Books as Faeries, Faeries as Books

Note: this page is incomplete but still contains useful information so I’ve decided to publish it regardless as I may not come back to fill in the remaining information which is mainly page references for the various Faerie powers. Enjoy!

This article is a partial attempt to provide a Faerie counterpart to the Magic Thing class of Magic character introduced in Realms of Power: Magic. Although Faeries posing as swords, staffs and similar paraphenalia are certainly possible, I’ve decided that books, given their importance to Hermetic culture, are a reasonable place to start. I’ve always thought the chained books of the Bodleian Library (or perhaps the Unseen University?) make for an interesting trope to adopt for Hermetic libraries and wondered that perhaps the chains are there for a reason to keep various books under control…

The basic concept of a Faerie as book used in this article is that of an enchanted book of power that grants knowledge or power to it’s reader (as a variant of a “Guide to Adventure”, “Mentor” or “Exceptional Servant”) eg. the Octavo from The Light Fantastic or is capable of independent action and interaction with it’s environment.

This does not include Faeries simply posing by illusion as books but are really incorporeal entities ie. those that can transform their physical forms into books such as perhaps Tom Riddle’s diary or those insubstantial Faeries that create a physical form of a book through the use of the Loosely Material power such he Alf Laylah wa-Laylah (Arabic: “Book of a Thousand Nights and One Night”). Such faeries should be created with the standard Faerie creation rules and chose the appropriate physical form Virtue or Flaw instead. Perhaps a special related instance are those Faeries that utilise a book as a major prop or anchor in their role (whether as the focus of the External Vis Virtue or not) – think Destiny of the Endless. These entities may utilise some of the concepts listed below but may be better represented by having an External Anchor or similar.

Character Creation: Designing Faerie Books

A (Faerie) character must have a Might score, a physical form, a level of cognizance, a Social Interaction Virtue, and a taboo. All faeries have certain innate powers, which may be traded away as Flaws.

Realms of Power: Faerie, page  46

So this seems pretty straightforward. Famous last words. Most of the discussion is specific to the Faerie as book concept but many of the concepts may be appropriate for other Faeries with objects as their base physical form. Let’s see how we go…

Faerie Might

This seems comparatively easy – a default Faerie Might of 5 (an “ordinary creature of the Realm”), modified by Virtues as appropriate to increase (or decrease) the Might score to the desired final level with the Improved Faerie Might Virtue depending on how spiritually powerful and engaged in stories the book is. So I’m thinking a default Might of 10 to 15 is probably fine for most Companion level Faeries posing as books, but the Faerie manifesting as the codex of a powerful archmagus or Founder may have a Might of 40 or higher (“very powerful”, equivalent to a Faerie lord as per the table from RoP:F, page 47).

Due to the combination of suggested Virtues and Flaws, particularly the Little Major Flaw, Faerie books as grog level NPCs may be difficult to create satisfactorily without violating the rules-as-written, but other Faerie objects may be suitable at that relative power level. Rather than Faerie books being grog level characters, perhaps as Companion or Magi level characters, such books might have a humanoid Faerie grog servant that helps transport and defend them?

Since Faerie Objects are similar to Magic Things, Slow Might Recovery seems reasonable to incorporate as part of the template, but Fast Might Recovery might be suitable if the Faerie book can trigger multiple powers with the proviso that Restricted Might (when read or placed on a lectern or similar) is substituted instead. Time or Place of Power (pagan equinox or solstice; library, pulpit/lectern, summoning circle) looks like one of the most suitable Virtue options thematically.

Character Guide: A Potent Faerie Book

Might base: 15
Size: -3
Virtues: Faerie Object*, Faerie Sight, Faerie Speech, Improved Faerie Might x2
Free Choices: Narrowly Cognizant
Flaws: Little; Negative Reaction, Traditional Ward (holy water or iron or salt)
Special: *includes effects of Slow Might Recovery and Immune to Fire

Note: this leaves 5 unassigned Virtues for a Magus level Faerie book, or an additional 5 Virtues and balanced Flaws for a Companion level character but note that for NPCs the Virtues and Flaws do not need to be balanced and many example creatures in the Faeries Bestiary have unbalanced Virtues allotted to fully realise their folkloric concept properly.

For a balanced Companion level Faerie book, one of the Improved Faerie Might Virtues needs to be dropped to leave a Might score of 10 and the new Free Virtue Tolerated by Humans substituted for the Negative Reaction Flaw. A more benign but less potent Faerie book at Companion level might only have a lower Might of 5 and Positive Folktales at the expense of dropping the 2 Improved Faerie Might Virtues. As Grog level character cannot have Major Virtues or Flaws, a Faerie book designed as a Grog would need to be Size -1 (Small Frame) and possess only the Faerie Object Virtue in order to be readily customisable.

Note: As a consequence of having Faerie Might, a Faerie book cannot cross an Aegis of the Hearth (see ArM5, page 161) without possessing a token (or being present at the casting or renewal of the ritual) which seems unlikely for all but a Merinitia dominated covenant. This is potentially a major limitation for infiltrating or being accepted into Hermetic covenants but the libraries of hedge magicians are rarely protected by wards.

Physical Form

Unfortunately there’s not really an official Faerie equivalent of a “Magic Thing” type (see insert below) – whether this is intentional or not I’ll ask Timothy but I’m struggling with the rules to represent a Faerie with the primary form of a book as opposed to a Faerie that has a book as a material anchor, crafts a book as a prop that grants a Virtue or a Faerie spirit that possesses or inhabits books / libraries.

New Virtue: Faerie Object, Minor Supernatural Virtue

The character is a faerie object made up of glamour. It has all of the advantages of being a faerie, and of having a faerie body. Like Magic Things (RoP:M, page 45) Faerie beings of this sort always have the Major Flaw Slow Might recovery, which means that it takes them a very long time to recover their spent Might Points, and whenever they are injured, some of their Might is separated from their galmourous bodies as vis. They may also receive the External Vis Major Virtue at no cost. Unless reflected by additional Faerie Objects should otherwise be designed according to the Faerie Character Creation guidelines in RoP:F, Chapter 3.

Design Note on “Magic Things” From Realms of Power Magic, page 32-33:

Magic things do not necessarily have hands to grasp with, or feet to walk with, but they can still move themselves about, though they travel very slowly. They can pick up objects that are smaller than they are, and even carry them as long as they can touch them. This is often frightening and strange to see, and it may appear that an in- visible spirit is carrying the objects through the air or dragging them across the ground. Though magic things can speak and make other noises appropriate to their form, few of them do. Many of these characters will have the Crippled, Mute, or No Hands Flaws (or Limited Movement, Limited Voice, or Limited Gestures if they are grogs; see Minor Inferiorities, below).

Although External Vis (Major) seems appropriate for most Faerie Objects as broken magical objects retaining power is a common theme in the stories but for a less divisible Faerie book perhaps Greater Immunity: Fire (or perhaps water or iron) is a more appropriate free Major Virtue unless it’s separated pages can somehow have significant magical properties each.

Size is simpler – books range from Size -3 (human baby) to Size -5 (rabbit) reflected by taking the Little Major General Flaw (RoP:F, page 50) either once (Size -3) or twice (Size -4 or -5). Larger books of up to Size -1 (equivalent to the Small Frame Flaw) or even 0 (small human size or so) are certainly possible but may be unwieldy enough to make stories more difficult so preferable to avoid.

Cognizance

I’d thought “incognizant” would be the base level for most Faerie objects but thematically speaking for books Narrowly Cognizant makes more sense if one considers them “more intelligent” than their peers, and perhaps  exceptional books are eligible for the Highly Cognizant Virtue if it suits their concept and story.

Social Interaction

OK so a talking book that can move of it’s own accord seems pretty unusual but actually the default social interaction is a bit trickier – after all Magic Things aren’t necessarily reviled by humans and can have a range of Social Virtues or Flaws, so why not Faerie Objects. I’m thinking “Passes for Human” isn’t really appropriate although technically a Faerie Object could have a default neutral social interaction – the Virtue name just doesn’t really fit the concept. Either Positive Folktales or Negative Reaction seem reasonable, although a particularly malevolent dark Faerie book might warrant the Monstrous Appearance Major Flaw and a powerful benign tome with healing magics might have a Minor or Major positive Social Status Virtue equivalent through the Infiltrator Virtue but this would require significant explanation.

New Virtue: Tolerated by Humans, Free, Social Interaction Virtue (faerie object) 

The character suffers no social consequences, as although it is not human it is tolerated. The character is found at the margins of human society and does not have a prestigious role or associates.

Taboos

Although specific Faerie books might have a whole range of taboos, common Traditional Wards for European Faeries such as iron or holy water seem appropriate and could be substituted for other culturally appropriate taboos such as folk charms or herbs as required. If most Faerie books have Immune to Fire a taboo against flames makes little sense but may be for those books with a varying immunity such as water or iron.

Common Powers

Due to the specific nature of a Faerie Object designed as a book, the following powers may be well suited to stories involving Faerie books:

Adhere:

Allure:

Enthralling Sound:

Enthrallment:

Spirit Away:

Defenses Against Unwelcome Readers

As a Faerie Object, interference by unsuspecting mundanes is a potential issue, requiring the means to dissuade prying eyes or impress upon them a reluctance to steal or otherwise transport the book without it’s consent. Touch range Minor Power effects that cause sleep, paralysis, forgetfulness or poison are possible although more potent books with Enthrallment or similar Greater Powers (see RoP:F, pages 57-60 as above). The following is an example fire-based Personal Power with a more dramatic harmful effect at the cost of only a Minor Virtue:

Wreath of Flames; 0 points, Init (Qik -2), Ignem; R: Per, D: Conc, T: Ind. Cloaks the book constantly in an eerie blue green or purple wreath of fire that dances, illuminates, crackles, and burns inflicting +5 damage. CrIg 10 (base 5, +1 Conc, +1 Rego requisite); Personal Power (15 levels, -2 Might cost).

Design Note: this effect is derived from Coat of Flame ArM5 page 140, but based on the level 10 guideline “create a fire doing +10 damage in an unnatural shape, such as in a ring or sheet, or covering an item”, but with R: Per and D: Conc. This effect would usually inflict damage to the Faerie each round but for the Faerie possessing the Major Virtue Greater Immunity: Fire. A more powerful variant with greater damage requires swapping out the reduced Might cost in return for +10 damage per round, an effect that produces electrical damage requires a Creo Auram based power but would need an alternative or additional Immunity.

Pretenses and Abilities

Unlike many other faeries, a Faerie book has little use for most physically or socially oriented General Abilities or the various Martial Abilities, although perhaps a limited skill in Brawl may be appropriate for more aggressive books presumably chained to their containing shelves. Overall Faerie Speech 5 would seem a logical choice, although the specialty will vary depending on the fairie’s chosen role and some Faeries may choose to only speak the Dead or Living Language(s) their text is written in reflected by loss of the Faerie Speech Virtue and reliance on appropriate Pretenses.

Thematically, as physical repositories of words and images, a Faerie book is a good candidate for Pretenses that mimic various Academic and Arcane Abilities including Artes Liberales, Dead Languages, Philosophiae and the various (Realm) Lores, as well as more knowledge based General Abilities such as Folk Ken, Local Languages and (Organisation) Lore.

Many Faerie books readily fulfill the role of Mentors or Exceptional Servants (RoP:F, page 76), although the latter may devalue the role of players unless the book itself is treated as a PC and it’s “owner” designed as a Grog that acts as it’s foil and agent. As such, the Faerie Instructor and Faerie Trainer Minor Virtues may be particularly suitable if the book has a wide range of Academic Pretenses, (Realm) Lores or Supernatural Abilities – the former Virtue allows the Faerie to “lend” their Pretense to a human, whereas the latter actually shifts the Pretenses to actual Abilities and allows the Faerie book to conduct conventional training, in which case a score in Teaching as a Pretense may help further their chosen educational role.

Half Forgotten Dreams – the Experience of Reading Faerie Books

Although Faerie Books may look very much like mundane books, containing text, images and diagrams implying they contain true knowledge, this is an effect created by the Faerie’s glamour. Reading or studying from the book provides an experience similar to reading a mundane text but without the mechanical effects of experience (see ArM5, page xxx).  The apparent information provided usually reflects the relevant Pretenses possessed by the Faerie eg. a character reading a Faerie book with the Magic Lore pretense believes they are learning about magic locations, beasts or traditions and another character reading a Faerie book with the Infernal Lore pretense remembers the book contained descriptions of demons, Hell and dark magic. A reader actually remembers no actual useful information however, nor do they gain XP for studying from a quality source – the memory created is indistinct and just a manifestation of the creature’s glamour. When questioned about the books contents, the reader can provide vague answers only as if recalling an dream or  fractured memory.

The exception is Faerie Books with the Faerie Instructor or Faerie Trainer Virtues noted above – in these cases the faerie has actual Abilities and the mechanical effects follow the usual rules for those two Virtues, allowing the reader to “borrow” the books’ score in the relevant Pretense or gain XP as if being trained by the Faerie using the teaching rules as opposed to the usual reading rules (see ArM5, page xxx). Rather than the memory of reading having a dream like quality, the reader has a much clearer recollection of the books contents.

For some Faerie books, the experience of being read acts a source of Vitality for the creature as a variant manifestation of the Feast of the Fae Virtue (RoP:F, page 45). Such books often have a power such as Guide to encourage mundanes to read them.

The possession of Pretenses that mimic Supernatural Abilities requires taking an equivalent Virtue, but certainly many Minor Virtues from the ArM5 corebook or detailed across various supplements may be appropriate choices. The possession of Difficult Arts or Accelerated Arts is also possible, although such instances may need to be carefully reasoned and adjudicated to align with the Faerie book’s overall role in the Saga.

Vis

Although the majority of medieval books consist of vellum parchment bound between wooden boards shod in leather, the primary vis Form is likely to be Intellego rather than Animal.  Books appearing to be constructed of paper, metal plates or more exotic materials may be associated with other forms (Herbam, Terram, Corpus). Alternatively if strongly associated with a particular topic or role a Faerie book may contain Mentem or Vim vis at the Troupe’s discretion.

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