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December 1, 2007, 3:25 pm

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Michael Jotne Slayer

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The Puchinegs


Send in the clowns.


The Puchinegs are known as "The Clowns", or the "Clam Diggers". They dress all in white, with long tubular hats, and impossibly long noses, the tips of which often hang below their mouths. They are drinkers non-pareil and Celebrants of the Festival of Wine and Clams. Masters of physical comedy, staging plays for adults and children alike. They’ll entertain you, but dont piss on their parade, and don’t bother asking them their history or nature. They will just smile and offer you some clams and wine, or try to make you laugh.


While technically members of the human race, or at least assumed to be so, the Puchinegs have a bizarre appearance which allows the sages to endlessly debate their origins. Unusually tall, averaging well over six feet in height, almost all Puchinegs share certain physical characteristics. Almost to a man, they tend to have hunchbacks, barrel chests, and comical pot bellies. Their most distinguishing feature however, is their propensity for huge noses. Bird-like beaks with flaring nostrils, the fleshy tips of their noses tend to hang well below their mouths, adding to their bizarre aspect. In fact some falsely speculate that Puchinegs are related to trolls, or have troll blood in their veins. This is untrue, but the Puchinegs delight in the assumptions of strangers, and never confirm or denounce the suspicions of outsiders.

Despite their strange physical frame, the Puchinegs are extremely strong and quite coordinated, capable of acrobatics and impressive feats of strength.

Their atypical mode of dress is unique as well. Whenever attending the festivals and carnivals of Cilagros, the Puchinegs all uniformly dress in baggy all-white attire, punctuated by long cylindrical white hats on their heads.

They are always seen carrying sacks of clams, wherever they go, which they bring from their marshy homeland, as well as casks of strong, pungent red wine, which they are never without. Their propensity for drink is amazing, allowing them to quaff gallons of wine at a time, while showing little or no effects from the alcohol.

The origins of the Puchinegs are unsurprisingly clouded in myth and legend. They dwell in the vast, delta marsh south of Cilagros, city of Canals and Bridges, where the confluence of the Fano and Virgin Rivers, meets the Warm Sea. They have dwelt in this swampy land for as long as anyone could recall, emerging only during the Time of Festivals, when they arrive in Cilagros to kick off the two month long celebrations, which in Cilagros begins with the "Day of Song and Dance" and culminates with the original "Monsters Ball".

When in Cilagros, the Puchinegs work as clowns. They put on comedic performances in the streets, engage in pranks and various merriment, and most of all entertain children. The Puchinegs love children, perhaps because no one has ever seen a Puchineg child or woman for that matter in hundreds of years. Their society is completely unknown and the Puchinegs will never speak of it. In the midst of the Time of Festivals, the Puchinegs stage one of their own as well, The Festival of Clams and Wine, as its called. During this two day affair, the Puchinegs can be seen, eating their clams and drinking their wine in unimaginable amounts, gorging themselves, until they finally pass out in happy stupors, usually on a hillock just outside of the city. Anyone is welcome to attend this bacchanalia, though no one to date has been able to out-eat or out-drink the Puchinegs. While having no females of their own, the Puchinegs love women, almost as much as they love children. It is said that their comically large noses are an indication of another comically large feature, and many maidens and wives of Cilagros’ populace have, over the years, confirmed these raunchy rumors. Though far from attractive to most women, their lasciviousness and stamina is also legendary.

The Puchinegs do have a slightly darker side, but this only manifests itself if people steal from them, or if one or more of the Puchinegs witnesses any form of child abuse. At these times, they have been known to enter wild rages, and beat people to pulps with their powerful fists, crush windpipes, break legs, or otherwise assault the miscreants. Over time however, the people of Cilagros, have learned of the Puchinegs ways, and only the fool-hardy or exceptionally malevolent will dare mess with the otherwise pleasant and entertaining Puchinegs.

When they are not working as clowns in Cilagros, the Puchinegs can be found in the soggy flatlands of the Delta. Here they spend the majority of their time digging for clams in the wet soil, brewing their heady wine from gooseberries and wild grapes, and living their lives in peace in harmony with the wildlife of the Delta. They have no towns or cities to speak of, dwelling in tents and pavilions, often rasing stakes and moving to other parts of the marshland in perpetual nomadic style.

While as mentioned, the Puchinegs origins and true natures are unknown, there are many legends of the "Marsh Clowns" which circulate in the streets and sage guilds of Cilagros and other cities. It is said that hundreds of years ago, the Puchinegs migrated to the lush river delta, from somewhere far to the west, led by their King, a certain "Puchistos the Prophet". It is said that Puchistos had a dream, in which the gods of men and beasts, told him of a singular Scarlet Pearl, inside the Clam of Fate, which lay somewhere in the vast Delta south of Cilagros. It was told to Puchistos, that his people were destined to find this pearl, and the Puchinegs have been searching for it ever since. The veracity of these wild tales, cannot be determined, but they lend credence to the strange habits of the Puchinegs and their incessant clam digging and eating. Their "Clam Diggers" nickname obviously stems from this fact as well. If a learned man or woman took the time to explain to the Puchinegs that pearls are found in oysters and not clams, the Puchinegs would simply smile and shake their heads in disbelief, convinced of Puchistos’ vision.

Occasionally various folk, and particularly curious adventurers visit the Puchinegs in their desolate marshlands. The Puchinegs are never aggressive, unless threatened in any way. They do tend to speak little or none at all to outsiders, however, and never engage in their famous clown performances, much to the chagrin of the visitors. They do gently attempt to make the strangers "be on their way". If sly hints don’t work, the Puchinegs will invite travellers to a supper feast of clams and wine. The wine will usually do the trick, due to its incredible potency. Once the visitors are drunk and sleeping, the Puchinegs will pick them up, and carry them great distances, eventually leaving them lying in the muck, many miles away from their ever-moving villages.

No one has successfully figured out perhaps the most unexplainable mystery of all. Since no females or children have ever been seen, it is a matter of conjecture, as to how the Puchinegs reproduce, or whether they do at all! Nothing of their ecology, lifespan, or inherent biology is known, and the smiling Puchinegs offer no answers.

As a final note of interest, the Puchinegs are the inventors and originators of the sport of "Cruppe", or Badminton as its known in other worlds. Using a gummy substance from the indigenous dwarf rubber trees of the Delta, feathers of countless marsh birds, as well as the wood of the Accacia tree for the necessary equipment, the Puchinegs have introduced the sport, which over the last fifty years has become all the rage among the nobles of Cilagros. Watching these misshapen, big-nosed, giants play such a gentle, dainty sport, incidentally, is yet another aspect that puts smiles on the faces of Cilagros populace when the Puchinegs come at carnival time.

Special Equipment

None. The only weapons they have ever been seen with are small clubs and clam-shucking knives. They are never seen without three things however. Sacks of clams, casks of wine, and all the necessary equipment for a rousing match of "Cruppe".

Plot Hooks

-One of the PCs can choose to be a Puchineg youth, who has left his tribe, in search of adventure. While technically human for game purposes, and NOT a separate race, a Puchineg PC would have improved strength, coordination, and stamina, while somewhat lacking in the intelligence and wisdom department.

-A bored and rebellious Puchineg latches on to the PCs and insists on travelling with them, entertaining them with his clown antics, while eating copious amounts of the groups food.

-The PCs visit Cilagros during the Time of Festivals, witness the performances of the Puchinegs and interact with the strange but lovable people.

-The PCs stumble upon a Puchineg village while lost in the swampy Delta. Hijinks ensue. What happens entirely depends on the PCs attitudes, but it is worth noting again, that the normally docile Puchinegs are fierce when angered, and nearly as strong as Ogres.

-A group of PCs exploring the Delta come upon a clam with a large scarlet pearl inside. If word gets out to the Puchinegs, one can only guess at their reaction at having their legendary "holy grail" found.

This submission was inspired by a painting I stared at for an hour last night. "Pulcinelle on Vacation", by the 18th century master, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo. A take on the Pulcinelles (Clowns) of the famed Carnival of Venice and the Commedia dell’Arte

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Comments ( 22 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Scrasamax
May 6, 2006, 11:35
Some might think the vote is high, but I love this, the Clam of Fate being my favorite. These comedic and docile folk could be a good addition to any semi-civilized setting, plus the wine and clams thing...genius.
Voted MoonHunter
May 6, 2006, 11:49
Spell check.

It is a bit too odd for me. Interesting idea, but I feel like I should be taking medication to understand it properly.
May 6, 2006, 12:12
Spell check now complete, and I recommend Phenobarbital :D
Voted Cheka Man
May 6, 2006, 19:26
They should employ them to look after children.
Voted Roack
May 7, 2006, 0:08
Beautiful! Well written, imaginative, and full of that special Muruality! I have to say, however, I believe some clams can carry pearls, so the Puchinegs don't have it entirely wrong.
May 7, 2006, 0:11
0xp got me there Roack!
Voted manfred
May 7, 2006, 5:48
Not bad, even if it immediately provokes a "Huh?" response. :)

And I want to know their secret. Could it be that they are humans cursed by some god to be eternal clowns? Was there ever one seen to die or be killed (that should happen sooner or later if they are immortal).
Voted Pariah
May 7, 2006, 15:13
:whistle: UMM, wow. Good post Muro.
May 8, 2006, 17:32
I don't know how to vote on this... I am literally at am impass. I'll have to read it again.
May 8, 2006, 19:05
Try it while on medication as Moon suggested :D
Michael Jotne Slayer
June 3, 2006, 12:33
I for one love it when there are some mysteries left unanswered by purpose in a post. If the GM know EVERYTHING before the game session some of the air goes out of it. Roleplaying is about creating a story toghether, and as a Puchineg adventure advances answers may appear in-game. It certainly has strange elements in it, but it's the kind I would like to see more in fantasy. It provides this sort of forgotten european->east feeling and brings about all sorts of images.

Splendid post Muro, sadly I have no more votes to give today. But that shall be fixed tomorrow.

Voted Ria Hawk
June 29, 2006, 20:54
Sheer craziness. Highly amusing, but vaguely sinister at the same time. I love it. Of course, I'm a big fan of Comedia della Arte. I love the description, and how they're never found without their clams, wine, and game equipment. Nifty as always, dude.
Voted Wulfhere
November 25, 2006, 18:09
I used to game with one of those guys, I think...

A really fun and useful post, if you have a slightly warped campaign. After all, everyone is suspicious of clowns. One instinctively senses that their smiles aren't always sincere...
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
November 30, 2007, 16:48
HAHA! Tomorrow turned out to be a year later. Shame on me!!!

Re-read this now and it is still great, if not better. This stuff receives nothing less than a 5/5 from me.
Voted valadaar
November 30, 2007, 19:58
These folks are awesome Muro! Would be nice to know what there secret is, but I'll live.

Can be used to fill the same role as gypsies. I like this one!
Barbarian Horde
December 1, 2007, 12:52
Adventure Idea:

The PCs are contacted by Clammos Oysterbane, militant king of the clams. He will be furious and desperate at seeing his people persecuted and slaughtered by the vile Puchinegs. Pleading, he will ask the PCs to exterminate these monsters; these... Puchinegs. In return for their help, the clams promise to shown them the location of a solid gold orc buried deep in the bog. If the PCs do not agree, or try to suggest a peaceful compromise with the Puchinegs, Clammos will begin to clack angrily at them. At this point, the gamemaster should try to pressure the players into accepting this quest.

This quest can work with either humanoid or clam PCs.

If the PCs accept, they'll need to find a way to assassinate all the Puchinegs and deal with the angry mobs that'll be chasing them. Barbarian Horde (that's me) suggests a PC sneaks up on a Puchineg and stab it in the base of the neck with a large dagger and run.
December 1, 2007, 14:53
Now there's a weird angle to take the Puchinegs to... especially if the PCs are familiar with the folk, most probably friendly with them. It could be even a spirit of the clams, that asks for assistance, in exchange for various services (or knowledge where to find gold, that always helps).

Pressuring the players towards an adventure they don't want to get into (btw, are these clowns immortal or not?) is not such a great idea, especially if their denial can have interesting consequences as well - besides a strange fight with clams, they could decide to go to war on their own, or curse the PCs for not helping, when they are needed, or denying them the aid they need. All of that and more can happen if they don't do some really good talking.
December 1, 2007, 14:57
Umm, I dont think BH was being serious there manfred, just fucking around.
December 1, 2007, 15:06
I'm sure he wasn't - but that doesn't mean someone (or something) may not attempt to hire the PCs for such a thing. It is a wicked idea that can provoke quite some roleplaying into life. :)
December 1, 2007, 15:15
riiiiight. Especially for those Clam PCs. Clam PCs need more adventures tailored specifically for them! I'm glad to provide a Mollusk-based campaign.
Barbarian Horde
December 1, 2007, 22:21
Maybe the clams could get some clam religious fanatics to eat some really poisonous root in the bog and then try to get caught and eaten by a Puchineg. Sort of like a suicide bomber or something.

Anyway, each Puchineg must eat like 500 clams a day or something, so if there were enough holy clam martyrs, they might be able to seriously dent the Puchineg clam eating capacity.
December 2, 2007, 2:36
Of course, Puchistos the Prophet would probably make an appearence by this time as well, and the Scarlet Pearl inside the Clam of Fate found! And who knows, what if the delta suddenly runs out of clams altogether? And the secret recipe for cocktail sauce is lost and stricken from the minds of men, forever!

But listen, if you want to whip up a Mollusk campaign, I'm all for it. Dont forget mussels and oysters.

Oh, and the secret of the Puchinegs is that they are an asexual lot. They are able to produce only a single sex throuh their bizarre self-reproduction process, and are unable to impregate females of other races, such as humans, which by the way, is another reason, some tawdry noblewomen of Cilagros will risk their reputations and bed an occasional Puchineg, not only due to the hunchbacked clowns' infamous 'stature' and stamina, but because they have learned over the years that the Puchineg's seed is sterile, and thus their is no risk of birthing half-puchinegs, at the expense of quenching their lust.


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Strolen

In nature, for instance, a rhino has flies and ticks etc, that live on the hide and live off the blood. Rhino will visit and lie in ponds where turtles will clean the underwater portion of the ticks and a species of bird will clean the the top of ticks and other parasites. What if where the characters camp there were a species of animals that lived off wounds of the creatures. PCs camp. Anybody with wounds on there body are soon covered with small rodent - insect - shadows - whatever. Would immediately see it as a threat I would imagine. But perhaps one of the wounded didn't wake up when it happened, and when they did finally wake they were completely healed. Perhaps somebody was warned of something attacking them but they were able to notice that the wound was actually getting smaller instead of larger. Or maybe they successfully beat the creatures off them and don't notice an improvement, marking this place never to rest at ever again....later learn that villagers send their wounded there but they keep it a guarded secret because they don't want all the attention or traffic and what comes with such a special gift. Could turn into something more too if characters decide to start blabbing about it.

Encounter  ( Cave/ Underground ) | February 16, 2003 | View | UpVote 1xp

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