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Animmaculate is a term that refers not to a single type of creature, but rather to a wide variety of hobgoblin that share common characteristics. All Animmaculates appear to be composed of a synthesis of clockwork parts integrated into the body of a normal animal.
|“||*wolf’s howl, lion’s roar, elephant’s trumpeting, all mixed in with the click and whir of gears and the grinding of metal on metal*||”|
Changelings have reported a wide variety of these creatures, both carnivorous and herbivorous — lions, antelope, bears, horses, owls, serpents, wolves, and hyenas. Even smaller and domestic animals such as cats, dogs, mice, rats, fish, and insects have been seen. Whether these creatures evolved naturally — if anything can be said to occur “naturally” within the Hedge — or are the creation of one of the Keepers is unknown. Some scholars point to an oh-so-scientific Fae noble called the Clockwork Queen, but can’t rightly swear that she’s responsible for all the Annimaculates prowling the Thorns. No two, even of the same basic animal type, seem to be identical. For example, Jeremy Question, a Wizened Oracle traveling through the Hedge to visit a friend, reported seeing an Animmaculate leopard with claws made out of curved metal barbs like fishhooks, and a tail made of long, rubber-sheathed cable. Several months later, Laughing Amelia, Chicago’s then-Queen of Spring, told her paramour about an Animmaculate leopard she had seen while searching for goblin fruits.
The creature she spotted, however, had compound eyes made up of numerous camera lenses, a coat made of metallic fibers, and cogwork wheels grinding slowly in its jaws, rather than fangs.The “immaculate” root of the creature name, coined by a clever Darkling who made a study of the creatures, refers to the fact that the creatures do not seem to eat, drink, or excrete. Although some sightings have mentioned creatures that incorporate solar cells, steam engines, or even small windmill vanes into their bodies, it is unknown if these parts actually provide the creatures with energy and take the place of the normal digestive system. The creatures do not appear to reproduce as mundane animals do, and it is uncertain as to whether they can do so at all.
There is one ot her fact worth noting. Normal animals — those that aren’t Hedge Beasts, but simply lost — loathe and despise Animmaculate creatures. This reaction is especially pronounced when the normal animal is the same overall sort as the Animmaculate it encounters. The stray alley cat that has recently wandered into the Hedge will hiss, spit, and yowl when faced with an Animmaculate cat. It is unknown whether the mortal animal recognizes any degree of kinship with the hobgoblin, or simply realizes that such a change could happen to it, but in every instance, the flight or fight response takes over. Natural animals will either destroy the Animmaculate animal if it can, or flee if the Animmaculate is more powerful than it is, which usually tends to be the case.
Animmaculate creatures are always, at a minimum, intelligent in proportion to the actual creature. An Animmaculate gorilla, dolphin, or raven will be more intelligent than an Animmaculate turtle, gopher, or cow, and some of the more gifted creatures have intellect on a par with changelings and mortals (although never as intelligent as the Keepers, of course).
Although Animmaculate predators such as wolves, bears, and panthers will stalk and kill changelings, hobgoblins, and other animals they encounter, this behavior seems to be a remnant of instinct. No one has ever seen an Animmaculate predator eat a living creature they have hunted and slain. However, on the whole, Animmaculate creatures seem to bear no specific malevolence toward other creatures, and such deaths are rare.
Animmaculate creatures are always knowledgeable about the general area in which they lair, and may be persuaded to aid travelers for an appropriate recompense. On rare occasions, Animmaculate creatures have been convinced to accompany changelings or other hobgoblins on visits through the Hedge for short periods of time. They will never do so without being offered some form of reward, such as goblin fruits, tokens, or information.
Although Animmaculate creatures vary widely, some generalizations can be made about them. First of all, there do not appear to be any that are entirely mechanical. From what accounts are known, no Animmaculates have been spotted that are more than 50% mechanical, and most that have been seen are a good deal less than that, usually in the neighborhood of 15% to 30%.
Secondly, the mechanical parts that substitute for the normal portions of their body always seem to do so in a way that does not hinder or hamper the creatures. For instance, legs are never replaced with wheels on muddy or stony terrain where wheels could not travel. Although the replacement of parts may seem to be random to observers, they are always functional, and in many instances function better than the creature’s flesh-and-blood parts would be.
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 4, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 4, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 4, Manipulation 1, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Investigation 2, Occult 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 4, Brawl 4, Stealth 5, Survival 4
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Intimidation 4, Subterfuge 3
Merits: Danger Sense, Hollow 2 (cave), Iron Stamina 3
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 1, Wits 2, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 2, Manipulation 1, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Medicine, Occult
Physical Skills: Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Stealth 2, Survival 4
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Empathy 2, Persuasion 2, Subterfuge 1
Merits: Common Sense, Direction Sense, Quick Healer 4
- Dancers in the Dusk, p. 99-100