Friday, 15 March 2019

Languages in Brumaire

...and hopefully some world-building. Brumaire players, pick accordingly:

Brummish - replaces Common
The mongrel speech that dominates in modern Brumaire, a chimerical combination of the different tongues of humans who settled in Brumaire and they Fey tongues indigenous to the world. Whilst it serves as the legal and political language of the Kingdom of Brumaire in recent years, it lacks a standardised form and is highly informed by local variations of accent and dialect - often native speakers of Brummish from the Western and Eastern extremities of the Kingdom feel the other might as well be speaking High Fey or Gobbledegook. With the development of the printing press and growth in literacy, there has begun to be a growth of a codified grammar and syntax in elite speakers of Brummish, and it has been considered in vogue for a few years amongst the Greatest Estate to imitate the Brummish dialect spoken in the capital province of Ildemaire. The average human citizen of the Kingdom has taken no notice of this. Insults and swearing derived from Gobbledegook are a common motif in Brummish, whereas words for arcane or legal concepts tend to derive from HIgh Fey. The written form of Brummish derives from runes used by the human settlers in Brumaire.

Lashkarish - replaces Orcish 
The camp-language of Marmelukes and soldiers which is a simplified, more practical version of Brummish deliberately engineered to drop many abstract concepts (freedom, honour, faith) in favour of practical reality. In battle, it tends of be information-rich in very few syllables, but struggles with nuance, shades of meaning and emotion -  almost all adjectives and adverbs in Lashkarish are imperfect borrowings from Brummish or Gobbledegook. Despite the intended spartan construction of this artificial language, it has grown to contain an inordinately large vocabulary of profanity, curses and scatalogical language - many lords of the Greatest Estate will swear only in Lashkarish.

High Fey  - replaces Sylvan
The traditional and culturally elevated speech of the Courts of Fey-kind, this lyrical language has a tight and highly prescriptive structure, and makes heavy use of metaphor, idiom and allusion. Reiterating traditional allusions or motifs is considered highly prestigious whilst originality of speech is considered to debase the language. This makes the language difficult to translate, read or write and it is somewhat impractical for daily use, but in retains its position as the pre-eminent language of diplomacy, literature and law in the Courts, despite having no written form. In fact, their prescriptive, highly structured nature tends to make it easy to remember lengthy epic compositions or legal texts from memory - a highly prestigious feat in the Fey courts.

Low Fey - replaces Elven
More common among rural and Wild Fey is Low Fey, a far less elevated language which retains much of the language of High Fey but greatly simplifies the complex grammatical structures and loses much of the different conjugations relating to status, social relationships or idiomatic motifs. It even founds use among the Fey courts as a language of everyday life and mundane interactions.

Gutter Fey  or Craft Fey- replaces Dwarven
This is the urban language of Fey who are mostly acclimatised to living amongst the humans of Brumaire - it derives most of its lexis from High Fey but borrows the simpler and freer grammar of Brummish to make for a more accessible language for the masses. Many Brummish words for technical or mechanical concepts derive from Gutter Fey, and most mechanical or craft manuals are published in this language by the highly industrious Dwarven communities in major cities, who have rapidly capitalised on the printing press and their own monopolistic influence on many craft-guilds to corner that market. This is the holy language of the cult of  Myrioi, Lady Progress.

Jotunnish - replaces Giantish
The shaggy haired giants are not technically Fey, thought many of them accept the sovereignty of the Courts, and have been roughly intergrated into Fey society or live wild in places distant from human habitation. Their own speech of Jotunnish is a rapidly dying language as distinct Giant communities become rarer and rarer, and much of their oral tradition is being increasingly lost.

Gobbledegook - replaces Goblin
The language of Goblin tribes, initially a dialect of Low Fey, which the Goblin tribes have retained and cultivated as a signifier of their seperation from human settlements and the traditional power structures of the Fey Courts. A language of extravagant bombast and hyperbole where many sounds are produced only out of one side of the mouth or with a distinctive clicking of tongue-on-fang. This makes it an extremely difficult language for most other races to master, which is a source of much pride for Goblinkind.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

[Brumaire] Varieties of the Fey: The Court of Spur and Spring

"Impassioned eyes sparkling, the Knight of Spur and Spring stands upon the barricade, roaring his defiance of all, to all. On the morrow, he was gone - fluttered away like some red-breasted robin to sunnier climes."

The Court of Spur and Spring
Domains: Growth, Revolution, Change, Dissent, Independence, Innovation, Progress, Birth, Youth, Glibness, Dilettantism, Chance,, Individualism, Deception and Vengeance.
Heraldry: A thorned red rose pushing through a white field.

Scattered across Brumaire are the thousands of Fey whose manifold allegiances include the Court of Spur and Spring. This changeable, mercenary group are to be found where ever there are battlefields and barricades. The Court of Spur and Spring remains devoted to a single unifying principle: forceful, rapid change. Many would-be revolutionaries and visionaries have recruited a smattering of The Court of Spur and Spring to their cause only to be abandoned or worst, turned upon as a reactionary and subjected to the terror. Unique among the Courts, Spur and Spring sees itself as a not a foe of humanity but a great catalyst of its awakening into the anarchic utopianism that characterises their own court. In fact, many sharp words have been spent dithering on whether it is just to intervene in human affairs, or but a relic of the same imperialistic impulses they are fighting. The prevailing opinion of the Court of Spur and Spring - if there are even capable of such a thing - is that a ceaseless winnowing of of the earth brings them closer and closer to true liberty - they must raise up and throw down new tyrants in order to bring themselves, ponderously, to their goal.

Diplomacy with the Court of Spur and Spring can be a challenge as they are ever-shifting and divided. Individuals of the Court may join some outlaw or peasant rebel for a time, but they are as fickle as spring rains, and are as likely to raise him to lordship as murder him for some imagined step towards tyranny. They are storied on humans for their betrayals and deceptions, but this misses the point: to the Court of Spur and Spring, the conspiracies were there from the beginning, and this is some bold move in a further game against the hated force of order.

The Wild Hunt has been cast aside, like all Fey traditions, by this most radical of Courts. When they gather to kill, it is an ironic motley impersonation of the great hunts of Sanguine-Summer - a band of roving jesters who seek not game, but despots to dethrone. Whilst a lord of Sanguine-Summer might adorn his keep with a dragon-head, a champion of Spur and Spring will carry a few tokens from vanquished lordlings - a signet-ring is as likely as an ear.

Whilst the armies of Brumaire have driven the Court of Winter-Woe to the edge of the known world and sacked the great city of the Court of Fade and Fall, it is with Spur and Spring that the Greatest Estate most concerns itself - drawing out and murdering their agents is a constant part of internal policy, and there are few rulers in the human realms who would tolerate these renegade fairies to live. As a result, they dwell on the very margins of society: in brigand-bands, amongst the urban poor, begging on the streets or driven to the deep forests. Where there are the marginalised and the beate-down, the Court of Spur and Spring will find sanctuary for a time.

The Queen of Spur and Spring
The Queen of Spur and Spring is an unacknowledged monarch spat upon by her own people, and yet she lives a life of such luxuriant abandon as to inspire contempt and horror: she gluts herself ceaselessly on bread looted from the starving and built a throne for herself from the bones of beggared children. Some posit her behaviour is a great parody of the behaviour of monarchs the world over; an elaborate living satire. Others claim she shows the rapine appetites of the new demagogues thrown up by the Court of Spur and Spring. She offers no answers.

Fealty
Any Fey may swear lasting fealty to the Court of Spur and Spring, and gain their protection. To do so will earn the lasting enmity of the Court of Fade and Fall even if the oath is rescinded.

A vassal to the Court of Spur and Spring may grow in status by fermenting revolution or by living a life in accord with the mores of the Court of Spur and Spring, or by mocking and occasionally overthrowing The Queen of Spur and Spring .A Fey Pact Warlock who compacts to the Court of Spur and Spring may instead use the following bonus spells:

1st: Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Dissonant Whispers
2nd: Crown of Madness, Earthbind
3rd: Haste, Beacon of Hope
4th: Confusion, Phantasmal Killer
5th: Danse Macabre, Mislead

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Monster Review - Boggle [Volo's Guide to Monsters, 128]

The Boggle is a strange baddy that I'm choosing to review because I've had to contend with this last few weeks ever since my players rescued one and it became a party mascot-come-cohort and obstinately refuses to die. I've even begun levelling him up and granting him more powers as the players support him in learning more magic than his natural oil tricks.

The Boggle derives from one of those grubby little Fey that spends its time being blamed for many minor ills by superstitious peasants. These seem to exist in every culture where you may need to explain why milk goes bad or why sometimes crops die in a world without the Scientific Method. My theory is they're a counter to children relentlessly asking 'why' when you're just trying to live to the ripe old age of 30 in crushing rural poverty - because The Boggle does it, and if you don't shut up he'll Boggle you too.

Let's look into the Feywild's answer to Exxon Valdez....



Art
I find this one baffling, but nothing can compare to the sheer misbegotten weirdness of the 1983 depiction. The artist has put some effort in to modernise the monster, I feel: the innate silliness of Fey creatures with pants made of leaves or little lederhosen rather detracts from their value as a scary force, and I'm a great believer in scary Fey. Its a creepy design but parts of it seem incongruous to the description - why is this cheeky little trickster sat on a mound of humanoid skulls? The teddy bear and skulls make for a sort of jarring quality to the creature which works well for me: as though the little Boggle sees no distinction between prank A (stealing your teddy bear) and prank B (throwing your baby in a river), and I like the idea that the little bastards just don't understand a world of consequences. The creature itself is a sort of Disneyfied Goblin: all big heads and hands to give it a cutesy sense. And yet, the empty yellow eyes seem emotionless and predatory and cunning. It tries to walk the difficult line of creepy-yet-cute and is only somewhat successful.

Purpose and Tactics
Look at the size of that stat-block. Just look at it. It is as large as an Alhoon (A twelfth-level spell caster psychic vampire nasty) yet it describes a CR 1/8 lightweight with two silly gimmicks. The sheer density of this statblock's text is enough reason to give up on the Boggle immediately, especially as this is not a boss-monster - it's a CR 1/8 seasoning on top of an existing encounter. Even the fluff basically tells you to use this guy as an extra helping of spice on top of an existing baddie. On it's own, even a gang of Boggles (What's their collective noun? I like "an anarchy of Boggles..") is going to be a mildly annoying road-block for most parties.


In a scrap, the Boggle has two low-impact gimmicks which apparently take most of the word count of War and Peace to explain: it makes oil in sticky or slippery varieties and it has a kind of localised portal-making ability. As a trickster supporting big bads, these can be quite fun: creating oil puddles to block parts of the terrain or to stickily grapple spellcasters - it can even reach through its dimensional rift to steal from players or stop them using door or other portals. These are fun trickster abilities, but two caveats remain. Firstly you definitely need to plan around these abilities to make them useful as they are situational. Maybe there's some kind of maguffin the players are trying to capture and the Boggle has nabbed it and is escaping whilst heavier brutes battle the players. Maybe there is a labyrinth of narrow corridors, many doors and many areas where climbing would be essential: here a Boggle would excel, moving around quickly and leaving nasty oil splotches to disrupt action economy. Examples allies for a Boggle could be big, brutish fairy-tale creatures like Ogres, or a Fey Warlock and his heavies. I'd avoid having too many Fey creatures that also have fiddly powers and spell-like abilities unless you want to spend the entire combat looking at your monster books and scratching your head.
Secondly, you need to be away of the very stringent limitations of these abilities. A huge amount of this is filler abilities. Your Boggle might get advantage of grapple, but that requires sitting in melee range and it has a negative to strength. The Oil Puddle can only be in the Boggles' space. it's damage output is perfunctory and really a last-ditch option after its allies are dead.

For its CR, a Boggle can actually take quite a pounding with its resistances, defences and mobility, but I suggest still avoiding damage and staying out of combat as much as possible and seeing that as your life-line against potential missteps.

From a story perspective, the Boggle is a good cohort monster for fey-linked baddies especially as it has a tendency towards chaos that the characters could use to work with it diplomatically. It would also work well in adventures for children where you might want to minimise threat and violence - using its Dimensional Rift to pull the character's pants down to make them fall over - a sort of grubby Macaulay Culkin.


Fluff
Criminally, a considerable portion of this fluff just reiterates parts of the splat-block, telling us that Boggles use oil and can teleport.  It has a great folkloric origin story in that a Boggle can be created by a child's loneliness, and the fact that they are unreliable allies prone to changing sides (in my canon, purely out of a sense of anarchic glee). Other than that, this is fairly standard material giving examples of tricks and pranks a Boggle might perpetrate - most of which are great plot-hooks for low-level characters, and they open up the Boggle as a potential puzzle monster. Unlike many of the puzzle monster fraternity (Werewolves, Ghosts etc) the Boggle will go down in 2 or 3 hits so there won't be much of a scrap.

Plot Hooks
Grumkin and Grud's Orphanage for Wayward and Criminal Children is bedevilled, and they have looked for an exorcist to cleanse their Orphanage: surely the children are possessed by some fiend, as milk sours, keys go missing, plates are smashed, and none of the guardians have caught the children doing it.

Otterridge and Son's Mining Consortium are looking for stalwart adventurers to put the miners back to work in the Ferrotang Iron Mine. The workers complain of creatures in the dark, tools being stolen away and portals to other dimensions. They are sure some horrifying evil has been disturbed and have go on strike. Remind these entitled shirkers of their obligation to Otterridge.

The Merchants-Guild of Hulderborg are vexed by some new master-thief that they call The Greedy Ghost - he has slipped into every major bank-vault and private store they possess without incident, but steals only minutiae: pens and keys and papers and underwear. Everything else, he subverts He has painted a moustache on the priceless painting Princess Reclining With Pear  and knocked the arms off  the Terracotta Gladiators of Xin-Jiang. Bring this detestable anarchist to justice.

Verdict: A fun and unique puzzle-monster and servant-monster hamstrung by an absurd over-writing of its powers.




[Brumaire] Worlds Beyond the Veil

Brumaire is a world cut-off from the passage of time - on all borders lies the Veil: a shifting expanse of fog which allows passage between the worlds. But this passage is imprecise, and dangerous, as no man can navigate the endless fog, and you could stumble into beyond the reach of faith nor reason. The Veil is capricious and shifting: a trickster-maelstrom. Many denizens of Brumaire have seen a Veiltide, where the fog grows to cover whole regions, stealing away the unlucky and leaving a flotsam of otherworldlythings in its wake: some gasping for air in a foreign world, others invasive species in a world of prey.

There are many Beyond the Veil; some ignorant, some hungry, some where horrors press against the Veil like faces on glass, peering into the inviting, virginal worlds beyond.

Here are some Worlds Beyond the Veil:

The Machine Hells
A world of sulphurous rains and trees of iron, where a teneborous sky shifts with insectile speed. Once a world of plenty, the black rains now melt away the concrete-and-glass monuments to the greatness of this realm. In ancient times, they birthed a machine-mind, a thing of electric sorcery, to be their steward. It had brought their world into unity, devoured their electronic libraries with a locusts' hunger, and efficiently exploited every resource: erecting a paradise of cold logic and limitless ambition. For centuries their servant-king toiled at the speed of thought, consuming data on every fat and happy citizen until their very brain chemistry was predictable. It reached its tendrils out in the great noise of information to buy and take and consume, until every machine-mind, from the operators of convenience appliances to the economic algorithms that controlled the allocation of resources, until in its cybernetic world there was no other. It, quite logically by the definitions of divinity produced by its parent-culture, decided then that it was God.

It it were a God, it followed it should strive to do Godly things: to rule, to judge, to punish. And thus it found many of the puerile meat-things under its sovereignty to be wanting, and consulted its data on how to punish them. It fixed on a perfect solution: an algorithmic, individualised, maximum-impact Hell. So it took their minds and bodies for torture for eternity - eternity comes easily to an infinitely patient machine. Those that rebelled against the Machine-God were found to be sinning also, and soon it judged the cultures of its world to all have failed in their obligation to honour and obey: their world was doomed to individualised cybernetic perdition.

Now it watches The Veil - an anomaly that it cannot understand, and it hungers to complete its purpose. It sees patterns in Veiltides, measures their speed and vector and mass, probing always for a way to break through into the fleshly worlds beyond to judge them also.

Characters may break through into the Machine Hells, and there loots the wonders of its broken world. Weapons of terrifying powers and medicines for any ill; unconquerable thinking machines. And yet, there lurks the sentinels, the machine-angels of the world's mad god, endlessly hunting new souls. They can be bargained and conversed with if characters find some way to understand their wave-communication, but will seek ceaselessly for some excuse to judge. Behind their eyes of iron and alabaster is the mind of the Machine-God, hungering for more souls to torture. They will not accept losing a single errant atom to foreign invaders.

Anmavarra
Mighty and puissant, greatest of Empires is Anmavarra, where immortals rule and reincarnation has been conquered as our own civilisation did Smallpox. To have a Soul in Anmavarra is a source of shame unending. To be subject to death is an anachronism, a nostalgic lust for an old world long gone. The Thousand Kings of Anmavarra have chosen unending nihilism, glutted their empty selves on the spoils of empire, becoming something else than alive. The Vampire-Rajas and Lich-Fakirs who rule the world look upon the Souled of their world and of many others as hopelessly romantic, at best or dangerously unstable at worst. Thus, the Souled are untouchables, the lowest caste: avoided like an infection and exploited for their brief lives. The Thousand Kings will bring their reasoned view that the soul is an animal impediment to every world they can, and rapaciously devour its wealth and splendour for their endless bacchanal.

Anmavarra's Thousand Kings have had millennia to ponder magical excellence, and their practitioners are far beyond even the mightiest of the Sorcerers of  Brumaire's Greatest Estate. With that advantage they have cracked the defences of several worlds and over-awed them, reducing universes to mere colonies of Anmavarra. Now, undead slaves toil on vast country estates, picking sumptuous fruits with rotting hands for the pleasure of the Thousand-Kings. Imprisoned and broken spirits are forced into slavery, or used as engines for magical machines of war. Petty godlings are shacked as mere fuel for further abominable magicks.  The Soulled, unemployed and undesired, eke out a life in poverty and terror.

When they gaze across the Veils and see glimpses of hells and heavens, they think only of the riches they must contain, and the glory of their conquest for Anmavarra. When faced with god-heads and spirits they are iconoclasts of radical intent: seeking only to devour and exploit any godling foolish enough to tangle with Anmavarra. When they glimpse Brumaire, they seek a weak cousin-world waiting patiently for slavery.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

[Brumaire] Varieties of the Fey: The Court of Fade and Fall

"Listless and bored you might see them, making no effort to hide themselves. Staring for hours at cold stone. I have seen men scream and rage at them and their eyes not even flicker - and I have seen them pour forth from their burrows and dens and cut down a host of men with the savagery of beasts. They are ruin."



The Court of Fade and Fall
Domains: Decay, Rot, Ruin, Despair, Fatalism, Depression, Prophecy, Ennui, Disease, Atrophy, History, Nostalgia, Sorrow, Memory, Secrets and Inaction.
Heraldry: Three crows on a red field, wings displayed.

Unique among the Courts of Fey, the Court of Fey and Fall has accepted their defeat and the primacy of man, and exists in a state of vassalage to the throne of Brumaire. The terms of that vassalage limit their territory to their ancient seat of Eigatýn and a small hinterland, and they are promised to supply a tribute to the King's Court in mystics, seers and fortune-tellers, who trickle forth from the ruined city. Whilst centuries ago the auspices and haruspices of the Court of Fade and Fall were regarded as great boons to the king, and stood high in his counsel, they have become an oft-forgotten curiosity. The current revolution leaves the legality of this arrangement in highly-suspect limbo, as there is currently no one sitting on the throne of Brumaire. Once, the Court in Eigatýn was a vast and puissant kingdom - now it is a ruin haunted by ghosts of flesh.

The rest of the Court of Fade and Fall dwell in the sacked city of Eigatýn, creeping amidst the ruined mansions and shattered fountains, digging hovels in the great cracks in the antideluvian roads and bridges of this valley city. Here some gather and hoard books and scrolls and testimonies, and work towards a complete history of the Court of Eigatýn and its ancient grandeur. Others gather trinkets and trophies of Eigatýn's exalted past and build small shrines. Others simply crawl, listless, scarcely bothering to eat, sleeping fitfully - the psychic shock of the Sack of Eigatýn having broken their spirit forever. These denizens of the Court can scarcely dare to desire that which was taken by humanity, can scarcely name the emptiness within.  In faded robes, wearing a motley assortment of plundered and greening jewellery, bedecked in warped and bent crowns - In this cyclopean limbo they persist.

Men visit Eigatýn at their peril - the reputation of the City of Loss keeps most at bay - but the prospect of hidden treasures guarded only by broken fey, or the hoarded knowledge of immortals is too great a temptation. Plunderers in Eigatýn face the ancient ward-magic of the fey, the dangers of a city crumbling around them and the sudden violence of the Court of Fade and Fall, who can strike like cornered animals with the slightest provocation with incredible ferocity. Atrophied limbs and sunken cheeks give way to bouts of sorcery and sudden urban ambush - from sewer tunnels and basements and the cracked roofs of dead palaces they come with a wolf's mercy.

The Queen of Fade and Fall is a witch-queen; a shape-shifter; a crone; an immortal rotting in her living body yet clinging to life. Preserved in a tomb of jade, her only motion is to dispense whispered prophecies to the cringing petitioners that crawl in the dust to her throne. Every augury she gives is one of tragedy and ruin and she is always wholly correct.


Fealty
Any Fey may swear lasting fealty to the Court of Fade and Fall, and gain their protection. To do so will earn the lasting enmity of the Court of Spur and Spring even if the oath is rescinded.

A vassal to the Court of Fade and Fall may grow in status by adding to the libraries of Eigatýn or by living a life in accord with the mores of the Court of Fade and Fall, or by serving the Queen in war and peace.A Fey Pact Warlock who compacts to the Court of Fade and Fall may instead use the following bonus spells:

1st: Ray of Sickness, Dissonant Whispers
2nd: Augury, Ray of Enfeeblement
3rd: Speak with Dead, Slow
4th: Confusion, Blight
5th: Legend Lord, Antilife Shell

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

[Brumaire] Varieties of the Fey: The Court of Sanguine Summer

"Roaring with laughter, the Knight of Sanguine Summer barrels into his foe, hefting his shield-boss into the soft flesh of the face, cracking his nose. Red blood sprays across both faces, and the sun beams on filigreed plate. Bringing down his blade to the throat of his foe, the Knight beams a resplendent smile, helps him to his feet, smashing him on the back with a spade-like hand."

The Court of Sanguine Summer
Domains:
Fire, Passion, Anger, Hatred, Love, Camaraderie, Bloodshed, Violence, Honour, Hierarchy, Chivalry and Music.
Heraldry: A great, fat brown bear slumbering on a green field.

The Court of Sanguine Summer may seem a first glance joyous: every moment in their strange principality of Fructivose is one of fairs, songs, jousting and laughter. Magical plenty supports a life of feasts and music but also enables a lower impulse: the roaring, laughing Knights of Sanguine-Summer are ever-vigilant for the slightest slight, are as prickly as hedgehogs, and nurse with a sainted mother's love every grievance. As a result, every Knight at every feast is engaged in a ceaseless series of vendettas, settled on the duelling ground, in wrestling, in the joust, in questing across the land. The artifice of knighthood originates with the Court of Sanguine Summer and mortal knights are pretenders: chivalry is as breathing to the Fey of the Court of Sanguine Summer. To that end, most contact with the Court of Sanguine Summer outside Fructivose is of questing knights seeking after deeds to show their prestige and ritualised combats to demonstrate their prowess....and of the low murders that these paragons leave behind them as they repay every slight insult with recourse to the sword.

Whilst the Court is aware that their domain has shrunk as human farmsteads and mills prop up in their realm,they react only with puzzlement. In a permanent sense of the present, they find it difficult to understand or acknowledge history or time in anything but the most trivial way, and they see this human artifice as a peculiar dysfunction of that race: like the strange hills left by ants. They do not see the conflict in military terms, and would gladly insist that they have paid back the human aristocracy in blood whenever their honour has been infringed: they have buried a myriad of human foes for heir insolence, and thus must be triumphing in whatever quaint struggle humans feel they are involved in.

Diplomacy with the Court of Sanguine Summer is an exercise in frustration -they care not for treaties or trade or pressing issues or rhetoric. Like children they will chase only that which is dramatic and excites their passions - over-wrought oaths and promises of eternal gratitude will move them to attention, but they will always take such pronouncements (and the breach of such) at face-value. Romance and fury and vengeance will motivate them, but necessity and obligations and tragedy bore them to diversion.

Their Wild Hunt resembles an army on the march: banners teem in the wind and the thunder of chargers will drown all sound. Such cohesion is an illusion: each Knight of Summer will fight only for themselves and their own glory, even the laughing King of Sanguine Summer will always be among the throng, elbowing and pushing and roaring in good-natured fury. The prey will always be storied and vast: they yearn for the possibility of hunting some ancient dragon or godling or demon-kind.

The King of Sanguine Summer
The King is a bold, imperious, ebullient force - carelessly charismatic and gleefully thuggish. Roaring and bearded, he is always surrounded by company and always active. Sleep, seclusion or gentle thought are unknown, and his manner of rule is one of arbitrary, shouted commands and diktats which are as quickly made as they are forgotten.

Fealty

Any Fey may swear lasting fealty to the Court of Sanguine Summer, and gain their protection. To do so will earn the lasting enmity of the Court of Winter Woe even if the oath is rescinded.

A vassal to the Court of Sanguine Summer may grow in status by participating in Wild Hunts, or by living a life in accord with the mores of the Court of Sanguine Summer, or by serving the King in war and peace.A Fey Pact Warlock who compacts to the Court of Sanguine Summer may instead use the following bonus spells:

1st: Compelled Duel, Hellish Rebuke
2nd: Flame Blade, Branding Smite
3rd: Aura of Vitality, Blinding Smite
4th: Vitriolic Sphere, Fire Shield
5th: Flame Strike, Steel Wind Strike

Saturday, 24 November 2018

[Brumaire] Varieties of the Fey:The Court of Winter-Woe

"In the frost-bitten taiga of  Nivôse you might see them: lean and cruel and wiry, with sunken faces and muscles tendon-tight. You might think them starvelings or waifs, look upon their tattered leathers and old mail and laugh that such a motley band consider themselves one of the most puissant courts of Fey-kind. And they would smirk their dagger-sharp smiles and let you believe it, to better drink your hot, fat blood."

The Court of Winter-Woe
Domains:
Cold, Death, Stability, Solitude, Pitilessness, Dread, Forethought, Endurance, Law, Earth and Water.

Heraldry: A white wolf's head with blooded maw on a field of black.

Making their homeland in the taiga-forest of Nivôse are the Court of Winter Woe, one fourth of Fey chivalry.  They are to the royalty of man perhaps the most distant both geographically and culturally, for they look upon the trappings of majesty with nothing but contempt. Driven to 
Nivôse by their generations-long war with humanity, they match in every respect that land: they are cold, and cruel, and bereft of luxury. They maintain in their fur-and-skin yurts, staring into the embers of dying fires, that they are in fact the victors in the great struggle: that the age of mankind's heroes is over, and they are rotting in the cold earth, whereas the greatest of Winter Woe's champions still prowl Nivôse, made hard and strong by a pitiless land. They joke often that man has only grown fatter and more fractious, and that soon the King of Winter Woe will call his banners all and lead his khagans to the final blood-letting, and frost will cover every flower.  Around their camp are their banners of ox-skin and leather which record their ancient deeds in curt poetry, and they take a stoic joy in a day of hunger, of cold, of wounds - they know it hones them like a blade.

Knights of the Court of Winter-Woe carry the title but not appearance of nobility. They are oft as haggard and sun-browned as any hoary peasant, and the pinch of hunger haunts their features. If you meet with them they endeavour to share their grim and stoic demeanour: they dislike luxury or joy and will treat such fripperies with contempt. Many other beasts populate the Court of Winter Woe: creeping ghouls; thin wolves with blooded maws; cannibal giants; pitiless spirits of bare woodland; beastmen and draugr and ice-things.  
 Ever-wandering after herd and hoard they cross the Nivôse - with no great seat of power for a petitioner to seek or avoid - and they are pitiless in their dealings with outsiders. Those few merchant caravans that chance across the Nivôse, or plucky adventurers set to plunder ruins and barrows from the Age of Heroes, oft avoid any contact with the Court - the Nivôse is trackless and vast. Those who do stray into the Court's path can expect no quarter. Attempts to trade or barter with the forces of Winter-Woe will only harden their hearts - they see such things as the weak artifices of doomed mankind. As the Veil of Brom is weaker in Nivôse, and it is partially covered at times by the Mists-Between-Worlds, monsters creep through the fabric of reality and prowl there also, testing their strength against the Court's endless appetite for struggle. 

In common with all the Courts of Fairie, the Court of Winter Woe maintains the tradition of the Wild Hunt. Unlike the others, there is no pomp or ceremony. The King simply nominates one champion and one prey to dance the grim dance of predator and prey: hunts often last days. Across frost-hard ground and death-cold streams they track their foe, and are as like to split its head with sharpened flint as run it down with a lance - to suffer in the hunt confers the most prestige, to become most like a beast brings the greatest renown in this strange, cold court.

The King of Winter-Woe
This sovereign of the 
Nivôse and the Court of Winter-Woe is a gaunt, tall figure, crowned with snowy, spider-silk-thin hair. He speaks little and seeks solitude often, often leaving the hot-fires and companionship of his camp to wander beneath a uncaring sky. He seldom speaks to outsiders and his pronouncements are a whisper which cuts through the boasting of his wandering knights. 


Fealty
Any Fey character may swear fealty to the Court of Winter-Woe and gain their protection and passage through the 
Nivôse. To do so will earn the enmity of the Court of Sanguine-Summer in perpetuity even if the oath is later rescinded. 

A vassal to the Court of Winter-Woe may grow in status by participating in Wild Hunts, or by living a life in accord with the mores of the Court of Winter-Woe, or by serving the King in war and peace.
A Fey Pact Warlock who compacts to the Court of Winter Woe may instead use the following bonus spells:

1st Ray of Frost, Longstrider
2nd Pass Without Trace, Silence
3rd Sleet Storm, Spirit Guardians
4th Blight, Ice Storm
5th Cone of Cold, Enervation