Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The mongrel-faced pugwampis have the burden of not looking very much like gremlins.  But that’s also a positive: Since they don’t look very much like gremlins, so you might find them in any number of settings or situations.  (For instance, if you (like me) miss the days when kobolds were canine instead of draconic, pugwampis fit the bill perfectly.)  

And it shouldn’t be hard to come up with adventure ideas for the wicked, prank- and gnoll-obsessed fey.  The Pathfinder crew outdid themselves with lines like, “Their ‘jokes’ tend to involve spikes and excrement.”  So dive in, have fun, and spread the unluck!

Even other gremlins hate pugwampis.  Denied entry into a gremlin conclave (if an orgy of stolen food, fighting, and sabotage can be called a conclave), a mob of pugwampis decides to earn entry to the feast by serving up some hapless adventurers.

A frontier town has been beset by gnolls.  Fortunately, the mission and the bank were well armed, and many of the citizens are ex-crusaders with experience in sieges.  But after two weeks the various barricades begin to collapse and nearly ever firearm in the compound breaks under mysterious circumstances.  Apparently, the gnolls held their noses and recruited a nearby infestation of pugwampis to help, and the fruits of this alliance now quickly become apparent.

Pugwampis were tolerated near the grounds of a remote dojo for a year, thanks to a beneficent senior abbot.  But when their pranks became too frequent (and too manure-focused), they were driven away.  Now the abbot is sick, and his students (likely a motley mix of monks, ninjas, clerics, and others) are sent to retrieve a rare herb to cure him.  Resentful and vindictive, the pugwampi mob sees an excellent opportunity to revenge themselves on the abbot’s young charges.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 144

First up: Do you guys do Twitter?  I’m @patchdj if you want to add me.  I’m still a total n00b at it, though.

Comic relief opportunity: Pugwampis who swear at party familiars/companions/mounts nonstop via speak with animal.

I…am not going to put my feelings about Charles De Lint’s work into print.  (Let’s just say I was enchanted by the stuff I read in early editions of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror.  And do not enchantments in fairy stories exist solely to be broken?)  But pugwampis remind me of the bogan Rabedy in Widdershins.

Mailbag!  Regular commenter syringesin writes:

Dinos and dinolike creatures have never made an appearance in my games. I just can't bring myself to use them. Unless PCs were to visit the Beastlands...

I totally respect that.  In fact, I actually struggle with it, too; way back in the comments to the Arsinoitherium & Glyptodon entry I confess to having what I call a “paleontology problem.”  But part of the exercise of this blog has been to get over that—otherwise every one of my dinosaur entries would be “The PCs go to a spooooooky lost continent.” So I try to mix it up.  (I think the glyptodon-loving shogun was a bit of a breakthrough for me.)

I think dinosaurs are one of those things like gunpowder or ninjas or even monks (martial art monks, not friars) that need to be decided upon early in the game, so you and your players understand your world.  I think any number of approaches are equally valid—1) No dinosaurs exist, 2) dinosaurs exist only in isolated Lost Valleys or magical caverns, 3) dinosaurs exist but only in far-off continents and jungles, 4) dinosaurs are rare but do exist in the local wilderness, 5) dinosaurs are as common as any other animal—but you have to decide early.  Are they as commonplace as wolves…manticores…dragons…or presumed to be myths?  Likewise, nomenclature matters—is it a T. rex or a “sharptooth”?  Players who scoff at hobgoblins riding velociraptors may be petrified by “mounted sickledeaths.”

And A.A. writes:

This question isn't related to monsters, but I still was wondering it.

D&D Next seems to be getting rid of a lot of the stuff 4e did, such as Healing Surges/non-casters being able to heal via inspiration, merging the Warlord and the Fighter, merging the Warden and the Paladin, ghettoizing the Dragonborn and Tieflings as “Rare” races, and so on.

A lot of 4e fans are really, really pissed about that, especially given the promises of this being the “Unifying” edition, and as one who wasn't into 4e, I was wondering what you think of it.

Interesting question.  I’m honestly not following the D&D Next stuff except for listening to the D&D podcast.  So my only knowledge comes from that.  To use a cliché, I hope they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater—there had to be some good stuff in there.  But 4e is up against 30+ years of tradition—and for every one fan that loves it, there is a vocal critic who regards it as the George W. Bush of D&D.

So I can’t speak to the warlord—seems like it would make a better prestige class to me; I can’t picture a 1st-level warlord.  I could see keeping the warden if they differentiate it enough from the paladin.  (Or maybe having it would shut up all the people clamoring for a non-lawful good paladin.  And by “people” I mean savages.  …I kid, I kid!  (I’m not kidding.)  And dragonborn and tieflings don’t have to be rare in your campaign—that’s your call to make.

Personally, though, while I don’t love healing via inspiration I would totally keep healing surges in some form—I thought they were a good idea—and casters having at least one ray or magic missile or something they can use every turn—even if it’s just a single d6.  Resting for spells and healing is the single number-one biggest killer of momentum in an adventure, and anything that keeps the party in play from in-game dawn to dusk is fine by me.  A d6 ray attack or a single magic missile every turn isn’t much, but it’s better than a dagger or napping by noon…

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