Elusive and androgynous, water babies are rarely encountered in great numbers. They haunt the lakes and rivers of the western plateau and are best known by the Shoshoni, Washoe, Nez Perces, and Northern Paiute. Water babies can breathe underwater and are fantastic swimmers. Though they retain humanoid shape, their webbed hands and feet can propel their slender bodies through the water at amazing speeds. Believed to be evil spirits by most, they are instead stern judges of those who harm children. Their reputation for stealing children is justified, but they steal only those children who are abandoned, orphaned, or abused.
They are also guilty of the other "crime" they are accused of: that of pulling people into lakes or rivers and drowning them. Their victims are never innocent, however. They are those who have abused children or despoiled the waters under the protection of the water babies. Not that water babies care what anyone else thinks of them. They believe that the other Nunnehi Families blame them for embracing non-Nunnehi into their midst and therefore deliberately misinterpret their intentions and make up lies about them.
Water babies are the least "Indian-like" of the Nunnehi. Their practice of taking stolen children to their hidden homes under the water and of breeding with them when they become old enough to choose mates among the water babies has introduced a high number of non-natives into their family line. Having rescued children who would otherwise have died, they cherish them greatly as members of their families.
These water beings believe that they have been appointed by the spirits to watch over all young things. They frequently walk the spirit world seeking to learn more in order to accomplish more in their role as guardians. They are also mightily concerned with the Lower World. Since they cannot rescue every child, they are acutely conscious of the tortured spirits these neglected children leave behind. Just as they nurture the living children they rescue, they stand in stewardship of the children's spirits that have passed on and guide them to the Lower World.
Water babies have long, flowing hair, silvery eyes and webbed hands and feet. All have slender builds and appear androgynous, which led many native tribes to suppose that all water babies were female. In their human forms, they look just like anyone else; the gills through which they breathe close and become almost invisible.
- Younglings are the only water babies to actually look like babies. Chubbier and less beautiful than their elders, they still project an almost irresistible charm.
- Braves appear as androgynously beautiful teenagers. They favor flowing clothes and lightweight materials, making sure the cut of the garment allows it to be slipped off quickly before they enter the water. Once in the water, their flowing hair serves as their only garment. Braves are the most likely to raid suspect houses in search of abused children and to punish wrongdoers. They travel in groups.
- Elders are still androgynous, though they appear more faded than braves. They often seem to drift in and out of consciousness, being more concerned with the spirit world than the physical one.
Water babies live in dry caves that can usually only be reached by water passageways (underground streams, entries at the base of waterfalls, underwater caves which lead to dry ones inside, etc.).
Birthrights & Frailty Edit
- Affinity: Nature
- Synthesize Air: Water babies can extract oxygen from water and encapsulate those they are touching in it so that they can breathe underwater. They use this talent to steal children away and bring them to their secret homes. Occasionally, they also use this ability to rescue someone who has fallen in their river or lake, though they are often indifferent to the fates of adults.
- Strength of the Wave: Whenever water babies seek to take vengeance on someone, they are able to pump up their Strength by two points. This allows water babies to grab the offenders and drag them into the water, holding them under until they have drowned. If the person is actually innocent, this mystical Strength does not manifest, a sure sign to the water babies that they have misjudged someone. When that happens they release the victim and quickly disappear downstream or into the depths.
- Water Dependency: If they are kept for over 48 hours from a water source in which they can immerse themselves, water babies begin to die. Each full day that they are kept from water thereafter, water babies lose one dot from a Physical Attribute. If any Attribute reaches zero, the water baby is unable to move. Should another 24 hours elapse after that time, the water baby dies.
Views of Others Edit
- Canotili: Hunters. We have heard they test the hearts of those who enter their domains. This we understand.
- Inuas: Wisdom-keepers of the Nunnehi, we seek their counsel when we can.
- Kachinas: They should think less on crops and more on preserving the children of their tribes.
- May-may-gway-shi: Our estranged kin, they too dwell in caves and in the waters.
- Nanehi: Entertainers. Arrogant entertainers. Who cares what they think?
- Nümüzo'ho: We know nothing about them except rumors of their size.
- Pu'gwis: Disgusting tricksters who lure humans to them by donning false faces.
- Rock Giants: Bad-tempered and disgusting.
- Surems: Peace lovers. Too bad they don't put all their wisdom to use in guarding the young from harm.
- Tunghat: They have abandoned their duties and now can do nothing but whine about their fate. Stop sniveling and resume your stewardship!
- Yunwi Amai'yine'hi: These water beings are close to our hearts, though they think ill of us.
- Yunwi Tsundsi: They know their place in the world and keep it well.