The native tribes of the Southwest attribute the knowledge of the rituals and customs integral to their culture to the teachings of highly spiritual beings known as kachinas. Their legends tell of how the kachinas came from the spirit world, taught humans the ritual dances and ceremonies necessary for survival in harmony with nature and the spirits, and then, their work done, departed the physical world. Among the Hopi and Zuni in particular, kachina cults, made up of males of the tribes, dress in elaborate costumes and perform dances throughout the year honoring the spirits and petitioning for their help. Ornate dolls representing the different aspects of the kachina spirits are used to teach children how to identify one kachina from another.
As the native faeries of the Southwest, kachinas were instrumental in teaching their mortal cousins how to properly honor the spirits and the earth. Although some of them left the world when the paths to the Higher Hunting Grounds began to close forever, many elected to remain on earth and act as mediators for their mortal kin. These adopted mortal form and became nearly indistinguishable from their human relatives.
The kachinas are living representations of the songs and dances of the Hopi and the Zuni (who also refer to them as koko — "the raw people"). They are among the most observant of the Nunnehi Nations, basing much of their life around rituals and ceremonies. This is because they believe that every ritual establishes a spiritual link between the mortal and the spirit realms. When enough links are formed, the two worlds will once again be united, and the paths to the Higher Hunting Grounds will again be opened. Many Nunnehi believe the kachinas are deluded in their conviction, but no one can fault them for wishing to preserve traditional customs.
Kachinas live alongside, and sometimes with, their mortal kin. They maintain their own hidden pueblo encampments or freeholds, but many braves and occasional younglings also reside and participate in human tribal society. Only the elders among the kachinas actually withdraw almost entirely from mortal society, since they are so drawn to the life of the spirit world that they spend most of their time harvesting Medicine for the tribe and communing with the spirits of nature. They are the keepers of Medicine and the greatest workers of songs and dances of power. Despite their zealous commitment to spirituality, kachinas also display a humorous side. Clown kachinas are considered to be holy members of the Family, teaching important lessons about proper behavior through the instruments of laughter and ridicule. Such clowns are braves belonging to the Midseason Camp who use their Trickster nature to help their people. Most kachinas reside in the southwestern desert regions of Arizona and New Mexico, although a few daring individuals travel to other parts of the country.
Kachinas are some of the strangest of the Nunnehi Nations, having very different forms in each of their seemings. As mortals, they resemble their Southwestern kin, the Hopi, Zuni and other pueblo-dwellers, although they grow progressively smaller as they age from brave to elder. They are rarely found in anything other than traditional dress, and are some of the most conservative among the Nunnehi.
- Younglings look like normal children of their mortal tribes, although they have a "doll-like" purity to their faces. They are natural pranksters, almost as if they must rid themselves of their impish impulses before settling down to their true purpose.
- Braves spend much of their time learning the rituals that have made kachinas so important to their people. They often participate in the activities of their mortal tribes' kachina cult, and are skilled dancers and actors. They are almost indistinguishable from mortals in size and appearance.
- Elders of the kachinas undergo a mysterious physical transformation, shrinking in size until they resemble living versions of the diminutive kachina dolls fashioned by their mortal kin. They dwell apart from mortals in their own enchanted pueblos and spend their time in rituals of power to aid their kin. They teach the braves and the younglings, and intercede with the spirits on behalf of their mortal and immortal people.
Kachinas live in enchanted pueblos, although braves and occasionally younglings will intermingle with their human cousins. Their lives are filled with rituals, and they are meticulous preservers of the old ways, in both dress and manners. Many braves attend powwows all over the country, spreading knowledge of and respect for the ways of their people.
Birthrights & FrailtyEdit
- Affinity: Nature
- Prayer of Plenty: Kachinas are able to convince plants to grow and rain to fall even in their harsh desert environment. In order to do this, the kachina must succeed in a Wits + Occult (or Plant Lore) roll (difficulty 7). The number of successes indicates the degree to which their attempt is successful; one success increases plant growth and rainfall within a mile, while five successes can cause a bumper crop or bountiful rain over an entire county or reservation. They will only use this skill if the proper rituals are performed by their mortal tribes.
- Cloud Form: Kachinas are able to transform themselves into ethereal beings that resemble clouds or wisps of smoke. They can float through the air in this form, though they are at the mercy of the prevailing winds. They must spend a point of Medicine to affect this change. In order to return to solid form, they must first drift to a safe height or else suffer falling damage. If they need to make an instantaneous change, they must spend a point of Willpower to quickly return to ground level. Otherwise, no additional expenditures are necessary.
- Single Mind: Kachinas tend to specialize in one major role to the detriment of other skills. Kachina characters must choose one Skill such as basket-weaving, farming, hunting or performance as their single focus. They are then at a + 1 on rolls involving that Skill but at a - 2 on all their other Skills. (Note that Talents and Knowledges are not affected.)
Views of Others Edit
- Canotili: They are too obsessed with the hunt. There are other traditions that need their attention.
- Inuas: They are as concerned with the ways of the spirit world as we are. Perhaps together, we can achieve our greatest dream.
- May-may-gway-shi: They respect the old ways, but they hide themselves away from those they should he helping.
- Nanehi: They are our allies in keeping alive the customs of our mortal brothers and sisters. If only they were better dancers...
- Nümüzo'ho: They have great power, but they use it wrongly. They undo what we work so hard to accomplish.
- Pu'gwis: They were made ugly for a reason. Perhaps we should try to discover what that reason is.
- Rock Giants: Disgusting and vile. We have no need for them.
- Surems: They strengthen the ties between peoples just as we strengthen the ties between worlds.
- Tunghat: It would be a shame to lose these emissaries to the animals.
- Water Babies: At least in the desert it is too dry for them to stay long enough to steal any of our cousins' children. Let them stay near the water where they belong.
- Yunwi Amai'yine'hi: Their pranks serve no good purpose.
- Yunwi Tsundsi: They take justifiable pride in their handiwork and respect the old ways.