Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Concerning Hobbits

Has anyone ever read the Bromeliad?
These books
Well, a lot of my inspiration for twisting the Halfling class came from this... and from Goblin Punch... and from Ten Foot Polemic... let's just say I don't actually have any original ideas at all.

Halflings

Halflings are seen to be relaxed people who live in harmony with nature. They wear no shoes, only basic homespun garments, and use no tools. They live inside the hollows of large trees (or sometimes in large warrens in the ground), generally have many completely docile animals around, and as a rule are high off their fucking asses all the time.


Several Halflings seen here on a quest to the nearest 7/11

Halfling Drug Culture

Halflings have the best shit, everyone knows this. It is said that it was the Halflings who taught the secret of making alcohol to humans, and although humans have subsequently developed a large range of alcoholic beverages, it is universally agreed that there is no drink more potent or toothsome than that made by the Halflings. They produce wines, meads, beers, and spirits of every kind imaginable.

In addition to this there is the famous Halfling weed, which produces a feeling of relaxation and euphoria, with the side effect of increased appetite (the source of the Halfling reputation for idleness and appetite). Halflings are particularly fond of this, which seems to settle their almost omnipresent anxiety. There are many varieties and strains of this plant, and connoisseurs are known to discern between them as a vintner would between vintages of wine.

Cultivate large varieties of Psilocybin mushrooms, which they are fond of eating ("A shortcut to mushrooms" is a common Halfling expression meaning that some activity or other will be a good time). In addition to preparing them in many different ways, they will also make "toadstool tea", a distillation of the active qualities into a, rather repellent, juice (aficionados swear it is an acquired taste). Halfling brewmasters are fond of brewing these into beers and wines, combining the psychoactive properties of the mushrooms with the effects of alcohol.


"Bilbo's not here, man"
"No man, this is Bilbo, let me in!"
"Bilbo's not here, man"

Halflings will cultivate poppies where available, creating tinctures, teas, and smoking products. All of which has a euphoric and soporific effect. These products are often employed by surgeons of the human world to numb patients during surgery, or to placate those madmen hounded by mania. Halflings are also fond of certain varieties of toads and frogs whose skin, so they claim, contains a wondrous effect. They will often keep the same animal by their side for may years, and upon its death they will skin it, dry the skin, and smoke it.

A variety of other plants and procedures unknown outside of Halfling communities also exist. Pretty much if it will get you out of your mind, the Halflings have probably already mastered the cultivation of it. Halflings have a resilience to all forms of psychoactive drugs, probably for an overabundance of them.



Halfling Beastmastery

Hi Ho Rover!

Halflings have a preternatural ability with animals, being able to summon them to help willingly with a manner of tasks. Halflings have an inbuilt natural magic that lets them extend their minds into other beings, and dominate their will. Although Halflings would obviously prefer to put it in a more gentle nature, but that is the nature of it. Their trees are hollowed out by armies of squirrels, their burrows dug by legions of badgers, their flocks need no fences as the animals simply do not stray, and when the time comes they walk meekly to the slaughter.


Even this Pig thinks Halflings are slackers

A Halfling settlement is unnervingly peaceful to outsiders. Simply the sounds of nature, of small figures relaxing in their tree hollows or by the brook, or composing their god-awful poetry. All sound of industry replaced with quiet and docile animal sounds. The cows do not even moo too loudly. It is not exactly unpleasant, but it is uncomfortably alien. Most Halflings who leave their settlements, make a good living working with animals, although some left their settlements because they did not wish to work in the traditional Halfling manner.

The Dread of Machines

Halflings are the other side of the coin to Dwarves. Halflings are terrified of technology, and above all the ancient devices of the Dwarves. Halflings will be uneasy around the technology of humans, tend not to like working with even the simplest of tools (would much rather get an animal friend to do a task for them). You will tend not to find Halflings as mill-workers, or smiths, or even carpenters; those that do are Halfling daredevils, revelling in the exhilaration and terror of the machines.

Halflings worship nature, and hope when they die to be forgotten, brought back inot the folds of nature and unconsciousness. Halflings brought into the fold amongst humans will follow in the imposed worship of the Church, but there are no real devotees, no Halfling martyrs or Saints. Those Halflings who are within the Church tend to be efficient bureaucrats rather than ecstatic preachers, or devoted ascetes. For all their seeming atheism (or so the Church has called it when they have previously purged and Crusaded against Halflings), they do believe in at least one supernatural entity, a dark presence that terrifies them. Although it is not mentioned amongst them, nor to any outsiders, but they all know the terror they feel has a name... The God of the Machine: Armok.



Rules Malarky
Special Abilities: 
At One With NatureHalflings are most at peace in the woods and natural places. They have a 3 in 6 Bushcraft skill at first level.

Small, Sneaky and AfraidHalflings are dextrous and careful and good at staying out of danger. They begin with a 5 in 6 in Stealth in the wilderness or in confined spaces. They gain a +1 bonus to your DEX modifier and add a bonus +1 AC when you are not surprised. They’re small and so cannot wield large weapons and treat medium weapons as two-handed. Halfling unarmed strikes only do d2-1 damage.

Dangerous Devices
If a Halfling ever comes within 20' of a Dwarven Abutubarû Device they must make a save against Law. Upon failure, they have become linked to the Device, slaved to its will. The Halfling is now compelled to act in accordance with the Device's directive and must attempt to fulfil its centuries old task. F the Halfling is removed from communication range, they regain their own will. However they may not communicate this fact, and must do all in their power to prevent it, as the primary directive of every device is to prevent disconnection. If they are under the effects of mind-altering substances, they are assumed to have a +5 bonus to the save. A Critical Success on this roll means that the Halfling has connected to the Device, and it is now slaved to them.

Beastmastery
Starting at 2nd level Halflings gain the ability to dominate creatures and bring it under their control. They may attempt to dominate any animal of hit dice equal to their level -1. At any time they may control their level worth of hit dice in animals. Trying to dominate a new creature beyond this releases their hold on a random animal under their control.
A Domination attempt take one whole round (declare before initiative) and requires the Halfling to touch the creature or look deep into its eyes. All creatures can feel the violating touch on their psyche during domination attempts, failing a domination roll may fill unintelligent beasts with madness and fear and drive intelligent creatures to kill the Halfling before they lose their free will.
Domination is an opposed check of the Halfling's Charisma bonus plus level against the target’s Wisdom modifier plus level. If the Halfling is under the influence of mind-altering substances, they are assumed to have a +2 bonus, and additionally will not automatically madden an unintelligent creature, unless the check is failed by a margin of 5 or more.
Creatures might attempt to break free of this control (save vs Law) if they are treated badly, or forced to do something drastically against their will. If they successfully resist twice in a row they break free and may turn on their former master.

Drug Culture
Halflings only suffer half the psychoactive effects of any substance (rounded down)

Dwarfs, Dwarves, and Dwarrow

Dwarves are natural engineers. Or rather, a better understanding might be, they are unnatural engineers. Dwarves have a natural understanding of mechanisms and devices, they have an instinct to construct, maintain, and repair. They are also extremely hardy and prefer to live in cramped tunnels. Given that this is "fantasy Dwarf" that appears mechanically in so many games, I set out to try and make a why behind this.

Inspired by Scrap Princess's reimaginings, the Bromeliad, and Discworld Dwarves

D&D: Dwarves and Devices

Dwarves love devices, they love mechanisms and technology. They tend to be inspired by mills, and locks, and really any sort of object or tool with moving parts. They are excellent at maintaining such things, work well with metals and mining (indeed all craftsdwarfship is always of the highest quality). However, they weirdly do not seem to invent anything of their own. Only very rarely will a Dwarf create a new mechanism (perhaps once in a generation), however that mechanism will be lovingly maintained and run essentially forever. However, Dwarves do not generally rely on innovation, but rather the exploitation of ancient and mysterious machines known colloquially as Devices.

Dwarven Devices are of mysterious and huge power, but often now terribly clear on what their purpose is. Dwarves are expert at maintaining, repairing, and (most importantly) repurposing these strange things to suit their own ends. Very rarely will a Dwarf allow a Device to be in the possession of a non-Dwarf. However, there have been notable exceptions. The waterworks of the Imperial capital, for example, are powered by such a Device. Devices, when they are found, are generally found deep in the crust of the planet. In the depths of coal seams, or at the bottom of sea beds. They can also be found in the ruins of ancient Dwarven holdfasts destroyed in war (as the Dwarves would never willingly abandon such treasures).
  
Possibly a Device, possibly time travel



Dwarves largely categorise Devices into two groups: Mānaḫtubutu (lit. The thing that toils) and Abutubarû (lit. The thing that oversees). Of the two, the Mānaḫtubutu are more likely to be seen. Although particularly complex arrangements will involve combinations of many different Mānaḫtubutu Devices, and one or two Abutubarû.


The Thing from Truckers, presented here for no real reason

Dwarves were a great part of the kingdom of the Sorcerer King Sardanapalus, the Dwarven language is closely related to Akkadian. The cities of Sardanapalus' Empire utilised many Devices, and although the ruins have been largely picked clean in the centuries since, there is always a chance that some remain in a previously inaccessible chamber.

Dwarven Modifications

Dwarves sometimes suffer from a sort of madness, which Dwarves seem to interpret as divine. The symptoms are invariably the same: the Dwarf will feel irrationally dissatisfied with some part of their body, and endeavour to remove it. After this, they will craft an artificial replacement part. All this takes place in a sort of manic state or fugue-like trance. These prostheses (and those Dwarves who sport them) are held in great reverence by Dwarven society. These could be as simple as a hook in place of a hand, but given access to greater resources and specifically Devices, they can create replacement parts for themselves superior (or at least more specialised to a particular task) than their original body part. The ideal Dwarf would be a Dwarf who had successfully replaced all their body with artificial components. Despite the social esteem, Dwarves will only craft new limbs/parts when the madness strikes them, otherwise they lack the inspiration to do so (as if a part of their brain is walled off, or perhaps some form of native magic).

Once a Dwarf has removed a piece of themselves, they may keep tinkering with the prosthesis, adapting and upgrading it. For instance, if a Dwarf removed their hand and replaced in with a metal claw (better for climbing, and for delicate work cleaning and carving gems), they could later replace it with rudimentary pincers, if they transitioned more into metalwork. Or, if they were lucky enough to find a suitable device, create a fully articulated robot hand that would grip stronger than a mortal hand, and could removed to act independently.




Some possible Dwarven body modifications:

Hook Hand: A natural weapon that does 1d8 damage, and a bonus to climbing checks. Also a bonus to tinkering involving delicate carving or intricate mechanisms. You may no longer hold a weapon or tool in this hand

Leg Blades: Double running speed and jumping distances. However, suffer a penalty to climbing checks

Carapace: A black iron carapace welded directly onto where skin once was. Counts as natural plate armour. You may no longer wear any armour, nor clothing other than loose robes

Crystaline Eyes: Replace eyes with crystalline obs that allow for increased ranges of spectrum and/or magnification. Requires specific devices.

Hookshot Arm: May fire a repelling line to automatically winch you to another point within 100'. As a weapon it does d6 damage at range. Requires a specific device to build

Dwarves in Mines

Dwarves love to mine. They have a natural affinity for metals and ore, both extracting them and crafting them into useful shapes. Dwarves will mine just about any mineral and find a use for it. From coal in furnaces, to crystals in lenses, to iron for just about anything. Dwarves make superior grade steel, knowing the inherent magics of the material.
  Dwarves seem to be built for living in the cramped and dangerous conditions of mines, being hardy enough not to succumb to toxic vapors and miasmas, resilient enough to survive minor cave ins, have an instinct for direction in tunnels, an ability to see in complete darkness, and can survive quite happily off the variety of fungi, lichen, and blind cave creatures that are the sources of nourishment in the darkness.


The God of the Dwarves

Dwarven religion, often incorporated into the human religion, is monotheistic although not exclusively so. Dwarves throughout history have maintained that although there may be many gods, there is but one god of the Dwarves. Dwarvish beliefs mesh well with strictly monotheistic faiths, although their attitude towards God is somewhat unique. More than anything else, Dwarves fear their God. God is powerful, terrible, and vengeful. God can be placated, with ritual, with proper behaviour, with prayer, but it would be hard to say if the Dwarves worship God.

When incorporated into monotheistic human religions, Dwarves will identify their God as the God (and whatever name is ascribed to them), however in Dwarven temples, or if the Dwarves are incorporated into a polytheistic religion, the God of the Dwarves is known as Armok. The Dwarvish word for their people is Notharmok. Armok knows all and sees all, Armok demands toil, Armok demands sacrifice.


Dwarven Carving of Armok

Dwarf Fortresses

Although Dwarves have many mines, holdfasts, and other structures in which they dwell and toil, coming in all shapes and designs, there is only one type of true Dwarf Fortress. These are where the Dwarves find the majority of their prized Devices. This is where they truly feel they belong. Lodged deep within the crust of the planet, there remain massive sections of the Tomb Ship of the Lich King. Even these fragments and shards of that great vessel are large as palaces and towns. They are made of mysterious black iron, are honeycombed with secret passages and hatchways and unknown traps.

Most Fortresses have been well explored by the Dwarves, and these settlements extend into the surrounding rock with the black iron chunk at the core. However, some are too large even for their devoted inhabitants to have explored fully, some have not yet been discovered, and some that were once thriving fell silent seemingly overnight. Succumbing to some unknown terror that dewlls within the depths of such places.


Sweet! Free Dwarf Fortress!

Rules Malarky

Hardy Constitution
Dwarves begin with +1 to their Constitution modifier. Dwarves can never die of alcohol poisoning.

Craftsdwarfship
Given half a day and appropriate materials, a Dwarf can mend all notches of damage from any piece of equipment. Given access to a forge or workshop the time spent is an hour.

Mining Expertise
Dwarves have a natural direction sense underground, and are considered to have a 3 in 6 in Bushcraft when underground. They also have infravision (similar to seeing through night-vision goggles)

Dwarven Devices
If a Dwarf ever comes into the possession of a Device and wishes to re-purpose it, they have an automatic success in tinkering.

Dwarven Body ModificationEvery level, a Dwarf may (given the right materials) upgrade themselves with an adaptation, or refit an extant prosthetic.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Skinchangers

The Hobbit is one of the greatest fantasy books ever, and one of the greatest characters in that great book is Beorn the Skin-Changer (the less said about the travesty perpetrated on him by the movies the better).

7th Sea is my first and truest love (although I ended up married to nWoD and am currently having an affair with James Young's adaptation of LotFP), and a great majority of my love for that is the sorcery. Tearing screaming holes in reality that bleed at the edges, just so you don't have to walk as far to the shops, drawing on the power of legends and myths to become better at thematically appropriate skills, carving runes into your own flesh to access what would be minor magical effects in any other system. All of them linked to blood and darkness, and ancient pacts (seriously, if you have never looked at 7th Sea I recommend it as a setting if nothing else).
And there is Pyeryem: the magic of shapechanging. You bargain with an animal to use its skin, a spirit skin not a literal skin, but rather a piece of the animal's soul. The bargain is that the animal gets to live as long as you do. So it is relatively easy to bargain with a mouse, or a cat, or some other small and short lived beastie, but it may be harder to convince a whale, or an elephant, or a Dragon to do the same. Generally, you have to help the animal out in some way to earn its respect.


New Class: Skinchanger

Most say the Skinchangers are a myth, something that superstitious peasants believe, or that existed back in the dawn of time. Some say that they are the offspring of witches and the devils they compact with to gain their powers. Some say that there is a secret cult, where if you are willing to debase yourself to their wicked ways and drink a cup of blood from an innocent you will gain the power to take the form of a beast. However in truth Skinchangers are neither born nor trained, they are made.
  

Ancient Greek cunningly disguised as a dog

Arising in the barbarian tribes far to the north, in a time before time, the art of making new Skinchangers still abides. The Skinchangers do in fact have their own cults, the priests of which have charge of making new Skinchangers. However, the organization is loose, and shadowy. A sect of the cult can consist of one lone Skinchanger, engaging in the sacred arts of taking on other forms upon empty forgotten moors. Usually, the art stays within a family, but since Skinchangers sacrifice a great deal of their fertility in the transformation, not all those initiated into the cult will be Skinchangers. Likewise, if an outside can seek out these hidden cults (unlikely), and become inducted into their mysteries (even more so), they too may become a Skinchanger.

First, the appropriate steps are taken, on a moonless night, to prepare an ancient stone upon which to perform the ceremony. A herbal tincture is swallowed, partly for mystic purposes, and partly to numb the pain somewhat of what comes next. After the rituals are intoned, and the ceremonial woad pigment markings are daubed on the supplicant's naked body, the Skinchanger priest begins the secret art of flaying the supplicant alive. Their skin is removed in one piece and the skinless body is rubbed with a mixture of salt, Rosemary, Statice, and Xiphium. After this process is complete, and more ritual prayers have been chanted, the supplicant's skin is replaced and sewn back on. 


For such a violent process very little permanent evidence is left. A small scar a few inches long on the collarbone where the first incision of the flaying was begun, a lasting feeling of discomfort beneath the skin (which fades over time, but does never completely vanish), and of course the newly granted ability to take on other forms.

To gain a new skin you must engage in the arcane practice of blooding. This involves several steps. First, you must kill and skin the animal that you wish to turn into. This must be done with care, as if the skin is not removed as one piece, the ritual will not be effective. When you take the form of the animal you will always take the form of the animal whose skin you stole. For example, if you steal the skin of a horse with a distinctive diamond pattern on its face when you transform into a horse, you will also have that diamond.


And be doomed to forever be hit on by Butterscotch Horseman


After having killed and skinned your chosen animal, you then proceed to coat the inside of the hide with your own blood, mixing it with the blood and viscera attached to the skin (this, again, puts a practical limitation on the size of creature you can practically transform into, as there is only so much blood that a human can safely lose at one point). After this step is completed, the hide must be properly preserved with salt (ideally natron, the salt used in mummification), immersing it entirely for a period of 24 hours. After this process, the skin is preserved, and can be used to transform into that animal.


The process of doing so is remarkably simple: you strip naked and throw the skin over your shoulders in a manner reminiscent of a gross and creepy cape, you then will yourself into the animal's form. The skin then seems to grow and envelop you, bending, crushing, and reshaping your form, the snapping of bones, squishing of tissue, and popping of cartilage all hideously audible. The trasformation takes approximately one round in which you cannot do anything aside from writhe in discomfort.


As seen here

Then, you are an animal, you can do all things an animal could. An owl can fly and see in the dark, a dog can follow a scent, a male platypus can sting. You also mechanically get the stat line of the animal, however retaining your own intelligence and wisdom.There is no difference between an animal and a Shapechanger in animal form, with the exception of something distinctly unsettling about the eyes. Sahpechangers cannot talk in in their animals forms beyond "lassie speech" (unless your animal form was capable of speech in life, in which case you have access to the same range of vocalisations). You remain in your animal form for a number of turns equal to your level, although you can end the effect early with a successful wisdom save (add your level as bonus). In either case, when the effect ends the skin curls back from you, remembering the horrors that you have perpetrated on it, spewing you forth like a newborn from a womb, covered in a thin film of ectoplasmic viscera.   



Eddie McDowd's real crime was killing that dog to wear its skin

If you transform into an animal with a greater number of hit points, your hitpoints increase. If you transform into a creature with fewer (a mouse for example), your hitpoints decrease. Your injuries stay with you however. If you are already injured and transform into an animal that has fewer hitpoints than the total damage you have taken, you will die violently as your minor wounds stretch open, vomiting out your organs as your body deforms into the compact shape of the skin. Likewise, if you take damage greater than your base hitpoints whilst in the form of a large bear-like animal (possibly a bear), death will occur when the skin at last vomits you forth and the wounds taken in the larger form appear as great slashes in the flesh of your frail human body.

You can stay in your form beyond this time, at a cost of a point of wisdom per round. Once you transform back into a human, you regain wisdom at a rate of one point per day. If, however, you fall below three wisdom in this manner, you lose yourself to the skin, and forget you were ever human. You become the animal permanently.
Interestingly, you do not suffer from any permanent deformities such as losing an eye or leg whilst in your animal form. Likewise, if your human body is missing one arm, but you don the skin of an animal with a complete set of limbs, you will have all your limbs in animal form. Although, if the animal was already missing a limb when you killed it, the form you have will always be missing a limb. Skinchangers therefore tend to try to kill with blunt weapons, drown their prey, or slash a jugular.


Savvy readers may observe that this method could be used to perfectly imitate a particular human being (humans are just big hairless apes after all), and this is entirely correct. The only difficulties are the limited amount of time in that particular form, the fact that the stolen shape would cease to age, and the fact of killing and skinning them. That aside there are no obvious problems, however older, sager Skinchangers argue against such a practice. They do not give specifics, merely say it would be... unwise.




Turing into an animal at a dinner party is considered poor form

You can make the transformation into an animal for a number of times equal to your level. You also have to physically have the preserved skin, so having a bunch of small animals would be no problem, but it gets harder if you are trying to be a bear, and forget about being a dragon (unless you just live in a cave near a preserved Dragon skin). Other than the aforementioned scar (which is easy enough to explain away, or cover with a tattoo), there is no way to tell a human from a Skinchanger, with the exception that Skinchangers tend to be unwashed animalistic hobos who wear a lot of furs... so not all that different to your average adventurer.

Pictured: Average Adventurer


Rules Malarky
Hit Dice: d6 per level

Experience Track: As Cleric
Saves: As Cleric*
*Unless the animal form has a different save
Special Abilities: 
Skinchanging; a number of times per day equal to your level you may transform into an animal whose skin you have previously blooded. You must have the skin on your person. The transformation takes one round, during which you are considered prone. You gain the hitpoints, strength, constitution, dexterity, speed, saves, and other abilities of the animal whilst retaining your mental faculties. You remain in this for for a number of turns
Blooding; you have the ability to prepare the skin of a recently killed animal for the purposes of the Skinchanging mentioned above. The process takes 24 hours, and requires 1 hp of blood to be sacrificed for each of the creature's hd

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Off To Be A Wizard

One thing I really like in Wizards in fiction, is how they come into their powers. They all have to be taught, as their magic comes from learning, they don't just pick it up spontaneously. The whole "learning magic" aspect reinforces that there's nothing inherently magical about the Wizard, it's not a case of harnessing power that would otherwise be uncontrolled, like Harry Potter meets the X-Men. Rather when it is learned, even as secret knowledge, it makes magic a lot more a part of the world, spells are the skills used to manipulate that aspect of it.

There are two widely accepted ways of learning to be a Wizard:

1) Being apprenticed. Preferably to an Ancient Wizard living alone in a tower, jealous of their secrets (cf: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Gunther and Evergreen, Mickey and Yen Sid, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth)

2) College of Wizards, an academic institution with rules, protocols, and probably exorbitant tuition fees (cf: Discworld, Name of the Wind, A Song of Ice and Fire)

Now I really love both of these from a story point of view. Who doesn't love the idea of the isolated mad mage toiling away in his Wizard's tower, prying into knowledge man was not meant to wot of, becoming dangerously devoid of human feeling drifting further away from being completely human.

I also love Wizard colleges, because I love academia in general. Also, because they can be fun and silly places, full of wacky rituals, odd student pranks, sniping rivals, and sudden danger just when everyone thinks they are nice and friendly. Plus, there's a certain air of privilege and law unto themselves of Medieval Universities (see: Town Vs Gown Riots of Medieval Oxford) that lends itself well to the attitudes of Wizards.

Magic is Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

In the Orrery, magic is a wild and uncontrolled thing. It is a dangerous force best not handled at all. Magical artifacts almost universally from the time of the Naga Empires before the coming of Humans, or salvaged from the Depths of the mysterious Pyramid of the Lich King. 

As the Bible tells us, all supernatural forces come from either God or Satan, and magic doesn't look very holy to anyone. Wizards of course hold that all their Magics are just elemental forces of the Universe that are there for the taking an manipulating, no-one needs to form any sort of Faustian compact.... unless of course you are really serious about it, but no need to discuss that sort of thing with the uninitiated is there.

Wizards of course hold that magic is dangerous, so it is a good thing that it is only handled by them. Wizards jealously guard their secrets, both from all outsiders, and from each other. Even within the Collegiate atmosphere, there is nothing so feared as plagiarism

[This distrust between skilled practitioners, as well as the fact that even when wielded by the trained and canny it is still wild and unpredictable, goes some way towards explaining why there aren't just magical solutions for everything. Although that may be an event that lies in the future, after all steam engines could still be built thousands of years before anyone found any real use for them.]

Town Vs. Gown

The Church, however much it is against magic, is not all powerful in all places. The Colleges are Laws unto themselves. They have ancient privileges, fortified campuses, and a rather more literal literary cannon.

The College looks after its own. However, they are hidebound and traditional, and tend to expect alumni as well as students to be at the beck and call of the faculty whenever they see fit. Colleges are also expensive; social, political, and economic power tend to cluster, and for the privilege of warping the fabric of space and time you had better be willing to pay for it.

  
What a cool looking place, certainly wish I had matriculated there


Examples of Colleges


  1. Church College. This College evolved out of a seminary for the training of Priests before expanding to include other, more esoteric, fields. Male-Only admission, and a strong emphasis on the deleterious effects of sexual activity on magical potency. Offers degrees in Theology, Divinity, Cannon Law, and Church History
  2. New College. This College is extremely young, and founded on emergent principles of enlightenment and scientific reasoning. Far more prone to explosions than other Colleges. Generally looked down upon by more established institutions. Likely to offer courses in Natural Philosophy, Mathematics, Alchemy, and Political Science.
  3. Guildhall. Originally founded by one of the larger Guilds to induct apprentices into an increasingly technical skill. The secrets of the Guilds have always been a sort of magic of their own. The Guild will teach explicitly its own field, although that may indeed span a broad spectrum of disciplines. Wizards are expected to become proficient craftsmen and supporters of the Guild, developing magics in line with their craft. Guilds include Masons (Architecture and Engineering), Goldsmiths (Metallurgy and Design), and Brewers (Transmutation of Grain into Beer). Unlike other Colleges, you may actually graduate with practical skills related to your craft.
  4. Military Academy. All graduates are expected to have Magic Missile as one of their spells, and will generally graduate with a commission in a branch of armed forces. In addition to this, you may be called up to serve in a conflict in which your regiment is involved, or loaned to some potentate. Teaches Military History, Engineering, and Tactical Studies
  5. Philosophical Academy. The most purely academic of the Colleges. The wonders of existence made possible by exploration into the arcane magics of the Universe being just as important to the expansion of the mind as any other pursuit. Seen by the Church as hotbeds of pagan practices and Atheism, graduates should not expect a positive reception by the pious. However, they are often much more in favour at the courts of nobles who like to think of themselves as cultured intellectuals. Offers courses in History, Philosophy, Music, Grammar, and Rhetoric.
  6. Royal College. A college founded out of the pride and deep pockets of some Prince, King, or Emperor. Possibly one of the freest when it comes to what is taught, since the point is to give the scions of nobility a rough grounding in numeracy and nepotism before dumping them into the courtly scene. Often very big and imposing to impress upon its students (and any tourists it may attract) the splendidness of the Monarch in question. The actual learning here is secondary to the friends you make along the way, expect to spend a lot of time carousing, fighting with the locals, and sleeping through exam times. You will also graduate knowing at least one or two aristocrats by inexplicable nicknames ("Lord Walton of the Dawn Guard, Protector of the Marches, Fourth Earl of Pembrokeshire, or Scruggers as we used to call him").
  7. School of Law. Look, with all the Latin flying around in court, someone was eventually going to summon a Demon, weren't they? These produce the Doctors of Law that untangle the ancient rulings of long forgotten civilisations, maintain the rule of a civilised society, and interpret constitutions to fit their own ends. Here you will learn Law, as the name suggests.
  8. College of Heralds. Sort of a guild, sort of a college. Keeps Coats of Arms up to date, tracks family lineage, and act as trusted messengers between the high and mighty. Mostly started bringing Magic Users into their ranks because no-one would take them seriously. Here you will learn the fine and ancient art of Heraldry

Fuck yeah Heraldry!

As a Collegiate Graduate you begin with the following:

Student Loans
You owe your college an appreciable amount for your education. 150,000 in silver to be precise. You are expected to repay this promptly. Every year you must pay at least 10% of your overall debt to your college. The debt also bears a 15% interest rate. If the student ever misses a payment, the college is well within its rights to hunt down the debtor using any and all means necessary. Your College may deputize you on a mission to track down a defaulter, or may bribe you with a reduction of your debt if you go do something for them.


Town Vs Gown

Regular folk instictually distrust you. Wizards are alien, powerful, dangerous, and often in direct opposition to the Church. If you are wearing your Collegiate Robes (and why wouldn't you?) or are otherwise identified as a College Educated type, common people will distrustful and standoffish, stopping just short of outright hostility (although, if there is any reason to suspect weird goings on. they are only a few inflammatory comments away from forming a lynch mob). Conversely, you will always be welcome among the company of other collegiates (even those of rival colleges), and the upper echelons of society will treat you with greater respect than other adventurers.

College Education

Magic was not the only thing you studied, gaining a rather broad array of largely useless, or academic knowledge. You may pick a field; History, Law, Rhetoric, Natural Philosophy, etc.  You are assumed to be fully competent on the latest studies in the field, and can answer any given academic question (this gives you no practical skills, Nautical History allows you to determine the exact difference in hull shape and carrying capacity between a Dromond and a Trireme, but you have no better idea how to actually set a course or tie a knot).

Correspondence Courses

Colleges may be traditional and hidebound, but chances are that within their long history someone has already asked the same question that you have asked. When attempting to research a new spell, provided it is one from one of the standard spell lists, you may simply send off for it. The cost is still the same (courier/mail charges not included), but there is no chance of research failure. The details of how to courier such a valuable package are left to you. If you are resident at your college, the delivery is instant. It takes hours equal to the spell-level to transcribe.

Beginning Equipment
Collegiate Robes
Class Ring
Diploma
Leather-bound Spell-book
Sense of Entitlement


A Sorcerer's Apprentice

Attending College is not the only way to become a Wizard, you can always take the path of the apprentice. There are those Wizards powerful enough, with strong enough towers, living far enough out of the way, that the Church and civil authorities will tolerate/ignore them. Being the servant cum student to a crazed and powerful Wizard can have its benefits. You don't generally have to pay as much, ancient Wizards tend to have as much gold as they need right now, and they can often take you on as a pupil if you are in the right place at the right time and simply take a shine to you. Ancient Wizards often don't seem to have much family for some reason, and may be seeking an heir. They tend to be more powerful, and more willing to push the boundaries of knowledge than their stuffy counterparts in the Colleges.

However, they are also far more demanding. They are generally willing to teach you just enough to be useful to them, and that's it. Ancient Wizards also got to live to be ancient by being super paranoid, and may just decide to kill you because you are too powerful/for reagents in a ritual/for shits and giggles (Power and Insanity tend to be linked with Ancient Wizards).

Some Mad Mages

  1. Crazy Old Woods Witch; living in a hovel in a swamp because the water is life, and life is the source of power. Or maybe she just really likes frogs, not really sure. May also live in a run down shack with an hundred cats. Quite learned in deep ancient natural magics, and quite, quite mad.
  2. Ælfen Koenig; a rare amalgam of Fey and Human spirit, born of a stone locked Fey possessing a human. This Koenig has taken it upon themselves to attempt to teach the Fey path of sorcery to a human (without, this time, gutting them and writing a spell on their heart). Very powerful, not in the least paranoid, quite charming, but as inexplicable and capricious as any of the Fey.
  3. Tower-Bound Hermit; the classic wizard alone in his ancient crumbling tower. Resentful and paranoid. Likely to order you to sweep the floors, or go fetch food, or re-alphabetise their library (in a complex multi-lingual system), or watch this potion for 18 hours until it turns the right shade of blue. Never lets you ride with them on the Ice Palanquin when you go on long journeys
  4. Demonologist; a worker in forbidden magics. Outcast by both Church and Colleges, forges their own path via dark pacts with unknown powers. Most likely to believe that you are an agent of their many enemies sent to destroy them from within, or assassinate them in their sleep. May command you to kidnap local infants for blood sacrifice. On the plus side, no one wants to mess with you when you wear their sign.
  5. Mad Scientist; a creature of staggering intelligence and non-existent morals. Cares for little beyond the increase of their own knowledge and power. No research is forbidden or unethical, no power to great for their intellect to bend it to their will. Has a tendency to drag you off on crazy adventures, demean and insult your intelligence, and use you as the subject in their latest super-science experiment. Congratulations, you're a Morty.
  6. Ancient Evil; a shadow out of time from some great fallen Empire rich in magic. Filled with strange zen wisdom and inscrutable plans, looks out through the borrowed eyes of a stolen body. Will tend to go on long rambling stories about their home time, and how their kingdom will one day rise again. There is a definite feeling that if you stick with them, you are either guaranteed a place in the New World Order, or a shallow grave at the hands of the Last Alliance (or some such other high fantasy plot device). Most interested in "reclaiming" ancient devices and long lost books.
  7. Lich Lord; one of the end goals of great magic-users, to transcend death itself! Tends to be of great magical power, and generally unafraid of treachery. However, they are slightly forgetful of things like your constant need for nourishment and rest. Often instruct you to go out into the light of the sun, cross holy ground to fetch an artifact in a sanctuary, or to donate your living blood to their latest experiment. Otherwise relatively undemanding. Main danger: the constant bands of adventurers breaking into their keep to slay them.
  8. Not Actually an Arch-Magus at all; despite wearing the trappings of a crazy powerful (or crazy/powerful) magician, and possessing a great grimoire of powerful spells, this is not actually a magic-user of any stripe. Rather someone who has found or stolen a true Archmage's spell-book, but can't really read it. After wandering around for a while running the "ancient wizard" grift, they finally found someone who could understand the mad scribblings: you. By using a lot of cold reading, leading questions, and "If you can explain it, only then have you truly mastered the art" sort of lessons, they have been gleaning the information through you. However, of late you have been getting a bit suspicious, and they may be thinking it is time to find a new stooge.
What do you mean "Will this be on the test?" It will ALL be on the test

As an Apprentice Mage you begin with the following:

Advanced Education
Archmagi who take on apprentices tend to have two things in common: incredible arcane power, and a rather lackadaisical approach to structured learning. You already know several massively powerful spells, which you have no way of casting. Choose one Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Level Spell, and put them in your spell-book. You will not be able to cast them until you reach the appropriate level, but having them sure makes you feel cool and powerful. Plus, they might be worth something to the right eyes.

"Friend" in a High Tower
At the beginning of your journey you have finally been judged trustworthy enough to leave your master and venture into the wider world with some of their secrets rattling around in your brain (or maybe not, more on that in a minute). However you are still beholden to them as their apprentice. As with the case of Strange v. Norrell, master magi often have trouble determining exactly when (or if) an apprenticeship will end. Even when you are reshaping the very essence of the winds of magic yourself, you will still be nought but a protegee in your master's eyes.

Your master may see fit to at any point burden you with a difficult, or inconvenient, or dangerous (or possibly all three) mission, upon pain of their displeasure. Generally these will be some sort of magic geegaw fetch quest, or to deliver an important missive that must be done by hand, but sometimes it may be something as mundane as "I have run out of that milk that I like, go find that brindled cow again and fetch me two buckets of the finest full cream". If you refuse, or fail, or if you have begun by wandering off without your master's leave, you now have an implacable enemy. You may be able to apologize and worm your way back into their good graces, however these sort of super powerful recluses are generally ridiculously paranoid, and will no doubt fixate on you as their enemy, rival, and eventual assassin.

Bad Reputation
Unlike your more classically educated peers, you have no esteemed college reputation to sustain you. There will be no great fraternity watching your back, nor any social capital to schmooze with the bigwigs. You have but your own reputation, and your master's. However, where your master is known people will respect you. Respect and fear. The writ of your master will really depend on their power and renown, but it is generally tied geographically to a region. However once you get beyond the limits of your master's reputation (or just run into someone who has never heard of them), all that protection runs out, and there are many who would like to see every sorcerer flayed.

Servant's Training
A sorcerer's apprentice does gather some very useful practical and theoretical training in magic, but that is more of a sideshow to the primary reason they are kept around: to sweep floors, fix meals, carry bags, and generally carry out any task that your master just doesn't feel like doing. As such, you can be assumed to have all the skills to make a top notch maid/butler/valet (Archmagi are notoriously prickly and prone to fireball throwing, sub-par servants do not last long).

Beginning Equipment
Some sort of unsettling and probably highly magical trinket (eg. a Lucky Rabbit's Foot that always points to the nearest source of fresh water, but never stops bleeding)
Ancient Wizard's Tome complete with your own margin notes/doodles
A well earned terror of magic, ancient wizards, and things beyond the ken of man



One day lad, all this will be yours
What, the curtains?


Autodidactical Magi

“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.” 

-William Hunting, Hedge-Wizard

Magic isn't always earned or bought, sometimes it is stolen. In the eyes of all established magi, wizards, sorcerers, and other legitimate magic users, hedge-wizards are thieves.  They may have been collegiate students who absconded without completing their degrees and with an arm full of library books, or an apprentice who had their fill of their tyrannical master and shot the moon with a number of arcane tomes of inestimable value, or perhaps they robbed the grave of some great Archmage of the past, or Warlock King, plundering ancient knowledge which would have been more suited to end up in the hands of true scholars.

Whilst a genius may be able to conceive of Newtonian Physics from nothing more than first principles, you need access to a copy of A Brief History of Time to understand relativity. This is how magic is seen, you cannot achieve mastery without a teacher, standing on the shoulders of giants, so if you are indebted to no master, you must have stolen your knowledge from some source unwilling to let go of it.

In any case, self taught magic-users, do indeed have access to some learning, but to no master. They are not all as incurably criminal as established wizards hold them to be, however their very existence is seen as crime enough to warrant immediate execution. They are the witches hunted by the Church, and distrusted by villagers for putting the evil eye on them. Generally you have a pretty bad lot.

That Damned Book
As previously stated, you need something to work from if you are going to teach yourself magic. It might have begun as shreds of an old forgotten scroll, or the ancient vestiges of magical lessons inscribed upon a lost obelisk, or maybe you really were foolish enough to steal a book of magic from a solitary magus. In any case, perhaps it was the first spell that began your research into the arcane, and you have a natural knack for it, or perhaps you are only just learning to decipher a huge tome whose secrets remain yet to be unlocked. Whatever the case, there is probably someone who wants it back (or at least, knows it exists and wants it more); be it the original tome's owner, magio-historical researchers, or vengeful ghosts of a lost civilization, someone is probably out to get you.

Nothing can go wrong


Types of damned book

  1. An old book found in a forgotten bookcase turned out to be a fascinating diary written hundreds of years ago, it contained a detailed description of a young wizard's first forays into magic. [The Ancient Wizard is still alive, and very much wishes to purge the world of all record of his awkward angsty teenage years]
  2. Clay Tablets from the Tomb of the Sorcerer King Sardanapalus, gathered from the ruins of a desert city, the ancient stick like writing obsessed you. Although obscure, glossaries do exist to translate the ancient learning. [The vengeful spirits of Sardanapalus and his High Priests search the world for those who have defiled their libraries]
  3. Rubbing of Naga Inscription, taken from the ruins of the Ancient Naga Empire, perhaps taken yourself, or traded by a passing adventurer for a bottle of half decent wine. The pictrogrammatic language seems clear in its instructions (although you are never really sure what to do in lieu of a tail). Relics of the Naga, even incomprehensible ones, are worth their weight in gold to the right people, and if it ever was known that you had writings that could be read... The scholar who deciphered the Naga language would be world famous, or at least whoever published first would be.
  4. Overdue Library Book, found resting on the shelf of a tavern or coaching inn, it is a very overdue College Text, no doubt left by a drunk/hungover/absentminded student many years ago. A careful perusal of the text finds it instructive and concise, it is after all a primer for a student of the arts. The College, and specifically its librarians, would be most eager to retrieve one of their volumes, and surprisingly deaf to any protestations about the innocence of its discovery.
  5. Hidden Spell-book, an otherwise innocent book on philately, or flan making, or philosophical philosophy seems to speak to you somehow, almost as if there is a hidden code within the book that shows the meaning behind the meaning. After many weeks of Beautiful Mind style string connections you finally stumble on to the terrible truth. This book is actually the spell-book of a powerful Archmage, written in a code that was believed unbreakable. Although this first window into the occult sets you on the path of the wizard, there is always the sneaking suspicion that the wizard, his successors, his enemies, or his shadow from beyond the veil will be after you to retrieve it.
  6. Rotten Remains of a Great Spell. Found in the depths of some catacomb, or in the ruins of some long forgotten wizard's tower, or in an ancient treasure chest, this is one of the great and powerful lost spells. Not so much a case of being a guide to magic, so much as the spell itself has some crude self-awareness. It wants to be cast, for that it needs to find or make a wizard of power enough to wield it. Many great mages spend their lives in pursuit of the merest fraction of such a thing, and the life of one unknown hedge-wizard is unlikely to stand in their way at the last. Plus, who knows what the effect of such a powerful spell would be?
  7. Scraps of paper with spell scribblings all over made up of play bills, tavern receipts, and whatever other pieces seem to have come to hand. The tale tells of magic, and the best practices of its learning, but also breaks off every few paragraphs to detail the terrible persecutions the author suffers at the hands of their many enemies, to decry the politics and societies of non-existent (or at least unknown) kingdoms, and generally reads like the ravings of a madman. Whoever wrote this is likely unhinged enough to believe that your mere possession of this book is proof enough that you are an assassin/jealous rival/centuries old nemesis in disguise/Satan himself come to earth in human form.
  8. You have a wise old benefactor who kindly gave you his first magical texts as a gift to open your eyes to the wonders of the world, yet did not want to hinder your free exploration by taking you on as an apprentice. Seems pretty good... Too good... Your DM probably has it in for you and is lulling you into a false sense of security! Run!! Run now!!
  
Just look at that fucker
As an Autodidactical Magic User you begin with the following:

Jack and Shit.
You do not get any bonus whatsoever, but again, you are beholden to no-one. You have no great debt to an institution, nor a sinister former master. However, you have no-one looking out for you either.


Suffer Not the Witch to Live

People do not trust magic, and for good reason. It is an unholy anathema to the nature of God and creation. It is dangerous, prone to destruction and mutation, and those who use it have a tendency to be megalomaniacal and divorced from humanity. Witches are staples of terrifying children's moral stories. 

However, hedge mages are much more likely to have the common touch, to have come from lowly stock themselves, and if you can occasionally put on pretty light shows or make things easier, what's the harm? However, you will be the first lynched as soon as someone's pig gets sick.

On top of the general distrust of the sorcerous there are actual Witchfinders, Inquisitors and other Templars of the Church intent on hunting down and destroying all magics (it is only the influence of college/super powered ancient mages that protects other stripes of wizards). Additionally, you are seen by College wizards as a danger on par with a terrorist that had stolen weapons grade plutonium (they can build a time machine out of that after all), and will not hesitate to sic the authorities on you/deal with you themselves. Solitary Archmagi, jealous of their power and paranoid about competition are likely going to try to bump you off on principle or to steal your spell-book.

Beginning Equipment
That damn book that caused all this/Wherever you keep your spells
Hubris

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

On The Fey

"Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men"
-The Fairies, William Allingham

“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. 
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels. 
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. 
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. 
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. 
Elves are terrific. They beget terror." 
-Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett


I'm a big fan of Irish mythology, and specifically the stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the race banished to live beneath the hills and in the otherworld by the arrival of humans in Ireland. However, they still appear as if from nowhere to pal around with heroes and to work magic.

I think that the Fair Folk make great antagonists precisely because they aren't bound by conventional morality, or often logic or sense. They can be reasoned with, however they have only the vaguest grasp of "reason" to begin with. They are often godlike in power, and yet have a single weakness that can be discovered by luck or diligence. They are a nice way to keep the whole adventure feeling a bit weird, and wacky, and a bit more like a fairytale.


The Fey of The Orrery

The Fey, like all non-Draconic species of the Orrery, came from the outside. More accurately, they fell from the stars. The first of the great impacts that caused (or were caused by) the movement of the earth from wherever it had been, to its current position at the centre of the Orrery. Theirs was certainly the impact that caused the great Ice Age, that blanketed the earth in ice and snow, drove the Dragon Kings into hibernation, destroyed the Empires of the Naga, and forced the Kobold tribes to delve deep into the earth's still warm core.

They Fey arrived in the form of crystals of various sizes, shapes, and hues. Some of these can still be found today. When such a crystal is shattered, a Fey spirit appears, and is then considered to be at large in the world. The Fey cannot be readily combated, except with Iron (Iron is the friend of mortals since it is the only metal which is mortal itself), which will repel the Fey (Steel will not do, since the making of Steel is its own magic, and magic belongs to the Fey), and even then it is more likely to drive them off than injure them.

The Church has mixed feelings on the Fey. They are felt to be a general force for wickedness in the world, and the Fey clearly have no immortal souls being functionally immortal already, however they are clearly not demons either and so no corruption may befall a man for simply having dealings with the Fey. All in all, it is best to ignore them, and hope that they fade from the world.

The Fey Folk

The Fey don't necessarily need to look like anything in particular, their physical forms in the material world are largely a result of fashion and caprice. They will often ape the latest human styles and fashions  that they are aware of; always giving themselves the appearance of the highest station of society that they know of. This can lead to some interesting examples of misunderstood fashions, mismatched styles, and clothing centuries out of date.

That said, the Fey do not often appear as completely human. Although mostly appearing as humanoid, they see the human form as terribly boring and too lacking in fins/claws/feathers/tails for their taste. Generally, they have a few distinguishing characteristics in common. They generally have skin and fur in bright primary or secondary colours (lots of blues, reds, purples, greens, and the like), usually choosing a single colour theme, the single exception being their large eyes which will be completely black. They will also generally glow with light of their colour (the Fey have no need for stealth or subtlety, if they are seen at all they want to be seen). They will, unaccounably, mostly have incredibly large ears, triangular and the size of a short sword. They also have curious abhorrence for noses, claiming the bulbous protuberances spoil the beauty of their faces, preferring instead small unobtrusive snake-like nostrils (although some prefer neck gills of various degrees of featheryness).

Just missing the Hylian Ears and Baroque coat

 People generally do not have dealings with the Fey folk, if they can help it (and for good reason, see:Elves). However, if they do, they universally find them somewhat... odd. They have a love of jokes, and riddles, and parties, and if any one of these things is spoiled (giving a riddle away, spoiling the mood of a party, telling a joke they do not get) they are likely to become wrathful and dangerous. They are also prone to hunting animals and humans for sport, or to serve them at one of their great feasts (much like Dragons they take a great pleasure in eating and drinking despite having seeming no need for them). They often will grant favours for people willing to do mundane, but seemingly inexplicable tasks for them ("Go fetch me a glass of seawater, don't spill it mind" "Say hello to the next jackdaw you see" "Here is a glass flower, wear it as a sign of my favour and I will come to your aid whenever you need me"). They are renowned as liars, although those who have come into contact with them more frequently say that this reputation is more likely the result of misunderstandings (Fey statements are often interpreted in obscure ways, like the Delphic Oracle), or the different perception of time by the Fey (when your life spans millennia "Right away" can mean in a decade or so, and "I was just there" can mean a century or more).


Magic and The Fey

The Fey are creatures of magic, and all magic belongs to the Fey. However, it is best not trying to get the Fey to teach you magic, as they will only know one way to teach you. The Fey do not cast spells, they speak to the world and the world listens. They sing the songs the hills know. They can read the words that are written on the sky. The way that they know how to teach you a spell (and a human body is only hardy enough to handle one such spell, of the lowest potency), is to carve it on your heart. To make it part of you they will sing it into your soul so that it will become you.

It is far more useful, for students of magic, to find from a Fey that such an effect or other is possible. Now, all things are possible, but the Fey (if you can understand their idiosyncratic approach to things) know exactly how possible, and how hard you have to push at the world to make it happen. Dealing with the Fey is a science in and of itself, both in the understanding of them and the handling.

The Otherworld

The fey seem to flit between this world and another shadow of this world. A fairyland if you will. The crossing places can be obvious, a giant glowing portal for instance


Like this


Or they can be subtle, a ring of mushrooms or flowers

Or this

They can be portentous such as an entrance to an ancient barrow, or monolithic standing stones


Like this totally unfamiliar structure

Going down into that creepy tomb would be a totally great idea!

Or as unassuming as a large oaken wardrobe... The point is the otherworld is the thickness of a shadow away. These weakened points in the world tend  to be associated with weird happenings (a haunted forest, a hill on which the sun always seems to shine, a lake sacred to an old forgotten god).

Generally, the first impression upon entering the otherworld is that it is identical to the world you left, generally no transition is noticed, however it is always twilight in the otherworld. However, the further away from these gates that you step, the weirder things get, almost as if around the entrance more reality seeps in. The geography stays identical for at least a mile about, but then gradually begins to diverge until you are walking across utterly unknowable chessboard landscapes. Many minds have wondered what would be seen in  the place of the ruins of a Naga city or tomb in the otherworld, that such a view could answer many puzzling questions about the nature of the world. However, there has never been an entrance to the otherworld found near enough to one of these sites... yet.

All sorts of fantastical creatures inhabit the otherworld, unicorns, jabberwocks, Questing Beasts, elemental spirits, and cats (that last is not too surprising, cats get everywhere). As well as the Fey in their own demesnes, hosting great balls, fulfilling strange rituals and protocols, hunting the most dangerous game of all... rocket tigers. The further you go into the otherworld, the more you are bound by fairytale laws and logic, the less the nature of the Fey seems alien and more of a reaction to their environment.

Additionally, all spells and chaotic magical effects grow exponentially the longer one stays in the otherworld (such effects do not last after finding your way home however). Lawful magics tend to fade in potency the further in to the otherworld, and mechanisms of natural philosophy fail or break down.
 


Elves
The Fey sometimes take a shine to humans and spirit them away to visit in the otherworld, or use them as slaves, or for some other bizarre purpose. In every case, good or ill, these poor unfortunates come back changed. The magic has gotten into their blood. This is what people mean when they speak of Elves. Elves have much of the inherent magics, as well as the capriciousness, of their Fey kin.

Elves can be made by other ways as well, sometimes the Fey will take on a form that allows them to interbreed with mortals, and that begets a weird changeling child. A dalliance with a roguish stranger who disappeared with the morning leads to a swollen belly, and a not quite right babe nine months later. Or a foundling child dumped on the doorstep in the middle of the night. These children of the two worlds grow up somewhat strange and isolated, somewhat apart from their fellows. They age slowly, and often display small unusual elements, such as a sharpness of ears, or different coloured eyes, or just a sense of oddness about them. Although the Fey never raise these children themselves (there are no Fey children, and they would not know entirely what to do with them), they often visit their offspring later in their lives.

Elves can also be created if some poor unfortunate soul manages to find one of the Gems from the meteorite. Whilst these gems are precious, mysterious, and valuable to arcanists, those who deal in them know better than to touch them to their bare skin. For then a transfer may occur, when the soul of an imprisoned Fey may leap across into the body of the poor unfortunate. In this case an amalgam is made of souls, the Fey and the mortal. This is one of the few times a Fey might be conventionally killed (although there is some debate about that), as the Elf is still a mortal being capable of being slain.

The Meteorite

The Fey do not know where they came from, or what they did before arriving in the Orrery, or more accurately, near every single one of them has a different story:

What does this Fey say? (d20)

  1. The Fey were cast out of Heaven after declaring themselves more powerful than God
  2. The Fey are old Gods, cast down by the new Gods and exiled to the mortal plane.
  3. The Fey are from a very technologically advanced race (all magic is simply misunderstood Natural Philosophy), the meteorite was a spaceship and their crystals were hibernation pods
  4. The Fey didn't arrive with the impact, they have always been here, they just don't care for Dragons
  5. Hiding inside gemstone filled space rocks is terrible comfortable, I think everyone will be doing it in a few years
  6. The Fey are Angels, sent from Heaven to instruct Humans in the right way of living.
  7. The Fey are Demons cast out by the War in Heaven and on Earth to tempt Humankind to do wrong.
  8. The Fey are refugees from the tithe of Hell imposed on Heaven in the wake of the Great Defeat.
  9. The meteorite was a space prison for all the most horrific criminals of a great Galactic Civilization. Except me of course, I was wrongfully imprisoned for a Crime I didn't commit
  10. Time is circular, and the Fey are the spirits of all those left at the End of Time (the Crystals are soul-fossils).
  11. The Fey are Gem-Based superheroes with a penchant for musical numbers, fighting against a great space Empire, we came here to save the world.
  12. The Fey are actually computer servitors for a very advanced spacefaring civilization. The forms they project are holograms and force-fields, whereas the otherworld is a projection of their intranet. They are at a bit of a loose end without users to give them instructions.
  13. The Gems inside the meteor are congealed magic, the Fey are true expressions of spells. The spells Wizards know are larval forms of the Fey.
  14. Magic, as you know it, weakens the barriers between worlds allowing terrible outsiders in, Fey magic strengthens the barriers (that's why we make Elves, for more magic to get cast). Fey show up anywhere the walls of the world get weakened like a magical immune system.
  15. The meteorite was all that was left of a dying world. That world had spirits for all plants, animals, streams, and geological forms. Only the deepest stone spirits are left.
  16. The Fey were great Wizard Kings of a far off planet, one of their number grew evil but was killed by a last alliance of the greatest of them. Then they found that he was not dead, but immortal and banished to space, they created gem containers to brave the void and find and destroy his great space pyramid.
  17. The Fey were the original inhabitants of this planet, forced out by invading Dragons, they summoned the meteorite to destroy the hated invaders.
  18. The otherworld is a parallel dimension, the Fey did not fall with the meteorite, the gems simply allow a crossing to be made
  19. The Fey exist inside the minds of all humans, they are brought into this world by fears and dreams. The gems are crystallized thought and only cluster around the impact crater because it is a source of ancestral fear to mammals.
  20. I honestly have no idea, it doesn't seem that important really.