Friday, May 28, 2021

For the Birds

During the shopping season that follows Thankstravaganza each year, a handful of newly-available items tend to become fashionable and highly sought after by the wizardly community of Wampus Country. Perhaps it is some construct, or an item of clothing, or a rare and chic familiar; other years the prize is an unusual foodstuff or beverage, or garish knick-knack. As trendsetting wizards go, so go the idle rich, the haute frontiersman, and so on, trickling eventually down to the common man, who often manages to score a cheap knock-off of the trendy item the following winter. Some years the pursuit of, and competition for, the desirable "get" has reached a legendary level - consider the tiny peach golem companion 'Tickle Me Momo', which fetched hundreds of dollars per plushie on the black market until it became common knowledge the 'stone' at the center of each giggling peach was in fact an abyssal shard. Adult wizards today also likely recall the fad for cabbage- and lettuce-kin of their youth forty years past. It seems each generation of wizards rediscovers the obsession with talking produce. 

 A few years back, the desired enchanted item was not a construct or summoned creature, but an unusual set of clothing: the so-called 'hoot suit'. This coveted clothing made the mad wizard "Hoot Suit" Rawlson famous, and he raked in sufficient moolah that year to build his palatial castle, The Rillerah, on the southern shore of Shining Lake. To make the suits took no little skill, and a good bit of material, including feathers from both giant owls and wild owlbears, the difficulty in procurement of said hoot-parts limiting production severely. Each hoot suit was slightly different in appearance, but they all shared certain characteristics - a feathered union suit with a hood decorated to look like the face or beak of an owl (the 'hoot snoot'). When kept clean and in good order (no mangy patches of missing feathers, for example), the Hoot Suit conferred upon its wearer the ability, once per day, to transform into a normal-sized owl for about a minute, simply by uttering the suit's command word (itself stitched inside the suit). Now a daily transformation such as this has its value - in escaping uncomfortable situations (like an unforeseen melee, or the arrival of Aunt Agatha at one's doorstep) or allowing explorer-types an opportunity to reach places to which they could not easily climb. Yet the real value of the Hoot Suit became apparent when someone - presumably a wizard - realized that by intoning the command word backwards, they could transform into a fully-grown owlbear, for five minutes or so, once per week. The fact that the 'owlbear mode' exhausted the suit's power for seven days thereafter was not seen as much of a disadvantage. 

 Soon everyone wanted one of Rawlson's creations. The price climbed. The black market resellers gouged. Things got out of hand after several weeks, and Rawlson himself delivered a wagon-full of his wares in River-Town, and declared them the last. The news was not taken lightly - fights broke out among shoppers, and spilled into the streets, drawing rival gangs into the fray. The Hoot Suit riots lasted nearly thirty-six hours, leaving scores dead, buildings torched, and Rawlson himself missing a foot (which may, to this day, sit in the belly of the wizard who chomped it while in owlbear form). Hoot Suit Rawlson retired, finished building his castle, and perhaps today continues research into owl-related magics.  Rawlson is a known rival of 'Thunderbolt' Black, who often mutters his name resentfully.

A typical Hoot Suit.

 enchanted clothing 
 Appearance: a brown-feathered union suit. Rumors persist of a prototype "snowy hoot suit", white-feathered, which has the usual powers but also provides resistance to cold. 

 Powers and qualities: 

 Owl Form. Once per day, the wearer may transform into a normal owl for one minute by saying the command word. The suit can provide only one transformation per day, even if you later take it off and hand it to another party member. Nice try.

 Owl-Bear Form. Uttering the command word reversed will transform the wearer into an owlbear for five minutes. This power cannot function if the owl form has been already used that day, and it exhausts the suit for seven days. 

 Give A Hoot. The Hoot Suit cannot function if it is damaged or soiled in any way. 

I know she seems cute and all, but she does puke up pellets on occasion, so YMMV.

 BONUS SPELL from "Hoot Suit" Rawlson's bird-themed spellbook 

 Parakeet Paraclete (lvl 2). Summons a small parakeet, lorakeet, or budgie which speaks eloquently and has considerable training as a barrister. When the bird appears, it knows the local legal system and can sufficiently read the mind of its client (who need not be the summoner) to understand the charges at hand and supply a reasonable defense or, if the client is the plaintiff, mount a strong argument. The parakeet tarries up to two hours, enough for a hearing before a judge, surely - then disappears. Re-casting will summon back the same bird so it can pick up where it left off after a continuance.  If at any point a mirror is nearby, the parakeet may become fascinated with its own image and unable to continue its litigation.

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