted.  Marlborough likes people to think that this cat is his hell-infused familiar.

(I'm thinking Black Books mixed with Sir Simon from "Pit of Ultimate Darkness" on Kids In The Hall, honestly...with some Oddities mixed in)


1.  Marlborough keeps his shop money in a cigar box on one of the shelves; it has a pretty red label on the outside, and a poisonous centipede-thing on the inside...
2. When tipsy, Marlborough will claim that his surname isn't really Fenwater.  Depending on his mood, he will either claim kinship with the Duckworths (a fairly well-known clan of halfling merchants and explorers) or the Brackenboroughs (halfling royalty!).
3. The House of Enigmas used to be run by a kindly old woman everyone knew as Aunt Edna.  One day she disappeared, and Marlborough was the new proprietor.
4. That halfling is a demon in disguise, I'm telling you!
5. Don't trust anything he says.  I bought a potion that was supposed to give me long, luxurious hair.  Boy, did it ever - by turning me into a woman...
6. The "Maestro of the Bizarre" owes a significant amount of money to the local crime syndicate; several months ago, Marlborough got his hands on a talking-board that he really thought could predict the outcome of horse-races, if he could just figure out which race it was telling him to bet on.  To this day he swears the planchette was giving good advice, but not for that day's races...maybe races ten or twenty years in the future.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Love Maps, I Hate Maps

The love/hate relationship I have with maps and mapping is probably totally normal for a D&D player and DM.

Maps are gorgeous, fascinating, intricate, expressive, and awesome.  Historical maps, continent maps, hex maps, city maps, dungeon maps -- I just love to look at them.  But I can't stand drawing them.  When I'm prepping a session, I map out of necessity.  When I'm a player?  Please don't ask me to be the mapper.  I will screw it up.  It's just not something I ever rose to or aspired to do well.  Maybe if the scanner was working properly I'd be more interested in trying my hand at mapping, but in the end I get bogged down in the minutiae ("wait, did he say thirty feet or forty feet?  Crap.") and that sucks the fun out of it for me.

That's the thing - I can draw a functional dungeon map.  It won't be pretty, or fashionably cross-hatched or anything like that, but it'll serve its function...and that's about it.
"Wait, is it sine or tangent?  Shit.  Somebody hand me the damn 'HERE BE DRAGONS' stamp."

Which is precisely why there's a market for pre-drawn maps adaptable to your game.  Over the past few weeks I've acquired some recent releases along these lines, so the following is an attempt at a review.


Matt Jackson over at lapsus calumni draws some great maps, and there are a mess of free ones on the blog. Now he's released some in pdf form through Chubby Monster Games, with a third volume on the way.   The Moleskin Maps volumes feature each map on its own page full-size, with a facing page for note-taking (with headings for background, key features and encounters, wandering monsters, etc).  The format just makes sense, of course, although I wonder about the preprinted lines and their spacing (I haven't printed these out yet).

The maps themselves are great - they run the gamut: several cave/cavern complexes, campsites, farm, town, forest clearing, and a subterranean temple.  They're definitely encounter maps, on the smaller side, but that's the point; these aren't complexes to populate for several nights' adventuring, they're for side-trek and last-minute type stuff.  I like that the maps are "uncluttered" - don't get me wrong, sometimes I want the detailed cross-hatching and all of that, but sometimes I just want a map of a campsite I can throw down and go with.  The fact that it's a pdf is a mixed blessing - I'll have to print these out to write out notes longhand, but conversely I can use screen-share to plop that forest clearing on the screen for an online game; and since I run almost exclusively online these days, that shouldn't be overlooked.


Dyson Logos is rightly famous in the internet-of-gaming for his deliciously-rendered maps, and he recently released Dyson's Delves, a collection of maps (some populated, others not), in print through Lulu.  Dyson strongly encourages everyone to write in the book and make it their own, something that might be difficult for some folks accustomed to keeping their gaming paraphenalia pristine.

The collection includes several populated dungeons, ready to go at the front of the book; but the bulk of the volume is composed of page after page of beautiful, functional maps.  Most of them are subterranean, but there are a few buildings and above-ground maps as well.  Facing pages are essentially blank for note-taking and prep.

I foolishly ordered the softcover version of Dyson's Delves.  Now that I'm warming up to the idea of actually writing in the damn thing, I wish I'd gotten the hardcover and put a paper-bag book-cover on it (like back in junior high) on which I could sketch a map or two of my own!

Bottom line is that I like both of these products, in some cases for overlapping reasons (utility), but also for contrasting ones (one is a book to turn into an artifact; the other is more versatile for online and non-D&D use).  The Moleskin Maps are available on DriveThru, and Dyson's Delves is up on Lulu.

Oh, and one more thing about maps - if you're not occasionally using the Perry-Castaneda collection, you should be.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's In A Name?

Let's talk about names; or rather, I'm going to babble about them for the rest of the post, so there's your topic and warning, all rolled into one.

First, if you haven't seen the below video, I recommend watching it, as not only is it hilarious, but I'm going to refer to it later in the post.

Some people agonize over naming their PCs and NPCs, and I'm absolutely one of them.  Do you go for pseudohistorical?  Modern/realistic?  Sword-and-sorcery vibe?  Random assemblage of nouns as compound words?

To me, the name of a thing conveys so much about the thing - and not all of it is obvious.  The sound of a name matters, the pacing of it.  Rhyme, alliteration.  This stuff does something to the subconscious and resonates with our cultural influences.

Look at it this way.  Imagine I have before me the character sheets for four magic-users.  No, strike that, it's the same identical character sheet, sans equipment, four times.  And we write four different character names on those sheets.  Now I want you to read these four names and imagine each one as a magic-user.  Seriously take a second and get a picture in your brain for each one.  Ready?

Dafydd ap Llew.

Kyzal Gax.

Jaedar Falconwind.

Thelonius Gump.

There, did you do it?  Got some pictures in your mind?  Let's see if you think like I do.

Dafydd ap Llew.  Obviously Welsh, this guy resonates immediately as a proper "celtic" wizard with all the trappings that might entail.  A triskelion around his neck and a staff in his hand.  Shapeshifter, maybe.

Kyzal Gax.  Sword and sorcery, maybe gonzo.  Dude wears a horned skullcap just because.  Possibly owns a ray-gun.

Jaedar Falconwind.   Forgotten Realms wanker.

Volonius Gump.  Sounds like a Wampus Country dude to me.  Tweed suit, little moustache.

Why would I (or you, if you got the same vibe I did for any of those) jump to those kinds of images?

It's the names.  The sound of the names.

When you use something historical-sounding, that image is going to stick if your audience (the 'hearer') is familiar.  I don't care if you tell me a hundred times that your paladin is green-skinned with ruby eyes, if he has a Japanese name then some part of my brain is going to file him under 'samurai' in some way.  The same is true for Celtic names, or Classical-sounding ones.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the character has some uncommon letters in his name (x, z are classic), we're starting to lean sword and sorcery in that barbarians-versus-tentacles sense.  At least to my ear, anyway.

Poor Jaedar Falconwind didn't have a chance, did he?  The compound surname, the unfortunate "ae".  He's a second-edition character with a kit, and Larry Elmore painted him with Stevie Nicks hair.

The fourth name, which sounds Wampus Country to me (and probably to you), does so because it has a long, pseudoclassical first name paired with a one-syllable inherently-humorous surname (which is itself a rather nice-sounding onomatopoeia, I think).  Some people might see this kind of construction and it will remind them of Harry Potter, and rightfully so, because it's a trick Rowling uses on occasion (and which she pretty much lifted from Dickens, to give credit where credit is due).

Think about patterns and mock-patterns.  If I tell you my character's name is "Hercules Jones", do you immediately assume he's a blaxploitation action character?  Names change, culture and subculture change - and a particular pattern of nomenclature can fix a character to an era or a subculture.

Here's the thing - we all do this, to some extent, every time we name a character (PC or NPC).  Much of the time it's subconscious - we reject something that pops into our head because it doesn't "feel right".  We do it when we're naming places in games, too.  How many of the big settings have faux-Egypt places where all the mummies have faux-Egyptian names?

Do you say a character's name aloud while you're trying to decide?  You should.  If only because something which at first blush looks good on paper might sound hackneyed once you've said it to your players a half-dozen times ("He seriously named the evil wizard 'Morgoth'?  Really?").  Cliche and cultural resonance are useful tools when deliberately applied, but you probably don't want to stumble into one unaware.

So back to the Key & Peele sketch linked above.  In my opinion there are three 'peaks' to the humor in that bit.  One is most of the names in the first half, because they're plausible or borderline plausible, which sets up the humor of the whole thing.  Those names are ridiculous on the face of it, but the fit "in genre" for the purposes of the context set up by the sketch.  The second peak of humor is not the illustration-of-absurdity names (the dolphin and construction sounds), but the jarring transition from that to "Donkey Teeth" and "Mousecop", I think.  And, of course, the rimshot is "Dan Smith" at the end.

You could look at this as a kind of continuum of nomenclature.  When you're naming a PC, you probably want a name that's just [funny, badass, in-genre] enough without going over the top.  Unless, of course, "over the top" is the genre in which we're playing, in which case...I need a minute to roll up my ranger, X-Wing@Aliciousness.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Henching for Fun and Profit

Here's something to add to your "henchman generator" folder.

The other day Christopher (of Carapace King) said of playing in Wampus Country:

"My dude will almost certainly be eaten by an animate dutch oven or something and I need to know what kind of dog-faced washerwoman I'll be taking to glory in his place."

Naturally this triggered some calls for a Wampus-specific henchman table of some sort. And, on top of that, I still owed William (of A Wizard's Kiss) some sort of table with NPC quirks. Hopefully this table covers both of those things...

d100 Henchpersons & Hangers-On (also to be known as the "Dog-Faced Washerwoman" Table)

It's a g-doc, as usual, which you can save off and customize, or download in pdf format.

The first column has a personality trait or notable physical trait.
The second column has a profession or personality trait.
The third column is an object.

To roll up a henchman (or townsfolk-type NPC), roll on columns A and B to get results like "hot-tempered yodeller" and "fashion-conscious tobacconist".  A roll on column C may give you an object that the hench carries around, or perhaps seeks.  So that's the dog-faced washerwoman sorted.

Now for the animate dutch oven...   Wampus Country does indeed seem to have its share of animated objects and things wandering about, doesn't it - notably good ol' Wiggybench, animated park-bench companion to Lord Vallasen of Frogport.

You too can have (or be) an animated hench-object!  Ground rules:

1) Approximately one in thirty henchables will be animated objects.  When recruiting, roll a d30, and on a 30, there you go.
2) Roll on the table below for a convenient HENCH-OBJECT ORIGIN and it will direct you to roll on certain columns in the Dog-Faced Washerwoman table.  

1,2, 3 - Tragically Cursed!   Used to be a B, but is now sadly an A C.
4 - Cursed And Loving It!  Was once an A B, but is now an A C, and is enjoying its new form immensely.
5, 6 - Magical Creation (Design).  Brought to life intentionally by a wizard-type; is an A C.
7, 8 - Magical Creation (Spontaneous).  Was always a C, but was bathed in magical energy in some fashion, and awakened to sapience and its A personality.
9 - Avatar.  Was once an angel, fairy, or otherdimensional gewgaw, now placed into the form of an A C with an important epic mission - or so it believes.
10 - Marvelous Two-In-One.  Reroll origin, but roll on C twice, combining the two.  Stitched, lashed together, glued, something.  (Optional: pick an animal-generating table from somewhere and mix that in if you like - a housecat with a beer-stein for a head sounds pretty cool to me)

Some curse effects may turn a PC into an animated (non-hench) object as well, but that will require winging it a bit.   All animated objects are subject to various weaknesses and craziness based on their form.

Animated hench-objects are ambulatory if they have legs (like a table or wood-stove), or are essentially a pile of something.  Otherwise, they'll have to be carried.  Objects with four or more legs may carry passengers/riders if of the appropriate size and weight.

Most (75%) animated hench-objects have the power of speech, with a little mouth appearing somewhere.  All animated hench-objects are assumed to have the same senses as a normal human, along with similar vulnerabilities, even if they don't technically have eyes.

Spellcasters transformed into a hench-object may still cast spells so long as they have the power of speech.  However, this can be a real pain - just ask the wizard Sebacious Bumkindle, who was transformed into an animated bedpan, and must now be pointed at his enemies by his mentally-challenged gibbon porter, Mister Joops. 
"Clumsy, pea-brained oaf seeks gainful employment, preferably involving firearms."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Swamp Life: An Alphabet

Since we have one group of players headed to Frogport, and another getting ready to depart from there for a long eastward expedition, perhaps it's time to revisit Snollygoster Swamp.

Despite its simplistic name, Snollygoster Swamp is more than just swampland - it also incorporates marshes, creeks and rivulets, mud pits, and dry land.  And throughout the swamp live all manner of creatures, both sentient and dangerous, along with wondrous plants and long-forgotten secrets.

Let's see if we can do an alphabetical selection, shall we?

A is for Alligators
As one might imagine, Snollygoster Swamp is thick with alligators of all sizes, shapes and colors - from tiny yellow anklebiters to gigantic black-scaled monsters.  Of note - and rightly feared - is the double-gator, with a head at both ends, said to breathe balls of fire.  A few alligators, always very clever specimens, have taken to walking upright and living amongst men; most famous amongst them is the great detective Hercule Gavial, who has since retired to River-Town.

B is for Beer
One might not associate the wetlands with beer, but in fact Frogport maintains several small, beloved breweries which buy hops and barley from outside the swamp (usually low-quality) and then flavor their beer with local fruits - typically swamp-melon, mustard-bean, or honeysuckle.  It's an acquired taste, but it's the local brew, and quite affordable.

C is for Cricket
Frogs raise very large crickets as pets and livestock.  They range from rather musical housecat-sized breeds all the way to the equivalent of a Rottweiler ("guard cricket" = $40).  Some froggy wizards have crickets or dragonflies as familiars, which one supposes must be rather like a human sorceror taking a side of bacon as a companion.

D is for Dolomphious Duck
The dolomphious duck is the bogeyman of young frogs - a giant, snaggletoothed spoonbill, something between a mallard and a tyrannosaur.  Its fearsome jaws are most runcible indeed - runcible being a froggy portmanteau denoting something from which it is sensible to run.  Many a tadpole has spent a long waking night chattering beneath their covers after being told a tale of the dolomphious duck.

E is for Enterprise
The business of Frogport is business!  Traders on the river, farmers and gatherers in the marsh and swamp, snollygoster hunters, you name it.  Everyone has something to sell - and sometimes the product even does what it's supposed to.  There is always something to do in Snollygoster Swamp if you're willing to get off your duff and get wet.  Speaking of which, a pair of leather-like mostly-waterproof hip waders costs $12.

F is for Frogport
Everyone knows about Frogport, as it's the largest town in the swamp, and lies right on the river.  The port itself is a confluence of river traffic and the flat-bottomed boats which ply the swamp itself.  The population of Frogport is a mix of humans and frogs, with a smattering of goblins and other things.  Frogport is in many ways as much a vertical city as a horizontal one - treehouses and rope-bridges as far as the eye can see.  A few particularly large trees have been carved up into a series of froggy flats.  Frogport lacks a proper government by human standards, but the eldest of the frogs have great influence.

G is for Goblins
Swamp-goblins live here and there in the marshes - primitive little sub-men who wear spanish moss on their heads and mud on their faces.  They are dangerous in numbers, very stealthy, and deadly with their short bows.  A handful of swamp-goblins have fallen in with the frog ragtimers and moved to Frogport, considering themselves now 'civilized'.  Generally, the goblins worship a goddess called the Mud Mother; somewhere in the swamp is a permanent goblin settlement called Mudburrow which is a mix of treehouses and cave-dwellings.

H is for Hermit
Hidden from the prying eyes of men, the Swamp Hermit remains cloistered in an invisible tower.  He is a sorceror of great power, so they say, and fond of exotic pipe tobacco.  To step into his tower is death, and his servitors are bat-winged monstrosities the locals call "ghoulgoyles".

I is for Indigo
As in the purple-blue color of marsh-roses.  The purple roses grow wild in many places in the swamp, and are gathered to make dye (as well as tea).  The up side is that Wampus Country gets a lot of its purple dyes from Frogport, so this is the best place to buy violet clothing cheaply.  The down side is that locals will not warn you that drinking marsh-rose tea will stain your teeth blue.

J is for Jazz
With the introduction of brass instruments, the sounds of jazz, ragtime, and zydeco have taken possession of the young froggy imagination and will not soon let go.  It seems every frog in Frogport fancies himself at least a part-time musician, and several fairly impressive big bands have been assembled.  No saloon or streetcorner in Frogport is without music after dark.

K is for Kinkajou
Although more commonly known as a monkeybear, this arboreal relative of the raccoon is often hunted for its soft, golden coat.  It will come as little surprise that the monkeybears do not appreciate being hunted, and so have taken up arms; travelers are generally not molested unless they are seen to hunt, or carry the peculiar tree-traps which are the stock and trade of those seeking kinkajou pelts.  Targets are pelted with sharp stones and rotten fruit while the monkeybears produce a distinctive "danger" call - which inevitably attracts nearby swamp-ogres, who are too slow to catch monkeybears but do enjoy eating frightened humans.

"I will END you, hoo-man."

L is for Lizardfolk
A tribe of brownish-yellow lizard people live in Snollygoster Swamp; they are quite savage, and do not trade with men or frogs, greeting them instead with stone spearpoint and poisons extracted from the giant centipedes which stalk the high grasses of the marsh.

M is for Massey's Men
The celebrated mercenary company known as Massey's Men are of the opinion that they de facto run Frogport; and they're not completely wrong.  They have numbers, and tactics, and are well-armed.  Although they sometimes do honest soldiering work escorting travelers or merchants, and occasionally hunt snollygosters deep in the swamp, for the most part they spend their time collecting protection money from Frogport citizens, then frittering it away on drink and cards.

N is for Never-Fear
A few months ago, one of the apothecaries in Frogport began selling a concoction he dubbed 'Never-Fear'; it is a foul-smelling liquid which, he claims, provides boundless energy and courage.  Single doses simulate several cups of coffee; an overdose replicates a potion of heroism, followed by sudden cardiac explosion.

O is for Oldstump
Oldstump is a well-known frog village which has thrived in its present location for generations.  The vegetation in the area is thick with edible fruits and vegetables, including cucumber and swamp-melon.  The village itself is home to several prominent frog families, and more than one respected froggy priest.

P is for Putrid Fen
Hidden amongst the weeping willows lies the Putrid Fen, a stagnant region whose pungent waters have a tendency to raise the dead.  Thankfully the undead creatures which rise here tend not to wander far from the fen, instead lurking beneath its waters, waiting interminably to prey upon the living.  A warning to travelers - it is not just men and frogs who rise from the fen; steer clear unless you relish trading blows with a zombie snollygoster.

Q is for Queenie
"Queenie", as the frogs call her, is an ancient dryad who embodies several dozen mangroves east of Frogport.  She has lived since before the frogs came, and knows much, but tells little.  Every few years one of her daughters comes of age and wanders off to live on her own, sometimes after spending a season living amongst humans and drinking liquor (this event is called RumSpring).

R is for Rejects
On occasion someone dies in the boggier parts of the swamp and is naturally mummified; when these bog bodies are found, the frogs call them Rejects, as the earth will not accept them.  Sadly, Rejects are sometimes cut up, with bits of them being sold as ineffectual talismans against evil.  Think twice before paying good gold for a bog-mummy hand to wear around your neck.

S is for Snollygoster (of course!)
The snollygosters are several species of large reptilian brutes which live in various areas of the swamp; some are slow-moving herbivores, while others are terrible man-eaters.  Snollygosters are difficult to slay and nigh-impossible to train.  There is, however, a strong market in snollygoster meat, which the fancier Frogport restaurants will always buy for a good price.  Locals have their own names for many of the well-known species, such as "clubtail", "death-maw", "shadow-stalker", and "OH GOD GET IT OFF ME".

T is for Toadsworth
Professor Ephraim Toadsworth, who runs the House of Curiosities, is said to be the most knowledgeable frog in Frogport; few know the flora and fauna of Wampus Country better than he.  The House itself is not very large, but holds many small artifacts which may be interesting to the student of natural history, including a shrunken gorilla head, a petrified mermaid, and a large prism unearthed from the swamp-mud.

U is for Underwater
Frogs have no difficulty breathing underwater, but men do; thus there is a brisk trade in aids to that sort of endeavor in Frogport, chiefly trinkets or methods learned (or stolen) from the Lakeborn.  The most affordable is the air-slug, a sallow little gastropod which, when inserted deep into the sinuses, extracts oxygen from water.  Being claustrophobic, air-slugs can only live in these conditions for a few minutes.  Caveat emptor - proper air-slugs are a creamy yellow color; the white ones are death-slugs, who convert water into poison gas.

V is for the Victory Pub
There are plenty of bars and restaurants in Frogport, but there's only one Victory Pub, situated at the top of a tree.  The Victory has tables sized for humans and frogs alike, several dartboards, and two snooker tables.  The pub is unusual in that it rarely hosts musical acts, preferring to allow its patrons to dine in peace and occupy themselves with assorted games of the non-card variety.

W is for Witch
As far as is known, Snollygoster Swamp boasts only a single witch, known as the Marsh Hag.  She is said to be nine feet tall, horned like a demon, and have a penchant for sucking the eyeballs out of still-living victims.  Her home is a giant snail-shell suspended in a massive spider's web, somewhere near the heart of the swamp; the swamp-ogres serve as her eyes and ears.

X is for "X The Unfathomable"
You mean you haven't heard of him?  How many frogs do you think run around with a shiny golden cape and a domino mask, protecting the citizenry of Frogport?  Look, I don't know who he really is, but one of these days he's going to get really hurt.  Especially if he keeps messing with Massey's boys...

Y is for Yak
Some sort of green swamp-yak lives out on the marshes, in small herds.  The frogs consider them bad luck and avoid them; at least one human party has set out to slay a few, never to be heard from again.  Tipsy toads at the bar posit that these ungulates are not yaks at all, but some sort of disguised demon on vacation from torturing souls in Hell.  It's difficult to argue with them - not just because they're drunken frogs, but because after a few centuries extracting pain from sinners, a couple of weeks just chewing your cud in the body of a yak does sound rather nice.

Z is for Zinda
There was once an ancient town, out in the swamp - although it wasn't a swamp then.  This place, which oral tradition tells us was called Zinda, was a marvelous construct of gleaming crystalline spires which stretched up to the sky.  Something terrible happened to Zinda, and it fell to bits; and perhaps that same something terrible created the swamp.  Makes you wonder...