Friday, August 24, 2018

World Notes: Changelings

While swapping a child for a changeling does happen, it’s not a very common occurrence. The more powerful Fey of the Code Name: Hunter / A Year and a Day world tend to just snatch and run, figuring they can easily fend off any mortal pursuit. The less powerful occasionally use changelings. The hope is that the changeling will hide the fact that the child has gone missing, giving the kidnapping Fey more time to get safely away as well as decrease the chances of the child being recovered. Remember, if they keep the child in Fey for twenty-four hours the child can’t return home.

The changelings themselves are supposed to mimic the missing child’s appearance and behavior. Trouble is changelings, as a general rule, are flighty creatures and quickly become bored. It’s not unusual for a changeling to decide to randomly alter their disguise in an attempt to play with the missing child’s parents. Some like to make things appear out of nowhere or items fly across the room to scare the mortal family. The more benevolent ones use their magic to do helpful little tasks for the family, believing they are giving a valuable gift in exchange for the child. Eventually the changeling runs out of the house and returns to Fey. This can take anywhere from a few hours for the more mischievous ones to a couple of days.

The longest record RCSI has of a changeling standing in for a child happened in the sixties when a changeling remained in disguise for over five years, acting the part of the missing child the whole time. Eventually friends and neighbors convinced the distraught parents that the child’s lack of normal growth and development was not due to the child being a “late bloomer” and the changeling made an escape. As to why it carried out the deception for so long… no one really knows.

While a changeling is a type of Fey, it can also refer to the act of glamouring an inanimate object to look and act like a living being. Such as Greer did at the start of Code Name: Hunter Issue 19.

The trouble with this method is that the glamour only lasts for a short amount of time. Still, for a Fey who desires a bit of a head start yet doesn’t want to deal with hiring an actual living changeling… it’s an option.

Friday, August 17, 2018

World Notes: Fey Favors

Favors and Fey are interesting things. For the most part it’s considered best to avoid offering or accepting a favor with the Fey. Doing so rarely ends well for any mortals involved.

Just doing something for a member of the Fey – or having a Fey do something for you – doesn’t lead to an obligation to return the gesture. If Max saved Gavin from being covered in iron, Gavin may be (grudgingly) grateful, but he wouldn’t be required to do anything in return.

For someone to be obligated to return a favor, the favor has to be explicitly offered and the recipient has to actually say they accept it.

It’s not binding otherwise. As we see above, Gavin needs to actually state he’s offering Max a favor, and Max needs to say he accepts it.

No witnesses are required to make this binding. The Fey’s magic itself recognizes the verbal contract and locks both members of the party to the terms stated.

The terms of the return favor do not need to be stated right away, though. Gavin could have held off on deciding what favor he wanted in return for a year and a day. If Gavin hadn’t decided by that time, Max would no longer be obligated to return the favor. Most folks come up with a return favor fairly quickly.

As we've seen, killing a Fey before returning a favor is possible.

Since the Fey is no longer around to accept the favor, the magical obligation becomes null and void. Unfortunately, killing a Fey can lead to other problems.

The loss of one of the Court-bound Fey leaves the Courts out of balance. This is especially troublesome for the two most powerful Courts of Fey, Summer and Winter. The Courts must regain their balance as swiftly as possible, either by the Court who lost its member absorbing a new Fey into its ranks... or by the Court who's in the lead loosing a member.

Even the death of a lesser Fey may have consequences for the killer. Fey tend to hold grudges and have a fondness for blood oaths.

Unlike mortals, fey are creatures of pure magic. With their death all that magic is released.

The magical blow-back from killing a Fey can cause a great deal of harm to a mortal, especially if the mortal is not used to being around magic.

When offering a favor it’s best to be as exact as possible. Any loophole can, and often will, be exploited. RCSI has found accounts from the past of mortals asking a Fey to stop a loved one from being sick, only to return home to find their love one is now dead. In the Fey’s mind if someone is dead they’re no longer sick. Favor completed. While not what the mortal wanted, they’re still obligated to do a favor in return.

In the end, if at all possible, it is best to avoid Fey favors.

Friday, August 10, 2018

World Notes: Fey Facial Markings

There's a bit of a history to the Fey facial markings. While markings can be magically created, the ones painted on with dye are more desirable and considered to have a much higher status attached to them.

Originally the Fey used these markings as a sign of wealth, with the shape and coloring of the markings coming down to personal taste. Fey of high standing with vast amounts of resources available to them started to decorate their faces with dye to help them stand out.

Dye, especially brightly colored dye, was expensive. Also, painting a design and making sure that design didn’t alter from one day to the next was seen as time consuming, tedious, and something that requires a delicate hand to get right. Painted markings were meant to show that the wearer had extra resources to spend on dye as well as someone trained and available, day after day, to paint them on.

Thanks to the renewed interaction with the mortal world, the Fey have gained access to things like makeup, stencils, and cheap dyes. As a result, facial markings have become a bit of a fad over the last forty years or so. Now a number of Fey from all ranks and economic standing are sporting facial paint.

Some of this is just for the sake of the fad and fashion, but for other Fey the markings have begun to take on meanings not originally intended.

Some have started using these fur markings to show allegiance to each other - through families and guilds.

There are a few who believe the markings have protective powers, though this has never really been proven. Stones, amulets, and jewelry are considered by most Fey to be more reliable for invoking protection, or the occasional love spell.

Others believe the markings themselves will actually bring wealth. This also has never been proven.

While painted on markings are the higher status version, permanent magically created markings are used by some Fey. Many Fey that are powerful shape-shifters, like Puck, have chosen permanent markings so anyone familiar with them can tell at a glance who they likely are, even if their form has been altered.

Some Fey will also permanently mark others who they consider "theirs" with designs similar to their own painted on ones. This can be a problem if the Fey decides they no longer want control of the person, since magically made marks won’t come off, even with magic.

The facial marking fad is still considered new by Fey standards, so many still choose to not decorate their faces with symbols. This may change over the next few hundred years or so.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

'A Year and a Day' Issue 2 Print Cover

Herne always knew how to make an entrance. The print cover for A Year and a Day Issue 2.

Friday, August 3, 2018

World Notes: Seeing Clouds

Issue 22 of Code Name: Hunter showed Moraine using magic to check up on Roderick and his crew.

Moraine has a number of abilities when it comes to her magic. Altering her appearance…

…and performing a little light healing we’ve both seen previously.

The one she’s using in Issue 22 allows her to see folks, no matter where they are. What looks like a galaxy of light specks is actually an infinite number of pathways to individuals. By focusing on a person, she can pick them out of the fog of lights and gain a quick peek into their life.

There are limitations to this ability. Some are from external forces. Others are limits Moraine herself has set.

Not everyone wants to be watched in such a matter, mages especially. Mages can attempt to block themselves from a seeing cloud’s sight. The stronger the mage, the more powerful the block. When a basic, low-level block is in place, the mage using a seeing cloud can still locate the person, but may not be able to fully see what’s happening around them. Their vision is faint and out of focus. A high-level block can disable a seeing cloud to the point where the mage creating the block cannot be located at all. Powerful mages can even misdirect a seeing cloud, making it appear they are somewhere else entirely.

Unfriendly nations with high magical abilities seem to create natural, nationwide blocks, almost as if the will of their leaders has taken on a mind of its own and resents outside snooping.

Using a seeing cloud takes a great deal of focus and power. As a result, it can drain a mage if one’s used for too long at once. Prolonged use of a seeing cloud by mortals often results in headaches, nausea, and exhaustion.

A seeing cloud can also be overwhelming for the mage using it. If they’re not careful they can become caught in the endless flow of life visible to them. (Think of it like looking up a topic on TV Tropes only to find, when you check the clock, that hours have gone by without your realizing it.) Mortals have been known to lose themselves completely to a seeing cloud, becoming an empty shell of their former selves. Awake, yet unresponsive to their surroundings.

Seeing clouds are an advanced form of magic that not every mage manages to master. Due to the amount of power required to use a seeing cloud, as well as the number of years necessary to learn how to control such a level of magic, most mages have little interest in perfecting this skill. Even when interest is present, the mage’s ability to see is limited by the amount of power they can control. So while Rashanna, a powerful mage in her own right, can generate a seeing cloud, her view is very limited compared to Moraine’s.

Does this mean Rashanna doesn’t need to use a mirror to check up on Gadel? Correct. Gadel, who can’t use a seeing  cloud, needs to use a mirror scrying spell and assumes it’s the same for Rashanna. Not that Rashanna minds. Sometimes it’s to one’s advantage to hide just how much strength they possess.

Due to the risk of getting drawn too deep into a cloud’s lights, as well as the power required to generate a cloud in the first place, most mages find it safest to focus on a specific individual they want to seek out. This lets them generate a very small cloud containing mainly the path to their desired person along with a few others who are nearby or linked to the individual they’re seeking.

So why is Mori’s cloud so large? Moraine has a great deal of power at her disposal. Part of this is due to the fact that she’s a queen. The larger reason… she’s also, in the Code Name: Hunter timeline, an Aspect. (What she’s an Aspect of, we’ll discover later in A Year and a Day.) While Moraine isn’t in full Aspect mode here, she is skirting the edge of Aspect-hood. That’s why her eyes, and the outline of her speech bubbles, are a pinkish-purple.

But, as we’ve seen earlier during the Fairy Tale arc, it’s very easy for Moraine to accidentally draw magic from others around her, draining them to the point of exhaustion and possibly, if she’s not careful, death.

With this mind, Moraine tries to limit how much magic she uses at a given time. She can generate a very large seeing cloud without drawing power from others around her. If she tried to focus on anyone too far outside of her influence, such as trying to locate lost agents in Astoria, she would need to pull magic from the essence of others.

There’s also the simple matter of respecting people’s privacy. Just because you have the ability to spy on someone magically doesn’t mean you should. Moraine understands this and so rarely uses this ability.

So what can Moraine see? People she feels a connection to are the easiest for her to seek out. The stronger the connection, the brighter their spot of light appears to her and the more clearly she can see them - even to the point of being able to sense their emotional state and their health. Full agents of RCSI as well as members of Mori’s family and close friends fall under this category. While Ruby hasn’t taken her oath to become a full agent yet, Moraine was easily able to locate her due to Ruby’s relation to Allen and Emily, two of Mori’s closest friends.

People whom Moraine has had little to no interaction with will appear as fainter lights. They can still be tracked, but it requires more effort to do so and results in just knowing their location and being able to see a little of what’s around them. Folks who are far outside of Moraine’s influence, including those stuck in Astoria, are the faintest lights. Moraine can basically see that they’re alive and get a general idea of where the are - this continent versus that one. That’s all.

She can even tell when someone dies. Their light goes out.

Can Mori see other Aspects? Yes. Likewise, they can see her. As a general rule they’re not interested in Moraine’s actions so, tend to ignore her. All Aspects have the ability to use seeing clouds. They tend to use the clouds to locate people who fit their needs. So Cu Sidhe, the Aspect of Death, uses seeing clouds to track folks whose time is up. Leanna Sidhe, the Aspect of the Muse, uses clouds to hunt for people who desire fame and fortune. The Wild Hunt uses the clouds to avoid people who have outmaneuvered the Hunt in the past… Unlike mortals, the Fey are not in danger of loosing track of themselves in a seeing cloud.