Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Beldam County: Haggards

Hags are to women as Haggards are to men. Haggards indulge in insane machismo, foul skullduggery and utmost thuggery. Hags lurk in isolation, Haggards demand attention and brutalize those who scorn them, often in turn make them haggard themselves. It is unknown if they breed. They are plenty happy to torment ladies and menfolk alike, make them squeal out little rabbit sounds; but such an act is merely psychic defilement and domination. The Hags say Haggards make their own out of shitty people and from bodies they dredge out of the Slugbarrens.

Roald Dahl's The Twits, Illustration by Quentin Blake.

They're always just a little too tall and a little too heavy, with jaundiced eyes or those of a bloodshot red you only knew as a child in nightmares. They reek of alcohol, skunky grass, old milk and pennies. They are hirsute, but only enough to allow you to glean a scabrous hide.

While hags like their spells, Haggards like pipes, hammers and clubs. They like to hurt people until people join'em. Hags are the evil that isolation, domination, and witchery make. Haggards are the evil of the mob, of the Brom Bones or Gaston type, and they want more like them. Bravado is the only measure of worth, and those who use hokum magics aren't worth respect because a well-placed fist ought to do just as well as a firebell spell in their crappy little minds.

Haggards make up a large population in Beldam County, they don't like the Hags or the Harpies on principle. They torment the Mensfolk and any Ladies who find themselves wandering through, berating them into joining the mob as a Haggard or scaring them out of dodge. They bully Mugwumps when they can, but the innate cursed cravenness of a Mugwump does not make them all too fun to harm. Haggards can't see children, because they have no inner child that allows them to process child logic. They don't like singers and guitarists, they think the blues are weakness made vocal. Lowmen enjoy manipulating Haggards, as they are almost universally twits and easily brokered with. Haggards dislike Lowmen because they're a bunch of suited smoke-eyed sinners who can't be bullied.

But Haggards hate, above all other things, a hobo. A hobo has whimsy and joy in their wandering soul, a fact that a Haggard cannot abide unless he's beating it out of the roustabout. Hobos who invoke the Road Gods can make a Haggard cringe in self-reflection of where they got lost. Haggards would love to kill off what makes a hobo a hobo, but that'd require building infrastructure and trying to be nice; which isn't in their nature.

The only way to not be picked on by a Haggard is to ignore them and treat them like a facet of society, until such a point they decide to prey on you. Unless you're actively hunting Haggards, you'll eventually find yourself brutalized by their fists and foul nature. They're the toxic masculinity of the mob made manifest, they're every bad father, bully, backwoods slasher, and beast made man; much like how a hag is that for a woman.

No.Enc. 3d4, AL C, MV 90' (30'), AC 8 [11], HD 2+2, #AT 1 (Club/Fists), DG 1d6 or Weapon, SV F2, ML 10. Special: A killing blow from a Haggard causes a Save vs Spells by a male-identified victim. If they fail, they rise as a Haggard in a mockery of their former form.

A Haggard who is working for a Hag can steal the mojo of virile and macho men by publicly demeaning them. Victims who react must make a Save (Charisma or Strength), and on a failure they lost 1d4 points of that attribute until they prove their macho manliness. Functionally this is a geas spell, usually cause for a fight or a snipe hunt or some other insane feat of foolishness.

Playing a Haggard
Okay, you're going to be less than a good person. Haggards are meant to be bullies, blackguards, thugs and bastards. They're like a self-sympathetic Orc, because at least an Orc has a chance at some tragic backstory. A Haggard is just toxic macho bullshit made manifest. That being said, playing a Haggard you're essentially a human, you just have to have low Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Your alignment is Chaotic, skewing towards Evil. You can speak and read, but don't care much for books.

How do I look?...
1. You've got a manky eye and a snaggletooth grin.
2. You've got constantly bursting pimples under your beard and your teeth keep falling out.
3. You've got one nostril and more hair in your ears than on your scalp.
4. You've got fingernails that look like they'd belong on a lobster and breath like rotten garlic.
5. You've got the nose of a crocodile and the eyes of a raging bull.
6. You're hairy as a skunk ape and you've got fangs like a jaguar.

How do I sound?...
1. Like a cask of bourbon laughing at an ether frolic.
2. Like you're going to beat to death everything good that ever graced your presence.
3. Like all you ever dined upon was cigar smoke and crying grannies.
4. Like a foreign fop or dandy, followed by cruel inane cackling.
5. Like a sonuvabitch who always has to question everything that isn't obviously making the world a worse place to live in.
6. Like you're playing at being an intellectual or gentlemen, calling people "m'lady" and "m'arm" or "Mister Thinks-He's-Smoort."

Do I remember anything from before I got made Haggard?
1. Nope. All the better for it. Ignorance is bliss.
2. She laughed at you, and you realized that you were obsessed not in love. To late to face that now.
3. He never respected you, so you beat'em down until he didn't have a face. You regret that, but you can't put him back together.
4. You threw that first rock and the screams and the breaking of bones, it did you well. It made you high. It made you feel dirty. No turning back, you'll never be goodly again.
5. You shouted and hurled insults and screamed bloody murder until all those weeping terrified children weren't in your sights anymore. Maybe you could've been a better man. Maybe a father. Hard to remember. Better to forget.
6. You beat that vagabond to death, your friends called you a hero. Of course it were your friends that were rustling the cattle. Blackmailed you. Hero isn't a hero if you're not given respect. Lot of blood happened. Lot of blood keeps happening. Better off now.

If your GM is cool and you're playing a Haggard as a human fighter type, with low stats in the thinking and social arts, see if you can get the ability to make Haggards out of things you kill. It only works on male and male-identifying creatures, and it is functionally just a zombie fever type of situation. No raised Haggard owes you any loyalty, and frankly they'd only listen if you beat'em back to death. Its more of a background flavoring than anything useful, and really this should just be an NPC type situation race.

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