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Deer College Odyssey

The Buck Stops Here



By Indigo Norton (⁂anarcolumnist) and Leah Weil (⁂princex_leah)

Deer collects traditions like a practical thesis on hyperbolic geometry collects Hounds of Tindalos1. While many of our traditions are stupid, and others are irresponsible, none are stupider or more irresponsible than the Beltane Rugby Game, a yearly contest of athletic achievement between Deer and our bitter rivals at Portlands' other institute of higher learning, ICSUT2. Since the fourth such game, in 1957, every year students, alumni, and even faculty from one or both schools have unleashed their considerable magical prowess upon the field of play, not as rugbists3 but as pranksters, attempting to ensure their school's victory, the other school's victory, or simply the disruption of the game by the wackiest means possible.

"But Indigo and Leah," you must be thinking, "where can I find a list of these pranks, so I can be inspired to plan one of my own? How will I know what's already been done so often it's passé4? Who will tell me of the exploits of Deeries in the olden-times, when everything was black-and-white, when the weed was weak and the beer weaker still, when nobody cared about underage drinking and you could drop acid with your professors outside the lab section of Parapsychology 342: Methods of Psychonautics?" Well, oh noble seeker, look no further: for below is the comprehensive narrative of every major prank and counterprank in that most excellent of Deer traditions. Buckle up your robes, hold on to your pointy hats, and get ready for the Great Rugby Prank War.


The first Deer-ICSUT rugby game took place on May 1, 1953, proceeded uneventfully, and ended with an ICSUT victory, 23-175. The '54 (ICSUT, 19-14), '55 (ICSUT, 21-17), and '56 (Deer, 20-18) games were similarly prankless, although not without incident; the '56 game ended with Deer fans, overjoyed by their first victory, storming the field and lifting the players above their heads, all the while singing the Deer fight song6. ICSUT fans responded with their own college's fight song7 and grew increasingly rowdy; an all-out brawl was only prevented by ICSUT security golems, who formed a wall between the two sides until the Deeries could be escorted off campus.

Possibly inspired by the near-riot the previous year, the first real prank was unleashed in '57. A group of five unknown Deeries—who have never revealed their identities, more than 50 years later—came onto the pitch at halftime and summoned a demon8 to sabotage the ICSUT team. Before the demon could do more than ogle the ICSUTters unsettlingly, it was dispatched by the ICSUT cheer squad, who used the Pyramid of Solomon multi-user acrobatic banishment to great effect. The pranksters fled off the field and into the history books, and ICSUT went on to win 30-25.

In '58, retaliating for the previous year's prank, three ICSUT students—Ephraim Bazan9, Joseph Kent, and Michael Roberts—broke into the Deer Sports Center locker rooms the night before the game and dyed the Deer rugby team's uniforms pink. While the ISCUTters were caught by the CSOs, the Deer rugby team couldn't undo the dye's permanency charm before the game, and had to play with pink uniforms. Despite—or perhaps because of—the change in outfit, Deer won 30-27.

1959 marks the first year in which the prank had no clear source or motive10—a pattern that will be repeated numerous times in years to come. Just before the game started, American football gear manifested on all players, and all rugby balls in Portlands were transformed into footballs. Both teams agreed to play American football rather than rugby, although neither team had a strong grasp on the actual rules. At the end of the game, all rugby balls returned to their original form and the football gear disappeared. ICSUT won 28-21.

We don't know who pulled off the 1960 prank, but it was a doozy. On the night of April 27th, a herd of reindeer entered the ICSUT rugby firld. The reindeer were intangible and couldn't be permanently banished by magical means, but the shit they shat was definitely tangible, and quickly filled up the field; the game had to be played on the Deer field, where the home team won 22-13. On May 2nd, an ICSUT student noticed that feces patterns had formed themselves into the shape of the Seal of Deer College; further analysis of the spell matrix revealed that it could only be permanently dispelled by the entire ICSUT rugby team singing the Deer College fight song. It took four more days for the entire ICSUT rugby team to agree to this measure.

On game-day of '61, with ICSUT leading at halftime, their cheer squad performed a modified Zuni rainmaking dance; the resulting thunderstorm manifested immediately in Three Portlands and all three Portlands. The Deer rugby team refused to end the match because of the weather, even though the ICSUT rugby field was covered with as much as three feet of water. Deer's team captain that year was half-selkie, and used her fae power over the elements to lead the team to victory, 17-12.

During the weeks before the 1962 game, Deeries George Hopkins, Yngvar Tormundsson, and Suh Wu Rib broke into the ICSUT dorms and hid alarm clocks in walls, ceilings, furniture, plumbing and lighting fixtures, the astral and ethereal planes, and other alarm clocks. The alarms clocks were activated en masse via predetermined spell-triggers at various points between 12:07 AM and 8:43 AM on the morning of the game, preventing any of the ICSUT rugby players from getting any sleep. Deer won 26-11.


The first decade of rugby established the pranking tradition; the next would bring an escalation of the prank war, sparked by the significant collateral damage of the '61 and '62 pranks. This escalation took a few years and the '63 prank was still pretty tame. The night before the game, ICSUTters Jessica Gutierrez and Lothar Gottesman snuck onto Deer campus and used a preprogrammed translocation charm11 to move ICSUT almunus Ephraim Bazan12 past the campus exclusion wards. They performed a ritual that turns the entire Deer rugby field pink, and while they got caught by CSOs, the ritual couldn't be undone before the start of the game. ICSUT wins 22-17.

During the '64 game, 17 queen-sized mattresses landed on the ICSUT field, apparently launched from somewhere on the other side of town. The Portlands Police tracked the origin of the mattresses to a rooftop in the Jurassic District, where a magically-augmented trebuchet had been disabled and abandoned. The pranksters were never found. ICSUT won 27-22.

Xenophilus Withers, one of the few students in ICSUT's short-lived MBA13 in Applied Eschatology program, discovered that May 1, 1965 coincideed perfectly with a planetary alignment that would allow him to complete his thesis project, the summoning of the Dark God K'Vuth from the 18th Hell-Dimension to wreak havoc upon the mortal plane. He performed his ritual at halftime after conjuring an astral ice-devil to freeze both teams and all spectators in place; fortunately, K'Vuth was summoned elsewhere on earth by the Cult of the Golden Prince Awakened before Withers could finish his ritual, and it fizzled. Withers, embarrassed, unfreezed the teams and spectators, and play resumed. Deer won 25-19.

During their jaunt across time, the 1985 Deer and ICSUT rugby teams14 came into phase with the main timeline a few hours before the 1966 game. Rather than a standard Deer-ICSUT game, all four teams agreed to select the best players from each year and pit the two eras against each other. The past team was unable to keep up with the future's advances in countermagic and spellbreaking, and 1985 won 27-23.

On the eve of the '67 game, the ICSUT rugby field was TP'd heavily by a large mob of Deeries. Either by accident or by design, the pattern of the toilet paper across the center of the field formed a sigil of power that opened a previously-undiscovered Way leading to a third-level branch universe filled entirely with heavy water. The field was quickly flooded and the toilet paper dissolved, closing the Way. The game was relocated to the Deer field, as the ICSUT field was both waterlogged and radioactive. Deer won 26-19.

Retaliating for the TP'ing of their field, the ICSUT rugby team came onto Deer campus the night before the 1968 game, heavily armed with rolls of toilet paper and cartons of eggs. Unfortunately, they began their assault in the Canyon. Deer won by forfeit, as none of the ICSUT players could be located until several days later, when they began falling out of the trees that had kidnapped them15.


The 1970 game was, reportedly, a much more interesting experience for the players than for the audience, as both teams' water coolers were spiked before the game by unknown saboteurs with a drug cocktail known locally as AUM16. The entheogenic effects of the cocktail resulted in every player having a simultaneous religious experience at some point during the third quarter; the teams continued to play, and ICSUT won 25-23. After the game, most players from both teams dropped out of college to found the First Church of the Prolate Spheroid, a sect that still has over a dozen adherents in the Portlands area, and almost four in the rest of the world.









1978 saw the return of a familiar face: Ephraim Bazan, now an adjunct professor at ICSUT. Since his role as a professor gave him diplomatic immunity from the Deer campus exclusion hex, Bazan was able to enter Deer campus just after midnight on the 1st. He broke into the Deer steam tunnels and released a biomagic retrovirus, which colored the skin, hair, and eyes of all Deer students bright pink. While Bazan evaded the CSOs, his name was encoded in the DNA of the retrovirus and he was arrested by city cops immediately after the game. The virus's effects were reversed after six days days. Deer won 22-19.

The '79-'80 game was the longest one yet, and also set a probably-unbeatable score record for both sides. Using a combination of Greco-Egyptian theurgy, temporal thaumatology, and paratechnology, Deeries Ptolemaios Kleiopatros, Leopold Rákóczi, and Stëve33 sealed the Deer rugby field inside a time-bubble lasting a year and a day. The bubble stopped people inside from being injured or needing food, water, or sleep; both rugby teams agreed to play constantly for the duration of the prank. Deer won 742-731.

Midway through the third quarter of the 1981 game, the ball hatched, revealing an infant with green scaled skin, four arms, and a serpentine tail. Play proceeded with a replacement ball, and ICSUT won 19-14. After the game, the infant was left with the Three Portlands Paranatural Orphanage, and was later adopted by ICSUT professors Zohrah bint Iblis al-Shaytan (Demonology, 1979-2002) and Padmavati Nagin (Alchemical Engineering, 1976-2002)17.

In 1982, neither of the teams were made of mortal flesh and blood. Ricky Lime, an ICSUT Robotics major, created a squad of androids to replace the ICSUT team; Max Lowenstein, a Deer Kabbalah major18 created a squad of golems to replace the Deer team. The two artificial teams were evenly matched, and the game ended in a 0-0 draw after everyone got bored during the fourth overtime period.


ICSUT won the 1983 game 17-13. Afterwards, ICSUT players celebrated by pouring a cooler of Powerade (Red Cherry) over their coach's head, only to discover that it had been transformed into human urine; the next time each member of the ICSUT team urinated, Gatorade (Blue Raspberry) was produced19.

In the weeks before the game in '84, ICSUTters Virgil Runnels, Mary Ellison, and Johnnie Young stole the components for an IPLEC20 from the ICSUT Physics department and set them up around the ICSUT rugby field. As the game started, the pranksters activated the device, setting friction and air resistance on the field to zero. The device could not be deactivated without a passcode that they refused to divulge until the game was complete. Both teams agreed to play, but had lots of trouble keeping hold of the ball. Deer won 2-0.

On April 14th, 1985, that year's entire game was broadcast on Three Portlands Public Access TV, significantly before the actual game took place. Deer won 19-14. As the results of the game were known, the teams decided not to play, causing a severe temporal paradox that sent both teams on a wild adventure through the history of sports21.

The 1985 teams came back to the main timeline just before the 1986 game, having aged almost a decade in their seemingly-short absence. In the intervening year, both schools had to scramble to replenish their rugby teams from scratch, and most of the players were poorly-coached and inexperienced; in the model of their game against the combined forces of the year 1966, the 1985 teams proposed that the '86 teams should choose their best players and compete with the combined might of '85. The '85 teams had been hardened by their temporal voyage, and handily defeated their younger counterparts 33-12.

One more year, one more prank from Ephraim Bazan, now Dean of Faculty at ICSUT. The 1987 version of this dude's bullshit was an unnecessarily complicated caper that involved sixteen plants in the incoming freshman class, the blackmail of two Community Safety Officers and one Deer Metaphys Plant worker, twenty-four tanker trucks full of pink paint (eight per Portland) piped directly through a number of Ways, the theft of four ancient Egyptian mummies and the sacrifice of a black lamb; the result of all this nonsense was the empinkening of every part of Deer campus not protected by heavy mystical wards (i.e. everything but the labs and the library). The game proceeded as normal, as the empinkening did not actively hinder play; Deer won 27-19. Bazan's prank was reversed over the course of the next few weeks, except for the lights on one of the bridges across the canyon, which retained their color by popular demand.




In 1991, Deeries Charnel Popplestaff and Amber Lockmore did… Something. Some wicca shit, probably, given the names. We couldn't actually find any records about the exact prank anywhere, so it was either so boring that nobody cared to mention anything about it but the primary pranksters or it erased itself from the collective memory afterwards. Either way, we got nothin'.






Just before the 1996 game, all sports drinks and water belonging to ICSUT players became slightly alcoholic. The prank wasn't noticed until halftime; the ICSUT team performed a mass sobriety ritual and got new, non-alcoholic drinks. Deer won 27-24.

Game day '97: the Three Portlands Community College rugby team used High Urbanomancy to manifest an alternative geometry around the ICSUT rugby field, creating a pitch with three sides that are exactly opposite each other. An athleto-nomurgic incantation created a loophole in the rugby rules which they used to forcibly insert themselves into the game. 3PPC won 31-17-12; however, because of their unlicensed use of urbanomancy and nomurgy within city limits, the 3PPC team was summarily disbanded by the Mayor.


Ephraim Bazan's retirement mellowed him a little, and his 1999 prank was actually subtle. Rather than turn everything to pink all at once, he placed a hex on the ball that caused it to dye anything it touched during the game pink. The clothes and exposed skin of most of the players were thoroughly dyed, as was the field. ICSUT won 16-11. It was not until the players tried to depinken themselves that the true genius of Bazan's hex was revealed: the pink was magically contagious, and would spread down any open thaumaturgical channels to infect the auras of anyone who tried to dispel it. While the physical pink was quickly removed, the metaphysical pink still lingers on over a dozen Deer faculty (current and former), staff, and alumni.



In 2002, Sophia Ennoia Shaytan-Nagin, Beltane-Born Heir of the Light-Bringer, Princess of the Kingdom of the Nāga, Child of the Serpent and the Morning Star, Deer College Student Body President-For-Life22, stole every rugby ball in Three Portlands on the eve of the game, bringing them to her great lair in the steam tunnels beneath the Old Dorm Block, where she coiled around a great pile of them like a mother serpent around a clutch of eggs. The referees were able to source a replacement ball from the Isle of Portland, and the game began as normal. Play was interrupted midway through the third quarter as Sophia's unholy brood of serpentfolk emerged from the soil, hungry for the blood of the unscaled ones; the dread army was defeated by the combined might of the two schools' faculty, and their queen fled through an ephemeral Way into an unknown dark dimension with a select few of her children. Play resumed, and ICSUT won 24-18. Sophia's mothers turned in their resignations to ICSUT shortly after the game and disappeared, presumably to join their daughter in her secret lair.






In 2007, to commemorate 50 years of pranks, a group of 5 Deeries came onto the field at halftime and summoned former Deer professor Andrealphus Pavo (Mathematics, 1973-1980) to sabotage the ICSUT team. ICSUT's cheer squad dispatched Professor Pavo with the Pyramid of Solomon multi-user acrobatic banishment, and the pranksters fled the field. ICSUT won 30-25.



Using a sound system mounted on a bicycle, Deeries Esther Kogan and Olga Tokareva played a memetic audio brainhack23 immediately before the 2010 game. The brainhack caused all players and spectators to switch their school allegiance; the teams switched uniforms, and played the game. The Deer team, wearing ICSUT uniforms, won 30-21.




We've now hit 60 years of rugby, and with that a number of other important milestones—the 100th anniversary of ICSUT's existence, the numerologically-significant 72nd anniversary of the founding of ICSUT Portlands in 1941, and the 50th anniversary of the creation of ICSUT Portlands' mascot suit, Lucy the Lighthouse, on March 12, 1963. On that day in 2013, Lucy became a tsukumogami24; it hid this property until the day of the game, when it came onto the field without a wearer and attacked Fianna, Deer's skeletal Irish Elk mascot. Several Deer Necromancy professors and majors subdued the mascots, and play proceeded as normal. ICSUT won 30-25.


At halftime during the 2015 game, the field cracked open and Ephraim Bazan, now an undead abomination powered by the darkest sorcery, flew out from a flaming pit riding a dragon made of the bones of wicked children and wielding strange amalgamations of enchantment and technology in all six of his shadow-arms. It turns out they were paintball guns. Filled, you guessed it, with pink pellets. And they never ran out of shots. The ensuing storm of paintballs left everyone in the stands and on the field covered in pink paint and welts; after about 20 minutes of this nonsense, Bazan disappeared once more beneath the earth, and has not been heard from since.


The 2017 prank was actually part of a larger magical working. As part of their thesis project25, GORED TO DEATH BY A TWELVE-POINT BUCK, Deerie Demian Strange participated heavily in every major Deer tradition during the '16-'17 academic year. During halftime, they crucified themself26 on the horns of Deer's mascot, Fianna at the center of the field; while this had no immediate effect, the public display of harm caused directly to them by a symbol of the college reinforced the symbolic purpose of the earlier works in the series and honestly neither of us do Anart, we really can't speak much to this other than that it was apparently "sick as hell" and "really reminded [the spectators] of the imminence of [their] own deaths". Play began while the performance piece was still ongoing, with both teams simply avoiding the mascot and artist. Deer won 29-24.


In 2019, Deeries "Fellatio" Chapman27 and Lewis Rodriguez, members of Deer's arcane improv comedy group, were selected as that year's halftime entertainment; in the true spirit of improv, they seized this opportunity, performing a sketch about the ICSUT guardian sphinx that utilized ambient narrato-thaumic potential to riddle-lock the field, preventing the continuation of the game until ICSUTter Jen Kennings28 solved the multi-step riddle-gauntlet. Deer won 23-1729.



And finally, we come to the present. Having stockpiled large quantities of LaCroix-brand seltzer during an incident several months before the 2022 game, Deerie Indigo Norton30 used an army of minor servitor spirits to bury approximately 6,000 individual cans of the stuff in large caches beneath the field after shaking them heavily. During the game, whenever one of these caches was stepped on, a proximity triggered magical detonation would cause all the cans to explode, sending the players flying in a burst of mediocre sparkling water. Despite the soda-mines, which were clustered more heavily on Deer's side of the field to support the defense, ICSUT won 15-9.

There have now been 69 years31 of Deer-ICSUT rugby games; may of them have been mired in controversy, many have been only partially successful, many of them have involved teams that are neither Deer nor ICSUT, and all but a few have been pranked to hell and back. Of course, we realize that was a lot of information to take in, so we've provided a short summary below, that tries to encompass the scope of the prank war without getting into the nitty, gritty details; so without further ado, let us invoke the sacred pentagrammaton of one of the Grand Gods of the Webernet:


Deer Students/Alumni:
Deer Staff/Faculty:
ICSUT Students/Alumni:
ICSUT Staff/Faculty:

Deer Victory:
ICSUT Victory:
Other: (3PPC: 1; The Year 1985: 2; )

tags: three-portlands third-law goi-format _other

A lot of the little bits in this article were contributed by GreenWolf, ARD, and other people in the Third Law chat. Apologies to the professional wrestlers, real-life Reed students and faculty, and historical figures whose names have been remixed and/or just used straight up for this article. I would also like to thank my roommate, Color Antivirus, for being Indigo Norton's real-life counterpart.

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In the darkest corner of a humble tavern, two mages sat, quaffing ale and conversing well into the night. Both were young, neither past his thirtieth birthday; but like many young men of their generation, each had seen well more than his fair share of bloodshed.


"Alright. Just listen for a second. I'm a wizard. You're a wiza—"

"I prefer Húsjumazh, as you know. Flesh-shepherd, if you still refuse to pronounce Magyar properly. Carnomancer, even. But I am not a wizard. I do not conjure. I do not cast spells. I do not perform tricks. I sculpt my own body, in the manner of my forefathers for countless generations."

"Fine. Fine. I'm a wizard. You're a 'huss-you-mash'. But neither of us got ANY magical training in undergrad. Not one bit! We chose the liberal arts over ICSUT, and WHAT did it get us?"

"Matching drinking problems? You spilled my beer, by the way."

"NOTHING! A four-year lag on all those technical school mages. And now they're part of this 'Occult Coalition', leaving us where?"

"In an autonomous extra-dimensional city-state where they cannot court-martial you for sodomy?"

"I, OK, yes. That's where we are in a literal physical sense. But why are we in this situation?"

"Because you are not able to keep it in your pants when you hear the—what did you call it?—the 'unspeakably erotic accent' of a certain gentleman in the French resistance, and your commanding officer was not understanding when he walked in on you on your knees with—"

"ENOUGH! We are in public! And that is not the situation I meant! The situation I meant is that we, well-rounded individuals with the benefit of a solid liberal arts education, have been passed over in favor of hyper-specialized laboratory sorcerers who don't know a single goddamned thing outside their immediate field!"

"I think that we may have been passed over more because of your, ah, sexual tendencies and my admittedly radical political viewpoints, but—"

"And SO, my friend, we will found a college! Dedicated to the liberal arts and the occult sciences! And we will found it here!"

"In this bar?"

"Wait, wait, wait, let me try again, I messed up the teleportation matrix. We will found it… HERE!"


"We did not pay our tab. We can never return to that bar. Also I left my coat there, so you are buying me a new one."

"HERE! Upon the multiversal shadow of our alma mater! We will stabilize the shadow and use the buildings!"

"I do not think that either of us has enough raw magical power to succeed in that endeavor. And won't the city object? How are you intending to get the mayor's approval for this project?"

"Don't worry about the mayor. Already got the proper planning permission."

"What? How? Nobody gets permission to freeze land here."

"Did him a favor."

"Do… Do I want to know what kind of favor?"

"Would you believe me if I told you that I acquired some rare Bing Crosby memorabilia for the mayor's personal collection?"


"Then you don't want to know. And don't worry about our power needs, either. I got a guy to help me out with that."

"Do I want to know about that either?"

"You probably wouldn't believe this one either."

"Try me."

"Paid an ex-mobster to capture the ghosts of Simeon and Amanda Reed so that we can use them to power the campus."

"You were right. I do not believe you."

"Well that one is true. Got 'em right here."

"Is that a can of beans?"

"No, it's a… Wait, that one is a can of beans. THIS one has the ghosts in it. Do you have a can opener?"

"It might surprise you to learn that I actually would. If someone hadn't left my coat in a dive bar across town. Without paying our tab."

"Well, guess we'll just have to open it with a knife. Don't worry, it won't explode. Probably."

"I was not worried until you said that."

"I said DON'T worry. I swear, you never listen to me."


"We should have… An obelisk. A big old obelisk. Made of granite."

"Can you conjure an obelisk? Because that is well out of the scope of my… Oh. There it is."

"And it should have… Something written on it. Can't just have an obelisk without something written on it."

"We could come up with a college motto? Harvard has 'Veritas', Yale has 'Lux Et Veritas', Johns Hopkins has 'Veritas Vos Liberabit'… There are probably some that aren't about 'veritas'…"

"First of all it can't be in Latin. Gotta be English."

"We could just translate it into every language we know. There is plenty of room on the obelisk."

"Hmm. Alright. I got English, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Sumerian, Fae Celtic… Uh… Could probably do Coptic. And Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Chinese, if it's not too complicated. Enochian, but that's a bad idea. Oh, and Spanish. Maybe."

"Other than the ones we share, I know Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Sanskrit, Akkadian, Hebrew, and German. The Old Tongue runs into the same problems as Enochian, and my Finnish is so rusty that it is not worth considering."

"We can always add languages, lord knows I made this bastard big enough."


And on the next morning, when the two mages awoke from their slumber, and then went back to sleep, and woke up once more for real this time, and walked to the local diner for a greasy hangover breakfast, they returned to the site of their labors and saw what they had wrought. Lo, before them stood a college, crystallized from the shadow of another, its halls ready to be filled with students and teachers dancing that great dance we call academia; and at its center a great obelisk stood, carved with a spell from a single block of black granite, and upon it in a multitude of languages were inscribed the founding principles of this college, which would guide its students and faculty for many years to come:


Both were silent for a time, until the flesh-worker spoke; and he said, "This is not going to look good on our admissions brochures." And the other merely nodded, and sat upon the grass, his head in his hands.