In the summer of 1999, the Dreaming surrounding Bangladesh nearly disappeared, destroyed by fire from the sky. As the dust settled, the naraka entered the Autumn World. Like children, the first thing they beheld was their mother: Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. The scent of the destroyer lay thick in the air. Seeing the carnage, Kali's newly born offspring understood their nature. Their bodies existed as naked nightmares wandering an uninhabited wasteland. At first, they had no knowledge of Banality's chill as the wandered beneath Samvarta, the Doomsday Cloud; corpses and ruins hold no disbelief. They didn't remember what the land looked like before their mother shaped it into her image. Vaguely, they felt their very existence was a legacy of the fears and beliefs of what had once existed. Naraka have no memories before their "birth." They don't remember what they came from, and this frightens and angers them. Many naraka are obsessed with learning the mythology of the culture that spawned them to regain some sense of identity.
Naraka are paradoxically both deadly and childlike. Their nightmare side is almost innocent in its lack of experience. Although they run through the mundane motions of life, the world seems new and strange to them. Flavors, colors, and textures fill them with child-like wonder. Likewise, they become frustrated about seemingly trivial things. Thus, while they are the embodiment of destruction, they may also find other beings, places, and objects fascinating or enjoy themselves with abandon at a party before returning to their usual pursuits. They interact with society to learn more about their probable foes and the way the world works. They're like the child who smiles at the antics of ants before becoming bored and crushing them.
The naraka exist in a transitional state. Driven to stop the madness from which they sprang, they know they are born to be destroyers but are often unsure who or what to rend. An angry, violated adhene, they seek to discover who to blame for their agonized birth and strike out against the whole world in their fear and hatred. Whoever harnesses their destructive energies against their foes may triumph, but reap the whirlwind themselves as well.
Naraka appear lost in the mortal world. They find things strange and frustrating or compellingly interesting (for a brief time). Born in chaos, they despise structure and order, finding the rules and traditions of the Autumn World restricting. They don't work or obey rules. Their outlook combines anarchy with a splash of nihilism. They despise human weakness. To naraka, death and destruction are the redeeming qualities of the Autumn World, valuing the process of change over the lasting values of static form and shape.
In all their Ariá, naraka are sleek and mesmerizing. They sport trim dark forms and tend toward light-colored hair. Their glowing red or white eyes evince no discernible pupils. Unlike some fae, they have rounded, human ears instead of pointed, "elf-like" ones. During war, they paint their bodies with Sanskrit sigils of destruction, change, and chaos. Their skins change from deep brown to dark purple depending on their current Ariá. When provoked or involved in violence, they can manifest multiple arms. The extra limbs are not only intimidating, but also make the naraka nearly as lethal as Kali herself.
The Dioniae Ariá is called the Aditi Ariá or "dream form." In this state, naraka are the most violent, volatile, and primitive. They feel no compassion or honor and make fearsome assassins.
In Araminae, called the Prajapati Ariá or "mortal form," naraka become moody and depressed. They can be angered, but are more prone to fits of melancholy as they try to remember there origins. Conversely, they experience more joy and passion as they reach greater balance. Naraka appreciate aesthetic beauty in this form.
In Apolliae form, known as Brihaspati Ariá or "living dream form," naraka are calm, calculating, and unemotional... a state they seek to achieve. In this form, naraka never show any emotion unless some cantrip or other power magically implants the feeling in them.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Affinity: Fae or Scene
- Wrath of Kali Ma: Naraka may issue searing flames (chimerical unless calling upon the Wyrd) from their mouths. The player rolls a number of dice equal to the character' current Glamour (difficulty 7). The attack has a range of one meter, does one level of non-aggravated damage per success, and can be dodged as normal. It costs one point of Glamour to perform. This Birthright also confers a partial immunity to fire. Fire damage against naraka is not aggravated and they are at -1 difficulty to soak.
- Arms of Ravana: This Birthright allows the naraka to manifest multiple arms for combat or intimidation. The extra appendages emerge from the naraka's side, the process taking one combat turn. The player rolls dice equal to their current Glamour (difficulty 7), with the number of arms manifested equal to the number of successes rolled. Each success also adds one extra die to Melee or Brawl rolls or may add an extra physical action for every additional pair of arms (rounded up). This Birthright costs one Glamour to invoke and lasts one turn per success or until the narwal decides to revert to their original form, whichever comes first.
- Curse of Shiva: The naraka have a fatal weakness: Music. In the presence of live music, a naraka must drop what they are doing and dance, unless they roll their Willpower (difficulty varies based on the performer's skill). Successes indicate how many turns the character can go without succumbing to the effects of this Frailty. Alternatively, a naraka can spend temporary Willpower to ignore this Frailty. Generally speaking, when naraka aren't in life-threatening situations, they go ahead and dance.
- Selective Possession: The naraka are limited by geas and custom as to whom they can possess. By holy law, no matter what form of possession the naraka closes to use, they may only inhabit the body of someone of the Hindu faith. Though hardly a disadvantage in India or large cosmopolitan cities, it can be daunting in other regions. The naraka can use other methods of interacting with the mundane world without possession. Additionally, because of their genesis, no naraka may start the game with the Background: Remembrance.
- Acheri: Like us, they often leave a wake of death. We admire their potential to bring radical change with their mere presence. We are creatures of war; they of pestilence. We gladly ride alongside them to change this world.
- Aonides: The aonides have much they can teach us. They are wisest in the ways of man and have the capacity to manipulate humans into self-destructive behavior. Like changelings, the aonides inspire humanity, though their gift pushes the recipient to the brink of madness.
- Fir-bholg: Angry creatures, their understanding of the natural aspects of this world is great, but they are as ignorant of humanity as we are. They make grandiose claims about ancient times, but their past does not interest us. The fir-bholg believe that some great calamity will soon consume the Autumn Lands. Perhaps we are that cataclysm.
- Fuaths: As chaotic and vengeful as we are. Perhaps it would be wise to include them in our plans to tear the Autumn World to shreds. Their magic would greatly augment our battle prowess.
- Keremet: They are human souls lost in the Dreaming, yet counted the most inhuman of the adhene.
- Moirae: The Moirae are among the most frightening Denizens. They possess a strong connection to the Wyrd, which makes our nightmare powers real in this world. Unfortunately, they seek to protect humanity. This puts them in direct conflict with our goal to make the Autumn World a clean slate.
- Changelings: Some of them are of right mind, mostly those of the Unseelie variety. The Seelie have a deluded concept that the Dreaming is nothing without human imagination. Yet, they claim to be older than the tribes of man. How can this be? Do the animals and trees not dream? We should make alliances with the Unseelie who can aid us in our quest to stop humanity's madness. We will deal with the interfering Seelie accordingly.
- Humankind: Despise, foolish weaklings! Learn what you can from them and their plans. Kill them when you can, but without being caught. The rules and structures with which they blight their world are why it is called the "Autumn Lands." They have no respect for the beauty and creativity of chaos. Our duty calls us to show them the error of their ways.
Unique among Denizens, Naraka are drawn more powerfully than other Adhene to the Autumn world. While most Denizens remained in the Dreaming and the Evanescent hid elsewhere, the naraka bargained for immunity from the Silver Ban, giving up their collective cultural memory for the use of trods. They are more likely than any other Denizens to venture to the Autumn world in search of the knowledge they sacrificed, and as a whole are curious and volatile. A naraka’s nature is a curious blend of childlike and deadly; she is just as easily taken up in the wonder of such things as music and art as she is swept up in a violent rage, and has no concern for the repercussions of exploring either. Children of Kali, the goddess of destruction, naraka are tormented by their origins, and while they despise order and rules, they seek an answer as to how and what they are. Out of place in both fae and mortal society, seeking these answers is equally magical and insanely frustrating.
Sleek, dark figures with fair hair and glowing eyes of red or white, naraka are fearsome and violent Denizens. They adorn themselves with Sanskrit sigils when they go to war, and their skin ranges from dark brown to deep purple, depending on their current Ariá.
- Dioniae (Aditi): Without compassion or honor, naraka in their “dream form,” are fearsome warriors. They are primitive and volatile, easily drawn into violence.
- Araminae (Prajapati): The Ariá that embodies the “mortal” form, naraka appreciate the balance of the Araminae. While they can fall into depression seeking their origins, they also feel joy and passion most deeply here.
- Apolliae (Brihaspati): The “living dream,” Ariá, is a calm, calculating, emotionless, state. Many naraka prefer this calmer Ariá, and while it rules them will never show emotion until forced by a cantrip or power that implants feeling.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Affinity: Fae or Actor
- Wrath of Kali Ma: Naraka can use this power to breathe searing flames. The player rolls dice equal to her character’s Glamour (difficulty 7). Every success deals one level of lethal damage over a one-meter range. This costs one point of Glamour. Additionally, naraka have a partial immunity to fire; this damage type is always reduced to bashing and is at –1 difficulty to soak.
- Arms of Ravana: By spending a point of Glamour, naraka can manifest extra arms for combat or intimidation. The Storyteller rolls Glamour (difficulty 7). The number of successes determines the number of arms manifested. Each success also adds one extra die to either Melee or Brawl, or may add an extra physical action for each pair of arms, rounded up. These effects last one turn per success, or until the naraka dismisses them, whichever comes first.
- Curse of Shiva: Whenever they are in the presence of live music, naraka are compelled to dance. The Storyteller may make a Willpower roll (the difficulty of which is equal to the performer’s Charisma + Expression), to resist this urge, or spend a temporary Willpower point to ignore this Frailty. Generally, when not in dire situations, they simply dance.
- Selective Possession: Limited by Geas and custom, naraka may only possess those of Hindu faith, no matter the method of possession. Additionally, due to their genesis, naraka cannot begin a game with the Background: Remembrance.
- CTD. Denizens of the Dreaming, pp. 63-65.
- C20. Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 390-391.