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They won’t know what it is when they find it, probably. The changelings come across a part where the Hedge walls taper downward, and the ground starts to become like sand. Hedge plants become Jersey pines. Tidal pools, salty and stinking of fish, start to appear. The sandy beach landscape is pock-marked with divots and dug holes, some by hand, others by small shovel. Desperate snorting hobs scurry about, making more holes — mostly, they don’t seem to notice the characters or even one another, but if anybody gets too close to them, they lash out with a mean hiss and a swipe of their gnarled fingernails.
In the distance, seen through the veil of heat haze, is a massive statue — thrice the size of the changelings themselves. The statuary, seemingly cut from pink granite, is of a humanoid creature with a magpie’s head. Its beak is thrust to the heavens and wrenched open, as if in pain. Its eyes are stark. With frozen taloned hands, the creature seems to be shielding its face, its long dark cloak caught in a mid-motion whirl about its gaunt body. It has no wings, but its boots are cut for crows’ feet, not for human feet. The base of the statue — done in dark granite, a deep contrast to the figure itself — has two pieces of text on it, one on the northern side, and the other on its southern side.
The northern bit reads: “A single magpie in spring, foul weather will bring”.
The southern bit reads: “One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told”.
Then, someone has painted across the base (in what may be blood): “I DEFY THEE”.
The story of what actually happened here is fairly straightforward in the telling — a greedy Keeper known as the Robber Bird found itself ambushed by a small legion of changelings, all of whom had been kept by the thieving, treasure-hoarding Fae. The Robber Bird, normally a foul thing of great power, was burdened by the many treasures it kept concealed under its cloak. It would not let its baubles and trifles go, and so it could not move like it wanted to — and the militant changelings took advantage of it. A Swimmerskin known as Mary O’Brine was the one who dealt the final blow, thrusting a rusted rapier through the monster’s heart.
The Robber Bird screamed and froze in place, its flesh hardening into a vein of pink granite. A harrumphing blast of air buffeted all nearby. Not only did this great exhalation knock down the Hedge walls here (leaving half-of-a-beach in its wake, all blasted sands and briny pools), but all of the creature’s kept treasures peppered the area. It was a concussive piñata, a shimmering grenade. Some of the trifles acted like shrapnel, killing a few of the attendant changelings. The rest were driven deep into the sands, hidden.
The hobs who lurk here are treasure hunters, desperate to find the gleaming bits of stolen treasure in the sand. Some stories suggest that the place has been so picked over that nothing is left, but other stranger rumors tell tales of how the Robber Bird’s cloak was a thing of infinite space, and that what was contained within is enough treasure to have forever populated these sands with hidden riches.
With the Blasted Beach, the following rules are in play:
• Those with the Greed Vice gain +3 to any roll while within the area of the Blasted Beach. Those with the Charity Virtue suffer –3 to any roll within the area of the Blasted Beach.
• Digging is not the act alone by which one finds something. Certainly one must dig, but more is needed on the part of the changeling. Unconsciously, it matters how much the changeling wants to find something. The Storyteller should ask the player how badly she wants to find something in the sand. She should ask the player to rank that want on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. If she ranks it from 7–10, then the changeling will find something. At 7 or 8, the changeling finds a trifle, oddment, or a Token equal to one or two dots. In addition, the changeling gains a mild derangement. At 9 or 10, the changeling finds a Token equal to three or four dots, but gains a severe derangement. The derangement is permanent (though it can be fixed through therapy) unless the changeling reburies what she’s found in the sand. Because of the derangement gain, the player needn’t spend any experience points to claim the Token as her own.
• The act of digging is soothing, at least initially. For the following hour after digging, the character feels very centered, very calm. She gains +1 to any Resolve + Composure rolls, and gains +3 to any Meditation rolls (including those necessary for oneiromancy). Once that hour is up, however, the character grows irritable, edgy, and anxious. She suffers –1 to Resolve + Composure rolls and –3 to Meditation rolls; these penalties last until she gets eight hours of sleep or until she can return to the beach and do more digging.
|“||You give that back to me! Give it back or I’ll bite off your stinking monkey hands!||”|
Greedy Gobs are the ones that have become captivated by this place. Even when they find something, they merely squirrel it away in a pouch or pocket until they can hide it somewhere in the Hedge, returning shortly thereafter to find more, more, more. Hobs that come here may once have looked different, they are often singular creatures — one looks like a greasy beetle with an old man’s face, another is just a tumbling ball of limbs and eyes. But as they dig, they all start to suffer some universal characteristics — their arms grow longer, their hands wider, their mouths and eyes bigger.
Interestingly though, these greedy gobs start to suffer from the same haunted, hungry, greedy appearances. Their desperation is profound. It’s like their hearts are great big empty gaps, and they’re trying to shove as much treasure into the vacant pit as possible to fill it all up again (though it never works). They remain mostly focused on the task at hand, but if any get too close — or try to steal their found items — they move fast to bite and scratch and scream.
Average Greedy Gob
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 4, Stamina 2
Social Attributes: Presence 2, Manipulation 1, Composure 1
Mental Skills: Investigation 3
Physical Skills: Athletics (Dig) 3, Brawl (Shove) 3, Larceny (Pocket) 4, Survival 1
Social Skills: Empathy 1, Intimidation 2
Merits: Fast Reflexes 2, Fresh Start
Speed: 10 (species factor 4)
Glamour/per Turn: 11/2
Goblin Contracts: Trading Luck for Fate (•), Fool’s Gold (••)
- Dancers in the Dusk, p. 91-92