Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: Unicorns, or the Kilani (Fate Core)

In a recent session of my home #Crux game, one of my players suggested something for a future session involving #Unicorns.  I think it was meant as a joke or something.  But it got caught in my maw: what are unicorns in Crux like, and can I make something weird I'd like out of them?

So, I got the idea of suggesting unicorns and their healing powers are based on them being "unstuck in time."  They flow through time in their own manner, sometimes contrary to how time should flow.  You know, walking bubbles of temporal instability, enigmatic and obsessed with preserving beauty for eternity.

Unicorns.
I never meant to be late that night.  But things happen, I guess.  The night I saw the black unicorn, that really did it.

Like every night, I entered the grove to hunt rabbits.  My father never liked my penchant for catching them.  


"Rabbit, dammit, what is it with you and the damn rabbits?"  He'd tell me.  But he'd eat it.

So I went into the grove.  I didn't mean to see the Black Unicorn.  The stories people told about it never made since.  Not once.  Especially since, if the Black Unicorn did exist, it would mean Old Missus Migeros wasn't the crazy bat she'd always been.  Everyone knew she had made up the black unicorn to explain what happened to her husband the year before.

Drek.  Turns out Old Missus Migeros wasn't crazy as a bat.  Great.

After checking my third empty snare, I tripped over a nearby rock.  I winced and looked down at it.  The rock floated three to four inches off the ground.

Looking back up, I stared into the maw of a black creature I'd never imagined before.  The size of a deer, a long golden, spiraling horn protuded from its head.  Its very equine head.  But the eyes looked human.  Silvery, glittering with some intent I'd never seen in a horse or a goat before.  Its hooves were like that of a horse, but its mane flowed nothing like a horse.  No equine had glittering fangs either.

"Uh..."  I stumbled onto my ass.  I stared at it.  Nearby leaves floated up, back to the twigs they'd fallen from.  

Something smelled like rain.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  

"Lucky for you, I'm not hungry."  The black unicorn told me.

"Uh..."

My legs didn't move.  I just kept staring.  Like an idiot.

"Have you enjoyed our time together here?"  The Black Unicorn continued.  "The years spent?"

"What?"

"Or have we just met?"

"Uh..."  I continued in my dignified statement of the universe.

The Black Unicorn sniffed.  Then it turned around and walked away.  My head stung for what felt like an hour.

I stood up.  My hand clutched onto a skeletal corpse of a rabbit.  I blinked my eyes.  

I stumbled out of the grove I'd been rabbiting.  The world outside had changed.  Fifty years had passed.  I hadn't aged a day.

Twins-damned unicorns.

The Kilani
Unicorns, or the Kilani as they prefer to be called, are a very rare species on Orphos.  The Kilani are the remnants of a starfaring race on Orphos, who either came in the distant past or the distant future.  It is hard for us to know, because they seem to obey the same rules of time that other lifeforms do.  The Kilani or Unicorns seem to flow through time whichever direction they wish.

Their appearances suggest rarity, but it could be due to non-Kilani being unable to perceive them due to how they move through time.  Most claim that Unicorns are creatures of pure white, with the bodies of stags, the manes of goats and the tails of lions.  But they aren't limited to just this folkloric interpretation.

Nor are all the Kilani pure.  There are tales of them healing entire villages; others of black-coated Kilani devouring children in the streets.  More tales of red-coated Kilani abducting people and transporting them years into the past or years into the future.

The blood of the Kilani can do miraculous things.  It always has.  It can heal any wound, stop any disease, and restore youth in the aged.  Even the horn of the Kilani has magical properties.  Often it can restore purity to any object, even ones long destroyed or rusted.  All Unicorns physiology seems to cause these sorts of reactions in others.

The presence of Kilani can cause an area to be unstuck in time somewhat.  When a place is known for multiple sightings of them, it often has other strange occurrences as well.  Rivers that flow up, rocks that float in midair, and so forth.  These timeless groves also tend to attract Faeries, like moths to the flame.

Fae
Faeries are drawn to Kilani.  Groves that Unicorns frequent also become dens and nests to Fae of all kinds.  Some Kilani drive Fae away, enraged by them.  Others work with Faeries, sometimes creating traps for mortals the Fae can take their pick from.

There is a alchemical concoction of silver, powdered unicorn horn and unicorn blood.  Any mortal who drinks this is irresistable to a faerie.

Potion Stunt.
Elixir of Unicorn Blood.  After you drink this alchemical concoction, you gain the aspect Enthralling to the Fae.  This lasts for a week.

Kilani Culture.
Research into unicorns has revealed some sort of underlying culture among them.  In addition to their time-bending abilities, they all seem perfectly capable of shapeshifting into humanoid form.

They do not possess their own language, or if they do, no one has witnessed it.  Ursyklon have long held contact with the Kilani, sometimes even considering them allies.  But the Kilani seem to hold the Ursyklon in contempt for some past or future crime.

Kilani seem to enjoy beauty in all its forms.  Some have speculated that their distaste of ugly mortals will drive them to slay them.  That, cases of them healing or helping beautiful maidens has nothing to do with virgins, but instead is some driven urge to make something beautiful last as long as possible.

The Curse.
Unicorns can lay a curse.  Some spend their entire lives trying to obtain it.  The curse was thought to be folklore, but the Church of the Machine has documented at least two cases of it.  The Curse of the Kilani causes the victim to age backwards or cease aging altogether.

The effect is magical.  Despite what could be perceived as benefits, both recorded cases of victims of the curse committed suicide.  It seems to also alter the victim's perception of time, causing them to have dreams of several events at the same time.  A victim might dream of being born, while at the same time experience meeting a love for the first time, all while remembering what it felt like to die of old age.

Citizens.
In Ith, there are fifteen known Unicorns who've obtained citizenship due to their magical natures.  Even then, their whereabouts are never easily ascertained.  As such, the protections of citizenship is often extended to them.

This means hunting or murdering one of their kind is persecuted to the full extent of Ithic law.  It also means that any unsorcerous humans whose lives are temporally altered by them have no recourse.  A child whose experience with a unicorn causes her body to age into that of a old woman, is in the same category as a victim of any vampyre or wizard, so long as they lack the basic sorcerous requirement under ithic law.

Unicorn Aspects.  Enigmatic Mystic; Experiences Nonlinear Time;  Mortals Are Such Fragile Things;  Addicted to Beauty.
Approaches Flashy Great (+4), All other approaches are rated Good (+3).
Skills Unicorn Fair (+2), Stealth Average (+1), Arcana Average (+1).
Stunts.
Shapeshifter.  A unicorn can shift into a human or ursyklon form of any sort, changing their bodies to do so.  This requires an exchange to occur, but no roll needed.  
Vanish.  A unicorn can spend a fate point to gain the situation aspect Vanished.
Healing Blood.  A unicorn's blood can remove any consequence, but it causes the Unicorn to take at least 2 physical stress in the process.
Tough.  A Unicorn has two additional physical stress boxes.
Pure Flesh.  A Unicorn uses Flashy instead of Physique for determining their number of physical stress boxes.
Curse of the Kilani.  A Unicorn can lay the Curse of the Kilani onto another as a severe consequence.  This requires the expenditure of a fate point and the Unicorn must take on a severe consequence of their own as well.  The Unicorn can lift it, but it will not remove their own severe consequence.  Convincing a Unicorn to do so often requires some difficulty (read: Superb or thereabouts).

Unicorn of Crux.
Tyrana of the Grand Bazaar is as unique a creature as one can find in the City of Curses.  The blue unicorn sells her own blood as a healing elixir.  She only does so once a week, at a specific time.  Some think she might be looking for a particular customer; she has been maintaining her booth for about a century now.

The street she appears at, Bent Street, is avoided by most.  Most citizens are aware of how time flows wrong there.  But those desperate for healing without having to go to the Church of the Twins or even venture to the Church of Shraxes, pay Tyrana a visit.  For her part, Tyrana rather likes the local "color" as she puts it.