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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.













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)15.

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 major16 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 produced17.

In the weeks before the game in '84, ICSUTters Virgil Runnels, Mary Ellison, and Johnnie Young stole the components for an IPLEC18 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 sports19; the teams returned to the main timeline just in time to play the next year's game.


87 ICSUT Dean of Faculty Ephraim Bazan




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.


99 ICSUT Professor Emeritus Ephraim Bazan



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-Life20, 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 brainhack21 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 tsukumogami22; 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.


2015 ICSUT Professor Emeritus Ephraim Bazan (Deceased)


The 2017 prank was actually part of a larger magical working. As part of their thesis project23, 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 themself24 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" Chapman25 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 Kennings26 solved the multi-step riddle-gauntlet. Deer won 23-1727.



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 Norton28 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 years29 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 five-character name of one of the Grand Gods of the Webernet:

T L ; D R

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.

Troy's day had started pretty poorly. The flight from Miami to Boston had been stalled on the runway for about an hour by the weather, and by the time it landed he only had 15 minutes to make his connection to Portland, on a propeller plane that barely sat two dozen people and rumbled like a car on a gravel road—and of course, after he finally escaped the airport, his luggage had been roughed up pretty badly by the baggage handlers. All the important stuff was, thankfully, tucked away outside physical space. The Way he took to his final destination was in the most disgusting gas station bathroom he'd ever had the misfortune to enter, and he had to linger for a solid half-hour before there was nobody else in there who would be spooked by the unfortunate screeching noise it emitted when it opened.

And, of course, it was raining in Three Portlands. As ususal.

But all of those indignities and misfortunes were the mere backdrop to Troy's least favorite part of any job: introducing himself to his client. This one owned a computer store in a small commercial zone near Prometheus Square, not close enough to benefit from the anchoring effect but more than close enough that he usually had a solid customer base of parageeks looking for spare parts for their extracurricular activities; he was a Sidhe, slender and unusually pale, although that might've been as much from the weather and his occupation as his ancestry. Troy met him at the Prometheus Square trolley stop, did the standard hand-shaking and smile-and-nodding, and handed him a business card when it was finally time for actual introductions.

The elf took a second to examine the card, and gave Troy a concerned look. "Is this, like, your real name?"

Troy hadn't quite perfected this speech, so he tried a variation, a little less formal than usual. "Look, you know how Christians sometimes name kids after virtues? Chastity, Prudence, Constance, that sort of thing? Well, it used to be even worse back in Puritan times, and my folks were always pretty old-school. Also they were Satanists."

"Well, uh, welcome to Three Portlands, Mr. Dobson. Unless you prefer…" He looked down at the card again. "Destroy-The-Cities-And-Dignities-Of-Man?"

"Please, call me Troy."

"Nice to meet you, Troy. I'm Rowan. So you're a Satanist? I would imagine that's rare in your, uh, profession."

"Oh, I'm not a Satanist." Troy pulled a medallion from under his shirt. It was silver, of course, and on it was engraved the symbol of his faith: a flaming chalice. "I'm a Unitarian."


"So, Rowan. What exactly is the problem? Our mutual friend was pretty vague on the specifics."


And now came Troy's favorite part of any exorcism: gearing up. He placed his suitcase up on a table, spinning the dials of the combination lock to the numbers that would unlock the secret compartment hidden within a pocket of folded space.

"It's a Pocket Rocker. Kids' toy from about ten years ago. I actually prefer it to a cassette tape for esoteric applications—these tapes are one continuous loop, so you don't have to rewind them."