Saturday, August 29, 2015

Artifacts from the Cult of Freet

From the wizard-journal of Alphonse the Absurd, traveling sorcerer.  Alphonse's journal is magic-bound to another journal, kept safely in a vault in River-Town; whatever he writes in his leatherbound journal appears in the second copy within several hours.  It is from this secondary copy that we spy upon his meanderings.


It is with no small serving of joy that I am pleased to report that I have uncovered a buried cache of treasure, at the cost of only three henchmen and my green-and-gold waistcoat.  If this expedition to the pine barrens had not borne fruit, I would have certainly been most inconvenienced by the collection-daggers of Reverend Tater's debt-hunters, but now that eventuality has been dispelled.

Beneath an enruned outcropping marking the boundary between two pathetic Freeholder farms, I have located what is surely a noteworthy treasure of the north.  A child-sized golden coffin contained several priestly spell-scrolls, a goodly amount of northern-style jewelry and coin, and not one, but two enchanted items of old which I shall now detail, my investigations being complete.  The coffin also contained human remains, but I have yet to find a good way to monetize these.  All of the other contents seem related to the moribund cult of a godling called Freet, the Lord of the Burning-Deeps, once respected by the ancestors of the Freeholders, according to their own Smultringa Saga.


FREET, Lord of the Burning-Deeps
Presumably counted among the Vicelords, Freet appears to be a minor pleasure-daemon of gluttony and excess, truly a thing that should not be.  Painting himself as a welcoming father-figure, he encourages his followers to consume blatantly unhealthy yet delicious food as a means of worship.  Freet is portrayed in artwork as a relatively formless, lumpen brown mass, sweating oil.  Clerics who swear fealty to Papa Freet are taught all three of the spells below, plus a clerical version of the wizard spell grease; a priest who merely spends a weekend in the debauchery of proper over-the-top Freet-worship may learn one of the spells as a gift.

Ingesting the Abomination
first-level spell
While intoning the chants to Papa Freet that make up this spell, the priest breads or batters a nonliving item of any shape weighing less than ten pounds, then deep-fries the object (obviously a large enough fryer is required).  Once deep fried, the object may be safely eaten, no matter its size or composition.  The object is gently nestled within folded-space in the consumer's stomach, and can be disgorged (process takes 1d4 rounds) anytime within the following four hours.  At the end of the four hours, the gurgitator makes a CON save; if passed, the object is digested as nutritious food of equivalent mass (note that this can still be distressing if the object is large enough).  If the CON save is failed, the object pops out of folded-space and exists inside the consumer's body; this is probably really, really bad, and the GM will adjudicate the results accordingly.

Commanding Rejuvenation of Papa Freet
second level spell
The priest consumes a cup of hot oil (taking 1hp damage in the process).  For the next eight hours, his or her turning ability works against creatures of sucromancy or sweetness in addition to their normal targets.  Whether it's a cupcake golem, a sugarplum fairy, or a peppermint shrike, all sweets are "improved" by the touch of the Lord of the Burning-Deeps.

Freedom Fries
second level spell
The cleric performs a series of ritual cuts on a normal potato, inserts four coins into the potato (because freedom isn't free), then speaks the mystic words of the spell (reported in the Smultringa saga to be "Ia Ia Murka").  All nonmagical locks within ten feet of the potato immediately open.  The coins are consumed in the casting, but the carved potato remains.


ITEMS familiar to the FREET-CULT

The Onion Ring
A golden-brown ring worn on the pinky, this ensorcelled treat allows the wearer to change his or her appearance once per day, as an alter self spell, by slowly peeling off layers of their own skin and revealing the new form beneath (the process takes 1 turn and is pretty disgusting).  The transformation does not wear off; the wearer must re-peel back to their normal form the next day, if that be their goal.  A good proper dispel will return the onion ring's wearer to their normal form.

Aspergillum of St. Poutine
Although it appears to be - and functions as - a flail +1, this item is primarily designed to be filled with blessed gravy.  Ideographs along the length of the weapon can guide any cleric or chef to assemble the proper ingredients to cook up basic gravy sacred to Papa Freet, the Aspergillum of St. Poutine has a further secret.  If the holy gravy is made to contain the bones of a particular kind of creature - a wolf, a manticore, a man - then that batch of gravy, when placed in the Aspergillum, will make the weapon act as +3 versus that sort of creature.  This bonus enchantment lasts only until the gravy congeals within the Aspergillum (1d3 hours).

Druids who pay proper homage to Freet learn this variant of Goodberry.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ever-Bright

EVER-BRIGHT

Recently completed, Ever-Bright is the gleaming capital-castle of the rabbitjacks of Dawn Valley.  Although most of the valley is quiet farmland, Ever-Bright is crowded and busy, its wending hallways and overlapping briar-bridges always crawling with rabbitjacks and jills hurrying about their business.  Most of the surfaces and edges in Ever-Bright are curved, which gives the city an unreal, dreamy quality.  The byways of the city lead seamlessly to the boulevard-tunnels that run underneath the length and width of the valley; in this way the castle-city of Ever-Bright is an extension of the vast rabbitjack warrens, an intimidating fortress defending Dawn Valley from the forces of the Witch Queen.

What to See
Make the time to visit the Gardens - not the ones replete with oversized carrots and turnips-of-many-colors, but the Crystal Gardens, a sprawling, labyrinthine display of the sort of alien sculpture that reminds the rabbitjacks that they hail from another place.  The installations are myriad: ululating silver wires and ribbons, fractal trees seemingly painted into three-dimensional existence, crystals born inside crystals, and a machine lazily spitting ephemeral soap bubbles which resemble passersby.  Most Wampus folk associate the rabbitjacks with alchemy, but in truth their native technology goes far beyond magical brewing into strangeness such as "portable holes" (several of which are laying about in the Gardens).

Where to Stay
Visitors don't have much choice, being restricted to spending the night in the Super Friendly Hotel; it's the only place in town authorized to host non-rabbitjacks overnight.  It's purely a security issue; Dawn Valley lies so close to the Witch-Queen's Candylands that every visitor is a little suspect.  While staying at the Super Friendly, you should expect to be observed, followed, spied upon constantly, and so forth.  Again, this is for security purposes; it's nothing personal.  Being assigned a covert 'handler' during your stay should be taken as a compliment - they don't do that for your average melon-farmer.

Where to Pray
The rabbitjacks have little in the way of native religion, although they have certain rabbitist philosophies that guide their laws.  The rabbit elders have recently allowed the construction of what they call a Mutual Church in Ever-Bright - a large, cathedral-like space where outsiders are allowed to set up shrines of foreign godlings.  As surely as nature abhors a vacuum, it wasn't long before priests devoted to Taronja, Gloriana, and the Scorpion-God claimed their niches in the building.  Though these clerics are allowed to preach to the intellectually-curious rabbitjacks, full conversions have been few.  A heterodox priest could easily make a living in Ever-Bright by claiming space in the Mutual Church.

What to Eat
All manner of vegetables and greens are widely available in Ever-Bright, some in unusual sizes and colors, and many of them bred to be sweeter than usual to suit the rabbitjack palate.  As such, when you visit such up-and-coming Ever-Bright eateries as Four Leaves or The Parsnip Star, you will be able to delight in such delicacies as maple-glazed blue potatoes, variegated leeks, and a salad of crimson endive, sweet-and-sour chard, and green apples garnished with candied cashews and a grumbleberry vinaigrette.  Meat is just simply not available at taverns and restaurants in Ever-Bright, but can be found in some private homes of non-rabbitjacks.  However, the Cottontail Arms, a private club, serves a remarkable veggie burger slathered in a sweet, spicy pepper and guava chutney that must be tasted to be believed.

What to Buy
Both commercial and hobbyist alchemists offer all manner of potions, unguents, philtres, and brews - some of mild effect which are tried and tested, and others of more daring mien.  In addition, some rabbitjacks have been experimenting with the basics of sucromancy, the better to know their enemy, the Witch-Queen.  Right now the favorite combination for some of the street-vendors are little chocolate bottles filled with potion-liqueurs, typically available in a box of six (different flavors and effects) for around $50.  One of the chocolatiers, the nattily-dressed Zazz Bax, is particularly skilled at sculpting tiny chocolate busts with the likeness of customers (or other faces).  His skill was such that, working from a cameo brooch I wear, he was able to do an entire box of rum-flavored white chocolate versions of my wife, which she enjoyed greatly.

Who to Meet
Inspector Hopalong is the most famous of rabbitjack lawmen; it is he who has the most leeway in Dawn Valley as an independent investigator, and he often leaves the area to pursue fugitives or suspects.  Over time, Hopalong has built up a wide network of contacts - both those who pursue justice, and those who flee it - across the Wampus Country.  Anyone seeking leads regarding organized crime would do well to chat with Inspector Hopalong; he may not know the answer you seek, but he probably knows someone who does (although they may be miles away).  Also worth talking to are any of the briar-jacks - the rabbits who maintain and man the living defensive walls that shield Dawn Valley from the depredations of the Candylanders.  Some briar-jacks have spent months peering at Candyland through a spyglass, and they are wise to the patterns of the Witch-Queen's subjects as well as the appearances of some of the dire sugar-beasts which roam her lands.

Thing to Avoid
There's a nightclub called Hare of the Dog not far from the main drag; it looks like a pretty nice place to drink, or to dance, and has some pretty impressive strings of paper lanterns strung about outside.  Be forewarned, however, this establishment is essentially a creepy rabbitjack swingers' club.  You cannot keep up.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dead Man's Arse

DEAD MAN'S ARSE

Out on the plain, there's a barren patch of nothing called Dead Man's Arse, and the whole place stinks to high heaven.  No, really - there's a scent in the air, a mix of sulfur and death and rotting vegetables and goodness-knows-what-else.  As might be expected of a village located in the supernaturally smelliest spot in all of the Wampus Country, Dead Man's Arse is sparsely populated.  It lies off the beaten path, not on the way to anything; thus those who visit are invariably interested in the geysers.

Around the village lie a number of geysers which periodically belch forth a combination of fetid, muddy water and some sort of subterranean gas.  This explains the stench in the air and the absence of arable land.  While most of the geysers explode at seemingly random moments, one in particular fires off like clockwork and is known as "Reliable Roger".  Reliable Roger predictably explodes every day at 11am, 6pm, and 10pm, and the locals have attempted to set up the town as a tourist destination based on the marvel of Reliable Roger.  Other businesses and entertainment concerns, themed around ooze and stank, have cropped up as well.


What to See
There's no point in putting up with the stink of Dead Man's Arse and not catching one of the Reliable Roger shows, which include a historical lecture, some rousing music and dance, and conclude with the expulsion of hundreds of gallons of nasty ooze and gas into the sky, right on time.  Fussy travelers will wish to stand a ways back at the end of the show, lest they find themselves in the 'splash zone', which is mildly unpleasant for those unaccustomed, as the ooze acts as a minor paralytic, numbing the skin where it spatters.


Where to Stay
The predominant wind patterns on the plain guarantee that the Trenchfoot Inn, on the west end of Dead Man's Arse, receives less "wandering stink" in the air than the other hostel in town.  For this privilege, the Trenchfoot charges double what a standard inn might in a town this size.


Where to Pray
There is a small Scorpion shrine just inside the entrance to the Belch Factory (a saloon specializing in carbonated sodas).  Note, however, that the real point of interest for godwatchers in Dead Man's Arse is the geyser Reliable Roger, which has been personified by the locals for years, some of them even idly swearing by it.  How long until Reliable Roger achieves godhood?  Or perhaps there are already some family of horrid-smelling spirits living beneath the geysers?


What to Eat
A repast at the small eatery called Pot-of-Peppers is recommended; the proprietor hails from Khelibesh, or someplace near it, and his penchant for over-spicing dishes will guarantee that you might actually taste your supper instead of just tasting the stink in the air.  Behind his restaurant he maintains a fairly impressive garden of incredibly hot and rare peppers, which seem to thrive in the strange soil here.


What to Buy
Mrs. Bustlebloom makes an amazing poultice combining clay, cucumber juice, and the ooze from the geysers which preserves and mollifies the numbing quality of the geyser-mud.  When applied to the skin, the mix causes a mild tingling sensation and overwhelms the nerves of the skin - with the beneficial side effect of helping to block any incoming paralytic effect for about two hours.  Mrs. Bustlebloom's goop goes for thirteen dollars a pot, with each little pot containing enough slop to cover arms, hands, face and neck (give or take) once.


Who to Meet
Herschel is a wall-eyed preteen who works part-time with the ferrier in Dead Man's Arse, but you won't want to talk to him about horseshoes.  The lad claims to have - several times - leaped into one of the geysers and not only survived, but had incredible adventures in a place he calls Slippery-Town, only to be returned home unexpectedly on an exploding geyser's font.  Herschel will happily prattle on for hours about his amazing excursions to Slippery-Town, where he possesses great physical prowess by virtue of being mostly solid and is hailed as an outlander champion thanks to That Time He Slew That Goopy Monster Thing, and how he earned the love of Lady Slurpnoodle of Gushingrush Hall.  Nobody in town believes Herschel's stories, unfortunately, and only a suicide case (or desperate adventurer) would leap into one of the muddy stink-geysers just to see if it leads to a magical land populated by liquid people.


Thing to Avoid
The Hungry Fields east of Dead Man's Arse are thick with patches of quicksand, no doubt a manifestation of whatever subterranean nonsense has placed the geysers.  As if the quicksand weren't bad enough, the Hungry Fields are also home to some particularly nasty yellow-crested fire-breathing buzzards who love nothing so much as to toast and eat a man's head just before it sinks beneath the quicksand's surface.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Cold Nuggets

COLD NUGGETS

At the base of Big Eagle Mountain sits the ramshackle town of Cold Nuggets, populated by prospectors, mountaineers, and mercenaries who use the place as a home base while seeking their fortunes in the Snowdeeps.  The streets are covered in dirty snow most of the year, and dogsleds are as common as horses; the town's name refers to its climate, not its ore.


What to See
Cold Nuggets is, by nature, a stop along the way to somewhere else - whether it's the caverns beneath Big Eagle Mountain, or a further-flung city of the north like Doomhollow, Cold Nuggets is the town  you pass through, not the town in which you settle down.  However, while you're here, there are plenty of mundane amusements to assist you in passing the time and spending your coin.  The winding streets are lined with cheap saloons serving cheaper liquor.  The gambling in Cold Nuggets isn't as fancy as that at the casinos of River-Town, but it is ubiquitous; so too the prostitution, heavy drinking, and bawdy tale-telling.  Of note is the "bear pit" on Brass Monkey Street, which holds both animal bouts (bear-baiting is popular) and rather bloody pit fights.


Where to Stay
Unless you have a fondness for lice, avoid the many flophouses full of grizzled prospectors.  Instead, take a room at the Lead Dog Inn, a rather upscale establishment located at the east end of town which, not coincidentally, is the part of Cold Nuggets which does not feature an enormous midden.  You will spot the Lead Dog easily from several blocks away, as the roof of the three-story building features a gigantic dog's buttocks complete with waving tail.


Where to Pray
There is rarely a shortage of churches in a town full of men and women likely to get horribly disemboweled at any moment, and Cold Nuggets is no exception.  The town hosts a mid-sized Scorpion Temple, a Mysterian church, a shrine to the Horned Baron, a temple holding idols to several Freeholder godlings, and whatever dubious beliefs crawl in the shadowed alleys.  Rumors grow of a secret cult which pays homage to the dead gods of the Simian culture which are buried beneath Big Eagle Mountain in the so-called City of Mazes.


What to Eat
Most places offer various stews - usually a mix of venison, caribou, and horseflesh - as a standard.  However, the real treat is Cold Nuggets' variety of pemmican, particularly at a little jerky shop called Blue's.  The traveling-adventurer can avail him or herself of some sixty different flavors, depending on the season, each an interesting mixture of protein, berries, and even nuts or other fruits in some varietals, not to mention some dozen types of jerky.  The proprietor, a wild-bearded retired prospector called Blue, can often be seen out on the front porch with an out-of-tune guitar ad libbing off-color jingles about his delicious meat.


What to Buy
The sled dogs bred, raised, and trained by a huge Freeholder called Thurfinn Bjarda are considered exceptional for several reasons.  First, they are descended from both prime redhounds and wild wolves; and secondly, Thurfinn feeds them troll-meat when they're puppies, which makes them quite hardy and resistant to pain.


Who to Meet
Experienced wizardess Hazel Brandywine maintains a home in Cold Nuggets, from whence she plans and executes expeditions into Big Eagle Mountain.  Brandywine herself only delves occasionally; more often she bankrolls, trains, and advises others.  Her familiar, a stark white jackalope called Marshmallow, can often be seen running hither and thither through the streets on errands; locals know better than to molest the creature, for fear of Miss Brandywine's wrath.  The wizardess spends four or five months of the year in Cold Nuggets, and the rest in a handsome rowhome in River-Town, but she is never seen riding or taking a coach out of town; rumors of teleportation magic somewhere in her homes are rampant.  Brandywine herself is as cold as the Snowdeeps, but she knows more about the Mountain than perhaps anyone else these days, and her spellbook is considerable.  (Further notes on Miss Brandywine appear in the Arcane Abecediary.)


Thing to Avoid
The old "I have a treasure map" trick, and a thousand variations thereof.  Nearly every tale you will hear in Cold Nuggets - about lost mines, bandit treasure buried beneath the snow, the ruins of an ancient outpost - will be absolutely false.  Cold Nuggets residents and regulars can easily spot a newcomer or out-of-towner, and visitors with more money than sense positively radiate.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bumblefudge Hollow

BUMBLEFUDGE HOLLOW

A collection of family farms in a small valley, Bumblefudge Hollow - known simply as The Holler to residents - is known primarily for its impressive grain alcohol production, well-trained bloodhounds, and the fact that everyone in the area is related.  Very related.

It's easy for well-heeled folk from River-Town to scoff at the "yokels" of Bumblefudge and their banjo-slinging ways, but chuckling about inbreeding is certainly unfair.  Yes, there is some measure of inbreeding in Bumblefudge Hollow, and everyone in the area is either a Slupp, a Donker, or a Fimble - probably two of the three - but what makes Bumblefudge worth of note is the reincarnation curse which plagues the valley.

No one is quite certain how it began - perhaps a cruel wizard, or a rogue demigod, or some conglomeration of mischievous fey - or what the inhabitants of Bumblefudge quite did wrong to deserve such a hex.  It has been at least three generations since the curse began, and its manifestation is quite plain.  Each native-born Bumblefudger bears partial memories of several of his or her forebears - a grandparent, an uncle, an older cousin - who died before they were born.  This quirk alone might not be much of a curse, but when combined with the isolated nature of Bumblefudge and the intermarriage of its residents, the panoply of issues becomes apparent.  How do you find yourself a wife when you're related to 80% of the people in town, and have the memories of someone who's related to the other 20%?  Can you marry a man to whom you remember giving birth?  Are you your own Grandpa?  The Bumblefudgers have been forced to push the envelope with regards to certain taboos, as you might surmise.  At this point when a Bumblefudger casually mentions that someone is both his sister and his mother, it's nigh-impossible for an outsider to know if he means it biologically or metaphysically.  Some locals have taken to calling everyone "cousin" - even strangers, as it just makes everything easier.  Visitors are, for the most part, given all the same privileges as a regular resident - and that includes casual offers for coupling.

What to See
Caleb Donker has a two-headed distlefink in a cage hanging on his back porch; the bird is said to whistle thematically-appropriate prophetic songs in response to idle questions.  When I visited, my companion Scrapple the Lantern Boy wondered aloud what the future held in store for him; both of the bird's heads promptly broke into the ragtime classic "If You Touch Her Again I'll Kill You."  We all had a good chuckle about it at the time, but some weeks later I walked in on Scrapple making time with my niece, my revolver was a few melancholy rounds lighter, and with each regretful-yet-justified sniffle I couldn't help but think of the distlefink.

Where to Stay
Anywhere you please.  The moment you set foot in Bumblefudge, you're a cousin, and welcome in just about any house.  Mid-conversation, sniff the air and ask "is that sweet potater pie I smell?", or whatever's appropriate, and you're sure to be invited in for the night.  Keep in mind, however, that the dynamic at a family dinner of Bumblefudgers is fairly intense -  the normal arguing and passive aggressive eye-rolling is multiplied due to the complex interrelations at the table, and newfound "cousins" will inevitably be forced to take sides in some decades-old meaningless conflict.

Where to Pray
The Holler currently lacks a proper cleric, but a number of locals do a good job of maintaining a fairly antique roadside shrine to Gloriana.  The idol, carved of ebony, is a bit of an automaton - the goddess is depicted drinking from a horn, and when liquor is poured into the horn, her eyes roll back in her head momentarily.  That's a classy goddess, to be sure.  I humbly suggest that if that shrine was indeed ever consecrated, it was to the Lords of Vice rather than the Majestrix.

What to Eat
Travelers with strong stomachs will want to try the awful local alcohol, distilled from corn and spelt, just to say they did.  A local dish of note is mudbug burgoo - a spicy stew of crawdad, venison, squirrel, corn, and potato ladled liberally over a broad plate of corn pone.

What to Buy
The Fimble family has a long and storied reputation as luthiers; they are particularly good at crafting guitars and banjos.  In the course of a year, the Fimbles will crank out scores of banjos which are then sold to the wider world by a reseller.  Should you take the time to visit Bumblefudge, however, you will have the ability to place a custom order, designing the shape and color of your instrument with the aid of an expert.  Don't fret, you will not be the first traveler who asks for a combination dobro-battleaxe; it's been done, and Theodorus Fimble has a template ready for you.

Who to Meet
Up on Stumbler's Ridge in West Bumblefudge, you'll want to hook up with Dillard Slupp - known as "Conker" to his cousins - who manufactures an incredibly flammable version of the corn-alcohol so common here.  Conker's personal blend, in the right proportion to black powder, makes some pretty amazing hand grenades.  If that seems too materialistic for you, seek out Gordie Donker, who once became so blind stinking drunk that he stood up, spun around, emitted the phrase "seek the secret at the navel of the world" in three different voices simultaneously, the soiled himself and passed out.  Some folk in the Holler think Gordie still occasionally channels divinity like he did that night, which is only believable if divinity spends most of its time commanding teenage girls to lift up their skirts.

Thing to Avoid
Eschew conjugal relations with locals; if issue is produced, you will find the reincarnation curse manages to weave new families into the matrix.  Your new Bumblefudger son may remember being your new wife's uncle, but he also remembers being your mother.  You don't need that kind of grief.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Abernathy's Crossing


ABERNATHY'S CROSSING

The sleepy burg of Abernathy's Crossing sits some distance south of the lake, yet it is no river-ford.  In fact, the eponymous "crossing" refers not to a physical crossing, but a metaphysical one.

Retired artillery captain Woolbert Abernathy, in his later years, "got religion" and gathered around himself quite a fervent following.  Abernathy was less a priest and more a spiritualist - he claimed to be able to see ghosts, talk to his followers' deceased relatives, and so forth.  He made a small fortune from followers and clients, and founded a village out on the plain as a home for his growing church.  Abernathy was certain he'd found the proper location for the town, on a patch of ground that was "ectoplasmically active" and would serve as a "benedictory catalyst" for his many gifts.  And, sure enough, he was right; the area was indeed active with something.

Four months after the village was founded, Abernathy was speaking at the town hall one night when he was descended upon by what witnesses described as "six or seven foggy spirits of dire countenance" who denounced Abernathy in raspy voices and then carried him bodily to the Other Side.  As is often the case, this development did not discourage Abernathy's zealous followers; in fact, their number grew a bit.  After all, surely Woolbert Abernathy was a good and just miracle-worker if such cruel ghosts wanted to deprive the living world of his council.

What to See
Ask a local to take you to Silent Scream Rock (it may cost you a few silver for the favor); they'll lead you into a deciduous wood south of Abernathy's Crossing and point out a massive, flat, reddish-yellow rock.  If you scatter a light coating of dirt on the rock and wait, the dirt and dust may start swirling about and forming human-like faces which contort and "scream" noiselessly for several seconds before fading away.  The rock is in need of proper study; some locals say they have seen recognizable faces repeat in the patterns.  A priest who can read lips may be required to solve the mystery.

Where to Stay
Mavis Pearlsby runs a small, four-room inn located an easy stumble from the Waxed Moustache Saloon.  The decor is homey and comfortable, and Mrs. Pearlsby's prices are quite reasonable considering she'll do laundry for you and serve you scones and chicory-coffee in the morning.  Do not be unduly disturbed by the widow Pearlsby's habit of speaking to the late Mr. Pearlsby as though he were in the room, constantly complaining about the unwelcome strangers in his house and the blood dried on their knives.  It may disturb you to think that there is indeed a ghostly Mr. Pearlsby, and that he is talking about you and your explorer-friends; but, really, let us consider that it would be far worse if the late gentleman were actually talking about a whole other set of malicious adventurer-ghosts who were also spending the night.

Where to Pray
In the years since Abernathy's disappearance, several rival groups have calved off from the original group.  The most legitimate claimant to Abernathy's tradition is the Little Red Church in the center of town, but both the Believing Brethren of the Mighty Invocation (blue building at the north end of town) and the Welcoming Temple (massive tent revival behind the smithy) get plenty of parishioners.  Many locals, and some visitors, frequent all three churches depending on their mood, or which sect is serving the best food that night.

What to Eat
Once a month the Mighty Invocation church puts out an amazing spread of casseroles, shepherd's pie, and a local blueberry whisky they call "ghost-finder juice", all for free - presuming you don't mind being blessed by their reverends first.  Don't worry about overeating at the smorgasbord - the earnest and well-groomed young ladies of the church will assist you in square-dancing those calories away, particularly Emma MacHanker, whose prominent front teeth are an impediment neither to dancing nor snogging, I can tell you.

What to Buy
Several local craftspeople hawk talismans, made from old pennies and local red clay, which are purported to aid mere mortals in seeing, speaking to, and placating the dead.  These run two or three dollars, generally, unless you have one custom-made to include a little scroll with your name on it in the center.

Who to Meet
The town cobbler, Ichabod Plump, is an accomplished storyteller in addition to being a mediocre shoemaker.  When plied with beer, Plump can be easily goaded into telling tales about his time as batsman to Captain Abernathy, including rather revealing recounting of their travels in Snollygoster Swamp and Crumbledown.  The wise listener may glean knowledge of these places which cannot be found on most maps.

Thing to Avoid
A few local toughs run a dog-fighting concern in an old barn; the entire thing is a bit of a scam, as the dogs are trained actors who take their orders from silent prompts.  Typically a visitor is invited to come watch the dog-fights, and perhaps bet on them.  The mark wins more matches than they lose, until they are puffed up with confidence and full of whisky.  The final match of the night is, appropriate to the town's history, a fight between two "ghost dogs" which of course the visitor, being non-local, cannot see.  Obviously the mark loses the massive bet he laid on the deceased canine of his choice, and must empty his pockets.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Coming Up: April's A-Z, Towns of Wampus Country

In previous years, Wampus Country hasn't participated in the A-Z madness of April that annually infects some segments of the blogosphere.  A few years back, the Wampus contribution to the ritual was the Arcane Abecediary, although it wasn't a one-letter-per-day exercise, but rather a "dump everything at the end of the month" gambit.

This year, we're going to attempt the full alphabet, daily-posting achievement - ably aided by the ability to pre-write and schedule posts, of course.  By the end of the month, I hope to have presented twenty-six or more towns of Wampus Country, written up in a useful way.

By "town", I mean any inhabited place - we may see some villages, towns, a ranch here and there, a castle, whatever.  No dungeons or ruins count for our purposes this month; and I'm going to try to avoid talking about the larger towns that have already been covered in the past on the blog (Thistlemarch, Frogport, et al).   And by "a useful way", I mean...well, I'm not certain what I mean.  Town write-ups really vary in usefulness.  I can remember seeing a short village write-up in some Forgotten Realms product or another which consisted of a breakdown of population by race (5% halfling) and a short paragraph of description.  Well, that isn't enough.  I only care that the major export is apples if you give me an adventure hook to go with it.  No maps for these.

So that's the goal - to do these short write-ups in a way that provides information that would be a) useful for a DM to riff off of, and b) intriguing for a player (or PC) to hear about.  We want towns that PCs will want to visit!

I'm thinking the layout will look something like this:

Town name
Short description (including location)
What to See - there must be a reason to visit!
Where to Stay
Where to Pray
What to Eat
What to Buy
Who to Meet
Thing to Avoid

Aiming for PC-centric concerns with each of these; sort of mini-answers to some of the Twenty Questions for each locale.