September 22, 2023

How To Brave a Bender With A Tippling Terror

As the pub owner begins to tell you and your fellow party members about the troops that have been moving through the village, you hear a crash from downstairs. He sighs, the exasperation clear in his face. 

“Hang on, let me just take care of this.” 

He opens a doorway in the kitchen and descends the stairs into the cellar. You decide to follow, still not sure you trust this man and looking for any possible hints to his true motives. The stairs take you down into a cool earthen room lined with shelves and neatly stacked bottles. The smell of slightly spoiled fruit lingers, and you assume these are bottles of wine, probably worth more than you make on an entire contract. 

“I understand, but can you just try to keep it down for a little while?” the pub owner is pleading with a very small man. He is wearing a long red coat and looks unkempt, unshaven, like he’s been wearing the same clothes for too long. 

“How ‘bout you bring me a little snack and I’ll think about it,” the small man hiccups. Wine sloshes out of his tankard as he talks, splashing onto the ground. 

“Okay, okay, I’ll see what we have upstairs,” the pub owner says, and looks at you helplessly. The small man seems to notice you for the first time, too, and his eyes narrow as he watches you. 

“What are you looking at?” he snaps, and you know that tone in his voice too well. He’s ready for a fight. 

Time to try your luck against the Clurichaun. 

Clurichauns are basically the meaner and much drunker cousin of the leprechaun. These tiny deviants are part of the pantheon of fairies in Irish folklore, distinguished from leprechauns by their preference for wearing red or purple, their more haggard appearance, and the ever-present bottle or mug of booze in their hands. They tend to haunt pubs and wine cellars, choosing to post up where they won’t be far from a supply of alcohol. 

The behavior of a clurichaun is almost indistinguishable from that of a good ‘ole inebriated human. They love telling long winded stories, their temperament is unpredictable, and if you don’t keep an eye on them they’ll drink whatever alcohol they can reach, snatching up bottles and finishing unattended drinks. So, it makes sense that the ways to keep them happy will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever taken care of a drunker friend—leave them snacks, listen to their stories, and don’t interfere with the flow of booze and you’re likely to escape their wrath. They may even start leaving you gifts, not unlike when you go on a drunken online shopping binge. 

Their outbursts are equally familiar to anyone who’s spent time around a heavy drinking crowd, but with a magical twist. If you’re dealing with a discontented clurichaun, you can expect anything from irritating antics like spoiling milk to more serious retaliation, like making your whole family sick. However, upset a clurichaun and they’re most likely to go for a good old fashioned brawl, which they will definitely win. Despite their size, clurichauns are able to deliver an absolutely savage beating, with stories describing their opponents being bedridden by their injuries for three weeks afterward. There are no stories of a human defeating a clurichaun in a fistfight, so it may not be possible to win with just your mitts. A non-human may fair better, but given the clear supernatural nature of the clurichaun’s fighting ability, it seems risky to bet on just size or strength. 

As with many of the trickster spirits in Irish folklore, it’s best to avoid a fight altogether. Feed them snacks and share a drink and you shouldn’t run into trouble. Do not, under any circumstances, try to out-drink a clurichaun. They can and will drink you under the table, so if you have any clever ideas about challenging a clurichaun to a drinking contest, you might as well give those up now. It’s also worth noting that once a clurichaun has taken a liking to a person or place, it is nearly impossible to get rid of them. Even if you move, they will follow. If a clurichaun has taken up residence in your home or pub, the best bet is to sell off all your booze and hope that they move on to a place with better supply. 

If you want to truly defeat a clurichaun, your best bet is learning its true name. As with many magical beings, there is power in speaking a creature’s name so you will gain some measure of safety and control if you can find it. Remember that names are closely guarded secrets, and that even an entire wine cellar’s worth of alcohol may not be enough to get the clurichaun to slip.

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