Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Phooka

Phooka, which occupy the role in my Faeridor campaign that is normally filled by orcs, are creatures from Celtic mythology able to assume a variety of beast-like forms.  I strongly suspect that the Trollocs of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga were inspired by Phooka.  When designing my campaign setting I wanted a scary-looking cannon-fodder monster similar to orcs but more consonant with a Celtic mythology themed setting.

While according to myth, the phooka can shape change into a variety of forms, the goat-headed phooka shown above, illustrated by Alan Lee, captured my imagination and thus became the intransigent form for all the phooka in my campaign.

Phooka is the Welsh name for the creature, but is known as Puca in Old English and is synonymous with the mischievous trickster, Puck, from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In Faeridor the bestial, carnivorous Phooka, who have inspired the legends of satyrs on Earth, serve the Unseelie Court and run with the Wild Hunt; they haunt dark forests and wild, long-forgotten places of the world  In ages past, the Fomori king, Balor, who is often depicted as a bestial, goat-headed giant (not dissimilar to Orcus), employed Phooka as his servants, but their true allegiance is to their unholy mother-goddess, Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.

Shane Mangus's brilliant one-page adventure, Raid on Black Goat Wood, which won the 'best Cthulhu' entry in the 2010 One Page Dungeon Contest dovetails perfectly into my campaign setting.  The adventure pits characters against a cavern filled with 'Dark Satyrs' and features a birthing cave occupied by an aspect of Shub-Niggurath that is spawning the foul beasts.  Now, I'm not shy about ripping off great ideas from where ever I can find them, but I seldom use premade adventures as anything but inspiration.  Raid on Black Goat Wood, however, is so perfectly customized to my campaign I couldn't have written a more perfectly suited adventure myself - it's as if Shane insinuated his grasping tendrils into my cranium and sucked out my brain.  The 'Dark Satyrs' are a perfect fit for the Phooka, right down to their worship of Shub-Niggurath.

I've used Phooka in my games for years now, but have had a problem finding just the right miniatures to represent them.  I've usually ended up using Gnoll and werewolf miniatures to represent my 'beastmen' but I've never found any that reflect what I want the Phooka to look like.  Until recently.  A few months back, Games Workshop released a new line of Beastmen miniatures that look almost exactly the way I envisioned the Phooka:




I had originally thought to paint them with a grey flesh tone to match the Alan Lee illustration that first attracted me to the Phooka, but I went with warmer earth tones for the flesh.  I may  yet buy another box of these and give them the grey skin tone to represent a different breed.

PHOOKA
No. Encountered: 10-100
Armour Class: 15 (5)
Move: 40 ft. (150 ft.)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: Bite 1d6 and Gore 1d4 or by weapon
Special: Low Light Vision
Saves: (P)
Intelligence: Low-average
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Treasure Type: 1

15 comments:

P. S. Mangus said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, and your support over the past few months. It means a lot!

Sean Robson said...

Evil genius must be recognized!

Seriously, though, I've never met anyone whose gaming and literary tastes matched mine so closely. When I first stumbled across the jaw-dropping awesomeness that is Swords Against the Outer Dark I knew I'd found a kindred spirit and the kind of blog I've always wanted to read.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I've got a box of the old beastmen figs all ready to paint up.

Clovis Cithog said...

I also enjoyed the Raid on Black Goat Wood.

Fortunately, party was smart enough to seal the chasm and recruit a couple useful NPCs from amongst the prisoners.

Sean Robson said...

@Paladin: I'd love to see your beastmen when you get them painted.
I've been buying so many of the new beastmen and minotaurs that I'm halfway to being able to field a Warhammer Beastman army.

@Clovis: I haven't had a chance to run Black Goat Wood yet, but I look forward to unleashing the horror. The party is still too low level - just hit 2nd level at the end of last session.

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