A Chimera is any object, animate or inanimate, from the Dreaming, or made of the essence of the Dreaming.
OverviewIn 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.
Chimera derive from the stuff of unformed dreams, and their birth is a very special and magical event. Chimera may attach themselves to a changeling during their Chrysalis or Saining. This process is something over which the changeling has little control; they are born from their subconscious dreams. Such chimera may be inanimate voile or chimerical guides to aid the changeling in their new life (if the player buys the Chimera or Companion Backgrounds)
Chimera also come into existence through many other means. Kithain may create chimera subconsciously during stressful, creative, or highly emotional times. They also birth chimera when they go into Bedlam. Chimera born from Bedlam are often unpredictable and dangerous, sometimes staying with their creator long after their state of Bedlam subsides. Chimera may also spring from the minds of non-fae Dreamers. Some chimera are truly ancient and may visit Earth from far into the Deep Dreaming. Chimera may even come from places of low Banality, such as a Lost One's freehold or from places of intense mystical activity.
Dreamers & Chimera
Kithain are not the only creatures that can spawn chimera. While individual changelings are far more likely to do so than humans, the vast majority of chimera (and, indeed, the Dreaming itself) are the unconscious creations of humanity's dreams. The collective unconsciousness of the human race and other denizens of the World of Darkness creates the fantastic dream world from which the fae draw power. Even the most Banality-sodden humans can occasionally give spark to minor and ill-formed chimera. Despite the oncoming Winter, some beings still maintain the ability to Dream. Such Dreamers are individuals with low Banality ratings,
These mortal Dreamers may include artists, children, daydreamers, and the insane. Some supernatural creatures may also birth chimera. Examples of low-Banality supernatural Dreamers may include, but are not limited to: Fianna werewolves; Malkavian, Ravnos, and Toreador vampires; and mages such as Dreamspeakers and the Marauders. Children add a strange quality to the Dreaming that is both comforting and disturbing. The culture that a child lives in heavily influences any chimera they create. These beings may spring from children's books, cartoons, childlike perceptions of MTV, the 6:00 news, or from the abuses of parents and other adults.
Children often give their chimera a winsome look. (Some child-chimera are nauseatingly cute.) Appearances can be deceiving; children are prone to nightmares, too. That cute little bunny might pull out a butcher knife at some inopportune moment. Some chimera are very protective of their creators and defend them against Kithain predators (other chimera and changelings who try to Ravage their creators for Glamour). These chimera may also interact with their creators.
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, or chimerical clothing, is the most common example of Dreamed Chimera, and is an integral part of a changeling's fae mien. A changeling may create chimera of various sorts spontaneously during their Chrysalis. These "items" are usually distorted dream images from the fledge's past lives or subconscious reflections of their faerie nature. A new changeling's first action is often the instinctual creations of garb, seemingly from thin air. These chimera are personal and attached to the changeling, and are thus Dreamed, not Incidental, chimera. This first suite of voile is usually an accurate indication of the changeling's kith and seeming. Thus, a redcap may appear in tattered leathers and a white cap (which turns red when they first spill blood); a sidhe may appear in court finery. The player may decide what this first suit of voile looks like, but the clothing confers no special powers unless the player buys it as a Treasure Background during character creation. Voile is typically permanent as long as its creator possesses it. A suit of armor voile dreamed by a fledgling troll is a permanent part of their ensemble. If the troll loses this armor, though, they probably need to seek out a nocker to forge them a new suit.
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 the 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.
Animate chimera are simply chimera that have either life or the appearance of life. They may be sentient or nonsentient, but nonsentient chimera can mimic intelligent creatures in a surprisingly sophisticated manner. Like inanimate chimera, chimerical creatures may be either Incidental (living wholly in the mundane world) or Dreamed. Some animate chimera, such as nocker golems, may even be forged.
Nonsentient chimerical creatures may have the appearance of life and intelligence but are really little more than animated impulses following a preordained series of actions. These creatures may have all the outer aspects of sentience. They may show clever instincts while hunting, use a sword with amazing facility, or even carry on an intelligent conversation. All of this is illusion, though. A nonsentient chimera merely behaves the way that the Dreamers who created it expect it to act. It has no independent thought or will, though in some cases a nonsentient chimera may become aware over time.
Only Kithain or mortal Dreamers with a low Banality give birth to sentient chimera. Inanimate chimera rarely obtain sentience, simply because the Dreamer does not expect it to do so. Humans may ascribe human attributes to animals or their cars, but few toy with the thought that a toaster is alive. This is not always the case, however. Some Dreamers anthropomorphize the most mundane objects. A child may dream that their teddy bear is alive, and, fueled by their dreams, it comes to life. Similarly, a madman may imagine that dreadful disembodied voices call from their own shadow, creating disturbing and wicked chimerical creatures from the stuff of nightmares. The shadow-chimera may even gain enough awareness to realize that a cure to their progenitor's delirium will end their existence. They may attempt to strengthen their creator's madness and attack those who attempt a cure. In rare cases, they may gain a mobility independent of their creator, and commit hideous crimes in the Dreaming.
A changeling may determine of a chimerical creature is sentient by talking with it and making a Perception + Gremayre roll (difficulty varies), or can tell visually by making a Perception + Kenning roll (difficulty equals the chimera's Glamour; two successes needed). Of course, not all chimera will speak the changeling's language. The Kithain would need to know German to speak with a German chimera, or plant lore to communicate with an enchanted apple tree in the queen's orchard. Sentient chimera may lose sentience over time as Dreamers forget about them, or when exposed to Banality.
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.
Types of Animate Chimera
In ancient times, any fae who chose to do so could focus some of their own Glamour into the formation of a chimera. Now, with the weight of Banality everywhere, chimera tend to be creatures of accidental creation rather than conscious decision.
Several basic types of chimera are known, though at times the interspecies lines blur.
- Nervosa: Certainly one of the most unnerving varieties of chimera is the Nervosa. Born of Madness, nervosa are completely unpredictable.
- The Monster Under the Bed: Well, actually, there are a lot of Monsters Under the Bed. There are things like giant purple snakes that wait for your hands or feet to stick out over the edge of the mattress so they can grab you, and there are small things that simply sit and stare back at you (with big, googly, yellow eyes) just outside the beam of the flashlight.
- Nocnitsa: Nocnitsa are chimera born from the darkest of nightmares. They are perhaps the most feared chimera of all.
- Sprites: Sprites are born of fancy and delight. They are usually playful and at the worst mischievous. The most common kind are the Nevers.
- Monsters: Monster is the name given to chimerical beasts that do not fit into any other categories.
- Feral Chimera: Feral Chimera tend to be wild chimera.
- Urban Legends: Urban Legends come from dreams about pop-culture monsters
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.
If a chimera loses all its Health Levels, its current Willpower must be rolled successfully (difficulty 7) to maintain its integrity. If the roll fails, it dies instantly. If the roll succeeds, the chimera becomes incorporeal, and its wounds heal at the rate of one Health Level per week, unless it has a healing Rede. When a chimera has been reduced to noncorporeal form, it may retreat from its pursuers and be intangible but still visible. A chimera in this form can still be affected by Arts, but is immune to the effects of chimerical weapons. If the chimera can be slain again (if it loses all of its Health Levels), it becomes corporeal and is subject to the effects of Banality.
If a chimera is destroyed in the mundane world, one of two things happens. If the Banality of anyone present, or of the location itself, is higher than the chimera's permanent Glamour, the chimera melts away into nothing in seconds. Nothing can be harvested from it. If the Banality of everyone present, or of the location, is lower than the chimera's permanent Glamour, this decomposition is slower and changelings may "harvest" the chimera's Glamour as dross. Changelings may also use the chimera as physical parts for crafts (using chimerical dragonhide for armor, for example).
Any chimera that dies in the Dreaming is not dissolved by Banality, but is absorbed by the Dreaming. (The chimerical dragon rots or chimerical insects eat it, recycling its Glamour into other forms.
Chimera & Banality
Humans and unenchanted supernatural beings with high Banality ratings can dispel chimera by their mere proximity. Since most mortals cannot see chimera, this is usually not a problem. If a changeling interacts with a chimera in a way that normal humans cannot readily explain (the changeling wields a chimerical blade or talks to a chimerical friend), most humans will merely consider them to be playacting or insane. Chimerical effects become an issue, however, if a human sees the chimera perform a "real-world" feat, such as flying with a changeling on its back. The chimera will usually remain invisible, but the flying changeling may not. If the changeling or chimera does not take pains to disguise their flight (through Chicanery or a Rede), humans' skepticism may shunt the Kithain and chimera (and anyone or anything in contact with them) into a random part of the Dreaming (Storyteller option). If this happens, the changeling may have a difficult time returning to the mundane world.
A sentient chimera may resist this effect by rolling Willpower versus the observing human's Banality (two successes needed). If the roll succeeds, the chimera is immune to that particular viewer's skepticism for the remainder of the scene. If a group witnesses the flying changeling, the chimera's roll is made against a difficulty equal to the highest Banality rating in the crowd. The Mists will usually cover up any memory of the event after the fact.
Even more dangerous are the risks a chimera faces if it gets too close to or, worse, touches a person with a high Banality. Most chimera can recognize such people and take great pains to avoid them. Even if a human cannot see a chimera, the force of their doubt is enough to erode the chimera's fragile form. Sentient chimera take one health level of damage for every turn spent in close proximity to an unenchanted person who has a Banality rating of two or more in excess of the chimera's own permanent Glamour score. The actual proximity at which a chimera suffers this damage is determined by the Storyteller, though the greater the person's Banality, the farther this aura extends (generally about a foot per point of Banality, though this may be greater with some Autumn People). A chimera reduced to zero health levels in this manner is destroyed forever.
Ironically, if a changeling or chimera enchants a human successfully, and that person sees the chimera or the results of its actions, the human's skepticism has no effect on the chimera. The human believes in or doesn't question what they see, at least for that moment. (This tactic has little effect on Dauntain, who can see chimera on their own.)
These rules on disbelief do not usually apply to inanimate or nonsentient chimera. Such items are usually either too "mundane" to be affected by humans' skepticism, or are protected as part of the changeling's personal effects. Thus, a changeling could hit an unenchanted being with a chimerical blade without fear of losing it, but the blade cause no damage unless the changeling enchants the person or calls upon the Wyrd.