A Chimera is any object, animate or inanimate, from the Dreaming, or made of the essence of the Dreaming.
In practical use, "chimera" refers to an animate and likely sentient creature of the Dreaming, while an inanimate object would be referred to as "chimerical" (e.g. a chimerical sword). Even so, an inanimate object from the dreaming is still technically a chimera. It is unclear what is formally a chimera and what is not as one progresses deeper into the Dreaming. By technical definition, anything that exists in the Dreaming that is not fae or an exotic material (such as a visiting mage) would be a chimera, down to every last blade of grass, grain of sand, and particle of dust.
Chimera are generally visible only to those who can see into the Dreaming, and are highly susceptible to Banality. They possess a sort of magic called redes. Redes are given as a hodge-podge of powers to a chimera using a specific point-based system, or by the Storyteller. Some redes include the ability to deal aggravated damage, or to become Wyrd for a time.
The metaphysical composition of the Dreaming, and of chimera in particular, is a mystery that baffles the most learned of fae. To those who can perceive chimera, most appear as solid and as "real" as objects in the Autumn World, Changelings can perceive chimera with all five senses. By definition, chimera are constructs of Glamour energies, made manifest through the will of fae and mortal Dreamers. More dense than mere thought, a chimerical substance physically interacts with those attuned to its presence.
Even the most ethereal chimera consists of a coarser material than pure Glamour does. This is an advantage in some ways and a disadvantage in others. Because chimera are of a heavier and sturdier substance than Glamour, they can withstand the mildest abuses of Banality. In fact, their physical nature results from the limited application of Banality to the Dreaming. True Glamour is the ultimate antithesis of static form. Glamour touches Dreamers, who in turn create chimera, but Banality influences those Dreamers as well. Thus they create chimera based on the Autumn world perspective, no matter how distorted their vision may become in the Dreaming.
Inanimate chimera are the building blocks of the Dreaming. They may be the dreams of cloth, silver, or stone that appear in the Dreaming or in the mundane world (though they are still invisible to non-fae). Inanimate chimera may result from the dreams of changelings or from the singular or collective dreams of humanity. They may be the creations of chimerical creatures (webs left by spider nervosa), or changelings may spin them from near nothingness with certain Arts and treasures. Kithain artisans may mold these materials into clothing and weapons.
Inanimate chimera may be semi-formed raw materials or may be fully-realized pieces of art. Almost every piece of creative work on Earth has its chimerical counterpart. Only those works imbued with true creativity, though, maintain their integrity in the Dreaming for long. (Thus, a cathedral has far more "reality" as a chimerical construct than does an O'Tolley's restaurant.) Inanimate chimera that have little integrity succumb to Banality quickly, while those that spring from highly creative sources may last for centuries. The dream of the creators of the work are often the strongest force behind a chimera. It is the dreams of those who appreciate the work, though, that keep it alive after the artists' death. Thus, even a chimerical O'Tolley's might rebuild itself continuously as new customers come through its doors, but its existence is always a poor one at best.
Inanimate chimera are not always art-related, but may spring from humanity's collective unconscious. Thus, chimerical metal may exist in an imagined mother-lode" near a mining community. Chimerical food may come from the desperate dreams of a starving child or from the dream-harvest of a successful Boggan farmer. Changelings who wish to gather dreamstuff for the creation of chimerical items must "mine" it from the Dreaming, much in the way humans gather raw materials in the mundane world.
Types of Inanimate Chimera.
Incidental chimera constitute the majority of chimera in the mundane world. They are stray dreams, detached from the main body of the Dreaming. They sprout up in an unpredictable and hodgepodge way on Earth, but are invisible to mundane people.
Chimera that grow in the real world seem to have all the "reality" of chimera found in the Dreaming. An Incidental tree may have the solidity of a real tree to a changeling in the mundane world but, once removed from its growth site (the place where it was originally dreamed into existence), the incidental chimera succumbs to Banality quickly, breaking apart like wet cotton candy. A changeling may use an Incidental tree branch as an impromptu weapon while in an Incidental forest, but the branch would not serve very well as a walking stick once the changeling leaves the woods. Incidental chimera are usually brittle and have little value as raw materials for crafted or forged items. These chimera are born into the hostile Earth, and Banality infects them at the root. Even if a changeling brought an Incidental chimera into the Dreaming, it probably wouldn't last long (though a changeling may nurture an Incidental chimera, transforming it into a Dreamed chimera with repeated transfusions of Glamour).
Dreamed Chimera are the most common type of Chimera in the Dreaming, but are relatively rare in the mundane world. Few changelings know why one newborn chimera becomes an Incidental chimera and another has a more rich and solid existence as a Dreamed chimera. Sometimes a Dreamer's creation may take root only in the mundane world, and sometimes only in the Dreaming. Some may exist in both realms, creating two aspects of the same chimera that take on separate but mysteriously connected lives. Dreamed chimera have a far more independent and permanent existence than Incidental chimera, but they are still susceptible to dissolution by Banality in the mundane world
Dreamed chimera are less "infected" by Banality than their Incidental counterparts. Changelings may use Dreamed chimera as raw materials in crafted or forged items. Inanimate Dream chimera tend to keep their cohesiveness as long as no one drastically changes their original Dreamed form. Thus, a changeling may use a Dreamed tree branch as a walking stick, and may even trim a few twigs off of it to make it more serviceable. However, if the changeling tries to carve the branch into an ornate walking stick, it is no longer a branch as envisioned by the Dreamer and dissolves quickly unless crafted or forged.
A changeling who wishes to craft or forge a chimera usually obtains their materials from the Dreaming instead of using Incidental materials from Earth. The more rare the item, the deeper into the Dreaming the changeling must usually go to find it. Truly rare items and materials can become the foci of major quests. The recent opening of trods into the Near Dreaming upon the sidhe's return has precipitated a building boom unprecedented since the Sundering.
Voile is chimerical clothing and is often brought into existence when the changeling awakens. Unlike most dreamed chimera it has staying power as it is tied up with the faerie's understanding of him or herself.
Crafted Chimera are those that have been altered from their original form through traditional crafting methods. A changeling may work chimerical metal, leather, wood, and more fantastic substances (dragon scales, true silver) in the same way that human artisans work mundane materials. To do this, the changeling must first gather the appropriate chimerical materials (preferably Dreamed chimera), and the player must spend a point of Glamour. A Dexterity + Crafts roll (difficulty and number of successes vary) is made to work the chimera into its desired shape.
Chimerical materials are difficult to work with, however, and few changelings are able to do so. Of all the kith, only boggans and nockers (and presumably sidhe of House Dougal) have much skill; the difficulties of all other kith trying to craft chimera are increased by one to four. (Incidental chimera are even more difficult to work with.) Crafted chimera are rarely manipulated beyond the level of simple mechanical devices, and are still vulnerable to Banality in their new forms as they were in their old.
Forged Chimera are rarest of inanimate chimera because only nockers can make them. The nocker Birthright (Forge Chimera) allows them to transmute chimera in a fundamental level, forging them into hardier forms of dreamstuff. Forged chimera are resistant to the forces of Banality (difficulties are reduced by two on all rolls involving Banality), and are not connected to single changelings in the manner that voile are. Nockers can create Forged chimera that are complex mechanical devices that do not even resemble their original materials. Bigger projects (such as chimerical castles or ships) are usually assembly-line projects; nockers forge the materials and other fae put them together.
Imaginary friends and invisible playmates, Childlings particularly like animate chimera, at least the ones they consider safe and friendly. Of course monsters exist as well and they are rarely cute and cuddly. Animate chimera feed on Glamour and can even, occasionally, project themselves into the mundane world in the presence of creative humans. However, being sensitive to Banality, most animate chimera flee in the presence of mundane humans and clever changelings who don't fear a little banality can use their own disbelief to wound then as well.
Types of Animate Chimera
Friends and Helpers
Animate chimera are rarely, if ever, purposefully created. They usually spring from the Changeling's unconscious mind. Many kithain, on awakening, create counselors for themselves; human seeming, animal-like, or fantastically formed beings, and reveal their problems and hopes to them. Some have the power of speech and some of these may even have the mind to do something with that speech, though many are not sentient and only mimic discourse. They often act as travel companions, servants, entertainers, guards, or "decorative residents" in the home.
A popular animate companion is the fairy steed. Often beautiful horses, though not always, they can be decked out with chimerical finery like jewel-encrusted saddles, bridles, and rich saddle clothes, and offer proud mounts for the nobility who ride them to hunt or joust. Some may be unicorns or griffins or other fantastical beasts but they are exceedingly rare and banality quickly erodes their forms. Some chimerical beasts may develop awareness and then either counsel their creators or leave them to explore the Dreaming alone.
Adversaries and FoesSome animate chimera become the enemies or adversaries of the fae who birthed them. Whatever they may look like, they often are reduced to cannon fodder for the faerie who wants to practice their martial or hunting skills and tracking a "wild and dangerous" chimera through the woods is a favorite pastime for the fae.
For mortals, the creatures of horror films may be shrieked at and then forgotten, Changelings aren't as fortunate. Chimerical monsters do not only exist but can seriously harm the kithain. These monsters can even interact with the Autumn world if no mortals are present, so putting a real-world door between you and the creature won't work. Like chimerical weapons, the teeth and claws of chimerical monsters can harm the fae; rending and tearing the fae self while destroying even the memory of the fae self. Though this isn't as horrible as death in a dragon's jaws that destroys fae and mortal seeming, losing yourself is painful and, while that memory can return with time and Glamour, some changelings never remember and their faerie soul is cast back into the wheel of time to be reborn.
Some monstrous chimera take the forms of classical beasts of fantasy like dragons and griffins. Other shapes are goblin-like, feral creatures, or shapes that never existed beyond the human mind. They can be created by changelings or from the subconscious of humanity as a whole. Some are gigantic, fearsome, and old and claim they are the remnants of real creatures forgotten in earth's past or laid they were created by the sidhe for their knights to fight and keep the commoners in line.
While most Chimera tend to be helpful, there are also dangerous forms of Chimera. One form, even more dangerous than most, is called a Banal Chimera. A living paradox, Banal Chimera are very dangerous indeed. Possessing both Glamour and Banality, they go about wreaking terror and putting all Kithain they come into contact with in danger.
Banal Chimera can come about in many ways, just as any other Chimera, from broken oaths, to the fears and doubts of Kithain themselves. They, however, need glamour to survive, for their own banality will eventually undo them.