Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Revenge of The Gobbler!

Revenge of The Gobbler!
A Zero-level Funnel Adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics
Edgar Johnson

Very special thanks to +Daniel Bishop, who provided some of the monsters (along with most their descriptions).


The adventurers are sent to bring a wagon load of beer, wine, and spirits to the tower of Lorenzo the Portly, noted sage, wizard, and gourmand. It is the day of his famous feast of thanksgiving, when he celebrates the gifts of his patron with a gathering of his minions, servants, and henchmen. This year, however, the feast is no occasion for celebration. Instead, our heroes must contend with sorcery most fowl!

This adventure is designed for 8-12 (or more? ) zero-level player characters. I dunno. It's not like I  playtested this adventure or anything. So anyway...


In his zeal for bring to his board the greatest feast ever consumed, Lorenzo the Portly transgressed against nature itself, using arcane magics to enhance the quality and size of the items on his table. Unfortunately, bigger did not turn out to be better. In fact, it was very, very bad indeed.

As the result of a magical misfire, Lorenzo raised the turkey from the dead (it is now possessed by the spirit of a minor wizard), and animated a variety of other foodstuffs. These fell foodstuffs turned the tables on their makers, and soon the cooks became… the cuisine.

The players will enter the manor to find a scene of horror. Each guest has been killed and eaten, in whole or in part, with Lorenzo himself receiving special treatment. Deadly sustenance now stalks the halls of the manor, hungry for more victims.

This adventure is designed to be short but deadly. It is short, because you most likely are very ful. and kind of drunk. It will be deadly because I take food very, very seriously indeed. And I want to make sure that you see why food is not to be trifled with.

The adventure begins as the PCs roll through the gates of Lorenzo the Portly's manor, and around the back toward the servants' entrance.

Player Start

The journey has been a long one, but you finally have sighted the Manor of Lorenzo the Portly, noted sage of cuisine and wizard of delectation. Your three wagon loads of ale and strong drink will be welcome additions to Lorenzo's famed thanksgiving feast. You also hope that you will be invited to the feast, for Lorenzo is known for his generosity, and no one in the realm is so famous for the sumptuousness of his banquets.

As you drive though the gates and toward the servants' entrance to the kitchens, you are greeted with a horrible sight: A man (a baker judging from his hat) bursts forth from the door, screaming in terror. Behind him strides a behemoth… gingerbread man? In an instant the fell creature is upon him, snatching him up and biting off his head before casting him aside for fresher prey. Roll for initiative.

Gingerbread Giant Init +2; Atk bite melee (1d6); AC 9; HP 11; MV 35’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +1; AL N.

As the PCs enter the manor house, read the following:

Stepping through the servants' entrance to the manor, you find yourself in a short hallway. To the left is a thick, wooden door. Further along the corridor, you spy a door ripped from its hinges, and beyond that, the kitchen.

I've designed this as if the players will cooperate, and enter through the kitchen. If your players make it complicated, then adapt accordingly.

Area 1-1 The Larder: The door opens inward to the larder. Inside you see a variety of jars, casks, and barrels, and from hooks in the ceiling hang hams and long strings of sausages.

Once the PCs enter this room, they will be attacked by three strings of Sausages of Death. They are delicious, but most certainly are not good for your health.

Sausages of Death (3) Init +2 (or surprise 75%); Atk strangle melee +2 (1 point of damage or special on surprise); AC 10; HP 4, 2, 2; MV 10’; Act 1d20; SP If the Sausages of Death surprise the PCs, they attack as a garotte wielded by a thief on successful backstab (3d4); SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

Area 1-2 The Kitchen: The kitchen is in disarray, scullions stuck upon their own spits, stabbed, or cloven, the scullery maids drowned in their suds. Blood is everywhere and the floor is littered with broken crocker, trenchers, and viscera.

As the PCs enter the kitchen, and begin to take in the horror of the situation, some of the viscera upon the floor seem to writhe. From beneath them flows a puddle of primordial cranberry jelly. Worse yet, this batch was made with whole cranberries (see below).

Primordial cranberry jelly: Init +0; Atk pseudopod +2 melee (2d3) or cranberries +3 missile (2d5); AC 8; HP 12; MV 5’; Act 1d20; SP 15' reach, cranberries (once); SV Fort +8, Ref -4, Will +0; AL N.

Area 1-3 The Butler's Pantry: The butler's pantry is surprisingly quiet and serene, though the butler himself lays dead upon the floor, his head missing. A rack of wine bottles spans one side , while shelves and drawers for linens and dishes fills the other. On the other end is a closed door.

 Cork Trap: The wine bottles, if at all disturbed, will explode violently, doing 1 damage to all within 10 feet.

Area 1-4 The Cellar: The cellar is well-made, dry and cool. Along the walls are casks and barrels, mostly filled with ale and wine. In addition, there is a vast rack of wines, from poor to fine.

When the PCs enter this room, have a cat jump out from nowhere. That's lots of fun, and sets the mood nicely. After a bit, once they've dicked around for a bit, have one of the barrels make a liquid, blubbing noise, then subside. If they investigate (and you know they will) make it burst, unleashing an…

Ale Elemental: Init +0; Atk +2 melee (1d3+special); AC 8; HP 20; MV special’; Act 2d20; SP 10' reach, divine drunkenness (DC 13 Fort Save), drink it to death; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

Divine Drunkeness: If struck, the target must make a DC 10 Will Save or begin drinking from the various casks and bottles. Each turn, the victim may make a DC 10 Will Save to break the effect. After 1d3 turns+plus Stamina modifier, the victim loses consciousness for 1d6+4 hours.

Area 1-5 The Dining Room: You emerge from the kitchen onto a terrifying scene. The dining room is an abattoir, its walls running with blood, and the eviscerated bodies of Lorenzo's guests and servants thick upon the floor. Upon the table are the picked-clean bones of Lorenzo the Portly, himself, clothed only with a chef's hat at the end of each of his bony limbs (like a turkey with those white things on the end of the drumsticks). But, even worse, his bane is at hand! An undead turkey, larger than a man, stands before you. Prepare to meet your dooms, for this is The Gobbler! And his feast has only just begun.

The Gobbler Init +4; Atk spell +4 (Gravy Spray) or bite +3 melee (1d6+2) or kick +1 melee (dmg 1d8+3); AC 10; HP 25; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP gobble, spew stuffing, induce lethargy; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +5; AL N.

The giant, mutated turkey is 7 feet tall, with powerful drumsticks armed with sharp claws. He may be undead, but he is spry, and can run as fast as a man. He also is imbued with the spirit of a long-dead wizard (who is quite cross at this turn of events), and can cast Gravy Spray (as Color Spray, but with gravy. Use your imagination and strive to make this both ridiculous and horrifying. Remember: Gravy can be blinding, slippery, sticky, and very, very hot indeed. Make these interlopers pay!).

Each round The Gobbler can make one of three special attacks as a free action:

Gobble: The giant mutated turkey can gobble, creating a sonic attack that does 1d3 damage to all within 15'.

Spew stuffing: The giant mutated turkey spews a stream of stuffing in a 30' line at a single target (+4 to hit, 1d3 damage, and the target must make a DC 10 Will save or spend its next action either cleaning the stuff off or eating it, according to how the target views stuffing).

Induce lethargy: Every creature within 30' of the giant mutated turkey must make a DC 10 Fort save or its initiative count goes down by 2. Any creature that bites the turkey automatically suffers this effect with no save. A creature whose initiative count is reduced below 0 by this effect may still participate in the combat, but must first rest for a round.

At this point the surviving PCs have run the gamut. It's time for another drink, and maybe a nap. Give 'em 1-2 XP per encounter. If anyone dies, it's automatically 2 XP for the survivors. If something awesome happens, consider giving an extra XP (or even a point of Luck) to whoever is awesome.

As far as treasure goes, let 'em loot the family silver if they care to (2d100 gp value). Probably they also could find other valuables, but that's up to you. However, they do find themselves in possession of three wagonloads of booze and a hankerin' for adventure. What ya gonna do?

G'night, and have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Spires of the Elven Lords

Iron is poison. Iron is inescapable. Iron kills.

Since their coming to Ore, the elven people have fought a losing battle, to escape the effects of Ore's poisonous, iron-rich environment. Or, if not escape it (for this thing truly is not possible in the long term), to delay the onset of iron poisoning. There are several ways to do this, but today I will speak only of the first: The elven enclaves.

Elven culture on Ore has attempted, wherever possible, to find new ways to seal the elven people away from the outside environment, and from the the poison that saps their vitality, warps their magic, and corrodes their very souls. The most notable places where this has occurred are the Spires of Ur-Hadad. Though Man conquered the elves in His rebellion, lo these many years ago, the elves never surrendered their Spires. They still stand, a testament and a monument to elven persistence in their quixotic fight against the inevitable. In the end, there is only metal. Ore's very core spins malignantly beneath their feet, and its arteries pump iron rich magma. There is no escape, no surcease, only the long, bitter struggle against the inevitable. Then, there is death, or there is madness, or there is the choice to "sail into the West," a cryptic reference to Elfland that no elf has ever explained to outsiders. All we know is that sometimes elves return to elfland, and they don't come back.

The Spires were built to combat the iron threat, and consist of what, for lack of a better description, are the bones of ancient creatures. Though their arts are not now practiced (and are forbidden by decree), the ancient elves of the Dominion were masters of technomancy, and could create life through processes now forbidden (though it is rumored that some elven factions still follow this path). They "bred" homes, aether ships, fortresses, fell constructs bred for battle, and all manner of other things. These creatures were grown from a single seed and developed over time into the mature works of elven master artisans of this craft. Over what amounted to many generations of the lives of Men, five elven Spires grew from such seeds, rising thousands of feet into the skies above Ur-Hadad, each unique and yet the same as the others.

In appearance, the Spires look like the bleached, blue-white bones of great creatures (actually a complex diamond-like substance), shining unsullied by time under the sun and moons of Ore. Their surfaces are near-impregnable, with few windows or portals, and these well guarded. The rise, with insectile grace, into the sky, sharp points skewering the clouds layers above, disappearing from sight, far, far above. They look just a little bit like gigantic vines and fronds, laden with buds and studded with thorns, climbing toward eternity.

No non-elven person has ever entered the Spires. In fact, not even every elf has done so. They are sealed off to most, and guarded jealously against unauthorized entry. Cloistered within are the elite of elven society, whose faces are masked in strange helms and concealing armors and robes, and whose voices emerge, strange and discordant, like a chorus of angels, from the places where their mouths must be. No living human has ever seen the faces of the elven nobility, at least not in life.

Each Spire has a name Anuch-Dar (the Collective Mind), Morgath-Ka'ak (the Bloody Hand), Morgath-Gur (the Sinister Hand), Morgath-Noriel (the Adroit Hand), and Anuch-Ur (the Singular Mind). No one is quite sure what these names mean, and the elves aren't inclined to answer questions about them. In fact, the Spires are not spoken of in the hearing of non-elves, and even those elves who walk among Men refuse any attempt to discuss them, going so far as to fight duels to avoid doing so. As a result, we have little to go on but rumors. Here are a few.

  • The elves are preparing an army to reconquer Ore.
  • The elves are using their arcane knowledge to build a bridge to the the moons.
  • The elven females are the true rulers, and use the Spires to keep their breeding stock of pure-blooded mates in harem.
  • The Spires descend miles into the depths of Ore, and are just the tips of a far vaster structure that spans the entire world.
  • The Spires are great ships, and could leave the surface of Ore to climb among the moons and stars.
  • The creatures living in the Spires are not elves at all, but demonic creatures, and wear their concealing raiment to hide their true natures.
  • The elves are attempting to cross-breed with Men, and the Spires are full of vast slave pens, technomantic laboratories, and mad elves bent on fiendish experiments, lusting after human women. 
  • The Spires are great libraries of lost knowledge, jealously guarded by powerful elven mages.
  • The Spires are portals to other planes, where the elves still rule great empires of cruelty and despair.

None of these rumors has been substantiated, but neither have they been disproved. And there are many more than these, each wilder than the last, each speaking to the greatest hopes and deepest fears of the Men of Ore, and each underlining the great rift that still exists between the two races.

In their enclaves, the elves are safe, and keep themselves pure from the taint of iron, for a time.

Outside of the enclaves, Men gaze suspiciously upon the Spires, pondering their threat and their promise, at the same time filled with dread and with avarice.

Outside the Spires, there also are elves. They are not the elite of elven society. They do not share in its bounty. They are not privy to its secrets. Their lives are too short, and too many of them are corrupted by iron. Their misery grows, generation by generation, as they are warped and corroded from within. They, too, gaze at the Spires. And their hatred grows a little each day, like the shoots of a thorn bush rising from blackened ground, growing from sentiment, to philosophy, to vocation. Their hatred is spreading and becoming organized, and it has a name: Morgath'ak-Lugash, the Iron Fist.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More about the Elves of Ore and the Effects of Iron

I've written previously (several times, in fact) about the Elves of Ore. While I don't like to play elves that much, I'm pretty fascinated by them as they are emerging in the Metal Gods project I've been working on with  +Adam Muszkiewicz+Wayne Snyder, and the rest of of the Divine Order of The Purple Tentacle. My next adventure will be very elf-centric, and will examine in great detail what might happen as elves attempt to deal with iron infection, as I wrote about in another post. I'd like to follow that idea up, here.

Elves have little tolerance for ferrous materials, and particularly forged iron. It's poisonous to them in the same way that heavy metals are poisonous to humans. Iron is debilitating, physically and mentally. It may even be that it's debilitating, spiritually, as well. Elves must avoid places with high concentrations of iron, like the aptly named Iron Coast. There are even some regions of Ore with sufficient iron that the water is undrinkable by elves. This is, in part why Ur-Hadad was one of the bastions of elven culture, before Man's rebellion and eventual triumph. Much of the land there is relatively low in iron content, though no place on Ore is totally free of iron. It was the least of the evils.

So, for the Elves of Ore, dealing with this peculiar relationship with iron has challenged their artisans for as long as elves have inhabited Ore. They have learned to cultivate and spin spider silk into thread so fine that their clothing is nearly impermeable. They have labored long to find means of purifying air and water. They have developed amazing means of sealing their enclaves off, using both arcane power and mechanical inventions. Their healers have tried, though largely unsuccessfully, to create means of leaching iron from tainted elves' blood and tissues. To put a point on it, elven industry is uncommonly fixated on dealing with the iron problem, and this issue permeates the work of virtually every class of elven artisan, and many an elf has made a glorious name through successful invention of new means of avoiding infection. What they've managed to produce is more a band-aid than a cure, but the various devices, tonics, and raiment they've produced, work.

In many cases, wealthy elven characters look like fremen in still suits (from Dune) or Mass Effect quarians, hidden behind masks and filters, shrouded in folds of peculiarly tailored clothing, and wearing elaborate helms and headdresses or strange devices, which hum and glow with weird energies. These iron countermeasures also are very, very expensive (as expensive as plate mail, or even more so). Thus, elves with the means to buy them tend to be among the most elite of their race. They are long-lived and relatively healthy, avoiding most of the effects of iron (but certainly not all). Poor elves don't fare nearly as well. They are more sickly and the rate of birth defects among them is much, much higher than among wealthier members of their race. The poor also don't live nearly as long, at least if they remain on Ore.

The elves who can afford these countermeasures, though, also look alien to non-elves (and as privileged and uncaring to poor elves). They mark themselves as Other, seal their compounds off from the world and hide behind hermetically seals portals and windows, and otherwise isolate and alienate themselves from the world and its non-elven people. For this reason, any elf character who uses iron countermeasures should apply a penalty of -1 per countermeasure to his or her Personality modifier.

Modeling In-Game Effects of Iron Exposure on Elven Characters

Clearly, though, if I'm going to make this a part of play, I need a simple mechanic for doing so. The easiest thing I can do is to assume that the effects of iron impact character attributes, especially Strength and Stamina, though I think I could make an argument for effects on Agility, Personality, and Intelligence, as well.

Here's what I propose. Iron infection should cause attribute drain, and this effect can occur due to either acute exposure (e.g., being wounded with iron or steel weapons, wearing iron armor, etc.) or chronic exposure (e.g. living on Ore and not using "protection"). Acute exposure is relatively easy to track. Chronic exposure is a bit more difficult, and would require something to be tracked long term. If the mechanic is too granular it just becomes a pain to use, so I think a more abstract means is better. So, how about this?

Effects of Chronic Iron Exposure

At the beginning of each new adventure, Elf characters must make a d20 roll. If the roll is less than their character level, then the character must reduce one attribute by 1 point. If the elf in question is protected by the countermeasures discussed above, he or she may reduce the target number by 1 for each countermeasure used (up to 3). Failure to make the roll results in attribute drain of 1 point. The affected attribute could be at the option of player or Judge, or it could be rolled randomly. Luck is not affected by iron exposure, but an elf may burn 1 point of Luck to avoid the effects of a failed roll.

Example: Cresto the Elf is at level 3. Before starting a new adventure, he must roll a d20 and get a score of 3 or more. If Cresto rolls a 1 or 2, he must reduce one of his attributes by 1. He rolls a d5, getting a 2. Cresto loses 1 point of ... (*rolls randomly*)... Agility, permanently.

Effects of Acute Iron Exposure

Given the nature of the game, characters are going to get wounded a lot. Just to make this a bit more fair and simple for elven characters, acute iron exposure only occurs when they are reduced to zero hit points as a direct result of being hit with an iron or steel weapon (or trap, or whatever). That is, if the character is wounded during combat with an iron or steel weapon, and by that strike is reduced to 0 hit points, he or she must make a check just as for chronic iron exposure.

Example: Cresto (3rd level elf) is already wounded (down to 4 hit points). The fearsome Octo-man swings an axe (steel), inflicting 5 damage. Cresto goes down. After the fight, his companions attempt to "recover the body" (as per DCCRPG Rules, p. 93), and the Luck check is successful. Cresto is alive. He loses 1 point of Strength, Agility, or Stamina, as per the rules, but then must also roll a check to avoid the effects of iron exposure. He rolls a 7, which is equal to or higher than his character level. He avoids additional effects (this time). If he had failed, he would roll a d5 to determine which attribute is affected and subtract 1 point from that attribute.

Optional (Hardcore mode): Elves struck with iron weapons take an extra point of damage.

Long-term Impact on Elven Characters

Over the long term, as elves reach higher levels, the chances of debilitation increase. I think this is a simple way to measure the passage of time and how it increases chronic effects. It also makes elven characters a bit less durable over the long term, unless the elf in question takes measures to address the effects accrued. I think this could be done in any number of ways, most of which reduce to the best rule: "If you want it, then quest for it." A good mechanic also should be productive of better stories, after all, and should have a real impact on the characters and the game world. I think what I've offered here can achieve those things.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Metal Gods 'zine update

So, rumor has it that +Adam Muszkiewicz is just about done with layout for the Metal Gods 'zine. In fact, we're not gaming tonight because he's "on a roll." I really wanted to game, but also am really glad to hear it's close to ready. I think you folks will like it.

A brief word about urchins.

Adam mentioned that we were going to be supporting a charity: Stand Up for Kids. He also expressed our sentiment that it seems kind of weird to be supporting a kids' charity while putting out a 'zine with an adventure about urchins fighting their way across Ur-Hadad as a funnel. Here's where that comes from.

We had, in one of our first groups, a party with a disproportionate number of urchins. They all died. When I wrote one of our first 1st level adventures (Mysterious Temple of the Serpent God), I put in a room containing four urchins (extra zero-level guys, just in case). So, urchins, as such, have become sort of an Easter egg in my dungeons. It just sort of happened.

That said... In my life I've known a lot of homeless kids. Some of them are friends from my childhood, and some I've met since. So, I'm particularly committed to the charity we've chosen for this 'zine's "target" charity. If you can do so, I encourage you to support Stand Up for Kids by picking up a copy of the 'zine, print or PDF. I promise that whatever we don't use to cover costs of production will go straight to the charity. Their work is incredibly important, especially given the effects of the recession and sequestration.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.


What is wrong with me? Why have I not been reading this blog?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Announcement--DCC #82 Bride of the Black Manse

I have an exciting announcement to make. If you're reading this blog, my guess is that it's something you'd be interested in.

My adventure Blood for the Serpent King will be published by Goodman Games as an add-on to an adventure by ace writer +Harley Stroh. Harley's adventure, Bride of the Black Manse, will be the primary adventure in the module, and is designed for level 3 Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG characters. Blood for the Serpent King is for 2nd level DCC RPG characters.

I'm really excited about this, as publishing something with Goodman has been a dream of mine since I first started writing adventures for DCC RPG. I submitted a module to Goodman a while back, but it wasn't something they needed at the time. Nonetheless, Joseph Goodman was kind enough to give it a good read-through and made some incredibly helpful suggestions for revising it. Every single thing he recommended was excellent advice, and will go into my next revision. Unfortunately, that meant I wouldn't be publishing with Goodman. It's what I kind of expected, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed. So, imagine my surprise when I got an email from Joseph Goodman a few weeks later, asking me if I'd like to do a short adventure based on an earlier DCC Module. I (of course) accepted the offer, and was assigned to produce an adventure based on the Emerald Cobra, a villain appearing in Goodman Games' D&D 3rd edition adventure module, DCC #16 Curse of the Emerald CobraBlood for the Serpent King is my response to this source material.

I'd like to thank the guys from the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign, +Adam Muszkiewicz+Wayne Snyder+Bear Wojtek+James MacGeorge+Gabriel Perez Gallardi, and +phil spitzer, as well as +Jason Miller, Kevin Sunderland, John Iverson, and Ryan Bakhiet. These guys participated in the playtests and their participation resulted in changes that really improved my work. Thanks very much, guys.

You can pre-order the adventure from Goodman Games for $9.99 plus shipping & handling.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign recently passed the one year mark. In that time, I think we gamed all but about three weeks. That's 49 sessions where we did something gaming related, whether it was an actual session or just noodling around and playtesting little stuff that we'd been working on. A good run.

+Adam Muszkiewicz is getting ready to pick up the mic again. I'm not sure yet what he plans to run. It's also possible that +Wayne Snyder will run some sessions in the Thunderlands--Think Conan, Thundarr, etc., but waaaaayyy more Metal.

While all that's going on, though, I'm going to be working on a little adventure that I'm calling "Goloch-Ka." It'll be about elves and their history. It also will allow me to add something I've been wanting to do for a while now: Worthy foes.

As you may already know, Golden Ur-Hadad, the First City of Men, is a vast, sprawling metroplex of what passes for civilization on Ore. It is the center of human civilization, at least. The other races probably have other thoughts and concerns in this regard. Chief among those harboring such skepticism about humans are the elves of Ore. They play the long game. They are largely neutral on the Human Question, but there are factions among them that would like no more than to wipe the humans (and their enablers, the dwarves and halflings) from the face of the planet, or to place them under the iron non-ferrous boot of elven dominion, once more and for all time.

Until now, the Metal Gods crew hasn't been much more than a blip on the radar of the powerful of Ur-Hadad, though their activities and loyalties have been assessed and recorded by spies, lackeys, and functionaries. Their presence has been Noted. After Goloch-Ka, things will change. The surviving Metal Gods characters from the original funnel (and a few from later on) have hit 3rd level, for the most part. They're too powerful to ignore, and have begun securing a power base in the First City. Soon, events will be set in motion, and enemies will reveal themselves. They will not be the holdovers of the last regime (like the Bloody Successors), bent on their own agenda. No, they will be personal enemies, bent on the destruction of the Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle.

And a new power will arise, in the lands outside of Ur-Hadad. It will threaten every living creature on Ore.

It will be glorious.

I just needed a little inspiration, and now I've had it. And now I have a fiendish plan. Thanks, +Wayne Snyder, for bringing this down on our heads. Between the Metalocalypse rock opera he showed me (Dethklok: The Doomstar Requiem), and his Thunderlands setting ideas and Metal Gods 'zine image dump, I  just can't help but attempt to do something even more awesome. It's not all your fault, Wayne, but you keep doing things to raise the bar. You know I ain't gonna take that shit lying down.

They said to make it Brutal. I made it Brutal. Now it's time to make it... Brutal-er ('cause that's a word, okay?). And Brutality will have a face... with pointy ears... and not a cookie in sight. You've been warned.