Monday, September 9, 2013

Beyond The Cover: The Secrets of Adventuring, Taskshaper Introduction.

I thought I might start spending Mondays showing you a glimpse beyond what you see in the normal previews of our books.  Give  you a big piece of meat. Ed Healy told me he really liked the Introduction of the Taskshaper in The Secrets of Adventuring (PDF or Print +PDF) so I though I would share it with everyone. Oh and yes that is a taskshaper pictured on the cover.

New Base Class: Taskshaper

Owain Northway,

You hunt for the secrets of the lost children, those stolen away from this world, tricked by beings who see no value in truth. I have had enough of secrets, I also wish to change the way the world perceives us, and so I will give you truth, I will tell you of the taskshapers.  

Lanshuil Lostdottir

I am a taskshaper, and I will tell you the story of my kind. We are not changelings, we are those that were replaced by them, we are not doppelgangers, though now we often work with them. We are not a race; we are a class of individuals who for the most part share a common background of abduction, which has left us emotionally scarred. We are the mortal children snatched by the fey, kidnapped from our cribs, our playgrounds, and even our schools. We are the lostlings, taken to the primal enchanted homeland of the fey, the secret of our true heritage kept from us, oftentimes our memories altered by magic, especially if we were old enough to remember our previous life. We became blank slates for the fey to write upon.
Auberyon, the Solstice King, used his gift for deceit and the magics of the fair folk to transform us into adaptive tools, claiming we would serve to stop a fell and encroaching threat from the mortal realms. I believe this was his original intent but over time when the threat did not manifest we become something else we became entertainment. The Solstice King and many other fey now do this simply for their own amusement.
Then came the day we learned the great secret, our kindred were being taken to the realm of dreams to perform in a blood sport, a place where taskshaper’s died for the Solstice King’s  pleasure. Horrified by the betrayal we banded together and swore this would not be our fate, and so we brought about our own vanishing.
Learning the true intent of our captors, that there was no great noble purpose to our existence, we cast about seeking meaning, when we learned that the fey kidnapped us from our true lives. We thought to go home, and so the majority of the taskshapers banded together and escaped to the mortal realms, our true home, disguised in various forms and scattering so that the Solstice King could not corral us like so much cattle. Not that we knew what we would come home to find, so many of us taken as small children, barely remembering the vaguest shadows of what home might have been. Nevertheless, we wanted something real, something independent of the whimsy of a callous fey lord.
We hoped our return would be a grand celebration, instead, we found that no one remembered us; no one had ever missed us, for we had been replaced by changelings. Moreover, many of us could not even take revenge upon the changelings who had taken our identities. We were bereft of solace, for not even the ashes of our stolen lives remained. Tragically, we had not accounted for the movement of time in the enchanted lands of the fair folk, most of us had returned long years after our abduction.   
And so it began, we had returned to a world no longer our own, misplaced in time, but with all the talents and skills taught to us by the eldritch fey of the primal world.


Taskshapers like myself, bereft of all else, long for a purpose in life, and I along with them still desire a threat to strive against, to fulfill the emptiness left inside us by the false promises of the fey. Some like me become hidden guardians striving to defend some small remnant of our stolen lives. Others seek masters worthy of our service, becoming agents suited to nearly any task but most especially the betrayal-ridden shadow play of espionage. Others of our ilk seek out the trust and companionship of a loyal fellowship and will not hesitate to sacrifice everything including their very lives to preserve that circle of friendship.
Many of my fellow taskshapers ultimately choose this lifestyle because it is one of the few places we can find acceptance, as few other communities, professions, or tradecrafts will trust shapeshifters. Moreover, while some of my fellows chose to hide amongst you, if locals discover their true nature they flee to a life of adventure away from the prejudice and hatred the world holds for fey-touched lostlings. Ultimately, I believe that this lifestyle may have also be part of a tragic curse placed upon us by the Solstice King, denying us a permanent home since we chose to abandon his.     


Due to our shared upbringing in the primal plane of dark fey, taskshapers share a number of common traits. Most of us share a wild if not fully feral nature having spent our adolescents learning the hedonistic practices of the Solstice Court. Pulled away from our parents at an early age, many of us never truly grow up and seek to relive and recapture our lost childhood. The theft of our identities and our rightful place in the world has also left most of us are psychologically scarred, cynical, and skeptical, we trust very few people and expect little to nothing from people or the world, this has led us to value the beauty of the moment rather than worrying about the future. Moreover, we place the highest value on those who have earned our trust. Some of us therefore act with fits of sensual whimsy while others are grim and distance, regardless all of us are painfully lonely. 


It should come as no surprise to you that due to our ever changing and shifting nature that we taskshapers are usually creatures of chaos, however I know those who take up the neutrality of nature, and those how hold to a rigid code of personal conduct that would press the honor the greatest knight. Ultimately, we can go our own way or serve any of the forces of chaos, evil, good, or law.  
While I myself spend my days searching for my lost son, I have met a stonewarden gargoyle who they fey took from his rookery when he was still an egg. He killed his entire clan when he returned from the Solstice Court, for their failure to notice his disappearance. The authorities supposedly executed him for his crime but he now serves the Mournful Order of Kinslayers as one of their honorable assassins.


Taskshapers generally choose two paths when it comes to the divine. First there are those such as myself that curse and rage against the heavens for allowing this tragic fate to befall us. A few of them have joined with other fell powers and seek to actively overthrow the rule of heaven; others simply refuse to worship any deity.  
 The second group tends to worship deities they discovered during their time with the fey and believe these deities helped them discover the truth of the Solstice King’s deception. These deities tend to include cunning, laughter, madness, rebels, scouts, shapeshifters, tragedy, travelers, tricksters, thieves, and wine. I myself give praise to Our Mother of Many Ways who presides over badgers, creativity, geniuses, gnomes, half- wits, hyenas, inspiration, intuition, invention, jackals, lurkers, madness, oracles, prophecy, shapeshifters, tragedy, wine, and wolverines.
All of the above those are simple generalities and there are always exceptions to our common beliefs.
Govan Goneson is a devotee of The Great Church of the Pantheon believing that all of our tragedy was a test of our faith in Sovereigns of Heaven. While Telyn Wayward who fought in the Coliseum Morpheuon and has totally dedicated himself to the martial benefits offered by his talent for shapeshifting is an adherent of Our War Marshal in Heaven.


All taskshapers share one piece of common background; the denizens of the faerielands kidnapped us and left a changeling in our place. The newest of our kind the renegade taskshapers rescued, taking them on as apprentices. For this is what awakens the gift of shapeshifting within us. Yet the fey chose potentials for a reason, and therefore we have a few common background traits. The first of these is the easiest to recognize as before being taken we showed a propensity for not giving any thought to the consequences of their actions, and as such were often running away from trouble. The second of these traits was much harder for the fair folk to determine but with their ability to walk unseen throughout our lives, they would eventually learn that we tended to delight in the mess we could make of other people’s lives.
In their realm, the otherworldly fey used their magic and lies to manipulate us, until we consented to their torture, fleshly violations, and other things that were far worse so that our gift of shapeshifting could be awakened. Myself, the fair folk seized after I stole the roses from my sister’s wedding, they took me while I was sitting on the limb of a high tree watching people scramble about tiring to find my sister’s roses. The greatest of tragedies though was when the Solstice king seduced me and then later took my child from me, I still have not found him. 
This is another example besides having what could have been our lives stolen away from us, we all have had something even more tragic happen to us while we were in the realm of the faeries. Sometimes this does not happen until after we escape the Courts of the Solstice King, and it is my belief that some fell curse uttered by Auberyon haunts us still even after we leave wrecking misfortune throughout our lives. However, not everyone agrees with me that this is the case. 


Fey, no matter the court, do not care about what mortal race you belong to. They will steal from anyone. However, one will do tend to find that we belonged to cultures that had a greater chance of interaction with the faerielands. As such dwarves of nearly any region and the stonewarden gargoyles of Questhaven are the least likely to become taskshapers.
A few of the satyrs I knew, who were given to talk in excess when drunk on fey wine have told me a dark and disturbing tale about why humans tend to dominate our numbers. That some of the outlying villages in the Questhaven protectorate near the Dire Weald give children the fey select to the Solstice Court as part of fell bargains forged during the age of the Cynmark Dynasty when the Dread Lich ruled the lands.


Taskshapers can get along with the members of nearly any other profession though in general Paladins, Cavaliers, and Samurai often have the hardest time trusting us do to our ability to disguise our appearance, though we seldom harbor any ill will towards them. I have found myself most at home with druids, illusionists, transmuters, and rogues. What I have seen as the most violate of relationships occurs between divine healers and taskshapers who wish the destruction of all that is divine. It is difficult for most to turn away from the benefits of magical healing while still maintaining their hatred for what the Sovereigns of Heaven have allowed to happen to us. 


Within adventuring companies, and especially the Questor’s Society, we taskshapers often serve as the greatest of spies being able to change our appearance and our personalities. We can also serve as gifted scouts able to range far and wide by wing or by fin, often going where others cannot. Some of us become spiritualists spending time with the creatures we imitate, and seeking our own private lore. Others of my kind serve as companions to other shapeshifters from doppelgangers to lycanthropes often passing on our lore so that these creatures learn of our abilities. However, like me many of my kith and kin are outsiders searching for what the fey took away from us, a feeling of belonging and feeling of purpose in this world, or seeking for the truth of their former identity to the muddle of altered and false memories. These and others like me have taken up the life of an adventure and quest.

No comments:

Post a Comment