"Don’t know if he’s fash or not, but he’s one of the most immature and unpleasant people I’ve had the displeasure of forcing myself to read in a long time. He writes articles entitled gently caress All Of You and thinks the 90’s were the most artistically sophisticated time in history. He also uses his own mental illness as proof he knows when other people are lying about having their own.”
Thursday, 16 May 2019
WrenMen - Making Halflings Interesting?
To me anyway.
This is my addressing Halflings for Eldritch Foundry, essentially by making them a genetically-engineered sub-species created to inhabit Rama-style generation craft and explore deep space.
The Wren, small, brown, unassuming and rather rotund,
still sings with a loud and imperious voice, drowning out the calls of other
birds. “Little King”; so came the name from hedge-stepping country folk.
So “Wren-Men” is a better phrase for the race. “Homon” is
simply a corruption; “Somon” refers to the single names borne by standard
humans, but “Homon” doesn’t really mean anything except ‘Half-Men’. WrenMen do
not have half a name and they are not a part or reduction of anything.
Some other terms are ”Halflings”, “Hobbits” and the
oldest word; “Zeegees”; its origin unknown.
But “Homon” is simple and “Homon” has stuck.
The WrenMen look just like classic Humans, half the
height, a little wider by proportion, and for some sub-groups, with broad, thick-soled
dexterous feet. Other than that they could easily be mistaken for a Somon child
or a sport of nature. As if they were
only half a step from each other.
In almost every case other than their size, Wrenmen are a
A brief list of problems they don’t have;
Cancer, dementia, insomnia, schizophrenia, lung
infections, damaged tendons, concussion, depression, torn muscles, hysteria, hypnosis,
arthritis, dizziness, hallucination, mutation, superstition (except for their
Ghost Festivals), Alzheimer’s, poor spines, heart disease and post-traumatic
Bones and muscles retain their strength and flexibility
even without use. (They can dance their way out of prison after some time in
the clink). They tan in minutes, skin colour shifting to the relative level of
light. They can live on very little, infesting marginal environments, in which
Somon would starve. They live as long as Somon, but excellent health (“And a
good attitude ^_^”) seems to make it
count for more. They breed true. A Homon parent always produced Homon young.
And they are fiendishly, frustratingly lucky, surviving
disasters or impossible dangers with unnerving glibness, all while remaining friendly
and even-tempered to the point of patrician dullness.
In short, for anyone, but especially for standard humans, Wrenmen are some of the most
agonizingly frustrating and irritating beings its is possible to encounter.
"It is fortunate indeed for Somon that out greatest competitor
is, not only deeply agreeable, but conveniently half the size. If they were of
equal mass we would be enslaved within a decade. Or, what might be worse,
simply managed." - Vosis Fail,
excommunicated Sophont of Yga.
THE HOMON STATE OF MIND.
Homon as a group, hew closely to a mean, with less
diversity of thought and action than in Somon culture. They are practical,
sensible and agreeable, sometimes to the point of absolute boiling insanity.
It's been remarked that if their house was on fire and
the vote was split on whether to leave, a Homon would simply stand in the
doorway and let half of their body char to ash. They almost always think the
'middle way' is best, and because their communities are so uniform, the power
of the majority can take on a terrifying aspect.
While they are certainly friendly and reasonable, they
are hugely intolerant of anyone who doesn't seem to care about, the things they
Anyone absorbed in the mind, 'theory' or abstract thought
is “a queer fellow”.
Anyone with a point of view outside the mean is “a bit
odd”, even if they happen to be right.
Homon, especially in a group, will systemically deny,
rationalise and ignore these flaws. All Homon know they are a tolerant and reasonable people. THEY KNOW IT TO BE
They grasp detail and process relating to people, (as opposed to Deoth) but they
have real difficulty with things that have no immediate or obvious utility. If
half a society were in favour of banning slavery, and the other half for it,
the Homon would simply vote for some slavery, some of the time, and be entirely
morally secure in their choice. Anyone distant, disagreeable or 'other’ will be
labelled “haughty” or “high” and quietly and ruthlessly ostracised.
Living with Homon can resemble being crushed slowly to
death by a fat man. The enormous intensity, intimacy and uniformity of Homon
culture is the prime creator Homon adventurers. If you cannot fit in, you have to get out out
Their strange luck, knack for survival, uniformity and
ease of aging means they lack 'depth'. (In the opinion of non-Homon.) They
rarely experience or feel
tragedy.They rarely hit bottom.And so, because they never crash and burn, or
fall apart, they rarely have crises or dramatic moments of growth and change.
The Homon mind-state is alleged (by non-Homon) to make
them unsuitable for certain kinds of magics, especially those of a dark,
dreamlike or entropic aspect. (Though any Homon would claim that those are
simply ridiculous and unreliable methods anyway.)
The only way which they could be considered 'fey', is
that, for them, large matters are invariably treated lightly, and small matters
are of great importance. So that death, love, fire and disaster are looked over
as small things, but knives or pistols might be drawn,(and have been), for
instance, over the matter of a missing spoon.
Homon are one of the few prople to become adventurers to
learn how not to get along with
people. Or at least how to respect the privacy and inwardness of others without
frustration or contempt. To learn that
the study and comprehension of abstracts can sometimes be, not only useful, but
meaningful, even if it is not used! And
to, eventually, with great difficulty, learn that the middle path is not always
the best path That sometimes, occasionally, VERY OCCASIONALLY, the
right thing might be a very slightly
Homon LIVE roughly four patterns; the 'Cantons', large
settled groups whre they make their own law, the small ghettoes in the Grey
Cities, the marginal travelling (and criminal) communities and the strange
'wild' Homon, who live on the borders of the Waste, or even in the Waste itself
(if they are even real).
Small sub-nations within the spheres of larger cities,
or, in the Mountains of Reality, in the more distant valleys of a Gloom Queens
Here, in their own micro-nations, the Homon are at their
most Homon-esque. They run agricultural communities with ruthless efficiency
and the farm owners, or Squires, spend every single spare copper on enormous
hats, clothes, parties, interior design, cooking and siege equipment.
They are insanely socially competitive, obsessed with
out-doing their neighbour, and love splendifereous displays; big hats, parties,
games, balls, more parties, parliaments, meetings, guilds, markets and simply
any or every chance they can get to both interact with, subtly judge and
painfully outdo their immediate social group.
This is the society that many Homon adventurers are
trying very hard to escape.
The Cantons are well-defended and several send
treaty-troops to their larger parent polities. These rarely serve directly
along their larger allies but the Homon very adept at logistics and the handing
and operation of siege equipment. Their troops have marvellous esprit-de-corps
and magnificent hats. Their generals are dumb as muck; part-time enthusiasts
bloated on delusion and self-importance, but once they are distracted with a
pie, the relatively high quality of Homon troops, training and logistics comes
And of course they have cavalry.
There is nothing a Homon will not ride, or at least try
to ride. Every Canton has a species
which they have dedicated to mastering. Depending
on the place you may see Homon riding Goats, Sheep, MegaDogs, Snails, Pigs,
Donkeys, Giant Tortoises, Huge Turkeys, Miniphants, Hippos or Weird Lizard
When WrenMen make it to 'the big city' they become
politicians, socialites, scribes, sewer-workers, journalists, teachers,
thieves, gangsters, assassins, restaurant owners and celebrity chefs.
They love to run major cultural institutions, but it can
be very, very bad to have two two
news-sheets, theatres, operas etc, and similar prestige, in the same city, both
run by Homon.
They will go to war.
On the positive side, this does result in a brief
cultural incandescence as each organisation drives the other to ever-greater heights
of excellence and hard work.
On the down side are whispering campaigns, threats,
violence, murder, whispering campaigns and opportunistic demonic summoning.
Guns, goats, bare-knuckle boxing and highway crimes.
Those who cannot get along in the Cantons, and have been
banned from the cities, travel the highways and waterways of Blackwater;, a
dangerous business at the best of times, considering the wars, monsters, waste
incursions, tyrannical rulers and unstable politics of that realm.
They move in groups, ranging from a single family to a
trail of thirty, as waggon trains or in long river-boats.
These friendly travelling groups of Homon are popularly
assumed to be thieves and charlatans which, to be fair, is true a meaningful
percentage of the time, though in most cases they limit themselves to petty
theft, confidence scams and the more useful forms of smuggling.
More dangerous are the river pirates, goat-bandits and
highwaymen who prey on honest trade. The Mountains of Reality are infested with
outlaw tribes of Goat Riding Halfling thuggees who ride near-naked except for
vast cloaks of sheepskin and who spend all their ill-gotten gains perfecting
the breeding of bigger and bigger goats. Bantito legends say that the greatest
of these rievers have, through deep communion, perfected the power to
psychically control goats.
Strongly-denied rumour speaks of wild and feral Halflings
in the Waste. Groups of “wild” WrenMen living naked in vast warrens.
The addled tales of memory-stripped travellers describe
squirming piles in the warm darkness.
Homon sniffing each others musk and running out in
starving crowds to pull down prey. Huge balls of flesh, composed of hundreds of
Homon piled together a linked arm-to-arm, rolling over the land chasing and collapsing
on travellers to devour them.
Though these are almost certainly mere figments of the
imagination, drug visions, deceptions, delusions or snares of Yggsrathaal,
Homon are secretly symbionts.
WrenMen themselves call it their ‘ghost', ‘belly ghost’
or ‘stomach spirit’, and, the common people see it as a semi-spiritual thing.
Inside their body, and integrated with their flesh, is a
tissue of pale filaments, like torn translucent silk, wadded up sheets of thin
wet paper, a crushed pale rose, or an albino octopus held in a fist. It does look a lot like the common
conception of a ghost.
This is a psychic, non predatory, largely sessile and ethereal
extradimensional creature. A peaceful, vulnerable organism that needs an anchor
to survive. If allowed to grow within a host it can feed off their bodily sustenance
(one of the reasons Homon like to eat so much).
If allowed to integrate, the ghost gives subtle benefits.
Ghost-holders about ten percent lighter than they should be, relative to mass. This makes Homon surprisingly supple, bouncy
and agile, despite their plumpness. If
they die of natural causes, the corpse of a Homon will occasionally float up
into the night sky. (The ghost going home).
Memory - The
ghost, though somewhat intelligent, has almost no personality of its own.
Instead, as a psychic creature, it continually and intimately reads the mind of
its host and keeps a nearly-complete para-personality as a kind of living
simulation. If the host suffers memory or personality loss, the ghost can
're-load' lost memories and even run the whole body in a dreamlike state.
The ghost and the host sleep at staggered interval, one
of them is usually awake at any particular time, making them hard to surprise,
even when ‘asleep’.
They even share
and swap dreams. Halflings can have up to
three sets of dreams inside them; their own, the ghosts, and a marginal realm
in which the two meet.
This makes it very hard for the Children of Yggsrathaal
to prey on Homon. Name-Thieves are frustrated, (Homon can sometimes 're-grow'
names in a way incredibly rare for other creatures).
Memory-Eaters find the memories replaced and Dream-Stalkers
are utterly confused.
Awareness – The belly ghost gives Homon a soft para-sense for
extradimensional things manifesting as a dull intuition, or a 'queer feeling’.
They are rarely totally surprised by the cascading otherness of dimensional
incursions and it is hard for them to get lost in non-Euclidian space.
– The ghost can split the effect of the more deadly spells, confusing the
precise coding such murderous thaumaturgy requires by essentially having multiple
identities in the same body.
Most take the WrenMens references to 'my friend', 'my own
ghost' or ‘the stomach spirit, and their weird giggling and belly rubs, as just
an odd cultural affectation.
Even if the 'ghost' itself is seen, during moments of
trauma, or due to strange magics, well, it looks like.. a ghost, exactly the
vague kind of ethereal spirit that many cultures believe rests inside mortal
Ghost Festivals are seen across all Homon cultures. A
rare, rather spiritual, and somewhat spooky party-day with a great deal of
eating and drinking, parades and dances with ghost puppets and ghost-flags,
Homon dressed as ghosts, and then private parties behind closed doors late at
night where Homon commune with their own ghosts.
Its possible to pass or swap the ghost between Homon,
which allows them to share or exchange memories and personalities with each
Its also possibly for an old ghost to inadvertently enter
a young body. In theory the new
personality should rapidly overwrite the old memories as the child develops.
But in practice they can guide the development of the mind to produce
particular patterns of thought and knowledge.
These are all things that civilised Homon will avoid at
all costs, considering them “savage” or, worse, “very regrettable”.
No such strictures prevent ‘Wild’ Homon (if they are
real), or criminals on the margins from using the ghost to gain skills,
knowledge and education from each other, or to produce ‘hive minds’ of tightly
bound ultra-competent beings.