Most Redcaps come from the same basic blueprint. When you've got something that works, why mess with it? They've been around in basically the same form for a long time and the basic design does what it's supposed to do. There have been a few adaptations to the design that haven't worked out, however, like the Big Heads of the Nunnehi.
That all being said, there are a couple of branches on the redcap tree. The Stone Giants may be one. The other is the River Hag. They aren't exactly redcaps but if you go back on the family tree far enough, you'll start finding the same names on both sides. Or you might not. Either way, you get the feeling that great-grandpappy on the redcap side and their great-grandma fooled around a bit with the grownups weren't lookin'.
Redcaps hear tell they prefer the term "flumeno-carnivo-kithanians." Whatever. When you're muck-green and have a mouth like a sewer grate you'll take what you can get. Some folks claim that the Hags started out as goddesses of particular streams and whatnot and got uglier and more antisocial as the old ways fell out of style. Who knows. What is known is that you find River Hags in places where the banks are treacherous and the waters run fast and deep; in places where rivers tend to swallow small children without a trace; in places where, in other words, the river feeds.
For all intents and purposes, you can lump redcaps and river hags together. How can you tell the difference? Why would you want to? If you're close enough to be wondering about identifying marks, you're too close.
They're ugly. Next question?
OK, OK. Details then.
Your average river hag is about as attractive as a corpse that's been held underwater for a week and then spanked and sent downstream. They're either bloated to an extreme or thin and twisted like a mess of willow twigs. The bloated ones tend to have big, sloppy mouths that can take a child in one gulp while the skinny ones just open wide when they chow down. Both kinds, though, have nice teeth... if you're into concertina wire and caltrops. Larger hags are prone to pug noses and big ears while the skinnier one tend towards hook noses and sometimes no ears at all.
The heftier hags tend to have short arms and short fingers. They're more interested in letting dinner get close before stuffing it in their mouth. Skinnier ones are more proactive. They'll come up to the banks and reach out, wrapping their long fingers around the ankles of whatever comes too close to the bank and pulling them in.
They come in a wide variety of colors but none of them are attractive unless you're a sluagh or a dung beetle. There's bloated corpse white, river muck green, decaying leaf brown, mottled variations of all three... you get the idea. Many have yellow eyes that glow in the dark and they can see underwater as well as other folks can see on land. Something about a "nictitating membrane," whatever that is.
They're built to be good at what they do and what they do ain't very nice.
No River Hag can have an Appearance greater than 1.
They eat. They patrol their sections of river. Sometimes they put on their nice clothes and go to town. What more is there?
OK. Plenty more.
River hags are tied to a particular river, if not a particular stretch of river. Their mortal seemings always end up living right on the water with some sort of job that ties into the whole thing: fishing, piloting a boat, writing reports as an environmental whack-tivist. Those kind of things. This means if they need to get into the water, they can do it with little fuss. It also means they know where to hide bodies on those rare occasions they leave bodies.
When at their haggish best, these ladies tend not to leave the water. Rumor is they can't do it for more than a few days at a time, anyway, and they have to stick close to their river homes. Water ain't just water it seems. It's got to be the specific river.
They tend to go after three sorts of folks: the mean, the stupid, and trespassers.
Mean is a no brainer. Anyone who's bad for their stretch of river isn't going to be on their list of favorite people. She's got to live there, after all, and if some fool chokes it with sludge, boxtops, and dead fish, odds are she ain't gonna be happy about it. Anybody making that kind of mess is fair game and should probably stay away from the river banks at night.
Trespassers are different kettle of fish, but they aren't exactly welcome with open arms... or they are, but in a non-idiomatic sense. Hags are protective of their territory. They don't like unannounced visitors. If you need to go see one, the best thing to do is stand well back from the water, announce you're coming, and then throw a dead sheep or something in there. If you're lucky, you'll see a bit of thrashing as the bribe vanishes and then you'll get the high sign to come down for a visit. If not, turn around and go home. If they don't want you there, you don't want to be there.
Sadly, though, there's no shortage of idiots on the world. You'd be surprised how may people (well, sidhe and their sycophants) think it's a good idea to go down the river and try to clobber a hag for the fun of it. The word for this is "dumb". First, if you don't bother a hag, she won't bother you. Second, challenging her on her home turf isn't the wisest tactical move. Third, even if you manage to win, what did you prove? She'll just be back eventually unless you used cold iron and even the stodgiest, snottiest sidhe don't do that often. It's a lot of risk for very little gain. It's not like their keeping people from crossing the river except their little patch of turf. Guess that's not good enough for some.
As such, the ladies get real defensive about anyone who comes trotting in uninvited. Even idiots who have no idea that it's river hag territory tend to be antisocial once they figure out who's in charge and they hags ain't got time for that. Stupid is a bit more difficult to quantify. This tends to be the "tragic accident" category... pets drowned, little kid playing to close to the water's edge... you know the story. It's not nice, no. Its mean and vicious. So is the world.
Get this through your head. The hags weren't put here to make the world a nicer, happier place. They're hear as a reminder that rivers are dangerous places and that riverbanks are slippery and water doesn't let you go once it's got you. They're not supposed to protect puppies or save kids from drowning. Don't try to fit them into some black/white moral system of good/bad. They have a job to do on direct orders from the universe and they do it. End of story. Don't blame them for what they are and what they have to do. You don't have to like it but that's the way it is.
The Hags are, for the most part, solitary creatures and this should be reflected in their Backgrounds.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Realm Affinity: Nature
- Dark Appetite: Like redcaps, River hags can eat anything. They chew through cars and eat their way through walls. Their teeth are sharp and hard as steel. Their digestive systems (thankfully) remain a mystery. Most prefer human or animal meat but when hunger strikes, anything will do. Anything. As long as they can put it in their mouth, they can eat it. Large objects can be chewed into smaller pieces. Digesting something particularly vile or tough (like wood, steel, romance novels, or toxic waste) requires the expenditure of a point of Glamour. If they attempt to use this birthright in combat, they must also spend a point of Glamour, as if trying to eat something not normally edible. The base damage is Strength + 2 (difficulty 5). Additionally they may try to sever an opponent's limb. This requires 5 successes on a Dexterity + Brawl roll (difficulty 8) or three successes if the victim is grappled. The attack inflicts a minimum of three health levels off damage if successful, in addition to any damage rolled.
- Bully Browbeat: River Hags can intimidate anything, even chimera. The difficulties of all Intimidation rolls are reduced by one. A successful roll causes chimera to obey without question; sentient creatures can resist with Willpower rolled at a difficulty of the River Hag's Willpower. This Birthright functions normally at all times, even in the presence of mortals or unenchanted supernaturals.
- Into The Depths: A river hag may submerge underwater and breathe indefinitely.
- Bad Attitude: No one likes a River hag, not even other river hags. Some noble freeholds try to ostracize or kill them on general principle. As part of this stigma, they suffer a +2 difficulty (or greater) on any social situation other than browbeating.
- Tied To the River: A river hag may leave her river and use cantrips to hide her appearance to walk among other fae and mortals. However, she may not be away from her river for more than a week. After one week, the hag must return and immerse immediately in the water, or else wither up at a rate of one aggravated damage per day (that cannot be healed outside of the hag’s river).
The hags take great advantage of the fact that they can stay underwater basically forever. Get into a fight with one and she'll drag you into the water and then hold you down until you drown. Nothing fancy about it. They just grab and hold you down until you stop doing stupid things like breathing. Most times they have beams, branches, or boulders ready to take you under so they don't even need to hold you down themselves... just swim off about five feet and watch you drown. If the snatch and grab doesn't work, they're still pretty tough. They're strong as hell and have teeth like a redcap. Plus the skinny ones have claws too. On top of that they can bend like a sluagh after a six-pack of Mad Dog and try to rip your guts out with their feet. It's a totally different fighting style under water and they are darn good at it.
On land it's a whole different story but they're generally too smart to fall for that sort of thing. Generally.
A River Hag must have at last two dots in the secondary skill of Swimming or the primary skill of Athletics plus at least one dot in Brawl.
Maidens On the Rhine & Other Crap
You may have heard that sometimes river maidens are just these sweet, innocent, pretty young things. If you believe that, I've got King David's winkie in a bag to sell you cheap. It's baloney... an illusion. A lot of hags are good at making themselves seem pretty for an hour or a day... the upper limit seems to be a year and a day, in most cases, but in the end it all goes wrong. Most of the ladies are smart enough to use good looks to lure particularly choice specimens into their traps. Others fall for the romance trip. You've got to pity them because there's no way it can ever work out long term. It's sad, really.
Known River Hags
See also: Boggies
Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition only lists the Realm Affinity of Nature, Birthrights as Dark Appetite and Into the Depths, and the Frailty as tied to the River. Kithbook: Redcap claims they have all the birthrights and frailties of the redcaps plus their unique two.
- CTD. Kithbook: Redcaps, pp. 58-61.
- CTD. Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, pp. 450-451