Monday, December 16, 2013

Rarebit Fiend

Rarebit Fiend

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

In Wermspittle the dish known as Rarebit is made using either wood alcohol or Black Liquor (or both), Butterkase, Vermkase or Casu Marzu, and in some cases the milky froth left-over from preparing Hard Candy. The ingredients are melted together and then poured over stale bread (especially ergotized rye), fried slices of bread-pudding, or whatever crumbly-bits of baked good are left on-hand. Some folks like to use the wort left after making a batch of beer, especially after it has been left to rot a while as it works better when it is ripe and alive, or so say the Midwives.

Not everyone has a taste for Rarebit. But for those who do develop a tolerance for this powerful and wildly unpredictable psychoactive delicacy, it is a one-way ticket to power. The kind of power known only to the dream-touched and the damned.

Upon consuming Wermspittle-style Rarebit, a Save is required.
Those who succeed go on to experience terrible nightmares, lose 1 point of WIS for the next week, and suffer a -1 penalty on all Saves versus Fear or Confusion effects.
Those who fail become Chaotic in alignment, suffer a permanent loss of 1 point of WIS, and permanently gain Dreamsight.
Those who fail their Save three times become Rarebit Fiends.

Rarebit Fiend
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150' (50')
         Drift: 300' (100')
Armor Class: 3 (Only take half-damage from physical attacks)
Hit Dice: variable
Attacks: 1 (Touch or weapon)
Damage: 1d6, (Fear or Confusion)
Save: as per HD or Level
Morale: 6 (+any CHAR Bonus)

Special: Passwall (once per day per HD or Level), Dreamshift (enter fully into dream once per day every 3 HD or 3 Levels). When attacking, a Rarebit Fiend can choose to instill either Fear or Confusion in their victim (as a Touch attack) once per day per HD or Level. They can only do one or the other, not both, and anyone who successfully Saves against this special attack becomes permanently immune to that particular fiend's Fear or Confusion effects.

Rarebit Fiends are no longer completely here, nor quite right in the head. They are semi-transparent, resembling a ghost, and have become almost as much some kind of dream as anything material. They can only be seriously injured by magical weapons or spells, all other physical attacks only do half damage, unless the Rarebit Fiend opts to Dreamshift fully into Dreamspace, Slumberland, the Dreamlands, or whatever version, region or strata of the sub/unconscious realms they have gained access to in the course of their transformation. Making this shift to escape damage forces them to remain within the dreaming realms for 1d4 days per point of damage avoided.

They can wield magical items, armor and weapons, however magical armor only gives them half the protection it normally offers. They cannot use potions and must feed upon ectoplasm, oneiroplasm and similar things, including the life-force of living beings, however they are not immediately able to drain life-energy. That is a skill they must be taught, or spend many months or even years practicing, before they ever really get the hang of it.

Rarebit Fiends really came into pop-culture prominence through the pioneering work of Windsor McCay and his ground-breakingly surreal comic strip adventures a well as some very early movies made with Thomas Edison. The collected Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strips are available online at the Comic Strip Library. More than one version of the movies W. McCay did with Edison is available at YouTube, including Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1906), The Flying House and The Pet. Windsor McCay went on to create both Gertie the Dinosaur and Little Nemo in Slumberland. There's a lot of Little Nemo in how we handle the Dreaming/Dreamstates/Dreamlands/Slumberland continuum...
We're big fans of McCay's animation and comics. Little Nemo in particular has been a very big influence on Wermspittle and is right at the top of the Vermiform Appendix; our list of influences and references for Wermspittle that somewhat parallels the Appendix N of classic D&D.


  1. Rarebit fiends are perfect for Wermspittle.

    1. The entire Rarebit Fiend comic strip is available online through the Comic Strip Library. Edison's 1903 movie adapted from the Rarebit Fiend comic strip is at YouTube. Fun stuff! And we agree; Rarebit Fiends are a natural fit for Wermspittle.

    2. There. Now I've been able to go back and add-in the footer that got left-off. this post has been sitting in the Drafts section for more than two years now, so I missed adding in the new-style footers we're using now. There's more Little Nemo inspired stuff on the way...

  2. This is outstanding, a great example of weaving new ideas and old together, maybe with surprising sources and associations, and very oneiric of course. The footers make it a good education too.

    1. Thanks. This series is a lot of fun to do, especially now that we've sort of settled into an approach that seems to work. We'll be doing a few more of these down the road.


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