A Pooskers Guild can be found in most large cities and wherever priestly healing magic is scarce. Peculiar groups of specialists who come together to form Poosker Guilds. Not true guilds, but rather small collectives of like-minded men and woman who possess the odd but necessary talent for removing unwanted pests, such as and particularly, lice, fleas, ticks and mites from another persons body. This particular skill is highly prized in teeming metropolises, where such vermin usually thoroughly infest the populace, especially in the run-down, overpopulated sections and slums of such cities. Scant few among the Pooskers, possess more than the basic understanding of the healing arts or are able to use rudimentary cantrip magic. Most are simply skilled professionals with keen eyes, deft hands and fingers, and a thorough understanding of the dreadful, parasitic creatures, which they are adept at removing from scalps, groins, and other parts of the human anatomy. They are often seen traveling in threes, dressed plainly in gray robes, marked with their symbol, a golden straight razor, making their way among the slums, shearing street-urchins bald, slicing ticks cleanly and swiftly off peoples arms and legs with their razors, and burning certain incense-sticks that repulse parasites and forces them to withdraw from the flesh, often dropping unseen to the ground. Pooskers can often be found inspecting the hair and pinching and picking at the backs of many citizens, as well as hovering near people's ears poking at them with cotton-swabbed picks not unlike preening baboons in the wilderness.
They are cheaply hired, and sometimes even commissioned by those in power to sweep through the streets, de-bugging the populace. Fees are small, their earnings meager, and thus the coffers of the various Pooskers Guilds are rarely if ever full. These groups are always on the outside looking in, when it comes to gaining respect of other more established and influential guilds of large cities. The Pooskers themselves consider their work, to be not only necessary and vital, but also absolutely divine! They claim to have thwarted countless plagues over the years, saving unknowing and unappreciative populaces many times over. Their oral lore says that the Pooskers have existed since the very first Great Cities arose on the plains thousands of years ago, and claim, not only kinship, but even (secretly) superiority to many other better known guilds and organizations. Though few traditions and rituals are held dear by these humble but ancient exterminators, one that is, involves their veneration of the First Poosker, one Girm the Razor, or St. Girm, the Pooskers patron saint, as he is known, some shadowy pseudo-historical figure of dubious origin. The tales of St. Girm bare great similarity to those of the Pied Piper and the legends of St. Patrick. He was said to have led an entire swarming mass of vermin, millions and millions of ticks, mites, and fleas, away from a once proud and fair ancient kingdom, preventing a plague and saving the land. It was said he had led this Legion of Infestation to a great bottomless hole in the ground, and the swarm disappeared into ebon depths never to be seen again. In return for his great service, Girm was given the Gilded Razor of Okkum as a symbol of the August Princeps appreciation! The razor became Girms symbol, and likewise that of the Pooskers over time. Another legend tells of the Pooskers Hell, which refers to the Great Pit into which St. Girm led the Legions of Infestation, filled with an unimaginable number of slithering, microscopic, undead beasts. A final, and somewhat popular Poosker legend is known as "St. Girm Against the Lice-Ridden Worm!"
The common folk and the poor, consider the local Pooskers Guild indispensable, though like many others they tend to take the unassuming exterminators for granted, making many colorful and vulgar japes at the Pooskers expense. Two terms have entered the street slang of cities where Pooskers are prevalent. One is a Pooskers Hell, originally referring to the most Poosker guildmembers literal belief that after death, they will be swallowed by Girms Swarm, as punishment for all the life they had extinguished doing their work. In street slang, A Pooskers Hell, now refers to a fate after death, where the horrified victim is bombarded or inundated with images of whichever profession he or she endured in life, for all eternity. A carpenter might find himself pummeled by a cyclone of hammers, a butcher attacked by swine, and so forth
A second term, which has entered the low-dialect vocabulary over the years, is a Pooskers Satchel, which refers to the odd-items bag a Poosker always carries on his or her person and now means anything that is hidden on ones body as inHe looks bare and properly poor, but trust me, he carries a Pooskers Satchel.
One final note, the Pooskers local chapters each own ancient manuscripts which depict and describe every imaginable parasite Man has ever had the displeasure to come across. These scrolls have been painstakingly hand-copied from the original, now long-lost St. Girms Beastiary. As a guide to those seeking information on bodily vermin, this is an invaluable treatise.
There Had To Be One- A particular Poosker has lost his mind and has gone over to the Dark side. He now resents humans and their lack of appreciation for his considerable skills, and believes humanity should be punished. He uses his encyclopedic knowledge of vermin to begin infesting a major city, with a particular strain of lice, which carry the Typhus microbe, trying to start an epidemic. He does this, right under the noses of his fellow Pooskers. Conversely, this same maniac could also have discovered an ancient scroll on which an ancient spell to summon the original Girms Swarm from Pooskers Hell is scribed. The PCs are investigators racing against time, attempting to find a biological terrorist and thwart his Mad Pooskers Plague.
End Notes: inspired by the archaic word:
Poosk: verb, def. 'to search for vermin on the person'(Olde English, an archaic term which originated in the Shetland Islands.)
-Forgotten English, Jeffrey Kacirk
St. Girm's Bestiary A suitable addition to Books, this tongue-in-cheek named, missing tome is a true antediluvean artefact. Reportedly, two thousand years old and two thousand yellowish pages long, each page detailing some microvermin or skin fungus. Each page featuring an immaculate graphite or charcoal pencil sketch of enlarged critters and parasites, such as the typical ticks and mites. The amazing detail and accurately enlarged scale of the critters in the illustrations is phenomenal, and makes one wonder whether the ancients did indeed have instruments similar to microscopes! An encyclopedic treatise on all body-bugs and pests. Any serious college would prize such an addition to its libraries, and certain collecters and naturalists would kill to possess it.
Girm is pronounced with a hard 'g'.
This minor organization can be used as a flavorful quasi-guild, as background atmosphere in any major city or flea-ridden town. I kinda picture them existing in the same world as the morbid Muzzled Mouse, or in AG's upcoming Gerthrensburg, Ciy of Dogs.
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? Responses (14)
I like them!
By accident, today I've seen on TV a few people from Delhi, that live by cleaning the ears of their fellow citizens, so it is more than believable such a guild would exist: it has to exist! Nice amount of detail and useful information. Great work.
P.S. And you surely know, that a Poosker makes for an excellent guise for a spy or a thief. If one knocks on your door, and says there is some vermin in the neighbourhood, wouldn't you let him in? Pity for the fake guy when the guild finds out, and lays their sensitive hands on him...
Original, well-written and nice. Not the earth moving experience I was expecting from the previous vote but all in all a very decent submission. Something to colour a campaign setting with.
They would suit Gerthrensburg too!
Poosker's guildsman here, flick your ticks, unsplice your lice, squee your fleas.
Not all guilds are going to be powerful and influential, and this is a prime example of that. could also add the usage of poosk as an insult, especially among the wealthy or noble.
5/5. I wish this Guild existed in rl.
This is one of those disgusting gems that make you slap your head and go Doh! I should of thought of that. It makes so much sense it hurts. You added so many great details that it seems 'real'.
Why did you make them an ethnic grouping? Are they all interelated? Should this not be a scholarly (because of the healing aspect?)?
note: Arth is actually a world without germs and most microvermin, being ecologically regulated by the Pylons in each biome. So my personal fantasy world would never have these guys, but other fantasy worlds....
Thanks guys! and Edited to include St. Girm's Beastiary blurb, Manfred's ears and Scras' DOPE RHYME!!
Oh, and Moon, 'Scholarly' doesnt seem to be an option...'Knowledge/Lore' work?
This is so disgusting it is cool.
And I second manfred, this would be a perfect front for an assassin. Kudos my friend. A tentacle up for you.
Another post that was fun, useful, and pleasantly warped. Since I couldn't think of how it could be better, I had better give it a 5/5.
Can they rip out fungus from the skin?
The Pooskers needed a little love, so here's a bump and an overdue HoH!
Cheka, I suspect that they wouldn't rip fungus from the skin. For that, you'd need to see an apecothary, who would slather a foul smelling ointment upon it.
Quite original, great job!
A neat submission! I like it. I could easily see these folks in any Medieval squalorous city.
The enemies of those who would follow the School_of_Parasitism.
+1 for squalarous