Takes place in 1929 United States, 39 years after the cthuloid-apocalypse, fall/mutation of all Earth governments, and mass immigration of extradimensional entities. With this destruction comes a brilliant influx of new knowledge and perspective, including prognostication. For example, pretty much everyone knows that in 1950, the last human is going to die in captivity. In New York, this knowledge has led to a feverish revival of life, light, and youth, with lots of parties and gangsters and generally just people trying to live as hard as they can before the sun departs for warmer climes.
Refugees from some strange, gaseous dimension, they call themselves the "Noble People". Everyone else calls them 'loonies'.
In 1909, they arrived in New York in droves, by the millions. They seeped up through the tiles on Ellis Island's immigration desk, begging for asylum in their wispy voices. (They were driven from their home by something that they describe as a 'typewriter', or many typewriters, but the exact details are either beyond our ability to understand or their ability to communicate.)
Immigration Services (already mostly staffed by Outsiders at this point) had no place to put them. The slightest breeze killed them. Inhalation killed them. They couldn't share a room or container because of decency standards. And so most of them were bundled into tupperware containers and shoved under desks, where most of them still remain, forgotten.
A great deal more of them, however, were put into balloons and turned out on the streets. This was all done hastily, since the number of immigrants was more than the agency could process without resorting to the usage of time fractalizers (illegal).
Loonies have gone on to become a well-known underclass in Eldritch Americana. They haunt the slums, and live in big family clusters in the coldest buildings (warmth makes them itchy). Vast numbers of them work as servants in richer houses, or as laborers in protected jobs, due to their fragility (see below).
Interestingly, the phone sex industry is almost completely dominated by them, since most people find their breathy moans and soft lisps to be powerfully exotic and sensual. They have the most attractive voices around.
They are called loonies because (a) they live in balloons, and (b) they love nonsense. This last aspect has led them to be caricatured as insane, when they are really as sane as your humble author.
Loonies enjoy our surrealism, true. And in fact, the most lauded surrealists of the 20th century have been loonies. When they talk among themselves, or when they talk to friends, they punctuate their speech with all sorts of non sequiturs and balderdash. The words still have a meaning behind them, but one that is obscured by a scorn of strict rationality.
"How are your cabbages, King-lady?" means "How are you doing today?"
"Voluble as ever, but they'll still make a nice jelly." means "It's life."
With strangers, they talk like normal people. Usually. There are plenty of saucy loonies who treat everyone like a friend, and therefore never make much sense.
Tribulations of the Balloon-People
Loonies face two unique problems.
First, they puncture easily if they are only wearing a balloon. In New York, gangs of children kill loonies by the millions. With slingshots and tack-studded pebbles, or with needle-tipped sticks. Since loonies aren't full citizens, legal protection is non-existent and retribution is criminal.
Most loonies are terrified of children, who wear their skins as hats.
Most of them buy a pigskin balloon-suit as soon as they can.
Second, they are a powerful drug if inhaled. This has caused the DEA to categorize them as a Schedule II narcotic. In addition to their driver's license, each loonie must also carry their CSA (Controlled Substances Act) card, which licenses them to possess themselves.
Transporting a loonie across state lines is also illegal (unless they walk across themselves). Ownership of a loonie is also illegal, which at least has the benefit of protecting them from slavery.
Each loonie has an assigned pharmacist, who functions pretty much like their parole officer. Failure to check in usually results in a warrant for arrest being issued (but never in a timely manner--pharmacists are all overworked).
While loonies are legal on the state level, they are illegal on the federal level, so they tend to be hassled/arrested/fined by federal agents, eggshell men, and powdered knights. They are 100% illegal within the District of Columbia.
Effects of Inhaling a Loonie
For the next 1d6 minutes, hallucinations and . . . (roll a d6):
- Eyes shine like flashlights, in the same color as the loonie.
- You speak the opposite of whatever you intend. All spell effects are reversed, except for ones that cause damage or healing.
- Brilliant euphoria dispels all negative emotions (rage, fear, sadness) but taking aggressive actions in this state require a save.
- Logorrhea. If they fail a save, they babble a secret, or whatever secret they were hoping to avoid talking about. If they make a save, they just babble nonsense (which loonies usually regard as attractive and interesting).
- Random mutation from your favorite mutation table, except that this mutation is temporary.
Loonies as PCs
- This is probably a race-class. They're sort of a a fighter-wizard hybrid.
- Hit Die: d6
- XP: as fighter
- Weapon proficiencies as fighter.
- Armor proficiencies as fighter.
- Treat fighting ability as a fighter of half level, rounded up.
- Treat casting ability as a wizard of half level, rounded down.
- Saves as wizard.
- Your gas is a neon color. Roll a d6: 1 pink, 2 blue, 3 violet, 4 green, 5 yellow, 6 luminous white and you shed light as a candle.
- Can vent your gas, which deals 1d6 damage to you which recovers at 1 point per day, regardless of magical healing. If you vent it in someone's face, they need to save or suffer the effects as if they had inhaled you.
- Roll stats as normal, except 2d6 for Strength. (Strength can later be improved by wearing a suit. Different suits give different Strength bonuses.)
- Balloon = +0 Str, +0 AC, can jump 4x, takes no fall damage, cannot submerge, Save or Die if they take any damage from sharp/piercing sources. They can jump over most buildings, but will blow away on a windy day.
- Pigskin = +1 Str, +2 AC (as leather), can jump 3x, takes no fall damage, can submerge with Str check, costs $1-2 (~ 10-20gp)
- Aluminum-and-Plastic = +2 Str, +4 AC (as chain), can jump 2x, takes half fall damage, costs $10-20 (~ 100-200gp)
- Spaceman Suit = +3 Str, +6 AC (as plate), moves a little slower than a human (10 instead of 12), costs $100-200 (~ 1000-2000gp)
- Begin play wearing a balloon. (You'll probably do your first dungeon/adventure in a shitty, rubber balloon suit. Yes, this sucks.) Balloon suits are save-or-die when popped because the tension is the skin is enough to disperse the contained gas.
- Loonies can carefully exit their suit and float around. Treat this as gaseous form with the following exceptions: Take 1d4 damage every 6 seconds exposed, unless in vacuum or protected atmosphere. Take minimum damage from non-magical sources (instead of none). Strong winds or fans = save or die. Try not to spend to much time outside your balloon. Remember that you are compressible, and in a pinch, you can be stored in tupperware or a waterskin.
- At level 3, they can choose which effect their gas has on a person if they succeed on a Constitution check.
- At level 5, whenever they save against a gas or gaseous breath effect, they can suck it into their suit and neutralize it. They can later vent it out with all of the original effects. They can only hold one gas this way.
- Immune to mundane poisons and diseases. Still need to breathe.
I sort of envision them as being really shitty at level 1, with the popping and all. Bonus points if the DM gives the player a balloon at the start of the session, tells them "this is you" and then pops it if/when they die.
Although they can sort of fight like fighters, their shitty strength limits them from really exploiting it. They get cool abilities at level 3 and 5, both of which are unreliable and potentially powerful. Or in another word: fun.
Also: just picture a spaceman suit filled with whorls of gas, stomping around a subway dungeon, armed with an aluminum sword and a spellbook. I like it.