Nockers are the artisans among the Kithain, able to craft the stuff of dreams into whatever they desire. Their creations are always flawed, however, and their knowledge of this curse makes them irritable and quick to anger.
The Ancient World
Unlike the Sidhe, Trolls, and Redcaps who whine about who was the first kith, the Nockers know they were probably the last in the line-up and they do not murbinfurbin care. They are modern and proud of it. Most stories say the first Nockers came from the mountain roots in the Middle-late season of the First Times when most of the great stories had already been written. They may not know their true origins but at least they don't lie about it.
There are a lot of colorful ideas as to where the Nockers actually came from: They're the friggin' bastards of the Redcaps and Sluagh; They're the cast-off shaving from when Dana carved the first Troll; they were hatched from a giant mechanical egg from another dimension; or as the Pooka tell it, they were born from a giant pile of dragon cuck. Whatever their origin, the first Nockers were five pounds of cack in a ten pound bag. They were the new kids on the block and the others all tried to take them under their wings. Translate that to mean the beat the alley apples out of them "for their own good." The Sidhe and Trolls stomped on their heads when they were "bad," which was often according to them. The physical abuse wasn't as bad as the "I'm so disappointed in you" looks they gave along with the lectures. The Redcaps were nasty older brothers who hit them upside the head when mom wasn't looking. Luckily they learned that the Nockers taste really bad and after countless bouts of cacafuego they finally got it through their heads (and other parts.) While they continued to kick the Nockers around, they still tended to hang out together; which made the Sidhe and Trolls more upset. And of course all the others sort of lorded it over the because they were young and toothless and bullied them because they could get away with it. Why? Who knows.
While the Nockers were young, they weren't stupid. They hit the dirt and kept on going... into the underground. While the other kithain hung out topside, the Nockers looked for something to make themselves useful and strong. They wandered caves; learning from spirits of stone and metal. They studied subterranean plants and animals. They learned the resilience of rock, the versatility of plants, the beauty of precious metals, the glitter of gems, and the sting of Iron.
This was before chimera as we know them today existed. The fantastic creatures of those times were real, no matter what flackinfurbin science books and fossils say. It wasn't until after the Shattering that these beasts faded into the Dreaming. It's a good question why some creatures crossed over while things like dinosaurs with their walnut sized brains didn't. Something must have set them apart.
The Nockers' history is the history of invention. Fire, the Wheel, Tools, the Plow... Nockers were there to watch it go. Sometime they followed human lead and other the humans followed their's. being able to talk to the spirits of metal and stone helped. As the other fae hid from the changing world, the Nockers were slower to follow and show off what they had learned; perfecting their knowledge and trying it out on... I mean sharing it with... the other Kithain.
Being underground gave them a talent for mining and plenty of time to practice. Entire mountain ranges were filled with their tunnels. They discovered great secrets and treasures. Occasionally those tunnels would bump into Redcap tunnels which brought ugly fights and uglier parties. Today, Nockers are still most comfortable below ground.
They also learned to craft and soon beautiful things of gold and other precious metals became their trade. Their grottoes earned a reputation for treasures and the other kiths soon came to buy their goods. By the time the "metal ages" (Bronze, Iron, etc...) the Nockers were already kicking ass and taking names and payback was a pain for their kithain siblings. Not that the Nockers hold a grudge. When the battles against the fomorians happened, the Nockers were there.
War of the Trees
While the Tuatha de Danaan fought the fomorians and beat them down for a while, when they took off, they baddies got frisky again and the fae had to clean up. The Nockers supplied the weapons. They had learned a lot. A thousand years of warfare will do that. While they mostly stuck to their underground freeholds where they could easily defend against the enemy, a few played both sides, selling weapons to all parties or even joined with the Fo-morons like most of the Redcaps did.
The war got bigger the longer it went... even people lobbing mountains at each other, so the stories say. One of the Nocker tales tells of a battle wagon the size of a castle. According to the Nocker's history, the Chronicle of the Black Mountain, the fae finally beat the fomorians at the Battle of Moytura. The enemy flooded the Nocker caves in the final days of the war and were as good as the Nockers at mine-fighting but the Nockers collapsed a few tunnels and sealed them off for good and as far as anyone knows they are still there, (may they rot in peace).
Not all of the Nockers hung around for the end of the War, though. When things got hot, a few made themselves scarce. As skilled as they were they could go anywhere and make a living and many have been itinerant since the end of the Fomorian War. The Eshu travel more but there is still dust on Nocker boots as well. They don't know if they can claim the pyramids in Egypt but the Chronicle says they did inspire the earliest irrigation systems. Many of them settled in Canaan, in the Middle East, and they've been hanging out with the Jews since 1200 BCE. That's one of the few pieces of history they still claim. Some old tales say that the Nockers are the ghosts of Jewish miners who did in Cornwall tin mines.
Sunder & Shatter
The Sundering didn't hurt the Nockers as much as the other kith. Not that it was easy but they were used to suffering. Some of the others, particularly the Sidhe and the Trolls, talked about punishing the Nockers for "bringing Autumn to the world" and all that sozzle. Apparently they thought that the Nocker use of technology was spreading Banality. The Sidhe even passed an edict, the "Doctrine of Joy," against them in the final days of the Shattering. (That's what the Sidhe always do when they think another kith is getting too powerful... pass down some imperious law or claim special wisdom from Dana, or Dagda, or the Tuatha or whatever. They're trying the same thing with the Troll Assimilation Proclamation in the Parliament of Dreams right now. The Big Blues better not expect any help from the Nockers is all they're saying.)
The Nockers had other ideas and their plans relied a lot more on human progress more than side nostalgia and when they told them to furk off, the Sidhe and Trolls pretty soundly kicked their goolies all over the place. Fortunately, the Sidhe and Trolls ended up fighting amongst themselves when things got to their worst and the Nockers slunk away to hide. They got a few good licks in, though, before the Sidhe high-tailed it back to their Arcadian hidey-hole and even the Redcaps will give the Nockers their due when they get pissed off.
While the Sidhe were arrogant, self-righteous bastards, they were the Nockers' best customers and loosing them diminished their fae souls as well as their purses. Pay was the least of their worries, though, because Glamour also became scarcer than a Pooka with half a brain. The Changeling Way was introduced which went pretty easily on the Nockers as they had already been close to the humans since the first times, just like the Boggans. The Nockers are a pragmatic lot and did what they had to do to survive.
The shortage of Glamour also meant no more large-scale creations for the Nockers. No flying castles. No mountain sized golems. Most had to focus on simple crafts to keep their sanity. Their inventions occasionally inspired the humans who then occasionally produced some Glamour and with a few nudges things picked up steam. While they won't exaggerate their role in human development, they did often end up in the right place at the right time and were one of the few kiths to welcome the "Age of Enlightenment" even if some of the philosophy was pretty whiny.
While the Enlightenment stifled all the old superstitious dreams that the kithain were used to, it did open up a whole new furking paradigm for mortals and Nockers to explore. While the rest of the fae were quaking in their boots, the Nockers were thrilled. They had been hoping for this for centuries and the world was finally catching up with them.
And that was just the beginning.
The Industrial Revolution
The Nockers came into their own during the Industrial Revolution. While other fae complained about how "Iron and steam rode over sylvan glades," the Nockers were having the firkin' time of their lives. Highlights were Charles Babbage and the first computer, electric lighting, chemistry, mass production, new alloys that replaced Cold Iron, and on and on. Some Nockers became really rich though they often had to stay in the background as their profanity upset the sensibilities of Victorian prudes.
Around this time, the Nockers also bumped into the wizard-scientists of the Brethren of Aether who wanted to jump ship from the Banality monkeys most fae call the Hidden Ones but the Nockers have heard called the Technocracy. They helped the Aetherites jump ship as well as they could without dropping themselves into the mess, but they weren't quite subtle enough. Some of the Newtonian cack-whackers caught on to them and have been snooping ever since.
Banality started to prove a problem for the Nockers in the 20th century, though they were still doing better than the rest. They remained at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, making a lotta noise and a lotta mazuma and doing fine for themselves. The world wars came and others came looking for the best weapons. The creations of World War I horrified the Seelie Nockers, but that didn't stop the Unseelie ones form making a wad of cash.
The 1920s were hot for them as well. The Depression slowed them down a bit, but not much. There's always work for inventors and Nocker skill has always gotten them through lean times. Demand for their creativity took off again with World War II. Some were even involved with the Manhattan Project, but by the end of everything all the death dealing got under most of their skins.
While what comes next isn't a secret, per se, it's hardly widely thought about or accepted. Many Nockers, who were involved in government science programs during World War II, inspired the space race on both sides of the Iron Curtain. If mortals wanted the stars, the Nockers weren't gonna say no. While the other kith may call Nocker science Banal, it was integral to the space program. Without them the moon launch wouldn't have happened. You can see where this is going. Apollo 11 created the greatest influx of Glamour since before the Sundering and the Sidhe rode that wave, the wave the Nockers basically caused, back to the world during the Resurgence. Now the Sidhe may claim they had something to do with all of this but the Nockers know the truth.
The Accordance War
If the Nockers had known the furkin' Sidhe were gonna come back, they might've thought twice bout the whole space race thing. The commoners were stunned by the return and the Sidhe played at amnesia, but had an army within a year. The Night of Iron Knives came quickly and Lord Dafyll kicked the commoner's asses all up and down the seaboard before showing up dead at the Goblin Town Freehold.
While the Nockers aren't embarrassed to say it, though they get flack from many of the other commoners, they did sell weapons to the Sidhe. At least some did. They are businessfae after all. But the Sidhe didn't come through the gateways all innocent as newborns, no matter what they say. Also, they had a few Arcadian Nockers with them and more than enough chimerical weapons to kick the Autumn Fae's butts. What was a few extra swords or knives?
But all in all the Nockers did what most fae did. The dug in and chose sides as necessary. It all hinged on the Trolls, though, so the Nockers made dross while the sun shone. The one bad part is that the Trolls keep trying to blame Dafyll's death on the Nockers of Goblin Town, but the Nockers know the Trolls were the ones who frabin' killed 'im. They also know the Sidhe and Trolls are just two peas in a pod, no matter what they try to say otherwise.
In the British Isles the Sidhe tried to carve up everything into little kingdoms in the War of Ivy. The commoners fared a little better there. When the smoke cleared there were Nockers sitting on the thrones of two kingdoms: Lord Davey in the Kingdom of Smoke and King Morwyd in the Mistlands during the winter... some respect for the kith for once.
As for the Arcadian Nockers who returned with the Sidhe... well they went underground pretty quickly. They've sent a few samples of their work to the Bes Din patent offices and those who've seen it will admit they've improved on their admirable crafting abilities... and leave it at that. Most of the Autumn Nockers have nothing else good to say about them.
The Nockers still feel that the other kith blame them for Banality but they're used to it at this point. Technology does NOT equal banality. Is a television responsible for you rotting your brain in front of it for hours? No!
The Nockers have had their bogeys kicked out up and down in the last few decades but they've survived worse. Plus, with the Glamour brought out from the Resurgence they've topped off the tank and are rarin' to go. They didn't waste their resources in the Accordance War the way others did and could be in worse shape as Winter approaches. Plus they have their mines to hide in if it gets really bad (even with all the other weird critters down there.) Anyone who sticks their nose where it doesn't belong will lose a nostril. Winter is coming; even the Prodigals know it, and the Nockers haven't picked a side yet.
Nockers are a conundrum to the other Kithain because they defy investigation. Their manners make scrutiny discomforting the way poking a cow-pie in July brings its own unpleasantness. A wise old Pooka once observed that under the bile and venom of the Nockers was a much kinder nd gentler venom and bile just waiting to ooze out onto your shoes.
The Nocker perspective is unique among the Kithain. Born half from the luminous joy of creation and half from the darkness despair of frustration, the Nockers spend their existence in a manic state. They wrestle with the forces of total artistic abandon and the inability to accomplish anything "just right." They are, so, necessarily a little mad.
While these terms can be found under the Changeling Lexicon page, they are particular enough that they merit placing here as well.
- Alter Kocker
- Nice Nellies
You can't talk about Nockers without a frank and healthy discussion on cussing. Why do the Nockers talk like they've got furkin' Tourette's Syndrome? They don't know. Ask a Troll why they're honorable. Nockers are weird and make no apologies for it. Half their profanity is habitual. They have diarrhea of the mouth because they do and Dana knows they have a right to cuss. Maybe they do it because it's the only way they keep their heads from exploding as they figure out the mumbo jumbo needed for their crafts. They are born from the dreams of creativity and frustration, after all; ranters plain and simple. Half the time they don't mean half of what they say. The other half they don't say half of what they mean. The rest of the time they're actually giving compliments. The other Kithain don't want to take the time to figure it out. If they realized it, the Nockers would have more friends. A few thousand years of bad blood and social predisposition are tough to get over.
The Nockers value their autonomy above all other things and subordinate it to nothing. Therefore, there position on the two Courts, as far as political structures go, is a crafted neutrality. An individual Nocker may be Seelie or Unseelie but the demands of Court are secondary to the security of the Kith. Which isn't to say that Nockers agree on most issues. Outsiders have seen vicious infighting between Nockers. These struggles are rarely about ideological positions but are more like the pitched and ruthless battles fought over intellectual property and technological progress.
That being said, the Nockers are largely an Unseelie kith with the ratio of Unseelie to Seelie being three to two. While they may be split this way, when it comes down to it, they are Nockers first and last.
The Seelie Code
- Death Before Dishonor
Seelie Nockers believe in acting honorably, though much of their behavior in this regard seems pretty subjective as they have little in the way of an official code. This perception, though, is only partially true. Seelie Nockers are painstakingly honest in matters of their craft. An outright lie about an invention's capabilities (as opposed to hyperbole) is grounds for being disbarred from the Bes Din, the highest governing body of the Kith. In other matters they keep a different standard: they do whatever it takes to preserve their freedom and complete projects. Their use of technology in warfare gives them an edge in combat that they are loath to surrender. Even the most Seelie Nocker fights dirty.
- Love Conquers All
The romantics of the other fae often tell tales about how the dour Nockers are mushy at heart; that they simply need release from their inhibitions. Now, any Nocker worth their hammer spits on such suggestions, but it does hold some truth. A Nocker in love often finds their cynicism and tendency to vulgarity greatly lessened. This is hardly a permanent state, though. A changeling who seeks to curb a Nockers tongue through love is usually on a fool's errand.
- Beauty Is Life
No matter how ill-natured they may be, no one doubts that the Nockers value beauty in its truest and highest sense. Few can help noticing the inherent contrast between their grotesqueness and the unmatchable beauty of their craft. This apparent contradiction is also true for the Unseelie Nockers, though their creations tend to be a more sinister.
- Never Forget a Debt
Nockers are rarely blessed with genuine or unsolicited favors from the other kithain as they do tend to repulse others. If a Seelie Nocker does believe himself the receiver of such, though, they will scrutinize it at least three times to make sure it's sincere and not done to get a reward. If the deed stands up to scrutiny, then the Nocker does everything possible to repay the debt exactly two-fold. (The seem to have some crazy mathematical system of Gematria to determine this.) Unseelie will act similarly but both Seelie and Unseelie are usually more likely to keep an accounting of wrongs done to them. They keep their twofold repayment a secret so others don't use it to take advantage of them.
The Unseelie Code
More numerous than their Seelie kin, Unseelie Nockers can be bloody and brutal to a degree making even Redcaps cringe. However, they also epitomize the highest aspirations of the Unseelie Code: freedom, passion, and progress.)
- Change Is Good
This adage is the foundation of progress and the rallying cry of Nockers in both Courts. A Nocker satisfied with the status quo is not a Nocker, though few bother to be active for political or social change. While they are perceived to raise their voice out of spite or to hear themselves complain... well they do, and often about what other kith consider unimportant.
- Glamour Is Free
Glamour is the source from which all Nocker science is derived. While the Seelie of the kith believe it should be measured and doled out, the Unseelie believe it should be available to all. The debate usually ends up heated and with even more colorful language than usual. Nothing angers a Seelie Nocker more than an Unseelie wasting precious Glamour by ravaging mortals while the Unseelie see their siblings as unnecessarily cautious. They also believe Winter will not necessarily be a period of Banality. Some think it will be a time when all passions run free and Glamour will flow into their constructs... energy free for the taking.
- Honor Is a Lie
All Nockers stand behind their craft but because everyone of their creations has some flaw, no matter how well wrought, they often have to answer for their shortcomings. Seelie usually deal with this by mumbling a few obscenities and replacing the faulty piece, which simply doesn't have the same flaw as the original one. The Unseelie, though, fully aware of their failings, write out performance contracts that would grind world governments to a halt and demand patrons sign them before any major purchase or before agreeing to freelance. If the aggrieved costumer can negotiate around the innumerable clauses of the contract, even the most Unseelie Nocker will make good on the replacement, if only for respect for the keen eye of the customer. It is not unheard of, though, for a Nocker to curse a project for a perceived slight on the patron's part.
- Passion Before Duty
Duty IS passion to a workaholic Nocker.
Part pseudoscience, part Kabbalistic tradition, and a whole lot of ingenious tinkering, Nocker craft really shouldn't work. Wether building weapons, toys, or more esoteric inventions, they don't let a little thing like scientific plausibility get in the way. Things that can't work in the mundane world are quite possible in the Dreaming. Laws of science don't apply and the Nockers are the kings and queens of stretching even limitless possibilities.
Some of them are "only" highly adept tinkerers who play with increasingly complex systems of pulleys, levers, or gears to fulfill their vision. Others, though, stretch the boundaries of scientific inquiry and open new technological expanses for dreamers and Nockers alike. Unbound by the linear perspective of the sots, Nockers can make some truly impressive intuitive leaps of invention.
Nocker science gets its mathematical language from the ancient Kabbalistic discipline of Gematria which was originally a mystic language that converted names to a numerical value for mystical purposes. The system was used by the ancient Babylonians and Greeks and magic traditions like the Order of Hermes still use it today. Nockers have added some more practical maths, like Pythagorean theory, to the mix, though. Their Gematria bears little similarity to the original and its applications. Some Nockers even use it for a logical framework for moral decisions, though how useful it is for that is debatable. Only the few Nockers who are Jews use Gematria for interpreting the Torah.
On top of their language, they draw their philosophy from Plato's Doctrine of Forms which postulates a realm of pure ideas or essences existing beyond the sensory world. Many Nockers see this realm as the Dreaming, and more specifically, a realm of pure invention they call the Hieronymus Continuum, which they also consider their birthplace.
Beyond Plato and Pythagoras, the Nockers also draw scientific methods from Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as the pure geometry of Euclid. The Western world's adoption of Aristotle systematic deductive (and Banal) methods motivated the Nockers to explore other methods of scientific inquiry. Because of this they benefited from scientific progress in China, the Byzantine Empire, India, and the Islamic world; furthering their knowledge of applied and theoretical mathematics, astronomy, and alchemy.
Nockers created some truly grandiose and improbable things before the Shattering. Flying castles ranged the skies of the Near Dreaming (some even still exist in distant Dreamrealms). During the Interregnum, however, most Nockers had to scale back because of the lack of Glamour. They began to concentrate on more "mundane" and introspective crafts like mining, weaponry, and toy-making. Unlike some tech groups they don't merely improve old conventions. Nockers are born from dreams of creation, after all, and so they innovate and invent. Even the lean times of the Interregnum didn't stop their scientific advances.
Of course, all this comes with a price. Despite their claims to the contrary, Nockers realize their is danger in applying rational thought processes (even one as erratic as their Gematria) to the Dreaming. More than any other kith, Nockers fall to Banality. On top of that, many throw themselves so passionately into their work that they forget to sleep or apply safety precautions. Any Nocker worth their hammer is recognizable by hollow eyes, burn marks, cuts, and abrasions. Since they work mostly with chimerical materials, the fatalities are rare, though they do occur. They also tend to use themselves as their own guinea pigs when testing new inventions; some have died or disappeared because of such impulsive behavior.
Nocker Physics (Piss on Newton)
The Nockers' dirty little secret is that they still use Newtonian (Autumn) physics when they need to do so. It's mostly applicable to building stuff in the Autumn world because, well, it's a hell of a lot easier than relativistic physics in most situations. Nockers may be bitter but they aren't stupid. Newton's three laws of motion are:
- Objects in motion (or at rest) remain that way until an external force acts upon them.
- Any external force (F) will produce an acceleration (a) of a body of mass (m) according to F=ma. (Wear a seat belt)
- Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
All this is well and good most of the time, even in the Dreaming, because people still buy Newton's flat space-time continuum instead of Einstein's curved space-time. But when it comes to making machines work in the Dreaming on a reliable basis, Newton means bubkes. Pick up a kids balloon in your dreams and you might fly away, right? That doesn't sound like an equal and opposite reaction, does it. The laws of thermodynamics (useful for chemistry and electronics) don't mean mollock either unless you consider Banality equal to entropy and there are some interesting corollaries to that. Furk, if not for FUBARs the Nockers wouldn't even have a consistent source of electricity or laws of magnetism.
If you want anything more complicated than a crossbow to work in the Dreaming on a reliable basis, you have to come at things from a unique angle. Nocker physics are an approximate framework as a combination of Autumn physics, a heaping spoonful of Einstein's relativity, and a pinch of good ol' Gematria. Mix well and you have a model that can be used to guess at the Dreaming's physics in all but a few weird situations (like in the Deep Dreaming).
If you want to apply Nocker physics to things like monad theory, space-time, and the like, there's a formula that's somewhere between Einstein's theories of Special and General relativity. Special Relativity deals with microscopic physics. General Relativity is about the realm of astrophysics and cosmology. The two contradict each other in many ways but that's physics for ya.
You can't blame the Nockers for this; the Brethren of Aether coined the term. It is, however, applicable to a lot of Nocker creations. Steam is probably the easiest power source to create in the Dreaming. Plus humans have been messing with it for centuries, even in ancient Rome. The Nockers jumped on board with it right away, seeing the possibilities, even if humans forgot about it, and could teach modern energy conglomerates a thing or two about energy conservation. Of course those companies have shut down all attempts to get such tech on the market.
Steam drives most Nocker powered inventions. (There's only so much you can do with a gerbil on a treadmill.) Banality and thermodynamics won't let most chemical reactions work in the Dreaming. It's even hard to get a camera to work there. Steam is easy. A little balefire, a little chimerical water, and boom. (Usually not literally.) Steam powers ships, balloons, and even rocket ships a la Jules Verne. Obviously Nockers are great science fiction fans.
Nockers have always been fascinated with the heavens and considered the stars the ultimate challenge to their scientific ambitions. They have calculated the movements of planets and stars on intricate calendars, using their talents for such things as navigation in both the mundane world and the Dreaming. Before the Shattering they charted the sun and moon trods, traveling, at times, into the Far and Deep Dreaming in their first flying machines. Astronomy and Astrology were often the same thing to those early explorers and the Dreaming's heaven's swam with their great sky-leviathans.
The publication of Nicolaus Copernicus' De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres) in 1543, as well as the works of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, radically changed humanity's place in the universe. Copernicus refuted that the universe circled the Earth and introduced the idea that the Earth, in fact, circled the sun. This did far more that change perceived reality for Nockers who had long charted the aerial sun and moon trods. Human belief forms the foundation of reality in the Dreaming and when belief in a geocentric universe fell before the heliocentric one, long-established trods warped and changed. This perception shift effectively turned the Dreaming inside out, though the change wasn't total. (even though most people intellectually understand the Earth is an insignificant speck in the cosmos, they still instinctively perceive Earth as the center of creation.)
Most Nockers, trapped in the mundane sphere during the Interregnum, could observe changes to the Dreaming from afar and could do little to explore the new Dreaming until the Sidhe's return in 1969. They then renewed their old studies, sending various probes and manned ships (usually steam-driven balloons) along aerial trods deep into the Dreaming. These missions are terribly dangerous and some Nockers have never returned.
Nockers believe strongly in a variety of scientific and pseudoscientific theories but that's what they are... theories. The laws upon which they base their creations don't always function on every part of the Dreaming and tech based on them don't always function.
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Glamour, & Dodging the Hidden Ones
The HUP states that when studying particles on a quantum (atomic and subatomic) level, it's impossible to accurately determine their position and momentum. An analogy of light and billiard balls sums this up. People can see because photons of light hit an object, reflecting images to the eye. The light doesn't move the object they illuminate, though. Their energy is too small in comparison with the energy needed to move an object of any size.
When working in quantum scale, though, matters change significantly. The only way to study a quantum particle is by bouncing other quantum particles off of it. Since the studied object is similar to the particle the observer uses to study it, the bouncing changes the subjects position and momentum. It's like saying the only way to find the position of a billiard ball is to bounce another billiard ball off of it. You can see the problem.
Nockers have adapted HUP to their studies of Glamour. This is why they believe rational science can never unlock the secrets of Glamour but can only destroy it; banal science used to approach Glamour destroys Glamour in doing so. This is why the Hidden Ones: Banality personified, have trouble believing in the fae, let alone learning anything useful about them, though this has not prevented them from capturing a few but the victims either escape or revert to their human seeming shortly after capture. Chimera, too, melt when placed under a microscope.
Ironically, Nockers' relative rationality has caused problems with their investigations and uses of Glamour. Changeling magic resists formulaic scrutiny, even by changelings. Nevertheless, Nockers' limited advances in Glamour research have have given some practical results. The Glamo-meter and Glamour Battery are just two examples.
Nockers tend to be solitary folk and their freeholds are often unfriendly places that are designed to discourage competitors, intruders, and small children. Traps are all the rage. As per their origins, they prefer underground grottos. They have mined thousands of miles of tunnels in both the Dreaming and mundane world. Many of the Dreaming mines were lost in the Interregnum. Arcadian Nockers setting out to reclaim these lost passages have often found dangerous chimera in residence. For the Autumn Nockers, who suspect their returned kin have claimed old Earth haunts as well, they figure it's best just to dig new tunnels rather than wage war for old ones. But there are always stories of old treasures forgotten at mountain roots.
Aesthetics often clash in bizarre ways in Nocker freeholds; many looking like they were designed by Antoni Gaudi. In contrast to the architectural magnificence, most are cluttered with half-finished experiments, oily rags, dirty magazines, and strange gewgaws of every description. Their living areas, though are fastidiously clean.
These Nocker homes are usually pretty small, if only because they are usually pretty solitary. They get along with each other only slightly better than with their fae cousins. That being said, some do work together to build truly impressive freeholds of endless mechanical and visual marvels.
Most such places are motleys, though the Goblin Town freehold of New York is a barony. There are other important Nocker freeholds in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Silicon Valley, London, Tel-Aviv, and in the Black Forest in Germany and Prague. The Chaw Gully Mine in Dartmoor, England, is perhaps the most famous of them all. Sadly, the Welsh Nockers recently lost their Black Jewel freehold to Banality.
Nocker exploration of the Dreaming has led them to two interesting realms.
- Hieronymus Continuum - A Far or Deep Dreaming Realm thought to be the birthplace of the Nockers by some of them.
- The Hollow Earth - a Dreamrealm or Umbral realm frequented by several factions.
Nocker social structure is surprisingly simple, though outsiders and observers insist it's baffling. There is only one political structure that all Nockers recognize: the Bes Din.
There are Bes Dins local to most Nocker freeholds, with the Grand Bes Din located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. More of a patent office than a governing body, the Bes Din exists to recognize ownership and patent of Kithain inventions. Local Bes Dins receive applications and submissions and determine whether they are worthy of review by the Grand Bes Din.
The Grand Bes Din consists of six Nockers (three Seelie and three Unseelie). These judges, called Dayan, record invention specifications on a special form of retrievable goblin parchment and file the sheets in a massive iron vault. They then give out trademarks for original inventions. Any Nocker who invents something has sole proprietorship of that item for three years and no one else can profit from their work without permission.
Nockers of both courts obey these rules. Even recently returned Arcadian Nockers seem to abide by these traditions, though their submissions to the committee have been few. Other Kithain who contravene Nocker patents (most notably Boggarts) are often victims of unexpected and often lethal Goblin raids.
The Grand Bes Din has an official voice in the Parliament of Dreams.
Nockers also associate in smaller guilds and societies beyond the Bes Din.
- The Builders Guild
- The Toymakers Guild
- The Weapons Guild
For more on this anti-authoritarian group see Disrupters.
Mothers of Morann
Urban Renewal League
For more on this Unseelie group see Urban Renewal League.
Courtly Furking Love
It comes down to this. Nocker men look like a cross between H. Ross Perot and a shaved goat. Nocker women have a gawky Shelly-Duvall's-kid-sister thing going for them. This makes having romantic relationships difficult. Nockers don't make love; they spawn.
Like most fae Nockers have relationships with three groups: Humans, Nockers, and other Kith. Since the Nockers have been around humans longer than almost any other kith, you'd think they'd have this down. Sadly, though, they're more likely to find a world-weary sort who doesn't care but doesn't want to die alone. Cynical much? Sadly this type of union isn't likely to give a litter of Nocker brats. Humans make a better second or third spouse.
Most humans can't handle the non-stop verbal abuse thats an unavoidable part of every Nocker relationship. You know that couple that's constantly sniping at each other but have been together for ever? Probably a couple of Nockers. Plus, remember what was said about taking care of Golems? Same applies to real kids. Plus Nocker kids are more emotionally resilient than golems and a little benign neglect can actually be a good thing here. Another plus to marrying in the family is that the Bes Din allows you to corporatize all your dross earnings. Can you say tax shelter?
The rarest relationships are with other kithain. Most of the wankers are a lot better at the Courtly Love thing than Nockers are. Still, occasionally one will find us compelling in a weird, sticky, perverse sort of way. Nockers can be an enigma and there's no denying they dress well. Plus some people just get off on dirty talk in the sheets.
Of course, Satyrs are the most likely kith to be in the sheets with. Plus they can be connoisseurs of kithain pornography and the Nockers are the only ones who can get a movie camera working in the Dreaming. Deals are cut. Exploits are recorded. They split the profits.
If they develop a taste for a Sidhe, some Nockers will charge sex as the cost of their gear... then, after they blanche, ask for what they really want. Occasionally it happens, though. Such a thing is like putting your brain in a blender and hitting frappe, though, and a Nocker should expect to follow that Sidhe around like a drooling moon-calf for the next couple of months.
Who else. Trolls are too big. Sluagh too weird (unless you dig that spooky goth vibe). Redcaps are good if you like it rough and unusual. Eshu? Too never-there. Boggans? Get serious. The real surprise are the Pooka. They are annoying but few Nockers can resist those cute ears and tails when they make a pass. Sadly, most Pooka don't think about Nockers "in that way" and prefer to be "just friends." Still, some are more adventurous and star in the Satyr/Nocker productions.
Most Nockers are fastidiously clean, in glaring contrast to their verbal manners. They may tolerate any mess in their workshops or mines but are fashion trend-setters in public. More is better in their fashion sense, usually. Their voile is bedecked with every sort of ingenious fastener, eyelet, lace, truss, and type of stitching known to fashion designers. Most of their clothes use stark, defined lines and a geometric, almost sculptural look. They borrow from every age and can combine the elegance of high Sidhe raiment with the 17th century French court with the oddness of the Mod and New Wave movements.
Fae who admire the kith's mechanical aptitude also acknowledge their way around a sewing room, though it was once said by an unkind satyr that it can look like they wear their underwear on the outside. But Nockers aren't embarrassed by their fashion sense and argue that their clothes only accentuate their superior features. Even their mundane clothes tend to be eccentric.
Physically they are gnarled and grotesque. They usually have pale, fish-white or red and ruddy complexions with their fae mien face looking like masks of overdone stage makeup. They have pointy ears and their translucent white or coal-black hair frames prominent brows and beady, rat-like eyes. Their skin can also be translucent and those looking closely can see a smoldering, orange glow within; like embers burning under ashes or molten iron.
- Childlings - Young Nockers can be a little perverse: they will tinker with machines to destruction as they would rather take things apart than fix them. How else do you learn how they work?
- Wilders - Wilders get their kicks from the modern world - cars, computers, and the rest are all the rage. Of course all the machines they experiment with seem second-rate and always have room for improvements. Unseelie do this with more tech while the Seelie deconstruct things into their classic components (pulleys, gears, levers, etc...). Members of either Court are always critical of others' designs.
- Grumps - Grumps are starting to loose their edge and take it out on people around them. They tend to gravitate to positions of authority, such as in the Bes Din, where they can drive the young crazy with constant criticism and interference.
What makes Nockers Nockers?
- Art of Infusion, Nockers can create simple, non-living chimera. If the artisan has a basic working knowledge of how a device operates, they can conceive of how to build a better version. In general the creation can't use electricity, magnetism, or chemical reactions (though that's storyteller prerogative). To create a chimera the Nocker needs raw chimerical material and a forge or machine shoppe of some kind. The creative process is represented by extended rolls of Intelligence + Crafts. The difficulty and number of successes depends on the size an complexity of the project. 5 successes at difficulty 5 makes simple things like doors and baseball bats. 10 or more successes at difficulty 9 can result win things like siege engines, semi-automatic knife throwers, and so on. They must also have some degree of privacy. They can work in front of other fae, they'd rather not, and its impossible to work with chimerical materials around sots. For more, see the article Forged Chimera.
- Fix It - Nockers are masters of machines and everyone knows it. A few well chosen words or well-timed threats can intimidate a malfunctioning machine into working properly. They can fix nearly any mechanical device with a successful Intelligence + Crafts or Intimidation roll with difficulties ranging from 5 for simple, familiar problems to as high as 10 for a copy machine that's really acting up. This takes time and a lot go hostility, but the average Nocker has both. On top of this, at character creation, a Nocker can choose one specialty. Seelie characters must choose an anachronistic device (water wheels, steam engine, pulleys, etc...) and get a -1 difficulty on any roll involved with that type of device. Unseelie get the same bonus with a type of high-tech or modern device. This functions normally when in the presence of mortals.
- Flaws - Nockers are cynical because they're perfectionists. They always see ways to make things work better but can never achieve their ideals. Some think this is a curse from the First Artisan; others claim it's karmic debt for a bad attitude. Either way, anything a Nocker makes will have one trivial and irreparable flaw. This is a constant frustration to the one who crafted it. No matter how well they succeed on the creation roll, there will be a flaw. Depending on the crafting, those flaws can be annoying to the user or even catastrophic.
- Realm: Prop
Perspectives on Others
Nockers have derogatory names for many of the other kith, who also tend to have some choice epithets for them as well. The seeming torrent of bile they spew at their cousins astonishes many. Boggans are particularly mystified by their treatment, and most do not deserve the enmity.
- Boggans (Pishers, Vermin, Twerps)
The Boggans are the only fae shorter than the Nockers and that makes them fair game for abuse. Plus, the Nockers feel the Boggans cut into their game with their schlock merchandise. The pernicious toads constantly try to undercut the market with cut-rate wares at cut-rate prices. Maybe they can't help trying but their quality, as far as the Nockers are concerned, is low. The Nockers also believe the Boggans bad-mouth their goods. The Nockers also resent the Boggans protecting their boggart cousins who like to steal Nocker goods and when the Nockers get mad everyone jumps to the Boggans' defense. Most Nockers see Boggan tsatskes as third-rate as well. Well, maybe if you like a singing mushroom that turns into a singing banana they're ok. The Boggans especially make inroads into the Nocker toy market with wholesome, simple crafts. It's all ongepotchket as far as the Nockers are concerned.
- Eshu (Skulkers, Layabouts)
You can call the Eshu all sorts of things that glamorize their wandering ways but they're just hedonistic lounge lizards with no sense of responsibility. Well... some learn useful stuff on the road and they are civil enough. Truth be told, they Eshu are perhaps one of the few kiths that haven't done anything to really upset the Nockers so they don't go out of their way to furk with 'em. Some know some pretty scary old secrets so the two kiths sort of have a mutual sense of leaving each other alone.
The Nockers find the Pooka too sociable and annoying and that everyone of them has a personal mission to prank the Nockers out of their shells. What they consider funny is bad taste. I'm sure there's more than one Nocker experimenting with ways to skin a cat.
- Redcaps (Shtunks)
Three cheers for the Redcaps. (gurk). They are the one kith more despised than the Nockers who may be antisocial but at least they aren't sociopaths. The Nockers are close to them, though, and know lots about them, seeing as they live underground as well... plus the Nockers sell them lots of weapons. They have some ancient feud with the Sidhe and the Nockers are more than happy to sell 'em some rusty Razor Claws to off a noble.
Difficulty is that when you sell to 'em, you have to listen to their stories about how they were lords of Fimbulwinter country. The shtunks tell their arms-dealers more than they tell spouses, mistresses or bartenders... including plans for the other kith (which usually means on a plate with a side of fries.) At leas the Nockers are their buddies (so they say.) It helps that a Sluagh is tastier than a Nocker but still... Nockers avoid telling them to bite them. And if you're going to meet up with them, go well armed.
Two things. They claim to have once been rulers. Bollocks! few of 'em are smart enough to inflate a tire. They must be working for someone. Two, if they use their weapons against the Nockers, they're gonna learn a thing or two...
- Satyrs (Perverts, Sluts)
Some of the Satyrs aren't too bad and can show some real smarts with things like poetry and philosophy so at least they're a little more useful than the Pooka; whatever that means. (Nockers actually like poetry though they rarely write anything other than dirty limericks on their own.) Also, if a Nocker has an affair outside of the kith, it's usually a satyr. (they're working everything else so why not. Plus they're one of the few kith who'll give the Nockers a second look. The Nockers will just be happy for their sibling that they got laid and hopes it shuts the lucky one up for a little while. Plus Satyrs are some of their best customers and pay big bucks for the Unseelie Nights line of patented sex toys.
Slick as snot and twice as runny. Yeah, it's an oldie but it's a goody. The smooth bastards ran out on the Kithain at the Shattering and now expect everybody to be happy they're back? Furk that. Of course, their return did coincide with the greatest upswing in business since the Shattering so that's something. The Shtunks are buying weapons hand over fist. The Trolls are rearming. Heck, even the Pishers are carrying blades these days. But the Sidhe are the Nockers' best customers. Maybe not quantity but the high-end stuff. Much as the Nockers hate to admit it, they do have a better eye for quality than most so they have to be careful when they try to trick them.
From a Dreaming standpoint, though, the Sidhe are fascinating. Did you know they live in the time stream differently from the rest of the kithain? They act like leaving the world let the rest of the fae grow up. Whatever. They're still nursing a grudge over the few good licks the Nockers got on them when they turned tail to Arcadia but they'd never show it.
- Sluagh (Heebie-Jeebies)
Heebie-Jeebies. The name says it all. If playing with ghosts is your idea of a good time, well the Nockers will let you have it. The Sluagh have the Nockers' respect if only because they scare the cuck out of 'em and take the abuse the Nockers dish out in stride. A Nocker will try and sting 'em with their best line and they'll just smile as if they know something, which is a safe bet. Nockers hate that.
People say the Sluagh have more tunnels than the Nockers do but the two rarely run into each other underground. Most Nockers would pay a lot to find out how they hide those tunnels. The sloughs may be spies but the Nockers don't feel they've compromised security in any real way... but you never know. The Heebs have a lot of lovely treasures and even let the Nockers take a peek occasionally. Don't furk with 'em.
For the ultimate battle tank exoskeleton, build it around a Troll. Sadly, though, most want nothing to do with Nocker devices. (Ogres aren't so skittish, though.) Supposedly the Nockers' best work insults their meat-head honor. If some of the legends are true, the Nockers may be relatives of the Trolls. Who can stomach that idea? The Nockers have maintained some kind of deal in which the Trolls kind of look out for them in return for their services. Kind of. A Troll will keep their word but will break a Nocker between their fingers like twigs and you never know when a "cheerful" discussion will end with a punch to the face. The best promise you can really get out of them is not "protect me," but "don't hit me."
If you push the Golmers too far they will explode. When it happens the best bet is to run like hell or curl into the fetal position and recite these words: "please don't hit me, I'm only a weak, worthless, sniveling, slimy toad of a Nocker not fit to lick your boots, mister Troll, sir!" Usually they get so disgusted they leave you to wallow in their scorn and pity. What the furk. It's better than a broken neck.
Gallain and Others
Goblins, the little psychos, make the Nockers look staid and steady and seem to be everywhere lately. They like to get into the works and play games with real world stuff in ways even the Nockers don't. They're more destructive than creative, have a way of screwing up delicate experiments, and lack social skills completely. But they're family. That counts for something, I guess. So the Nockers will use them for enforcers for the Bes Din. They're invaluable for putting the kibosh on those nasty little Boggart tech-thieves. The Nockers usually introduce them as dumb cousins from out of town and hope they don't embarrass them too much. Plus, when it comes to destruction, they have interesting insights the Nockers can stea...er... use. Isn't family great?
- Will o' the Wisps (Ignis Fatuus, FUBARs, Foobars)
Prodigals are lost Changeling races that have forgotten they have fae blood. The name comes from the Bible story about the prodigal son. It means "lost" to most people. It really means "wasteful," which makes some sense, too.
Why would you ask a Nocker about vampires? Is it because he or she has pasty white skin and pointy teeth so you assume? phfff. To the Nockers they just seem like stale, backassward-looking sorts with no interest in technology so why would they bother? They have a few interactions with the Nosferatu but only because they may bump into the uglies while mining. Fortunately the two groups have come to an arrangement: a mutual don't bother us agreement. But all you really need to know about the "Children of Lilith" is that they are mean, old, and brutal bastards with a jank-load of Banality. Avoid 'em. Fortunately they don't like a Nocker's greasy blood anymore than Redcaps do.
The walking rugs might be related to the Naars which is a good enough reason to make silver bullets. Three tribes concern the Nockers. 1, the Fianna who mix mostly with the other kith and don't say squat to Nockers because they've been told them they're poison. Fine.
3, the Glass Walkers who seem to have a lot in common with the Nockers. You can almost sense the electricity running through their fur and it ain't static. There have been a few promising talks here and the Nockers have even been allowed, occasionally, at one of their meeting. A word to the wise, though. They aren't familiar with Nocker... "charm" and may take their style the wrong way. If one gets an invite, they tend to pack a Basilisk Stone and good running shoes in case things go bad.
As far as the Nockers can tell, all the wizards are crazy in some way and their number one contact is the Brethren of Aether. These techno-whizzes are plain cracked, but in a lovable kind of way. Their scientific journals are a hoot. They think the fae are from Atlantis, or that Arcadia is on the Moon, or maybe it's a planet between Neptune and Pluto. Their tech seems similar to the Nockers in some ways, at least on the surface. They have a very cool satellite called Victoria Station... a Nocker's idea of heaven. Some Nockers have even buzzed by a few times in balloons but only in the Dreaming on Moon trods, of course. These balmalochas are about as good as humans get, with imagination and a decent work ethic on top of it. Most Nockers will even try to shut up around them.
Of course, Nockers also have some insight into the Hidden Ones. These techno-magicians have been burying the Earth in Banality, trying to turn the world of the fae from color to black and white. They're like circuit breakers on a Bedlam-trip, if you follow. Most Nockers don't think they'll be a problem much longer, though. Their whole schtick is order and rationality and if you look out the window these days that's not exactly the direction in which the world is heading. If what's coming down the road is what the Nockers think, Banality will be the least of the fae's worries. There'll be dream energy for everybody... if you like a diet of nightmares.
Just because some fool tin miner in Cornwall started a rumor that Nockers are the ghosts of dead Jews doesn't mean they know anything about the dead. The Heebie-Jeebies say they show up a lot on Samhain and are usually bad news and that's enough for the Nockers.
Nockers of Note
- The Black Dwarf
- Blistertongue Jill
- Brian Saven
- Cadmium Redd
- Davey Wheelwright
- Doctor Tourette
- Dr. Pinhead
- Ezekiel Stone
- Felix Kurtzweiler
- Fitz McArthur
- Godfrey Makintosh
- Gustav Mach
- Hieronymus J. Continuum
- Hollis Burnette
- Hugh Calhoun
- Iain McCallum
- Isaac Glass
- Jack Doggins
- Jackie Philpps
- Jock Mungo
- Julieta di Falco
- King Albion
- Lloyd Morgenstern
- Lorna Barnes
- Mandala Bhattachariya
- Maxwell Silver Hammer
- Mike Potter
- Miles Leighton
- Neomi Grenheim
- Osric Mobile
- Ragnild von Folkke
- Thurston Winters
- The Wire Man
- Yvana ferch Dewys
- Zachary Tapp
Nockers define themselves by the treasures they create and the average one has a list of inventions both long and strange. Unless otherwise stated, all their treasures are forged and resistant to Banality. (-2 difficulty to resist Banality) Forged items are usually more durable than crafted counterparts. Nockers sell many of their treasures so other kithain may buy forged items rather than crafted ones (which raises the background cost of the item by one at character creation) The Bes Din or nobility may proscribe the sale of some items for security reasons. Only Nockers (or occasionally nobles) may possess proscribed tech.
- Basilisk Stone
- Burst Tape
- Goblin Lantern
- Goblin Parchment
- Goblin Shoes
- Nocker Weapons
- Razor Claws
- Nocker Astronomical and Mining Charts
- Chimerical Exoskeleton
- Glamour Battery
- Goblin Bow
- Aether Radio
- Goblin Cloak
- Chimerical Firearms
- Magic Mirror Box
- Analytical Engine
- Delta-Wave Helmet
- Lightning Gun
- Real Virtuality Goggles
- Universal Solvent
- Energy Cannon
- Nocker Airship
- Aether Balloon
- Ogre Hunter Mark III
- CTD. Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition, pp. 92-93.
- CTD. Changeling Players Guide, pp. 68-71.
- CTD. Kithbook: Nockers.