Monday, July 13, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Ursyklon, Children of the Wolf Mother (Fate Core)

Ok.  So I went did this.  Here is a re-write and a as-comprehensive-as-I-can-make-it post on the Ursyklon in #Crux.  This still needs some matter for it (I think, I can't ever truly finish a thing).  The Ursyklon are Crux-specific unique retooling of Halflings.

The Ursyklon: Children of the Wolf-Mother
Quote: Call a proud Ursyklon a Halfling, if you undervalue your life.

It is a mistake to think the Ursyklon (UR-sike-LON) weak because they are smaller than most others.  The Ursyklon once roamed the stars, conquerors of many worlds.  Those who remain on Orphos remember that legacy.

Ursyklon are half the size of a human.  They share some physical similarities in appearance.  But they aren't half-sized versions of humans.  Ursyklon are born with claws, and are marsupial, being born in pouches.  Ursyklon can shift their gender, a process they call "Mother-Walking."

As they mature, their claws fall out.  Their ears are pointed, and their eyes are able to handle the dark light in forests with no problem.  Ursyklon grow up tough; even while pups in the pouch, they can call and scar one another severely.  They embrace nature, and can take punches that can fell some humans.

Ursyklon have a cultural tie to nature.  They brought the Barbarian, Druid, Hunter, and Ranger Classes to Orphos.  All Ursyklon possess the ability to communicate with animals, an innate magical ability they gain at adolescence.   They walk in the wild places.  Once they walked amongst the stars.  They survive, no matter what others might think or say.

History.

Ten thousand years ago the Ursyklon came to the world of Orphos in their living starships.  These ships, used technologies and magic that haven't survived into the current age.  Some of these starships can still be found, crawling and moving around.  But how to activate them, pilot or even command them has been lost to the aeons.

The Ursyklon and their Archdruids had been waging a war at that point, for what had been generations.  They and the Aboleth had battled one another across the stars.  The two brought their war to Orphos.

Their struggle ended with the Aboleth imprisoned at the bottom of the Deep Sea, west of Ainesia and Ith.  The Ursyklon used archdruidic magic, forbidden technology and other secrets to contain the Aboleth down at that the bottom of the sea.  To this day, Ursyklon still fear that they might escape.  That the Aboleth might come back to restart that ancient war.

With the Aboleth defeated, the Ursyklon clans conquered Orphos.  They brought Classes unknown to Orphos: Barbarian, Druid, Ranger and more.  The Ursyklon Clans conquered continents.  But not all of them.  The Jade Lands never fell to them, the Ursyklon unable to win any battles against the mystic Tengu.  The Ursyklon also avoided the the lands south of the Rruk.  Where later the Immortal Khanates of Maliph would rise, no Ursyklon had ever taken.

Ursyklon ruled their princedoms and kingdoms for less than a thousand years, though.  In time, clans clashed and petty differences caused their empires to crumble.  Today, only the nations of Kainen and Kirgan remain from those ancient days.  

In the Maru Sea, Ursyklon assimilated into local cultures.  When the Tomasi Empire rose, the Ursyklon suffered.  The Tomasi Empire regarded the Ursyklon in the worst terms.  From the Tomasi do we get the word 'Halfling' as well as 'half-man', 'half-woman', and more.  The Tomasi Empire often treated the Ursyklon as curious pets or animals, often penning them in ghettos or worse.

After the Tomasi Empire fell, the Maru Sea had been plunged into centuries of chaos.  When Othebea decided to engage its Crusades to stop the arcane monsters in Ith, Ursyklon helped them.  The Archdruid became a symbol and leader to the Ursyklon, her guidance helping to guide them in the future.

Nations.  

The Ursyklon have five nations, far-flung throughout the world.  Each of them have long survived since the invasion.  These nations have many different member clans.  But all five share some similar traditions, even while being far-flung across Orphos.  First is Stormwood in Ainesia- converts to the faith of the Twins, they stifle under the rule of the Revolutionary government.  Stormwood Ursyklon have a unique, chivalric society.

Second are the Ursyklon of Ith and Othebea- the Sradyklon, or Firstlanders.  They've assimilated into those two nations.  Ursyklon never ventured south of Rruk, so no Ursyklon can be found in Maliph at all.  Gnolls claim to have been a servant race the Ursyklon granted Maliph, but there are no Ursyklon sources that can confirm that.  These Ursyklon identify with the Archdruid of Crux, following her lead in how they act throughout the Maru Sea.

Third are the Kirgan, who keep their own independent nation in Soram.  The Kirgan made dark choices during the war against the Aboleth.  They embraced black magic and other forbidden arts to gain an edge against the Aboleth.  The Kirgan today keep to themselves, their dead too foul and wrong to be eaten by Sacred Wolves.  These corpses remain, still moving, cursed to still lead their people from beyond the grave.

Fourth are the Gazers.  The Gazers are a tiny community of Ursyklon who live on the Island of Gazes, on the very edge of the Jade Lands.  Little is known of them, other than they are all that are left of the Ursyklon who attempted to conquer the Jade Lands during the invasion.  They are peaceful, and often speak of the fae.

Last are the Kainen.  The Kainen landed on the continent of Ocrid, far across the Deep Sea, Sleeping Sea and Azure Sea from most other continents.  The Kainen keep watch over the prison of the Aboleth.  They fear outside interference from what they see as the child nations of the Maru Sea.  They preserve an ancient strain of Ursyklon culture.  The Kainen still have some of the great and ancient technologies and magics other Ursyklon have lost since the landing.  The Kainen strive to keep Ocrid under their influence, despite their few numbers and the constant threat of outside contamination.

Culture.

Ursyklo, as a language, is something that binds Ursyklon in its uniqueness.  In the Maru Sea, it distinguishes them apart from others.  Ursyklo lacks gendered pronouns, with four distinct inflections used.  Because Ursyklon give birth to litters of three to four, their language's inflections are specific to birth order.  To not use a inflection is to render an insult.  Apa, is such a word- it is a Ursyklon word for human.  It means "Ape or Monkey."

*Uzhadi*
Each Ursyklon undergoes a ritual once they reach puberty.  This is the Uzhadi.  It is a harrowing journey, and for many Ursyklon, a memorable one.

A Urzahadi, or a Ursyklon Druid, administers it.  The adolescent drinks a decanter of sacred substance.  After a night's slumber at the Menhir or some other holy wild place, the young teenage Ursyklon's body shifts.  They change into an animal.

This change of forms lasts only for a week, but the Ursyklon is expected to live as that animal for that week.  To embrace it.  Ursyklon believe that this animal is the creature that the young Ursyklon's soul is matched with.  The Uzhadi is a frightening experience, but the ties built during it grant the magical qualities most Ursyklon share.  The kind of creature they turn into also defines what beasts and animals they can speak with.

All Ursyklon remember what happened during their Uzhadi.  It always seems to decide how they will live the rest of their lives.

*Clans*
Ursyklon families clump together in Clans.  Each clan has its own clan totem.  But it isn't unusual for particular Ursyklon to see out their own personal totems.  Totems are saints or children of the Wolf-Mother.

Clans have, and continue to have complicate internal rivalries.  They have reputations, conflicts that guide and alter those around them.  Clans often have names like Animal, followed by a trait.  Here are some well known Ursyklon Clans:

Horsestrong, Ratsneak, Crowtongue, Wolfsong, Boarrage, Tigerglare, Eaglesoar, Frogeater, Sharkrider, Batscream

Faith.

Not all Ursyklon are worshippers of the Wolf-Mother.  But even then, it remains the major faith among them.  Almost all priestesses, druids and clerics of the Wolf-Mother are Ursyklon.

All Ursyklon however, share in the birth and death ceremonies of the Wolf-Mother, regardless of faith.  Dead Ursyklon are fed to Sacred Wolves.  Once placed to feed them, the corpse is ignored.  It has returned back to the Wolf-Mother, no more thought need be given to it.

As for birth, it is traditional for a priest of the Wolf-Mother to witness the new litter of Ursyklon pups.  A minor ritual, but often the Priest is said to be able to tell which pup will be the dominant child and what totems they might be attracted to later in life.

Classes.

Ursyklon brought the more wilder classes, but it is mistake to think they limit themselves to only those.  They embrace a wide variety of classes, although their people do have their own specialties.

The Dafthrog, or Greenknives, are known as the personal guard of the Archdruid.  They are also known for a specialized assassination technique, wherein they can strike a foe, and force that victim into the form of a tree for the rest of their days.

The Wolf-Riders are Paladins of the Wolf-Mother.  They, of course, are known for riding wolves.  But they protect the wilds first.  And they sometimes are known to walk in unseen places.

Ursyklon Naming Convention

Ursyklon can have up to six or seven names; this is due to their long history, and a variety of noble traditions they've maintained for centuries.  Most often, Ursyklon have the following naming Structure: First Name, Nickname, Ancestor Name, Family Name, Clan Name, Honor Name, Secret Name.

Often Ursyklon are named in honor of their closest elder relative of that gender identity: sons are named after their grandfather, whereas daughters are named after their grandmother, and so forth.

All Ursyklon are given an Ancestor Name, honoring an ancient hero.  Ursyklon have family and clan names.  If the Ursyklon is recognized in the community for their past actions or deeds, they often are given a Honor name, recognizing their deeds.

Lastly, all Ursyklon have a private secret name, one that they only share with their closest family.  Its seen as rude to share this name outside of the most intimate relations.

First Names: These names often are also used as ancestor names as well.

Male: Alistair, Callum, Murchadh, Ycott, Fertus, Neillian, Finlay, Dunkan, Maltolm, Kuart
Female: Aila, Elspeth, Iona, Qhona, Sheena, Zorcha, Kean, Worven, Xilias, Rileen

Family Names: Degan, Hogan, McCann, Kordon, Srady, Zastings, Ormond, Materson, Megaton, Towan
Clan Names: Horsestrong, Ratsneak, Crowtongue, Wolfsong, Boarrage, Tigerglare, Eaglesoar, Frogeater, Sharkrider, Batscream
Secret Names: There isn't a list of these.  Secret names are something that generally don't get known.  They tend to be monosyllabic.

Racial Aspects.

Ursyklon characters select one of the following Aspects for their Cultural Aspect.

Small Yet Fierce.
Invoke when size or ferocity would be of advantage.  Compel when size could hinder or ferocity could cause a ruckus.
Natural Born Survivor.
Invoke when one will survive something, no matter the cost.  Compel when survival might push one into doing something irrational or impulsive.
Child of the Wolf Mother.
Invoke when faith in the nature or the Wolf-Mother could help.  Compel to engage in ceremonies and act in accordance with the tenets of the Wolf-Mother.
"I'm Not A Halfling, Understand?"
Invoke when ferocity or self-identity could be of advantage.  Compel when racial slurs or tensions might push one off the edge.
A Wild And Feral Nobility.
Invoke when in nature or trying to be nobler than one's foes.  Compel to be condescending to those not as "noble or wild as I."

Ursyklon Stunts

Wild Tongue: All Ursyklon must take this Stunt.  Select a kind of animal, such as Ferret or Canine.  You now can speak with those animals like others could speak with one another.

Animal Companion: You have companion animal.  This NPC has its own stats.  Most often it'll be some variation of these approaches: 1 Fair Approach, 3 Average Approaches, and 2 Mediocre Approaches.  Animals often have three points for skills, and can take points in their own skill.

Feywalk: You were born with the innate ability to open doorways to the plane of Faerie.  This doesn't help you with dealing with its denizens.  You can spend a Fate point to open such doorways.

Wolf Mother's Ferocity: Tough and feral as the best Ursyklon, you have a bonus Mild Consequence for Physical Stress.

Skill: Ursyklon.
All Ursyklon can buy ranks in the Skill Ursyklon.  Ursyklon is about Ursyklon knowledge, abilities and their capacity to deal with nature.

Discover: Use Ursyklon to sense for animals or faeries.  Ursyklon also applies to Ursyklon-specific knowledge, as well as Clans or specific totems.

Overcome: Ursyklon allows you to calm feral animals, navigate fey illusion, or move through tangles of wilderness.

Create an Advantage: Use Ursyklon to affect animals (Tame), or interact with druidic magic (Druidic).  Creating Ursyklon advantages take the form of natural or animalistic effects.

Attack: Ursyklon is indirect and tends not be very useful for damaging others.

Defend: Ursyklon can be used to defend against faerie magic, or to block animals through wild empathy.


Thanks for reading.  This is part of me kinda going and making things harder on myself for no reason other my own satisfaction.  My players know this stuff already.  Readers probably already had guessed at some of it.

Comments are always welcome, and I try to use feedback to adjust things when I can.  There will be more, and one day hopefully, a sort-of-comprehensive version of this somewhere.