The list of creatures found in the Dreaming is long and varied. Changelings, Thallain, chimera, Nunnehi, Inanimae, and others each represent a different faerie pedigree and different thread of Fate's tapestry. Denizens are those fae who have long been sundered from the Mundane World and whose return is a matter of very recent record. While changelings are wrapped in flesh and walk in both worlds, the Denizens straddle the division between the earthly fae and wholly spiritual entities such as chimera. Alien yet strangely familiar, these entities are more closely related to the Kithain than one might first suspect.
Kithain arbitrarily call these creatures "Dark-kin" because of their vile reputation as servitors of the Fomorians. Despite their abrupt departure from human lands, the Denizens (or "adhene" to use the old parlance) maintained a direct, albeit subtle, connection to the human psyche. Personifying various aspects of human dreams or fears, the number of adhene species is vast and varied (not all recorded here). Of no single genesis, these "first cousins" of the Kithain grew and changed along with humanity, even as some forgot their Earthly origins. Now, the old dreams-roads lie open again and these long-departed spirits find themselves once more free to explore the realms of their birth.
History of the Dark-kin
In a dim, distant past, changeling graybeards profess that once there was balance. Great evil existed to be sure; Elder Darks that stretched their shadow across the land, killing by merest touch. But light also flourished. Where one appeared, the cycle of creation, the natural wax and wane of nature, dictated that the other would surely follow. Things now lack balance; night isn’t followed by day but by twilight, then another night. Noble and commoner, Seelie and Unseelie alike wonder what went wrong.
Fimbulwinter & the Time of Legends
In the beginning all was darkness and (paradoxically) all was light. The earliest dreams of humanity both formed and reflected its environment. Seeking to comprehend and control its surroundings, humanity gave name and nature to the beings that coexisted with it, and in so doing formed a world it could never hope to fully conquer or understand. In the demiurgic light of unwrought possibility, all things could be, and humanity created its first gods and monsters. The Fimbulwinter Country and the Time of Legends were opposite sides of the same coin. In keeping with the Dreaming’s nature, they were periods of time, places, and states of mind all at once. As with all things in the Dream Realms, these statements are partly lies, but lies spoken so often that they have become true.
Arising from this riddle, the earliest darks, the fomorians, strode the Earth like colossi. Those who wandered into the dark woods or over the hills beyond their village fell prey to shadows that suddenly lengthened and swallowed their victims whole. Even for those who stayed in the safety of familiar lands, the darkness was never far afield. But there was beauty as well, perhaps terrible and strange or comforting and familiar. Each of these desires or fears took solid form, fulfilling this need or that role. The most powerful of these early dreams were those creatures that hid in the dark. If the fomorians were the worst… great chthonic entities whose evil was beyond human ken… so too were these smaller evils that reflected man’s darkest impulses. From these dreams came the redcaps and numerous other bogeymen. Eldest among these were the fir-bholg, strange creatures who straddled the divide between beasts and men. Indeed, so potent were these ancient beast-kings and queens, who hunted like wild animal packs but used the tools of men, that for a time they reigned supreme. The horror and awe they inspired was such that humanity’s dreams empowered them to cast down even the fomorians… at least for a while.
Humans, though, were more than horrified animals and wanted more from their gods than mere killers in the dark. They aspired to greatness; their young and vibrant souls yearned for deliverance from bondage. In answer to their call, the Tuatha de Danaan and other demigods arose to cast down the Elder Darks, fomorian and fir-bholg alike, and for a time took the role of benign despots, meting out justice to their subjects/creators. From these first great god-monarchs came the other fae, those who would eventually become changelings, Denizens, and some of the other creatures of the Dreaming. Among these were other great protectors such as the trolls or the noble adhene called the Lords of the Mound. Or at least so goes one version of the faerie tale…
Parables of original sin suggest another: Perhaps humanity at first lived in peace and beauty and its darker urges tore down its idyllic surroundings as humans have done so many times since. It hardly matters. What was important was the balance.
As it was in Ireland, home of so many changeling kith, so it was with a thousand other creation myths throughout the world. In another culture on the other side of the world, pre-Vedic India and ancient Persia dream-cast its own bewildering array of creatures. Among these a class of beneficent creatures called Asuras included the naraka, chaotic but civilized poets and philosophers who lived in high style in castles made of gems, and the healing acheri. Ancient and adaptable, these creatures made the leap from animistic pagan totems to polytheistic conceptual entities without missing a beat. Hindu mythology took hold, transmuting the Asuras into demons. The naraka’s artistry took on a new and malevolent cast as they went about punishing sinners in the 21 Hindu Hells. The healing touch of the acheri now brought sickness, corruption, and death. And so it went: each continent, country, and hamlet developed its own traditions, seemingly different and startlingly the same. In each place resided an archetypal elder darkness and a guiding light, twin pillars of humanity’s collective unconscious.
Even in the Time of Legends, everyday life was hard. People toiled long hours to keep body and soul together; thus appeared the spirits of the hearth, home and field. Such stories may have given rise to the familiar boggans, but through a mirror darkly it also gave rise to the fuaths. In a time without medical learning, death walked the land, giving birth to the legends of the keremet. Unique among the faerie races, the keremet were humans who, on the verge of death, were snatched from Heaven or Hell to wander the Dreaming and finish some uncompleted task. Distantly related to the bean sidhe in genesis, the keremet eventually gave rise to such traditions as the Wild Hunt or the French L’Armée Furieuse who chased the souls of the damned. Humanity did not wish to see the world as a place of random chance and so constructed order, harmony, and fate. From these oracular desires sprang the Ladies of Destiny, called Fates or Norns, in whose service strode the moirae. Lastly, humanity desired beauty, culture, and art. These pursuits lifted the human spirit beyond its concern for mere survival and created some of the most potent dreams of all. From these came the aonides, more commonly known as the Muses of Greece and Rome.
All of these creatures and a thousand more besides walked the paths that passed freely between flesh and dream. Each was crafted from humanity’s secret hopes and fears, but they had their own dreams, desires, agendas, and powers far beyond those of their human creators. It was only a matter of time before the question arose: who was the puppet and who the puppeteer?
Human and fae, mutually dependents and equally proud, stared at each other across and abyss of hatred, distrust, and fear. It mattered little that there was also great love, honor, and admiration, for in the end the former impulses prevailed. This was the Sundering, a period as ill-defined in when it began as in the forces that drove it. It has been said that the prodigals had a hand in it. Jealous blood-drinkers in growing cities saw humanity as their own private demesne while human mystics learned to control forces that had little to do with the lords of dream and wielded them to “free” humanity from what they saw as an alien tyranny. Cold Iron and disbelief played a role, splitting the formerly entwined worlds in two. New faiths arose and the fae, formerly seen as natural spirits, were vilified as demons and devils. Slowly, inevitably, the good folk lost their hold on the human psyche. Gods became small and even the once nearly divine Tuatha de Danaan dwindled.
Although it was an age of fading magic, the old gods and spirits didn’t surrender the world all at once. An age of great conflict gave rise to stories whose retelling lasted in one form or another for thousands of years. Wars between darkness and light raged across the millennia. The oldest gods, the fomorians and the Tuatha de Danaan, remained in the world, but faded into the background, leaving the fighting and the dying to the younger races. At the dawn of this age, those who later became Denizens and changelings were little different. As the millennia wore on, fundamental rifts grew between the two camps. Not concerned with the usual wars raged between two kith over territory or Dreamers nor with the differences between Seelie and Unseelie Courts, a split arose over differing beliefs on how to deal with humanity, the upstart prodigals, and the fate of two worlds.
Despite differences between court and kith, for a time the main schism that rent the fae was between those who chose to stay the course in the waking world and those who wished to take matters into their own hands. The first faction hoped to change humanity’s beliefs, subtly luring them back to the fold through the magnificence of their works, or to live lives of separate, fragile splendor in their freeholds. The second group wished to reassert the glories of the Time of Legends or Fimbulwinter Country, returning humanity to the glories and horrors of the First Age. Behind these hostile philosophies were, as always, the subtle machinations of the old ones. The Tuatha and the Fomorians continued their eons-long game of chess against the backdrop of the human soul. The Children of Dana, long weary of the world and seeking the Far Shores, supported the Fading Path, that which advocated a graceful departure from the Autumn World. The Fomorians, still hungry for the sweetmeats of the human soul, wished to stay.
Among the lesser races, these divisions appeared mostly along lines of kith (rather than court), with those now called changelings on the first side and the Denizens on the latter, though clearly there were defectors from each philosophy. It is a tribute to the subtleties of the game that ancient enemies such as most sidhe Houses and many redcaps ended up on one side of the board, while creatures as traditionally hostile to each other as the fuaths and fir-bholg landed on the other. Old enemies became erstwhile allies; old friendships were cut asunder. The satyrs and the aonides, once lovers and friends, now found themselves in opposing camps. Even more tragic was the split between the trolls and their cousins, the Lords of the Mound. Torn by mutual oaths (trolls to the sidhe and the Tuatha de Danaan and the later to the fir-bholg), these honorable tribes were trapped in a no-win situation. The acheri in particular desired to wipe the slate clean and return to the old ways, before even the primitive medicines practiced by Hippocrates, when humanity tried to ward off sickness and death by appeasing their angry gods.
Finally, there were those who stood aloof from the burgeoning hostilities. The keremet and the moirae, both of whom had long filled a unique role in human and fae destiny, observed a studied neutrality. It is rumored that at this time a temple of moirae violated their geas to always speak the truth in their prophecies. For their crimes, the Wyrd Sisters stripped the memories of their True Names and locked them away in the Dark Dreaming. In the Nightmare Realms, the collective dreams of humanity slowly twisted and changed these spirits. They retained their old abilities, but they acquired elements of regret and revenge, taking on the aspects of the Erinyes, or Furies.
The Shattering came early for the Dark-kin. Known to the changelings as the War of Trees, the Tessarakonta was a war that may have lasted forty decades, forty years, or forty days. Fought in the Flesh Realms, the timeless environs of the Dreaming, and Arcadia itself, the war enwrapped the world with signs of impending Winter. Not merely another epic struggle between the forces of light and dark, the Tessarakonta was a war to determine the very fabric of reality. Vast movements across a hundred realms and magic undreamt of shook land, sea, and air. The Firchlis, ever the only constant in the Dreaming, took on a new and cataclysmic importance, changing oceans into fire and burying the airy realms of the parosemes beneath the ground. Nor were these dislocations of elemental geography the only permanent change to the Dream Realms. Wars require secure supply routes and, drawing from the Sea of Silver in the Deep Dreaming, the Tuatha built the Silver Path, for use by only those who served them. The so-called Silver Ban, applied to almost all of the Denizens and remains to this day.
Evenly matched in many respects, neither side could gain a decisive advantage. At the forefront of the Denizens were the fir-bholg. Bitter about the throne lost to the Tuatha de Danaan and their children, many of the beast-men made common cause with their ancient enemies, the Fomorians, in an attempt to regain their hold on the human world. Wielding nightmare energies now lost to antiquity, fir-bholg monarchs became living embodiments of the dark Firchlis. At their direction, great rivers of screaming blackness scoured thousands of the Tuatha’s warriors from the field. The war reached new depths of desperation on all sides; even the honorable trolls and the noblest of sidhe were forced to use methods they abhorred. On the other side of the lines, the noble Lords of the Mound found their oaths and virtue stretched beyond the breaking point as vassals of the fomorians. In secret reunes, these and other fae sought to reestablish the old balance. They almost succeeded.
Wars are not fought only with weapons and blood, but with secrets and treachery. In the last of the war’s Nine Great Battles, the Arcadians and the Fomorians met on the Edenic plane of Kureksarra in the Near Dreaming. Th violent Firchlis of the conflict tore the moon from the sky and shattered the landscape; the newfound strangeness of its splintered peaks permanently moved it deeper into the Dreaming. At the center of the conflict, the Red King of the Fomorians wielded the Triumph Casque of Sorrows, a weapon of unspeakable power. Even unopened, its effects were devastating, raining poison and fire down upon his enemies as they sought to stand against him.
Pursuant to oaths made and broken, the Lords of the Mound attempted to wrest the casque from the Red King’s heart, slaying an entire army of their former allies in the process. Betrayal wrought betrayal, and the Dreaming and fate punished the Lords of the Mound’s valiant efforts (and broken oath to the fir-bholg). In the Nightmare Realms that surrounded the Fomorian court, the Lords were cut-off from all aid and slaughtered to the last one. Some say the Gwydion sidhe, mistaking them for enemies, fulfilled Fate’s decree. Other blame House Balor for the Lords’ destruction; still more claim the trolls granted honorable death to their oath-broken cousins. A few claim that the Lords committed mass-suicide to compensate for their deeds.
This action seemed to destroy the will of the Fomorian hosts. Perhaps the Lords partially succeeded, making it too costly for the Red King to open the casque and destroy his enemies; perhaps the Red King foresaw that indirect conflict would ultimately be more successful. It matters little. What does matter is that he shattered the casque’s key and cast the parts into his enemies’ camps where they would sow eternal strife, before plucking the casque from his own heart and dying. Routed, his army was forced to flee before the triumphant Arcadians into the tenebrous realms of the Dreaming. The remaining fomorians were trapped by the Tuatha de Danaan who imprisoned the White Court in the Forest of Lies and the Red below the Splintered Mountains. The enigmatic Green Court voluntarily went beneath the Sea of Silver. Then, in a final gesture before departing the known Dreaming, the Tuatha made permanent the Silver Ban (in effect barring the defeated Denizens from Earth) and drawing the Mists about the Dreaming, erasing all but the dimmest memories of the war from humanity’s mind.
Imprisoned behind a wall of silver, the former allies did not stay together long. Without the fomorians to lead them, the dark armies broke apart in distrust and mutual recrimination. Though barred from many lands by the Silver Path, they found the remaining realms nearly boundless; each adhene went its own separate way. Out of either nostalgia or a desire to catch fresh dreams, some adhene sought to cleave as closely as possible to the Near Dreaming, which remained tantalizingly close to the Flesh Realms but impossible to touch. Among these, the naraka, acheri, and the aonides remained closest to the realms of men. The naraka continued to live in their gem-encrusted towers, inaccessible to most silvered trods, but sometimes appearing through the Mists to fae and Dreamer alike. When a great plague or other epidemic swept the Autumn World (for so it was now called), a few acheri might find a temporary passage back to wreak their vengeance on a world that denied them. It was the ever-capricious aonides, though, who had the most luck piercing the Arcadian veil. Connected to humanity’s closest dreams, and seen as largely harmless, even beneficial by the victorious changelings, many muses secretly stayed in the realms they cherished. Denizens, of whatever adhene, who managed to stay behind on Earth became known as the Evanescent because of their tendency to disappear from one realm into the other.
Other denizens became creatures of the Far Dreaming, though only a few mad individuals dared the Deep Realms. Many fuaths, angry at their lost position of prominence in the Autumn Realms, took up place in the Great Forest. There they learned its oldest secrets and harried fae visitors unwise enough to leave the Silver Path. It is whispered that some tended the fomorians of the White Court who slept, imprisoned in the forest’s great trees, while others sought to live their own lives, wild and free of external influences. The fir-bholg, embittered beast-kings that had gambled all and lost, remained in the Splintered Mountains and Kureksarra to forever remind them of their defeat. There some made common cause with the mountain giants or became caught up in the endless wars of the Red Fields in the hope of regaining the Sorrow Casque and, hence, their revenge. Some built great cities, remembrances of the human realms. But without direct access to humanity’s artificing knowledge (and because of the deleterious effects of the Firchlis), the cities and their great machines soon fell into disrepair.
Lastly, the keremet and the moirae, ever secretive and neutral in the conflict, were allowed to go about their errands unimpeded by the Silver Ban. The keremet, dead humans in fae form, were attracted to the Autumn Realms and most believe that banning them from the Silver Path would have taken more energy than the Tuatha were willing to expend. The keremet continued their private missions of vengeance or salvation, while others became secret messengers between the Autumn Realms and Arcadia. Sometimes appearing in the Autumn Lands (especially to those conversant in Soothsay), the moirae continued to deliver the edicts of Fate to those who would listen. Their sibylline warnings went unheeded by the victorious sidhe; a fact that many feel contributed to their own ignominious banishment during the Shattering.
The Shattering & Beyond
Of the Shattering, and 600 years later the Resurgence, the Denizens were well aware. Indeed. With their pestilential powers, the acheri spread the Black Death, both in the Waking and Dreaming, encouraging the forces of inquisition and hastening the decline of the earthbound fae. As the victors’ proud towers fell to Banality and despair, the sidhe and other fae retreated from the Autumn World. Still smarting from their defeat and both real and perceived wrongs, the Denizens along their path of retreat fell upon the fugitives, attempting to mete out their revenge. The Silver Path was still strong, though, and most of these attacks came to naught as the imperious sidhe passed on their way. Only a few foolhardy enough to stray from the path ended up in their enemy’s clutches. Time passed. The world changed and with it the Dreaming. The cold touch of Banality withered even parts of the Silver Path and the Denizens (and even darker creatures) had time to plan and attack. Rumors reached the Autumn Realms that Arcadia lay under siege or had fallen from within.
The wisest changelings still don’t know the lie or truth of these rumors, but one thing is certain: the moon landing opened the old pathways and the sidhe returned to the waking realms. They left Arcadia in great armies, tall and proud in their saddles. As they passed through each successive barrier of the Mists, though, the Augmen lessened their powers and their enemies lay in wait. Vengeful Dark-kin, bestial servants of the fomorians (known as the “Fell”), and other, even darker creatures waylaid the passing nobles. Such was the ferocity of these attacks that the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe found common cause. The greatest of these battles took place in the Vale of Mists on the cusp between the Otherwhere and the Autumn Realms. In a desperate rear-guard action, twin armies of Seelie and Unseelie sidhe battled their way into the waking world. Injured, dazed, and blinking in true sunlight for the first time in six centuries, surrounded by the retreating sounds of their attackers, the sidhe felt victorious. The Accordance War and reclamation of their rightful thrones still lay ahead. Their memories obscured by the Mists, the sidhe nonetheless felt that the worst was behind them. They could not have been more wrong.
July 1999 & the Present
If the doors opened a crack during the Resurgence, events among the prodigals slammed them all the way open in the summer of 1999. One of the oldest Children of Lilith, a creature known to some fae as “Ravana,” awoke near India and began calling his children to his side. The psychic emanations of its awakening rippled out across the world, causing nightmares for its descendants, changelings, and human sensitives alike. Other prodigals moved against this creature of the Elder Dark in a desperate attempt to prevent it from regaining the fullness of its power. The fury of their attacks and the ensuing battle threatened to rip apart the veil of secrecy hiding the supernatural from humanity. Wielding powers of a secret origin, the creature and its brood conjured “illusions,” some harmless, some deadly, from thin air. The Hidden Ones, despairing of a subtle solution, used their greatest weapon: a technological/spiritual “bomb” of devastating proportions. Even this did not stop the creature, however, though it laid waste to the spirit realm in every direction and caused the horrible death of a million innocent human souls. At the last, though, the light of the rising sun, reflected on the vampire by technological magic, reduced it to ash. The danger ended, the victors undertook the task of damage control, blaming the human death on a typhoon that raged around the battle site. On the surface, the battle seemed to be one of blood against steel. Few ever associated the danger with something as ephemeral as dreams.
In the dim recesses of history, before the two realms divided, Ravana the Wanderer was a guest of the early Unseelie Court. Ancient and powerful pacts were woven between the fae and their guest, giving him and his brood the ability to call extrusions of the Dreaming into the Autumn World. Ravana’s death loosed the full force of the Dreaming contained within the now-broken pacts. Combined with the circumstances of his destruction (and the thousands of humans who died with him), the cataclysm wrought explosive results in the Dreaming, opening long-sealed trods into the dark realms and shredding the nearby Silver Path like tissue. A vast storm of ancient blood and darkling spirits cascaded through the Dreaming, affecting even the most distant realms. The naraka and the acheri were at ground zero for these events. Many died in the ensuing holocaust; others were forever changed by the spirit energies released and were among the first to enter the Autumn Realms.
Now long-banished adhene are free to walk again in the waking world. The first hoarfrost of Endless Winter has frozen the ground and the scent of snow is heavy in the air. Humanity lies before the returning fae in all its neon splendor. New dreams full of terror and magnificence travel at the speed of thought through the Internet or the ether. Fresh insights and modern nightmares beckon the returning Denizens, who arrived first in a trickle but no in a growing stream. Some have returned to fulfill old pacts of revenge, some are merely curious about the changes that occurred in their absence; still others fulfill murderous missions for unknown agencies. Far from forestalling the coming Apocalypse, the Hidden Ones may have hastened it. A cautionary tale, perhaps, for those who cavalierly tamper with the spirit realms.
At last the old darks return and many believe that the Denizens who appear at their forefront are the first harbingers of Final Winter. Are they avatars of Apocalypse or secret vassals of hope? This is the riddle and the story of the Dark-kin.
Denizens in the Autumn World
From the lofty heights of the Deep Dreaming, banishment to the Autumn World may seem like a dark fate indeed. Nonetheless, the Dark-kin's lore keepers understand that the waking world contains the source of all they see as reality. While a Denizen may be far more powerful in the high branches of the Far Dreaming, the roots of the tree hold the true source of their power. The Denizens' greatest luminaries acknowledge the waking world as those roots. Many Dark-kin recognize that in order to triumph over their enemies, they must master the world of mortals. Unfortunately for them, the Autumn World is guarded by the changelings who have wrapped themselves in human flesh. Entering, and leaving, can be difficult since changelings heavily populate the Near Dreaming and still tell dark tales of the Denizens who served the fomorians in the War of Trees. Denizens in some parts of Autumn and the Near Dreaming may be killed on sight.
Now that the Twilight Roads are open again, entering the Autumn World is possible for the Dark-kin. Most of the adhene who enter the waking world do so by the Green Paths of Balor. Denizens may also enter freely through raths or trods (provided the Silver Path does not protect them). Opening a trod or a freehold rath is no more difficult for a Denizen with the proper Art or Realm than for any changeling, but the similarities end there. As many Denizens are quick to realize, surviving the Autumn World is the tricky part.
Entering the Autumn World
Denizens are not creatures of this world, a fact brought home to them in the troubles they encounter when first trying o manifest themselves here. Numerous ways exist for the Dark-kin to enter the waking world, at least now that Ravana's death has thrown the doors wide open. They're creatures of the shadows; it's difficult to notice them most of the time. Like changelings, once in the real world adhene must take on a physical shell to further their ends, but theirs is usually a less permanent arrangement than it is for the changelings, and Denizens are more susceptible to Banality. There are several ways in which a Denizen may interact with the waking world. By far the safest and most utilitarian method involves the the Autumn Way Art. A Denizen without this ability may still manifest in the Autumn World to a certain extent with one of the following methods, but as with all things free, you get what you pay for.
In the Dreaming, Denizens have slid substance, but in the waking world, they are no more substantial than a fading dream. Without preparation, a Denizen's first experience with the world will likely be one without physical existence. Fresh through the path or trod, in this wraith-like form the Denizen must pit their permanent Glamour in a contested roll against the local Banality every 12 hours. Every time the roll goes against the Denizen, they gain one point of temporary Banality. If their temporary Banality reaches 10, they gain a permanent point. If the Denizen's permanent Banality exceeds their current Glamour they become Undone, forgetting their fae nature and wandering as a lost and pale phantom until they are rescued or stumble across a source of Glamour. For obvious reasons it is difficult, if not impossible, for Denizens in this state to inspire Glamour in humans. Once their permanent Banality score exceeds their permanent Glamour, they simply cease to exist. This form does have advantages: the Denizen may travel through physical obstacles and is virtually invisible to anyone without faerie sight. Nevertheless, most Denizens find that, at least until they learn their way around, the dangers inherent to this fragile form far outweigh the advantages. Denizens in this form are highly susceptible to being caught in a human's dreams (see Dream Trap). With Phantom Form the Denizen can use any of their Arts and can call on any treasures or chimerical items. However, all such effects are purely chimerical with no bearing on the waking world, and the Denizen may neither Enchant humans nor call upon the Wyrd.
The most active method of interacting with the Autumn World without Arts, Simple Possession involves the active possession of a non-sleeping human. The waking mind, though, is difficult for Denizens to fathom and control; possession remains a short-term proposition. Denizens who seek to take a human form must expend a point of Glamour and make a Willpower roll (difficulty equal to the target's Willpower or inherent Banality, whichever is higher). For each success the Denizen may occupy the target for one hour. The Denizen may automatically add to the amount of time by spending additional Glamour, each point buying an amount of time equal to the first. By using this method, the Denizen automatically gains a temporary point of Banality. The Denizen takes on the Physical attributes and Appearance of the person they possess while maintaining their own Mental Attributes, Charisma, and Manipulation. This ability takes a full turn to activate and only works on unenlightened humans, not prodigals or humans possessing inherent magic.
Simple Possession confers no knowledge or skills from the possessed person's life, thus making it difficult to pull off a convincing masquerade against those who know the person well. This is especially true given most Denizens' ignorance of the waking world. Dark-kin may seek out healthy or attractive individuals in the hopes of maximizing this ability, but just because a person looks strong or healthy doesn't mean that is necessary the case. With Simple Possession the Denizen can use any of their Arts, common voile or chimerical items, but cannot call upon any special Treasures. The Denizen may Enchant mortals while in this state but may not call upon the Wyrd. Possessed humans might remember their actions while under this power (as per the Mists Chart) and have a vague notion of an alien presence.
A popular possession method by which Denizens may manifest themselves in the Autumn World, Somnambulism has several advantages and one major drawback. While sleeping, a person's guard is down. During the REM Stage a Denizen may slip into the person's consciousness. In other sleep stages, or if the target is awake, the Denizen must either use the Autumn Way Art of Simple Possession. With Somnambulism the Denizen must spend a point of Glamour and make a contested Glamour roll against the sleeper's current Banality. If the Denizen scores even one success, they take control of the person's body. During REM Sleep the neurons in the brain stem usually disconnect much of the sleeper's muscular apparatus, effectively paralyzing the dreamer. Able to circumvent this to some degree, the Denizen is able to open the sleeper's eyes, make them walk, talk, and appear awake, though in a daze. In this state, the person's movements are languid and not fully coordinated. This also effects the Denizen, who feels mentally sluggish.
The same Attribute distribution as for Simple Possession holds, but all Attributes are at -1 to their dice pool. The Denizen may keep control of the person as long as they can keep them asleep, which is usually the natural duration the person's sleeping cycle. Loud noises, bright light, and violent actions may awaken the person (the Denizen may ken the person asleep through such an episode by spending more Glamour and repeating the initial roll). This ability only works on normal humans, not on prodigals or mages. Unlike Simple Possession, the Denizen may glean fragmented information about the sleep through their dreams. The main advantage of this form of possession is that the Denizen gains no additional Banality from this experience. Since the Denizen is going the sleeper in their dream-like state, they are particularly susceptible to Dream Traps in this condition. Furthermore, a Denizen practicing Somnambulism may also find their tertiary Ariá attempting to change personality. Lastly, because the human is, in effect, Enchanted, they and the Denizen are both vulnerable to Chimerical damage in this form. Any damage done to the human form is also transferred to the Denizen's body, though Wyrd or physical damage done to the host only manifests as chimerical damage to the Denizen. With Somnambulism the Denizen can use any of their Arts, chimerical objects, and even Treasures since they are closer to the Dreaming than when using Simple Possession. They may Enchant others, but may not call upon the Wyrd.
See the article Evanescent.
Bedlam & Banality
Among the first things a Denizen notices upon entering the Autumn World (besides its bizarre people and places) is the oppressive force called Banality. As true creatures of the Dreaming, Denizens do not begin with any inherent Banality. Without human bodies or prejudices, they are free of the ravages of the Autumn World and can sense the Banal Shiver inherent to the changeling mixed breeds. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the upside, Denizens are almost completely invulnerable to the madness of Bedlam. No Denizen ever suffers from Bedlam from staying too long in the Dreaming unless they become too enamored by human and changeling ways.
Unfortunately, this also means that without the changelings' protective earthly bodies, Denizens are highly vulnerable to Banality once they enter the waking world. To a Denizen fresh from the Dreaming, even the most carefree changeling childling seems to carry a heavy load of Banality. One trapped in the Autumn Realms, Denizens soon realize how truly vulnerable they are to its deadening psychic gravity. Also, since changelings currently control most of the freeholds, trods, and raths in the Autumn World, it is difficult for newcomers to take a refreshing dip of Glamour whenever they wish.
Glamour is a rare commodity in the World of Darkness and the Kithain are understandably reluctant to share it with old enemies. This reticence has already led to bloody skirmishes when arriving Denizens have forced the issue. In game terms, Denizens start off with no Banality. In fact, Denizens do have some small Banality at root (pure Glamour without Banality is nothing but chaotic, creative energy), but it is a negligible quantity. As they experience the waking world, though, they find that it is virtually impossible to avoid contact with Banality.
- System: Although Denizens gain Banality faster than changelings, they also dissipate it faster once back in the Dreaming. For every day a Denizen spends in the Dreaming, they lose one temporary point of Banality, up to 9 points. After that, the loss of Banality becomes slower, though it is not as protracted as it is for Kithain. Each permanent point of Banality after the first takes at least a year before it begins to fade (after it falls below two the Denizen is again vulnerable to the Meridianus).
Many Denizens are used to being "spoon-fed" Glamour in the Dreaming and initially may have problems seeking it in the waking world. Glamour gathered in the Dreaming, while easily procured and free of Banality, doesn't have the immediacy or freshness of dreams drawn or ripped directly from the Dreamer. Some Dark-kin become addicted to drawing directly from the source. The biggest problem Denizens face is that unclaimed freeholds are rare. Most must therefore depend on epiphany.
- Rapture: Denizens aren't split between the Dreaming and Waking worlds like changelings and have less trouble achieving Rapture when creating. Once the Denizen creates their work, the player should roll the appropriate Attribute + Ability (difficulty equal to the character's Glamour subtracted form their Banality + 5). Rapture may cause the Denizen to switch their Ariá.
- Ravaging: Most Denizens don't share the Seelie Court's objection to Ravaging, though psychic rape isn't universal among all adhene. The rolls for Ravaging are identical for both Denizens and Kithain. (Since most Denizens have little Banality, though, this can prove difficult.)
- Reaping: Some Denizens draw Glamour from the dying. An extreme form of Ravaging, simple murder isn't enough to release these energies. Reaping requires the Denizen to literally frighten their victim to death (sometimes though repeated Ravagings). Reputedly used by the fomorians themselves, the Reaping of Dreams reduces a lifetime of memories into a powerful surge of Dark Glamour. As the Dreamer dies, the player rolls a number of dice equal to their character's permanent Glamour (difficulty 5). The number of successes equals the amount of Glamour generated. A botch causes a psychic backlash in which the character gains a point of Banality and is haunted by troublesome memories, visions, and emotions. The murder of Dreamers is an abomination to most changelings (and even many Denizens) and punishable by death in many territories.
- Reverie: Most of the returning Denizens have yet to cultivate the creativity of human Dreamers. Many can't be bothered to spend the time required, but a few are fascinated by the prospect. The only adhene with extensive experience in Reverie are the aonides. Except for the muses, all Denizens are at +1 difficulty when trying to inspire this form of epiphany.
- Rhapsody: Changeling law prohibits Rhapsody because it permanently prevents a Dreamer from creating more Glamour. Most Denizens have been back in the Autumn world for too short a time to appreciate the magnitude of this crime. Fortunately, as with Reverie, few Denizens are practiced in this form of epiphany (+1 difficulty for all Denizens except aonides). Muses have strict rules against Rhapsody, but might cause it accidentally through their passion or as an act of revenge.
Besides the Meridianus, there are several other difficulties in escaping the Autumn World. The Silver Ban remains in full effect; trods protected by the Silver Path are impossible for the Denizens to travel. The Green Paths of Balor known to most Denizens are one-way streets. Finding one which travels from the Waking back into the Dreaming may be the object of a quest all its own. Even if such a path is found, it is often claimed or guarded by some fell beast or hostile changelings. Further, many Denizens come to the Waking on missions from their superiors who may be unhappy to see their minions until they have completed their appointed task. Additionally, the Week of Nightmares surrounding Ravana's demise caused great dislocation in the Dreaming. Many homesteads, even entire Denizens nations, underwent tumultuous changes. Many Denizens came to the Autumn Realms as refugees and their homelands aren't necessarily where they left them.
Ultimately, the Storyteller should decide how "Earthbound" the want their game to be. If they want the game to be a gritty, desperate battle just to survive in the mean streets of the World of Darkness, they may wish to increase these difficulties, throwing all sorts of obstacles into the characters' way before they can reach the Dreaming again. If the Storyteller prefers the high fantasy aspects of the Dreaming, they should diminish or eliminate the ban.
The Dreaming is created by human imagination, asleep or awake. The sleeping mind has a particular place in the Dreamscape, for here it is at its most receptive and powerful. Denizens are creatures of the in-between places, of the subconscious and unconscious mind. Born directly from human fears and desires, they have a deep and abiding connection with the dreaming mind, though most of them haven't had direct contact with humans in centuries. For the Denizens, chimera, changelings, and other dark creatures of dream, the murky twilight of the human subconscious becomes the arena in which they battle to determine the very nature of reality. Largely an invisible battle fought with spirit and mind, this secret conflict goes on unnoticed by the prodigals and humanity alike, but is as important to Earth's fate as any other. Alien to this world, Denizens feel more comfortable navigating the fluid realms of Dream than confronting the rigid realities of Banality. In dreams, space and time mean little, but to the Denizens they are no less real for all of that. Even after facing the idea that they are projections of the human mind, most Denizens continue to see the world of dreams as far more "real" than the mundane sphere.
Over time, Dark-kin master the fundamentals of the waking world, but largely see humans as collection of dreamstuff, creatures of slumbering night-terrors and midnight flights of fancy. Looking past the surface realities, they glimpse the naked human soul. Many Denizens (though they might not admit it) gain a sneaking admiration for these dream-makers and even feel affection for them. The same cannot be said of the fomorians who have always seen (in so far as anyone can guess their views) humans as mere chattel. To the Dark Ones and those who serve them, humans are little more than dream batteries, collections of ephemeral raw materials to be used as they see fit, then discarded. In the old Fomorian Dream, this was humankind's only fitting role.
While the effects of dreams are usually somewhat diffuse, more potent Dreamers (especially those with a Banality of three or less) can exert a concentrated effect on the nearby Dreaming. Such dreams become Dream Traps that reach out and ensnare unwary fae. Denizens in the Near Dreaming or those in Phantom Form or using Somnambulism in the mundane world are especially susceptible to such traps. These episodes may prove pleasant interludes or full-blown nightmares with the characters in starring roles (either as victims or perpetrators of the violence). Trapped Denizens are usually unaware they are in someone else's dream. They're used to meeting chimera on the street anyway; who is to say what is and isn't a dream? While "traps" are usually not intentional but natural occurrences of the unconscious mind, some fae (especially those skilled in Oneiromancy) can render these experiences far more dangerous.
Storytellers may use this as an opportunity to further muddy the borders between dream and reality. If cleverly done, the Storyteller can obfuscate the players' entire sense of reality, layering Dreamwalking episodes with the everyday "reality" of the Dreaming and even the Denizen's own sleeping dreams. Just because this is a dream doesn't mean it has no consequences. The Storyteller may use these dreams for foreshadowing actual events, as backdrops for real vendettas of the fae (especially if one has Oneiromancy), or the Denizen may track the dream energies back to the source (not always as easy as it seems), providing themself with a new source of Glamour. Lastly, such traps may well force a conflict between the Denizen's primary and tertiary Ariá. This phenomenon may occasionally occur with changelings, but Denizens and other creatures of pure spirit are far more susceptible.
A Breed Apart
Denizens are not changelings. While the Kithain are in many ways unknowable to humans, they are still partially human and share many mortal concerns. Denizens spring from human dreams but know little about the everyday world. Outsiders, aliens, almost wholly different, yet tantalizingly familiar, the Dark-kin exhibit many differences from changelings. First, they have never been through the Changeling Way Ritual. While changelings are fae spirits clothed (Denizens might say imprisoned) in human flesh, the Denizens are more fully spirit. They have a physical presence in the Dreaming (at least most of the time) and have all the usual physical Attributes but have no natural physical substance in the mundane world. What's more, unlike the Kithain, they do not have age-based Seemings. They are not tied down to mortal concepts of aging as much as the Kithain, though they still largely mimic human forms.
While not immortal, they are very long lived. In the Dreaming some may live for hundreds of years or more before being reincarnated into the next life cycle. Since Denizen chidden don't share the decisive Glamour advantage over adults enjoyed by their changeling counterparts, adult Denizens tend to restrict their freedom a little more. Another difference between Denizens and changelings is that the Dark-kin do not follow the injunctions of the two great Courts. In the place of Seeming and Court affiliation, a three-way metaphysical division known as Ariá defines them.
Their lack of Court affiliation doesn't prevent them from allying themselves with one court or another. The fir-bholg and the fuath known as "glaistigs" (two Denizen adhene native to Great Britain) frequently made common cause with the Unseelie Court in the past, though they largely split from their old allies after the Tessarakonta. While most of these two adhene still have much in common with the Unseelie, they hardly look at the Shadow Court as a friend. Most of the Dark-kin are generally more Unseelie in outlook, but enough of them share typical "Seelie" outlooks that trying to classify them with one court or another is futile. Although each adhene comes form an individual region or nationality, they don't necessarily emerge there in the waking world. They are more attracted to particular types of dreams (and Dreamers) than to nationalities or geographical borders. This is especially true given that human geographical borders disappear in the Far and Deep Dreamings.
See the larger article Ariá.
Belief & Governance
Though merely the stuff of human dreams, the Dark-kin remain no less passionate about there beliefs. Denizen beliefs imitate human thought, echoing the aspects of human nature usually suppressed by dreamers. The various adhene are scattered across the Dreaming in a wide variety of environments. They have found that the Dreaming is large enough to contain all forms of belief or disbelief. In governance, while some Dark-kin favor the customs and leadership familiar to the feudal sidhe, other Denizen societies have adopted strange variants of theocracy, democracy, or communism. Still others live in tribal situations or as anarchists with no governance at all. When considering greater metaphysical belief systems or "religions," they may variably be animistic pagans, monotheists, or worshipers of vast pantheons of great creatures in the Dreaming (including some monstrous chimera, the fomorians, and, to a lesser extent, the Tuatha de Danaan). Indeed, the fervor with which some Denizens now serve the awakening Elder Darks surpasses the most zealous human fanatics in its intensity.
As a rule, Denizens who are not Evanescent don't have much knowledge of the waking world, its customs, traditions, and Autumn sciences. Denizens who have just come through the Mists into this world are limited to one level of any highly technical or "Autumn specific" Abilities such as Human Bureaucracy, Streetwise, Drive, Firearms, technological Security, Computer, Human Law, Medicine, or any Autumn Sciences. They may have a little simply because some knowledge trickles into the Dreaming, but it is rarely complete enough to give the Dark-kin anything but the most basic understanding of a given subject.
Adhene of Note
During the War of Trees (also known as the Tessarakonta), the Adhene were mostly allied with the Fomorians. When their masters were imprisoned, they were banished within the Dreaming between the Silver Paths, unable to reach the Autumn World except some who didn't participate in the conflict.
The Denizens are not Changelings. When they come to the Autumn World they have no physical body and no Banality. They are able to possess human bodies through a variety of means, or go without a physical form, which accrues Banality faster but has its own advantages. Some Denizens employ an Art called the Autumn Way to better deal with the world of humanity.
Each Denizen has three "Ariá", which determine which Legacy is dominant, what their current Tempers (Glamour and Willpower) are, shape much of their current personality and even alter their fae mien to some extent. These three Aria can change at any time, and the Denizen's attitudes and demeanor along with them.
The known types of adhene include:
- Acheri - Spreaders of disease and corruption.
- Aonides - The muses, promoters of artistic inspiration.
- Fir-bholg - Primal wilderness spirits and bringers of chaos.
- Fuath - Wild spirits representing the fusion of animal and man.
- Keremet - Spirits of the dead brought into the Dreaming.
- Moirae - Triune-aspected agents of fate.
- Naraka - Amnesiac embodiments of destruction.