I feel for ya, Thief! It can’t be any fun walking into an adventure with expectations of fair and balanced content, only to find yourself beset by ill-conceived homebrew. That’s the kind of bush-league GMing you’d expect from a total noob!

Is it time for another tale from the table? Does a Hydra Butt treatment require miniature torches?

So no shit there I was, GMing your run-of-the-mill wererat transformation sequence. This exercise in lycanthropy was a special request by a first-time player, and so I aimed to give him the rodential extravaganza he’d hoped for.

“You barely register as the others burst into your room, drawn by the sound of your screaming. Your flesh boils. The incisors of your upper jaw ache, then they thrust down like knife points against your tongue. You taste blood, but that pain is nothing compared to the grinding, crunching sensation of your spine as it grows and contracts by turns.”

Yadda yadda, transformationFlavorText.exe.  It was a suitably gritty bit of body horror. But as much as I enjoy a creepy transformation sequence, it was the mechanics that I was really proud of.

You see, I’d done my research. I’d read a whole blog article! And as such I knew that handing out free lycanthropy in 5e would be ever so slightly unbalanced. That’s why I decided to make Stage 1 of the curse even shittier than the suggested “you get some stat adjustments.”

The scene played out like so. “Something huge and heavy is smothering you. There are predators all around, lumbering and deadly. The prey-animal’s fear takes hold. Run run run! And the rest of you guys? You see a fat gray rat struggle out of the sweat-soaked bedlinens. Your friend is gone. Only this tiny beast remains, its beady eyes black and darting.”

TLDR: My plan was to give the guy Wild Shape [rat only] for the first few levels. The initial “resist the rat instincts” of that first shapeshift would be a fun introduction to the ability. If all went according to play, the innkeeper’s cat would attack and poof poor rat-bro back to normal. That’s not exactly how it went though.

“The rat has the initiative!”

“So I have to run away? Cool. I skitter across the floor to the safety of the wardrobe. Maybe I can hide under there?”

“You motor your little legs. You find yourself passing over the elf’s foot…”

“Eek,” said the elf, which was more or less obligatory.

“…And as you squeeze your plump little rat body halfway under the wardrobe, you suddenly realize the horrible truth. You’ve just triggered an attack of opportunity!”

The resident rogue, who had aced the initiative and readied an attack, executed flawlessly. “I still have my shoe held up like a hammer, right? Well not knowing what else to do, I smack the rat’s ass to keep it from running away.”

The shoe dropped. Rat booty was summarily spanked. And because rats have only one hit point, the form fell away to reveal an unhappy wizard, now wedged beneath the wardrobe. (The aforementioned cat turned out to be unnecessary.)

Now up to this point, all these shenanigans had gone pretty much according to plan. But as the giggling died down, someone piped up: “So like, how does this work? He transforms into a rat whenever you smack his ass with a shoe?”

The rogue again: “I smack his ass with a shoe!”

It is moments like these when you’ve got to make a choice as a DM. You can either present your players with the mechanics you’ve researched, written down, and intended as part of a reasonable progression. Or you can give your nascent wererat a highly specific chancla-related mental block. I’ll let the permanent shoe marks on our wizard’s ass speak for themselves.

How about the rest of you guys? Have you ever improvised a curse / magical effect on the spur of the moment? What was it? How did it work? And was it immediately abused by all and sundry? Tell us your tale of esoteric effects and unique homebrew down in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Thrice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.