Formed in the crucible of the Mythic Age, the fir-bholg were beaten between the hammer of the Fomorians and the anvil of the Tuatha de Danaan. Quenched in the dark realms, they are now a blade once again eager to cut into the Flesh Realm. Ancient masters of Ireland and forgotten sea realms, the fir-bholg lost their place as rulers long ago. The wheel of destiny turns once more and the fir-bholg now strive to reclaim their lordship of old. Most fae, while openly distrustful of this brooding adhene, often see them as grim reflections of themselves and their ancestors. Fallen on hard times, fir-bholg are spirits of the wilderness, wise in nature and animal lore, but largely ignorant of the ways of civilization. Obviously not fond of the Tuatha or their "children" (the sidhe and other changelings) some now serve their old foes the fomorians in hopes of regaining old glory. Others follow their own rough code of honor, distrustful of the Elder Darks.
Through all their hardships, the fir-bholg have become the ultimate race of predator-survivors. Thrust through the Mists into an alien world, they face their doom with stout hearts and eager spirits. Dreaming and Flesh Realm both sit on the edge of the Evernight; the fir-bholg see themselves as the beings who will mid-wife the birth of the age yet to come. The cycle has turned; again ignorance and fear are the coin of the realm and soon the beast-kings shall return to reclaim their glory. Wild and uncultured, they bridge the gap between the neatly fomorians and the refined Tuatha de Danaan, and they bear the marks of both. These Denizens are forever wrapped in their wild otherworldliness. The very plants and animals of the flesh realm react oddly to them; the toys and tools of men are brushed aside by the forces they command.
In spite of the changes the Dark Realms have wrought upon them, the fir-bholg remember a greater time. The first true kings of Ireland, they are drawn to poetry and language. Love and loyalty are not lost upon them, but almost always it must be love and loyalty to their own kind. Loners by nature, they prefer the wastes of the world away from the busy, confusing whirl of cities. Despite this, these flesh realm neophytes seek out the company of other adhene, changelings, and even Nunnehi. They are, behind their strong words and loud boasts, painfully aware that these others live in a world half of flesh and half of dreams; it is a world that the men of Bholg will never understand. Only the most stubborn of them refuse to admit that these "changelings" possess knowledge that they crave. Fir-bholg often take the bodies of people who have recently had a close brush with death. From this sobering event, the spirit of the fir-bholg takes shape and begins to grow.
Fir-bholg are chaos-bringers. Though they see themselves as stable beings, chaos revolves around them, affecting areas they frequent. When something impossible happens, though, the fir-bholg emerge to lead the shocked survivors away. They seek out places where the powers of nature lay low the frail houses and towers of men.
Whether male or female, fir-bholg exude a startling presence. Tall and foreboding, they stand out like a bare-limbed tree in a forest. The possess great spreading antlers which are a source of no little pride to them. When not naked (which they often are in their wild haunts) they wear simple animal-skin clothing and adornments.
Fir-bholg in Dioniae are closest to their fomorian blood and their primitive drives. Their antlers are large and sharp and they flaunt both their alien nature and their demand for sacrifice. Laws, save their own ancient traditions, don't really exist unless there is someone or something nearby willing to enforce them. Woe to those who stand between such a fir-bholg and what they desire.
Within Araminae, fir-bholg achieve a synthesis of instinct and intellect. It gives them enough patience, forethought, and persistence to accomplish their goals. Their antlers are largest at this point and they take great care in their speech, wanting every word to hold authority, grace, and meaning.
In Apolliae, the fir-bholg try to shed some of their more primitive aspects. Their attentions tuen to how things are made, and how people (and fae) are organized. The repercussions of their actions haunt them, occupying their thoughts.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Affinity: Nature or Fae
- Breath of the Firchlis: The fir-bholg have learned the ways of the Dreaming's ever-changing landscape. Each of these Denizens sees themself as a stable point, surrounded by the waking waves of randomness. Things "happen" around a fir-bholg' plants bloom in the dead of winter or die in minutes on the vine. There is no way to stop the Breath of the Firchlis, but the fir-bholg can attempt to control it. To affect things of the Dreaming, the fir-bholg burns a point of Glamour and rolls their current Glamour (difficulty 8). Success indicates that the fir-bholg has called the Firchlis over the area. The effects are variable, from the very minor (1 success, a pooka's ears grow slightly longer, leaves change color) to the very creepy (3 successes, swims of chimerical insects or rodents enter the area) to the downright scary (5 successes, the Mists descend over the surrounding area). The Birthright's effects last until the fir-bholg leaves the area or for one minute per success. The effect's strength and duration are not cumulative with additional uses of this Birthright. Fir-bholg do not have any direct control over the specific effect; this is left up to the Storyteller. The player may make suggestions, though, which the Storyteller may adapt. By burning additional Glamour, the fir-bholg can create changes in the Flesh Realm. This is done through a contested roll of Glamour versus the Banality in the area. The number of successes determines the severity of the effect. Again, the continuum runs from the merely annoying (cars won't start) to the unnerving (hail falls from a clear sky) to the incredibly spooky (the power grid goes out, a large storm appears in a previously clear sky).
- Eochaid's Hunger: Each fir-bholg has an unusual dietary habit, often (but not always) related to their fomorian ties. The Denizen must eat a particular unprepared food once a week, be it freshly caught fish, carrion, oak roots, or rainwater. Although they need not subside entirely on this diet, they must have this food to exist. Without access to it, they lose one point of Stamina per day after the first week. Additionally, they must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 7) to resist eating the first source with which they come into contact. When their Stamina reaches 1, they begin to lose one level of Health per day and will do anything within their power to get what they need, including stealing from a superior or assaulting their own friends... anything. Clearly, if a fir-bholg's health reaches Incapacitated, they perish.
- Sacrifice: Ancient overlords over humanity, the beast-folk once wrought potent spells to facilitate their collection of dreams through sacrificial offerings. As the millennia passed, these magics fell into disrepair. Now the fir-bholg must receive sacrifices merely to gain the Glamour that other fae take for granted. Without this forfeiture, all rolls by the fir-bholg to gather Glamour in the Autumn World are at +3 difficulty. This Frailty requires that a human Dreamer willingly offer up something of great value to the fir-bholg. The fir-bholg receiving the ceremonial offering must roll their Glamour (difficulty 6). Each success reduces the Frailty's penalty for one week. The fir-bholg may use whatever method they wish to coax, force, or frighten the person into performing the sacrifice, but no fir-bholg may have more than one sacrifice working for them at any given time. Subsequent offerings always override the previous sacrifice in both effectiveness and duration. The offering itself may be a treasured possession, or a human or animal sacrifice. If it is the former, the item must be consecrated to the fir-bholg and destroyed. Animals and humans sacrificed may be destroyed or dedicated to the fir-bholg's service. Sacrificed animals and humans need br of no value to the donor.
- Acheri: Wasting spirits who hide in the hills. They can help you rid your lands of unwanted peoples, but let not their shadow fall upon your path.
- Aonides: These take a hand in the flesh realm. Play not their games, unless they offer truly worthwhile stakes.
- Fuaths: Pretty there faces, horrid their deformities. When the masters return, we shall slaughter most and have the rest tend to the cattle. Until then, beware, for they are deadly warriors.
- Keremet: The Mists have blocked these creatures' memories, but not ours. Lackeys of the sidhe and traitors during the Tessarakonta, these foul fae are like a cur that returns to its own vomit. We shall hunt them in the Waking as we do in the dark realms.
- Moirae: Their ability to call upon Dán makes them dangerous foes. Fata has had its way with our kind again and again. No more! They would be wise if they stood aside from our path.
- Naraka: Dangerous and fearsome warriors, along with the Kithain, they are our greatest obstacle to gaining the Near Dreaming and the flesh realms beyond. They have changed mush in recent times and are now an unknown quantity.
- Changelings: Odd and treacherous. Bits and pieces of the Tuatha de Danaan sometimes show in them. They are tied to the Autumn World and, as is the doom of the flesh realms, they will die there. The Unseelie are at least somewhat akin to us in that their eyes look with eagerness upon the changes that are to come.
- Humankind: Cruel this, for fate to give such foolish beings so much power over the children of the Dreaming. Numb to the worlds around them, still they fight to protect what little they have. In them you can sometimes find strength and allies.
Since the Sundering and the enactment of the Silver Ban, they have fallen from grace and are waiting somewhat impatiently to regain their old status. They consider themselves the highest of the adhene and look down upon changelings and humans alike, even as they pine for the knowledge of the Autumn world that their half-mortal cousins possess. Despite their primitive natures, many follow rough codes of honor, even if they only apply to other fir-bholg.
Fir-bholg are striking figures, tall and well muscled with large antlers. They pride themselves on these, and are more primitive in their dress; they prefer not to wear clothing, and when forced to favor simple animal-skin adornments.
- Dioniae: These fir-bholg are primitive, and have sharp, pointed antlers. They revel in their demands for sacrifice and will take anything they want with little care for how it affects others; laws and customs that are not their own mean little, and are dismissed unless someone is there to enforce them.
- Araminae: Balanced between primal and civilized, these fir-bholg choose their words carefully and adopt a more regal attitude. Their antlers are largest in this Ariá, and they have the patience and foresight to follow through with their plans and achieve their goals.
- Apolliae: Shedding their primitive aspects, Apolliae firbholg focus more on societal customs and the methods used to create things. The actions taken by themselves and their kith hang around them, haunting their memories and occasionally shrouding them in guilt.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Affinity: Nature or Fae
- Breath of Firchlis: The Dreaming reacts to fir-bholg in mysterious ways; though they are not chaotic beings, they bring chaos where they roam. By spending a point of Glamour, a firbholg can attempt to control this effect and manipulate the world around them. The Storyteller rolls Glamour (difficulty 8), and the number of successes determines the size, duration, and intensity of the effects. These last for one minute per success; a fir-bholg’s control is minimal at best, and he may not always execute exactly what he intended.
- Eochaid’s Hunger: Fir-bholg have particular, primitive tastes. They must frequently partake of their chosen delicacy, be it raw meat, tree bark, or rainwater. After a week without doing so, they lose Stamina at a rate of one point per day. When their Stamina falls to 1, they begin losing health levels at the same rate.
- Sacrifice: In order to regain Glamour, fir-bholg require sacrifice. Without a servant making offerings to them, any attempts to regain Glamour are made at +3 difficulty. Receiving this sacrifice suspends the effects of this Frailty for one week. Items of great personal significance are suitable sacrifices, as are animals and humans. Additional sacrifices do not further reduce the difficulty, but reset the time. A sacrifice never guarantees more than seven days of penalty-free Glamour acquisition.
- CTD. Denizens of the Dreaming, pp. 51-53.
- C20. Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 387-388.