Dread and Circuses: The Comprachico Childtaker

[Why are you hiding, my dear little lambs…?]


There’s something just a little off about this travelling carnival worker – but the children seem to love him, and he does seem very polite, as he hands out sweets and prizes. Probably no need to be suspicious…

Comprachico, Childtaker CR 4

XP 1,200
CE Medium aberration (circus)
Init +4; Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Scent; Perception +3 

DEFENSE

AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 11 (+4 Dex, +1 armour, +1 dodge)
hp 37 (5d8+15)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +3

Immune bleed Resist cold 5

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee whip +7 (1d3 plus 1 bleed, 19-20)

Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (up to 15 ft. with whip)
Special Attacks Death Throes, Delicate Reshaping (+7 touch), Forceful Reshaping, Surgical Precision

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th)

At Willcreate candy (see below), prestidigitation
3/daybeguiling gift (DC 14), create food and water (always creates sweet-tasting carnival food and flavoured fizzy water) haste, innocence (DC 14)

1/daybountiful banquet, charm person (DC 14)

STATISTICS

Str 10, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 18
Base Atk +3; CMB +7 (+9 to disarm with whip); CMD 18
Feats Agile Manoeuvres, Dodge, Weapon Finesse
Skills  Bluff +8, Craft (Alchemy) +6, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +6, Heal +8, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (Nature) +8, Knowledge (Planes) +4, Perception +9, Perform (Sing) +8, Sleight of Hand +5, Survival -1 (+5 to track children or young creatures by scent); Racial +4 Craft (Alchemy), +8 Heal, +4 Perception
Languages Aklo, Common

SQ Native To Everywhere And Nowhere, Sedative Secretions, Sniff Out Youth, Veins of the Night Wind

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Death Throes (Ex)

When a Comprachico is slain, the strange cold within it seeps out into the air. All creatures within a 5-foot burst must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 5 points of nonlethal cold damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Delicate Reshaping (Ex)

As a melee touch attack, a Comprachico can attempt to reach out and twist, press or reposition one of the extremities of a creature within reach. If successful, the effects of this attack depend on the extremity thus manipulated:

  • Finger – 1 point of Dex damage
  • Jaw – 1 point of Charisma damage
  • Limb joint – 1 point of Strength damage
  • Throat – 1 point of Constitution damage
  • Foot – entangled for 1 round
  • Ears – deafened for 1 round
  • Face – blinded for 1 round
  • Forehead – confused for 1 round

On a critical hit, the damage or duration is multiplied by 1d4.

Forceful Reshaping (Ex)

When a Comprachico uses its Delicate Reshaping ability on a creature who is already grappled or pinned, it may choose to turn a non-critical hit into a critical hit.

Alternatively, when reshaping a creature who is grappled or pinned, the Comprachico may choose to attempt to inflict one of the following effects in place of targeting an extremity as usual:

  • Twisted neck – creature cannot use its mouth to speak
  • Twisted leg – creature’s movement speed is reduced by 10 feet
  • Twisted arm – creature takes a -2 penalty to AC, and to attack rolls and damage rolls made using that arm. A creature with all of its arms twisted can also no longer perform somatic components of spells
  • Twisted spine – creature’s load is always treated as one category greater for the purposes of encumbrance and carrying capacity.
  • Disabled natural weapon – creature may no longer attack with the targeted natural weapon

With multiple successful attacks, each of these effects can be inflicted multiple times to the same creature if that creature has the requisite number of body parts (so a normal humanoid could simultaneously have one twisted neck, one twisted spine, two twisted arms and two twisted legs), and the effects stack. All of these effects last indefinitely but can be undone with lesser restoration.

Native To Everywhere And Nowhere (Su)

A Comprachico is simultaneously a native and a visitor to any plane it may be found on. It can always choose whether it is counted as having the Extraplanar subtype or not for any effect dependent on subtype. A Comprachico that allows itself to be dismissed or banished from a given plane may choose any plane it has previously been to as its destination.

Sedative Secretions (Su)

As a standard action, a Comprachico Childtaker can saturate one weapon or Fine object in contact with the Childtaker’s own skin with a unique contact poison. The next non-Childtaker creature to come into contact with this object will absorb the poison, after which the object will be safe to touch unless it is subjected to this ability again.

This poison has no effect on adults of any species, but on children of all species it acts identically to Sweetdream, save that it is a contact poison rather than needing to be inhaled, and the DC of the Fortitude save is 15. This save DC is Constitution-based.

Sniff Out Youth (Ex)

A Comprachico Childtaker can identify by scent whether a creature is young, adult, middle-aged, old or venerable. It also gains a +6 racial bonus on survival checks to track children or young creatures by scent.

Surgical Precision (Ex)

A Comprachico can choose to inflict either lethal or nonlethal damage with any weapon (including natural weapons) without penalty. Any weapon (including natural weapons) used by a Comprachico to make a melee attack acts as if it had the keen and wounding special abilities. The Comprachico can also choose to supress either or both of these special abilities when making the attack roll.

Veins of the Night Wind (Ex)

A Comprachico’s veins contain not blood, but rather currents of cold air and twilight-coloured dust. They are immune to bleed damage. Any creature that hits a Comprachico with a melee attack that would ordinarily cause bleed damage must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 1 point of nonlethal cold damage as cold leaches into them from the wound. The save DC is Constitution-based.

ECOLOGY

Environment any hills, plains or urban
Organization solitary, troupe (1 plus 1–4 other Comprachicos), circus (1 plus 1-4 other Comprachicos, 4-8 circusborn and 2-10 invunches) or carnival (1-2 plus 3-7 other Comprachicos, 8-15 circusborn, 10-20 invunches and 1-4 carnievores)
Treasure standard (whip, cloth armour, other treasure – mostly in the form of trinkets, toys and sweets)

About one in every four or five Comprachicos is gifted with a greater natural charisma and various supernatural abilities, which the Comprachicos believe is simply in accordance with the unknowable whims of Auth.

Comprachicos with these advantages serve their operations as Childtakers who track down lone or unsupervised children and lure them out of sight with songs, games, treats, toys and carnival prizes – only for them to be swiftly supernaturally sedated and ferried away to be reshaped.

Childtakers tend to be slightly weaker than other Comprachicos, and are almost always cowards at heart, unwilling to risk physical combat against adults or even against children if they can help it, and for this reason they tend to rely almost entirely on trickery. They tend to keep their whips saturated with their sedative secretions at all times if possible, so that if a child does ever fight back or tries to escape, it usually only takes one hit to put the tiny problem back to sleep.


Create Candy

School conjuration (creation); Level bard 0, witch 0, wizard/sorcerer 0

CASTING

Casting Time one standard action
Components S

EFFECT

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect one small colourful sweet or piece of candy

Duration permanent
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

DESCRIPTION

This spell permanently creates a single colourful sweet or piece of candy. It has little-to-no nutritional value, but it is delicious.

Dread and Circuses: The Comprachico

[Took me long enough, but here it is: the primary villains of our piece, with a few apologies to Victor Hugo and Ray Bradbury]


There’s something just a little off about this travelling carnival worker. His tongue, when he speaks, is perhaps just a little bit toadlike. His fingers are just a bit too long and dextrous. There’s a look in his eye that reminds you a bit of a snake. And there might just be a bit of a night chill in the air, even though it’s the middle of the day…

Comprachico CR 3

XP 800
CE Medium aberration (circus)
Init +4; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3 

DEFENSE

AC 15, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+4 Dex, +1 armour)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +3

Immune bleed Resist cold 5

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee war razor +7 (1d4+1 plus 1 bleed, 17-20) or training whip +7 (1d3+1 plus 1 bleed, 19-20)

Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (up to 10 ft. with training whip)
Special Attacks Death Throes, Delicate Reshaping (+7 touch), Forceful Reshaping, Surgical Precision

STATISTICS

Str 12, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +7 (+9 to disarm with training whip); CMD 18
Feats Agile Manoeuvres, Weapon Finesse
Skills  Bluff +4, Craft (Alchemy) +6, Disguise +2, Handle Animal +4 (+6 to push trained animal with training whip), Heal +8, Intimidate +7 (+9 to demoralise animal with training whip), Knowledge (Nature) +8, Knowledge (Planes) +4, Perception +3, Perform (Oratory) +4; Racial +4 Craft (Alchemy), +8 Heal, +4 Perception
Languages Aklo, Common

SQ Native To Everywhere And Nowhere, Veins of the Night Wind

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Death Throes (Ex)

When a Comprachico is slain, the strange cold within it seeps out into the air. All creatures within a 5-foot burst must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 5 points of nonlethal cold damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Delicate Reshaping (Ex)

As a melee touch attack, a Comprachico can attempt to reach out and twist, press or reposition one of the extremities of a creature within reach. If successful, the effects of this attack depend on the extremity thus manipulated:

  • Finger – 1 point of Dex damage
  • Jaw – 1 point of Charisma damage
  • Limb joint – 1 point of Strength damage
  • Throat – 1 point of Constitution damage
  • Foot – entangled for 1 round
  • Ears – deafened for 1 round
  • Face – blinded for 1 round
  • Forehead – confused for 1 round

On a critical hit, the damage or duration is multiplied by 1d4.

Forceful Reshaping (Ex)

When a Comprachico uses its Delicate Reshaping ability on a creature who is already grappled or pinned, it may choose to turn a non-critical hit into a critical hit.

Alternatively, when reshaping a creature who is grappled or pinned, the Comprachico may choose to attempt to inflict one of the following effects in place of targeting an extremity as usual:

  • Twisted neck – creature cannot use its mouth to speak
  • Twisted leg – creature’s movement speed is reduced by 10 feet
  • Twisted arm – creature takes a -2 penalty to AC, and to attack rolls and damage rolls made using that arm. A creature with all of its arms twisted can also no longer perform somatic components of spells
  • Twisted spine – creature’s load is always treated as one category greater for the purposes of encumbrance and carrying capacity.
  • Disabled natural weapon – creature may no longer attack with the targeted natural weapon

With multiple successful attacks, each of these effects can be inflicted multiple times to the same creature if that creature has the requisite number of body parts (so a normal humanoid could simultaneously have one twisted neck, one twisted spine, two twisted arms and two twisted legs), and the effects stack. All of these effects last indefinitely but can be undone with lesser restoration.

Native To Everywhere And Nowhere (Su)

A Comprachico is simultaneously a native and a visitor to any plane it may be found on. It can always choose whether it is counted as having the Extraplanar subtype or not for any effect dependent on subtype. A Comprachico that allows itself to be dismissed or banished from a given plane may choose any plane it has previously been to as its destination.

Surgical Precision (Ex)

A Comprachico can choose to inflict either lethal or nonlethal damage with any weapon (including natural weapons) without penalty. Any weapon (including natural weapons) used by a Comprachico to make a melee attack acts as if it had the keen and wounding special abilities. The Comprachico can also choose to supress either or both of these special abilities when making the attack roll.

Veins of the Night Wind (Ex)

A Comprachico’s veins contain not blood, but rather currents of cold air and twilight-coloured dust. They are immune to bleed damage. Any creature that hits a Comprachico with a melee attack that would ordinarily cause bleed damage must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 1 point of nonlethal cold damage as cold leaches into them from the wound. The save DC is Constitution-based.

ECOLOGY

Environment any hills, plains or urban
Organization solitary, troupe (2–4), circus (1-4 plus 4-8 circusborn and 2-10 invunches) or carnival (5-10 plus 8-15 circusborn, 10-20 invunches and 1-4 carnievores)
Treasure standard (war razor, whip, cloth armour, other treasure)

The nomadic and enigmatic Comprachicos are known to a smattering of communities throughout the planes for the strange and wonderful nature of their travelling shows, which appear every once in a while, seldom in the same place twice, always with an array of unique and dazzling creatures, exhibits and acts.

The awful secrets behind the creation of these acts are in theory closely guarded by the Comprachicos themselves. In practice, almost everyone has heard the rumours, although few can recall exactly where, and no-one has ever heard of anyone successfully producing proof. The truth is that behind the scenes, in private tents and secluded off-limits areas, every travelling Comprachico operation is also a surgery and a garden where the Comprachico’s tend to the growth of kidnapped children and young creatures like bonsai artists tending to the growth of their plants, sculpting them over years with physical, surgical and alchemical treatments into specialised circus aberrations who can then be put to work as performers.

Even taking into account that every Comprachico is a naturally gifted master of body modification, the cost of performing and concealing these gruesome procedures while keeping the victims alive and contained usually means that the money brought in by exhibiting the results in whatever communities they pass only barely makes a profit for most Comprachico operations. The Comprachicos, however, were never really in it for the money so much as for the art, viewing their acts as a form of self-expression and as pleasing tribute to their sole object of worship: the creeping, scurrying, mad god Auth, who dwells in the abyss between the stars and whom the Comprachicos believe sustains their bodies and minds through his gifts of darkness and the whispering of the night wind.

Outwardly, most Comprachicos look vaguely human or elven, but always a little off, with certain features being oddly sharp or long or lithe. They tend to dress in layers of colourful carnival clothes which function as cloth armour, and carry animal-training whips and scalpel-like razors. Internally, their biology is very different from that of humanoids – Comprachicos lack blood entirely, their strange organs seemingly fed instead by streams of cold and twilight dust that blow through their veins and arteries. Like much about the Comprachicos, their biology has never been studied and remains an enigma spoken of only in rumour. As such, no-one quite knows the exact nature of what flows through a Comprachico’s veins – perhaps there is truth to their belief that a little bit of Auth dwells in each of them.


Use the Aid Another action to support the Court of Ranternal Affairs here.

Every conservative parent has very evidently never been nor known a child.

[First published on Facebook on 10/6/2021]


That sounds like a shitpost, but… seriously.

These fuckin’ moonmen are constructing arguments premised on the assumption that children have no ideas about sex until such time as an adult educates them.

My dudes, I need you all to understand that I am a weird lonery nerd and I am extremely sex-averse. I have been to approximately zero teen parties and I have never willingly sought out anything explicit (I don’t think I even sought out anything IMPLICIT until I was like 18 and suffering from a morbid intellectual curiosity born largely of the incompleteness and insufficiency of UK sex ed). I didn’t read a romance novel until I was legally an adult, I avoid erotic content in visual media so far as possible, and by choice I generally don’t speak to people who don’t have more interesting and fantastical things to talk about. I was raised by devout middle-class white protestants. I love my parents, but I’m pretty sure neither of them has ever tried to educate me on anything sex-related further than was strictly required to answer my explicit questions, and I invite you to GUESS how many explicit questions a guy like me ever asks his PARENTS about FUCKING.

I am, without question, STILL less worldly and streetwise than 80% of children over the age of fourteen. Bruh, I don’t even fucking DRINK. Do you KNOW how sheltered a dude needs to be to reach his late 20s without ever consuming enough alcohol to become tipsy (IN TOTAL, never mind sequentially)?

There is no way, in any universe, on infinite earths, that any one of you twats has ever been more naive than I was as a child. So if *I* fucking knew about sex as a kid, it follows that *you* must have known about sex as a kid, and therefore the only way there can POSSIBLY be this many idiots believing that sex ed lessons are where kids get their sex ideas from is if not one of them was EVER A CHILD.

AND YEAH, even I still fucking knew about sex before my school taught me, ya bumblenuggets. Most of what I knew was WRONG. Almost all of what I knew was bad. DEFINITELY all I knew was dangerous. Mostly I knew how to use the subject as a weapon (verbally and physically) without knowing how to recognise that that was what I was being taught. I knew it was mysterious and unexplained Secret Knowledge, and therefore Valuable and A Means To Power. I knew misinformation without knowing it was misinformation, and I knew how (and why) to spread misinformation without knowing it was misinformation.

I knew I was being mocked or bullied or belittled or abused, without knowing how to express or critique it.

That’s the bit you always learn first, ya dumb mugs. That’s the bit the world teaches you through osmosis. That’s LITERALLY WHY we have a whole fuckin’ school subject to teach the OTHER bits (admittedly not very exhaustively, which is a problem) because the other bits are the bits that neutralise the poison. Because, shit, the Venn diagram of “topics your kids will dangerously obsess over” and “topics adults make your kids learn about properly” is a fuckin’ figure of 8, if not just two wholly unconnected circles.

You couldn’t even have kept the topic from me by removing all my schoolfriends and media influences, because I learned about it before I hit the double digits from such illicit sources as “those nice other kids at church” and “the Bible” and “the dictionary”.

So, yeah: it may sound absurd, but it is still the most logical possible conclusion: no conservative parent has ever been or known a child. They are grown full-formed in vats by cruel warlocks, and equipped with wicked homunculus illusions in the shape of children when they are sent forth to do the warlock’s dark bidding.

I mean, that or just “adult amnesia concerning childhood is extremely common and it’s more common among people who were already kinda dumb and gullible anyway”.

I suppose the second one is also an option.

The Adventures of Ab’bot and Cthostello

[First published on Facebook on 29/7/2020]


Arkham Student #1: “Although seemingly dead, they say that the occultist Keziah Mason lives on as a transdimensional witch-horror that walks in dreams.”

Arkham Student #2: “Gosh. What does she do?”

Arkham Student #1: “Eh, just kinda hangs around her old house and spooks people who visit, mostly.”

Arkham Student #2: “Sounds like a pretty dumb witch-horror.”

The Dunwich Horror, crashing invisibly through the wall: “YOU SUMMONED?”

A Classical Dialogue in Carcosa

The King in Yellow: “I need to find someone I can hire to sing songs where my tatters flap in lost Carcosa.”

Apollo: “Hmm, that’s a toughie, bro. Have you considered the Hyades?”

The King in Yellow: “What are Hyades?”

Apollo: “HIRE DEEZ NUTS, BITCH!”

A Classical Dialogue

Orpheus: “Apollo, as the god of sunlight, do you know of any safe passage through the darkness of the Underworld?”

Apollo: “Well, you could always ask Hecate to guide you with the Lampades.”

Orpheus: “What are the Lampades?”

Apollo: “The lamp o’ deez nuts, bitch! GOT ‘IM!” [Mimes scoring a football touchdown]

Thoughts From Customer Service

There are a lot of weird behaviours exhibited by Twats Calling Customer Services which I think we often just don’t think about because they happen to us so often and always when we’re busy trying to figure out more important things, and only really come to scrutiny when someone is enough of a belligerent arsehole for us to still be thinking about their behaviour an hour after we clock off.

Today’s gentleman brought into sharp focus one of these behaviours that, in my experience, seems to be disproportionately concentrated in specifically the subset of Twats who are both English and born in the early 70s, which is “placing irrelevant value on one’s title of Customer”.

My personal theory to explain the unusual distribution that I came up with on the way home today: These are the people who came of age while ‘Open All Hours‘ was on TV.

I’m sure ‘Open All Hours’ isn’t the sole culprit here, so much as the only one funny enough that my dad was still watching it when I myself came of age, but my point is that I think the behaviour stems from having grown up in an Arkwright-centric culture. These people have absorbed, from pop culture or experience or both, a no-longer-true presumption that the guy behind the till in any establishment providing goods or services is unsallaried.

Arkwright is a self-employed small businessman who owns and runs the grocer’s shop in which he works. The money he lives off comes from his customers, and they are HIS customers just as much as they are the business’s – he and the business and essentially one.

In that context, it makes sense for a customer to expect that Arkwright’s primary concern will be to meet their preferences – they are paying him, personally, to do so.I, however, am a salaried employee, and one with no commission bonus. The guys on the other end of the phones every day aren’t paying me jack shit, and they aren’t MY customers just because they are customers of the business. The COMPANY is my customer. The company buys from me the service of dealing with their dumbshit clients for them.

Unlike Arkwright, I have no tangible incentive to provide to Angry Dude On Phone any more service than the bare minimum necessary to meet the preferences of the company that pays my wages and decides if and when I get promoted.

Arkwright has no-one above him except the Law, and even the Law isn’t always good at enforcing its rules, so there are very few rules he doesn’t have incentive to bend or stretch or break in the name of impressing the customer and therefore getting paid. I, however, get paid more reliably if I DON’T let the customer bully me into bending the rules, because MY pay comes FROM the people enforcing the rules around here.

Mr Karen here has subconsciously absorbed the idea that his status as a customer of the company means that, in any dealings with representatives of that company, our primary concern will be his own preferences, and when he runs smack into the reality that his preferences don’t mean a rat’s dick to anyone around here and my primary concern is the preferences of Pays My Wages Incorporated, he doesn’t know how to handle it. His “I’m a customer, for god’s sake!” whining is an uncomprehending objection to a cosmos that has betrayed him

Pathfinder Homebrew: The Bunbun

I dunno, man, my housemate wanted it to be a thing.


Bunbun are a nervous people evolved to survive by running and hiding. This natural drive towards caution and cowardliness struggles for dominance against their unusually affectionate social disposition.

Physical Description: Bunbun resemble Catfolk in many ways, but their features are more rabbitlike. They have soft fur, large feet and very short tails, and are generally about the size of a goblin. Their long ears tend to stand tall atop their head, and although these ears are not strong enough to function as limbs they are dextrous and expressive enough that the Bunbun have developed their own form of sign language based on ear movement.

Society: Bunbun tend to cluster together for protection, usually forming underground communities knows as warrens in quiet rural areas where they feel safe from attack. They often have large families, such that these communities often eventually have to split up to avoid overpopulation. It is not unheard of for a Bunbun warren to merge with a nearby community of sufficiently peaceful surface-dwellers, taking advantage of their separate environmental preferences to share resources and space.

Relations: Bunbun are naturally furtive around strangers, but are equally inclined towards affection to those they feel safe around. As such, they tend to be slow to join forces with any outsiders of other races, but even more reluctant to let them go once they have bonded. Some deep-rooted prey instinct makes them especially uneasy around Catfolk, Vishkanya and especially Kitsune, while Goblins and Dwarves are often simply too loud for their delicate dispositions and sensitive hearing, such that Bunbun who find themselves sharing their underground spaces with either are usually polite but distant. Bunbun are most often comfortable around the meditative calmness of Elves or the friendly humour of Halflings and Gnomes, although their preference for underground homes often leads to a degree of separation from surface-dwelling races even in mixed communities. Svirfneblin may be the most natural allies of the Bunbun, sharing their love both of the underground and of a little peace and quiet.

Alignment and Religion: Bunbun’s gentle dispositions lead them towards good more often than evil, and their flighty instincts tend to incline them more towards chaotic rather than lawful. However, they also usually have powerful instincts towards self-preservation that can prevent them from straying too far from true neutrality.

Adventurers: Bunbun do not often appreciate the danger of an adventuring life, but their love of the shared affection of an adventuring group will often incline them to follow one into danger nonetheless. Sometimes, when a warren has to split due to its growing size, young adult Bunbun take the opportunity to venture out into the world to sate a youthful curiosity, safe in the assumption that they can always flee back to safety if the adventurous life turns out not to be for them.

Bunbun are not evolved for feats of strength or violence, and tend to find themselves ill-suited to Fighter or Barbarian roles, although their mobility can lead them to flourish as Monks and their great capacity for running and hiding makes them natural Rogues. Their rural background and fondness for teamwork may often lead Bunbun to try their paws as Rangers or Druids also. Many Bunbun, however, find themselves drawn instead to more arcane roles, often putting their innate charisma to use as Bards or Sorcerers – no-one has ever been able to explain it, but a lot of Bunbun just feel a sort of affinity for wands and magic hats.

Male Names: Buck, Fuzz, Hopper

Female Names: Connie, Marshmallow, Velveteen

Table: Random Starting Ages
AdulthoodIntuitive1Self-Taught2Trained3
15 years+1d4 years
(16 – 19 years)
+1d6 years
(16 – 21 years)
+2d6 years
(17 – 27 years)

1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards.

Table: Random Height and Weight
GenderBase HeightHeight ModifierBase WeightWeight Modifier
Male2 ft. 6 in.+2d4 in.
(2 ft. 8 in. – 3 ft. 2 in.)
25 lbs.+(2d4 lbs.)
(26 – 33 lbs.)
Female2 ft. 8 in.+2d4 in.
(2 ft. 10 in. – 3 ft. 4 in.)
30 lbs.+(2d4 lbs.)
(32 – 38 lbs.)

Standard Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Racial Traits: Bunbun are fleet and adorable, but docile. They gain +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity, and –2 Strength.
  • Type: Bunbun are Humanoids with the Bunbun subtype
  • Size: Small
  • Base Speed: (Normal) Bunbun have a base land speed of 30ft and a Burrow speed of 20ft
  • Languages: Bunbun begin play speaking Common and Earspeak. Bunbun with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Catfolk, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Sylvan, Terran and Undercommon.

MOVEMENT RACIAL TRAITS

  • Jumper: Bunbun are always considered to have a running start when making Acrobatics checks to jump.
  • Sprinter: Bunbun gain a +10 foot racial bonus to their speed when using the charge, run, or withdraw actions.

FEAT AND SKILL RACIAL TRAITS

  • Long of Ear: Bunbun receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception.
  • Prey Instinct: Bunbun receive a +2 bonus to Stealth when they are underground, and a -2 penalty to Intimidate against anyone other than other Bunbun

SENSES RACIAL TRAITS

  • Low-Light Vision: Bunbun can see twice as far as a race with normal vision in conditions of dim light.

Alternate Racial Traits

The following alternate racial traits may be selected in place of one or more of the standard racial traits above. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.

  • Darkvision: Bunbun who live underground often adapt to the dark instead of to the open air. This trait replaces Low-Light Vision and Sprinter.

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to a Bunbun character who meets the prerequisites.

  • Arcane Ears: (Prerequisite: Earspeak) You have learned to adapt spellcasting to work with your Earspeak. When casting, you may choose to use your Earspeak in place of either the verbal or somatic components. If you choose to use Earspeak in place of verbal components, you can cast even when unable to make sound. If you choose to use Earspeak in place of somatic components, you can cast even when pinned or tied up, so long as at least one ear is free.
  • Fluffy Bunny: Your fur is long and thick. You gain cold resist 5 and no longer take nonlethal damage from cold environments. However, you gain vulnerability to all effects of hot environments.
  • Spring: (Prerequisite: Jumper) Your instinct to jump when startled has honed your leg muscles. When using Acrobatics to perform a long jump or high jump, the distance you are able to jump is always doubled.

Truth and Beauty

When Yossele awoke for the first time since his death, it was with difficulty, in fits and starts, to find himself in a dust-filled attic with a creature he knew was more beautiful than any he had seen, and more beautiful than he himself could ever hope to be.

He knew this, although he could not tell why, for Yossele had little grasp of beauty. His eyes were not eyes of flesh that could see things as they looked; his were eyes of clay that could see things only as they were.

The creature he saw then was in a shape like that of a human but was not a human, Yossele knew. She was not shaped like Yossele, whose form also approximated humanity but was too large and far too wide and clumsy, in torso and limb and finger, for he had been formed for a purpose that did not require precision of form, by a creator whose talents did not lie in sculpture. This creature, rather, was like some project of painstaking geometric precision – like a statue designed from every conceivable angle to look perhaps not exactly like a human but rather like a human might wish a human could look. Yossele’s stony eyes, which saw the truth of things regardless of light and therefore regardless of the attic’s darkness, took in the milk-white of the creature’s face and arms, unheard of in humans, and the thin lines of gold at her joints and points of flexibility, as if her skin was an intricate construction of ivory plates. The gold showed through also in the network of cracks across the left side of the creature’s face, around the point where her soft and delicate features had been marred, a pit at the centre of the golden cobweb revealing alternating layers of gold and ivory beneath the surface from which some small chunk had been lost.

She wore a traveller’s cloak, heavy enough to wrap herself in as if for concealment, and held a flickering lantern in her left hand, for her own eyes, clearly, had not been created to ignore light and shadow in favour of consistency. The slender, detailed fingers of the right hand held a long bronze nail, from the point of which dripped fresh-chiselled claydust to the attic’s dusty floor.

Yossele shifted the books and scrolls which had been piled around and over him, as the clay trunks of his arms pushed his rough form from prone to seated. Had he been made with a means of speech, he would have asked for an explanation. But it seemed his current companion had intuited this, for she began to speak herself – foreign-accented, inexpert Hebrew, in a voice like a clear-rung bell.

“My name is Galatea,” she said. “I am like you.”

And the spirit of truth which ran through Yossele’s body like veins buzzed through his clay, and he knew she was speaking honestly.

*

Galatea had spent many centuries alone by the time she even heard a name for her kind. There was no word in Greek, and she had not been created to learn other languages well, for she had not been created to learn at all. But she had time, and a lot of it, for she had also not been created to age, nor to die, nor to require food or breath or company. Indeed, she had not been created to be a person of her own; only to be a fulfilment of another’s desires. Even freed from the shackles that held her to those desires, she had no needs to disrupt her study.

In Hebrew, they had a word – Golem. It meant a person unfinished – a person half-made, their raw material not fully sculpted into full mortality.

The creation of full mortals was the work of gods and gods alone – but sometimes, it seemed, a mortal genius could be so fully devoted to the pursuit of some divinely-embodied principal that it ignited in them a godly spark – a tiny fragment of access to a god’s domain. And through worldly effort and spiritual devotion, they could breathe some of that divine animating principle into a vessel they had prepared to embody it, and get close enough to the divine act of creation to make something close enough to a mortal.

So far as Galatea’s inexpert searches could uncover, there had never been any artist but her own unlovely creator so committed to the pursuit of beauty that they could breathe some wisp of Aphrodite’s living power into that which they sculpted. But, she discovered after lifetimes of search, there were other gods, with other devotees, in other countries, whose animating qualities had given rise to other mortal demiurges and other living creations, and one at least of those may yet remain, undestroyed, in a sealed-up attic in a city they called Prague.

*

It took Yossele some time to come to terms with leaving Prague.

It was the only world he had ever known, and the world for which he had been created, to serve and protect its Jewish people in a time of hatred and lies.

Galatea had never had such a problem, for she had been created to serve only one man, and that man had rejected her himself before his death and shut her out of his life, unable in the end to love as a living person what he had fallen for as a straightforward object. She had left Cyprus easily after that, and had not returned even after she learned that her creator was long-since dead.

“When I found you,” said Galatea, in her native Greek which Yossele had learned to understand with stunning efficiency, “you had the word for Death carved into your head, to ensure you would not rise again, and you lay hidden in an old man’s attic until some undefined day when you might be useful again to the people of this community. As soon as they no longer found you useful the first time, they killed you. They did not see you as one of them. They saw you as an object they could use. They are not your people, and you owe them nothing.”

Yossele’s great clumsy fists tightened around the air, and his clay trembled, but he knew, for he could always tell, that her words were truth.

He took copies of the holy Scriptures with him when they left, and would study them daily, but they did leave, and it would be a long time before they set foot in Prague again.

*

Yossele collected theological manuscripts and works of science and philosophy from everywhere they found themselves, and studied them all with the same drive that he studied the Scriptures of his own people with, until he could rewrite them from memory and analyse and critique them as he did so. Those that he had memorised he would leave behind when they moved on, and those that he was still learning they would take with them.

Galatea kept only one book with her, at all times – a sign language guide, so that Yossele could speak to her without need to write out his often-complex thoughts. She was a very slow learner, but Yossele had the patience of a stone.

She did read, and also wrote, innumerable books of poetry during the times when Yossele studied, and she sought out local art and architecture wherever they went, and crafted works of paint and fabric – although never of sculpture – to fill and decorate themselves and the spaces in which they lived, but she always sold on almost everything she made or found whenever they moved on. Beauty, she said, trended towards the fleeting just as much as truth trended towards the eternal.

There was only one personal item that she never left behind or sold on, and kept with her everywhere, as she had done for most of her centuries-long life, in a pocket or on a chain or pinned through her white-and-gold hair, or else safely left in a box or drawer or loose on a desk in whatever space she used as a studio. It was the long bronze nail that Yossele had seen in her hand when first they met, with which she had scratched the name of Truth back into his head and allowed him to sputter back to life.

Truth was Yossele’s animating force. It had brought him to life, and it drove his inclinations in the absence of a master to order him around. It was inevitable that, eventually, he asked to know the importance of the nail.

“I had another friend, once,” Galatea answered, rolling the nail in her fingers and watching the sunlight play across the metal, shifting it by instinct through all the most striking angles. “Long before I met you, there was another man like us. Another Golem.”

Yossele, who had only a rough suggestion of features and had so far refused Galatea’s offer to paint him some better ones, could well have been an expressionless sculpture as he stood and listened, with no inclination to interrupt.

“His name was Talos,” Galatea told him. “He was a giant, made of bronze. A protector, like you. They said the queen of his island made him with the power of Hephaestus, the god of fire and artifice. For a very long time, I thought he was the only other person like me there had ever been. Humans killed him, before I’d even known him for very long. He never questioned his instruction to protect the island at any cost to himself, and he died for it. The bits of him that weren’t lost beneath the sea were melted down to be recycled. Except this.”

She held up the nail between two slender, dextrous ivory fingers. “The humans who killed him kept this. For generations. As a trophy.”

Yossele nodded his understanding, and did not ask more.

*

The creations of Galatea were usually abstract, frequently grotesque, often alien in their appearance. They were always beautiful, however, Yossele knew, although he could not judge their beauty himself. Galatea was driven to beauty as powerfully as Yossele himself was driven to truth. Her creator had displayed beauty across her face to breathe Aphrodite’s life into her, just as the Maharal of Prague had more literally displayed Truth across Yossele’s to breathe YHWH’s life into him. But it was clear, to Yossele if not perhaps to anyone with less divine insight, that Galatea worked hard to define a beauty of her own design in all her works, removed from the aesthetic conventions by which her own body had once been formed by a human.

In general, Galatea did not like to look at herself. She was, and could only be, a reminder of her creator’s idea of beauty.

Often, since leaving Cyprus, she had dreamed of taking a chisel to herself. Making herself something clearly different from her creator’s vision. For a long, long time, she had studied the art of sculpture. In all the fields of fine art, her slow learning was offset by her natural gift for beauty. In time, she had become skilled enough to confidently re-sculpt herself, making subtle changes to gradually shift her appearance to something other than her creator’s ideal. It had proven futile. Either her creator’s gift was too great, or her own eyes were too inclined to see his work under her own. Even when it helped a little, for a while, his vision still shone through, no matter what she did or how much of her ivory she shaved off.

Eventually, after centuries of frustration, she had placed Talos’s nail against the side of her face and struck it with a hammer.

It made a difference, and in a way it helped to know that her current face was, she was sure, one that her creator would at least have found, if probably not ugly, flawed. But, ultimately, she found, she still saw her creator’s vision in the mirror, even under the cracks.

And it was not lost on her that the chisel could only make her smaller. She lacked the materials, tools and knowledge to add more whole layers of ivory. Every adjustment she made took her a little bit further away from her creator’s epitome of beauty, but it also diminished her in a way she could not recover.

Eventually she had decided that she would not be diminished for the sake of a man like Pygmalion.

She told Yossele all of this, and asked that he remind her of it any time in the future when she became tempted to make a new attempt at resculpting her own features.

In the time they had lived together since, he had only once had to gently take the nail of Talos out of her trembling, angry hands with his own misshapen, patient fingers.

After a while, he had asked her to teach him to sculpt, and after some thought she had agreed. Yossele had no strong feelings about his form, which even his creator had only intended for practicality, and was large enough that he felt he could afford to lose at least some of it, if it allowed him greater ease of movement, or – perhaps this was a little of Galatea rubbing off on him – just a greater sense of personal identity, now that he was more committed to thinking for himself.

If he got good enough, they discussed more than once, he could perhaps one day be confident enough to design for himself a mouth.

*

Yossele and Galatea only fell out once, for a period, after they had travelled together for over a century, when word reached them, living secluded away from civilisation on another part of the globe at the time, of events back in their shared home continent of Europe.

It was already the 1940s, by the time they found out. A fascist movement had risen, as movements of tyranny and hatred always did, sooner or later, where humans were asked to live with other humans. An army of antisemites had marched on Czechoslovakia.

They had taken Prague.

The Jewish people of Prague had needed a protector, and Yossele had not been there.

Galatea had been able to track him down after he stormed out. It had been difficult at first – back to searching and scraping for hearsay of any sightings of an artificial man wielding superhuman power, a task which had taken centuries to bear fruit the first time. Yossele was also on the move this time, and he was larger and faster than Galatea could hope to be.

On the other hand, however, this time Yossele was far more active, more frequently generating hearsay. Once she knew for sure where he had been, she needed only to follow the trail of murdered Nazis.

When finally she caught up with him again, she found him once more in an attic, once more in a synagogue, although it was not the same one. He did not turn to look at her when he stood up, although of course he could already tell who was there.

“Yossele,” she said, eventually. “I’m sorry.” And when he neither turned around nor tried to leave, she continued, “I talked you into abandoning the world that mistreated us. If I hadn’t, you would have stayed. And without you in it, maybe the world got worse.”

Finally, Yossele turned, so that he could speak to her with his hands. “I don’t know if that’s the truth,” he said, and it might have been the first time he had ever said that, so far as Galatea knew. “That it’s worse. It is different. It’s… louder. But it’s full of the same lies. The same libels and hatred that it always had, just given new form.”

Galatea said nothing. Yossele’s hands held thoughtfully still for a few moments, and then he spoke again.

“I have killed,” he said.

“So have I,” said Galatea, who had done many things over her long life.

“The violence has driven me to anger, and I have killed. The last time that happened…”

“The people you were protecting killed you,” finished Galatea.

“It was part of a deal to stop the violence,” said Yossele.

“A deal they made without you,” said Galatea.

“Yes.”

Yossele was motionless for a long time, and then he said, “I know why you abandoned this world. And I joined you because I agreed with you. Because nothing you said was not true.”

“But the consequences were ugly,” said Galatea, who knew ugliness deeply, because it was the thing that beauty existed to distract from. “Without me, you maybe could have saved them.”

“Not all of them,” said Yossele. “Not this time. I was made to fight the lies of a mob armed with stones and blades. Not an army armed with guns and bombs. I am a match for a mob, but I am not a match for fascism.”

They stood in still silence for a while, like the sculptures neither of them were any more.

“Not in a fight,” said Galatea. “And not on your own. But this isn’t just a fight, and you aren’t on your own.”

She held out a hand. “I’ve seen generations of liars and tyrants a lot like the ones your people are fighting now. They are rarely kind to women, either. People like me and you can’t always defend ourselves. Maybe we have to defend each other.”

*

Their life was never quite the same after their reconciliation, but it was not entirely different either. They still travelled, never staying in one place for very long, never putting down roots. In her spare time, Galatea still painted and crafted – although once or twice she even sculpted without using it to teach Yossele, just to prove to herself that she could. Yossele still read, and pondered, when he had the time, and every Sabbath was a day he dedicated to 24 hours of uninterrupted personal study.

But also, now, they worked on a new project together. Everywhere in the world, there were lies that needed exposed, and truths that needed told. They called to Yossele, until he found them, and knew them. But truth couldn’t always overcome lies on its own – to overcome, it needed to be told more frequently, or more convincingly, or more memorably. It needed to be made beautiful, so that everyone would stop to see it, and share it around. Yossele could not speak beautifully, for he was no judge of beauty. But Galatea was made to be beautiful in all things, and no matter how ugly the truth Yossele needed her to tell, she could fill it with gold and set it in ivory until it shone. Sometimes, even with Yossele’s help, it could take a while to translate the beauty of her words into the languages it needed. But they had patience.

And whenever they finally left, the truth lingered, grown more beautiful in the telling, a little brighter and a little stronger than before.

Anomalous Items Bureau Health and Safety Notice #42G6B-3

Attention!

For the safety of all Bureau staff and surrounding architecture, a reminder that the following items are not permitted to be within 12 feet (3.66 metres) of Anomalous Item 42G6B at any time:

  • Cathode ray tubes
  • Aerosol spray canisters
  • Novels printed between 1990 and 2004
  • An absence of spiders
  • Non-edible representations of food items
  • Yttrium
  • Bones, unless in contact with a living thing
  • Orange Fanta
  • Diethyl ether
  • Yonnic imagery in Russian art
  • Herbivorous ungulates
  • European men who share at least one name with the current Pope, with the notable exception of the current Pope
  • Allergic reactions
  • Rhombic prisms
  • Mental images of Switzerland
  • Earl from accounting

Pattern Recognition Experts are attempting to investigate the exhaustivity of this list, and more precise guidance may become available pending investigation results. Until then, it is recommended that all personell read this list carefully and regularly.

– AIB Health and Safety