Pranksters and comedians, Pooka are well-loved by kithain and mortal alike, but few who know them will ever trust them completely: they are incapable of telling the whole truth. Each is able to take on the form of a specific animal, most often one with a tie to human stories of mischief.
- 1 Evolution
- 1.1 Origins
- 1.2 Endangered Species
- 1.3 Extinction
- 1.4 Stomping Stereotypes
- 2 Diversity
- 3 Love, Lies, & Losses
- 3.1 Breaking Hearts
- 3.2 Listening Hearts
- 3.3 Lying Hearts
- 3.4 Beating Hearts
- 4 It Wasn't Me
- 4.1 The Litter
- 4.2 Pooka Particulars
- 4.3 Marking Territory
- 4.4 Secret Societies
- 4.5 Who Cares?
- 5 War in Concordia
- 6 Nobodies
- 7 Trickster Treasures
- 8 References
- 9 Gallery
Pooka face the Winter of their existence. As Banality sends chills to their hearts and stiffens their creativity, they struggle to survive. Some frantically hoard the Glamour that feeds them and which will carry them through the Long Winter. Others prepare their burrows for hibernation, in the hopes that when Spring returns, they will awaken and rise again to continue the cycle.
Some will die. Will any endure? The Pleistocene Ice Age destroyed innumerable fantastic creatures. Many mortal historians blame this cold, dark time for the extinction of some of the most glorious species to ever walk the earth. This time, the advancing glaciers threaten more insidiously and malevolently. Will anyone survive?
It is important to remember that the history of the pooka we know comes from them and their tales. One should take everything you read in this section with a grain of salt... if not the whole saltcellar.
As early as the Paleolithic Age humans passed down lore to their young and reasoned out explanations for the world’s mysteries. They also produced the first art and the first dreams. Deep in caves, hidden and protected, they painted animals, hoping to gain some magical control over the beasts they hunted. Their hopes and dreams produced the pooka.
In the foothills of the Pyrénées, in a cavern called Les Trois Frères, a cave painting shows a controversial figure. This figure, a man dressed in the skin of a horse or a wolf with the antlers of a deer, is said to be a prehistoric shaman. Changeling scholars, on the other hand, say this is the first record of a pooka among human society. They state that the painting, called “The Sorcerer,” is in actuality a representation of a pooka, shown as half-man and half-stag.
By the Neolithic Age, people developed agriculture and domesticated certain animals. Agricultural surplus, using ox-drawn plows, allowed humans the leisure time to dream and to aspire to more. It also freed members of the community to become artists and craftsmen instead of hunters and farmers. Many of these early civilizations, like their ancestors, developed myths and stories of magic. Most of these myths featured animals. The pooka claim to have sprung from those myths, though they were not like the pooka we know today. Vibrant, primitive creatures, they instilled fear and awe in humans. Their elusive nature makes it very difficult today to know their actual characteristics. No pooka known has ever retained remembrance of those days and pooka are notoriously bad about keeping records or journals. Sumerian mythology, however, depicts animals as demons and monsters to be conquered; Pooka had not yet evolved to a place of reverence among these ancient peoples. Their predatory natures made them humankind’s enemy. It wasn’t until much later that their dreams began to shift into something more positive and less primitive.
One of the most famous pooka ever to walk among humankind was Horus. A falcon pooka, Horus lived among the ancient Egyptians serving as advisor to their greatest king, Osiris. Prior to Horus’ emergence, pooka had maintained a combative relationship with mortals. Horus introduced a revolutionary concept to pooka: that of working with humans to train them to nurture their dreams and respect all the creatures of the world. Other pooka joined Horus, forming a movement that not only supported him in his attempt to mold human civilization, but took his philosophy a bit farther. They guided Egyptian religion; instilling a reverence of animals, teaching of an afterlife in which animal-gods judged the dead and reminding people of the careful balance of nature. Making public appearances, like ancient televangelists, they preached a morality of dreams and respect to the people living along the Nile. They staged rituals and had artists depict them as judging souls. Even at that time, pooka were skilled manipulators.
One of those recruited to the cause was a jackal pooka named Anubis. Although Egyptians originally killed jackals for disturbing graves, they eventually named him the protector of the dead. Because the Egyptians feared and revered Anubis, they treated all jackals with greater respect and ceased killing them for fear of angering him. He, along with Horus and Thoth (an ibis pooka called the god of wisdom and learning), publicly weighed the hearts of the deceased. Natural showmen, they dressed in godly attire and made a dramatic spectacle of the ritual. Others pooka-gods include Apis the bull-god, Khnum the ram god, Hathor the cow goddess and Sebek the crocodile god.
Their religion was tested when a pharaoh named Akhenaten came to power. Akhenaten neither liked nor trusted the pooka-gods who had guided prior pharaohs with a dominating hand. He and his queen, Nefertiti, rebelled against the pooka, spreading a monotheistic philosophy that proclaimed all other Egyptian gods and goddesses to be frauds and forbade their worship. Fortunately, Akhenaten made mistakes. His reigned only 17 years, but during that time, he had himself portrayed by artists as a mortal man rather than a god. This hurt, rather than helped, his reputation, bringing him down off the royal pedestal to the level of the people. His doctrine of monotheism never quite impressed the Egyptians either, who saw his religion as a threat to their own chances for immortality. When he died, his religion died with him.
Akhenaten’s failure showed Horus and the other pooka-gods that their work in Egypt was complete. Their doctrines had withstood direct challenge and the people had rallied behind the old beliefs rather than rushing to embrace the new religion. Hearing reports of other areas in crisis, they decided to travel and spread their philosophies to more of the ancient world. They left Egypt and split apart, taking their preaching to any they could find. More pooka joined them and soon animal cults developed strong followings throughout the world.
Of Names & Shapes
The word “pooka” is a Gaelic corruption of the word for “changing fae” that originated in Arcadia. Originally, pooka were creatures in Arcadia, much like the unicorns and the pegasi. They inhabited the wilder areas, the forests, rivers and seas. During the Paleolithic Age, pooka underwent an evolution; as mortal dreamers began to assign them reasoning capabilities as well as the ability to dream for themselves, they acquired the ability to shapechange. Many humans depicted their gods as half-human, half-animal. Whole religions developed around animal-gods. The Celts perceived them as dangerous tricksters whom it was best to propitiate and avoid.
The native people of Australia have a creation myth which claims that, at one time, the earth was a bare plane without features. During the “Eternal Dreamtime,” many supernatural beings awoke and rose from their slumber beneath the surface of this plane. These beings had animal forms, but could also change into humans at will. From them came all life; each animal and plant, each human descended from one of these godlike shapechangers. Pooka? Perhaps. They certainly claim they were the dream-progenitors of the aboriginal natives.
Pooka, it would seem, traveled nearly as much as the eshu, spreading their own particular brand of dream-philosophy. Hints appear in the mythologies of India, China, Africa and North America, though whether these were pooka manifestations or other sorts of animal companion spirits remains a mystery (at least to everyone but the pooka). No culture went untouched by their presence, just as no culture could avoid the influence of animals upon their development. Pooka have always worked at odds against the advancement of human civilization, viewing the cities and farmlands as an encroachment upon their territory. Throughout the ages, pooka have responded to this in a variety of ways, evolving in a one-step-forward, two-step-back process from enemy to advisor to guide and finally to a complicated combination of all previous stages.
For millennia (or so they say), the pooka were gods. Then monotheistic religion and rational thought began to supersede their influence. Science replaced myth in explaining the world’s mysteries. Organized religion swallowed up the animal cults and replaced ancient beliefs with more humanocentric dogma. As early Christianity spread its doctrines that spoke of a god that resembled man and denounced the worship of idols, they changed the pooka image from that of a benevolent and natural deity into that of a demon whose only goal was the temptation and undermining of mortals. Pooka had to go underground.
Christianity crusaded north and east, gradually pushing out the pooka and sending them fleeing with their tails between their legs. Pooka continued to protest the crush of civilization’s footprint upon nature’s domain, but more quietly and while looking over their shoulders. Some battled in Europe and the East, too stubborn to retreat even when defeat seemed inevitable. Others fled to the wilder parts of the world, away from the stone cages, both physical and mental, that humankind was building.
Like many other fae, the pooka fled from the Banality released by the Sundering. Long before the Europeans discovered the land to the west, pooka traveled to Tir-na-N'og and came into contact with the native people there. Nearly every one of these ancient cultures, especially those that rose to importance, had gods that they painted or carved as a mix of human and animal. Many of these gods could transform into either purely animal or purely human form.
In the ruins of Teotihuacán, the spiritual metropolis of Mexico at its peak in the 5th century C. E., a temple bears the image of Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent. Changeling historians believe that he was a pooka. In his human form, he was tall, fair-skinned and bearded. Myths about him actually indicate that he was a prince among the people of Teotihuacán, one who kept aloof from his subjects, refused to have mirrors in his palace, and disliked human sacrifice. The myths claim he took to the sea again, traveling toward the East from which he had come, and promised he would return. Thus he birthed the myth of the tall, pale god from the eastern seas that opened the door to the Americas for the Spanish invasion a millennium later.
Both the Aztecs and Mayans believed that every human had an animal counterpart. The animal and the person were linked so strongly that whatever happened to the counterpart happened to the person as well. Thus, harming or healing the animal counterpart gave the same result to the individual. Thus the pooka were protected for a little while, but they could not hide from the rising wave of Banality that threatened to sweep across the ocean.
Disbelief and loss of respect for things of the spirit created more and more Banality in the world. Though some fae worked to keep dreams alive, they could not hold back the tide of despair caused by the Black Death. The Shattering had begun and even the far lands of the west buckled under its crushing weight.
The gateways to Arcadia began to snap shut and the mortal world grew more and more entrenched in reason. Pooka began to realize the futility of facing the enemy head-on. Downhearted and defeated, many pooka abandoned the fight, albeit temporarily, when Silver’s Gate, the last trod to Arcadia, closed. They acceded to the Changeling Way taken on by the fae who remained in the world.
Many others fled, burrowing deep into pockets of the Near Dreaming. Not all of them left, but a large number did. The sudden departure of a majority of pooka caused many to believe they had been lost forever. This sent ripples of worry through the changeling community and saw the birth of the first pooka conspiracy theories. During the year following the loss of Silver’s Gate, pooka offered sanctuary to their fellows. Their pack mentality kicked in and, as more and more pooka disappeared, others hurried to follow. (See Dream-Burrow)
Invasion & the Advance of "Civilization"
In the 16th century, the white man came to the Americas with his stomping boots, his enslaved horses, his superior attitude, and his religion. Some pooka arrived with them, moving from the cesspools of Europe to a new land with as many hopes and dreams as their human counterparts. Other pooka fought alongside the natives and Nunnehi, trying to slow the thundering advance of the white man. Over the next centuries, they watched in horror as native peoples were driven from their lands and imprisoned; treated like domesticated animals. They fought viciously as the invaders broke the spirits of these proud peoples.
The Years of Suffering
The Industrial Revolution began in the British Isles in the mid-18th century and had far-reaching influence on human dreams. By the mid-19th century, industry’s greedy fingers had spread as far as the Americas. For another century it escalated; technology developing faster than human morality and understanding of the monsters they were creating. Like careless children at Christmas, mortals tossed their wrapping paper wherever it landed, dug up their own backyards in order to build their Lego-log houses, and wielded their cap-guns without considering who might get hurt.
Pooka look back on this time and call it the Years of Suffering; two whole centuries during which humans raped their environment for personal gain. Shortsighted and ignorant, they took from the earth without mercy and gave very little back. Humans had tasted the intoxicating cocktail of technology and wealth. Their dreams reflected this and they created expressions like, “The American Dream.”
The winds of change blew across the world in the 1960s and through the next two decades. People woke up, looked around and began to see with their own eyes what they had done to their world. They poked their heads up out of their ignorance and saw their own shadows, yes, but not all ducked back inside. They climbed up and out, raising their voices in protest. Up to that point, people had rallied with rabid nationalism behind the wars propagated by their governments.
Vietnam was the first notable exception to that rule. The freethinkers of the time, the ground hogs that dared to speak up, can easily claim credit for the fact that only two million people died in Vietnam. People learned, via the Vietnam War, that their voices could count. To some extent, this newfound power went to people’s heads, but this was not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone wanted a cause to champion. In the 1960s, environmental groups became a fad and this laid the foundation for those that would survive to actually have a very positive effect on the world.
The Resurgence Begins
Glamour surged. Dreams turned to freedom and equality. African Americans and women made great strides toward loosening the suffocating bonds of prejudice and tradition. A century earlier, land had been free and success had meant financial and political power. In the 1960s, love was free and success meant you’d found yourself. Even science became productive and added to the world’s Glamour. With the moon landing, people’s dreams expanded and they began to imagine things they had never before thought possible.
Glamour also filled the pooka Dream-burrows. This sparked Bedlam among those pooka hidden there — too much Glamour, too quickly — which in turn caused inter-changeling wars and many pooka deaths in the Dream-burrows. The pooka that died reincarnated back into the mortal realm. An influx of pooka returned to the world. The first to come were those less capable of protecting themselves from the predators living in the Near Dreaming: the mouse, cat, dog, bird, and rabbit pooka. Over the course of the next several decades, the others filtered slowly back as well, reborn into the mortal realm. Few returned with any memory of their time spent burrowed away.
As pooka re-emerged into the mortal realm, this gradual process fed imaginations and added fuel to the conspiracy theories first developed when the pooka ran away during the Shattering. Where had the pooka gone? Why were they returning now and in such large numbers? Imagine the disgruntlement of those changeling scholars who thought they might finally discover the truth, only to realize that the pooka had no memory of past lives — or said they didn’t.
The Accordance War
Pooka played a large role in the Accordance War. Pooka outrage at the slaughter on the Night of Iron Knives exploded. Humans had hunted and killed pooka, but never before had a changeling enemy done so with such premeditated brutality. It hit pooka hard and they banded together to rise up against their oppressors. Clever and intelligent, pooka worked together and their pack mentality lent them strength and cohesion. Those who could actively fight did so with no holds barred. Teeth and claws, sword and mace drew blood without mercy. Those too weak or small to fight, scouted and spied.
Many pooka became legendary for their bravery and contributions to the war effort. Their ability to shapeshift into small animals made them invaluable. Mice pooka crept into the freeholds of the enemy and reported back what they heard. Cat pooka sat unnoticed on rooftops and in trees, watching and listening. Dog pooka barked the alarm and bird pooka surveyed troop movements from overhead. For the first time, the other kith realized what these animalistic faeries could accomplish. It instilled a new respect for them among the Kithain. It seems a pity that so few of them remember this today.
The end of the war brought no pleasure to the pooka in and of itself. For many, the war had served as a catharsis, a chance to prove their worth and to exorcise some of the rage they had carried with them from the beginning of time. At first, pooka couldn’t find it in their hearts to trust David. When he called for peace talks, they almost refused to go. But one particular pooka stood up and offered himself as a sacrifice. Martin Long-Claw, a bear pooka, will forever be revered among his kith. It was Martin who went and heard High King David and believed his words of peace and then convinced the others of his kith to follow the king.
Pooka have had to evolve in order to survive in the modern world. Primal instincts hinder them more than help in most situations. The wilderness continues to shrink with urbanization. Yet pooka continue the fight: supporting conservation and awareness. Their methods have had to change; molding to the media, the financial institutions, and the governments of today. As the other kith learn about the true motivations and speculate on the past of the pooka, their respect for these enigmatic changelings has grown. Whereas before, lies and pranks forged pooka reputations, more recently the efforts toward environmental reconstruction and human education have earned them a place of distinction among the Kithain—to an extent.
The return of more exotic pooka from the Dream-burrows to the mortal realm has caused quite a stir. Some claim that these faeries are entirely new species and that this portends well for the world. Often, changeling courts welcome these strange beings with open arms, their curiosity and increased optimism inspiring congeniality. Over the years since the Resurgence, this wide-eyed wonder has dropped off some, though not entirely. If nothing else, the other kith are very happy to see that not all pooka are bouncy, prank loving, annoying ne’er-do-wells. Not all pooka, it would seem, are so easily categorized. The sense of wonder and awe which results from the mere existence of these strange and fantastic changelings adds to the strength of the Dreaming.
The Animal in Us All
What some people call chaos, others call variety or diversity. Pooka come in all shapes and sizes. Half-human and half-animal, they live in mortal bodies like the other kith, but can also shift into the forms of their particular animals.
One could argue that pooka are the oldest of the faerie kith. Some even claim that pooka predate the sidhe — though this is extremely difficult to prove, considering the timeless nature of Arcadia. They certainly claim to have the longest history in the mortal realm.
Pooka have an ability no other kith has: they can shape-change even in their mortal guise. When a pooka shifts into his animal form, they do it so completely that they becomes that animal to mortal eyes as well as to faerie eyes. The power implied in this ability befuddles many changelings who prefer to think of pooka as useless, impotent troublemakers. Pooka take it in stride.
The grand majority of pooka have affinities with common animals– cats, dogs, squirrels, rabbits, or mice– that tend to reproduce in large quantities. In recent years, however, pooka with rare affinities have rejoined changeling society. Many of these faeries contradict the stereotype of silly, prankster pooka created by the more common affinities. Some display a calm beauty unusual in their kith. Others could scare the pants off a troll. It’s important to keep in mind when trying to figure out pooka, that no two are exactly alike. Their personalities tend to mirror those of their animal affinities, though this is less of a rule than a guideline. Being the enigmatic changelings that they are, pooka have almost managed to avoid classification entirely. Diversity plus mistruth plus scarcity equals “What the hell is that?!”
Common Household Pooka
So what about those cat, dog, squirrel, rabbit, or mice pooka? Are they all sweet, cuddly, fuzzy, funny, silly ne’er-do-wells? Ever heard the story of the child mauled by the neighbor’s dog? Ever have to help a mailman who had a squirrel bite him? Many false stereotypes develop regarding pooka. As more information about this enigmatic kith becomes known, their reputation has shifted to the darker, more frightening aspect it had during the Mythic Age or even earlier times.
Why is it that the first pooka to emerge from their hiding places were those of the cute and fuzzy variety? Maybe all those playful little monsters had a hard time staying away from mortals. Maybe they got lonely. Maybe with their happy-go-lucky attitudes, they didn’t consider the dangers of returning. Or maybe they were simply the first to get killed in the Dream-burrows. Considering the way the faeries living in these burrows courted Bedlam, the favorite pastime for the more irritable, deadly pooka could easily have become bopping little bunny Fu-Fu on the head and poof, Fu-Fu finds himself reincarnated back into the mortal realm where he can happily annoy those changelings living there.
Other theories exist as well. One faction among the changeling conspiracy theorists believes pooka have instigated a complex and malevolent plot. Did the pooka send out the cute, annoying members of their kith as cannon fodder, testing the waters to see if it’s safe for all to return? Were these adorable little fuzzballs scouts sent to deceive the other changelings into a false sense of security in advance of a pooka invasion and overthrow of the nobility? What’s the truth? The pooka, as usual, aren’t saying.
Most other changelings fail to realize there is far more to the pooka than is apparent at first. Much of this knowledge has been lost in the Mists and forgotten even by the pooka themselves, but it still affects their behavior and runs in their blood like the primal rivers that flow deep beneath the surface of the land.
Among uncommon pooka affinities, forest animals comprise a relatively large percentage of the population. The so-called “unassertive” animals, as expected, tend to be the most common, including beavers, skunks, squirrels, deer, and chipmunks. These animals sit low on the food chain; more prey than predator. Most are herbivores or insectivores. Certain dangerous species also belong on this list: bears, moose, wolves, wild dogs, and mountain lions.
Over the past ten years, some very odd pooka have begun to surface. Every country in the world has its own myths regarding the role of animals. Not all pooka come from the Americas or Europe. Scholars have documented pooka with affinities that range from camels to jaguars, cobras to zebras, and yaks to penguins. Though these types of pooka are extremely rare and very surprising, they do exist.
This type of pooka tends to be more dangerous than those who have citified affinities. The wild runs more freely in their blood. Most don’t fit well in cities, though some have learned to adapt. If for no other reason, most of these pooka avoid cities because they put themselves in extreme danger when they shift into their animal affinity. Imagine the reaction of the mortal populace if a crocodile or lion were spotted in its apartment or roaming the streets. Although it doesn’t hurt pooka to remain in their humanoid form indefinitely, they grow stir-crazy and irritable if they don’t indulge their affinity from time to time. Many regular trips into the countryside for weekends of slithering, ranging, animalistic relaxation.
Pooka whose animals risk extinction walk a very fine line. Once an animal disappears from the world, the pooka related to it gradually disappear as well. Though some pooka have affinities with animals already extinct, they fear that next time around they won’t reincarnate and will disappear as well. These changelings feel the loss of the species like a never-healing wound and mourn that loss throughout their limited existence. No one knows if they can reincarnate as a more common type of pooka or if these faerie souls will be lost forever upon the death of their mortal bodies.
Alien creatures, these strange changelings have only recently begun to appear. Creepy and foreign, insect pooka have stepped from the Dreaming to put a giant, red-hot monkey-wrench in the stereotypes about their kith. Many courts welcome the more graceful of these faeries — the butterfly and moth pooka — with open arms. Others openly reject those that inspire disgust or fear.
Like other pooka, the insect pooka reincarnate into mortal bodies and grow up in human society. They have a Chrysalis just like all other commoner kith. The only difference is that when they shift into their affinity, they become creepy-crawlies. In their faerie guise, insect pooka have features that reflect their affinity. Butterfly pooka may have multi-colored hair, tattoo-like skin coloration, or even antennae. Spider pooka may have extremely odd eyes, course skin, or disturbing voiles. Whatever the case, it becomes immediately apparent that these beings differ from the standard pooka.
Nature's Call: A Pooka Primer
The odd nature of pooka raises many questions. Their diversity makes it difficult to classify them. Each pooka is an individual and each has its own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Certain aspects of their personalities thread through them all, but even these differ in their manifestation and expression. As more and more pooka emerge from the Dream-Burrows, the other changelings are discovering that, contrary to popular belief, pooka are the most difficult of the kith to stereotype.
Despite what some changelings propose, all pooka reincarnate in human bodies, not animal. They spend the first part of their lives as human children, their faerie souls sleeping deep in the child’s subconscious. In this respect, they resemble all other commoner kith.
From birth to death, pooka never escape the influence of their animal affinities. Even as mortal children, pre-Chrysalis, they show personality quirks which resemble the natures of their animals. Many even end up with nicknames such as Kitty, Bear, Mouse, Animal, or Wolf. The sleeping faerie soul works its magic upon the growing mortal vessel. The human body begins to acquire features that relate directly to the appropriate animal. None are obviously inhuman. For example, a deer pooka’s mortal body may have large, brown eyes. A snake pooka may end up with an extremely thin and tall frame. The elephant pooka may grow into a big-boned, even portly, human. Hair, eyes, body-type and personality can directly reflect a pooka’s animal affinity.
Most changelings experience their Chrysalis either in late childhood or somewhere in their early teens, near the onset of puberty. Others may not emerge from their mortal cocoon until adulthood. Often, a traumatic experience will trigger it, though sometimes a purely joyful event will. Every Chrysalis is unique in both the changeling’s reaction to it and in the circumstance of it.
Pooka face a particularly interesting Chrysalis, because they usually learn immediately that they can shift into the form of an animal. Sometimes a Chrysalis will result when the child instinctually retreats into their animal guise in order to escape physical danger or emotional trauma. Though this doesn’t automatically trigger the Chrysalis, it often does. Some pre-Chrysalis Kithain shift to avoid life’s hurts and black out during it, so that they don’t remember it happening. This is rare, and usually only happens once or twice before the faerie soul asserts itself and the real Chrysalis happens. This type of event puts the child at great risk. Although their subconscious won’t allow them to shift in front of onlookers, once they begins to roam in their animal guise, they do so without the caution that their mentor can teach them once they enter fosterage. Running purely on instinct at these times, they may roam far from home and wake up lost and confused. Childling pooka are extremely vulnerable.
Not all pooka experience a traumatic Chrysalis. Some get lucky and a mentor finds them before the dramatic moment. All changelings prefer this method. Some go out of their way to force a childling to Chrysalis before her time to make sure it occurs in a controlled environment. They do this by enchanting the child with an influx of Glamour. Unfortunately, this method does not always work, and pre-Chrysalis faeries often evade detection.
Pooka don’t need to learn how to shapeshift. The knowledge comes instinctively with the Chrysalis. However, there are certain aspects of shapeshifting that the changeling may have to learn the hard way. One of the most embarrassing is the fact that while the pooka’s voile and chimerical items shift with them, no other items or clothing will. This means that the pooka’s human clothing and any non-chimerical items — even treasures not specifically created to do so — are left lying on the ground beside the pooka. This explains, perhaps, the pooka’s unwillingness to burden themselves with things.
Every pooka has an animal mien with which they will eventually get into trouble. For this reason, it’s important to establish, in advance, what that animal’s statistics look like. In their animal mien, the pooka has either greater or lesser Attributes than they does in their fae mien. You can record these numbers on the pooka’s character sheet, following their regular statistics.
Because every animal has its own unique qualities, strengths and weaknesses, and because there are so very many different animals in the world, an attempt to catalog them would be pointless. When you are creating your pooka, you should work closely with your Storyteller to write statistics for your character’s animal form consistent with the game balance your Storyteller has established.
- Physical Attributes - An animal’s size often determines its Physical Attributes but you’ll find exceptions to every rule. For example, while a boa constrictor has immense Strength, it would not necessarily be considered a large animal. Stamina should never drop below the pooka’s own score. Although one would think that a bird would have less Stamina than a faerie, it has supernatural qualities because it is a faerie in a different guise. In some instances, however, the animal mien will have a higher Stamina than the faerie mien. A pooka’s Dexterity could vary greatly between forms, however, either adding dots or removing them, based on the affinity.
- Social Attributes - An animal’s Manipulation score mirrors that of the pooka, however their Charisma and Appearance totals may differ between forms. A particularly frightening animal Appearance will affect any Charisma rolls and vice-versa. Whereas a pooka may have only two dots in Charisma when they are in their faerie mien, they may have four dots in it if their animal affinity is an adorable puppy. By the same token, even if the pooka has four dots in Appearance when in their faerie mien, it’s ridiculous to imagine a spider with that many. The animal mien’s score reflects the change in appearance via lower scores.
- Mental Attributes - When in their animal mien, a pooka’s Mental Attributes do not change from what they are in their faerie mien. Any special benefits such as enhanced hearing or sight, which could affect Perception, should be purchased as Merits and these then extend to the pooka in their human guise. Pooka have access to their full brain capacity and memories in their animal miens, so neither their Intelligence nor their Wits change.
- Abilities - Many of a pooka’s Abilities become practically useless when the faerie changes shape. For example, Firearms rarely does the pooka any good in their animal mien. However, many Abilities remain constant and useful. Still others might become enhanced with the shift into animal form. For the most part, a pooka’s Knowledges don’t change. Neither do their Skills, with the possible exception of Stealth, which could increase or decrease, dependent upon the nature of the affinity. Tiny animals may have as many as ten dots in Stealth, whereas an elephant would have none. A pooka’s Talents will more than likely change in animal form, with the exception of Empathy, Kenning, Persuasion, and Streetwise. These four remain constant (although the pooka may have a difficult time persuading someone she can’t talk to).
- Backgrounds - Background scores do not change in animal mien, though access to them may be hampered. If the pooka's contact is the same animal they are, communication is normal. A human will not understand any requests. Remembrance is just as useful in either form. As stated above, Chimerical objects change with the pooka. Treasures, unless specifically made to do so, do not. Storyteller discretion is advised.
- Tempers - Willpower, Glamour, and Banality scores do not change in animal form.
- Cantrips - Pooka may cast cantrips as usual when in the mien of their animal affinity; their bunks, however, obviously have a completely different flavor. Rather than recite poetry, the pooka may chase their own tail around and around ten times, or they may sit up and do an odd sort of dance. In addition, pooka spend Glamour as normal, and acquire Banality just as easily.
- Animal Attacks - Animals have any number of ways they can do damage to another creature. To list just a few, they bite, claw, sting, butt, trample, kick, squeeze, and crush. All of these attacks cause standard, non-chimerical damage. Their success is determined by a roll of Dexterity + Brawl (difficulty 6). Determine the damage resulting from the attack by rolling the animal mien’s Strength (difficulty 6) and subtract any successes the victim gets on a Stamina roll (difficulty 6). This is done exactly as per the standard hand-to-hand combat rules.
- Venom - Some animals have the ability to introduce venom to their victims. Not all venomous creatures actually kill with their bites or stings. Some, like bees and certain spiders, cause only a single wound level unless the victim has an allergy to that poison. Others may cause serious illness and possibly death. For the sake of simplicity, the following rule is suggested when dealing with a potentially fatal venom. A pooka with a venom attack has 4 venom damage dice. When the player rolls a successful attack, they not only roll their standard Strength damage dice, but they also begins to roll their venom damage dice. Over time, they roll a total of four times, each time reducing the number of dice they roll by one. One roll is made every half hour of in-game time that passes. The victim reduces the damage each time with a Stamina soak roll, like any other type of damage. Unless the victim receives aid, the damage accumulates over this two-hour period, with the potential for death ever present. This applies only to venom that is potentially fatal, such as that of the rattlesnake, the black widow spider, or the scorpion. It is highly recommended that the Storyteller require the player to take the Venomous Attack Merit in order to use a venom attack during play. Few pooka should have venom this strong.
Guide to Pooka Affinities
The Pooka Kithbook offers a way of thinking of the rarity of the pooka on a scale of 0 to 5. The book suggests the Storyteller assign freebie point costs based on that value. The current editor finds that problematic as the rarity of the breed doesn't give any benefits aside from rarity. What follows is not an exhaustive list of possible pooka breeds.
- Common Level 0
- House Cats of all kinds
- House Dogs of all kinds
- Small Mammals: mouse, rat, squirrel, chipmunk, skunk, raccoon, hamster, gerbil
- Common Level 1
- Birds: sparrow, crow, pigeon, duck, robin, turkey, chicken, seagull, canary
- Burrowers: mole, shrew, hedgehog, ground hog, badger
- Farm Animals: pig, sheep, goat, cow, horse
- Fish: catfish, perch, goldfish, lionfish, clownfish, bass, salmon, tuna, bluegill, tetra, anchovy
- Other: crab, crayfish, lobster, king crab
- Uncommon Level 2
- Birds: penguin, peacock, cardinal, blue jay, splendid fairy wren, geese, pelican, kingfisher, warbler
- Fish: pantherfish, blue tang, filefish, sea bass, angelfish, rock beauty, Spanish hogfish, lookdown, moonfish, short big-eye, yellowbelly hamlet, scrawled cowfish, rainbow parrotfish, queen triggerfish, silver king tarpon, puffer fish, African pompano, red hind, piranha, mudskipper
- Large Mammals: moose, deer, mountain goat, bear, musk ox, chamois, ibex
- Reptiles: turtle, tortoise, lizard, toad, common frog, salamander, newt, mudpuppy, iguana
- Small Mammals: chimpanzee, slender loris, koala, fox, otter, beaver, hedgehog, porcupine, spider monkey, tapir, lemming, vole, meercat, muskrat, armadillo, bat
- Snakes: copperhead, rattler, coral, garden, grass snake
- Exotic Level 3
- Birds: golden eagle, owl, scarlet macaw, great argus pheasant, green- backed heron, Andean condor, harlequin duck, green woodpecker, wandering albatross, sparrowhawk, ostrich, vulture, toucan, parrot, falcon
- Fish: hammerhead shark, bonnethead shark, Atlantic sturgeon, electric eel, barracuda, lemon shark, swordfish
- Reptiles: chameleon, thorny devil, frilled lizard, gecko
- Exotic Level 4
- Large Mammals: giraffe, elephant, zebra, okapi, kangaroo, humpback whale, dolphin, manatee, sea lion, gorilla, orangutan, wolf, bighorn sheep, camel, elk, polar bear, reindeer, caribou, cougar, jaguar, panther, mountain lion, lion, tiger, leopard
- Small Mammals: rhesus monkey, wombat, wart hog, flying squirrel, platypus, baboon, steenbok, dik-dik, anteater, spotted cus-cus
- Snakes: cobra, boa constrictor, asp, viper, adder
- Endangered Level 5
- Birds: king bird of paradise, Atlantic puffin, secretary bird, kea, superb lyrebird, whale-headed stork, whooping crane, flamingo, bald eagle, hoatzin, yellow-bellied sapsucker, quetzal, great crested grebe, dodo, moas, passenger pigeon, tragopan pheasant, kiwi, ibis, cassowary, emu, booby, bluebird, hummingbird
- Fish: sea horse, octopus, snaggle tooth fish, viper fish, great white shark
- Large Mammals: panda, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, blue whale, sperm whale, walrus, vicuña, springbok antelope, pronghorn antelope
- Reptiles: crocodile, alligator
- Small Mammals: Tasmanian devil, uakari monkey, lemur, bandicoot, aye-aye
- Insects Level 5
- Butterflies and Moths of all varieties
- Spiders of all varieties
- Other: wasp, common house fly, horse fly, termite, stag beetle, bumble bee, dragonfly, mantis, mosquito, flea, ladybug, ant, earthworm
Love, Lies, & Losses
So often changelings discount pooka as shallow but this is far from the truth. Pooka emotions run deep and dark. Scratching the surface of the pooka psyche reveals the face they show to the world is a lie. In order to truly understand them, one must peel away the layers, the masks, and burrow through it all to where their heart beats with rabbity flutterings.
The clown stands in the center ring, eyes drawn wide and bright with kohl. They have masked their flush with white-face and smeared their mouth into an upward tilt with scarlet paint. Yet, as the saying goes, inside they cry. Not all pooka are clowns, but all pooka hurt and hide it; behind bravado and bullying, flowery poetry, or with overabundant optimism and proclamations of joy.
The Sundering struck pooka with a hurt worse than cold iron. Like animals, they became the victims of the modern age. Hunted, slaughtered, caged — these changelings and the animals from which their myth sprang found that humans had relegated them to the standing of secondary, disposable creatures. Nature’s harmony became imbalanced as humans climbed to the top of the heap without a care for those they trampled.
Imagine the pain the pooka feel as they watch their animal cousins hunted to extinction and pass people on the streets wearing the skins of their friends. Imagine the hopes they had for humankind early on and their disappointment as the world turned sour and Humanity chose greed and domination over nurturing and equality. How can anyone doubt for a moment that pooka don’t carry a deep and bloody wound in their hearts? Mistrust of humans? How can one imagine anything else?
Is it unfair to say that the advance of civilization has hurt the pooka more than the other kith? Sidhe whine about the loss of their grand palaces and courtly lifestyles. Trolls grumble about the decay of honor and glory. Satyrs whimper at the effect society’s morals have had on human sexuality and freedom. Nockers bemoan the unimaginative technology of the modern age. Redcaps struggle in a society where “politically correct” is a revered concept. Boggans miss the creativity of homemaking in a time when people prefer microwaves and pre-packaged dinners to ovens and the smell of rising dough. Eshu shake their heads at the homogenization of cities and transportation, the lack of migrating tribes and wandering spirit. Sluagh whisper among themselves about the... well, no one really knows what the sluagh whisper, but it surely cannot compare to the herding, hunting, torture and extinction of whole branches of the pooka’s extended family.
Considering the sorrow that pooka carry in their breasts, it’s no wonder they have to hide it. It’s a testimony to their inner strength and to their dedication to the Dreaming that they manage to maintain relatively positive outlooks. Those pooka who give in to their bitterness don’t last long. They go on enraged rampages against mortals or fall into their addictions to forget. Like all the other faeries, pooka walk a very fine line between Bedlam and Undoing. Banality alone keeps them from giving in. A pooka in Bedlam crosses the boundary and becomes a victim of his own hatred and pain. A pooka in the Mists comes to believe his own lies.
Just like humans, each pooka has their own way of dealing with the emotions inside them. Unique experiences form their likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, needs, and desires. Pooka Legacies vary as much as those of any other kith, both among the Seelie and the Unseelie. With a kith as diverse as this one, it has proven impossible to categorize them in any but the most stereotypical manner. Others see them as the clowns and pranksters of faerie kind. Many pooka seem to find acceptance and release in that role, relinquishing their sorrow and embracing humor and cheer rather than horror. Others cannot, and the rest of the fae have only begun to see beyond the jester’s cap to the being within.
- Denial - The most telling aspect of a pooka's personality answers this question: How do they deal with their pain? Most laugh to keep from crying. They hide behind clown-faces hoping that if they act it, they'll begin to believe it and eventually it will become truth... they'll be happy again. Pooka don't raise spirits altruistically: other people's sadness reminds them of their own.
- Bravado - People pretend to be braver and stronger than they are to hide their weakness from others or so they don't have to face their shortcomings. Heroes and bullies both fall into this. These pooka lie to themselves and others by insisting they feel no pain; that nothing bothers them. They smirk at insults. Sticks and stones may break bones but names will never hurt you, right? Inside they're bleeding.
- Irresponsibility - "Why?" There is no more a famous pooka phrase than this, except maybe "Why not?" With adulthood comes responsibility. They pay bills and taxes, attend meetings, dress appropriately, shower regularly, and follow the law. How Banal. Conscious or unconscious, pooka reject responsibility. Many don't understand the point. Others choose not to follow the crowd because they oppose everything society stands for.
- Deviance - Stereotypically, pooka are mischievous childlings. Not all pooka are such, though. The playful cub grows up into a ravenous tiger, the adorable pup into a snarling wolf, and the the wobble-legged fawn into the antlered buck. They grow up and discover physical pleasure and other bohemian distractions. Some become Casanovas and Cerenaics. Others take to alcohol and other drugs to find the happiness they can't get naturally.
- Cruelty - Misery loves company and some pooka share the wealth with others. Not consciously, maybe, but some secret part of them wants everyone to suffer like they do. Most don't ever actually physically harm anyone but their caustic remarks and sarcastic commentaries cut deep.
- Suicidal Heroics - Caution? Nope. Many pooka feel they have nothing left to loose and throw themselves into danger without a thought or care. They are always at the front of an assault; leaping into battle with abandon and apparently no fear. Some famous pooka warriors had a reputation for bravery but it was just lack of caution. Most died horrible deaths.
The social interactions of pooka are no different from anyone else’s. Pooka have friends. They love. They hate. Some pooka band together and join oathcircles. Others prefer to travel their path alone. Just as each animal in the great kingdom has different social needs and habits, so does each pooka.
Born and raised human, with the innate instincts of their affinities, pooka balance somewhere between human and animal in everything they do. Never quite entirely animal, they can’t escape the morals and habits taught to them as mortal children. Their higher intelligence, compared to the animals of their affinities, lifts them to a different plane. Their human experiences temper their bestial natures, and vice versa. Conflict arises when they have to fight down their instincts because they know certain behaviors are socially unacceptable.
A pack of wolves, a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions— many pooka have a strong pack mentality. Some need a group so badly that they become deeply depressed when they find themselves alone or in a new place. For these pooka, family is everything. They guard their birth family with an almost obsessive protectiveness. Pooka of this sort will often attach themselves to the nearest group that will take them and may not always choose their friends wisely. Some enemies who know and understand this aspect of pooka take advantage of it to convert them to their side. Isolate a pack pooka, take away their family and friends, then step in and offer to let them become part of a new pack. Faced with no other option, many pooka can’t resist.
- The Leader
Every pack, oathcircle or family must have a leader, the strongest and wisest of the group. Pooka greatly appreciate and respect a competent leader. They also find it particularly hard to look up to anyone who shows weakness, cowardice or ignorance. Pooka have an instinctual understanding of the importance of culling. If the leader is weak, they mercilessly bombard him or her with tests and challenges. In pooka minds, inept nobles contradict the natural order of things. They look at mundane society filled with its unworthy leaders and compare this with changeling society and conclude that incompetent leadership is banal.
Once a leader has let the pack down one too many times, the pooka makes the other changeling’s job as difficult as possible. Some use cunning and subterfuge while others out-and-out rebel. Often, a pooka’s ousting from a pack results from this type of conflict. In nature, the young challenge their leaders and failure can sometimes mean banishment or even death. If the pooka fails and is exiled, they go and don’t return, finding another pack elsewhere that will accept them. They bear no grudge against the leader that bested them because they knows they obviously misjudged and challenged a stronger opponent.
Some pooka have a deep-seated need to become pack leaders themselves. Those affiliated with lions and other such royal species live with the goal of eventually taking charge of the pack or motley. This doesn’t usually sit very well with the motley’s sidhe. And, of course, it’s the inept sidhe that whine the most about giving up their authority, even if the pooka in question would rule more fairly, wisely and courageously. And so the natural leaders of this kith tend to avoid sidhe like the plague. Their pride, and senses of honor and duty, will not allow them to sit idly by while a simpering noble rests on unearned laurels. Fortunately, when a pooka does take charge, they usually live up to their duties. They mold themself to their own vision of what a leader should be and pooka hold their leaders to very high standards.
- The Follower
There are the lions... and then there are the sheep. Some pooka content themselves with following the herd. In the extreme, these faeries change their beliefs, values and outlooks to fit the pack with which they are currently running. Of course, this occurs in varying degrees. Some simply abide by the leader’s rules out of respect and an innate sense of their lesser station. Others prove unwilling or unable to take responsibility and make decisions on their own. The leader says, “Jump,” and they ask, “How high?” Still others take a more philosophical approach, believing that rebellion undermines the structure as a whole.
This type of pooka can either help or hinder the pack, depending on the situation. Imagine having a subject whose loyalty has no bounds... but who follows the leader everywhere, on their heels, asking if there’s anything they can do to be of service. Imagine having a supporter that never questions authority and never argues... but who begins to dress like and act like the leader with an almost obsessive admiration that verges on stalking.
Many animals lead solitary lives. These creatures come together only long enough to mate and to raise their young. Fortunately, the pack mentality of humans tempers the pooka’s desire to live alone. Few people can survive true isolation without going insane. Pooka can be the same.
Close friendships don’t come easily to loners. Whether it’s for their own protection or out of an intense need for privacy, these changelings always keep a part of themselves separate and unrevealed. Many have secret sanctums to which they retreat at need. They rarely enter into oathcircles except for practical, not an emotional, reasons. Though they take Oaths of Fealty, they serve their lords as independents and never truly consider themselves part of the team.
- The Traveler
Migration among animals manifests in pooka as a driving desire to travel. They yearn for warmer climates, sun-drenched beaches, or forested mountains. In some cases this innate urge surfaces with the changing of the seasons while in others it occurs only every couple of years. Usually a vacation or walk-about soothes the ache and the pooka returns home again without having to actually purchase both a summer and a winter residence.
This need to travel gives these pooka something in common with the eshu. Many of them never do settle down permanently, but wander throughout their lives, drawn by their wanderlust to visit exotic places. Sometimes small groups of pooka voyage together for mutual protection and companionship.
- The Watcher
“I like to watch” is a mantra for some pooka, but it doesn’t always have the sexy connotation one might think. Artists often depict animals in tapestries and paintings as watching from the margins. Many pooka exhibit this behavior, some out of curiosity, some out of a need to understand, and others simply out of a desire to be a part of the activity without actually participating. Staying on the sidelines (watching the game, not playing it), these changelings learn many things about their fellow faeries. Like the sluagh, they may collect loads of information and secrets. Still, they remain on the outside looking in, present, but not part of the action.
The other kith treat pooka like errant children; believing they are ignorant, innocent, and unworthy of attention. They speak more freely in front of the pooka, just like they never think twice about gossiping in front of the family pet or even in front of the children, revealing opinions that they would never state in front of a sidhe or, Dán forbid, a sluagh.
Empathy & Ear-Tugging
The most sympathetic listeners experience their own hours of darkness and understand the pain of those around them. Pooka who acutely feel the Dreaming’s suffering know all about pain. This explains why changelings often seek pooka out when they want to spill their guts or cry on someone’s shoulder. Why do others share their innermost feelings, fears and thoughts with pooka?
Pooka guard their own private thoughts so well, that many other changelings assume that these enigmatic faeries will be less likely to reveal anything told to them. Everyone also knows how changeling society discounts the words of a pooka. Many changelings think, “I have to tell someone! I’ll tell the pooka. If he does betray my secret, no one will believe him.”
On a more subconscious level, faeries and humans alike sense the pooka’s pain and thus are drawn to them when their own pain becomes too heavy a burden to bear alone. They instinctively turn to the pooka for a sympathetic ear, intuiting that the pooka will understand. This does not mean, however, that the pooka will understand, but they don’t know that.
Pooka adore it when someone comes to them to spill their guts. With the savvy of a psychologist, they know all the right buttons to push to get to the hidden dreams and fears. Whether it’s just sitting quietly and patiently while the person opens up, or whether it’s asking all the right questions, pooka have a knack for delving into psyches and drawing out information.
Everyone knows that pooka lie. The questions are, “How much?” and “Why?” When you have a kith that rarely tells the truth, it becomes difficult to know what to believe. This handicaps the pooka. When a pooka wants to tell the truth, he often finds that no one believes him. The situation gets very complicated, very quickly. Many other faeries view pooka as more trouble than they’re worth. Conversing with them usually ends in aggravation. Some have come to call pooka speech, “Pooka-ese.” Just like any other language, this one has many dialects. Not all pooka lie outright every time they open their mouths, despite what the other changelings think. Pooka have the ability to tell the truth and to lie in varying degrees. Subterfuge often replaces the outright lie.
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Are pooka doing more than telling lies? Are they actually living the lie? Some changeling scholars suspect that pooka falsehoods go deeper than their language. What if everything known about the pooka was a well-constructed lie? What if their entire demeanor, as perceived by the other changelings, was nothing more than a deliberate masquerade? Is it any wonder that the pooka present a puzzle so fascinating that there are those who devote their lives to solving it?
In order to understand the pooka, one must remember three important factors of their personalities. First and foremost, they are defined by their affinity. Second, they watch much more than they participate. Their mythology has woven this into the very fiber of their beings. And third, they lie, but to what extent?
Ever since the Resurgence when pooka began to re-emerge from their burrows, they have had a reputation for pranking, silliness, shallowness and happy-go-lucky attitudes. They themselves have done nothing to discourage this reputation, but rather have done all in their power to encourage it. Why would they do this? What has it gained them?
Other changelings, both noble and commoner alike, tend to overlook pooka because they can’t do anything but laugh and prank. Why ask a pooka a question and have to wade through the irritation of figuring out Pooka-ese, when someone else may have the same answer and give it in a straightforward manner?
Many pooka actively feed the belief that they are useless. They have a cunning and determination that completely belies their reputation. Their goals show long-term vision. If changeling perceptions of pooka have no foundation in truth, then the implications of what must be true are mind-boggling and unsettling.
Just lying or saying the opposite if what you mean is too easy and no fun. Instead the pooka have created many "dialects" of how they share. They use various tactics and styles that include Enigma, Evasion,Stalling, Lickspittles, Lawyering, Scandals, plus others and mixtures. For more of a discussion on this, see the article Pooka-ese.
Obviously, tough, Pooka can tell the truth when they need to do so. Pooka characters must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) to tell the whole truth. This does not mean that they cannot slide some truth into the mix of lies. They maintain a goal, subconscious though it is at times, of misleading and misdirecting their listener. This makes playing a pooka quite challenging for most players. As a matter of fact, it could easily be argued that the pooka kith is the most difficult to play for this very reason.
A pooka can tell the whole truth for five minutes per success on the player’s Willpower roll. If they get no successes, then the status quo remains. If they botch, on the other hand, they must make a directed effort to tell either believable lies and have their listener accept them as truth, or to tell unbelievable truth and have the listener disregard it as false. The storyteller can help to guide the pooka’s player in what they must attempt to make their listener believe or disbelieve.
Of Tails & Tales
Just like everyone else, pooka have conversations which don’t involve direct questions. Though most of them tend to be relatively taciturn, not all of them can keep their mouths shut for long. This varies, depending upon the pooka’s animal affinity. Pooka-ese doesn’t apply only to answering questions. In their every interaction, pooka twist, falsify and exaggerate the facts. Most of the time, they just listen and ask lots of questions, but sometimes they want to tell a story or relay a philosophy. The listener can expect to be entertained when a pooka gets in a talkative mood. For more, see Pooka-ese again.
Changelings view oaths as the most sacred events in their lives. The Dreaming itself binds them to their oaths and imposes severe consequences for a broken oath. Because of this, pooka may take oaths normally like any other changeling. The Dreaming lifts all restrictions on them for lying when pooka pronounce the words of the oath. The oath comes out shining and true. Perhaps this explains why pooka take oaths so very seriously.
Everyone, or most everyone, loves romance. Some just love sex, but one could easily argue that the two are inseparable. Changelings, as a general rule, view sex and love with much broader definitions than do most mortals. They — especially the sidhe — originally come from a place where AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases never existed. This does not change the fact that in this lifetime they have grown up in an era where these things are an issue. The fear these diseases invoke can inhibit changelings just as much as it inhibits some mortals. On the other hand, the one thing that few changelings suffer is a moralistic approach to any kind of sex. Specifically, they hold that anyone who preaches a banal philosophy in which sex or love is bad when it strays from the standard missionary position between altar-married spouses is full of garbage. How could any kind of love be bad?
Most agree, however, that sex must be consensual. The Kithain view sex and love as an intimate sharing. Although rapists exist among the Kithain, especially among ravaging Unseelie, most faeries agree that this is a horrendous crime and do not condone it. Furthermore, they find the concept of sexually abusing children utterly disgusting. Few things in this world take away a child’s awe and wonder faster than sexual abuse. How could there be a more offensive crime than to turn a child into a cowering, fearful, guilt-ridden victim? Nightmares plague these children, but their nightmares do not enforce the Dreaming; they enforce Banality. Many victims of abuse have suppressed the memories of large portions of their childhood. How could that ever be a good thing? It can’t. It isn’t.
Licking, Sucking, Biting & Clawing
To some extent, a pooka’s animal affinity influences their sexual and romantic habits. Certain species have mating rituals; dances that in nature draw their mates to them. This does not mean that pooka strut around the bedroom in a figure-eight pattern, flapping their arms and making throaty noises. (Though, if that’s what turns them on, why not?) This does mean, however, that some pooka will approach love and sex with very definite patterns or rituals that matter to them.
One of the things that distinguishes humans from animals is that humanity is one of the few species that has sex for fun. Animals do it for procreation. Their sex drives are a function of evolution with continuation of the species as the goal whereas the human — and faerie — sex drive often results from emotional or mental needs. As the link between animal and human, pooka sometimes suffer from periods of “heat” in which their physical urges become quite strong and nearly impossible to ignore. However, they cannot escape their minds and hearts. A pooka in heat doesn’t necessarily slather after sex, but may express it by temporarily falling deeply “in love” with the first exquisite creature that catches his or her eye. Unfortunately once the pooka has consummated the relationship, thus satisfying their heat, they may fall just as quickly out of love... or not.
- The Seduction
Sexy pooka? That’s a joke, right? No. Very few pooka play the jester dressed in primary colors with bells around their necks. As varied as any other kith, pooka definitely have their moments. Sleek and graceful, or muscled and assertive, pooka often reek of sexuality. The term “animal sex” didn’t acquire the connotations it has because animal sex is boring or lackluster. While certain pooka personalities may dictate a shy approach to seduction, few maintain that shyness once the actual act is in progress.
Some pooka approach seduction as a game or battle to be won. They seduce in an attempt to impose their dominance, or impose their dominance in an attempt to seduce. These lovers tend to be assertive at best and sometimes outright aggressive. This doesn’t always go over well, though some people welcome the discarding of social ritual and prefer this more direct expression of desire and need.
- The Romance
Some pooka stalk their prospective mates, while others woo them with gentle words and caressing touches. Sidhe and satyrs don’t have exclusive rights to poetry and roses. Pooka, as changelings, have hearts just as vulnerable and just as romantic as any other faerie. In truth, their propensity for exaggeration often makes these faeries some of the most demonstrative lovers among changelings. They use extravagant gestures to express their love. Billboards, graffiti, roaming violinists hired to interrupt board meetings, and the delivery of kiss-o-grams, strip-o-grams and gigantic bouquets of flowers often accompany a pooka’s proclamations of love.
- The Commitment
Many animals mate for life and wouldn’t it be nice if changeling love were that simple? Unfortunately, like humans, pooka rarely find such a long-term relationship. Many don’t want that kind of perpetual commitment. Individual personalities, situations, and challenges always dictate the outcome of a relationship. Still, many pooka have a proclivity to want to settle down and raise children. They yearn for a cozy home, a den where they know they are safe, warm and loved, or they crave a partner who will stand beside them and support them in all endeavors. Despite what some of the more cavalier changelings proclaim, this lifestyle is not banal. Just ask any boggan.
- The Roles of the Sexes
In the Animal Kingdom, the males and females of certain species take specific roles in the raising of offspring, in providing for their families, in discipline, and in leadership. For some, the male takes the dominant role while the female takes the submissive role. In others, this is reversed. Although this can manifest in pooka as male or female chauvinism, the fact that pooka grow to maturity in mortal society and have more complicated brain functions than animals, allows them to overcome these urges. There do exist, however, those pooka who have had these urges reinforced in their mortal experience. As a general rule, pooka tend to remain just as open-minded about the sexes and their roles as any other changeling, though exceptions exist.
Dark desires lurk in the hearts of some pooka, especially certain Unseelie pooka. These creatures sometimes delve into the more decadent pleasures, including bondage, sado-masochism, and a variety of other practices which most of society would consider offensive. As we've said, not all pooka are sunny fuzz-balls who laugh and prank all the time. The urge to bite and claw, to take without asking, or the taste for blood drives these pooka into shadowy sexual situations. This does not necessarily preclude consent, however, since many pooka want to be dominated, enjoy the pain, and get off on submission.
- The Pooka Homosexual
Despite what one would think, even the Animal Kingdom has its occurrences of homosexuality. Some animals don’t even have a sex, but are hermaphrodites: both male and female in one body. However, this does not necessarily come into play when determining whether homosexual pooka exist; they do. The debate about what makes a person homosexual could go on for centuries. Pooka don’t care why, they’re just themselves. Because changelings in general have few taboos related to sex and romantic love, they accept and even embrace homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality without prejudice.
Furthermore, changelings abhor any kind of restriction on love. They see no reason why a man can’t love another man or a woman can’t love another woman just as much as he or she would love a member of the opposite sex. To limit how much or in what way a person can love perpetuates Banality. What does it matter what form giving pleasure takes? If it feels good and no one involved objects, then why not do it?
Pooka take their clothing very seriously. In the Animal Kingdom, plumage and markings hold great significance. Members of this kith choose their clothing to reflect or hide their natures. The decision may be a conscious one, or it may simply develop as an unconscious means of camouflage. Usually the voile dreamed into existence at the fae’s Chrysalis shows the markings of her animal affinity. Chimerical clothing created later also tends to express this connection.
Many of these faeries pick clothing which makes them look dangerous. Pooka realize that the image they present often serves as their first line of defense. Bullies hesitate before picking on a feral-eyed changeling dressed all in black, whereas they don’t give a second thought to harassing one robed in multi-colored silk, fringe, and tassels. Plus the right clothes can go far in attracting a potential mate too!
We all know how pooka make babies, the more interesting question is how does pooka pregnancy work? The answer, actually, is quite simple. Pooka souls live in borrowed bodies, human bodies. Therefore, their reproduction becomes a perfectly human function. Pooka do not lay eggs. They do not give birth to litters of puppies, although multiple births are common in certain types of pooka. Just like any other of the kith, these changelings give birth to human children who may or may not become faeries.
Pooka may continue to change into animal form throughout their pregnancy. While in the animal form, the baby or babies slip into the Dreaming where they are still a part of their mother, but not so noticeably. In their animal bodies, pooka remain unhindered physically by the pregnancy, even though they may be eight months along in their mortal seeming. Neither the pooka’s animal guise look pregnant. However, while the mother roams as her animal affinity, her fetus remains equally vulnerable to anything that harms her just as it would be in her human body. Pregnant pooka rarely endanger themselves no matter what form they are in for this reason.
Because pooka have mortal babies like all other changelings, they automatically revert to their mortal form once the birth contractions begin — despite the usual prohibition against doing so in front of witnesses. This could prove rather inconvenient or even fatal depending on where the pooka is at the time. For this reason, as pooka near their eighth or ninth month, they become exceedingly careful and less likely to spend time in their animal guise. The birth must occur in their mortal/faerie form.
It Wasn't Me
Birth. Youth. Adulthood. Old age. Death. Every living creature in the natural world goes through life in the same stages. Life renews itself over and over. Although the pooka have always been linked with nature, they were never truly part of the cycle until Banality forced them to meld their faerie souls with mortal bodies. Despite what one would think, this change doesn’t traumatize the changelings. Reborn without the nagging memories of what it means to be immortal, changelings learn about life anew from the perspective of a mortal child. Pooka slip into this new life cycle with the grace of a chameleon.
Kits, Pups, & Chicks
Extremely affectionate, childling pooka stick close to their families. At this age the pack mentality strongly resembles survival instinct rather than conscious choice. Of course, a pooka’s family may not always be their birth parents and siblings. Sometimes the pooka will find only terror and abuse in their home, so they find another family to which to cling. This also varies based on the pooka’s animal affinity. Some rare animals abandon their young at a very early age and those guppies must either sink or swim on their own.
Usually, at about the time of the Chrysalis, a pooka reaches the point where they're beginning to stretch their wings. They yearn for the freedom they see among their elders. Like the bear cub who tries to growl, mean and nasty like their mama, but who can manage no more than a mewling cry, pooka strive to mold themselves in the image of those they admire. Oh, and they ask lots of questions.
Seelie pooka childlings shine warmth and affection on friends and family. The more shy or reserved Seelie childling may bury themself in books or quietly watch others play from the sidelines. Most tend to be well-behaved and, if not polite, at least their blurted rudeness has the charm of childish innocence.
Unseelie pooka childlings evidence a malicious streak that often drives them to prey on the weak and to direct their creativity to more harmful pursuits. Though the Unseelie childling may be no less affectionate and warm with those they love, they judges others harshly and often finds them lacking. Trouble lurks around every corner for these pooka. They do not have the advantage of age and wisdom to temper their actions.
All pooka have an acute awareness of their childlings and take extra care to protect them, Seelie and Unseelie alike. Many dangers threaten these faeries. They have spent their first years as mortals and now, suddenly, they can change into an animal and the dangers that face them as animals far exceed those that threaten them as mortal children. Stories abound of pooka childlings who wandered off in their animal mien only to meet death at the jaws of a predator, in a rush of water in the sewers, or in a territorial fight with another of its species. Pooka must also learn to fear dogcatchers and angry neighbors with guns or poison. As mortal children, they have society to protect them to a certain extent. In their animal mien, they no longer do. The rules change dramatically and all pooka must learn these new rules from scratch.
Pooka take their responsibilities to their childlings very seriously. Even the most sour, nasty pooka will take a recently Chrysalised childling under their wing and train them. Not every mentor treats their students well, however, and some give lessons that hurt as much as they teach. Nevertheless, the lessons are taught.
Pooka understand the necessity for childlings to have a mentor with the same animal affinity. Many of the more primal instincts pooka gain from their affinities are unique to them. Only under the most extreme circumstances will a pooka childling find herself mentored by someone of another affinity.
If the city where the pooka Chrysalised has no other faerie of the same affinity, the call goes out among pooka for one to come. Sometimes this produces a mentor for the childling. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not uncommon for a childling to travel to their mentor and live there with them to learn. This uprooting upsets some childlings at first. Imagine waking up one morning to a differ- ent face in the mirror, then shortly thereafter, traveling alone to live with a person you’ve never met, away from your family and friends. While some embrace the adventure, others balk at the change. It’s even more difficult, sometimes, being a pooka mentor who has to make all the arrangements, including convincing the faerie’s mortal family to send their son or daughter to a “boarding school.”
The Wildling Years
By the time pooka reach their wilder years, they have learned the skills necessary to survive in all three of their kingdoms: the faerie, the mortal and the animal. During this phase of their lives, pooka are at their most dangerous. Strength courses through their bodies and their primal instincts reach a pitch that hums in their blood. Some pooka jokingly equate the wildling years with “the mating years” because the urge to prowl and find a mate or mates predominates. The mating instinct manifests in wilder pooka as strongly as it does in their animal affinities, as does the innate impulse to lead or follow, and assert their dominance or submission, whichever the case may be.
Seelie wilders work within the structure of the faerie kingdom to advance their own causes. They hold dear the concept of honor and would earn the respect of their fellows quickly if it weren’t for their communication challenges. Many affinities bless the pooka with courage and daring, leadership skills and a certain wisdom that, when combined with a reverence for honor and beauty, makes them valuable assets to any court. In their wildling years, they’ve lost much of the childish urge to prank and play that they had as childlings. Many pooka display a seriousness that rivals that of trolls, and their courtly grace can sometimes put a sidhe to shame. Wilder pooka, faeries in their prime, are very alive and unique. Fascinating creatures, they fit no stereotypes, other than the ones which make them resemble their affinity.
Wilder pooka of the Unseelie variety wear an aura of dark danger. They don’t prank; they menace. They tend to give themselves over to their primitive urgings more readily than their Seelie cousins. Just as everyone knows to be cautious around any wild animal, changelings fear these pooka. Unpredictable and dangerous, these faeries attack when cornered and sometimes just for the sport of it. Whether it be with sharp tongue or claws, Unseelie wilders leave scars.
By the time a pooka has lived long enough to see their grump years, they have learned much and experienced more. They have begun to settle in their ways and to stake out their territory. Until challenged, the pooka grump oversees it like a nosy landlord or an interfering grandmother. Innately, a grump pooka believes that merely by having survived so long, they have earned a right to the respect of their fellow changelings and they claim that right without asking and they oversee their domain with a keen eye and territorial pride.
Whether crotchety and cranky, or wise and kind, the pooka grump has reached a point where keeping to social etiquette, whether faerie or mortal, no longer matters as much. All their life, they have suffered from Banality or been rejected by other changelings who misunderstand their Pooka-ese. They feel they have paid their dues to earn their periodic disregard for etiquette. Opinionated to a fault, they have outgrown the need to play political games. Their wisdom allows them to see through the bullshit and they make it known. They know that Their time is limited; the fear of political repercussion no longer restricts them. Although not openly rude to a noble they disrespects, their opinion clearly shines in their eyes and in the reserved, limited courtesy they show that noble in public. Even the sidhe put up with this. “Oh,” they say, “They're just an old, grumpy pooka. Ignore them.”
This territorialism, elderly behavior, and embrace of routine manifests in different ways in individual pooka. A Seelie pooka may take the role of wise mentor or grandparent advising or chastising when necessary. He or she guides and protects those in their domain to the best of their ability, taking this self-assumed responsibility seriously, training childlings and watching for signs of trouble. The Seelie pooka grump works to maintain peace and harmony, often tattling on those who would threaten this with their political maneuverings and mischief.
Unseelie pooka in their grump years do the same, though with a more sinister approach. Their territorialism comes out less as protection and more like ownership. They assert their dominance with varying degrees of aggression. Some do this surreptitiously via plotting and puppeteering from behind the scenes. Others openly claim their regency over an area, becoming like gang leaders who rule their dominions with iron fists until someone younger knocks them from the throne.
Where Pooka Go to Die
There comes a time in every pooka’s life when they have outlived their usefulness to the pack. Banality weighs so heavily upon their shoulders that it taints the advice they give and colors the wisdom of their decisions. Their memory fades and they lose sight of their goals.
Seelie pooka consider this a sad time and the loss of their elder a great tragedy. Other, younger pooka, keep a close eye on these grumps, checking on them and even sometimes moving in with them to help care for the elder. The most unacceptable thing in any Seelie pooka’s mind is for a changeling to die alone. They work together to stay the Mists for as long as possible, and when, in the end, the grump has lost their grip on the Dreaming, they do whatever they can to ease their passing. Just as mentors guided them through their Chrysalis and Saining, youngsters now guide them through the end of their life, continuing to visit and see to their comfort even after the Mists have overtaken them, until the time comes when the soul is released for rebirth.
Unseelie pooka view the slipping grump as a liability to the pack. By this time, a younger, stronger leader has undoubtedly dethroned the pooka. They no longer serves a purpose, not even as an advisor. These dark faeries cease wasting resources, including Glamour, upon the old pooka and may even go so far as to banish the changeling from their midst. Though Seelie pooka view this as cruel and heartless, the Unseelie see it as a natural process and a simple matter of survival. The grump had his day. It’s time for a new leader, and resources should go to the young who can actually put them to good use rather than wasting them on someone who has lived past their prime.
Pooka view natural physical death as rebirth. When occurring in the old and Banality-ridden, it's a blessing. They celebrate the cycle and, though they mourn the loss, they know that their friend’s soul has found a better place, a chance to rest, and the chance to see again through the eyes of a child.
Violent death such as homicide, though, proves much more traumatic for the pooka. They feel that the faerie was torn from them before their time and often seek revenge on the one who caused the death, even if it was an accident. It is one of the best known causes for a Seelie pooka to spontaneously change legacies and become Unseelie. Though few actually go on a killing spree, they do, in cases of foul play, seek revenge that often ends in another death. When the death was an accident, they make damn sure that the person responsible for the accident feels the pain, the loss and the guilt for what happened.
- Affinity: Nature
- Shapechanging: Each pooka has an affinity with a mundane animal (no unicorns or griffins or such things). When completely alone, he or she may shapeshift into that animal (or back) over one turn. It costs one point of Glamour to change into animal form, though it is free to return to mortal seeming. The pooka has all the animal's natural abilities. The animal affinity affects the appearance and mannerisms of the fae in question.
- Confidant: Pooka naturally break down the barriers of even the coldest of people. With their curiosity, they make outstanding confidants. Once during a conversation, the pooka my roll their Perception + Empathy (or Subterfuge) to get another person to spill their guts. The difficulty is the target's Willpower. Each success allows for one truthful answer to a personal question. This isn't instantaneous, though. It takes time, effort, (and roleplaying) to coax out the information. This Birthright functions normally in front of mortals. Also, a pooka can never botch an Empathy or Subterfuge roll.
- Lies: People may trust pooka but no one would believe one. No matter how important the issue, they must always mix in a lie. They have to make a Willpower roll, difficulty 8, to tell the whole truth. Different pooka have different styles. Some Seelie always say the opposite of what they mean while some Unseelie will purposefully tell the truth at times to keep people guessing. If the pooka makes their Willpower roll, they can mix truth and lies freely.
Pooka, with their talent for exaggeration, pomp and circumstance, sometimes fit quite well in the noble courts. Some have very regal manners, such as certain butterfly and bird pooka. Their colorful garb and noble demeanors allow them to blend with the sidhe and the titled commoners. A pooka can have as much grace as a sidhe and can be as honorable as a troll. By the same token, another might be as careless as a redcap or as irreverent as a satyr. The tradition of pooka as court jester seems to be changing with the times, as different species emerge and changelings learn that not all pooka are pranksters and childish clowns. Nonetheless, many Kithain remember that the role of court jester was once considered an honored position. Traditionally, jesters act as the conscience of the ruler, berating him for foibles and commenting on those things of which no one else dares to speak. Those courts where this is still true value their pooka jesters highly. Sadly, they are few and far between.
The Seelie Court
Seelie pooka fall into two categories: leaders and followers. Those who lead do so with honor, courage and an attempt at wisdom. Those who follow display loyalty to the point of dying for the cause. They champion conservation and preservation of nature and its creatures. They use more conventional methods to achieve their goals, working within the confines of mortal laws, though they are not above causing harm to those who destroy without conscience.
- Death Before Dishonor
Just like any other Seelie changeling, they value honor in their leaders and in everyone else as well. Though other kith sometimes do, pooka don’t see a conflict between their honor and the lies which fall from their lips. What a person says and how they acts are two different things. Judge by deeds, not words. They have high expectations when it comes to honor and any who fall below acceptable limits often dip much deeper in the pooka’s estimation than they would if it were another kith judging them.
- Love Conquers All
When a pooka considers the concept of love, their first thought is always for their pack. Although many believe in true love and mate for life, the great majority skip from partner to partner. Love, for pooka, is sometimes seasonal. Because of this tendency for their mating seasons to be so cyclical, relationships with certain of the other kith often end in broken hearts. Trolls, in particular, find it difficult to have pooka lovers. The Pooka don't necessarily fall out of love, their attention just diverts to other pursuits. The regularity of this doesn’t mean that they don’t actually love the person or cease to love their most recent mate just because the leaves have begun to change.
- Beauty Is Life
Every pooka has their own definition of beauty. These animalistic faeries tend to find their beauty in nature rather than in the constructions and creations of mortals. However when the rare artist manages to mimic nature in an unnatural form, a pooka might appreciate the imitation. Each pooka has their own preferences. A city pooka might discover beauty in a bit of graffiti on the train station wall. A wilderness pooka, such as a camel pooka, might disregard the graffiti, but marvel at the way colorful tents decorate swirling sand dunes. This isn't to say that pooka don't find beauty in another changeling’s or mortal’s physical body. Quite the opposite! Pooka can become enraptured with one they find beautiful just as easily as an eshu or satyr. All pooka dedicate themselves to the protection and preservation of whatever they find beautiful.
- Never Forget A Debt
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a gift for a gift— Seelie pooka abide by this part of the Seelie Code without even having to think about it. Revenge comes naturally to them as well; almost too naturally. Pooka hold grudges and never forget a favor. This makes them both worthy allies and dangerous opponents. Many have a predator’s patience and await the perfect moment to strike back at their enemies. By the same token, they often return a gesture with one even more lavishly extravagant than the one they received. Oaths, when offered, touch them deeply, for the taking of an oath implies both acceptance of and respect for the one to whom it is sworn and pooka are all too often dismissed as unworthy. Most packs share the Oath of Clasped Hands and take this allegiance very seriously.
Although some Seelie pooka could frighten the blue off a troll, they probably wouldn’t bother. Unseelie pooka do it without even trying. There’s something incredibly feral and unsettling about them. Perhaps it’s that dangerous gleam in their eyes, or the particular way they lick their lips, or the tautness in their muscles. Whatever the case, Unseelie pooka look predatory. Even a rabbit pooka of the Unseelie court has an attitude that makes people wonder.
- Change Is Good
Many pooka run in packs and this is no less true for Unseelie. Still, Unseelie pooka have a less static organization than their Seelie siblings. Their packs metamorphose and reorganize regularly. One might think that Unseelie pooka would forego loyalty, but they are just as bound by the pack mentality as any other pooka. Though the pack may change internally, its make-up rarely differs. As in nature, the young challenge the older leaders and if the youth succeeds, they become the leader until someone else knocks them from the hill. Often a leader will rise and fall several times before giving up the pursuit entirely.
- Glamour Is Free
When an Unseelie pooka is hungry, they eat; thirsty, they drink; horny, they mate. The same applies to Glamour. These faeries find no benefit in filling the root cellar with Dross. Mortal dreamers are the herd and the Unseelie pooka the predators lurking at the edge of the forest. With a basic contempt for domestication, they view their Seelie brethren’s attempts to plant and harvest Glamour as unnatural. Though they muse from time to time, they do so for reasons other than the acquisition of Glamour. Instead, they muse in order to share their own vision of the natural world.
Unseelie pooka don’t feel sad for the world’s devastation; they are enraged. They want mortals to be afraid — very afraid — of the repercussions of their actions. They inspire dreams of the more violent and so-called disgusting aspects of the animal kingdom. Only in certain instances, they have learned, do these dreams work to further their cause, however. Mortals destroy what they fear. Since the Resurgence, Unseelie pooka have adopted a new tactic. They direct their dark inspirations toward the things they want stomped out. Thus, many of these faeries encourage dreams of nuclear radiation, of a shriveled world of concrete, of acid rain, and of a post-apocalyptic lifestyle of horror. Unfortunately, this has produced chimerical clouds of glowing, acidic mist and horrible, flesh-eating mutants in the Dreaming, but these things are an unavoidable side effect of the battle against Banality.
- Honor Is A Lie
Honor among Unseelie pooka relates directly to the pack. As with the other kith of this court, these faeries have a somewhat unique, indefinable sense of honor. Backstabbing within the pack is acceptable, but as soon as someone else tries to harm the group or one of its members, the whole rises up together against that threat. Pooka don’t call this honor. They have no desire to propagate any myth of “honor;” In their minds, it’s simply a matter of survival. You don’t make it in the big, bad world if you don’t have your homies at your back, and you don’t have your homies at your back if you dis’ them when it really counts.
- Passion Before Duty
Unseelie pooka embrace their animalistic instincts. They believe that to deny their own nature works in conflict with the Dreaming. They disdain pooka who mold themselves to the velvet parlors and courtly manners of the Seelie court, convinced they are actually helping to destroy the dreams that created and continue to sustain pooka.
The Shadow Court
The Shadow Court attracts many Unseelie pooka and they have dug an important place for themselves among its ranks. Everything about the Shadow Court melds well with pooka philosophy, history, and goals. Furthermore, because pooka have the innate ability to keep a secret, they are trusted with the more subversive missions of the court. Not only can pooka keep a secret, but they have earned a reputation among the other faeries as “unimportant.” Pooka make the perfect Shadow Court spies.
Encouraged by the deviant structure of the Shadow Court, many pooka seek it out to fulfill their need for a pack without compromising their desire to live entirely by instinct. This court validates their primitive and predatory urges, despite its semi-feudal organization. For many pooka, the Shadow Court represents the perfect mating of Arcadian courtly structure with the qualities of Unseelie packs.
The Lone Pooka
While the majority of pooka tend to run in packs, there are those with certain affinities who make their way alone. Sometimes, they choose to exile themselves from other pooka due to profound melancholy or the desire to travel with others who are not their kind and who therefore judge them by different standards. A few choose non-pooka as their packmates due to feelings of love, respect or loyalty for them. What do they care if their sidhe and eshu companions think them ineffectual clowns? At worst, they're free to act the role while pursuing other goals, and at best, at least they can make someone laugh even if they cannot cheer themself. Even in isolation from other pooka, it’s truly rare to meet a pooka who fares totally alone. Most have some sort of pack, even if it’s simply a group of serendipitous companions or the more anonymous group of courtiers of the local court. Lone pooka, those who travel with no others and who remain alone by choice, are often dangerous — and dangerously unbalanced.
Even pooka have secret societies, though most are far from “secret” in the usual sense of the word. Because of the pooka propensity for gathering in packs, most other fae simply ignore groups of pooka and assume it’s “just another pooka pack up to pulling pranks.” Naturally, this plays right into the hands of those pooka who really are up to something.
- The Powerful Purveyors of Pestilential Pranks
- The Pooka Watchers' Pooka Watchers
- The Uncrowned
- The Salvage Crew
- The Political Animals
- The Renunciate Faction
Pooka judge their fellow faeries in terms of courage, leadership, loyalty and nearness to animals. Their intrinsic tendency to test other changelings often directs itself more readily toward the kith that annoy or bother them. As with everything else, pooka opinions vary largely between affinities. What one pooka may appreciate, many others will scorn. Making broad generalizations about pooka opinions is about as valid as saying that all tigers ride tricycles. It just ain’t so.
- Boggans - Most Seelie pooka feel drawn to boggans. Few can help but appreciate their altruism. Because pooka tend to go out of their way to aid kind strangers, they share a common bond with boggans. The animalistic kith recognize the boggans’ acceptance of them as well. Rarely, and only when justified, will a boggan treat a pooka unkindly merely because of his kith. Furthermore, throughout history, boggans have built a reputation for their love of animals. This, perhaps more than anything else, has endeared them to pooka. Few Unseelie pooka have much use for boggans, though opinions differ. So long as the boggan doesn’t piss off a pooka, he will likely remain blissfully ignored by the other changeling. Many view boggans as weak. Despite this, even Unseelie pooka respect boggan loyalty and often rely on them to do jobs for them. They take advantage of boggan kindness, but also respect the tal- ented kith’s sense of self-worth. Self-pride, to most Unseelie pooka, is not a fault, but a strength, especially when justified.
- Eshu - Eshu and pooka, both Seelie and Unseelie, have more in common than one would suspect. On the surface, the two kith share a somewhat competitive relationship. They try to outdo each other with tricks and scams, but it’s all in fun. Underneath, these two kith share a bond that goes back millennia. When pooka first began to travel around the world enlightening mortals to the sanctity of animals, many of them took eshu companions. Those pooka with migratory affinities meld quite well with eshu. Nothing entertains pooka more than a good story. They themselves are consummate storytellers, their own tales usually embellished beyond belief, which sometimes annoys eshu, but the two can spend hours trying to outdo each other with fantastic tales of far-away places and larger-than-life heroes. Eshu listen intently to pooka stories, trying to divine the truth inside the fiction. Their curiosity and love of challenge draws them to pooka. And pooka, both Seelie and Unseelie, adore the attention.
- Nockers - Nockers and pooka usually don’t get along at all. As a general rule, pooka annoy nockers who view the pooka propensity for mistruth as an imperfection. Pooka don’t appreciate the insults and ridicule nockers lay on them either. As sensitive as they are to attack, pooka find this aggressive attitude highly offensive. It tends to trigger their animal instincts toward fight or flight and many of their most malicious retributions are aimed at nockers. To make matters worse, nockers value the mechanical, unliving things that pooka often detest. They dedicate themselves to creating objects that, in pooka opinion, mirror the worst man-made constructs. Pooka see all those machines and devices which have slowly been eating away at nature reflected in nocker creations. Despite the efforts of some nockers to create ecologically sound inventions, most pooka look upon all nockers with suspicion, giving them little chance to show what they could do, given the opportunity. Seelie pooka tend to avoid nockers when possible, while the Unseelie go in for sabotage.
- Redcaps - Seelie pooka abhor redcaps. The vulgar faeries show no respect for anything, especially for creatures of the natural world. They might give the rare Seelie redcap a chance, but their prejudices against this kith run deep and they find it extremely difficult to trust any redcap, Seelie or Unseelie. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that redcaps make a sport of picking on and even torturing pooka, often with fatal results. Only in the rarest of instances will a pooka go anywhere near a redcap unless accompanied by someone else. Pooka and redcaps don’t mix like oil and water, they mix like gasoline and flame; and it’s usually the pooka that doesn’t walk away. This puts redcaps at the top of the list for any Samhain pranks. Among Unseelie pooka, opinions regarding redcaps often mirror those of Seelie pooka, though many of these faeries have learned to deal with these irascible fae. Although they get no more respect from the redcaps than their Seelie brethren, Unseelie pooka can growl and snap with the best of them. They don’t take any crap from redcaps and have learned that retribution for a wrong must come immediately and with greater force than the wrong inflicted. Redcaps have learned that it doesn’t pay to mess with an Unseelie pooka — especially not when the pooka’s got a pack backing him up and carrying a big flame thrower.
- Satyrs - Most Seelie pooka want to adore satyrs. They feel a certain kinship with these beings that are half animal just as they are. Many go out of their way to befriend satyrs. Unfortunately, satyrs have less patience with pooka than vice versa. Most Satyrs find Pooka-ese annoying, and pooka sense this. This instills a sadness and resentment in pooka toward satyrs. Pooka feel that satyrs should be their best friends, and when they sense rejection from the goats, it triggers the sorrow and anger lurking in their hearts. This escalates quickly when pooka retaliate with pranks intended to show the satyrs that they are just as fun loving and wonderful as the goats. The result is an odd love-hate relationship, almost tragic because it is based in misunderstanding and poor communication. If these two kith could ever get past their differences and learn to tolerate one another, they would make a mighty alliance. Even Unseelie pooka feel an attraction to satyrs, however the tension between the two grows even faster. These pooka respect and look up to the satyrs’ pursuit of their passions. They strive to emulate these liberated changelings with a reverence nearly akin to hero-worship, then come down hard on the goats when they fail to live up to expectations. Unseelie pooka frequently expect unusual sexual favors from satyrs, equating their passion with perversity, and sometimes take what they want by force if their demands aren’t met willingly.
- Sidhe - Though many Seelie pooka covet the favor of the nobility, few sidhe actually earn their respect. Sidhe dedication to “civilized” behavior and courtly manners often supersedes any other goal — including the fair treatment of their animals and their commoner followers. Pooka opinion on the sidhe varies more than on any other kith. Judged on their leadership qualities, their fairness and their wisdom, sidhe must live up to high standards in order to earn pooka respect; their every action and edict falls under direct scrutiny. This same applies to Unseelie pooka, though they tend to judge both Seelie and Unseelie sidhe much more harshly. The slightest mistake could tarnish a sidhe’s reputation with these pooka for a long time. All pooka have found it difficult to forgive and forget the Night of Iron Knives. It so closely emulated the massacre of whole species of animals by humans that they simply cannot let it go. Ever-paranoid when in the company of the noble fae, most pooka find it extremely difficult to ever trust a sidhe – especially those who fall back upon their rights and privileges as the “obvious” rulers of all fae.
- Sluagh - Pooka can't imagine the sluagh in the forest despite their origins within the dark and tangled woods of Russia. Although pooka have no particular dislike for sluagh, they feel they have absolutely nothing in common with them. Even rat pooka don’t care for these creatures. Pooka are about living, growing things. Sluagh smell of decay. Even Unseelie pooka find no particular place for sluagh in the cycle from birth to death (though they acknowledge that the “creepy-crawlies” can occasionally prove useful). Most pooka associate sluagh with cities and view them as an offshoot of urban dreams. The only affinity of pooka that particularly gets along with sluagh is the spider. These rare and strange pooka attract sluagh and vice versa. This should come as no particular surprise, considering the sluagh’s affection for these arachnids, but no one quite understands why the attraction is mutual. Perhaps it’s the sluagh’s special kindness to these changelings. Perhaps it’s related to some ancient event that forever linked them. Whatever the case, they inevitably find one another.
- Trolls - Only the most enlightened troll finds friendship with the pooka. This hurts Seelie pooka deeply for two reasons: They admire and respect trolls and they know that the qualities for which trolls despise them are the ones that make pooka noble and honorable. Trolls rarely get pooka linguistics. They do not understand the necessity for causing people to question the status quo and instilling doubt in their minds. Trolls cling too tightly, too stubbornly, to their beliefs and preconceptions. When pooka attempt to break apart these troll doctrines and make them re-examine these beliefs, the trolls see it as a personal attack. Unseelie don’t bother to seek friendship with Seelie trolls, but take great enjoyment in blowing up their notions. Nothing appeals more to an Unseelie pooka than to see a troll’s eyes slowly darken as they begin to question their beliefs or begin the slow descent into their Unseelie legacy. Unsurprisingly, the pooka believes they're doing the troll a favor. Of course, the changelings of the Seelie court do not appreciate this one bit.
Pooka feel an inherent kinship with most Gallain. Just as the Gallain are outsiders, pooka have always felt misunderstood by the other major Arcadian kith as well. Historically, pooka travels have brought them in contact with the Gallain time and again. Their affinity with animals has given them a foot in the door with many of these strange creatures and allowed them to form lasting alliances that have served them well over the ages.
- Nunnehi - Unlike the other Arcadian kith, the dreams that formed and strengthened pooka came, in part, from the same source that created the Nunnehi. In many ways, the two are siblings, with the same mother and father. Admittedly, this does not make them automatic best friends, but it does mean that they occasionally afford each other certain rights and privileges that otherwise would not be given. For example, the Nunnehi rarely bother pooka traveling through their territory, unless the pooka has somehow managed to disturb the natural order there. Some Nunnehi remember a time when pooka stood beside them in an alliance against the white man. Even those that no longer remember this in their tales and myths have traditions of honoring the wise fool or the contraries (those who say and do the opposite of what they mean in order to comment on injustice or foolish practices). For this reason, they treat pooka with caution and a certain hands-off respect. Of course, a pooka must act responsibly and respect the Nunnehi as well or the native faeries come to the conclusion that the pooka is nothing more than a pretender and lose respect for that particular changeling. The Pooka have witnessed first hand the mighty power of the Nunnehi. This instills a wariness in pooka. In short, the two avoid troubling one another whenever possible, while acknowledging that they have a great deal in common.
- Selkies - Pooka look up to Selkies, respect them, and honor them. Completely befuddled by and in awe of these beautiful ocean changelings, pooka find a mystery here they will likely never understand. Many have wondered if selkies aren’t just another type of pooka, and with good reason, but too many differences exist. For one, seal pooka differ greatly from selkies. In addition, the most obvious incongruity is the fact that the geas that binds pooka to their mistruths does not likewise bind the selkies. For ages, pooka have wondered about this. Pooka and selkies both champion nature’s bounty and regularly work together against common enemies. Oceanic pooka, in particular, enjoy a special friendship with these glorious beings. They swim with them and fight alongside them. Rarely will any pooka ever deny the request of a selkie. Even Unseelie pooka find it difficult to reject them, though they may posture and grumble about it. They understand all too well the sadness shining in selkie eyes and the suffering painted on their souls.
- Inanimae - Just as the dreams of prehistoric man put minds and hearts into animals, so they also assigned life to the world’s landscape. The Inanimae were born from the same dream-womb that conceived the pooka. At one time, plants and elements lived in near-perfect harmony; pooka and Inanimae were equals. As the world changed and humanity turned its energies toward harvest, cultivation and acquisition, pooka and Inanimae became targets together. This has forged a connection between the two that is strong and deep, however subconscious. Pooka view Inanimae as innocents who need protection and they see themselves as the ones who must perform that guardianship. Some Unseelie pooka look down on Inanimae, assigning weakness and incompetence to them. They disdain Inanimae for being so nearly tamed by the human assembly line. However, though they may scorn these alien beings and view them as simpering doormats, they also understand the need to preserve them.
Any time changelings venture into the realm of other supernatural beings, they risk complicating the danger they face and attracting new enemies. They remain largely ignorant of other prodigals, and when they do learn of them, they tend to try to fit them into their own purview of the world. Because they believe all non-human entities to be constructs of the Dreaming, they tend to assign faerie attributes to the prodigals. They define them in terms of cantrips and dreams, noctnitsa and fomori, courts and chimera.
- Vampires - History has shown these vile creatures to be dangerous and untrustworthy. Most faeries discover the existence of vampires quite by accident. Because vampires keep to themselves and hide their mysteries, pooka rarely have occasion to chat with one. The warnings that have spread among changelings who know about vampires are all stories of betrayal, murder and scientific experimentation. These beasts kill without mercy, their lust for blood making them a feared predator to the pooka. Tales abound of vampires that become addicted to faerie blood and use the fae victim as a drug, eventually leaving the changeling as nothing more than an empty husk. Pooka believe that vampires were created from the nightmares of mortals, likening them to noctnitsa. Many of these monsters reek of Banality. Some few, whose shattered minds remind pooka of the deepest depths of the Dreaming, hold a dark appeal for the fae.
- Werewolves - Pooka and werewolves have one major thing in common: their anger at the destruction of the world’s animals and the rape of the natural environment. Of course the shared ability to shape-change doesn’t hurt either. Pooka believe themselves to be related to werewolves, much in the same way they are related to selkies. They see the Garou as faeries who have forgotten or relinquished their connection to the Dreaming to focus on the battle to save nature. They think that perhaps rage has overcome these creatures; subjugating their wonder in favor of a more primal drive. Seelie pooka cringe at typical werewolf methods of dealing with their enemies, though they understand the werewolves’ rage at a very deep level. Unseelie pooka, on the other hand, get off on the strong-arm tactics of the werewolves. Most woodland pooka are aware of werewolves, though city-dwellers rarely meet one. Even those that know of the werewolves usually prefer not to approach them or reveal themselves. They prefer to watch, aiding their fellow shapechangers anonymously when they can.
- Mages - Pooka call mages “wyrders” because their cantrips seem drawn from the Wyrd. They equate mages with children who have learned how to fire a gun without completely understanding the repercussions of it. Though this fascinates them, especially when they see how Banality responds to mage cantrips with such debilitating backlash, they know mages are extremely dangerous. A wyrder’s curiosity has no bounds, especially when she discovers a faerie. Often the wyrder will go to extreme lengths to probe the nature of the changeling. This has resulted in many faerie deaths.
- Wraiths - Pooka have an odd outlook toward wraiths. Throughout their history, they have associated with peoples who believed in the ghosts of their ancestors and in spirits who walked the earth on unfinished quests. Pooka believe that the existence of wraiths originated in dreams and nightmares. Though they know that wraiths are not chimera, they explain these entities as lingering shadows of the people they once were, given a sort of life by the nightmares of hauntings and the dreams of loved ones for the return of their beloved. Still, pooka concentrate on life, not death, and thus find little in common with or use for wraiths.
Pooka have a strange love-hate relationship with most humans. On the one hand, they are the ones whose dreams and creativity sustain them; allowing them to continue to exist. On the other hand, humans are the destroyers of the natural world, the killers of animal kind and the uncaring masses who unwittingly generate Banality through their blind adherence to whatever is most familiar and comfortable. Pooka once tried to educate humans, but most have failed to learn anything. Those who do accept the teachings of respect for nature are the most likely to become the prey of the more aggressive and murderous of their own kind. In short, the pooka don’t know what to think of or do about humans. Many pooka fall to Bedlam attempting to ignore these pesky mortals and how they feel about them by hiding away in freeholds or in the Dreaming itself. Still, there are always pooka who still believe that humans can be taught a better way. They’re just few and far between.
War in Concordia
It remains to be seen which side (if any) the pooka choose to support now that High King David has disappeared. Some already advocate joining the Shadow Court since they fear what the nobles may do. Others say that the Seelie are their only friends while others say they have no friends beyond themselves and urge a return to the Dream-burrows before it’s too late. Almost all of them agree, however, that in any conflict, the ones most likely to be overlooked and to suffer are the pooka. This time the more common may band together against such treatment with the assurance that their more exotic kin will kick butt right alongside them.
- Alcibiades Nikiraeus
- Cassandra Bates
- Cedric Evans
- Charisma Jones
- Coca Jones
- Corbie John
- Derwyn ap Allyn
- Ellie McCrumb
- Fergus Shaughnessy
- Flora MacDonald
- Frederick the Brave
- Gannet Sullivan
- Jeri Blackstone
- John McKroan
- Jonathan Edward Stanton
- Kaatje van Patten
- Laurette Pascinale
- Leland Joplin-Jones
- Linden Silvercrown
- The Loch Lads
- Lord Bubastis
- Mahbub ibn Iqbal
- Martin Long-Claw
- Mary Widowe
- Molly Atwater
- Moses Delgado
- Mr. Foster
- Ocyrus Pristis
- Perseverance Matthews
- Phineas Todd
- Portia Jessup
- Duke Pwyffelt
- René Devereaux
- Robin McAllister
- Runcible Shaw
- Sachi Jensen
- Tammy Sinclair
- Thierry Alain Chevalier
- Tibbett Clemmons
- Wilsie Brody
Pooka don’t have a whole lot of use for things; relying on their wits and abilities. Things only weigh you down, especially considering the fact that a pooka’s treasures do not change with them when they shift into animal form. Nevertheless, a few special pooka-related treasures have developed over the millennia. These items have special significance to pooka and they tend to guard them jealously.
- CtD. Kithbook: Pooka.
- CtD. Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition, pp. 94-95.
- CtD. Changeling Players Guide, pp. 72-75.