TALL TALE COSTUMES
You may be a humble Zouave, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been a place or two, or that you haven’t seen a thing or two. You’ve travelled the whole world, from the spinning plateaus of Babarux to the crystal grottos under Ravensmoot to the perpetually-daylit fenland of Sonnisburg, and you’ve liberated all manner of artifacts from under the bone-pierced and painted noses of the savage, backwards locals. Use these Tall Tales to give your Zouave the trappings of an anthropologist from the Good Old Days. (Each entry inspired by a costume from here; I’d recommend ctl g’ing the associated regalia for your stories and equipment for inspiration and some good old fashioned wonderment.)
1 Declared ruler. Upon seeing your regal countenance and chiseled features, the locals found it only fitting to make you their monarch. And why shouldn’t they? You have a bearing and are a handsome youngster. At least, according to your grandmother. Clad in feathers and fanned by palm fronds, you lived a short but fruitful life of luxury before a pox wiped out your vassals. Always a shame, but what to be done of it? Back to smoky drawing rooms and being stared at by taxidermied animals, you suppose. You can scrounge up two mute fan bearers to follow you about and frond you, as well as other hireling-ly duties, with a week of searching. (Peru)
2 Reincarnation ritual. It took a while for you to notice. The old man on the road called you the wrong name, and swore he met someone who looked exactly like you as a child. The painting of the high priest in that cave had a face almost exactly like yours. The tarot card of the Fool dealt when you ducked into a caravanseri’s tent to escape the rain was drawn in your spitting image. But it was most obvious when you died ignominiously one day, only to wake up a few months (or was it years?) later in a slightly younger body with your same features. Your soul has cycled through many bodies, though why that is is yet a mystery to you. Once per escapade, recall a vital piece of information from a past life. (France)
3 Serpent wrangling. When they said you should participate in the snake-wrestling festival, you thought it would be fine. When you saw the size of the whalebone spear they gave you, it seemed like overkill for a little old snake. When you saw the crowd boo as you entered the muddy arena and saw the ratio of the bet stacked against you, you got a little uneasy. Then they raised the gate on the other side of the arena. You saw eyes as red as blood and fangs the size of your head. You’re not sure when thereafter you defecated yourself. You are immune to poison and can see heat. (Vietnam)
4 Star catching. Having the great fortune of being invited to tea on the night of an important astrological conjunction, you were invited to play a queer sort of sport, but you would have never expected that its name translated literally. Stalking through the dark, carrying a net of fine silver, casting your eyes to heaven to see if you can see those streaks of light your fellow hunters called the “tears of the heavens”. You held one in your hand for a moment, felt the warmth of distant nebulas flow up your arms like molten metal, before it vanished in an instant. Not pure enough in the head, they said. You can see perfectly in the dark. (Venezuela)
5 Monkey love. It’s an embarrassing story, really. In one thorp you visited, there was a bonobo- or perhaps a mandrill, or was it an Orang-Utann?- in a cage outside of the wise woman’s hut. It had such pathetic little eyes and precious little toes you had to liberate it. Unfortunately, it had been in captivity for well too long, and was, to put it courteously, all too enthusiastic for its salvation. You can talk to mammals, and they naturally trust you. (Thailand)
6 Fey voyage. You’re not sure how it happened; you inhaled too much smoke from the peace pipe, or you crossed a mushroom circle at the wrong time at night, or you angered an impish spirit in the guise of a child. But you took a trip into the world beyond this one, where rose-colored grass grows as tall as a house and glass-winged brownies chase horse-sized squirrels through ever-gloaming forests. You had to answer a bridge-troll’s three riddles to return, but you remember leaving something important behind, though you can’t quite put your finger on what/ You know how to open fairy circles, and the fey hold you in high regard. (South Africa)
7 Paint wrestling. It took you months to clear your hair of the powdered pigment that flew through the air that day, but even longer for the bruises to heal. You made the foolish choice of spilling a cup of red dye on one of the Blue Lotus boxers, and had to pay the price in a combat pit of paint. Your prismatic pugilism held up, and you walked out the victor, but to this day vibrant colors still bring back bad memories. With a half-hour of work, you can create [templates] perfect camouflage suits for any environment you’ve explored. (Panama)
8 Trial of strength. To be fair, when you agreed to attempt to lift the Stone, it looked a lot heavier than it ended up being. The weird looks you got while being rubbed in ceremonial oils and dressed in bodybuilder’s garb should’ve clued you in, but when you got to the apex of the ziggurat, the natives were too eager to see you attempt to life the dragon statue carved out of the house-sized boulder. You were always a strapping fellow, and you weren’t about to make a fool of yourself now. You can lift any weight, if you stay stationary and can manage the bulk. (Laos)
9 Year’s fast. You were taken on as a pupil by an ascetic from some distant mist-shrouded mountain. As you memorized scriptures and practiced physical discipline, you rose through the ranks, but your final trial was by far the most difficult. With nothing but incense and a hand-transcribed book of prayer, you had to meditate in a sealed sepulcher for a year and a day without food or water. When they drew you out, you were little more than a skeleton, and your graying hair reached the floor, but you were alive, and had caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the divine. You do not need to eat, drink, or breathe. (India)
10 Liberation struggle. You aided the native population in a struggle for self-determination, eventually throwing over your overbearing, imperialist oppressors and instilling the rightful indigenous rule in place of their bloody tyranny. For once, a story of glorious do-goodery. Who were you all rebelling against, you ask? Uh… some barbarous empire or other, can’t remember exactly, it was all a blur. What? Our fine and civilized land? No, couldn’t possibly be! Hey, do you want another beer? If you’re making a surprise attack against a non-combative enemy, it always kills its target. (United States)
Trinkets from your travels:
1 Feathered armor. You can glide while falling, though you’ll take full damage upon landing. (Mexico)
2 Ceremonial bow. Unerringly splits fruit, extinguishes small fires, or finds the bullseye of a target should you wish to show off a trick shot. (Cambodia)
3 Golden idol. Utterly captivates anyone who inspects it and could fetch a pretty penny from an irreputable antiquer.
4 Incendiary globus cruciger. While it looks real, the tip of the cross is a wick; it’s secretly a mortar bomb. (Spain)
5 Obfuscation cigar. The smoke of this cigar is clear and smells of strawberries, and while you smoke it, you are effectively invisible. A half hour left of puffs on it. (Cuba)
6 Peacock cloak. When you fan out its feathers, you can walk on liquids. (Sri Lanka)
7 Everburning pipe. It won’t stop smoldering, even after you dropped it off your raft and found it in the belly of a crocodile three days later.
8 Crown of the sun. Sheds sunlight in a cone like a bullseye lantern when rubbed with oil. (Romania)
9 Mendicant’s bowl. She probably didn’t need it anyways, what with her strict asceticism. Possession of property leads to sin, you know. Always contains one shilling. (Myanmar)
10 Pith helmet. Can be sundered as a shield, or have a lantern affixed to it for hands-free illumination. Perfect for spelunking and jungle-slogging.
11 Star spangled machete. Cuts through chains and cage bars as effectively as through sugar cane. (Puerto Rico)
12 Wooden knife. Made for a child, God rest their soul. If planted, grows into a monkey puzzle tree in an hour. (Malaysia)
13 Monkey’s flesh. This worn fur cloak, taken off the back of a beggar, turns you into a monkey of your choice (under DM control) when you wear it. Totally not cursed. (Indonesia)
14 Parasol. While it is quite pretty, it won’t hold up to a hard rain. (Hong Kong)
15 Ivory dagger. An animal icon is carved into the handle, it deals double damage against that beast.
16 Blade fan. While it deals damage like a dagger, it doesn’t look like a weapon. (Japan)
17 Beaded shield. It makes a pleasant rattling when stuck, reminiscent of maracas. Spears cannot be removed from it without an hour of work. (Philippines)
18 Parade dragon costume. If a festival’s going on, you can blend in seamlessly. If one’s not, you can drum up a lot of attention in provincial locales fast. (Bolivia)
19 Upside-down map. There’s a few errors here and there, but the most notable feature is an X annotated in the northwest corner.
20 Something more exotic…
1 Phoenix. When they gave you that glowing egg, you had no idea what you were signing up for. If it dies, an egg appears in its ashes that hatches in a lunar month. (Nigeria)
2 Starfarer’s helm. Found in the epicenter of a holy crater and worshiped as a heathen idol by the primitives, it protects the wearer from the vacuum. (Macau)
3 New World blunderbuss. Because sometimes these primitive brutes need to be taught a lesson. (Dominican Republic)
4 Mantle of the beast lord. If you’re under the effects of a drug, you can use the cloak to pull an animal phantasm from the spirit world; you appear to be that animal as long as you’re intoxicated, though sensory inspection reveals the truth. (Ecuador)
5 MANIFEST DESTINY SEIZED. This gladius has a silver eagle icon as its crossguard, and warms slightly in the presence of those of a different ethnicity of the wielder. If let to rest, it always points to the nearest church or courthouse, and deals double damage against entities that aren’t part of a religious group.
6 OVERTHROWN SHACKLES ACHE. First recovered from the corpse of a burgomeister stoned by a druidic order, this rapier showers sparks when it strikes a target, alighting anything flammable it hits and gives its wielders mental pictures of an ancient bloodbath on a full moon.
Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.
[A disclaimer: the concept of this class is unspeakably unethical, and this class is intended to serve as a satirical mockery of the ideologies that glorify such pillaging and insensitivity.]