Changeling: The Lost - IRC RPG

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 Beasts

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Join date : 2016-06-27

PostSubject: Beasts    Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:13 pm

Seeming Contracts: Fang and Talon

Concepts: Horse whisperer, cat burglar, animal rights activist, ox-sized college jock, homeless sewer rat king, man-eating loan shark, reptilian lawyer, grizzly man with a clue, hare-like professional athlete, dog soldier, queen bee of the sorority, eagle-eyed detective, penniless frog prince.

A story tells of a man who, on the final leg of a long journey, sheltered from a storm in an empty palace. As he leaves, he takes a rose from a garden. The owner of the palace, a faerie in the shape of a terrible Beast appears and catches him, and tells him he must die. The man begs to live, for he has a daughter whom he loves, and the beast demands that the daughter come and stay with him. The man agrees, although he has no intention of sending his daughter away. When he returns home, he finds that his daughter has died. In truth, the Beast has taken her away and left a fake to die in her place. The Beast treats the girl well, certainly, but she cannot leave. One day, having lost all hope of escape, she agrees to become the Beast's wife. There is no ceremony, only an agreement, a veil and a wedding night. And on that wedding night, she lays with him, and she becomes like him, a Beast, forever, her memory and thought washed away in the flood of sensation, the tyranny of the now.

The fairy stories have it that love's first kiss redeems everything. The Beast becomes a man. The Frog becomes a handsome prince. It's a lie. The changelings who think of themselves as Beasts know it all too well. To kiss the Beast is to surrender yourself to sensuality and instinct. To love the Beast is to become like the Beast, lost to memory, self-control and ultimately consciousness. The animal is amoral. The animal is incapable of true thought.

It's a two-edged sword. The animal gives spontaneity, the simple joy of living that is lost to far too many humans. Colors are brighter, sounds are richer, smells and tastes are richer, more vivid.

The Beasts consider themselves to have taken the most difficult road back through the Hedge, for they have had to claw back their minds as well as their souls. For a Beast to return, he has to turn his back on the lush sensory life of the animal, and he has to regain control. He has to think, if only long enough to burrow, chew and wriggle through the thorny barrier and come back to the human realm. In every Beast, thought and sensation war for dominance. No matter what animal she holds an affinity with, a Beast lives in a state of paradox, a conscious, moral person infused with the unconscious, amoral power of the animal kingdom. Unable to be fully objective or fully innocent, the Beast straddles the divide between human and animal.

Of all the changelings, the Beasts are the most difficult to categorize. They're as varied in form and behavior as the animals whose essence they share. All Beasts, however, exist as interstitial figures, living on a threshold between human and animal, civilization and wilderness. Some stand apart from human society. Some throw themselves into the human world, revealing the wildness and the world of sensation at the heart of human interaction. Some express their connection to the world of sensation in other ways. A Beast's behavior and the place she creates in for herself in the world depends a great deal on the kind of animal she reflects.

A Broadback who takes the form of a frank, goat-legged satyr works as a DJ in a half-dozen parties a night, reveling in the joy and lust he creates on the dance floor, his unnatural constitution supporting his prodigious intake of alcohol and drugs. A Swimmerskin mermaid lives on a windswept northern coast, managing a Coast Guard station. For her Court, she keeps watch over the waves for what might rise. For herself, she watches the land for that human who might one day satisfy her need for love. A Hunterheart with the legs of a great elk and antlers on his brow works as a ranger in a great national park, lonely and yet well liked by his colleagues for his dedication and unassuming decency. Another Hunterheart, a Bad Wolf, works as a used-car salesman by day. By night, he prowls two legged through city night spots and pick-up joints, looking for a Red Riding Hood to devour in his bed that night, his big eyes the better for seeing her, his bright sharp teeth the better for biting. A Venombite falls into the role of a Black Widow, her heart a swarming mass of spidery passions. She runs a women's refuge. Woe to anyone who would threaten one of the Widow's charges. More than once, a known wife-beater's corpse has been found, his face twisted in agony, his face black and swollen. A Windwing swan-lady illustrates children's books, drawing detailed beautiful landscapes from memory and accepting other, more esoteric commissions from her Court.

Two Hunterheart fox-women, sisters who came back through the Hedge together, take separate paths. One works as a broker, playing the Nikkei for all she can get. The other does quite well as a confidence trickster, fleecing Shibuya hipsters for every penny they have and leaving them with smiles on their faces. Both get by on cunning, charm and nerve. A cheeky, cheery Steepscrambler Monkey King with a love for kung-fu dons a backpack and goes off to see the world. Trouble always seems to find him. He's not wholly sure where he's going, but he's well aware that the journey is mostly the point. A good-natured elephant-man, a Broadback Ganesha with a flair for good food, runs an Indian restaurant, where changelings meet and set aside their differences over his incomparable Saag Aloo and soft, fragrant naan breads. A Runnerswift antelope-girl, long-legged and silky-skinned, is the best cycle courier in the city. She's able to take her bike places her colleagues wouldn't dare to go, and goes faster than most of her friends can believe. When there's a message the Court would have delivered quickly and without fuss, she's the only real choice.

Whether scary, funny or nurturing, the Beasts have a primal energy to them. They communicate an awareness of the senses, of the body. People who meet Beasts become intensely aware for a while of their senses, noticing smells, tastes and touch more than they would normally.

Appearance
A Beast always has some feature belonging to the animal she reflects. It's important to note that the Beast reflects the idea of the animal rather than the animal itself (so, for example, a leonine Beast can be a mighty, regal hunter, rather than the indolent scavenger that a lion really is). She might reflect more than one animal. She might reflect (as the archetypal Beast from the folktale) a category of animals that don't even exist. They're always very physical and solid, whatever form they take. Many Beasts have a strong odor of some kind.

The elephant chef is huge. He has small tusks, big ears and a trunk, but he also has the bright pink skin and big heavy-lashed eyes of the Hindu god. In his human form, he's still got rough skin, bright eyes and comically big ears, but no one's going to make fun of him, because he's built like the proverbial elephant. He smells of spices and earth. The satyr has goat-legs and small horns. As a human, he has extremely persistent stubble. He's really hairy, and his smell promises heat and sensuality. The Fox-Sisters both have fox-ears and huge bright eyes. The younger of them has two fox-tails. The elder has three. In human form, both have the same bright eyes and delicate pointed features. Both move in small-swift movements. Each one cocks her head to one side when she's surprised. The antelope girl has small impalahorns and the soft smooth hide of her animal covering her body. Her face slopes forward slightly, and her eyes are round and almost wholly black. As a human, she is graceful and long-necked. Her black skin glows, and smells of heat and health.

The Bad Wolf has sloping yellow eyes and fangs in a snarling maw. Darkly handsome in human form, he speaks in low, wheedling tones to his potential victim-lovers. The Monkey King looks just like the figure from the Chinese myth, all smiles and improbable poses. As a human, his hair is thick and short, and his skin is dusky. The Mermaid's skin is iridescent and covered in places with silvery scales. Her hair is green and woven with sea-shells and brightly colored seaweed. Her fingers and toes are webbed. In human form, she smells of the sea. Her skin is very pale and always cold. In both forms, she has eyes as green and as deep as the sea.

Background
The oldest version of the story of Red Riding Hood has the girl tempted into removing her clothes and getting into the bed with the Bad Wolf, where she is "devoured."

Red Riding Hood is very much the archetype of the Beast's victim. She was innocent, unknowing of where her actions would lead her. She was prone to wandering in out-of-the-way places, out of human view but well within the notice of a Fae Beast. And for all her innocence, the wild tempted her, drew her into that world of excitement and sensation that consumed her.

Many Beasts were innocent when they were taken in some way, as naive when it came to the ways of the animal world as they were to the human world. Many were loners, with no human society to protect them from the things that would take them away from the world they knew. And many came to the world of the Fae, or at least they thought they came, of their own free will. They might not have understood what giving into to a world of sensation and instinct was going to mean, but a good proportion of them wanted it enough to willingly fall into the clutches of the Gentry.

Those few who escape are those whose innocence was not a weakness. Some were simply ignorant, and when, within themselves they realized what their time in the lands of faerie really meant, they regained themselves and escaped. Others have an innocence that simply refuses to be corrupted or destroyed, an innocence that can be wielded like a weapon. This bright refusal to be corrupted can give a changeling the strength to get out.

Escaping, some return to the wilds and return to living alone, but just as many, if not more, throw themselves into human society, as if to attempt to regain the benefits of civilization. It works, if only to an extent: the Beast might gain a veneer of civility, but spreads just as much wildness to the civilized world.

Durance
A Beast would have spent her time in Faerie with the mind (and sometimes the form) of an animal. There is no real consciousness of the past in this state, only the eternal vivid present. Because of that, a Beast's memories of his time with his Keeper are fragmentary and blurred, snatches of vivid colors, a vibrant swirl of hunger, pain, fear, violence, and sex. Beasts who escape sometimes have vivid dreams of their durances. A dream disturbs and terrifies, and the Beast often wakes screaming as the dreams fade almost instantly.

Character Creation
Most Beasts concentrate almost exclusively on Physical Attributes and Skills. Which Skills and Attributes they concentrate on depends on what sort of animal the character has an affinity with. An antelope, wolf or mule Beast could concentrate on Stamina; a rabbit, mouse or spider might have a high Dexterity, and an ox or gorilla could just as easily focus on Strength. Regardless of focus, the Beast who doesn't have any dots in Animal Ken is rare indeed.

Physical Merits are also common, particularly those that represent innate physical qualities (for example: Natural Immunity, Strong Back, Iron Stomach, Giant or Fresh Start). Some physical Flaws might also be appropriate, depending on what kind of animal the Beast has an affinity with.

Blessing
The wildness that infuses a Beast gives her a supernatural affinity with animals. A Beast gains the benefit of the 8 again rule when using the Animal Ken Skill, and receives a free Specialty for the one animal that most reflects the Beast's seeming.

That same wild nature gives a Beast a powerful personal magnetism. A Beast's player can spend points of Glamour to add to dice pools involving Presence and Composure. Each point of Glamour spent adds one die to one dice pool.

Curse
Although the Beasts regained their consciousness when they came through the Hedge, their time as beings of thoughtless instinct has taken its toll on each of them, and most find it very hard to make use of academic or trained skills. A Beast's player suffers a -4 dice untrained penalty when trying to use a Mental skill in which the character has no dots.

Further, although Beasts can be very clever indeed, they're out of practice making those leaps of ingenuity that so characterize human genius. A Beast's player doesn't re-roll 10s when using a dice pool involving Intelligence.

Kiths
Broadback: Changelings who are attuned to animals that are renowned for their endurance or stubbornness, such as camels, elephants, horses, mules, goats and the like. Their blessing is Stoic Forbearance: The changeling's player can spend one point of Glamor to add two to all dice pools involving Stamina, for the rest of the scene.

Cleareyes: These Beasts have been granted exemplary senses akin to an animal's. Theirs are the eagle's eyes, the bat's ears, the hound's nose, the raccoon's elegant sense of touch. Cleareyes were kept as lookouts and hunters for their Keepers, charged with discovering a scent for the Hunterhearts to follow or spying an aerial intruder for the Windwings to bring down. However, Cleareyes' keen senses also allowed them to spy a way free of their master. The Cleareyes benefit from Primal Senses: They add +2 to Wits + Composure rolls made to perceive things involving the specific sense that is their hallmark (sight, hearing, touch or taste/smell). In addition, the Cleareyes may spend one Glamor to heighten that sense to truly remarkable levels for a turn -- an eagle-eyed Beast may be able to read a license plate from a mile away, or a fox-woman may be able to catch the scent of her enemy in a crowded nightclub.

Coldscale: Kin to reptiles both mundane and mythical, the Coldscale has inherited the nature of serpents, lizards, crocodiles, basilisks, wyverns and the like. Coldscales are a phlegmatic kith, given to sullen and brooding anger rather than hasty wrath and prone to cool contentedness rather than exultant joy. They are marked by scales, reptilian eyes and sometimes cool blood. The Coldscale's blessing is Reptilian Blood: the character gains a +1 bonus to any Composure rolls made to resist emotional manipulation and a +2 bonus to any Stamina rolls made to resist damage from biological venoms and poisons.

Hunterheart: Often, but not always, those changelings who have something of the predator about them: Wolves, bears, cats, crocodiles, snakes and birds of prey, but also those that embody the hunter in a more conceptual sense. The Hunterheart's blessing is Tooth and Claw: The changeling can inflict lethal damage instead of bashing damage when fighting unarmed.

Riddleseeker: Truly unusual among Beasts, Riddleseekers hone their seemingly natural cunning and curiosity to a razor's edge. These changelings exercise an Inquisitive Instinct: The Riddleseeker's player may spend a point of Glamor to add two to all Wits-based dice pools -- other than Wits + Composure perception checks -- for the remainder of the scene. Further, the character gains a free Investigation specialty in "Riddles." The mien of such a changeling usually reflects animals noted for especial wisdom or cunning: Snakes, owls, cats or foxes, for instance. In some cases, however, these Beasts are attuned to more fanciful composite forms, legendary creatures associated with riddles (such as the sphinx) or with great knowledge (like the Iranian Angha).

Roteater: Fed on carrion and offal, the Roteater is akin to the vulture and the hyena, the crow and the worm. As a tamed Beast, the Roteater may have followed at the end of his Keeper's war processions, left to feed himself on corpses. If wild or ungoverned, he may have fallen into a scavenger's ways simply to survive. The Roteater enjoys the benefits of the Scavenger's Nature. The changeling gains two extra dice to roll when resisting poison or disease; the bonus rises to three dice to resist any poison or disease that stems from something the changeling ingested. The character also benefits from the 9 again rule on perception rolls made to scrounge up useful items from an area.

Runnerswift: Changelings who move like the wind, reflecting hares, rabbits, antelopes and the like. The Runnerswift's blessing is Runs Like the Wind: the changeling adds two points to Speed (cumulative with the Fleet of Foot Merit, if the changeling possesses it).

Skitterskulk: Changelings who have an affinity with flies, spiders, beetles, centipedes and other creepy crawlies. The Skitterskulk has the Impossible Counterpoise blessing: Just as an insect, her sense of timing and reactions are second to none. When Dodging, the character triples her Defense Trait rather than doubling it.

Steepscrambler: Changelings who are at home in high places, and who are attuned to animals such as monkeys, raccoons, squirrels, some insects and some lizards. The Steepscrambler's blessing is Gifted Climber: She finds climbing easy, no matter how sheer the ascent. The character gains a +3 dice pool bonus when trying to climb any surface, and may attempt to climb even surfaces as slick as wet glass if they will support her weight.

Swimmerskin: Changelings who draw affinities with aquatic or amphibious creatures: seals, otters, ducks, salmon, and the like; mermaids, too. The Swimmerskin's blessing is Natural Swimmer. He can hold his breath underwater for thirty minutes, as if he had a Stamina of 7. He can't, however, hold his breath any longer than his Stamina score allows if he's out of water. He may also swim at his full Speed, just as if he were running.

Truefriend: These Beasts learned not savagery, but loyalty. They are infused with the nature of animals who have accepted humans as their own. Truefriends are hunting hounds, loyal cats, favored horses, beloved parakeets, animals valued for the companionship they offer. Escaping Faerie was a matter of realizing that whatever fealties they may have been conditioned to show their Keepers, the changelings owed even greater loyalties to the loved ones they'd left behind. The Truefriend can give her allies the Companion's Boon: By spending one Glamor, the character may grant an ally of her choice three additional dice on any roll. Invoking this blessing is a standard action that requires the Truefriend to be able to see her friend and speak so that he may hear her.

Venombite: Changelings who have an affinity with poisonous creatures, such as poisonous spiders and insects, or poisonous reptiles. Every Venombite has the Poisonous Bite blessing. Once per scene, the changeling's player may spend a point of Glamor and roll a normal brawling attack (Strength + Brawl - Defense + Armor). The attack causes no damage, but does deliver a lethal poison with a Toxicity equal to the changeling's Wyrd. The victim can't avoid taking the damage with a Stamina + Resolve roll.

Windwing: Changelings who are confined to the earth, with their hearts in the skies, drawing affinity with birds, butterflies and bats. The Windwing bears the blessing Gift of the Sky: Although be he can't fly, the air bears him up. A Windwing may spend a point of Glamor to glide in the air for up to one minute per point of Wyrd; he cannot gain altitude without appropriate updrafts, but may move at his normal Speed. In addition, a Windwing takes only one point of bashing damage for every 15 yards fallen, and begins to take lethal damage only if he falls more than 150 yards.
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