OMG Furries! Yes. Seriously. Furries. Anthros. Whatever you want to call them. But they’re all happy and playful tricksters.
Affinity Realm: Nature
Appearance: Whatever forms they choose, pooka are usually cute. Though their appearances are manifold (depending on the nature of their animal affinities) they are often furry, with elongated animalistic features and even actual animal ears.
Lifestyle: Whether they live as actors, clowns, jugglers, court jesters or stand-up comedians, pooka somehow manage to eke out a living doing what they love. Perhaps that’s the biggest prank of all. Seelie drift toward promising mortals who need a little cheering up; Unseelie act as confidants to those who can ensure their survival. In the city, one can expect to see them around universities, the city parks or maybe the bohemian part of town. In the country, be sure you’re kind to the animals you meet.
Seemings: Childlings are a lot like baby animals, with Seelie playful and causing trouble and Unseelie like destructive little beasts. Wilders often have a very crude sense of humor, playing the part of the class clown, playing prank after prank. Grumps often settle into easy jobs for their living, playing subtler and long-reaching pranks.
Never believe anything a Pooka has to say. That doesn’t mean they’re untrustworthy, though. It means that no matter the situation, Pooka are driven by their very natures to mix in lies with the truth. Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth requires a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) to accomplish.
Different pooka have different styles of lying. Some Seelie pooka always say the opposite of what they mean, while many Unseelie purposefully tell the truth now and then to throw listeners off-guard. Unseelie pooka sometimes couch their lies very carefully — if an Unseelie makes his Willpower roll at the beginning of a scene, he can mix lies and truth freely. This can make him even more dangerous… Others use evasion tactics, stalling tactics, sucking up, or whatever else they can think of in order to avoid interrogations and uncomfortable questions.
As one of the friendliest and most congenial of the Kithain, the Pooka are the dreams of innocence, born when mankind watched animals at play and wished they could be so free. Everything is larger than life. They rarely take anything at all seriously. They thrive on chaos, although the Seelie indulge in mostly harmless chaos and can become confused if the targets of their pranks are genuinely upset or harmed. Unseelie Pooka, on the other hand, are far more violent and feral.
Despite their trickster natures, Pooka are often exceptionally noble in character. They are loyal friends and courageous in battle, and even the Unseelie Pooka do their best to fit in with their Seelie brethren. It’s not unheard of for an Unseelie to masquerade as a Seelie as part of some elaborate jape. For many Pooka, the pack animal instinct is strong, driving them to cling to friends and family.
The animal nature of a Pooka often ties into his or her environment. Pooka who live in the city often take the shapes of dogs, cats, raccoons, or rats, while country-born Pooka may emulate horses, wolves, or wild hares. Mostly, Pooka are mammalian in nature, but there are some avian and a few reptilian ones around. It is very, very rare to find insect Pooka. They are NOT mythical animals, however. There are no griffin, unicorn, or dragon types of Pooka around.
Guidelines for Your Personal Background:
All Pooka souls have embraced the Changeling Way, reincarnating after death into the bodies of unborn humans. They spend the first part of their lives as normal, human children while their fae souls slumber. However, even before their Chrysalis, their chosen animal affinity shows up as a series of odd quirks and personality traits related to it. The mortal body, influenced by the slumbering fae soul, takes on subtle physical traits related to the animal as well. Elephant Pooka grow up hefty and big-boned, while snake Pooka are slender and lithe, and a deer Pooka may have big, brown eyes.
Most Pooka Changelings experience their Chrysalis in their late childhood or in their early teens, at the onset of puberty, triggered most often by trauma or moments of extreme joy. Every Chrysalis is unique in its circumstances.
Immediately upon their Chrysalis, the Pooka learns that she or he can shapeshift. It’s an instinctive knowledge carried in the soul, and it is a skill that does not have to be taught.
Sometimes a Chrysalis is brought about by the sheer need of the child to retreat into his animal guise and hide. It’s not automatic, however, and a Pooka on the verge of his Chrysalis can actually shift into his animal form without anyone seeing him do it (but this is RARE). But after two or three shifts, the Chrysalis usually hits. Meanwhile, a child Pooka wandering about in his animal form is extremely vulnerable. The Childling often has no idea what’s going on and thus does not exert much caution. Running purely on instinct, she may wake up lost and far from home, dazed and confused.
Sometimes, a Pooka Childling gets lucky and is found by a mentor before bad things happen. But most often, Pooka childlings are found after their Chrysalis, when all of the Changelings (both good and evil) feel the sudden rush of Glamour caused by the event.
When it comes to shapeshifting, Pooka can change in and out of their forms nearly at will. To change into their animal guise, they must be completely alone with no witnesses whatsoever, and they must spend a point of Glamour. Changing back into their human form is free of cost, but they — again — must be alone to do it. Chimerical items and voile (chimerical clothing) shift with the Pooka and will reappear, but all of their mortal clothing and non-chimerical items will be dropped and left on the ground. For this reason, a lot of Pooka disdain carrying things.
Shapeshifting and Your Stats
Yes, your attributes will change. Yes, it will be coded. If you have a particular animal form in mind, please speak with Raven so that your attribute modifiers can be worked out and then entered into the system. There is no hard and fast rule for changes, although I will take a look at the W20 core and Changing Breeds book for suggestions on modifiers, if you choose to take one of the typical Shifter races (wolf, fox, raven, one of the great cats, spider, bear, coyote, or rat).
You can also expect the following:
Physical attributes will change depending on your animal. Stamina will never drop beneath your normal, human score. Even tiny bird Pooka have supernatural enhancements that keep their Stamina up. Strength and Dexterity will both vary wildly, but should fall in line with what you would expect. Rules for combat while in animal form will more or less follow what’s been established in W20. Also note that if you take an animal form that has a venemous attack, you must purchase the Venemous Attack merit. Otherwise, your venom is not strong enough to do actual damage.
Social attributes will change depending on your animal. Manipulation will be left alone, as that is tied in with the Pooka’s faerie nature. Charisma and Appearance, however, will vary wildly. Charisma will go up if the Pooka’s animal is small and adorable, for instance, while a Pooka with a spider animal aspect will lose dots of Appearance while in spider form.
Mental attributes will not change at all. Any special benefits like enhanced Perception should be bought as Merits so that they can extend to your human/fae guise as well. Pooka have full access to their human rationale and memories, so Wits and Intelligence will not change.
A lot of Abilities will just be useless while in your animal form. Do not expect to be able to use Firearms if you have no opposable thumbs, for example. Knowledge Abilities will remain largely unchanged, though you may have trouble communicating what you know. A lot of Skills, also, may remain unchanged though you may receive bonus dice or difficulty adjustments to your Stealth score. Many Talents will change or become useless, excepting Empathy, Kenning, Persuasion and Streetwise (but again, Pooka may have trouble persuading someone if they can’t communicate with them).
Pooka may cast cantrips as normal while in their animal form, although they should be aware that their bunks will have completely different flavours. Rather than recite poetry, a cat Pooka may chase her own tail or sit up to do an odd sort of dance. Pooka also spend Glamour and acquire Banality as normal.
See the page on Cantrips for the full rules there.