Monday, March 11, 2019

The Rabbit of the South

So, what should I be writing about? Traveling bands of pseudo-gypsy musicians? The dungeons beneath the Mount of Assembly? The pillars of urban fantasy?

I mean, I was writing about all these. Then I saw this.

Source (ish)

So, I guess I'm doing Bugs Bunny.

The Rabbit of the South

The wild tribes of the southern plains have a set of common legends among them. It's a good thing they do, otherwise they would have all exterminated each other a few centuries ago. These figure animal spirits, such as the Coyote, or Eagle, but the most well-known and recited among the tribes is that of the Rabbit

Rabbit is best described as a trickster god only because our language doesn't have the exact nuance. Unlike Coyote, Rabbit doesn't get his kicks from visiting misfortune on luckless souls. Nor does he drift about with schemes in his head. Indeed, where other tricksters plot, Rabbit does. He is. Left in his natural habitat, he does no harm to anybody. In fact, he is quite vulnerable, and reliable prey. He is content with this.

But don't you dare mess up his environment. Then the knives come out.

Every Rabbit story follows a similar format; a member of the tribes, or outsider, attempts to introduce or remove an element of culture, and in so doing change the way of life of the people. The other animal spirits are either incapable of stopping this, or actively complicit (looking at you Coyote). Then Rabbit, the completely vulnerable, unassuming figure that gets eaten in every other myth, steps up. Not in the sense of an underdog facing a great enemy. In the sense of a bent-over, cane-carrying old man showing the young whipper-snappers how it's done.

And oh, does he ever show it.

Rabbit specializes in using the new invention against its users. He is more proficient in its use, and its consequences, than any of its creators. Almost like he's seen it all before. He uses this to make a total mockery of anyone using it. This includes newfangled tools, non-traditional social structures and foreign philosophies. Those building new types of homes will get trapped inside as they freeze and starve. Elders trying to modify marriage laws will have a very official marriage contract drawn up with muscle-bound foreign barbarians. Zen masters from a faraway land will throw themselves into rivers and the odd volcano to escape Rabbit, whose very words twist philosophy and sanity into knots.

And he's completely invulnerable while he does it.

Coyote considers Rabbit a casual snack in most legends. But when Coyote allies with alien traditions, (scheming, remember) he falls flat. Rabbit can outrun him, out-think him, and out-trick him without seeming to break the slightest sweat. He doesn't even practice trickery. He is. Trickery happens around him while he sits innocent and pretty.

The lessons to a semi-nomadic tribe-based society seem pretty obvious. Stick to the old ways, the tested ways, or else all your new ideas will come to nothing. And they're still around, so I guess it works. But this legend somehow got popular outside the tribes. In the urban centers of the east and west, for some reason. It was probably imported by a traditional demagogue as a ham-fisted metaphor. But it stuck around.

Now, Rabbit is just the same as he was in the southern plains. But these cities have no grounded tradition. 'Tradition' to the bourgeois is what their parents adopted when rebelling against the previous social order. The rate of cultural churn is so fast there that Rabbit is always on the job. And there are so many rules, courtesies, unspoken allegiances and contradictory edicts that nobody is safe. Anybody can become a victim of Rabbit.

And Rabbit is very real. He's taken on a new, more humanoid form, wearing some clashing set of new and old fashions that burns the very eyes (gaze attack in 30ft, WIS save or else blind for d6 rounds). Technological innovation has stagnated circa 1500. It's been over five-hundred years since the first mentions of Rabbit start showing up in contemporary accounts. Accounts that tend to include industrial sabotage, mass injury and an explosion in the mental patient population.

Immense sums of money, a few centuries of philosophical advancement and thousands of world-changing inventions, all undone by a fucking rabbit.

Image result for psychedelic rabbit
Look how cute- OH GODS MY EYES!


If you run a gonzo game (considering this community, you don't have to be all that gonzo for this) then Rabbit might be a good fit, especially if your players made the grievous error of asking why your world's technology hadn't changed in the last few centuries, and you don't have an apocalypse handy. If the PCs are involved in some kind of innovation (either as the result of a quest, or if they decided to start a shop) you can bring in Rabbit as an opponent. He won't kill PCs, but will set incredibly improbable events in motion that will kill/maim/publicly humiliate/estrange the PCs from their family.

In combat, he doesn't directly damage, but does cause some rather severe status effects, and may push the PCs off the odd cliff or walkway. If the PCs are opposing some technocratic or otherwise non-traditional force (rebels, new cults, etc.) think about introducing Rabbit as an uneasy ally. Sure, he's focused on your enemies right now, but they're only slightly less like semi-nomadic tribesmen than you are. And the PCs get to see his handiwork firsthand.

A Quick and Dirty Statblock


HD AC As Plate Hit Points 20 Move 2x (jump) standard Morale 10
DEX 16 CON All Other Stats 10

Bad Fashion Single target gaze, 30ft, blind for d6 rounds, WIS save to negate.

Trickster Does not deal direct damage. Has a +4 to all combat maneuvers, and will seek to push enemies off ledges, onto traps, and use enemy weapons against them.

Sound The opening of Die Walkure playing from no discernible location.

Rabbit can be killed, but not even slightly permanently. His bleeding corpse should disappear as soon as nobody is looking at it, and he should then reappear in an even more elaborate and disgusting costume, congratulate the PCs for their momentary victory, and then bound out through a very improbable means of escape. To torment some other poor soul. For a time.

Image result for donnie darko burn it to the ground
That's all- wait, what?

The Other Thing

Oh, and FYI. Rabbit is a capital-O Outsider. Something originating from outside not only our plane, universe, or multiverse, but our meta-reality. A shorn-off chunk of raw consciousness severed from its whole in some Outsider conflict we hope to never comprehend, which impacted our metaverse like a meteor, eroded by our conceptual atmosphere, with granules of pure thought dispersing until the core embedded itself in some universe. Rabbit probably isn't even that core. That unlucky universe is where you go if you very-nearly overdose on peyote, ayahuasca and LSD simultaneously.

Rabbit is a meme-thing, a thought-form, a prionic sentience that, against all odds, found a niche for itself in the cultural consciousness of an isolated tribal society.

And then it spread.

That is why Rabbit cannot die. You know his story. You know his modus operandi. If anyone, anywhere thinks about him, he reappears. He's not going away anytime soon.

Oh, and consider this. Outsiders appear insane because they do not operate by our reality. They likely exist across billions of universes, and their goals have little to do with this particular cosmos. Weird they may be, but at least Outsiders play to type. For Rabbit to function as a coherent meme in this universe, let alone this planet, let alone this culture, is for something to be, by Outsider standards, deeply wrong with him.

Image result for psychedelic rabbit
That's all folks!