"The simulationist mess extends to the wanderers table for the wilderness trip to the ruins. “You see a squirrel and it runs away”, along with a separate entry for a rabbit and fox and … a bird. What?!?! No mention of the fallen tree limb that stands its ground, unwilling to yield to the party’s approach?!?!?"
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Races of Men in the Eclipsed Kingdom
Most human lines in the Eclipsed Kingdom have, at some
point, interbred with various Fey, Elves, Goblins and Souls, not to mention the
varied blessings of Azathoth which can be bestowed on his faithful. 'Pure'
human lines no longer fully exist in the kingdom, though there are a handful of
houses and families which pride themselves on their apparent humanity.
In reality, concepts of race have little validity compared
to Feudal obligation. What matters overwhelmingly in social situations is which
lord you pay fealty to, or if you are Clergy, through which Bishop or Order you
offer your service to the Black God.
Nevertheless, there are some racial, or race-equivalent distinctions;
The lowest form of Churl is a Soul, Sleeper or Dungeon
Dreamer. These are the dreaming selves of every individual dreaming in every
dungeon in the world, brought here by the power of the Sleeping King.
Though not technically slaves (Slavery is illegal in the
Eclipsed Kingdom, all are spiritually equal before Azathoth, that is to say;
nothing), Souls are serfs, attached to the land where they incarnate and
belonging to the Lord of that land. Nevertheless, they do have a legal existence
and though their sleeping lives are ruled almost totally by their Feudal lord
they also come under that Lords protection, meaning no-one but that lord or
their agents is allowed to exert force over them.
Likewise, they cannot be bought or sold (though they land
they are attached to can be). In addition, they can always appeal to the Black
Church in religious matters if they wish and may not be denied access to
worship (of Azathoth).
Souls are somewhat blue-tinged and semi-transparent,
seeming always as if they are lit by moonlight. They exist in the Eclipsed
Kingdom for only as long as they are asleep in their dungeon. This makes them
unreliable (and often despised) workers, but this is balanced somewhat by the
fact that, though they can be psychologically and spiritually crushed by fear and despair, they cannot truly physically tire.
Due to the enormous gravatic pull of of the
Sleeping King, Souls usually cannot wake up when they want to, though most will
wake up eventually. Souls can be killed in the Sleeping Kingdom, this sometimes
causes a heart attack in the Souls body, ending their existence for ever, but
in most cases the soul will wake up from their nightmare at that point. When
they fall asleep, they will return to the same nightmare and must face whatever
punishment they have already earned.
It's very rare for a Soul to gain any kind of status in
the Eclipsed Kingdoms, but it is not entirely impossible and there is no
absolute legal limit set upon them,
should some high-status individual, or the Church, choose to raise them up in
Souls can sometimes prove fertile with living people in
the Eclipsed Kingdoms. The children of such a union will be partly conceptual,
shaped from a dreaming mind and real flesh. They always have some moonlike or
translucent aspect to their bodies, either eclipsed eyes, glowing shadows,
translucency in daylight, silver skin or something of the kind.
Since part of their substance is non-corporeal,
Conceptual souls can be badly maimed if no-one alive believes that they are
real. If no living person believes in the existence of a Conceptual then the
non-physical parts of them will fade out of existence and they will usually
die. Half-Souls will die immediately, quarter souls will be maimed and die in
minutes or seconds, eighth souls may live for hours, One-sixteenth souls can
survive for days and one-32'th souls, who had one dreaming great-great-great grandparent
may survive in-full.
The same effect will take place if a Conceptual ever
leaves the Eclipsed Kingdom and the dream of the Sleeping King.
Perhaps because of this, those with conceptual descent
are often driven to make as strong an impression on the world as they can.
These individuals often grow into Magic-Users or Priests in the Black Church.
These living people pump shadow instead of blood but
other than this making them rather sallow, mad and wrecked in the head there is
nothing else unusual about them.
These individuals have extremely bright red blood which
rusts any metal which comes into contact with it. This may be due to a
hereditary infection by, or microscopic form of, the Churl Beast, popularly
known in the outer lands as the 'Rust Monster'.
Tattoos in the Eclipsed Kingdoms can be hereditary, and
often skip generations, leading to some children being born fully tattooed.
These are referred to as Picts. In modern times tattoos are often assumed to
relate to criminal activity and outlaw status so Pictish children are viewed as
potential troublemakers. This is unfair as most hereditary tattoos come from
the deep history of the Eclipsed Kingdom, from before even Rise which came
before the Fall which came before the Sleeping King. The
tattoos on Pictish bodies may be from this time and can have sacred knowledge
contained in symbols familiar to those of the Barrow-Mounds, though tattoos can
also be much more modern.
Some children born with sacred tattoos or those
suggesting occult knowledge can be hunted by Magic Users, Fey Lords or their
agents. Some wise Picts have spent a lifetime unravelling the mystery of their
own tattoos, though most end up as outlaws, criminals and forest people.
These may or may not be a real race or sub-race, but it
is popularly believed that some people can be born with golden, or part-golden
bones. If anyone believes themselves to be a member of this class they will do
everything they can to disguise it, for obvious reasons.
Goblin DNA is parasitic and recessive, meaning that two
unsuspecting parents can have a Goblinish child. These children always come in
one of two forms.
The first form of Goblinish child is born hunched,
ancient and visibly old. These are always savants of some particular material
skill or craft, anything from blacksmithing to wood working to weaving to
feathersmithing to goldsmithing to anything which can be performed with the hands.
Over time many can develop magical qualities to their crafts. They are no more
or less likely than anyone else to be born 'evil', though they do have very
difficult lives due to their ancient forms and hunched bodies.
The second form of Goblinish child is born beautiful and
androgynous, with fair and charming features pleasing to all. They are
invariably scheming, amoral, flighty, cackling narcissistic sociopaths who
cause nothing but trouble for everyone around them. Despite this, their
parents, lovers, spouses and children never fail in their affections for the beautiful
Goblinish child no matter how much wrong they do.
It's not uncommon for Goblinish children to be born as
twins, in which case usually one will be a prematurely hunched and aged savant
and the other will be an androgynous and glamourous sociopath. Their fates will
always be linked.
If one Goblinish person has children with another
Goblinish person, the result will be Goblins.
BORN WITH IRON SHOES
To be "Born with Iron Shoes" is a popular expression
in the Eclipsed Kingdom but also a literal truth. These children always turn
out to be very strong, hardy, aggressive and brave. Though they are also often
sad as they usually kill their mothers at birth, iron shoes being incompatible with the human womb. Despite this they are no more likely than
anyone else to be either good or evil. Nevertheless, stories and tales will
usually accrue to them.
Those born with Iron Shoes usually keep them with them as a keepsake. Some seek the shoes in order to do magic upon the person they were born on, or assuming that the shoes give some kind of immunity or power. This is foolish, but half-true. The shoes possess no magical power at all and will in no way assist a magic-user in affecting their birth-owner, but, they are also generally immune to all magic.