"Of course, it was then that I realized that I had to save them all. It's amazing what super glue will do to the scabbard of a broadsword..."
Eternal tricksters, Pooka are half-animal shapeshifters with a penchant for pranks and lying. They mean no real harm, but they still drive most if not all of the other Kiths nuts with their tomfoolery. The Pooka, however, just want to have fun. They can't wrap their heads around why everyone are such sticks in the mud. A little whipped cream here, a bag of feathers there, and everyone will be much, much happier. Or, at least, that's the way the Pooka see the world. Clowning around isn't just a way of life for these Changeling, it's second nature. They have an affinity with the Nature realm.
Appearance and Lifestyles
Pooka run the gambit for shape and size, largely dictated by their animal side. On the whole, they are smaller and wily, and every Pooka sports some traits of their animal half (such as cat ears and tail, lizard scales, or feathers on their arms). They are usually cute, with animalistic features such as oddly shaped or sized eyes.
Pooka have an uncanny knack for turning out alright in the end. They typically manage to eke out a living doing what they love, whether that be as an Actor, Court Jester, Stand-Up Comedian or a different kind of performer. Seelie drift toward promising mortals who need a little cheering up; Unseelie act as confidants to those who can ensure their survival. In the city, they cluster around colleges, parks, and bohemian parts of town. In the country, be nice to the animals you meet.
From the Changeling: The Dreaming Corebook, Second Edition:
"Childlings are little angels, especially when they think they're going to get caught. Seelie childlings are like playful baby animals, always causing trouble and trying hard to avoid punishment. Unseelie childlings are destructive little beasts, but soon learn the fine art of making sure the Seelie get blamed.
"Wilders have a notoriously crude sense of humour. Imagine a class clown who'd seduce your best friend's S.O while planting a stink bomb in the school's ventilation system. When his pranks are going really well, he'll even get a luminescent gleam in his eyes. Be careful when a wilder Pooka begins to sharpen his claws.
"Grumps age gracefully. Most of them settle down to jobs in which fools can make an easy living. While their sense of humour never fades, it does become more subtle. Greybeard Pooka tend to prefer elabourate pranks that can take weeks to orchestrate properly.
Birthrights, Frailties, Merits, and Flaws
As with all Kiths, Pookas have some traits specific to their race.
Shapechanging - Each Pooka has an affinity with an animal of her choice. When completely alone, she can shapechange into that animal (or back from it) in one turn. Shapechanging costs a point of Glamour, but reverting back is free. The Pooka has all of the animal's natural abilities (claws, speed, leaping, etc.), although it's only possible to assume the forms of mundane beasts. Even the large and scary forms tend to be more playful than deadly, even when a fight breaks out. Changelings can't ken the animal form of a pooka in her animal seeming. They really don't need to see the animal form to figure it out, though; a Pooka often shares a few of the animal's mmore endearing qualities. A cat pooka, for instance, might lick her fingers after a meal, or purr when stroked. In her faerie mien, she might have little ears and a long, swishing tail.
Confidant - The innate charm of a Pooka breaks down the barriers of even the coldest people. Adding a faerie's curiosity to that makes him an outstanding confidant. Once during a conversation, a Pooka may roll Perception + Empathy (or Subterfuge) to get a changeling or mortal to spill her guts; the difficulty is the "victim's" Willpower. Each success allows a truthful answer to one personal question. This isn't an instantaneous effect, though. It takes time, effort, and roleplaying to coax out the information. This birthright functions normally, even in the presence of mortals.
Lies - People may trust a Pooka, but no one in their right mind would believe one. They're infamous for their elabourate lies. No matter how important an issue may be, a Pooka must always mix in a lie. It's her nature. A pooka must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) to tell the whole truth. Different Pooka have different styles of lying. Some Seelie Pooka always say the opporsite of what they mean, while many Unseelie perposefully tell the truth now and then to throw listeners off-guard . Unseelie Pooka sometimes couch their lies very carefully---if an Unseelie makes his Willpower roll at the beginning of a scene, he can mix truth and lies freely. This can make him even more dangerous...
Good Listener (1pt) - All Pooka have the ability to get others to open up to them, however, you are a master confidant. A word here, a gesture there, you crack people open like clams and harvest their secrets like pearls. You say all the right things at all the right times. Your ability to listen makes others tell you their feelings, concerns, and hidden dreams. They don't know why they're telling you, but they usually feel better afterwards. You walk away with another gem of information to add to your collection. Is it any wonder that sluagh secretly envy Pooka? (All rolls related to your Birthright are made at a -1 difficulty.)
Loud Voice (1pt) - Some animals have voices that carry farther than a normal human's. You have the ability to project your foice as far as a wolf can howl or to shout as loudly as an elephant can trumpet. This comes in handy, but unfortunately, it also draws attention to you. Not only does your target hear you, so does everyone within a certain radius. The physical landscape can hinder this ability; buildings muffle; hills echo. In open territory, however, your voice carries for up to five miles, if you've conditioned it to do so. (Roll Stamina + Performance, difficulty 6, minus any modifiers for landscape. The number of successes determines how many miles your voice carries. On a botch, you strain your voice and suffer laryngitis for a number of days equal to your dice pool.)
Calming Presence (2pts) - One advantage of your animal half is the ability to calm any animal with a quiet word or even a look. You may soothe children as well. Something in your scent, or your aura, conveys safety and security to the animal or child. A guard dog will rarely attack you, and when in your arms, babies calm and gaze up at you in fascination and wonder. If you are a domestic Pooka type (cat, dog, rabbit), you may use this in your animal form as well, by purring, licking, or lying quietly in someone's lap. (The difficulty of all Charisma rolls, except Intimidation is reduced by 2 when dealing with children or animals.)
Animal Speech (3pts) - Like Dr. Doolittle, you can talk to the animals. Unfortunately, this only extends to animals of your own affinity and any directly related. For each step away from you in the Animal Kingdom, communication becomes more difficult. For example, a tiger Pooka can speak fluently with other tigers in the tiger language, however he feels like an American in Paris with only a fourth grade understanding of the language when speaking to a bobcat. When attempting to converse with a housecat, the tiger Pooka is reduced to a vague understanding of body language. Whenever a Pooka attempts communication with a species other than his specific affinity, the player should roll Perception + Alertness versus a difficulty determined by her Storyteller, based on how far removed the species is from the Pooka's affinity.
Call to Friends (3pts) - Creatures of your affinity will come when you call and back you up in a fight. Every species of animal has a special call that they use to summon others of their own kind to aid them. You have an innate knowledge of what this call is and you can use it whenever you need. For some affinities, it's a howl. For others, it's a cluck. However it sounds, it calls any of these animals within a one-mile radius to your aid. Even if you cannot make your voice carry that distance, the animals spread the word for you. All you need to do is reach one of the creatures of your affinity and, unless restrained somehow, that animal calls others. Like that, the "word" spreads quickly and your friends come running. The limitations of communication still apply. If the animals can't hear you, they won't know to come. If they can't figure out that you're tied to a chair and need them to gnaw through the know, then they're just going to stare at you dumbly. They don't teleport, so travel time is a factor. However, if they see that an ogre is attacking you, they'll jump right in and help you. This Merit works especially well when used in conjunction with the Animal Speech Merit above. The number of animals available to you varies depending on your affinity and where you're living. The Storyteller should assign a number of animals per success. For example, in New York, there may be only one alligator in the sewer within that mile, but there may be a hundred cats. Once this has been established, the player should roll Charisma + Performance to determine how successful her plea for help is.
Intimidation (3pts) - Something in the way you move or the way your eyes shift over your environment worries people. You have a natural aura of danger that tickles the short-hairs on people's necks. You walk into a room and the crowd goes still. When passing you on the sidewalkm other pedestrians give you a wide berth, sometimes even crossing the street to avoid you. One look is all it takes. Only the bravest, most brash opponent will openly challenge you. This works in your favour, but it's a lonely way to go through life. Of course, this also draw the attention of those hard-asses looking for someone to knock down a few pegs. (You recieve a -2 to your difficulty on all rolls related to Intimidation.)
Wholecloth (3pts) - When Pooka shapeshift into their animal form, they leave all non-chimerical items behind. This means that the Pooka's clothing, mundane items worn or carried and treasures cannot shift with the Pooka, but must either be left wherever the Pooka changed form or gathere up by a companion and brought along. It can be inconvenient and inefficient for the Pooka to leave his "cast-offs" behind. Imagine, for example, the Pooka who assums animal form to escape those chasing him only to discover the same people waiting for him when he gets home because his picture ID and address were in the wallet he left behind! This Merit allows you to avoid this annoying and potentially embarassing occurrence. With a moment's concentration you can subsume non-chimerical objects and items into your new shape. Thus, you can always have your clothing and other personal items at hand. The Merit does not allow you to pick up and carry any other living thing along with you in this manner. Thus it cannot be used to help both the Pooka and a companion escape.
Physical Abnormality (3-4pts) - Some aspect of your animal mien transfers into your faerie mien. This may mean that you have prehensile feet or tail, the ability to climb verticla surfaces, a sticky tongue, eyes that rotate 180 degrees, extra legs, a scorpion stinger, venomous bite, tough skin, skunk spray, or any of a huge variety of unique attributes that affinities can have. The Storyteller determines the cost of the particular physical abnormality that allows him a special attack, he uses his own dice pool, rather than his animal dice pool. If the attack involves venom, then he injects no more venom than he would in his animal mien. Thus, a snakebite from the Pooka in his faerie mien does no more cumulative damage than it would if he were in his animal mien. Such venemous attacks deliver (at best) one die of damage unless the character also takes the Venomous Attack Merit.
Venemous Attack (5pts) - Your bite, sting or claw delivers venom of some sort into a victim when you choose to use it. This may cause considerable damage and perhaps death to those so attacked. You may only use such attacks when in your animal mien unless you also have the Physical Abnormality Merit. Whenever you use your venom, you gain 4 venom dice that your roll 4 times at half hour intervals over the nhext two hours of game time, subtracting one die each subsequent time you roll. Each time damage is indicated, it is added to the damage already accrued. See the chart below. The difficulty to inflict damage is a 6, as is the soak roll needed to offset it. Victims of your venom may reduce damage through Stamina soak rolls just as with normal damage unless they are allergic to your specific type of poison (an allergy to bee stings, for example). Generally the only type of Pooka who may take this Merit are those with potentially fatal venom such as rattlesnakes, black widow or brown recluse spiders, scorpions and the like. Storyteller approval is required to take this Merit.
Example of Venom Dice: Time of Roll Number of Dice Immediate Roll 4 Dice 1/2 Hour 3 Dice 1 Hour 2 Dice 1 1/2 hours 1 Die 2 Hours No more damage accrued
Animalistic Features (1-3pts) - The animalistic features so apparent in your faerie mien leak over into your mortal form as well. Over the years, you have developed characteristics that might cause your mortal body to look somewhat odd. They might even give you away as a Changeling to someone who knows the signs. In some cases, this may manifest as excessive hariness, fang-like teeth, clammy skin or even internal organs arranged in an odd manner. The higher the point value of the Flaw, the more noticeable and hindering the feature is to the fae.
Pack Mentality (1pt) - Your attachment to your pack far exceeds healthy limits. You not only want to be part of a pack, you need to be. You go to extreme lengths to protect your pack, even to the point of sacrificing yourself, and if you find yourself without a pack, you join up with the first that accepts you. You stress hard when left alone. You don't, however, have to be a follower in the pack, you could just as easily be the leader who needs more than anything to have a group to oversee. If you've lost your old pack, spend a Willpower point to put off joining the first pack you find--even if they seem inimical to your own ethics. You must do this for a number of days equal to the number of failures (i.e. the number of 1s rolled) on an Intelligence roll.
Natural Urge (2pts) - Animals do lots of things that would be very odd if humans or Changelings did them as well. They have urges. You have these urges as well. This could be a disturbing taste for raw meat, a desire to chase cars, an unconscious habit of licking yourself, an impulse to search your friends' hair for parasites, or a predilection for attacking weaklings. Whatever natural urge you have, you do it without thinking. It's a part of you and only by spending a Willpower point can you avoid the urge for an hour when in a situation where you would normally feel the urge.
Environmental Need (3pts) - Some animals need special environments and wither when they leave them. Your affinity has this problem and, worse, it leaks over into your Changeling mien. Fish need water. If you are also a fish Pooka with this Flaw, then you need water also. However, this doesn't mean that you have to constantly immerse yourself in water. You'd drown. Rather, what it does mean is that you must spend a large portion of your time in or near water. You feel its draw like a magnet. Perhaps you need to constantly drink fluids. Perhaps you shower ten times a day. Other environmental needs might include sunning, remaining in darkness, or having a "shell" of some sort at all times. If deprived of your environmental need for more than 24 hours, you weaken and begin to take wound levels at a rate of one per day until you reach Incapacitated--at which point you slip into a coma of sorts until you get a taste of your element again. Note, however, that in the case of sunshine, a week of rainy days won't hurt you. Merely being outside will give you what rays you need, even though it's not a bright day.
Animal Amnesia (4pts) - Most Pooka can shift back and forth between forms without the slightest problem. You, however, have a challenge. Whenever you shift back from your animal mien, you forget everything that happened while you were in that form. It's as if you blacked out. Not a single memory makes it back through the change. While in your animal mien, you have complete awareness. However, once you change back to your Changeling or mortal form, you forget it all. This is extremely disconcerting, worse than waking up after a particularly nasty drunk and not remembering that you took all your clothes off in the middle of the street.
Mortal Inhibition (4pts) - Something about your mortal seeming makes it nessecary for you to pass almost all your time in your animal mien. Maybe you're on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list, or maybe you are a child who should be in school. Perhaps you have a horrible birth defect that makes people stare at you in horror whenever you go out in public, or perhaps you have Changeling features that put both you and the Escheat at risk. Whatever the case, you find it much easier to stay in your animal form the majority of the time. This produces many problems for you, the least of which is communication, but it's not nearly so bad as what happens when you take on your Changeling or mortal form.
Hibernation (5pts) - Many animals hibernate. Some do so seasonally. Others hibernate when the temperature drops below a certain point. You have inherited this urge from your affinity. Whether you do it seasonally, sleeping all winter long, or whether you fall into hibernation only when the temperature drops, this can be quite debilitating. If your hibernation is triggered by season, then you miss out on a full quarter of the year. Although you don't sleep 24 hours per day, you do sleep at least 20. Your body wakes you up just enough to eat and relieve yourself, but then you go right back to sleep. If it's triggered by temperature, then you rish sudden sleepiness and a slowing of your physiology whenever cold. Temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit will trigger your hibernation. You can mitigate this to some extent. Whenever you are supposed to be in hibernation, you may spend a Willpower point to remain awake for 24 hours. While this keeps you from dropping into a doze every few minutes, it doesn't leave you very alert. All rolls while in a state of suspended-hibernation are made at a +2 difficulty (up to a maximum difficulty of 10). Further, you cannot initiate aggressive actions or combat, though you may respond to such. Once combat occurs, you react normally (but with the +2 difficulty penalty).
Views on Other Kith
Behold the wit and wisdom of Runcible Shaw, Chronicler of Peculiar events.
On Boggans - Never around when you need them, and when they are, they're so stingy! Why, the last one I met only gave me three helpings of dessert.
On Eshu - Hang around these guys and you'll have a fairly calm life. Couldn't think of a safer way to travel cross-country.
On Nockers - Nockers have such a wondrous joie de vivre. Hearing them regale us with their great praise for everything is a delight. Do tell use what they said about Boggan craftsmen again!
On Redcaps - Um...here. Light the fuse on this and give it to that Redcap over there. He'll be ever so thankful. I'll just wait behind this Troll.
On Satyrs - Their festive occasions definitely need a few Pooka around to liven them up. Spike the punch, and watch the fun begin!
On Sidhe - So regal. So elegant. It must be wonderful to be the centre of so much intrigue and politics.
On Sluagh - Outspoken and cheerful.
On Trolls - If you ever get into more trouble than you can handle, stand behind one of these.