Monday, December 29, 2014

Doing The Things We Otter

Among the lesser-known animal gods of the Wampus Country is Lutraya, the Otter Queen, whose followers ply the waterways. Her faithful include some humans, the odd fish-man, and the few otter-kin families who still live along the Great River.  The Otter Queen is a kindly neutral goddess who appears as either a silver-furred otter with emeralds for eyes, or a beautiful woman in a checkered gown.  She has few clerics, but is known to provide the spells below.

level one transmutation

This is the invocation a priest of Lutraya learns upon completing his initial schooling as an acolyte - the ability to shift into the form of a normal-sized otter. The transformation is instant, and lasts until dawn or until dispelled. While in ottershape, the cleric can understand and speak the language of otters and other mustelids. Casting the spell requires the cleric wear at least one article of checkered clothing.

Spraint For The Haint
level one necromancy

The cleric rubs a bit of otter dung (fresh or dried) on their face and around the eyes. For the next few rounds (equal to caster level), person-affecting spells invoked by the priest will also affect the undead. For example, a hold person spell may not typically function against ghouls; with spraint for the haint, it will.

level four conjuration

The true power of Lutraya revealed! The cleric meditates for a full hour, praying to the Otter Queen. At the completion of the ritual, d6x50 normal otters arrive and do the cleric’s bidding for one turn before melting away into puddles of river-water. This spell can only be cast once per lunar year, and requires a sacrifice of 200gp worth of colorful shells.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fallen Pillars

Smashing together some things the Boy came up with recently, with some lingering concepts adjunct to a session of (They Came From) Under the Waterless Sea I recently ran.  This isn't really Wampus content, although I suppose I could append it to one of the historical eras; I think it has more in common with the occasional DCC games I've been running.  Some of the implied setting there started when I ran Adrift on the Sea of Love at the beginning of the year, and later started banging together a DCC-appropriate late-Bronze-ish setting for running odds and ends (both adaptations of Goodman Games stuff, like Sailors, and classics like The Lost City).  It's floating around in the "Sinbad/Argosy, hoplites, and Polynesia" zone at the moment.

- - - - -


The poet recites:

Those fallen pillars /scattered like gigant-bones by the furious hands of growling Gods, / the whispers of the rumor-mongering sea / echo through the rocky field of graves / where once stood proud Razzioa / the Lion's Hope reduced to dust

This is what most know of Razzioa - a small city-state, a colony founded by a noble family, which fell apart after its populace and rulers defied the Gods.  The city and its temples were destroyed in some physical cataclysm, and its people slain or scattered.  The ruins of Razzioa remain there, atop a windswept promontory, but few buildings yet stand; Razzioa is a scrambled mess of broken marble, rocks, crushed adobe, and rotten wood.  Among the rubble broken pieces of statuary stick out at akimbo angles - here, an alabaster hand reaches for the sun; there, a stern bronze head laid sideways upon a broken wall stares forever at the sea, as though waiting for a ship to come in.  The piers are long-gone, but Razzioa still provides a fine harbor, and may prove an inviting stop for travelers seeking adventure or a restock of food (persimmon and tamarind orchards now gone wild on the northern side of the colony; wild goats here and there in the ruins).

Razzioa was founded, those many years ago, by the Razzi line - a minor family of some nobility who had fallen out of favor, squandered most of their fortune, and were willing to gamble what remained of their money and reputation.  They piled into their remaining ships, flew their lion-and-dolphin banners proudly, and set off.  At first, Razzioa did quite well; the fishing was good, the land was nicely arable, and the weather mild.  The colony sat on potentially-lucrative tradelines between imperial lands and some of the stranger islands of the Sea of Woe.  The Razzis and their associates built up a respectable small city-state in a matter of a few generations - some say, aided by unsavory associations with pirates and slavers.

Eventually, things turned sour, as they are wont to do when a land is ruled by the greedy and foolish.  The governor of the colony, himself a Razzi, declared himself King - divinely-anointed by no less than himself.  Thus began the bloody reign of the god-king Malsippius, known in whispers as the Bootstrapper, and more poetically as The Demigod Who Invented Himself.  Malsippius ruled for thirty years with the aid of Razzioa's strong military and the now-quite-popular cult of Malsippius himself.  Mayhap the Gods could have ignored Malsippius as a curiosity, an object-lesson in the folly of mortals, but for the song.

Malsippius thought himself skilled at many arts - as is only right for a god and king - and composed a hymn to himself.  The lyrics of the song did more than praise Malsippius - they compared him favorably to several well-known Gods, and even disparaged some Gods as being less than the tales say.  Every citizen was mandated to learn the hymn, and practice it in preparation for the King's birthday; and when several thousand voices united to praise the god-king Malsippius at the expense of the rest of the Gods, the heavens opened up and the city-state of Razzioa was sundered.  By morning only rubble remained.


The Marble Fields
What Is It: smashed ruins of the upper city
Of Interest: ruins to dig through for valuables; uneven ground
Threats: a pack of harpies led by a winged, brazen-clawed medusa; carnivorous animated statuary which lie in wait
A Thing To Do: restore one of the shattered temples to the Gods of Law to curry their favor

Smugglers' Caves
What Is It: wet cavern complex attached to harbor
Of Interest: former pirate hideout and all that entails
Threats: giant hellbenders, spectre of murdered pirate
A Thing To Do: assemble the clues hidden in the pirate cave paintings to reconstruct a treasure map

Cult Caverns of the Self-Made God
What Is It: dry caves hidden beneath ruins
Threats: a devil in chains which whispered to Malsippius and drove his rise
A Thing To Do: uncover the ancient cult-writings from which Malsippians cribbed and learn some forgotten clerical magic


Early in his reign, Malsippius put his uncle Balaranthus to death for some small offense, or the seeming of a conspiracy.  Balaranthus, who was a fairly accomplished sorcerer and speaker-to-darkness, was beaten with bamboo rods until his bones were powder; his corpse was then dragged by a jackass to the edge of a crevasse, where Malsippius kicked what remained of his uncle's corpse into the pit.

With his dying breaths, Balaranthus called out to certain small things in the dark, greasy squiggling things from discarded realms; he called out in whispers, and in silent shouts, and he made promises.  Thus was Balaranthus preserved - in a way.  The wizard did not die, but was instead changed.  In the years that have passed, the thing that was once Balaranthus - a boneless, quivering flesh-mass which has taken into itself various lesser life forms which thrive in the darker rock-rifts of this world - has grown to fill the caverns adjacent to the pit.  He lies there, unmoving save for the spiderats which skitter over his skin and crawl through his folds; extra eyes and fingers, some vestigial and some not, have sprung up across the vast expanse of Balaranthus.

Much of the time, the thing in the pit sleeps.  But when Balaranthus is awake, he knows many things, and his hollow voice rings upward out of the pit...


What became of the Razzi family and their trusted servants when the colony at Razzioa was destroyed?  Few now living know, but the answer is obvious to those with eyes to see.

In the waters around Razzioa, and out into the tradelanes of the Sea of Woe, swim dangerous packs of creatures which the tattooed island natives call koua.  The koua appear - if one squints - as the blending of the two banner-totems of the Razzi family, the lion and dolphin.  Indeed, the koua do seem to have catlike faces ringed by manes; wide maws with row upon row of sharp teeth; and the smooth green-grey skin of some sort of dolphin.  But they are indeed more akin to sharks, both in their need to breathe water and their predatory nature.  The koua do not speak, so far as we know, but they are nearly as intelligent as men, and very cunning when it comes to the hunt.  This fearful cunning is supplemented by their ability to scent both fear and innocence in the same way a shark can smell blood in the water.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The City Within The Song

Despite apocryphal assertions, it is widely accepted among the best-educated wizards of the Wampus Country that there are, in fact, only three Cities of Secrets.  These three cities, we are told, hold within them deep, great truths about the nature of reality and the place we call home.  Many scholars and historical treatises agree that the Cities of Secrets are numbered three, however different traditions name varied places as those mystical places.

In contemporary sorcerous circles, it is commonly accepted that the three locations consist of the City Behind The Moon, the City Under Everything, and the City Within The Song [1].  Of these, the City Behind The Moon is best-known; a faerie outpost which occasionally exists just outside the atmosphere of our world, it is a place to which we can easily travel if we but know the way, and its denizens occasionally lower themselves to visit the Wampus Country.  The second conurbation, about which less is known, is the City Under Everything.  A realm of twilight and secrets, this place is, the wizards would have us believe, quite literally under everything - under that lake, under the deepest caves, and under your child's bed; one can only imagine what its denizens best resemble when squinted at in the sickly half-light of its cobblebone streets.

Neither of these storied places, however, are the subject of today's discussion; instead we turn to one of the once-popular candidates for the third mystical node, the City Within The Song.  Much of what is supposed regarding this place comes to us from the memoir-tome Strange Futures Wrought By My Own Foolishness, scrawled in mirror-writing by a time-traveling lich under the obvious nom de plume of Endsworth.  Mr. Endsworth claims in the book to not only have survived til the end of the universe - thanks in part to his undead condition - but also to have inadvertently caused the whole sordid collapse, as alluded to in the title [2].  Regardless, our concern for the work is singular: the lich Endsworth provides a lengthy diversion regarding the City Within The Song during one of the middle chapters, and it is from this source that we know something of the place.

The City Within The Song, called Ghya-Ma-Hau by its inhabitants, exists simultaneously in several places [3].  The city exists, in some physical sense, on several other demi-planes at once, including those known as "Narcosa" and "Thrice-Cursed Ffu" [4].  Endsworth suggests to us that the City does not exist in the same form in each realm, instead one city dreams the next in a cascade: the Ghya-Ma-Hau we can reach from Wampus Country may be a projection of the dream-selves of the residents of Ghya-Ma-Hau in Narcosa, who themselves are the sweaty nightmares of their own analogs in Ffu.  If the lich is to be believed, the citizens of Ghya-Ma-Hau are, generally speaking, aware that they are someone else's dream, and act accordingly - which is to say, with considerable abandon and disregard for their own safety, should the whim strike.

Reaching the City Within The Song from the Wampus Country is not easy to do purposefully, but quite simple to accomplish accidentally.  All wizards of our time are familiar with the bazoul, that psychemotive energy field which binds the living creatures of the Wampus Country and even permeates the land itself, like cheap rum poured over a sponge cake.  The bazoul is the weave of lives and minds, the unspoken communication between the myriad singularities that populate our world.  Every form of communication requires a medium, a language; thus, if the bazoul is the air, there is a song which floats through it, resonating with each mind it passes like a voice against an eardrum.  But this is first-year sorcery, and I do not mean to bore you [5].  Suffice it to say that if the bazoul has a song, and that song has a rhythm, then translating said rhythm into physicality would yield Ghya-Ma-Hau: the City Within The Song, and the right altered state of consciousness will provide physical access [6].  Dreamers sometimes go to Ghya-Ma-Hau, and drug addicts, and those in the depths of depression, and those at the pinnacle of joy; when you find yourself so full of sensation or emotion that this world can no longer parse your existence, your mind and body are shunted to the City Within the Song as a safety measure.

The City itself is a massive iridescent - in some manifestations it stands on the surface of the earth, in others it floats in the sky.  This immense sphere is populated both on the outer surface, and on the inner, and passing between the two is a simple act of will accompanied by a physical push, as passing gently through a soap bubble.  And perhaps a soap bubble is the most appropriate description, as rainbow fractals dance over every surface, seemingly alive, and the entire city is possessed of this unspoken feeling of an impending 'pop' - perhaps yielded by the ephemeral nature of the dreams which form the atoms of Ghya-Ma-Hau.  The population of the City may vary by manifestation and time, but it is certainly immense, with the city's footprint covering many square miles of visible land and goodness-knows how many more microplanar spider-holes and transfolded buildings [7].  Things in the distance are transparent in their nonexistence; as you approach, they coalesce out of nothing in a swirl of melted crayon to become real, so long as they are being observed.  Once you pass, the shops and sculptures and people may be forgotten and unwatched, and thus dissapate and seep away into invisible drains in the walls of reality.  Within the City, thousands go about their dream-business, much of which might be inexplicable to passersby, seeming the actions of mimes and madmen.  The streets and walls and buildings shift and morph in reaction to the unspoken needs and fears of the citizenry, making Ghya-Ma-Hau both a playground and a nightmare.  Few would travel there intentionally, for there is no safety in wandering the collective unconscious - not only are most humans wracked with constant fears and inadequacies, but many of them are quite stupid, to boot, and all these traits manifest in the City Within the Song.

How many dreamers and mushroom-fiends lose themselves amongst the labyrinthine alleyways of Ghya-Ma-Hau?  We cannot know.  Nor can we posit whether their visit to the City Within the Song is temporary, or in some way permanent; the place is so permeated with dream-stuff that possibly tonight you will dream your way there, only to then replace your earthly self with a dream of you, slightly altered.  The next time your companions note you are not acting like yourself, consider the possibility that you are not, in fact, yourself - you are but a dream-painting of the real you, who is now passed out in an alley in Ghya-Ma-Hau, the City Within the Song.

[1] The poetic among you will notice the "Behind", "Under", "Within" pattern; I do not recommend placing too much symbolic stock in these words, as the wizards of both today and the Long Long Ago had an inordinate fondness for prepositions.

[2] If the signposts of apocalypse described by Mr. Endsworth in Chapters Two through Four of his work are interpreted somewhat liberally, then the not-yet-undead Mr. Endsworth is likely alive today, as a young sorcerer.

[3] "Ghya-Ma-Hau" comes to us from the tongue of the aboriginals of the city, a race of portly toddlers lacking both hair and visible gender.  This native race was long ago subjugated, then enslaved, then fashionably modified to be housepets by vivimancers, then rearranged into semisentient furnishings and accessories.  Few natives still survive; during his stay in the City, Endsworth rented a native who had been shaped into a small box, in whom he placed his snuff to protect it from Ghya-Ma-Hau's legendary rains.

[4] I use here the designations given by the Psychlopedia Teratica, as they are in common use by planar scholars even if I personally prefer the hexadecimal system introduced by the learned Ul-Phremion of the Several Matrices, in which the demi-planes are 7A91 and 76CC, respectively.

[5] If your own university did not cover isoplanar parapsionic metaphysics until third year, you have no one  to blame but your parents, who sent you to a sub-par school.

[6] To review: an encrypted pattern hidden within a psychic song-field, which is also an actual city when you look at it sideways.  Wizards who cannot wrap their thinkmeat around such concepts best return to brewing "love potions" for rubes.

[7] Endsworth himself does not describe the size of the City beyond conveying its enormity, but in one dialogue, he quotes a drinking-companion (one Zebulon the Cruel) as noting Ghya-Ma-Hau to be "at least as big as either the City of Oaks or Chicago, and twice as dangerous as the two combined".  Sadly we lack context for this boast.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Asparagus Factor

I know what I like, and I know what doesn't appeal to me.  On a good day, I understand the 'why' behind those things.

This might be a good day.

Over at Rotten Pulp, the learned Mr. Mack has posted about those adventures he calls Negadungeons; those encounters, typified by the much-vaunted "Raggian screwjob", which leave the delvers inevitably worse off, insane, accursed, and wondering why they ever set foot in this place (and sometimes crumples up the campaign world and tosses it in the bin as a by-product).  I have no issue saying that I do not typically like this kind of adventure - and this criticism applies to a number of Call of Cthulhu classics, I'm sorry to say - and do not typically use them except perhaps for occasional inspiration and cannibalization.

Mr. Mack thoughtfully explores the nature of the "negadungeon" - you should read his post if you haven't already - and explains that rather than being "hahaha screw you, players" exercises in GM onanism, the negadungeon is instead its own animal.  For whatever reason, reading that over tonight, the whole thing clicked.  These kinds of adventures are not adventures at all - in the literary sense - but an attempt to do a horror story in rpg form.  Yes, this should be obvious, as I mentioned Call of Cthulhu scenarios, but for some reason even though I've always understood the connection, it took tonight to have the epiphany that the reason I don't like many of these scenarios is because they're trying to be horror stories rather than adventure stories.

You'd think that would be self-evident.  It wasn't.  Perhaps you can see how, measuring these kinds of "adventures" against, y'know, actual adventure stories, they would not measure up in my mind.  I don't much care for horror stories or movies, either.  Is there something about that negative catharsis whatever-you-call-it (no doubt Professor Shear can supply a very fine Greek word) that just plain does not appeal to me?  That might be it.  I don't mind occasionally watching or reading something about a protagonist who descends into darkness and madness and bad choices and whatever; but it would rarely be my first choice for entertainment (for what it's worth, I'm working my way through Breaking Bad now, and enjoying it), and the chances of it becoming my favorite ahead of innumerable comedies and real adventure yarns is effectively nil.  There's a place within adventure, within fairy tales, within pulp, for the frightening, the uncanny, and the gross-out, but to me, their best position is within the framework of the adventure genre.  An ingredient rather than a meal.

So I get it now, even if I still don't like them.  Much in the same way I will not eat asparagus, yet can appreciate my wife's enjoyment of the fetid stalk, or coo appreciatively as the wizards on Chopped unveil a glorious bundle of white asparagus (which, one assumes, grants urine the aroma of fine Madagascar vanilla), I think I can appreciate the craft and cleverness in a "negadungeon" or horror scenario.  But they just don't do it for me, I guess.  Nothing wrong with that, although there may be some rabid dogs out there who would gladly foam at the thought of a plebian misunderstanding obvious genius; but let us not pay much attention to rabid dogs.

If, by the way, your mind went directly into the gutter with the above sentence about my wife enjoying a fetid stalk now and then, that's completely fine; I like double entendre, wordplay, and "naughtiness" of Benny Hill levels.  I just don't much like horror, it seems.

If a pull-quote is necessary, let it be "Raggi-style adventures make my whiz smell bad."  Jim would like that.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A World of Heroes: Part Two (Abject Villainy!)

Part Two recounting characters and concepts for a superhero-verse created by an eight-year-old...

The Awesome Ones - from the previous post - are opposed on a global scale by an organization so evil, it can only be called --


Formed years ago as a foil for the Awesome Ones, the League of Super-Evil represents the ultimate villain team-up.  Although its roster has varied across the years, its central objective has not: to destroy the Awesome Ones (and take over the world and stuff).  A partial listing of their historic membership follows.

The devil of the crossroads, promoted from tempting blues musicians, he now torments super-heroes.  Naturally he is a rival of Saint Dozen.  Demon John appears to be the big mystical baddie of this superverse.

Once a drug cartel enforcer, he manifested the ability to control minds and quickly rose in the ranks.  He runs both the cartels and (secretly) the government of Mexico using a secret identity.

An albino gorilla (I can't make this stuff up), Pure Gorilla wishes to destroy everything he considers impure.  Which, of course, varies from day to day.  Obsessive, super-strong, and very dangerous.

Some sort of martial artist/assassin type.

He fell from the sky in a meteor-ship!  He has somewhat-vast cosmic powers!  He shoots star-energy from his fingertips!

(This could have gone way worse than it did)
"He's like Green Lantern, only he's brown.  And he summons dragons."
"Does he have Green Lantern's powers, but brown?"
"No, he has an old magic ring that's brown, which summons dragons."
"So he's nothing like Green Lantern at all."
"Well, his name is."

Peru Man is from Peru (naturally); he can fly and shoot beams from his eyes and things.  That's about it.  Personally I imagine he has a mystic/ancient-alien origin and has Nazca lines all over his body like circuitry-tattoos or something, but that's all me, not the Boy.  And, full disclosure - when we play superheroes lately, I am typically assigned to be Peru Man.  Serious bias on my part.

"Idaho Ghost was a guy in Idaho who died but now he's a ghost and can walk through walls and levitate things with his mind but he's super angry about something so he does bad stuff."

Saint Zero is the opposite number of Saint Dozen - a man who had all the potential for goodness sucked out of him.  Other than being unkillable, he has no superpowers, but commits many crimes and hurts people.  (The Boy is not familiar with the term "serial killer" but that's totally the vibe I get here).

I don't have any details on this villain, but he/she/it sounds pretty horrifying.

A teenage lad who, via his remarkable ability to shapeshift into human waste and swim rapidly through water pipes, has made an underworld living as an assassin.  Think about that for a second.  Dude's an assassin who can come up through your toilet.  Ass-assin, I guess.

Next time: the wild card teams!  The nefarious New Land Gang, and the second-tier heroes of X-Encounter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A World of Heroes: Part One

Not much going on in Wampus lately, so let's talk about spandex.

For the past several weeks, each day the Boy has come up with one or more superheroes or villains, which he insists we write down for him, each added properly to one of the hero- or villain-teams he has invented.  As weird as it all is - you can imagine the powers and names a nearly-nine-year-old might come up with, and I have so say I feel blessed only one character has fart-related powers - it's been intriguing watching him come up with things that are somewhat consistent, self-referential, etc.  He builds on what has come before, and things have their own sense of logic.

At first I was going to take some of his more outlandish heroes and villains and give them a fatherly "touch-up", as we sometimes do for Wampus content, but I think this time maybe the Boy's creations should stand on their own.  Thus, the beginning of this multi-post series covering his world of heroes.  We start with the greatest hero-team of all, the Awesome Ones; but soon enough we'll hit the villains and cover the Boy's first attempts to play Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP).  I have no idea if anyone but us will get any use out of these concepts, but it's certainly a walk through a kid's brain.

The Awesome Ones are the world's premier superheroes, with a deep bench and a global reach.  They have secret bases all over the world, and travel between them using high-tech rocket-planes.  Below are listed a mixture of their current and original lineup.

The legendary Saint Dozen is perhaps the best-known and greatest-beloved superhero in the world.  In addition to being a skilled athlete, martial artist, and detective, he has been gifted the special abilities of twelve different saints, which he may use one at a time.  Saint Dozen can conjure flame, talk to animals, disappear and reappear [1], and heal others.  When Saint Dozen is around, other heroes defer to his experience and leadership.

Dr. Emergency's arrival at the scene of a crisis is a welcome sight; she possesses the heightened and combined abilities of a medical doctor, paramedic, police officer, and firefighter.

Once a sheriff in the wild west, Ray Cowboy was abducted by aliens who experimented on him and left him in stasis in a desert cave.  When he awoke in the 21st-century, he had not aged, and had crazy robot eyes that gave him new senses and the ability to shoot death-rays from his eyes.  Now he fights crime in the modern day and tries to solve the mystery of the aliens and why they altered him.

Formerly a professional Ukrainian soccer player, Soccer Boy has the ability to conjure and shoot powerful soccer balls from his mouth.

Defense Patriot was injured in Afghanistan and medically discharged from the Marine Corps, but became an FBI agent.  While on an investigation, she witnessed the earthfall of the strange meteroid-ship which contained Mister Universe [2].  Bathed in the unearthly radiation and pollution of the meteroid gave Defense Patriot her armored skin and uncanny agility.

Captain Africa is super-strong and can shoot strawberries from his eyes.  Little else is known of this mysterious hero.

The "S" stands for "stretch".  Every universe needs a stretchy guy.

A bounty hunter, British Jam's ability to fly [3] has assisted him in tracking down many a criminal.

A young girl who knows many things and can think like a supercomputer.  There was some sort of weird accident and the entire population of Burlington, Vermont was vaporized, but their memories and part of their brainpower were transferred to this girl who was at the epicenter of the event.  Burlington speaks of herself in the third person plural, which is nice and creepy for a twelve-year-old.

Born with the mystical ability to transform himself into a key which matches any door he touches.

Next Time:  we meet the world-beating, villainous membership of the League of Super-Evil!

[1] I am reliably informed that this power is not invisibility.  It sounds more like a delayed teleportation the way the kid describes it.

[2] A rather nasty villain.  We'll get to him in Part Two.

[3] Flight powers are waaay underrepresented in this universe relative to your bog-standard comic assumptions.  So far, anyway.  For all I know, tomorrow he'll come up with eight dudes who can fly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Four Familiars

Lately a short work, On the Conjuration of Unique and Fashionable Familiars, has appeared in certain River-Town bookshops frequented by sorcerous types.  The author is listed as one Elsie Dodge, who my sources tell me is a wizardess of middling repute.  Miss Dodge's thaumaturgical researches, as detailed in the pamphlet, have yielded a few interesting twists to the summoning of familiars.  By following her instructions - which involve a convex mirrored surface and a peculiar arrangement of chess-pieces - while casting the standard 'Find Familar' conjuration, the creature that appears may be one of those described below (a d4 is acceptable).

A tall, stick-like bird which, in its stiller moments, might be taken for a mop due to its wild shock of dreadlock-like feathers, typically a bluish-grey; they also have notably large beaks.  The borogove is not suited for combat, or riding, or really much of anything, a flaw of which it is keenly aware, making it continually miserable and just awful to be around as it sighs deeply for attention.
Familiar Bonus: The miasma of depression and self-loathing which surrounds the borogove bird has a tendency to disrupt emotion-bending magic nearby; any sentient within ten feet of the borogove receives a +2 to all saves versus fear or emotional manipulation.  Also, should you ever need a sympathetic link to a dimension of para-elemental angst, the borogove is it.

An early, lizard-like mammal from the dawn of time, the tove feeds by boring holes in cheese using its corkscrew-like proboscis; in some fancy extraplanar restaurants, toves are employed to make Swiss cheese.  Despite a fondness for time-pieces, the tove's chief attribute is its penchant for nimble activity, coupled with a naturally slimy, mucus-covered hide which makes it deucedly difficult to grab as it gimbles to and fro.
Familiar Bonus: The sorceror bonded to a tove receives a +2 on any rolls to escape grapples, wriggle out of manacles or rope, or anything else sufficiently Houdini-esque.

These small green piglets make a horrible wheezing, whistling, chuffing, screaming, whining sound basically all the time, and never seem to sleep.  Successfully owning a rath involves either deafness - itself an impediment for a wizard - or the cleverness required to figure out exactly what sort of inanimate object your particular rath wants to suck on as a pacifier; typically a certain kind of rock, a salad fork, left shoe, or other seemingly mundane thing.  The rath will happily suckle its chosen object in perpetuity, cuddling up in a near-fetal state, and not actually needing to be fed.  When the pacifier is removed, the rath will immediately resume its ridiculous cacophany.
Familiar Bonus: When the rath is outgrabing, sonic effects within thirty feet are partially countered, either giving targets +4 to resist (for save-able issues) or sometimes actually nullifying the spell entirely (an audible glamer, for example).

This vaguely humanoid impling better resembles a chicken's egg in both shape and size; it bears a humanoid face, often sporting a wide grin or, alternately, a sour expression.
Familiar Bonus:  The wizard who is bonded with a humpmonculus may consult with it on matters of history or linguistics, providing a +2 to any rolls to that effect.  The GM should, however, roll a d20 each time the humpmonculus eggman is consulted; on a 1, the advice is completely rotten.

Painfully obvious, perhaps, what I'm currently reading to the Boy at bedtime.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tales from the Book of Aqueducts

Recently the Boy has been inventing longtime readers know, when the Boy is productive, his efforts are quickly transcribed, given a veneer of Daddy-dream, and added to the Wampus canon in some fashion or another.


The Book of Aqueducts is an ancient codex from the Long Ago which scholars believe predates the rise of Koz and perhaps dates back into shrouded antiquity.  Its actual age is difficult to pinpoint, for it has chief amongst its curious enchanted qualities the inconvenient yet amazing habit of rejiggering all of its illustrations to portray the characters as of the same species as the reader.  Thus, the Book of Aqueducts itself could perhaps come down to us from the Simian Era, or even the legendary Time of Owls - we may never know.  Historians and some wizards often read copies of the Book; the original is kept under lock and key, as a wondrous object and historical treasure.

The tome itself is oversized by today's standards, bound in the purple hide of an unknown extinct creature.  The cover bears no title; it is known as the Book of Aqueducts due to the small, geometric marginalia designs which feature on many pages, which resemble pipes or waterways not unlike those used during the time of the Peacock Throne, yet far more complex - more like tiny labyrinths.  Some scholars who have studied the original Book say the marginalia have a hypnotic quality in person, and may be some sort of living code or interplanar map, indecipherable to modern eyes attached to smaller brains.  Although several relatively faithful copies of the Book exist, only the original has "proper" enchanted illustrations every few pages which animate to tell the story and sometimes even change or add meaning to the written narrative which may vary depending on the reader.

"...discussing with dear Professor Plinst our favorite tales from the Book of Aqueducts, and of course I mentioned the Travails of Poom, specifically that wonderful illumination in which the beleaguered boy knight Poom draws a whistling-sabre and decapitates the Three-Eyed Baron.  Plinst recalled it differently, insisting that when he had read the same tale in the original codex, Poom was depicted strangling his foe and spitting upon the corpse.  Wishing to settle it as a bet of honor, I sent a letter to a mutual acquaintance who lived near the city where the Book was on tour that summer, instructing him to go and read that specific story and make note of the illustrations, but not alerting him to what Plinst and I expected to see.  Well, you can, no doubt, imagine what happened.  A month later I had a letter from my friend, describing the very satisfying animation of Poom defeating the Baron in a lengthy quarterstaff duel, while noting that the text itself merely says 'killed'.  There was no doubt then that the question was settled."  -- Harcourt Runcible

The frontispiece of the Book of Aqueducts depicts a continent unknown to man, and the endpapers yet another continent.  Both feature prominently in the tales within the book, and much scholarship has been spent analyzing whether the strange lands in the stories are intended to be representative or satirical of ancient city-states, to no consensus.  Some of the countries are obvious fairy-tale sorts of destinations which exist for a narrative purpose, or are merely a humorous mention within the flow of a story; others seem like plausible stand-ins for contemporary political rivals or a historical lesson valued by the authors.  Perhaps strangely, the maps do not change, as the other illustrations do.

Below, some notable places from the Book of Aqueducts:

The land of Norbread is ruled by a clever young Prince-Regent who defends his land against the rapacious Grand Duke of Hambonia in The Tale of Two Dead Brothers.  Norbread itself seems rather vanilla compared to some of the nations in the Book; it is primarily a long valley dotted with farms, known for its apple cider.

A Grand Duchy with a large standing army, Hambonia is the aggressor in more than one story, with stock phrases describing the waves of green-clad Hambonian soldiers pouring through breaches in city walls.  The people of Hambonia prostrate themselves before idols of a deity called the Celestial Pig, and their soldiers carry destructive man-powered firearms called blunderpipes, which are halfway between a blunderbuss and bagpipes.

Outsiders know the deserts of Bejje as a white sand waste where people live in very tall houses that stick up out of the sands like spikes.  As the desert is constantly shifting and rising like a tide, they must add more levels to their house every few years, and of course the lower levels are all buried by sand.

In the valley of Boggdoggle, nobody can stand a straight line, so everything is built and crafted in curves and circles and the people live in spherical houses.  The standard of beauty is such that it is quite advantageous to be very fat and as spherical as possible, a cultural feature which factors heavily into the plot of The Princess Who Was Cursed To Eat Only Butter.

The rocky badlands of Eepgato are populated by near-naked savages who ride great cats as steeds and drive humongous scarabs before them in battle; they are ruled by the cruel, immortal Pharaoh Kwaytunkhamun.  The Pharaoh beseeched his sorcerors and scientists to make him deathless, and they succeeded - but also drove him mad.  A distant cousin and legitimate heir to the crown, the Princess With Blue Hair, hides in exile amongst the barbarians of the dunes, biding her time to regain the throne.

The many baronies of Pleplackia are now united as a single republic, having previously been one kingdom, and before that, squabbling city-states.  The beneficent guidance of King Moofus II - now Prime Minister Moofus - has been a stabilizing influence on an area once riven by sectarian conflict, as told in The Story of Six Wandering Knights and alluded to in Poor Little Ashen-Tongue.

The city of Naupiqistan is said to be invisible unless you're inside its walls, but surely that is where any curious traveler would wish to be.  At the center of Naupiquistan's red-cobbled streets lies the Unknown Library, which contains a thousand mysterious books which seem blank unless read by moonlight, in a mirror.  Each page of one of these books contains a secret which no-one knows; and once you read the page, it disappears, for now someone knows the secret.  Sadly one cannot then learn a second secret, for all the books of the Unknown Library will be blank to your eyes forevermore.

There are a great many other nations mentioned in the Book of Aqueducts, from the mountaintop abbeys of Eeglopolis, populated by balloon-people, to the floating casino-island of Lobster City.  No doubt debate as to whether these lands are real or imagined will continue long into the future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Super-Exciting News - On the Way to the Printer!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the adventure I've been working on these past few months is headed to the printer right this very minute!  We all wanted the first published bit of Wampus Country to be something really special, and this surely is it.

Fetid Curse of Baron Fuckula is a 32-page old-school super-lethal adults-only adventure dealing with the return to (un)life of the most nefarious sodomy-vampire ever to walk the worlds.  This is a no-holds-barred, heavy death sludge-metal, absolutely gonzo, ridiculously twisted adventure sure to make your players convulse with some strange admixture of joy and revulsion.  Once your PCs are in the dastardly, moist clutches of Baron Fuckula and his transgressively-shaped minions, your campaign will never be the same.  Only the most adult and metallic metal-adults will survive the grisly revelations of the Viscous Looking-Glass!  The adventure includes a small hexcrawl map detailing the Throbbing Hills, as well as a fold-out, full color map of the ruins of the Flaccid Tower, and an envelope so that you can send me your character sheets when instructed to do so by this groundbreaking adventure.  As soon as I have a proof in hand, you'll have pictures of the interior, which features some amazing art that's chock full of semi-naked people doing horrible things to one another which may or may not have anything to do with the adventure itself.  Have no fear, the whole shebang is dual-statted for LotFP and FATAL.  Look out, ENnies, here we come!

Remember, I'm not a writer, I'm a 'creative'.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

GADCon After-Action Report: In Which I Find Some Paths And Very Nearly Die Quite A Bit

I spent most of my weekend a mile from my apartment playing Pathfinder at a local con, GADCon (GAD = 'Games And Dice').  Here's the after-action report.

Bottom Line: I had quite a bit of fun at this Pathfinder-heavy weekend and look forward to returning next year; I enjoyed my four sessions of Pathfinder Society despite the many differences with the sort of thing with which I'm accustomed.

Prologue:  Not much Pathfinder under my belt previous to this weekend, and really not that much more 3.5 during that period.  I knew GADCon was Pathfinder-heavy; specifically, Pathfinder Society (PFS), which is Paizo's organized play (OP) program.  I had poked around learning about PFS and how it works back in the fall when some pals were opening up a gaming store and I was doing some event research/organizing for them, so I had a good general idea of how the OP worked, but no firsthand experience.  Further terminology for the uninitiated: in the Pathfinder rpg setting, there is a Pathfinder Society organization, which trains and sponsors Pathfinders who explore and solve problems and crap.  Professional adventurers with membership in a global adventuring guild, essentially.

Headed over to the hotel, got registered, and helped Travis carry in box after box of stuff for CardBoard Gaming's table in the vendor room.  I don't know how he crammed so much stuff into that Honda Civic.  We both wrapped it up in time to get our seats at two separate tables of a "PFS for Beginners" session, which involved character creation and running a scenario called The Confirmation - basically meant to be a graduation mission for baby Pathfinders.  As a fun bonus, we new folks were given snazzy character folios (these are a player reference thing with pockets, a dry-erase charsheet, etc).  The scenario that followed was pretty straightforward - the standard beginning exposition, some wilderness travel, and then poking around in some caverns.  Altogether a decent beginner scenario (although I think the swarms were a little much for new players with level 1 PCs).  So far, so good.  Had a great time joking around and playing my new PFS PC, Noorzad the Incredibly Handsome, the Flower of Katapesh.  He's a vain daredevil of a bard, as you might imagine.  Over the course of his three sessions, he went into negative hit points nine times.  Nine times.  I swear I wasn't doing anything particularly stupid and was not getting more combatty than a bard should reasonably be expected to be.  Nine times.  This is less of an issue than you might think, in the long run, because everyone in the Society carries a wand of cure light wounds.  Not everyone can use one, mind you, but it's considered polite to buy your own so you're not draining the cleric's resources.  Will I ever wrap my head around the "treat magic wands like cheap magic potions" concept?

Recognizing that I am no longer 25, I didn't sign up for an 8am session on Saturday.  Instead, I focused on final prep for my 2pm Labyrinth Lord game.  Now this is a bit of a saga.  I had only one player prereg for my game; I also knew that Van (who plays the fish-man Rashidan Lochbottom in the Wampus Country campaign) was driving up to play, and Saturday morning one of the con organizers said he had someone coming in who would probably want to play something old school.  Well, none of that materialized in time.  Van and his friend were running an hour-plus late thanks to interstate traffic, the pre-regged player didn't show, and the rumored third person didn't show either.  I stood in the hall and tried to recruit people, but there really weren't any "idle" folks - at a small, focused con, this didn't surprise me; everyone seemed to be already committed to either a PF game (well duh) or involved in a Netrunner tournament going on in the second room.  So we're at "mildly disappointed but not actually surprised", which is kind of a weird place to be, I guess.

I grabbed the con organizer, related the tale of woe, and asked him at what time I should call the slot; not because there was competition for the table and chairs, but because, come on, I signed up to run a game, not sit somewhere for five hours and wait to run a game, right?  He said we'd waited long enough to call it, and besides, they needed a cleric over at his table.  (The classic jokes are classic because they're true.)

Next thing I know I'm sitting down to play in a game run by the local Venture Lieutenant (PFS regional organizer), a scenario called Ruins of Bonekeep (Level One).  This is a PFS 'special scenario' that actually comes with a "YOU COULD SERIOUSLY TOTALLY DIE IN THIS SCENARIO GUYS I AM NOT FREAKING KIDDING" warning on it, which is, I gather, kind of a huge deal from a PFS point of view.  I wasn't super worried, though, as I wasn't playing my shiny new bard - Bonekeep was meant for seventh-level characters.  So I was handed a standard-issue pregen (PFS has these), the cleric.  What this means in Society terms is that when one of my actual PCs hits 7th level, he can then claim whatever benefits ("boons" etc) I earned as this pregen.

Here's my review of Ruins of Bonekeep: this is the most fuck-you of all the fuck-you dungeons I've ever been in.  Some of you will find that exciting, others repulsive.  If Society people (in or out of character) don't make jokes about "Boned-keep, amirite?", they're asleep on the job.  Bonekeep has a lot of "yeah, nothing works against this thing" and some "failed save?  run away for ten minutes" and a good bit of "take damage anyway, yes all of you".  And despite an ostensible necromancer theme, it's a funhouse, no doubt.  A lethal funhouse.  We survived (I'll go ahead and say "barely"), we even looted some decent stuff, but man.  Not in a hurry to run back there.  One of the PCs was a ninja, and he looked like a serious badass.  You ever play in a game where there's a class you know nothing about, but just watching the dude play is like a long commercial for how much fun that class probably can be?  Yeah, it was like that.
Picture taken immediately after my cleric was mind-hosed to flee from the [redacted] in the next room over, ran through the door and was immediately surrounded by four large elementals (one of each type), who proceeded to shout at her in elemental languages and then murder her face.  She went negative, but did not actually die due to a combination of the following words: tengu, wizard, invisibility, dimension door.  Seventh-level characters are no joke, people.

After the lubeless joy of Ruins of Bonekeep, I ran across the street for pizza with Van and Tyler, then it was a hurry-hurry back to the hotel for --

So PFS has these scenarios called "specials" that they only run at cons, and they tend to be multi-table affairs where the actions of each group matter to some larger goal, perhaps in differing ways depending on the level spread ("tier" in PFS parlance) of the table.  Saturday night's scenario was one of these, Siege of the Diamond City, and it was pretty interesting.  Not in the setup - "city is besieged by demons" - but in the execution.  As a group of level one and two PCs, we were not expected to contribute by killing a metric ton of invading demons (thank goodness), but we did have a series of (nonliteral) firefighting duties throughout the night.  Some fights with looters and mercenaries, some convincing of guards, this that and the other.  Our actions contributed to the color condition of whatever quarter of the city we were in (green/yellow/orange/red etc), and having someone at the center of the room call out as the conditions changed was pretty exciting (although, wow, the dude could've been way louder; do they not teach how to project to a room in school anymore?)  The whole bit culminated in a good-guy counterattack during which the high-level tables took the fight to the demonic generals, the mid-tier folks were stuck in against the ranks of lesser demonoids, and we low-level schmucks fired siege weaponry from the ramparts in an attempt to take out the enemy siege towers.  All this - I presume - interacted in some measurable way, such as our ballista shots preventing the demon-towers from spawning more horned beasties, etc.  Pretty neat; I'd like to read the internals on one of these.  We had an overwhelming victory at the end, but according to the chronicle sheet we were handed there were four or five possible outcomes depending on the group's total efforts.

Exhausted, I rolled in for one last session at 8am (not sure I would do this again; originally I was in an afternoon slot for Sunday, but then Cub Scout stuff got moved because of snow... anyway, I was in a morning game and needed to bolt immediately after).    This morning's scenario was The Ciphermage Dilemma, and long story short, I hate pirates as adversaries, but I hate paladins who prevent their party members from doing anything resembling threatening or bluffing or psy-ops or intel-gathering way more.  I will admit that when I grabbed the pirate's corpse and made it puppet-talk to his buddy ("Gee I wish I had told these guys what they wanted to know, then I might still be alive and able to see my kids again") as part of an Intimidate roll might have been over the top.  But seriously, the guy was killed in combat when he and his pirate pals were trying to murder us in the face.  Good does not mean stupid and there were no "authorities" in that crapsack pirate armpit of a city.  We stab pirates.  Stab them.  Anyway, it was an okay scenario, nicely run; I think I was probably too tired to fully appreciate some of its nuances, but them's the breaks.

That's the initial info-dump...  I'll probably have more "thoughts" about Pathfinder Society in the weeks to come.  Fun was had, would do again.  I'm exhausted and cannot think deep thoughts at the moment.

This large slice of pizza, from a joint named Slice, is called a "Baltimore Belly Burster".  It has bbq sauce on it, and is topped with Old Bay roasted chicken, Natty Boh bratwurst, and bbq pulled pork.  It. Was. Fucking. Amazing. You. Guys.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Down Below Kwaskatoon

A background post for some upcoming low-level Wampus Country sessions aimed at lower-level PCs, newbie players, and leaning on some of the B-series of classic modules here and there.

Just north of the growing town of Thistlemarch lies the run-down keep formerly occupied by the Mad Margrave - that eccentric nobleman who sadly took his own life last year.  Parts of the keep are occasionally used by the townspeople, but the majority of the area is now overrun by a clan of poggles, tiny dog-men not known for their cleanliness or intelligence.  The poggles have been behaving themselves and trading with the hardworking folk of Thistlemarch, although they do not often come into town proper.  One day a week, a corner of the keep's courtyard becomes the "Flea Market" where men and dogs exchange goods.

This poggle-tribe is ruled by a particularly clever poggle called Red Blanket, who holds court over the Flea Market.  Although the poggles have a great deal of energy and capacity for out-of-the-box thinking, they are not skilled at matters martial, or any task which requires strong organizational skills or sound judgment.  Thus has Red Blanket, in his wisdom, attempted to recruit some 'tall folk' to undertake a few tasks for the benefit of the great poggle nation...

Greetings, mercenaries, adventurers, and seekers of the unknown - thank you for coming before me today and expressing your interest and willingness to serve the righteous poggle cause.  I have sniffed your backsides, and consider each of you trustworthy.  Listen closely to my words, and attend my needs, and you shall be rewarded.

Some distance from here lies an old burial mound of the Black Eagle tribesmen, and beneath it, caverns which they say are haunted.  The place is called Kwaskatoon in their old cant - it means the bleeding-place.  Black Eagle braves sometimes traverse these caverns to test themselves against the dangerous creatures which dwell within.  And dangerous they are!  Poisonous centipedes of tremendous size, slack-jawed lizard-men...and, at one time, my own clan of poggles, who dwelt in the upper levels.

Some years ago my little tribe split from the main group of poggle-kind, who had begun to hear the voices of dark powers whispering in the shadows.  A brief poggle civil war led to our flight, but we have no desire, really, to return there.  However, the secrets of Kwaskatoon need to be understood.  When I, Red Blanket, prince of my kind, lived in the halls beneath the mound, I spent many an hour eating the strange mushrooms there and attempting to translate the ancient mystical writings on some of the walls.  I had a makeshift notebook in which I kept what I had learned...if that notebook still exists, somewhere in the caverns of Kwaskatoon, I want it returned.  If it cannot be found, then I will need transcriptions of whatever writing is found on the walls.  Whatever else you find in the place is yours - we poggles have no need of it, whatever it might be.

Although I should someday like to see my enthralled countrymen liberated, and the halls of Kwaskatoon cleaned out, that is not my primary goal at this time.  Be cautious, sneak in, and fetch my notebook, or make rubbings of the inscriptions.  If you return with these things, you will be paid, and have earned the love of this poggle princeling.

Red Blanket will gladly send an escort of poggles to guide adventurers to Kwaskatoon, but these tiny warriors consider the caverns themselves taboo since the advent of the whispers-in-darkness, and will not enter with you.


1.  The Black Eagles say the caverns are haunted by accursed ancestors, and inhabited by cannibal snake-men.  Poggle-tales confirm there are reptilian humanoids in the deeps who will gladly swallow a wayward poggle-pup whole.

2.  After Grandpa's War, some sixty years ago, an adventuring wizard attempted to convert part of the caverns into a living-space.  Later, the Black Eagles discovered he was using their cemetery as a bachelor pad and pretty much murdered the bejeezus out of him.

3.  Three years ago, Red Blanket allied himself and his poggles with a group of gold-seeking adventurers under Kwaskatoon...none of them have been seen since.

4.  The poggles around Thistlemarch are deathly afraid of the "creeping darkness" which they say has taken hold of the minds of their kinsmen beneath Kwaskatoon; they speak of it as though it is neither man nor beast, but some sort of demonic presence.

5.  One of the poggles at the Flea Market remembers that there was a room full of strange waters which they were forbidden to drink by their elder-dogs.

6.  Although the upper levels have been worked by human hands, deeper down Kwaskatoon is all wet natural caves.  Who knows how far down it truly goes?

7.  The well-known cave entrance is the best way to get into Kwaskatoon, but it may not be the only way to exit the deadly complex.

"Poggles, being the wildest of dog-folk, careen dangerously between 'obsessively friendly' and 'wantonly destructive'.  Trusting poggles is ill-advised, if one expects to remain a gentleman."

Kwaskatoon, get it?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Whither Wampus?

Warning: no game-able content, only rambling about campaigning.

The online Wampus Country campaign took a hiatus, there were winter holidays, and a month where my primary mental focus was quitting smoking (successfully so far).  In revving back up to "something resembling full speed", I find myself thinking about what's working and what isn't from a campaigning point of view.  I don't mean house rules, or the underlying system, or anything like that - I mean the campaign itself.

The online campaign has always been several things:

1) An Open Table.  Although I require folks to sign up for each session, it's otherwise open.  There's a good bit of drop-in drop-out depending on who's available on a given Friday night, although some PCs show up more often than others, or for several sessions in a row, so there's a semblance of continuity on occasion.

2) FLAILSNAILS-friendly.  Most of my regulars or semi-regulars have native Wampus characters, but there are always non-natives floating in and out of the game.  They don't usually turn up with weird stuff that "breaks" the game, but I do regret seeing a PC once at 3rd level and then again at 7th level sometimes.

3) Primarily GM-driven, because of the above.  What I mean by this is that for the most part, a given session is not "PCs have decided they want to go do this", it tends to be "GM puts out this theme or plot hook for the night".  I would love to see PCs self-organize and say "hey, we'd like to go do X pretty soon, please prep that area", but it doesn't happen much - probably in part because most players aren't sure if they're going to be available when that session finally happens (see #1).

4) Chiefly 'home-based' in the town of Thistlemarch, with short excursions up to ten hexes out or so.  This isn't a mandatory thing, it just kind of worked out that way, due to #1, #3, and some PCs homesteading in the area.

Another thing I've noticed is a reticence to return to certain areas, despite them being potentially lucrative for PCs.  Nobody's gone back to the expansive ruined city of Crumbledown to explore it.  Nobody's taken on the task of finishing the clearing of the Charnel Caves.  I'm not complaining about this one, I just think it's interesting.

I wouldn't say I'm unsatisfied with the campaign thus-far or as-run, but I am cognizant of some of the thing which we give up or preclude because of the above assumptions.  No steady group, so there's a loss there.  But if we transitioned to a steady group, we'd lose the open table - it's a trade-off, and one that several other "previously FLAILSNAILS" campaigns have done.  I've avoided it for precisely that reason - we've been running Wampus Country as fully-FS-friendly open table for over two years now.  Not many campaigns can say that, and I'm loathe to abandon that achievement without significant gains in trade.

The "best of both worlds" would likely be if I ran twice as much (or half as much, depending on how you look at it, and scheduling), leaving one slot for GM-directed pickup play for FLAILSNAILS open-tablers, and one slot for a regular (or semi-regular) group of native PCs who can have the time and space to pursue their own goals.  As you might imagine, this kind of scheduling isn't the easiest thing in the world, but I'd be open to pursuing it if I thought there were enough steady regulars to make it work (and frankly I'm not sure that's the case).  I would really like the opportunity to somehow alternate between lower-level and mid-level PCs without it being all artificial, as well.

Anyway, thinking aloud.

The chief innovations of the Burbank expedition were twofold: first, the use of bicycles to speed across the salt flats of Massacre Mesa; and secondly, bringing with them several dozen babies for use in the distraction of slavering beasts, giant predatory birds, and painted savages.  Given Eustace Burbank's successful collegiate career as a shotputter, one imagines the tactic was easily deployed at a significant range.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beware the Tooth Fairy

A word from the learned Doctor Harcourt Runcible, on the subject of "tooth fairies".

I am not one who has gathered his modicum of fame by means of splendorous hyperbole, so perhaps you will listen keenly to the bold statement I am about to make: the most dangerous creature in the Wampus Country, pound for pound, is neither the eponymous wampus-cat, nor the owlbear, nor the fearsome snollygoster with its mouth full of cross-cut saws.  Nor is it Man, an answer too cute by half.  No, my benighted friends, the deadliest, cruellist, most killing-est beastie in our lands is, in point of fact, the tooth fairy.

The clever grammarians and sly syntacticians amongst the crowd will now, of course, recall the pound for pound qualifier I employed a moment ago and think it a wiseacre strategy for ensuring a surprise reaction.  But, even so, the statement stands - and it is made all the truer, for the tooth fairy is more dangerous than larger creatures not merely by a factor equivalent to its own relative mass, but exponentially greater.

Perhaps you have never seen a tooth fairy, or so-called osteopixie, in the wild.  You must imagine them as pixie-like, winged, and humanoid, about half the height of the common plains atomie which even the most ill-educated pig-farmer must be acquainted.  Like the more mundane pixies, the tooth fairy is winged, generally nude, and bears minor insectoid features, including faceted eyes and tiny pedipalps surrounding the mandible.  Imagine, if you will, a horrible flitting menace the size of your pinky-finger; one which often travels in swarms of a dozen, or two-score, or a hundred, depending on the season.  A dozen osteopixies is very dangerous - I leave it to your own shadowy nightmares to consider what a hundred can manage in the course of an evening.

It is a famous misconception that the tooth fairies collect teeth, particularly from children.  This is true, as far as it goes, but demonstrates a limited understanding of natural philosophy of the sort common amongst bootblacks, chimney-sweeps, and journalists.  As the story goes, when a child sheds a deciduous tooth, if he or she should gingerly place the bicuspid beneath their pillow, a magical nocturnal visitor - a tooth fairy - will arrive and replace the lost tooth with a coin.  This is precisely the kind of unscientific bumpkin-prattle which causes backwater children to get stuck in wells or devoured by bears.  While it is true that a recently-lost baby tooth can attract a tooth fairy, those which arrive are inevitably either fairy children, elderly, or infirm.  That is to say: tooth fairies who must resort to stealing or trading for their sustenance.  Which is to say, all the more clearly: tooth fairies who cannot participate in the glorious hunt.

And what hunters the osteopixies are, magnificent piranha of the air!  They subsist on bone and marrow, which is fine enough, as when times are lean they can scavenge bones from the kills of larger animals; do not be overly surprised should you see a small swarm of fairies following a mated pair of owlbears about the wood.  But the tooth fairies are not dumb animals, and possess their own culture, one which celebrates the hunting of sentients and their artful slaughter.  I remind you that these creatures can fly, are intelligent, and hunt in packs of twenty or more.

Tooth fairy scouts will locate a target - ideally a sentient, as it makes the hunt all the more delicious.  They are primarily attracted to exposed bone, whether this is from a wound (do not leave your companion with the recent compound fracture in camp alone) or the teeth.  Once a target is marked - likely by some means of pheromones, the research is shoddy here - the scout returns to the swarm, and the hunt begins.  In minutes, the several-dozen tooth fairies descend upon the hapless victim.

I say hapless without intent of demeaning those who have been slain by tooth fairies; quite the converse, I mean to praise the lethality of the osteopixie.  Firearms, fighting-spirit, even sorcery are of little use during a tooth fairy onslaught, when dozens of the accursed things are assaulting your head, prying open your mouth, crawling in, and wrenching out your teeth forcibly -- all the while peppering your flesh (not just the skin, remember - also the gums, tongue, uvula...) with painful, disorienting stings.  How can you fire at something crawling on your face?  How can you utter eldritch syllables with a mouth full of fairies?  Tiny bodies laced with calcium from their diet, they are nigh-uncrushable like the cockroach.  They will render you unconscious very quickly, and you will be toothless, but not dead.

If you are lucky, you will expire from the shock of having all your teeth violently ripped out, or you will crack your skull on a rock as you fall.  If you are unlucky, you will lie there in a stupor while the tooth fairies feast on your molars.  And if you are very may awake just as they return, crawling through your sinuses to make seconds of your skull.  Best not to think of the direct and efficient means of those osteopixies who have acquired a taste for the coccyx, my friends.

I do have a dentist friend in River-Town who can cap teeth with cold iron, for a small fee.

"Don't be scared, sweetie.  I'll eat your spine very gingerly, so you can still tell I'm back there."

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Rather Insightful Groundhog of Tuckawanee Falls

Near the headwaters of the Little River is a little offshoot of a creek which the locals call Tuckawanee Falls; there are a few farms nearby, and a dilapidated roadshine shrine.  If you start at the shrine and walk due north into the pine barrens there, before long you might - if you're lucky - come across a hole in the ground about a foot wide.  Inside that hole lives the Groundhog.

Now, groundhogs aren't particularly uncommon in the Wampus Country, after all; the climate's about right through most of the region, and there's plenty to eat.  But this isn't just some common groundhog we're talking about, but a Being Worthy of Capitalization, in due deference to his prognosticative abilities and general knowledge and fame.  Most everybody has heard some tale or another about the Groundhog.


1 - He may look like a groundhog, but he's as big as a bear.
2 - The Groundhog sometimes wears tweed suits.  And sometimes flowered dresses.
3 - Being of indeterminate age, we may presume the Groundhog is immortal, or close to it.
4 - The Groundhog is a lesser godling which hoards knowledge and secrets.
5 - Indubitably the beast is some sort of demon!  His network of tunnels wend throughout the land!
6 - I used to work with a guy whose cousin took a temporary job up near Tuckawanee, clearing stumps; well, one day he's cranking on that come-along and pulling a massive oak-stump, see?  Pop!  Out comes the stump, and there's a huge hole.  He peers over the side, and what does he see?  The Groundhog, doing something unspeakable to a stack of ducks.  That boy ran like the wind, I tell you what.
7 - It is said that he who defeats the Groundhog and eats his liver shall be rewarded with both occult knowledge and an indestructible liver of his own!
8 - The Groundhog enjoys hard liquor but never gets drunk.
9 - The only thing the Groundhog hates more than nosy adventurers asking dumb questions is Sagacious Rex.
10 - His fur cannot be pieced by metal or wood!
11 - The Groundhog can peer into the future by a few weeks, or the past by several years; this he does as soon as he sees you...
12 - So terrifying is this otherworldly beast that one look at him can cause a man to half-defecate.

For the most part, those who seek out the Groundhog do not find him; those who do are faced with a monstrous beast who trades secret knowledge only for other secret knowledge (with a possible social lubricant like a fine brandy beginning the conversation most courteously).  The Groundhog is not interested in spells or prayers, he wants secrets.  And they need not be cosmic secrets, or the locations of hidden treasures; that thing you swore you would never, ever tell your wife might do nicely.  His obsession with secrets, especially guilty ones, has caused some scholars (notably Dr. Hornapple) to classify the Groundhog as some form of devil in groundhoggy form.

Good luck finding the Groundhog, my friends.  But should you wander up that way and visit Tuckawanee Falls, please stop in and see the halfling family that lives up there; they are pie-worshippers, and happy to share.

"Sweet Lord, Colonel, that deuced Groundhog is even more phallic than I'd imagined!"
"Indeed, Mortimer, but take heart - it seems to have the map we wanted..."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Themed Spells: Flightless Birds

More animal-themed spells percolating in the brainpan.  This time, it's flightless birds.

Penguin Suit (level 1)
The wizard sacrifices a smelt, sardine, or other small fish (salted/prepared is fine) in order to conjure a very fashionable tuxedo.  The tuxedo protects from mundane cold and low temperatures, allowing the sorceror to trudge through the tundra in style; it does not, however, protect against frost magic or cold-based attacks.  The penguin suit remains in existence until the wizard takes it off (in which case it melts away into steam), or until the wearer takes damage (in which case the tuxedo becomes tattered and torn in proportion to the damage taken, and continues to fall apart cartoon-style for several rounds, until the wizard is wearing only cuffs and spats).

Ostrich Beak (level 1)
Thankfully, this is not another bizarre minor shapeshift; instead, ostrich beak grants the caster or one subject touched the ability to somehow extract breatheable oxygen from earth, as though they were the eponymous bird with its head stuck in the sand.  The earth-breathing effect lasts for one round plus a round per caster level, and is efficacious with any mineral or earth-heavy blend of components (including sand, dirt, mud, etc).  The target does not lose its ability to breathe normal air during the spell’s effect; in fact, Cloud Rabbit wonderworkers use ostrich beak to avoid the smothering effect of sandstorms.

Kiwi Kavalry  (level 2)
The caster transforms several (up to six) fresh fruits into giant kiwis, which may then be used as riding-animals.  The giant kiwis are the same color as the fruit used to conjure them, and have the abilities and statistics of warhorses.  Sadly, the kiwis transform back into rotten fruit at sundown.

Emu Emulation (level 2)
Upon speaking the ancient syllables of this spell, the caster transforms into an emu - a large, flightless bird.  He doubles his running speed and gains wicked talons (1d6 damage) on the feet (although both feet are clawed, the sorceror does not gain extra attacks per round from emu emulation).  Any clothing and equipment worn transforms along with the wizard, melding into the body.  The transformation lasts for three hours or until the wizard sleeps or falls unconscious.

Cassowary Ossuary (level 1)
By placing the bones of a cassowary or other flightless bird in a wooden box and enchanting the entire preparation with this spell, the wizard creates a minor talisman against fungus-based life-forms.  Whoever carries the cassowary ossuary gains the beneficent part-time slightly-distracted attention of a cassowary spirit; as cassowaries eat fruit and mushrooms, the bearer of the talisman receives a +1 to any saves against fruit-based creatures or attacks, fungal weirdness, spore attacks, and so forth.  The save bonus also applies to saves against fruit- or fungus-based poisons.  While this may not seem a great talisman, note that the cassowary ossuary remains enchanted until it is destroyed or the box is opened.  If a flightless bird is ever slain within twenty feet of the ossuary, it shatters.

Dodo’s Epitaph (level 1)
Many animal species on many worlds have gone extinct, but there are only a handful whose fame - and thus, spiritual power - is, in itself, tied to their extinction.  The dodo, the thylacine, the unobtanium dragon, the passenger pigeon, the variegated screaming clumpadump - these, and species like them throughout the multiverse, are the source of this spell’s power.  The wizard calls upon the power of the extinct species to gain knowledge from the dead via this ritual.  First, the sorceror inserts a tightly-wound narrow scroll in the mouth of the deceased.  Then, clutching evidence of the extinct species (a bone, a fossilized pawprint, etc, which is not consumed in teh casting), the wizard calls upon the long-forgotten kulturgeist of the animal, begging the spirit to appear and act as an intermediary between the caster and the corpse.  The wizard waits for twenty-four hours, then removes the scroll from the corpse’s mouth; they will find it inscribed with a fairly lengthy (several paragraphs) message from the deceased.  The message will be whatever the deceased wishes it to be: a testament, a song, love poetry, a list of regrets, a warning, etc.; the caster has zero control over what information the dodo’s epitaph will produce.

Auk-Auk Gun (level 3)
The spirit of the auk is bitter and morose, bearing an ancient resentment and hatred for birds which can fly.  This magic ritual requires several bones from an auk or other flightless bird, which are tied together in a bundle with crimson string and animated by an auk-spirit  Casting the ritual takes three rounds, but thenceforth the auk-auk gun is awake and ready.  Upon further command by the wizard, the auk-auk gun will fully animate and unleash its wrath.  The construct cannot move, but it can pivot and swivel as necessary; the auk-auk gun can fire bolts of eldritch energy, one per round, at targets in the air.  The bolts have a range of 120 feet, and inflict 2d6 points of damage, but the construct can only aim at flying targets, as its power is fueled by the jealousy of the auk-spirit within.  Once fully animated, the auk-auk gun will defend the area for up to an hour; when the hour ends, the magic fades, and the bird-bones of the construct crumble to dust.

Lek of the Kakapo (level 2)
Ages past, when the owl-kin ruled Wampus Country, great warriors competed in tournaments to impress potential mates - lek of the kakapo draws upon this tradition, which lives on in the spirits of the land.  This enchantment may be cast upon the wizard himself, or any single willing target.  The target is invested with a form of potential magical energy which draws the attention of great spirits; if the recipient wins a combat within the next hour, he will immediately benefit from a +2 Charisma bonus with the desired sex for the following four hours, as the spirits reward him or her for the display of fighting-prowess.  The spirits which power lek of the kakapo can tell the difference between a real fight and one which is staged, and possess the power and mien to punish those who attempt to trick them.

Mens rhea (level 4)
The wizard burns a bundle of feathers taken from any flightless bird, and bids the target to then inhale some of the smoke produced as the spell is intoned.  The target makes a save vs spells at -2; if the save is failed, the target must then confess any crime or wrongdoing of which it has knowledge (this may take some time).  If the save is passed, the target is still compelled to make a confession, but they have a modicum of control and may mix lies and omissions in with some truths.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Baa Ram Ewe

Sheep-themed spells?  Seriously?  Let's blame the Chantix in my bloodstream and pretend it never happened.

This sheep could be an archmage.  You don't know.  Stop judging.

You’re All Just Sheeple (level 2, illusionist)
This perception-affecting curse has led to numerous embarrassments and the occasional marriage-wrecking revelation.  Upon failing their save vs spells, the target perceives every creature of its own species within sight to be a sheep; the effect lasts for one turn, plus one round per level of the caster.  Spoken language from the illusory sheep will sound like bleating to the victim.  Note that different creatures may react quite differently to the curse; a human might be confused and disbelieve, or think themselves gone mad, whereas the dumbest wolf in the pack might just do something quite useful for a fleeing party of adventurers…  This is both an illusion and a mind-affecting spell, and although there is an auditory effect, the enchantment is primarily optical and will not function against creatures without eyes.

Leg of Lamb (level 2)
The sorceror’s legs transform into those of a sheep, becoming faun-like for seven hours.  While thus ensorcelled, the wizard receives +2 on saves against magic of fairy origin; however, they also suffer a -2 on any attempts at jumping, climbing, balance, dancing, etc.  Creatures which naturally hunt sheep may take a strong interest in pursuit of the wizard.

Mutton Chops  (level 3)
An odd form of divination, this spell allows the caster a brief look at the future, to a particular, fashionable end.  To enact the spell, the wizard affixes two pieces of sheep-flesh to the sides of their face and dons a wide-brimmed hat (a traditional sign of wisdom), then drinks of either a very cheap alcohol or a very expensive sort.  On repeating the words of the spell, which are always an ode to ignorance (“O!  How unlikely that thou hast known of this!”), the wizard receives a flash of information from the future which will inform him or her of some passing trend, currently unknown, which will be in great favor in the next six to twelve months.  The vision could speak of a fashion in clothing, music, food, pet ownership, etc; on occasion the future-trend may be of greater adventuring use (“Simply everyone will be delving the Murderdeeps this winter.”  “Hmm, we’d better get down there before all the gold’s cleared out, then…”).  Clever wizards can use this spell to increase their fame by being seen as trend-setters.

Woolgathering  (level 1, illusionist)
The sorceror dunks a small piece of wool in alcohol, casts the spell, then places the wool briefly on their tongue, then in their pocket.  For the next turn per level, the wizard’s mind is partially occupied by lucid daydreams.  While this altered state can be distracting (-1 to everything, including to hit and AC), the wizard’s mind is well-prepared for dream-things and strange shifts of reality.  During the spell’s effect, the wizard gains a +2 bonus to detect illusions, manifestations of dream or nightmare, hard-to-perceive hauntings, out-of-phase transdimensional portals, and the like.

Hello, Dolly  (level 1)
The caster lays both hands on a sheep, then utters the incantation; the following round, the sheep bleats loudly and splits into two identical sheep.  Depending on the campaign, this may be accompanied by either a comical “pop” sound and flash of light, or the agonizing sound of mutton ripping.  The two sheep cannot easily be told apart, but they are both living, functional creatures.  When dawn next rises, one of the sheep - determined randomly - and any products taken from it will dissolve out of existence.  This is primarily an issue for wool or hide; presumably any flesh or milk would have been digested come dawn.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book of the Black Rat: Spells About Rats and Cheese

The PCs in the online Wampus Country game recently acquired the below spellbook while striving against the nefarious Rat Emperor.  It's been interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, the usual "ooh look spells we can learn", which is always fun.  But beyond that, there's a reversal of the normal order.  Typically if PCs get their hands on an antagonist's spellbook, it's after the antagonist has already been vanquished.  That was not the case here; the Rat Emperor fled, leaving the Book of the Black Rat behind.  This allowed the PCs to both speculate on the villain's effective casting ability, but also approximated a roadmap of the villain's possible plans (see the Rat Bastard spell below) vis-a-vis the Home for Wayward Girls outside River-Town.

More spells on the way.  Whenever I think of one or two decent spell ideas with a theme, I jot 'em down and then try to build that themed list up to a larger number so I can present "ten spells about sheep", etc.

Bound crudely in rat-hide, patches of fur still here and there.  The cover bears an amateurish drawing of a rat, and the words “THERE IS ONLY ONE”.

The spells in the Book of the Black Rat can be copied and learned as arcane spells of the listed level; they can also be learned and added to the arsenal of prayers known by a cleric/paladin with a rodent-related patron (although the form of some of the spells may change a tad if the patron is, for example, a beaver or squirrel).  Spells labeled ‘illusionist’ may also be learned by an illusionist.  Nature-related casters (druid, ranger, etc) may learn variants of some of these at their DM’s discretion.

The Book of the Black Rat contains the following spells and recipes.

Glabrinous Gliriform (as in the Arcane Abecediary)

Muroid Maceration (level 1)
Conjures a pack of rats or mice to chew very quickly through something rats could normally chew through slowly (a wooden door, plaster, cloth, leather, grain, etc).  Not an attack spell; the rats do not fight on the caster’s behalf, or even defend themselves if attacked.  If the target material is foodstuff, the rats will actually consume it; otherwise, some detritus (ie sawdust) is left behind.  The pack of rats can chew through up to a foot of material, covering a 3’x3’ area, during the two rounds they are present.  The appearance of the rodents matches the caster’s alignment, as follows:
Lawful/Good - eager and smiling white mice
Neutral - somewhat-put-out brown rats
Chaotic/Evil - sneering black rats

You Dirty Rat (level 4)
Chanting ancient paeans to best-forgotten lesser demons of plague and corruption, the wizard causes all rodents within thirty feet to become carriers of a random mundane disease, such as plague, syphilis, etc.  The caster cannot choose the disease.

Rat Bastard (level 4)
By placing his hands on the belly of a pregnant human woman, the sorceror infects her unborn child with rat-lycanthropy.  The mother receives a save vs spells which, if passed, causes the child to miscarry immediately.  The incantation is efficacious any time between conception and actual birth.  The application of a remove curse to the womb will cure the unborn child, but once it is born, the curse is locked in.

Rattus Rafale (level 2)
This evocation allows the sorceror to hurl a flurry of rat-shaped bolts of eldritch energy, causing magical damage to a single target.  Although the caster looks like she is firing multiple energy-rats, the spell’s effect counts as a single attack, for which no attack roll is necessary, hitting automatically.  The rafale inflicts 1d8 damage against most targets, but against feline targets the bolt causes a substantial 3d12 damage and demands a save versus paralysis, lest the target be held (as the spell) for a single round.  The rattus rafale counts as a magic missile for the purposes of interactions with other magic.  “Feline target” is subject to DM interpretation - a creature that is only half cat may only take half damage from the spell, for example, but non-felines in temporary feline form should take full damage.

Fancify Rat (level 1)
This spell conjures a small suitcoat, waistcoat, or petticoat, and a matching hat, and places the outfit forcefully upon a mundane mouse, rat, or other rodent.  (Mundane for the purposes of this spell means no giant animals, no sentient animals, etc, but does not exclude familiars).  Once the rodent is wearing the clothes, it is immediately accustomed to them and feels no particular desire to take them off.  Indeed, a duly fancified rat breaks any habit it might have had of rolling around in dung or dirt, and becomes somewhat fastidious about its own appearance.  Mice and rats wearing hats conjured by fancify rat are, bizarrely, subject to the Wampus Country Hat Rules in any campaign which uses them, or finds them amusing to use for mice and rats.  A mouse with a save re-roll is no joke.

Lab Rats (level 3)
This enchantment calls on spirits of curiosity, daring, and stupidity to allow multiple persons to enjoy the unknown effect of a potion or other imbibable substance.  For the spell to work, neither the caster nor the subjects nor anyone else within fifty feet can know the effect of the libation which is targeted by the spell (although they can know that it is indeed magical).  Once the spell is cast, the wizard drinks the potion and selects up to three other “beneficiaries”, which need not be sapient, but must be living and not magical beasts (horses and war dogs okay, golems and imps not).  All four of these creatures are then the subjects of the potion’s effect for full efficacy but only half duration.  The halving of duration does not apply to poisons, but will apply to curse-like or generally unfortunate effects of a magical potion.

Nemoral Nezumi (level 5)
This bizarre enchantment permanently transforms a normal fruit tree into one which instead bears live rats or mice, which hang from the branches by their tails.  Mature rats may be freed from the tree with scissors, or will eventually drop off on their own.  The rats produced are completely mundane, and will act like normal rats once freed.  The material component is a small ceramic rat which is buried beneath the roots of the tree during a full moon.  Removal of the statuary will end the transformation of the plant, but will not change the rats back into fruit or harm still-dangling rats in any way.

Wanigan Whiskers (level 2)
An incantation which manifests rat-whiskers which allow detection of valuables.  Once cast, long white whiskers instantly grow upon the caster’s face, and remain for a number of turns equal to caster level.  While the whiskers remain (and remain unharmed, unclipped, unsinged…), the sorceror may detect precious metals, gems, jewelry, objets d’art, and portable resellables within ten feet (subject to the whim and definition of the DM).  The presence of the aforementioned valuables causes the whiskers to twitch; some wizards find themselves compelled to sneeze as well (save vs polymorph or sneeze loudly).  Valuables already nearby when the spell is cast will not later trigger a twitch.  While under the influence of the wanigan whiskers, the magic-user may detect as - or even count as - a rodent for the purpose of magical detection and baleful spellcasting.

Cheddar Chamfrain (level 1)
With a wave of his hand, the wizard transforms a wheel of cheese (or similar volume of any dairy product) into a set of barding large enough for one animal of horse size or smaller.  The barding improves the creature’s natural armor class by one, and will appear to be of similar color and material to the dairy product used.  After four rounds plus one round per caster level, the barding crumbles to dust (or melts away into buttermilk, etc).  If the beast wearing the barding was summoned or conjured, the chamfrain will match resonance with the summoning spell, and not wear off until the original summons does.

Lampyridine Limburger (level 1, illusionist)
The wizard transforms a strong odor into a light source (like Dazzler, but more juvenile).  When the spell is cast, the sorceror may select a stinky object (shoe, strong cheese, hobo) or a smelly area (garbage dump, cesspool, outhouse).  If an object, the object will then glow in proportion to its smell, and its scent will be neutralized.  If an area, the area will be dimly lit throughout, and its odor similarly neutralized.  The effect is permanent, unless the scent is affected.  For example, casting lampyridine limburger on an outhouse basically guarantees a light for “magazine time” in perpetuity; but if the spell were to be cast upon a wet dog to make it glow, and the dog were then doused in soapy water and perfume, the light would vanish.

Havarti Hendecagon (level 1)
A bizarre ancient paean to moribund godlings of luck.  The caster shapes an eleven-sided form out of some cheese or curd and eats it.  The next time (within six hours) the sorceror needs to roll a 1d6 or 1d8, they may elect to roll 1d11 instead.  At the DM’s discretion this luck may be applied to a 1d6/1d8 roll made to aid the wizard - for example, a healing roll made by a cleric.

Fugacious Fromage (level 1)
This spell ensorcells a chunk of cheese such that any creature which consumes it becomes susceptible to fear.  Morale checks and saves against fear-related effects will be at -2 for 1 turn.

Muenster Meuse (level 1, illusionist)
The illusionist enchants a piece of cheese such that for the next hour, it may be pressed into the ground to leave the tracks of a single type of nonmagical animal chosen by the sorceror at the time of casting.  The muenster meuse does an excellent job of simulating left-right and forepaw-hindpaw, and will subtly guide the illusionist’s gait as necessary so the tracks are properly spaced.  At the end of the hour, the enchanted piece of cheese turns to granite.

Feta Fabulist (level 1, illusionist)
The sorceror tucks a thus-ensorcelled piece of cheese between their cheek and gum; for the next hour, any rolls to detect a lie he tells or to disbelieve an illusion he casts will be at -2.  When the spell wears off at the end of the hour, the hunk of cheese transforms into bile.

Mozzarella Maniple (level 2, clerical)
The priest casts the spell upon a piece of non-rotten cheese or meat, then ties it to their arm.   For the next 24 hours, the acolyte is wholly protected from the first single attack which does a number of points of damage equivalent to their religion’s holy number.  If your priest’s faith does not already have a designated holy number, you must designate a number between 1 and 13 to serve as the holy number as soon as you learn to cast this prayer.  When the strike is repelled, the cheese vanishes in a flash of light and there is an audible popping sound.  A person thus protected from attack may rightly be said to be “cheesy”.
Holy Numbers for Wampus Country Faiths
3 - Vicelords
4 - White Mouse, Black Rat
5 - Gloriana Majestrix
7 - Scorpion Cult
9 - Horned Baron

Rat Race (level 1)
This incantation doubles the base land and swimming speed of a single nonmagical rodent for three hours.  It may be cast in reverse to halve a rodent’s travel speed, but does not reduce the number of actions the affected beast may take, as it is not a slow spell; if cast in this fashion, the target recieves a save vs spells to avoid the effect..

Better Mousetrap (level 2)
The wizard douses a trap or pitfall with the blood of six rats, in which a large piece of stinky cheese has marinated for a day and a night; until triggered (or fallen into), the affected trap is both more difficult to detect (by 1 on a 1d6, or by 15%) and more difficult to evade (-1 on any related saving throws to avoid the trap or the damage it dishes out).

Step-by-step instructions for the creation and enchantment of a
Figurine of Dubious Power: Stainless Steel Rat
(requires a 6th-level caster, some exotic materials including very fine steel, some mundane materials, some gems worth at least 100gp each for the eyes, and the ability to cast at least four different conjuration spells; once the figurine is constructed, enchantment takes two weeks’ downtime)
The figurine - a rather large wheeled rat - hangs out, inanimate, under a table or sofa until something is spilled or broken, at which it animates, rolls out, and cleans up the mess before retreating to its designated spot.  It’s basically a magic Roomba.  The rat must be taught its patrol area (no more than a large mead-hall in area) at first activation.

Well-written instructions for the creation and enchantment of a
Mouse-skin Cloak
(requires fifty mouse-pelts in fair condition, some diamond dust, several vials of holy water, myriad mundane materials)
Properly stitched and enchanted, the mouse-skin cloak protects the wearer from all mundane diseases (much like a paladin) and grants +4 to any saves against magical diseases (lycanthropy, mummy rot, et al).