Saturday, May 21, 2011

Well, this site is not quite dead.  A new laptop comes with great powers and temptations, including Dwarf Fortress, Oblivion and World of Tanks (no, I'm not giving the links.  These things are dangerous!)

The aim of this site is for me to put out there my little wonderings and scribblings concerning fantasy roleplaying, and the end result of 20-odd years trying to come to terms with my personal issues with most, if not all, published games.  Even though I can be amazed, astounded, and surprised by most of them, and steal the shiny bits I like for my own Frankenstein creation.

Here's something I jotted down last night - it solved a problem I had in my own campaign world, and reinforced one of the central tropes.

The Banshee 

These cursed and unwelcome spirits are seen as the curse of the Great Elven Families, but the forces that inform and inspire them are little understood.

The Great Elven Clans are known for their arrogance and disdain for other, inferior races, but this is tempered somewhat in the five families that were responsible for the internal wars that split the Elven Kingdom some 1600 years ago.  The banshees that haunt them on occasion remind them of the legacy of the hatred of those times, and cause them to reign in their worst emotions.

An Elven or Half-Elven Maiden of one of these families that falls victim to an unnatural death, usually where the body cannot be recovered and given the traditional burial services, or suicide, which is forbidden to those of Noble blood, can return as a Banshee Spirit.

 These rare events first occur in the vicinity of the Noble Halls where one of the scions of the family will soon perish.  Seen as a cloaked and hooded figure in the half gloom of a moonlit night, they seem as an attractive Elven woman, until closer inspection shows the long streaming hair, the sharp teeth and the empty eye sockets, along with the wounds that killed the maiden.

The appearance of a Banshee puts the entire clan on edge, although there is a fatalistic bearings to their reaction.  The appearance or actions of the Spirit may indicate the manner of death, and the person affected.  If one is fated to die in battle, the Banshee will wear full Elven Battle Armour under its cloak, or, if drowning will take the victim, it will appear in or on water.  There will be guessing as to the target of the warning by the assembled Court, and scheming will no doubt be initiated based on any manner of interpretation.

As the inevitability of the death increases, her keening wails will begin, only sounding when the victim is present at first, but throughout the hours of darkness and them even into the day when the event is immanent.  This causes no magical damage or attack, but keeps all on edge, grants sleepers no rest, and alarms and upsets animals, especially familiars.  Diviners and Seers are blind to their other senses during these calls.

There is always a significant death when the Banshee calls.  Sometimes the dead are expected - an heir fighting an unwise duel, a queen with a difficult pregnancy, or a dying aged Lord.  Othertimes, the death of a little known woodsman or groom confuses all except those who know the secrets of a mysterious birth some 20 years ago...

Any who encounter a Banshee and do not flee immediately, whether on purpose or by chance, will be either slain on the spot, driven mad by visions of their own, or another's, death, or, more rarely, have some of the secrets of the grave shared with them.  Whether or not this is welcomed, it often changes the outlook of a formerly carefree grave-robber or hedge mage.

Banshees are viewed with both horror and a grim pride by the members of the Cursed Families.  It is said, at least by one who dwells in the twisted depths of the Elven Moors, that these shades hold the secrets of the still-shrouded Elven Wars.

Good luck to those who encounter them, especially human seekers in the Elven Lands.


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