Races of the Beyond: Alfar and Wisps

Alfar

Alfar are the most human-appearing Beyonders. In fact, they look exactly like humans, but at three quarters the size.

Alfar are quick-learning and versatile. As a race, they possess an innate ability to master subjects faster than any other race. More, they can choose their talents (unlike humans). When young, alfar decide which area they wish to master, and their natural facility goes to work, allowing them to grow in that area faster than any other race.

As a result, Alfar are famed as artists, craftsmen, warriors, performers, and much beside. The most promising students tend to be alfar, and the most accomplished masters the same. [In game terms, they receive a bonus to one specific skill, chosen during character creation.]

The downside of this facility is the alfar tendency towards obsession. Alfar don’t just seek to master their subject, they are driven to it. Each alfar has a specific obsession relating to one tiny area of their chosen subject, one area they are driven to master. Perhaps it is a specific model of firearm, or a painting technique, or searching for a means to temper gold. Whatever it is, they pursue this obsession for years and decades, until they have mastered that one thing, at which point some other obsession comes to dominate their interest.

Their obsessions don’t dominate their entire lives, mind, just their professional life, their pursuit of excellence. Alfar cannot be generalists within their chosen area of expertise, they must focus on a very small part of it and master that one part.

Wisps

Wisps are among the more populous Beyonder races (tending towards multiple births, usually 2-3). Tiny humanoids (between 9 and 12 inches high) with elfin features, wisps are innately magical, and closely linked to one of the three elements of Beyonder sorcery: material, energy, and ephemera. This innate link grants them fantastic abilities, like the facility some wisps have for passing through metal without leaving a trace.

Wisps are winged, though their ability to hover and fly isn’t linked to any physical feature. In personality they are — forgive the pun — flighty. They tend to extremes of emotion, extreme joyousness and energy, or extreme pessimism and depression. When excited, they tend to glow.

Wisps are short-lived, maturing in just a year and living for a total of 15, if very lucky. Their legendary drive — wisps seldom remain passive for long, and suffer no half-measures when pursuing a goal — and daring is no doubt due to their awareness of their short spans.

Wisps are naturally magical; every wisp has an innate talent with magic, usually spellcasting. Their diminutive stature means they find it difficult to fight in hand-to-hand combat, so their facility with magic was, very often, their only means of protection. [In game terms, they don’t have to spend points at character creation to gain their first magical talent.]

As with all Beyonder races (and humans, as well), wisps are affected by the anthrophagus curses. Will-o-the-wisps are a common threat in the Outlaw, being packs of wisps who have become anthrophagians, either vampires, ghouls, or wraiths. (Unlike the other races, which variety of eater the wisp becomes is determined by their element, not their killer.) Flying near lone or unwary travelers, the eater wisp lures them away to a secluded spot with a mesmerizing light display. There the rest of the pack descends and consumes the luckless wanderer, like a school of piranha.

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