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In Kingdom of Loathing, Jick and company have used certain metaphors and actions to help clue the player as to an effect that might be in place. Below lists the more commonly used ones.
Anger and annoyance
Monster Level. Many skills and items that increase monster level will include messages about making monsters upset.
Familiar Weight. Do you love animals? So does Brother Corsican! A few items and effects describe you as being more in touch with the animal kingdom, an indication something will affect familiar stat gains or weight.
Red often stands for Muscle, and blue for Mysticality. This corresponds with the common association of red with HP and blue with MP in other games. Green and possibly yellow can stand for Moxie. Examples are Take the Red Pill/Take the Blue Pill and red/blue/green LavaCo lamps.
Competition and Rage
Extra PvP Fights. Things that would be associated with competitiveness, like energy drinks, or otherwise cause the player themselves to feel angry or generally pissed off will most likely increase the amount of PvP fights from rollover.
Item drop bonus. The Baby Gravy Fairy danced when it found items, and that has been extended to other familiars and effects. The choice of dancing appears to have been an arbitrary one however.
Dazed and confused
Deleveling. Less a metaphor, and more likely just an accurate description of deleveling. Sometimes will be described as "leaving the monster visibly shaken".
Elemental resistance. This is a relatively new metaphor as of this writing, but the logic (if any can be said to exist) seems to suggest that a layer of oiliness helps protect one's body from the elements. Seen in Oilsphere, celestial olive oil, Oil of Parrrlay, and pec oil.
Item drop bonus. Mostly used with eyedrops, as there are four types in the game that boost item drops. In addition, some effects which cloud your vision can lower item drops. Note that this contrasts winking being a meat drop booster.
Combat frequency. This refers to how smelly you are, instead of how well you smell other things. Many monsters in the kingdom hunt by scent, and making yourself smellier will usually increase the combat frequency.
Stat gain bonus. The smile first originated with the bloody face on the Volleyball familiar, a reference to Wilson from the movie Cast Away.
Meat bonus. Any familiar that winks or item that makes the player start winking will likely increase the amount of meat dropped. This originated with the first meat-drop familiar, the Leprechaun.