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  • NeoTiamat
    started a topic New Shifters: The Selkies

    New Shifters: The Selkies

    [Something from the old forum -- made by a player of mine, Isabella, for the Walking Shadows campaign]

    This is a unique shapeshifter that one of my players, Isabella, AKA Tinkermoth, wrote up recently, and which I am now putting up here. The art is also by the multi-talented Tinkermoth. Let me know what you guys think!

    Two notes. First, instead of bothering with Aspects and such, I tend to go 'as Werewolves unless specified otherwise' hence they have Renowns and Gifts and such. Second, the alternate forms for Selkies have some peculiar attribute spreads, including social bonuses -- outside the water, Selkies are not physically dangerous, but they are very seductive... and once they get Gifts such as Thunderbolt or Break the Defiant, they can use their Hybrid forms to considerable effect.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Finfolk or Selkies, Children of the Sea



    The sea has always been a captivating force for those who live near it. It provides, amply, to those who know how to harvest it. It also takes, from those who dare to travel it. The sea is a fickle mistress, some days so calm not a ripple can be seen upon it, some days so fierce it can shatter ships and sweep away villages. But the sea has more than a physical hold on mankind – those who talked to sailors of old know as much. It was a siren call that drew those men out to risk death again and again – sometimes the ocean let them return, and sometimes she did not. Some said the sea was their one true love. In the older days, when men and spirits were closer, this was less of a metaphor.

    The children of the sea and men are more commonly known as Selkies, and in these days of ocean liners and cruise ships, they are often seen as friendly, playful creatures. Like many modernized legends, this was not originally the case. Selkies, or Finfolk, were known as a fearsome and mysterious clan of people. They caused storms and troubled fishermen - snapping fishing lines, unmooring nets, and scuttling boats. Their songs could plunge a man’s heart into despair, and they seduced married women and young maidens. Worst of all, they took people. Like their mother the sea, they would call people to them, and vanish them away, never to be seen again.

    Of course, much of this still holds true today, but the Selkies have diminished in perceived threat. For most fishermen in a First World Country, a snapped line or a cracked hull is an expensive annoyance, not a life-threatening setback. The seduction of young maidens is more of a perk to some, and their habit of snatching people is written off as yet another drowning or missing person report. The story of the Selkie has shifted into a non-threatening one, and the Selkies see no reason to contest this.

    Unlike their cousins, the Forsaken, the Selkies see themselves as more spirit than human, and their culture is much more heavily centered in the spirit world. They swim in spirit oceans, and live upon a spirit homeland that the Orkney Selkies call “Finfolkaheem”. Despite this, the Selkies do not isolate themselves to the Shadow, and often travel or even reside in the mortal world. So, why are they out here, when they think of themselves as spirits and their homelands reside in the Shadow? Several reasons:
    • Food – put simply, while spiritual fish are very nourishing in a spiritual sense, they are less than nourishing to the Selkie’s human stomach, which would much rather prefer an ordinary mundane boring fish. There aren’t any normal fish in the Shadow, which drives the Selkies out to eat. The same issue goes for agriculture: while it might be possible to transplant real plants into the Shadow, the results are more likely to be exciting than edible.
    • Children – The Shadow isn’t very kind to mortal pregnancy, and the Selkies are still half mortal. The Selkies also have a very strong tradition of exogamy in their clans. Marriage or sex with another clanmember is strictly taboo, as the population of Selkies is too small to avoid a risk of inbreeding. In practice, this tends to mean Selkies go hit up local humans, and stick around long enough for their children to be born. There’s a reason the songs often have Selkies leaving their children among humans until they are old enough.
    • Wealth – Selkies, for whatever reason, seem to have an undue fascination with silver. Perhaps it is because silver is connected to the moon, and the moon controls the oceans. Whatever the case, they can’t get it in the Shadow, which sends them out into the human world in search of it. The same goes for other treasures, like pearls or salvage from shipwrecks. Whenever a human ship or plane goes down in the oceans, the Selkies are quick to mount expeditions to plunder it.
    • Essence – The Selkies, in theory, have a strong supply of spirits and essence in their Shadow homelands… but it can never hurt to have more, and the Selkies seem to hold to that. To this end, Selkies tend to travel to poach spirits, loci, essence, and other magic. Anything they think they can take without trouble catching them, they will. Some Selkies travel very far abroad, shipping things home via the use of messenger spirits.
    • Wanderlust – Put simply, Selkies are curious. Much like seals, they like to investigate and explore unknown things, and with modern travel convenience it is much easier for a Selkie to venture out into the world and then return safely home.

    Given the Selkies’ view on spirits, one might consider them to be enemies of the Forsaken, but this is not necessarily the case – at least, not on the Selkies’ side. In theory, they serve their mother, the ocean, but the ocean is evershifting and fickle, and furthermore is quite powerful enough to exert her influence without the Selkies’ help. For the most part, Selkies maintain a neutral curiosity toward their fellow shapeshifters – whether the Urathra are more belligerent depends on the temperament of local packs.

    A note on Selkie clans - though the Selkies of Scotland and the Orkneys are the most well known, there are several other clans scattered along the Northern hemisphere: in Sweden, Greenland, Oregon (former Chinook territory), Canada, and Northern Siberia. As stated above, it is taboo for two members of the same clan to marry or have children. Due to the geographical distance involved, any Selkie/Selkie paring is a huge deal, and often a symbol of some much larger bargain or alliance. Despite the relative ease of travel in modern days, the historical distance has lead to Selkie clans being insulated from one another, and thus rarely seeking each other out.

    In everyday practice, this leads to Selkies having children with mortal men and women, which leads to Selkie children about 25% of the time. Leaving their children with the human parent allows time for them to grow in relative safety, and also ensures the Selkie child knows its mortal family, lessening any chance of accidental incest. Once their children are old enough to be confirmed to have the gift, the Selkies take them back into the Shadow to Finfolkaheem, where they are taught all they need to know of their heritage. Due to the transient nature of their relationships with mortals, Selkies tend to form family units of brother and sister, with each treating their sibling’s children as their own and taking the place of the missing parent. Not all Selkies are fickle lovers, however – some are willing to stay by the coast to woo a favored mortal, and some seduce their paramours to take back to Finfolkaheem. (Among the Candian clans, for instance, it is relatively common for a Seal-man to seek out a girl to marry, then return with her to his clan, while seal-women would take their husbands from shipwrecked sailors.) These paramours are rarely seen again, leading to unsavory rumors, though most Selkies protest that those they take are safe and sound.

    As a final note, the Selkies are not the only children of the sea. Wereorcas are well-known to the Canadian clans, and weresharks are known to reside amoung the Polynesian people of the Southern Hemisphere. It is technically acknowledged that these clans are all the Ocean’s Children and the clans are all interconnected - there are myths of seal-wives being given to wereorca husbands in tribute, and a Selkie-child born in the Shadow will sometimes have shark teeth. The Selkies do not like these other clans, however, and do their best to avoid them if at all possible. This is becoming more difficult in modern times, as both Selkies and their cousins are spreading out from their established territories.


  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    Both these and the Water Horses were an effort to make shapeshifters for a London game that avoided the "Captain Ethnic" problem that sometimes afflicts alternative shapeshifters, while still being grounded in mythology. I'd direct you as well to the Orkneyjar website for a very rich trove of folklore specific to the British Isles (the Orkneys in particular).

    Leave a comment:


  • youvegotwildtalents
    replied
    Love it! My Irish genes heartily approve.

    Leave a comment:


  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    And last one. Hope you guys like the selkies!


    Victoria "Vicky" Barclay

    Type: Selkie
    Born: 1987

    Virtue:Prudence Vicky is the most thoughtful of the selkie pod in London, and the likeliest to actually stop and think about something.
    Vice:Lust She's just a bit of a fan-girl. Okay, more than a bit. A lot more than a bit.

    Background: The idea that Victoria and Victor Barclay were not really the children of the genial, mild-mannered Alan Barclay would have surprised no one. To start with, the twins looked nothing like their father and only a little like their mother, with their pale features and dark hair and eyes. Then there was the fact that both the twins were essentially small-scale demons of destruction and death (or at least annoyance and aggravation). They were unmanageable and impossible, and even a regimen of Ritalin only modulated their troublesome nature.

    Blessed or cursed with a fabulist brother, Vicky (as everyone called her) rapidly became a keen connoisseur of various forms of b***-s***. There was the fresh, imaginative BS that Victor produced for his teachers, the bored lies her teachers gave them, the rather more subtle deceptions flying around her parents tossed around as they navigated their thorny marriage. Like most children, Vicky watched a lot of television, and unlike most children, Vicky read a lot of books, but she did more than merely consume entertainment -- she was given to analyze the threads around her. With as much enjoyment as Victor wove his threads of fantasy, Victoria picked them apart.

    People who knew the twins, on the occasions they could tell them apart (which is harder than one might think, when dealing with near-identical pre-pubescent troublemakers), generally thought Vicky the more stable member of the pair. This was... imperfectly accurate. While Victor was the creative mind, Vicky was the one who put all of their schemes into action. She was the practical one, basically.

    She also had a distressing love of maths. No one was quite sure what to make of that.

    When puberty and the dreams of the sea came, Vicky dismissed them. When their real father, Patrick Towrie, arrived with the story of the twins' real heritage, Vicky couldn't dismiss it anymore. She was a bit more leery of the Shadow-Isle of Finfolkaheem than her brother was, but after that first swim through the spirit-seas, she became a convert. In a way, Finfolkaheem is an adolescent's paradise -- an eternally warm, green place full of adventure and places to explore, yet kept safe by a hundred generations of selkie cultivation of the surrounding Shadow-scape. When their baby cousin Katie Sinclair showed up, Vicky liked it even more, because now the girls had Victor outnumbered. Raised by the selkie community, and by her father Patrick and aunt Effie, Vicky grew into a self-possessed, confident woman, but like her brother she too was starting to find Finfolkaheem too small when Katie announced she was going to London.

    London was worth the effort of talking Katie around, and putting up with sardonic Uncle Victor. One thing that Finfolkaheem was definitely missing was television, and pretty soon Vicky was neck deep back in all the television programmes and book series she'd missed while in the Shadow. Not that Vicky was a homebody by any stretch of the imagination. Slightly more go-getting than her brother, Vicky started taking night-classes in accounting and statistics (again, there was that incomprehensible love of maths). And of course, there were parties -- selkie parties are awesome, but everyone's related, so there's never an opportunity to drag someone to bed. Once in London, Vicky set about making up for lost time with due haste.

    While not quite as intellectual as her cousin Katie (whom Vicky considers slightly worrisome in her enthusiasm for things that go whirr-CLICK), Vicky has a definite geeky streak to her. She worships Dr. Who, Sherlock, and Being Human, listens toAbney Park and Dresden Dolls, and is an avid video-gamer (favorite game: Portal). Vicky has a slight tech-fetish as well, and her brother tends to joke that she values her iPhone more than her seal-skin. While this is not actually true, it's a close-run thing. That said, Vicky's tastes are fickle, and liable to change at the drop of a hat, as more than one luckless suitor has discovered.

    Fan-girlish enthusiasm aside, Vicky is probably the most pragmatic member of the selkie pod in London. She has a certain penchant for taking control of a situation, and is the one most likely to ask questions like 'Alright, now how do we do this?' -- not to say that she at all objects to insane, reckless schemes, she just is interested in figuring out how to carry them out. She's also the one most thoughtful about interpersonal relations, and the one most likely to actually think through the ramifications of events.

    At first glance, people tend to mix the twins up, which the twins have cheerfully exploited all their lives. Vicky has the same pale skin, fine cheekbones, and sharp nose and chin as her brother, and her midnight-black hair tends to be cropped fairly short. She is, alas, rather flat-chested, which only makes the mix-up easier, and given that the twins to this day sometimes finish one another's sentences, the confusion is understandable. At home or informally, Vicky tends to wear dark jeans much like her brother, and a variety of tight, long-sleeved Dr. Who t-shirts. When she wants to impress, she has corsets and long, black dresses, which invariably produce an impact -- she has the same taste for club or fetish trinkets as her brother, and the twins often try to match. Her seal-form is that of a harbor seal, and her seal-skin is a short bomber jacket that she's never far from.

    Leave a comment:


  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    And Cousin Number One... It's always interesting to write young characters because they don't have the kind of assortment of experiences that you can use for older ones. They haven't done much, yet they're still individuals. So the emphasis is on personality and appearance. Usual caveats apply.


    Victor Barclay

    Type: Selkie
    Born: 1987

    Virtue:Hope Victor's basically a good-natured fellow, who likes to make people feel happy...
    Vice:Lust ...and he's got a fairly specific way in which he likes to make people happy.

    Background: It was a story as old as time. Alan Barclay was a minor business executive for BAE Systems, involved in Glasgow's shipbuilding business. This took him out of the city for weeks on end, travelling to this or that or the third conference, and leaving his young wife, Lucy Barclay, alone and bored out of her skull as a housewife. Enter Patrick Towrie, a good-looking, charming fellow with a touch of mischief about him, who worked as the Barclay's gardener. One thing led to another thing nine months later, and Lucy was the mother of a pair of energetic twins. If Alan Barclay ever noticed that the two little hellions (sharp-featured and raven-haired) looked nothing like their father (rounded, light-brown-haired), he kept his mouth shut.

    Victor and Victoria Barclay were nightmarish children in the finest tradition of a certain kind of British children's book, the one where the kids drive away one nanny after another until eventually Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee comes along to set them straight. The twins played practical jokes, terrorized the adults, ran away about twice a year to go exploring Glasgow's shady side, and drove the school's guidance counselor to the bottle after he realized how neatly they were playing him. This not being a certain kind of British children's book, instead of getting a magical governess the twins were put on medication.

    Victor was always the creative force behind the trouble. He was a dreamer as a boy, a starry-eyed thinker who was always the first to ask 'what if...', which wouldn't be quite such a problem if the rest of the phrase didn't so often end with something along the lines of '...we put whipped cream in Dad's toothpaste?' He was the kid who came up with the games -- Victor had a limitless imagination for roleplaying, and by the time he was thirteen, he'd been a cop, a robber, an astronaut, a cowboy, an indian, a tax collector (long story), a high inquisitor, a pirate, and a meerkat (also a long story).

    If Victor had turned his powers of creativity and roleplay to good, he probably could've become an excellent character actor. But Victor's creativity was equaled only by his disdain for any kind of hard labor, so he mostly used his skills to turn in virtuoso performances of 'the dog ate my homework.' He was a skilled malingerer and a master wheedler.

    When the dreams and strange, aquatic urges came, Victor mostly responded by planning out great pirate heists -- up until his real father came to collect him and his sister. The Shadow-Isle of Finfolkaheem was paradise for an overly imaginative and too-curious-by-half boy. There was so much to explore -- though Victor was rather chagrined to find out that his usual tricks and pranks didn't actually work on the older selkies, who'd invented half of them.

    On the island, Victor grew up out of a lanky, imaginative boy, to a creative, charming young man. But soon enough, even the wonders of Finfolkaheem began to pale. Quite honestly, even a Shadow island begins to grow a little boring when it's all there is for several years, and trips to Scotland or the Orkneys with his father and sister could only mollify Victor so long.

    So when the twins' kid cousin Katie announced in 2008 that she was going to London to study, Victor leaped at the opportunity. London! The big city! Here was the chance to move from an island of about a hundred-odd selkies to a city with over ten million people. It took a bit of wheedling, but Victor was old enough to be self-sufficient, and selkies understand wanderlust quite well, and so when Victor was twenty he and Victoria accompanied their cousin to London.

    London has proven to be everything Victor could want for. There was enough going on here that the young selkie would never get bored. Here were theaters, here were nightclubs, here were ruins to explore, here were parties, here were people. So many people, so many pretty girls and pretty boys, in all their infinite combinations, each and every one enticing in their own unique way.

    Victor's taken to the urban life like a duck (or seal) to water. Gleefully unemployed (he claims to be allergic to work), Victor supports himself by a wide range of petty con-games and robbery, by mooching off a string of mortal girlfriends and boyfriends (Victor can usually juggle two or three at a time), and a certain amount of leeching off his cousin Katie and her long-suffering uncle Richard. That said, Victor does have a strong sense of family-loyalty, and is shaping up to be a quite competent con-man or actor, the latter of which tendencies Richard Sinclair is feverishly trying to encourage, for his own peace of mind.

    Left to his own devices, Victor comes across as a dreamy young man, head lost in the clouds. He's enormously creative and surprisingly well-read (no one would ever mistake Victor for a studious youth, but he likes to read fiction and he readsquickly). He often claims to be a poet, and can actually pull out a verse with a bit of effort, though the truth is that Victor is more fond of the pose of the poet than the act of poetry -- Victor is perfectly aware that to a certain class of impressionable youth, the artist is irresistible.

    There's a certain undercurrent of artifice to Victor, really. His relatives are convinced that he must be smarter than he looks, and to an extent they're right -- Victor has considerable social intelligence, always knowing what to say to disarm people or make them like him. He's simply too lazy to actually put effort into anything not related to his own self-centered desires. This does mean that Victor is an absolutely marvelous actor, however. With a flip of a switch, he can rearrange his entire demeanor, behavior, and body language to such an extent that other people have a hard time recognizing him. It's a game to him, and one he's good at.

    Physically, Victor looks like a Romantic poet right before the tuberculosis really sets in. He's a lean, pale young man with dark-blue eyes and pitch-black hair. He has delicate cheekbones, a sharp nose, and a distinctly V-shaped face, and he periodically experiments with little mustaches and goatees, but has yet to find something that doesn't look silly. He usually dressed in greys and blacks, with dark jeans that look like they're painted on and open shirts that reveal an expanse of creamy skin. He likes to accent with various bits of club or fetish-wear, either a neon-glowstick around his wrist or a spiky collar around his throat. His seal-form is that of a harbor seal, and his seal-skin is a mottled grey jacket that he always keeps nearby.

    Leave a comment:


  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    And now, an actual selkie! Niece of the above, as you might expect.

    Same comments about time and space hold true -- she'd make a solid ally or even a PC, if one were so inclined.



    Katie Sinclair
    Katherine Mary Sinclair, Kit Kat

    Type: Selkie
    Born: 1990

    Virtue:Temperance Katie's mellowed quite a bit since her hell-raiser youth.
    Vice:Wrath Katie's default-drive reaction to people is one of suspicious hostility.

    Background: Growing up, Katie Sinclair was the terror of the North Ronaldsay Primary School in Kirkwall. Raised by her father after her mother's supposed drowning, Katie was prickly, stand-offish, too smart for her own good, and "a hellion". She was a latchkey kid, coming home from school to while away the hours alone until her dad's fishing boat came back, and she was always very bright for her age, actually skipping a year once.

    This meant two things. First, Katie had a long, miserable list of disciplinary problems at school -- she got into fights, she was bored with the schoolwork, she talked back to her teachers. More often than not, she was in detention until her father, Adam Sinclair, got back to Kirkwall. Her attitude problems won her few friends among the other children, which only made her disciplinary problems worse. Secondly, Katie kind of raised herself. Adam tried to be a good father, but he himself suffered from depression, and in any case commercial fishing was an occupation with long, long hours. Katie spent most of her time alone, and she grew both self-sufficient and socially awkward.

    The highlight of her days was when Adam Sinclair's boat, the Mermaid was docked, and Katie was able to explore the machinery on-board (how she didn't have a fatal accident is anyone's guess). There were so many noises and engines and whirring things, which were on the whole much more interesting than anything going on at school. Uncle Richard, who had inherited the brains of the family, quickly learned to buy constructor sets for Christmas and Katie's birthday. By the time she was twelve, then, Katie was a scrappy, self-sufficient tomboy with a penchant for the mechanical and a distinct distrust of anyone who wasn't family.

    Then her mother came and took her away.

    With puberty came the dreams of the sea, the urge to swim in the cold waters, the darkening of her eyes and hair. These were signs that the selkie knew, and so they brought Katie Sinclair to their Shadow-Isle of Finfolkaheem, and she swam in the spirit-seas, and transformed into a seal for the first time in the waters. When she changed back, she had a seal-skin wrapped about her, and was a selkie.

    For the next six years, from 2002 to 2008, Katie lived in Finfolkaheem with her mother and her other uncle, the impetuous, beautiful, and erratic Effie Towrie and her brother, Patrick Towrie. She had a huge, extended family now, including a mess of cousins and second-cousins, and she was taught by an old selkie woman the ways of the sea and the Shadow, and more practical things by Mr. Lairn, who was a secondary school teacher in his mortal life.

    Sometimes, she missed her father, but there was always so much to do... and then Effie said that he'd died, and that was all. To this day, Katie feels guilty about never going back to see him, never explaining what was happening. But she was only thirteen when he died. Finfolkaheem was always so very interesting -- there were Shadow-seas to swim in, strange islands to explore, old spirits to talk to, spirits of Gull and Wave and Storm, and cousins (Victor and Vicky Barclay) to hang out with. After her lonely childhood, it was a paradise.

    Still, Katie grew up, and the selkie wanderlust set in, and a desire to further her passion -- machinery. The entire selkie community pitched in together, and they produced fake IDs, altered records, and in short order, Katie was accepted into the Imperial College, London, to study mechanical engineering. Her uncle Richard was teaching at a sister-college, and so she went to meet him. That was not a pleasant conversation, by any stretch of the imagination.

    Still, in the summer of 2008, Katie and a her cousins Victor and Victoria, moved into a huge flat in uncle Richard's building, and Katie started attending the mechanical engineering program at Imperial. All of a sudden she had to deal a lot more strangers than she'd been used to, but Katie coped, and she had a stack of introductions from various older selkies to the supernatural denizens of London.

    Today, Katie is still a tomboy, still prickly, and still way-too-smart for her own good. She's a proud, self-identified geek, though she's a geek in the Mythbusters vein -- how can she make things move faster and/or blow up. Her seal-skin, turned into a hoodie, is stained with machine oil, and Katie is never happier than when she's messing around the guts of some huge engine. What's more, she's good at it, having easily inherited her uncle's brainpower, but where Richard Sinclair uses it to understand the internal structure of Mithraic mystery cults, Katie uses it to build speedboats -- she's already built and sold one, and is working on her second, the Mermaid III.

    Katie's selkie heritage and her natural standoffishness mix together in strange ways. On the one hand, selkies are renowned as seductive lovers and smooth-talking charmers. On the other hand, Katie's a suspicious-minded girl who takes offense easily and has a mean left hook (one does not spend that much time working with heavy machinery without developing some muscle). Still, Katie's not as antisocial as she used to be, and she mellows significantly when surrounded by friends (her cousins call her Kit Kat, because she's sweet when she gives people a break). So far, threats of violence have not stopped them from doing this.

    Katie is a good-looking, well-muscled young woman with short, unruly hair of a dark-brown color, and dark-blue eyes that are nearly black. She's on the short side, about 5'4'', and sensitive about her height, but aside from that projects a sort of vigorous, Amazonian allure, especially when she lets her selkie-side shine through. She usually wears ragged jeans and oil-stained t-shirts, with her seal-skin hoodie either thrown over her shoulders or wrapped around her waist. Her seal form is that of a grey seal, with a mottled grey-brown coat.

    Leave a comment:


  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    Not actually a selkie, but a mortal with links to the selkies -- which I'll be writing up and posting in the not-so-distant future. These are written by myself.

    As before, my game is set in London and the character is an Orcadian who moved to London, but could plausibly have moved to any other city with a good university. The dates and ages are arranged with an eye towards a game set in 2010-2011 (where my game is at the moment), but are simple enough to move around if someone's game is set in a different time.

    Sinclair is designed as an ally character for the PCs.



    Prof. Richard Sinclair

    Type: Mortal
    Profession: Professor of Comparative Myth and Religion
    Born: 1963

    Virtue: Charity Richard hides it very well, but he's a generous soul at heart. He just doesn't want anyone to know it.
    Vice: Pride Richard has the academic arrogance in full force -- people are deemed idiots until proven otherwise.

    Background: Richard Sinclair was born to a fishing family in the small town of Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands. Mechanized fishing hadn't quite wrecked the Orkney fishing industry back then, and so most days after school Richard and his younger brother Adam (born three years after Richard) would spend the evening helping their father bring in the day's catch, and holidays were spent on the boat, fishing for lobster, salmon, crab, whatever came to hand.

    Unlike his much more active and outgoing brother, Richard spent most of his free time reading, and he naturally came to read the many legends of the Orkney Islands, about the trow and the Nuckelavee and the selkies. A harmless hobby, and Richard never actually believed in them, but he found the strange stories that people came up with interesting. Being a smart young man, he went to the university, and soon enough was working towards a PhD in Comparative Religion at the University of Edinburgh. That was where he was when Adam brought his new fiancée to visit.

    Something about the woman -- Effie Towrie, she said her name was -- struck Richard as off. She was a gorgeous and vibrant woman, and Adam was ludicrously happy, but something bothered Richard. Her eyes, so dark as to be nearly black, or else how she was always cold, and kept her coat close at hand in nearly any weather. But Richard decided he was imagining things, and truthfully, it never would have even occurred to him that Effie was a selkie. They were just a myth? He just didn't like her.

    But Richard's softly-voiced objections were waved away, and so Adam and Effie were married in 1989, their daughter, Katherine, being born a year later. For a while, everything seemed to go well -- Adam took up the family fishing business, Effie started working in the local library, and Richard took up a junior professor's job in London. Then, three years later, in 1993, Effie vanished. Drowned, they said, though the body was never found. To this day, Richard is convinced that her 'death' broke his brother. Adam was never quite the same, though he put on a brave face for his daughter. But the light had gone out of him.

    In 2002, twelve-year-old Katie vanished as well. This time, the authorities got involved, and for a while Adam was a ‘Person of Interest’ in the investigation, before it was dropped for lack of evidence. Richard took a sabbatical and spent some months there doing his own investigation, but other than rumors of a man and a woman, both with black eyes, having been in the area, he found nothing. To this day, the cause of death is listed as ‘unknown, probable drowning’.

    Despite Richard's best efforts, Adam's health declined rapidly, and he died in 2003 in a fishing accident, swept overboard in a storm in which he neglected to take all the proper safety precautions. To this day, Richard suspects that if Adam hadn't been so depressed, hadn't essentially lost the will to live, he would still be alive.

    By this point, Richard Sinclair, who was by now an Professor of Comparative Myth and Religion at the London School of Economics, was no longer denying the parallels to the Selkie myth. It couldn't be true, but it made sense. So when Katie walked into his office in the spring of 2008, Richard was less surprised than he expected to be.

    Once several hours of not-entirely-happy explanations were out of the way, the purpose of her visit came into the open. Katie was hoping to come to London to study mechanical engineering, and she wanted to reconnect with her uncle. Against his better judgment, Richard agreed to stay in touch and keep an eye on her while she was in the city. It wasn't Katie's fault what happened to Adam – not that Richard was entirely free of resentment towards her, but he pushed it down.

    So in the fall of 2008, Katie entered into the Imperial College, London (both it and the LSE were part of the University of London, focusing on the sciences and humanities respectively), and to Richard's disapproval if not his surprise, she didn't come alone. The selkies rented a large flat in the same building Richard lived in, and somehow Richard found himself playing parent-figure to a gang of wereseal adolescents and twenty-somethings.

    Rather against his wishes, Prof. Richard Sinclair has found himself immersed into the supernatural world of London, following up on introductions that Katie procured from older selkies. Some of it was simply a matter of getting to know the people his adventurous wards were most likely to get in trouble with, some of it was renting out his services as a scholar of myth and religion as a hedge against that eventuality. In fact, Richard has rapidly become one of the most useful sources of occult knowledge in London -- plenty of supernatural creatures have a solid, hands-on experience with the occult, but few have actually studied it as an academic discipline the way Richard has. After all, he's a professional academic with the third-best university in the UK, and one of the top twenty globally. The Kogaion of London, Lujza Dvorzsak, has had cause to consult with Richard Sinclair, as has Todd White of the Unseelie Court. Despite that, Richard makes a point of not finding out any more about the supernatural world's hierarchy or organization than he has to -- he just does consultations from his office.

    In person, Sinclair is a dark, sardonic individual with a distinctly misanthropic streak in him. He watched his brother's life ruined, and finding out that vampires and werewolves and the Gentry are real has done nothing to endear the universe to him. He's a hardened cynic and pessimist, always ready to impute low motives and poor outcomes to any course of events. People who are foolish, or naive, or idealistic, tend to evoke nothing but scorn from him, and since Richard is widely read and has an excellent turn of phrase, he can be blisteringly sarcastic in half a dozen languages. This makes him rather popular with the students, actually, so long as his attentions are turned elsewhere.

    That said, Richard's bark is worse than his bite. He may be a deeply unpleasant (if entertaining) man, but he's also capable of putting his personal feelings aside and doing what's right. That's how he got saddled with his Selkie niece and her cousins, after all.

    Richard is a tall, distinguished-looking man in his late forties. Once upon a time, he was muscular and well-built from working the fishing industry, but the sedentary life of an academic has rendered him lean and mean-looking, though he still takes frequent walks and sails to stay in shape. He's actually rather handsome, with grey eyes, a patrician face, a pronounced widow's peak, and dark brown hair that's gone white at the temples. He usually dressed in dark clothing, suits, dress shirts, and the like, with a range of dark cardigans being about as informal as he gets.

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  • NeoTiamat
    replied
    Favored Renowns: Cunning and Honor (in Selkie terms, it means holding to your end of the bargain, keeping your word, and paying for services received)
    Favored Gifts: Father Wolf, Mother Luna (under different names)
    Core: Dominance, Elemental (with Control Water instead of Control Fire), Knowledge, Evasion, Stealth, Weather
    Rage: Blending
    Signs of the Moon: Cunning, Scheherazade's Gifts

    Rage: Escape Rage
    Primal Urge: A Selkie must swim in a large body of water (an ocean, a major river such as the Thames or the Mississippi, or a large lake such as Lake Baikal or Lake Erie) at least once every (11-Primal Urge) days, or suffer a penalty equal to (Primal Urge/2, rounded up) to all physical rolls.

    Alternate Forms:
    • Human Form: In their human form, Selkies are essentially indistinguishable from other humans, though they are usually attractive and often have black hair and black eyes. Historically Selkies in the UK came from the Orkney islands and were ethnically Orcadian, though nowadays there are at least as many Scots among them, and a sprinkling of others.
      Perception +2
    • Near-Human Form: The near-human Selkie gains solid black eyes like a seal, and webbed hands and feet. They become even more attractive, sleek and seductive, with a mischievous demeanor.
      Presence +1, Manipulation +1; 9-Again on Presence and Manipulation; Gain Striking Looks 2
      Perception +2; Rote Action on Swimming rolls
    • Hybrid Form: Now the Selkie is a full-blown human-seal hybrid. The head becomes obviously seal-like, they gain webbed hands and feet and a mottled grey-pelt. Somehow, there is something intensely attractive about the Selkie now despite their obvious inhumanity -- they can be by turns graceful and seductive, playful and friendly, or serene and elegant. Unlike other hybrid forms, the Selkie maintains their full mental faculties, though they can still only maintain this form for (Resolve+Stamina+PU) turns.
      Presence +3, Manipulation +3, Stamina +2; 8-Again on Presence and Manipulation; Gain Striking Looks 4
      Perception +2; Armor 1/1; Rote Action on Swimming rolls
    • Great Seal Form: In this form, the Selkie turns into a huge seal, weighing in at around 1000 lbs and 8-12 feet long. It bears a considerable resemblance to a leopard seal, though a biologist would notice something odd about it (it's the Selkie's seal form scaled up to leopard-seal size and build).
      Strength +2, Dexterity +2, Stamina +2; Size +2; 8-Again on Strength rolls, a 2L Bite; Uses higher of Dexterity or Wits for Defense in the water
      Perception +2; Gains triple normal speed while in the water, but reduced to Speed 1 on land; Swim rolls no longer required.
    • Seal Form: A little over half of British Selkies take the form of the common harbor seal, and most of the rest are grey seals, though occasionally other species appear -- ringed seals, harp seals, even hooded seals and bearded seals.
      Dexterity +1, Stamina +2; Size 4; Uses higher of Dexterity or Wits for Defense in the water
      Perception +3; Gains triple normal speed while in the water, but reduced to Speed 1 on land; Swim rolls no longer required.

    Miscellaneous Alterations:
    • Lunacy: The Selkie have a strange relationship with Lunacy. Their great seal form does not cause it at all, and while mortals forget their near-human and hybrid forms the same as with Lunacy, they are not frightened. Indeed, given they are often drawn close by the Selkie's incredible charisma.
    • Selkie Coats: The Finfolk use an enchanted seal-skin in order to transform (most sew the skin into some kind of coat for convenience). When the Selkie is in human-form, the seal-skin coat is just that, a coat, but when the Selkie takes any other form, the coat merges with their body. Selkies must be touching their seal-skin in order to use any supernatural powers such as Gifts, Rites, or Shapeshifting.

      A Selkie that loses his or her seal-coat becomes, for all intents and purposes, a human. They cannot transform, they cannot use their Gifts, cannot enter the Shadow, and so forth. A Selkie that loses its seal-coat will spare no effort to get it back, and losing it is enough to cause spontaneous derangement to manifest. That said, destroying a seal-coat is viciously hard -- they have a Durability equal to the Selkie's Primal Urge.
    • On Silver: Unlike almost all other shapeshifters, the Selkie do not take aggravated damage from silver. However, to a one, they have a compulsion to gather silver that is borderline supernatural. Any Selkie that sees silver must roll Resolve+Composure to avoid trying to get it (through theft, barter, seduction, violence, however the Selkie prefers), and they take a -5 penalty to that roll if the silver is somehow 'free' for the taking. They can also spend 1 WP to automatically resist their obsession. In either case, the Selkie cannot be provoked by silver more than once per scene.
    • Holding Breath: Selkie are still mammals, and can't breathe water, but they can hold their breath for up to 1 hour per dot of Stamina.

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