Known to many of the tribes of the Plains, Plateau, and Basin, the tunghat are dwarf-like Nunnehi who are the masters of animals. In either their changeling form or in animal guise, these helpful beings can summon and command a type of animal with whom they have formed a special bond. This bond is formed when the tunghat is still a youngling, and is dictated by the first wild animal the youngling sees after her special naming ceremony. Common animals include deer, rabbits, antelope, coyotes, birds, foxes, and bears.
The tunghat consider themselves to be go-betweens between the animal world and that of their human relations. When there is need for a hunt, the tunghat is supposed to be warned of an upcoming hunt by the tribe. They hold a special ceremony honoring their hunters and the animals who are about to be slain two nights before leaving on the hunt. Once apprised of their intentions, the tunghat summons as many animals as are within a half-day's travel and examines them. Using their Spirit Link Medicine, the tunghat speaks with the animals and determines which ones are old and infirm, slow or unlikely to make it through the next winter. These are the ones chosen to sacrifice themselves so that their human "cousins" may live. The other animals are then dispersed and warned to run far away since the hunters are coming.
The tunghat thanks each animal for its sacrifice and commends their spirits to the Great Spirit who watches over them all. The Tunghat then places the animals in the path of the hunters, arranging them so that the most worthy hunters (as shown by their attendance at the ceremony, their skill and their willingness to seek out cleverly hidden prey) will be the most successful.
If the hunters fail to warn the tunghat of an impending hunt, however, the tunghat does whatever they can to scatter the animals and prevent their unready spirits from being slaughtered. They move among the hunters, using their small stature and concealing coloration to remain unnoticed. Each hunter they can find is cursed by the tunghat. So potent are the curses of tunghat against those who hunt without their knowledge and permission, that the natives believe the tunghat shoots them with invisible arrows that cause sickness and death. Tunghat also curse greedy hunters who take more than they need.
In modern times, the tunghat have become increasingly embittered by the failure of most hunters to acknowledge their role in the life cycle. While some tribes do still hunt and some still hold the ceremonies, fewer and fewer hunters return every year. Of those who do come into the tunghats' territories, most are weekend wilderness warriors armed with high-powered rifles or even more potent weapons. They kill whatever moves indiscriminately, thus weakening the animal races. Huge agribusiness concerns and burgeoning urban centers have also taken their toll on the animals' and tunghat's habitats. More and more often, these sad changelings find themselves bypassed and ignored, their function forgotten and their bond with their animal brothers useful only to properly mourn them when their lives are cut short.
Some among the tunghat have begun to urge the entire Nation to arise and lead their animal charges on assaults against encroaching businesses and towns. Others counsel appeals to their human tribes to demand protections for the tunghat and their animal brothers. Whatever the outcome, it is doubtful that the tunghat can continue in their traditional roles for much longer in the face of "progress." Like the animals they befriend, they are on the endangered species list.
The tunghat are small green people with darker green hair, nails and teeth. They dress in green and wear rounded woven grass ponchos which they use to hide under when necessary.
- Younglings are rarely seen among the tunghat. Even tinier than their elders, younglings revel in using their special ability to change their appearance to match that of their bonded animal type. They take little thought for the world around them, instead remaining innocent and unaffected by the changes wrought by the modern world.
- Braves used to be the most active of the tunghat. Now they are mostly disaffected. Some Braves question their elders' wisdom in failing to fight those who encroach upon their territories; others just give up and join a circus (where they work with animal acts), become veterinarians or, saddest of all, open pet stores. Despairing that their traditional role no longer has any meaning, these changelings are hastening the destruction of their way of life and all too often succumbing to Banality.
- Elders endure. They know their time has passed, and they seek to inspire the younger tunghat to find ways to regain lost ground. Many have lost touch with their special bondmates as they have aged, and instead concentrate on not allowing the anger and despair of the braves to infect the younglings. Many have begun to talk of appealing for help from their native tribes, an almost unthinkable step. For all their accumulated wisdom, the elders are unable to prevent the erosion of their way of life and the soul-death of their youngsters.
The tunghat live in woven grass tipis in territory frequented by their chosen animal companions. Being somewhat gregarious when among their own kind, their tipis can often be found set in a circle after the manner of Plains Indian encampments. These campsites are usually inhabited by those who have bonded with the same animal type, though in areas where animal life is abundant, several different types may live close together. In modern times, more tunghat have begun living in trailers or moving to the city.
Birthrights & FrailtyEdit
- Affinity: Nature
- Animal Illusion: This power makes others (including animals) see the tunghat as a version of a certain type of animal.The type is always that of the animal with which they are bonded, but the illusion is always a little flawed, with the tunghat appearing larger than normal or with inappropriate markings or coloration.
- Summon the Herd: Their first use of this ability allows tunghat to establish a bond between themselves and a chosen animal type. This bond then allows the tunghat to summon animals under their charge (those of their bonded type who are within a half-day's travel), determine which ones are old or infirm, and appeal to them to give up their lives for the good of others.
- Animal Mind: If a tunghat maintains the illusion of their bonded animal for more than an hour, they may begin to forget they are not actually an animal. They must roll Wits + Empathy (difficulty 7) each hour they stay in animal form past the first in order to maintain their own mind. Failure to attain any successes means the tunghat remains locked in their illusion and begins to act like a normal member of their animal type's species. A botch means they not only believe themself to be an animal, they instinctively begin moving toward any hunters in the area, in effect offering themself as a target.
Views of Others Edit
- Canotili: These isolationists should be our allies; instead they are our rivals. May the spirits send them the grief they deserve.
- Inuas: Where is their vaunted knowledge? Why do they not use it to help us?
- Kachinas: We respect those who know their function and are still admired for practicing it.
- May-may-gway-shi: Like us, they have the power to intercede for nature. We pray they are able to continue as we are not.
- Nanehi: We should appeal to the nanehi's knowledge of our common lore for help in becoming strong again. It is a pity they are more concerned with appearance than with substance.
- Nümüzo'ho: We have little to do with these frightful beings. We would like to keep it that way.
- Pu'gwis: Ugly, but kind-hearted and longing for love. May they find what they seek.
- Rock Giants: Strong, as we are no longer. Fighters, which we are no longer. Despite their drawbacks, perhaps it is time we learned from our gigantic brothers.
- Surems: Quiet and peaceful. We are gladdened that they can be so.
- Water Babies: Strange and unfathomable to us.
- Yunwi Amai'yine'hi: These aquatic clowns are good for the laughter they bring to us, a gift which is too scarce in these times.
- Yunwi Tsundsi: Said to be hard workers and kind advisors, we need to learn more about them.