Friday, January 4, 2013

Arthur Machen's Green Book (Part 3)


What is the Green Book? Check here.
 
"I may write something about all these things but not the way to do them, for peculiar reasons. And I must not say who the Nymphs are, or the Dôls, or Jeelo, or what voolas mean. All these are most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes".

Alala (singular and plural) are the Guardians of Secrets – fey creatures of older eons, whose abode lies in the deepest and most hidden parts of the First World (or Feywild or whatever Fairy Realm you use).

Alala are the physical embodiment of secrets. Thus, to merely gaze at an Alala is forbidden, one of the gravest and most ancient taboos. The defiler is instantly cursed and forsaken by the deities.

Alala can be called by a petitioner to hoard a secret. This is one of the most holy rituals of certain druid circles, elven cabals; besides a few sorcerers and witches. The ritual works like an incantation (Calling Song of the Alala).

The main duty of the Alala is take and guard secrets – literally. Any petitioner who knows the ritual can call the Alala and give to them his innermost secrets. Once guarded by the Alala not even the Gods would dare to intervene. During the ages various petitioners made pacts with those fey to guard knowledge, memories, crimes, power and even passions.

Calling Song of the Alala
Enchantment
Effective Level: 3rd
Skill Check: Knowledge (arcana) DC 20, 3 successes; Knowledge (nature) DC 20, 3 successes; Perform (song) DC 20, 1 success.
Failure: Nothing, Curse or Wrath (see text)
Components:  V (must know Sylvan), S, M (special food and small wooden statues of nymphs made by satyrs and usually worth 1.000 gp), Place (a natural glade), Special (an innocent petitioner, on a moonless night)
Casting Time: 60 minutes
Range: Personal
Effect: One or more Alala are summoned to the glade
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This incantation summons the fabled Alala of hidden lore. All the casters and witnesses must blindfold themselves while the incantation is invoked and during the entire meeting with the fey. All weapons must be sheathed and bond and no protective magic can be in effect in the area. After all the skill checks are made, an innocent petitioner (usually a child and also blindfolded) must call forth the Alala in Sylvan.

If successful, 1d4 Alala will answer the call in 1d10 minutes. The fey will appear discretely, first dancing and singing softly, hidden in the local woods. Their voices are heart-breaking and unearthly, hinting at secrets, wonders and mysteries long lost. All those inside the glade must succeed at a Will save (DC 15) or they will rise, charmed by the Alala, to follow then inside the woods (never to be seen again). If anyone falls to the fey song, the Alala will leave and the incantation will have failed.

Once present the Alala will gently step in the glade. Once their singing stops, those present can ask the fey to hoard a secret from them. Only three secrets can thus be hoarded. The creature needs only to give one step forward – an Alala will come and touch him. The creature must then whisper the secret. The knowledge will be taken from him, carried by his whispered words to the Alala. The fey will then give a small token (usually an acorn) that symbolizes the pact thus formed. This token is known as a Trust.

The speaker will literally forget everything about the secret, knowing only that it’s safe with an Alala and that the Trust holds the key to it. More importantly, no form of divination or compulsion (including magic or divine intervention) can find out what the secret was, where it is or what happened to it (not even that the Trust holds the key to finding it).

After all secrets are whispered and taken, the Alala will go away. The participants must wait approximately 10 minutes (actually 3d10 minutes) before opening their eyes. Acting prematurely will result in everyone being cursed (save applies).

Anyone in possession of a Trust can search for the Alala one more time in the future. The petitioner must be alone, blindfolded and unarmed, in a natural glade on a moonless night. He must wait patiently for 1d4 hours. After that, one Alala will come. She will take back the Trust and whisper the secret to its possessor.

Secrets

Almost anything can be a secret: a memory, a command word, the location of an artifact (or imprisoned demon), even a spell, skill or lore. There hints that even feelings, passions (or Alignments) could be thus “taken away” (as usual, GM’s call).

If the secret is a skill (or something equivalent, like a language), then its original possessor loses access to it. If the secret is taken by another person (who stole the Trust, for example), he gains access to the skill as if he was the original owner. The original owner of the skill can “take it back” by capturing the thief, binding him (i.e. leaving him helpless) and casting a successful remove curse (DC 25). This “counter-ritual” is known to sages, fey and anyone with 15 ranks of Knowledge (nature) or (arcane).

If the secret is a spell, the thief can cast it just once (or write it down on a scroll or grimoire). If it is an incantation (or ritual), the thief gains full knowledge of its use.

Backlash

If the caster fails two consecutive Knowledge (arcana) checks, then nothing happens and the incantation can’t be attempted again until the next new moon.

If the caster fails two consecutive Knowledge (nature) checks, then 1d4+1 random (and hostile) fey creature are summoned and attack the party. Remember that the casters are usually unarmed and blindfolded.

If the Perform check fails or the petitioner isn’t innocent, the Alala doesn’t show up and curse all those partaking in the incantation (no save).

If anyone sees an Alala during the incantation, the fey assume their wrathful aspect and attack. All participants are also automatically cursed (no save). This also happens if another person comes upon the glade during incantation.

Special

Someone who wounded or killed an Alala will never succeed at this incantation, though he may witness one.


Stats for the Alala

Mechanically speaking Alala are treated as advanced half-celestial nymphs. They lose Stunning Glance, Inspiration and Blinding Beauty. They have access to the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list, deal 1d6 Int damage with their touch and gain the new Forbidden Sight ability – it works like Blinding Beauty, but if the target fails a Will save (DC 25) he suffers a major curse and becomes immune to any beneficial divine spell, spell-like or supernatural ability.

If angered (or attacked) an Alala assumes its wrathful aspect (switching from half-celestial to half-fiend template).

Alala are always True Neutral.

1d4 Rumors

1. When an Alala is killed, it is possible to use a silver blade to carve out the fey’s heart.  Inside of it, the killer will find a random Trust.
2. Alala’s blood, mixed with milk and the tears of grief from an innocent child can grant the half-fey template to the drinker [a successful Craft (Alchemy) DC 25 is also required or the target is cursed to a hideous form to the rest of his days].
3. Alala can teach Aklo to anyone who brings “a piece of the sun” to them (whatever that means).
4. If you give your Name to the Alala, you become immune to divination, but anyone you meet has to succeed at a Will DC 20 to remember who you’re (even your family and closest friends). Ah, you also forgets who you’re, effectively becoming a random new 1st level character (keep only the same Ability Scores and Race).