For today it’s another module from the Continuum II rules; in this case the rules for symbiotic combinations of material beings and elemental or nature spirits – a category known as the Fey.
Tevril, the town miller, heard music, and the sounds of a party, in the forest… He decided to see what was going on. He stepped out from behind a tree – into the middle of the squirrel-fairies picnic.
One voice dominated. “GET YOUR FOOT OFF THE SNACK TABLE STUPID!”
There were a lot of small fuzzy faces turned his way as the world went black
“Well – he’s asleep… At least he won’t step on anybody. (Good spell Jaffrai). Now what? Put him under the tree for now. He’ll wake up in the morning.”
(Much later, and rather drunkenly); “Silly lout. Hic! Hey… I gotta idea; We can fill `is `ead with allkindsa shit… Keep `im from coming around any more. Who’s got some cool ideas?”
In the morning, Tevril woke up remembering all kinds of incredible things.
“Faerie” species are symbiotic combinations of Manitou (ethereal energy creatures) and physical beings. This has its advantages; the physical body gets a constant influx of energy, supercharging it’s usual abilities, while the Manitou gets a sink and stabilizer for it’s excess energy. The combination normally has limited energy-manipulation abilities and an enhanced sensory range, able to perceive on both the physical and ethereal levels. The price is vulnerability; faerie are susceptible to both material and ethereal attacks – as well as to anything which disrupts their symbiotic links or further stresses a body already operating on overload – such as most other enhancement effects.
Faerie commonly display enhanced strength, endurance, intellect (if only in that virtually all Faerie are sapient), and dexterity. Their perception and presence, save for some of the social and attractive aspects, are generally unaffected. Their wisdom is reduced because of the distractions of operating simultaneously on multiple levels, because of excessive neural stimulation, and because most faerie find their own energies slightly intoxicating. They heal quickly, are resistant to fatigue, and can get along on far less food and air then normal material beings. On the downside, their excess energy makes them easy to detect – and relatively infertile due to the stress on the developing embryo. Their boosted metabolism is extremely resilient, easily tolerating doses of drugs, poisons, and intoxicants, which would kill other beings. Sadly, this same resistance applies to “healing” effects, beneficial drugs, and useful herbs. Their lifespans are usually five to ten times that of the base species depending on the local ethereal aspect (hyperspace-normal space) potential difference.
As the most sensitive system in the body, the brain and central nervous system is affected the most by the power overload. As noted previously, almost all fairies are sapient – while most of the “base” species aren’t. This can lead to problems; sapience does not reduce the base species instinctive drives, although it may modify their expression. Predatory, territorial, herding, solitary, and nocturnal species remain so. Breeding seasons remain the same, although infertility and sentience ordinarily puts sexual activity on a year-round basis. Faerie with pack-oriented base species tend to act in the same way in any group they join, which often conflicts with normal group dynamics. On a simpler level, fairies overdriven nervous systems react far more dramatically to small inputs then more stable systems. While this improves their sensory acuity, it makes them vulnerable to mood swings, sensory overloads, and epileptic-type reactions to simple disturbances and neural-frequency stimuli (including music). On the positive side, their intense bioenergy fields make it considerably easier for them to develop C’hi or Introspection skills.
A faerie’s natural form and genetic pattern matches that of the base species – although they’re usually large and healthy specimens. Despite these physical facts, faerie are often far more humanoid then the base species. This is due to a lesser version of the feedback process which many faerie use to shapechange; hands are very useful to a sapient being. Major exceptions include the more freely shapechanging fairies who can assume forms with hands, hooved fairies (who would have to cripple themselves to develop hands), very stupid fairies, and those species with highly specialized (and commonly predatory) adaptions.
A faerie’s energy-aspect is somewhat less complicated to describe. It has traded the dangers of instability for the risks inherent in a material form – and shares the advantages and limitations noted above. While their exact abilities depend on what “skills” they’ve developed, all faerie possess their energy-aspects basic ethereal senses. These are usually entirely integrated with their basic, physical, senses – allowing GM’s to describe things in a comprehensible fashion – even if this does lead to lines like “It looks like a blue net, and it smells like warding and conjuration magic”. Similarly, they possess limited energy-manipulating abilities through a similar integration of muscles and lines of magical force. (Yes, this means that faerie can “touch”, and manipulate, magical energies. They can “feel” for the weakness in a magical barrier or try to solve it – but they simply aren’t very “strong”). As usual, there is a downside. Faerie are limited in the amount of extra energy they can handle and are extremely vulnerable to disruptive energy feedback if they slip up.
Faerie are also extremely vulnerable to anything that disrupts the enhanced electromagnetic (and associated magical) fields of their central nervous systems. Possible causes include powerful, shifting, magnetic fields, some drugs and poisons, and materials with high magnetic resonances. Such materials interact with, and absorb energy from a faerie’s energy fields, creating disruptive feedback. Simple proximity to a mass of such materials can irritate sensitive faerie. Contact with them is usually painful – and sometimes causes severe burns. Weapons made of such substances can be a serious problem. Materials to avoid include iron, nickel, and cobalt, many of their alloys, some high-tech synthetics, a few, rare, magical materials, radioactives, and any of a wide variety of magical, technological, and psychic effects.
As a final limitation, faerie are extremely vulnerable to anything which disrupts their symbiosis or the energy flow they draw from hyperspace. Blocking that is roughly equivalent to strangling a human. Possible disruptions include, but are not limited to; any contact with a subspace link (typical of Demons, “Undead”, and any God who feels like it), assorted magical or psychic effects (see above), any variation in the aspect potential difference (a rare problem, usually of interest only to dimensional travelers), and etheric combat (normally only of interest if a faerie gets into the etheric-energy equivalent of a “wrestling match” with an elemental or nature spirit).
“Might” is an attribute unique to inherently magical beings; Faerie, Undead, Demons, Manitou, and the various types of Gods. It’s simply a measurement of their innate metabolic flow of mana. The higher their might, the more powerful they are – and the more conspicuous, prone to instability, and vulnerable to magical explosions they are. Might depends on a variety of factors. For Faerie, their Might depends primarily on size. Tiny, Small, Modest, Average, Large, and Very Large faerie creatures have a base Might of 1/2/3/4/5/6. Each point of might represents a magical flow roughly equal to a cantrip per round.
Faerie live and breathe magic – and so have a natural advantage in it’s use. Gramayre-wielding faerie may cast their spells as if they were one “level” lower (cantrips may be employed freely, L1 spells as cantrips, etcetera), whether their powers are derived from profession, skill, or talent… On the other hand, their bodies are already operating near magical overload. Any attempts to exceed their normal limits will require an extra D6 on the roll per excess level of the spell. Illusion is probably the most common field of faerie magic. It’s a major survival mechanism for most of the smaller ones.
Why The Myths?
Baby-Stealing and Changelings: This does happen sometimes; The basic problem is that the faerie suffer from energy overload. Many of their children die before birth or are weak and sickly. Even given their extended lifespans, children are scarce among the faerie.
That doesn’t mean they want them any less.
Humans with such problems often adopt (this is less of an option when it’s a racial problem), settle for pets – or simply mourn. The faerie have another option – and whether such occasional stolen children are seen as “pets”, as useful links with the human population, or as adopted children, the overall legend is unaffected.
“Changelings” are replacements for “stolen” children. Usually these are simply illusions or magical constructs of some sort, occasionally (usually when the faerie just want to play with a child for a while – sometimes simply to keep the human parent from worrying while they find a lost child), it’s an older, shapeshifted, faerie playing the role. Very, very, rarely a changeling actually is a sickly faerie child. This usually indicates desperation – either a mother unable to face the fact that her child is dying or simply a last-ditch hope that humans will be able to cure whatever’s wrong.
Midwives and Nursemaids: While this tale has two basic versions – the human midwife called to attend a faerie, and the faerie midwife coming to attend a human – the motive is similar; faerie midwives often have arcane resources that humans do not, but humans get a lot more practice and often have better mundane supplies. Either way, it can be useful, and few humans or faerie become midwives unless they’re concerned about mothers and their children.
As for the faerie needing human nursemaids and/or wet nurses – well, as was noted earlier, faerie children are often frail and sickly. Frail and sickly children need a lot of attention. Help with them is always welcome, and humans are far more likely to have some experience. As for needing a wet nurse; that’s always been common – and humans are far more likely to be qualified then a faerie is. A wet nurse has to have milk for the child, and that generally means having given birth relatively recently.
Faerie Lovers: This tale usually goes something like this; a Human falls in love with an alluring faerie. If male, he somehow “captures” her. If female, the faerie usually comes to her. The pair can be happy together, if only the human partner refrains from violating some peculiar taboo – usually something trivial. If there are children, they are often either heroes or monsters. Eventually, the human partner falls afoul of the restriction and the faerie departs, often taking some or all of the children along. In some cases, the human partner then pines away and dies.
Let’s look at this one item at a time.
A faerie’s enhanced bioenergy fields do enhance their attractiveness. The fact that taking human form usually involves shapeshifting suffices to account for beauty, and a very high sexual drive (an evolutionary consequence of low fertility), coupled with their relative scarcity, is enough to explain faerie getting involved with humans even without trying to account for the vagaries of love. This might even be enough to explain the occasional case of someone “pining away”… After all, that occasionally does happen – if not nearly as often as it does in works of romantic literature.
“Capturing The (Special) Bride” is a well-established literary element – mostly because there’s a lot of truth to it. Males competing, and females being coyly “caught”, are major social elements in almost every higher species, including humans. Since most faerie have far stronger instinctive drives then humans, it’s not too surprising that most of them will insist on (at least) a “symbolic” courtship, pursuit, and capture.
On the other hand, males of any species are notorious for chasing anything compatible and willing.
As for those peculiar restrictions and taboos -they’re really pretty simple. Many faerie will wind up leaving a human partner. Faerie usually have lifespans far longer then a humans. It’s very hard to watch someone you care about slowly wither and die. Hard enough so that, after a few decades, many faerie simply can’t handle it any longer – and seize on any excuse or trivial irritation to bail out. As for taking the children – well, who gets custody is often an argument even in more ordinary divorces.
Half-Faerie Children: Naturally enough, this topic is closely associated with Faerie Lovers. The problem here is that, save for the Sidhe’ (faerie humans), faerie have radically different genetic structures from humans. Remember that most faerie are, on the physical side, arcanely enhanced animals. Crossbreeding at all generally requires magical intervention – and there’s no guarantee that the magic wielder will get such a sophisticated and delicate effect right. Crossbreeds which live may be animal/human compromises, suffer gross genetic abnormalities, wind up simply taking after one or the other parent genetically, or even turn out remarkably well (after all, if somebody manages to get the genetic-manipulation magic right, why leave a kid with any bad genes?). On the ethereal level such children may wind up with no symbiont at all, with a poorly- adapted or stunted one (equivalent to the Minor Symbiont major skill), or as full-blown faerie. “Monsters” are often, although not always, sterile.
On a related note, the classic “faerie ointment” is a fairly straightforward item; It bonds an extremely minor ethereal spirit into a body and/or (depending on the exact formula) aids in establishing the symbiotic link. In an older host, this results in acquiring a Minor Symbiont – once they finish adjusting (IE, it only costs one or two skill points, rather then three). In infants, the spirit will grow with them – hence the infant will grow up as a full faerie. Faerie ointment is usually only used when and if a very powerful (Usually male. A faerie mother rarely gives birth to a non-faerie) faerie winds up parenting a non-faerie child… Less powerful faerie generally can’t create the ointment to begin with.
Enchanted Faerie Food: In general, faerie food isn’t particularly magical. On the other hand, thanks to their fantastic metabolic resilience, many faerie can tolerate doses of various chemicals – euphorics, toxins, intoxicants, hallucinogens, and various drugs – that’d put a human out for months, with little more then a pleasant “buzz”. Depending on what they’re serving, the food may even be addictive. While this doesn’t apply to all drugs and toxins, it applies to quite enough – and some faerie even use those they can best tolerate as spices, a habit sufficient to give their banquets a reputation for being very powerfully enchanted indeed.
Imitating Humans: It’s well-reported; many of the smaller faeries have their own tiny steeds, and courts, and weapons – just like the humans around them.
It isn’t really true.
What is true is that illusions are a primary survival mechanism for the smaller faerie – and it’s much easier to how people about what they expect. It’s also far safer. Which is less likely to be bothered – a family of hedgehogs (admittedly, sapient and illusion-casting, but still basically hedgehogs) – or the “Emperor of the Pixies!”? Secondarily, the faerie population density is rather low – and thus much of their real social contact may be with humans anyway. That’s especially true if they associate themselves with a human household or group. Which leads, naturally enough, to our next topic;
Pests and Blessings: To start off with, many or most faerie never have much to do with humans.
Of course you never hear about those.
Many faerie do associate closely with humans. After all. Here you are; a sentient, long-lived, mouse with limited shapeshifting and very minor magical powers. How can you arrange to be safe and comfortable in a world full of owls and weasels and snow and floods and such? You get indoors. You move in with the big people, and you use your little magics to make sure of your welcome. Since the faerie breed so slowly, nobody ever gets “Infested with Brownies!” – and nobody ever bothers them. The humans even leave food and stuff out for you. The little bit of food you need is a tiny price for the humans pay to make sure the chimney never catches fire or that the boiling pot never spills on the baby.
Of course, there are always cranky, mischievous, and/or irritated faerie. Some humans are that way too, but when you’re very small and/or by yourself, declaring war simply isn’t practical. On the other hand, small magical tricks are.
Some of the worst pests are faerie who feel betrayed. These are usually things like Phouka (Faerie hounds) who quietly associated with unknowing humans, and then found out that their upcoming “reward” for their companionship and service was going to be something like being neutered, having their kids drowned, or being sold. Normal enough for a domestic animal – but who’s going to be objective about something like that?
Being Wanton and Promiscuous: For once, something from the stories is true enough. Faerie tend to be extremely sexual creatures. Evolutionarily, this is simply a result of their infertility; Like lions, if there’s going to be a next generation, they simply have to try a lot. Those who are the most interested and capable try the most and have the most kids. Given time and natural selection, this results in some very strong drives.
On a practical level, being immune to most diseases, virtually tireless, and so infertile that “consequences” (such as pregnancies) are very rare, takes most of the usual restraints off.
Faerie Guides and Champions: These tales normally involve a faerie coming to the rescue – either defending a maiden in some trial-by-combat, and taking her away afterwards (a scenario that’s easy enough to understand; humans do that sort of thing often enough, why not faerie?) – or a mysterious rescue or other assistance.
The faerie are said to be fond of children, lovers, and innocents, looking on them with great approval and often coming to their aid.
So do most people. The impulse to assist other people who’re in trouble somehow tends to be fairly powerful in most sapient species; it’s a survival mechanism. There will be emergencies in every creatures life. The impulse to assist the other members of your group (provided that it’s reasonably practical) greatly enhances said group’s survival potential. The impulse predates sapience – and one of the most basic characteristics of sapience is the ability to generalize. So; they feel an impulse to help, and often have the power to do so without any real effort or risk on their part. Why shouldn’t they do so?
Faerie Mounds and Circles: Well, to be technical, any point of hyperspace energy-balance is a “faerie mound”. Such gateways are extremely dangerous (Q.V.; Aspect Shift, on the major skills list) – especially for humans. They aren’t entirely safe for faerie either, and the balance is often so delicate that the “gateway” only opens under a particular set of conditions. Faerie circles are simply places where groups of faerie hang around and hold their parties. Intruding on a faerie circle can be perilous, simply because crashing the party on a bunch of magical beings (however minor) is really asking to be the target of a lot of magical pranks. Larger faerie rarely have a specific “circle”, but groups of the smaller, wilderness faerie, often do. Their attitude is fairly similar to human villagers attitudes about blind and drunken giants wandering around in their villages.
Faerie Realms: Hyperrealms are dealt with under the section on Dimensional Aspects (Q.V.). Isolated areas may be populated by faerie plants – usually in smaller areas with little “normal” competition. These are very lush, and are (of course) filled with magic. Inherently enchanted, such small islands, valleys, and peaks, are usually defended by a variety of wards and/or illusions. In general, such enclaves are limited to regions where environmental stresses outweigh the reproductive advantages typical of “ordinary” plants.
Faerie Troupes and Revels: A major gathering of faerie – with their magic-driven metabolisms – releases more than enough magical energy to create a variety of side effects, ranging from the unintentional (weather disturbances, odd lights, frightening normal animals, and similar annoyances) on through an intentional focusing of that power on effects such as swift travel or cloaking illusions.
The Seelie and Unseelie Courts: These actually do represent something; the “Seelie Court” consists of those Faerie’ who are most comfortable in close association with men; the creatures which prefer organized hedgerows, houses, and farms over serious wilderness. Unfortunately, a lot of them are small and inoffensive. The “Unseelie Court” represents those faerie who prefer untouched wilderness areas – most of the predatory or larger species.
Common Faerie receive 2 major and 2 minor skills, although expending additional talent points may (Will ?) modify this in many cases. “Professional” faerie receive an additional minor skill at level three and a major one at level seven. Vocational and “ordinary” faerie recieve additional skills as any other character would.
Minor Faerie Skill Lists:
Animal Heritage: Awakening, Climbing, Hide Trail, Navigation, Running, Survival
Etheric Armament: Amplification, Etheric Combat, Levinbolts, Psychic Enhancer, Replication, Spellguard
Etheric Mastery: Hypersense(s), Metabolic Support, Rapid Healing, Resistance, Spell Analysis, Tuat Repulsion.
Faerie Revels: Carousing, Disguise, Distraction, Faerie Brewing, Mimic, Scrounging
Fey Auras: Acting, Dowsing, Fast Talk, Seduction, Spirit Companions, Presence
Visitations: Beastfriend, Beastspeech, Contacts, Humanity, Mindlinks, Power Links.
Major Faerie Skill Lists:
Etheric Channels: Arcane Artificer, Elfshot, Limited Flight, Mystic Carrier, Spirit Focus, Transformation.
Faerie Magics: Empyrean Focus, Empyrean Magic, Greater Spirit Magic, Manitou Contact, Minor Magic, Practical Magic.
Fey Enhancements: Attribute Boost, Boosted Vitality, Celerity, Enhanced Might, Innate Weaponry, Instinct Conversion.
Fey Mysteries: Alertness, Cloaking, Dodging, Evasion, Inner Stillness, Stealth.
Internal Energies: Aspect Shift, Fascination, Hypnosis, Minor C’hi, Minor Psychomancy, Shapeshifting.
Mana Discharge: Arcane Discharge, Auric Flame, Constructs, Dynamic Magic, Elemental Discharge, Energy Discharge.
Natural Links: Bioperception, Dominion, Milieu Affinity, Melding, Natural Empathy, Naturalist.
Survival Skills: Bivouac, Chaos Manipulation, Enhanced Defense, Mana Stabilization, Neural Stability, Pathfinder.
Dragons are something of a special case. Designed to intimidate enemies, to act as mounts, and as weapons, they have numerous special powers. They cannot, however, take skills from the Animal Heritage (Save Awakening), Faerie Revels, or Fey Mysteries (Save for Alertness and Cloaking) lists. Certain other skills (Notably; Melding, Enhanced Defence, Natural Empathy, Naturalist, Boosted Vitality, Instinct Conversion, Pathfinder, and Transformation) are impractical for various reasons. They do, however, have access to two special lists of their own;
Draconic Combat (Minor): Arcane Focus, Combat Focus, Lair Sense, Magesaddle, Psychic Focus, Shielding.
Dragonmight (Major): Bloodfyre, Countermagic, Emotion Casting, Enhanced Toughness, Nexus Transfer, Riddlemaster.
Every dragon should take at least one skill from Mana Discharge list, as well as at least a minor (Levitation) version of Limited Flight. Otherwise, they’ll lack the classic “breath weapon”, and will be unable to get off the ground. At their size, even dragons aren’t strong enough to fly by pure muscle power. Other then these, a dragon gets three minor and two major faerie skills, as well as an additional major and minor skill around the time they reach adolescence. Otherwise, they acquire skills in the same fashion as any other character.
-A very, very, few dragons make the transition to the status of “Greater Faerie” via learning to dump “excess” energies into their elemental surroundings… This trick can allow them to come close to doubling their might – and so makes them incredibly powerful. Virtually all of them are unique, professional-potential, entities. (See Also; Dragons, Arcane Enhancements).