Antagonists

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Many Albanni will tell tales of strange folk, outsiders and the odd beings who dwell in this lands of Alba alongside them, but they fall, generally into three broad categories.

Those Who Came Before

Those Who Came Before seem mostly like Albanni in form and figure, though they do not know the arts of metalworking and they are often driven off to the very edges of civilisation. Some, who have spent too long living in the deep caves or the dark forests, have begun to change; to be more like their environment.


They tend to wear clothes made of hide and fur, or bone; they mark themselves with colours like Albanni woad, though it seems to be of different purpose to them. Some have the basics of spoken communication whereas others seem to communicate between themselves in an unknown tongue or in animalistic grunts.


They hold the old stone alignments in awe, and often seek to protect them or prevent disturbance of them - sometimes the markings they bear resemble those seen on the old stones.


Their relationships with the Albanni are situational; while they dislike the Albanni as a default state, they are not implacably hostile and largely their behaviour will be a response to Albanni behaviour. Since Albanni behaviour often seems to offend against their inexplicable codes of conduct, misunderstandings are common. In the Summerlands where the Albanni often move great stones to access farmland, they are implacably hostile; in the Old Country and the Greenwood they tend to be more standoffish and wary. In any case, they are never overtly friendly. They may be prepared to tolerate an occasional hunter, but they dislike villages and communities.


You can use Those Who Came Before in your tales and stories as antagonists or as mysterious figures, but avoid using them as friends or allies.


Inspirations: The Picts from 13th Warrior; Arthur Machen's "Little People"; Neolithic cultures; the "Original Britons" - Those Who Came Before are intended as primitive survivors of a previous culture - one that has been almost completely marginalised and displaced by the Albanni, driven into the wilderness and the fringes of the land. They hold no love for their brutal conquerors, but flint, bone and horn is in the final analysis, no match for bronze. This information is provided for context - you cannot play one of Those Who Came Before as a character.


The Old Ones

Nobody is entirely sure who or what the Old Ones are. That they seem to be somehow interlinked with, or allied to, Those Who Came Before seems obvious, but equally in some cases open hostility occurs between the two. Often Those Who Came Before will call on an Old One to protect them or act as a weapon against an Albanni enclave; in other cases an Old One will mediate and seek to defuse tensions. There does not seem to be a consistent pattern.


The Old Ones do not, as a rule, appear very human. They are intelligent creatures of legend - some believe them to be Children of the Spirits, given fleshy form; others that they are the voice of Nature given form. They may take human-animal hybrid forms, or they may appear humanoid but somehow misshapen or odd. Some act in mimicry of the Albanni, like the giant Ysbadadden and his court in the mountains of the Old Country or the Huntsman who rides with his retinue through the Greenwood; others roam wild and free and do not care for human interaction like the Stag King or the Great White Bear of the Ice.


The Old Ones seem to be part of a great plan or cycle unclear to the Albanni; their movements and actions often seem to fall to a cycle or pattern. Some seek out interactions with the Albanni; others shun them.


They can be found both in Alba and in the fringes of The Other Place; though as a rule they will avoid all but the very fringes of an Albanni settlement at a stone.


Inspirations; Monstrous and inhuman creatures from myth and legend; giants; totemic beasts and animals, figures like the Wild Hunt, Celtic godforms like the Horned Man or the woman made of flowers. Giant boars with magical combs between their horns. This category is "anything that is not Those Who Came Before and not obviously The Others"


The Others

Those few Albanni who have ventured deep into The Other Place and have returned alive and sane speak of their strange experiences in the mists and the darkness; they speak of other lands and other places, islands in the fog like Alba, but different and strange.


In these places they find things beyond even the strangeness of the Old Ones - living islands, mountains that walk and talk, forests which dance, entire courts of fair nobility that compete with one another for a single night and then are gone. They seem to treat Albanni as guests in their realms but understand little of them; sometimes their touch can be death and sometimes they can guide a lost traveller home.


Little to nothing is truly known of The Others, of who they are really, of what their aims are, and of how they fit in with everything else. They are encountered only in The Other Place, and even then, rarely and never the same way twice.


Inspirations: other worlds, faerie courts, truly alien things. Who knows what lies in the depths of The Other Place? Use these things in your stories very sparingly, and always check with the organisers first.


Common Antagonists

Formori

These monstrous folk come from the sea, some claim their ancestors once visited a strange land across the seas somewhere of the coast of the Northlands. A place of beach side villages littered with the bones and flesh of giant sea creatures, victims of the Formori feeding frenzy.

Patches of scaled skin glisten under there net and seaweed covered clothing, their dark and bloody mouths often full of gnarled, sharp Pike like teeth.

They are predominantly encountered when they raid Albanni coastal lands in savage assaults. Their language where they choose to use it is close enough to that of the Albanni that on rare occasions the Formori have approached a coastal village to make dark trade pacts. Whilst they can be lucrative, accepting these pacts is dangerous, not only can dealing with the Formori be tricky but the stain of this betrayal of the Albanni is one which is hard to remove.

Bog Witches

These Old Ones appear to the Albannni like the drowned corpse of a human, blueish pale flesh, dark lips, tangled hair and mouldy clothing.

They hide from the sun in their dark, damp huts which can be found throughout Alba. There they sit patiently awaiting for Albanni in dire need to come knocking, desperate for their help no matter the cost. By candle light they offer cures and curses for a variety of mundane and magical afflictions or conundrums the Albanni face. The price? It can cost the very nature of being or simply a well cooked meal but that’s for you to find out, should you be desperate enough to risk everything.

Will-o'-the-wisp

Across Alba there is speculation on the Will-o'-the-wisp "are they Old Ones or Others?". They are found in swamps and marshes and there is a significant concentration of them in the Fenlands for obvious reasons. There is a chance that your character has never seen one especially unless they live in the Fenlands, here Albaninni are taught from an early age to ignore the ghostly lights and voices in the dark.

The Cold Ones

The coasts of Alba attract those from drowned lands, villages and settlements claimed by the seas. Unsurprisingly there is more chance of encountering them in the Fenlands due to the nature of the landscape and rising sea. Something has changed in them, their clothes and weapons are Albanni but their faith in the Gods and Spirits of Alba is shattered.

They see the Albanni as a threat to what little they have left, abandoned by those they worshipped and made sacrifice to. The Albanni are a threat they deal with using traps and cunning schemes against, should they venture to close to a settlement.

Trollfolk

Clad in fur these savage raiders come from unknown lands in large beastly boats decorated in the blood of their enemies. Their blows can easily shatter the shafts of the weapons and their bulk absorb many an arrow before falling. Luckily for the Albanni their arrival is always announced by torch lights in the dark and chants in a sinister tongue unknown to the Albanni.

There is no compromise with the Trollfolk, no trade and no surrender. To attempt either is to be taken back to their homelands to be savagely devoured in horrific feeding frenzies if their behaviour in Alba is anything to go by.

A village with no great warriors to defend them will often flee into the night, taking their chances in the Other Place rather than face down the oncoming horror of the raiding party.

Selkie

Beware of lovers in the night for the lonely heart of an Albanni can have its prayers answered by these mysterious shapeshifters. In the moon light they cast off their beastly visage to walk amongst the humans, seeking broken and lonely hearts to torture.

Seemingly malicious these Old Ones seek out the heartbroken and lonely, they bring joy, enrapturing their prey with promises of a beautiful future only to leave before the next sunrise with only deeper sorrow in their wake.

Ghosts

Ghosts take many forms, from the invisible and mischievous soul of a homestead to the dusty (in appearance) spirits of vengeance come to deliver a curse.

They cannot be driven away by physical means but many villages have passed down the knowledge of how to keep them away from their homes or lay them to rest using their own traditions.

Not everyone in Alba treats these entities as something to “deal with”, another common response found throughout Alba is to welcome them, embrace and learn from them before helping them with their troubles so that they may rest of their own accord.

Banshee

They are often encountered on the edges of the Other Place leading to some speculation as to whether these figures draped in black robes with long flowing white hair are Old Ones or something Other.

It is said only fools and those who have angered the Gods will dismiss the distinctive slow harmony of the Banshee. In some regions the Albanni believe they do this to summon passers-by to aid them, others see them harbingers of doom who must be reluctantly interacted with.

Between songs, their wails and cries (if you listen closely enough) can reveal the names of doomed, those who will soon encounter malign supernatural forces or those not long for this world.