Before you click out of this, hear me out:
The members of my party HATE pugwampis. A few hours into Legacy of Fire, they've just beaten King Mokknokk in the old monastery, during which the ranger was knocked unconscious and didn't get a single hit in, and the barbarian's glaive was turned into a stick. The dwarf fighter, Timberlain, managed to get his dwarven waraxe stuck in a rafter, and after several natural fumbles, he declared that he was the unluckiest dwarf in the world, and that he was changing his name to Timberlame.
In short, they hate pugwampis with a burning passion, and I love the little blighters specifically because they caused so much grief for my players. I want to include these things everywhere. Keep my players on their toes.
But that would be mean. So, as easy as it would be to make a pugwampi into a recurring NPC that everyone hates, I want to make one that everyone loves.
The idea: a pugwampi with class levels. Specifically, bard. With a tiny violin, or maybe a lute. I don't know, I just love this idea of a pugwampi following the dwarf everywhere, singing songs about how great he is. Ideally, he'd accompany them through the adventure as long as he survived, and serve as a source of comic relief. Of course, the PCs would never willingly allow a pugwampi to join them, so I'd need to think of a way to a) introduce him, and b) encourage the PCs to let him join them. Maybe he can help them become immune to the unluck aura through a wacky sidequest, I don't know. I'm really not sure how it would work mechanically.
That's why I'm here, I guess. Any suggestions?
The first thing which comes to mind is to have the little guy following them around stealthily and then the bad luck effect work FOR the party some of the time.
For example, they spot the hated little critter in a dungeon and run chasing after him... straight into a mass of bad guys who had an ambush set up against the party. Except the ambush then falls apart as the bad guys accidentally shoot each other, fall into their own pit trap, trip over the pugwampi, et cetera.
Also note, any luck effect at all would make the players immune to the unluck aura. At which point having a pugwampi around in a fight is purely beneficial.
I like the idea of the ambush gone astray. That sounds far too good to pass up.
My chief concern, I guess, is it being unbalancing. I don't want the unluck aura to mess up the whole campaign - if the pugwampi's making their enemies' combat difficult, the major battles are going to be over pretty quickly. I suppose I could make the pugwampi cowardly, and just have him stay far away from the enemies (or hell, refuse to engage in combat altogether and hide in a corner). I could just hand-wave it and say "This one's not unlucky 'cos it's special", but that's no fun. I could make sure everyone finds a luckstone at some point, but then we get into the balance issues. (How unbalancing would it actually be to give everyone in the party a luckstone at some point? My guess is "too much".)
I'd kind of like a way to remove the aura completely (again, through a wacky side quest that could be a very comedic series of misadventures), but the more I think about it, the more I realize that just wouldn't work.
Guess I could just come up with ways to use pugwampis for evil instead of good. Incidentally, any tips on getting feathers and tar out of hair and clothing?
(Disclaimer: I'm incredibly new to this. As in, I've DM'd one session, ever, and haven't played much more than that. So I'm still learning. Be gentle.)
|Dennis Baker RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor|
The pugwampi people love is the one that runs away from them quickly.
It's a bad idea to have a neutered pugwampi hanging around and a worse idea to have a pet pugwampi that projects unluck that doesn't affect the PCs. Unluck is massively disruptive. The only reason it works so well is because they are rare. It's a great one-off effect, or occasional effect, but having it pop up all the time would be bad.
|Petty Alchemy RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16|
Pugwampi can definitely induce great frustration in melee PCs (assuming the pugwampi is gonna stand close enough to the front lines). They will never get a crit again, much less confirm it. They, and any opponents also affected by the aura will look like amateurs.
On the other hand, if I'm a caster? Of course I'll take the pugwampi familiar. Now go stand over there by the enemies as I carpetbomb the area, or cast my favorite SoBS spells. If I'm a Witch I can skip using my own Misfortune ability, which is after all only single target and has a save, and move straight to Slumber.
Of course, you have a ranger, a barbarian, and a fighter. They're not gonna like the pugwampi unless it casts Prayer every fight to give them immunity to its aura.