Thursday, April 16, 2015

WE STARVE (Elves for D&D that are not Tolkien Elves)

Before the black ships came, there was only the pale mother and there was not a grove in which we did not grow. Our stomachs full,  we sang to our mother and calmed her so she would not so keenly feel the loss of us.

We were so many we were tightly packed, we hung like fruits in the trees and we sometimes forget ourselves and made new forms with our neighbors.

And the sea breathed in and the sea breathed out and on its breath were new children of the mother, their bodies like sea foam or milk or fingernails and their digits like pink coral or blades of blue carragheen or rills of cilia proud like horns. The new children danced in our houses and found homes in our wombs and told us the secrets of the black sea and our knowledge became art and we found places we had never known. And we became more like the new children.

Then the black ships came and in their bellies were hairless apes and to their back was a sun.

And the sun was fearsome and savage and he gobbled up our mother and we knew day and night.

His light, it burns our tongues, our lips crack, the stomach is like a rattling, empty nut.

His light wilts the new children and they shrink and hide themselves in places far and dark.

Dead leaves dance in our houses, now, yes, and the song falters, the mother grows strange in her grief and we leave our homes for ages, we forget ourselves, the art becomes more like myth and we are looking, always looking for our new children. Now are the days of hunger.

They share some biology with the ghoul symbiote. There are similarities in form, a certain luminescence, a certain insect or fungal element.

They are always emaciated, nearly always in hiding. They avoid the sun and they seek caves are dark, wet earth. Where they sleep, the ground teems with insects.

The new children are precambrian nightmare creatures. Imagine house centipedes and amoeba and hallucigenia and other creatures whose form seem a mix of the recondite and familiar, like creatures designed using abandoned logic, but also terribly intelligent, messengers and theologians and intellectuals.

Many elves adopt some element of the new children in their appearance, likely from when they carried one in their womb.

Elves usually self-organize into two groups: wolves or myriapoda.

The wolves move in packs, wear armor, probably use weapons. They collect trophies, they stalk in the night and burn villages, sacrifice children or virgins, kill and hurt for the pleasure of destruction. They expose humans to their mother at her worst and she makes them beasts: they often keep werewolves on a leash and delight in making them fight to the death. They copulate frequently, joylessly and with no fruition.

The myriapoda usually congregate as choir or schola and are greater in number, usually deferring to a single teacher or ideal or ideal form. They stand for hours in the moonlight, becoming stranger, trying to find the words of a song, singing and stopping and starting again. Or else they dig or suss out places incompatible with our own, looking for their children. They live in the earth and they seek the new children. They make nothing that isn’t a tool for inquiry. Their art is science, their religion is their history. They are the least likely to attack a human outright but the most likely to do horrible, lasting things to a human.

Gender isn’t really a thing. Nipples, genitals are totally unnecessary and appear, if at all, as an affectation, probably wolf ritualized debasement. Their faces are both masculine and feminine, they have soft, curving buttocks and maybe some rounded hips, just enough that they could be women, could be men.

They may move quickly, fluidly or with difficulty, like marionette or as though they’re making concessions to gravity. The clamber around rocks and trees and through water without hindrance, leaping from one to the other, scrabbling through bushes, coming for you in a crazy, jagged spiral.

They are nocturnal, avoiding sunlight. Many live in caves or in soft earth into which they slip as if melting. They like moonlit water, old stones, forests, predatory animals, they speak all the languages of animals.

They peer from behind trees, wave or stand watching from distant moonlit shores. They climb trees and look down and hoot like owls or grit their teeth in anticipation.

Something about Elven biology is transmittable. Few survive the process, but hybrids wander the elven lands, changelings half-human in beautiful, sentient gowns of hands or wearing armor that grows from their bottom jaw instead of teeth.

Xataklik Knife Charismatic, Wise Elf 2d6+1, Spear, Light Armor
-Friendly to anyone touched by a New Child
-Mentor Void Breath
-Wants its New Child, in the meantime, it wanders with its pack, burning villagers on trees or making them fight to the death, eat each other
-it wears armor of leaves and fur (pelts with claws that move, the pelts cringing from human touch)
-has d6 lost children in its body at a time
-has a knife made from moonlight that ignores armor and causes massive, painless necrosis as fungal life spills from the wound, makes one a fungus-twisted werewolf instead of killing them
-Void Breath: breathe and move in vaccuum or water as normal
-alpha of a pack of wolves (4-6), each a 2d6 elf with spears, each with 1-2 twitching werewolves

The One of One Thousand Petals Intelligent, Wise Elf d8+4
-Friendly to anyone who approaches without hostility
-Mentor Moon Song
-Wants to keep digging, singing, to be at peace, though it isn’t sure how or what that might even mean
-face crowned by a multitude of fleshy petals like white-pink fronds, each petal bearing a mouth and several eyes (visible only when open and casting a spell), each petal being another elf, bound in a chorus with the One. Appears furred in mycelium like ermine. Gives the appearance of elegance and grace, but any rapid movement makes it totter awkwardly.
-SP: unlimited, can cast d4 random spells in a Turn, changing each Turn as petals blink open and shut.
-Is normally always singing and digging with its hands in the dirt or sand for a New Child
-if its singing stops, any human in hearing must make a Catastrophe roll or suffer from their Vulnerability as a temporary madness
-is especially susceptible to spells affecting the mind; was once quite knowledgeable, but is now just surface knowledge and perception, forgetting everything within hours

Lost Boy Dextrous, Strong Elf d6+3
-Friendly to anyone that promises to help it find Hungry Boy, but is impatient (frustrated in d4 days of looking)
-Mentor anything about mushrooms, navigating in the wilderness
-looks like a little boy but for its orange and black cordyceps mantle and crown
-calls giant myriapoda (like, big-as-a-house giant) to defend it or carry it away or punish those that have disappointed it

Hungry Boy Strong, Hardy Elf 2d4+4
-Friendly to only Lost Boy
-looks like a little boy but for its head, which is a weird, black, wet, mouth and little pink tongue, sort of like a kid’s drawing of a black hole.
-tries to bite and swallow - any successful attack requires a Catastrophe roll or be injured as it swallows a bit of you

The Gift of the New Flesh. Both a spell and a disease. Exposure is treated like an injury, with death or transformation in d4 days (Catastrophe roll to survive). On surviving, gain one of:

1-5. third membrane over eyes, resistant to void pressures
6-9. tympanum in chest or forehead
10-16. rill of pale, sensitive fungal appendages on random limb, head or torso (d6)
17-19.   softened teeth (can no longer eat meat or tough bread), resistance to the effect of hunger  
when in moonlight
20. translucent skin and re-roll your Trait and choose which to keep

-Those already enjoying the new flesh gain exposed to it’s effect again gain an advantage on the Catastrophe roll
-If the survive, they can choose, rather than roll the effect

Rot Grubs/Lost Children
-Catastrophe roll or be injured, death in a day unless the grub is cut out
-do not consume elves and elves either keep them as a sort of pet or else find them too tragic to look at

attributions: Arthur Acker, Zezhou Chen, Brian K. Ward, not sure on the last one (fan art for Tokyo Ghoul)

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