So I\’ve been editing Pendulum for a couple days now, and will be for some time. Edits are a draining affair, not only do I have to fix prose and plot holes, I also flesh out areas I left open during the drafting process. I\’m a rather lean writer and find adding meat to the story easier than cutting fat.
\’Adding meat to the story\’ means, apart from the plot-related things, lore. I\’m very aware of the dangers of what\’s known in writing circles as \’world building disease\’. Creating a setting can be a rabbit hole, and some writers dug too deep and never found their way back to the light. Personally, I\’m approaching this a bit like Scalzi, who was calling his world building \”two questions deep\”. My own idea of a world is a bit deeper. I take inspiration from Celtic mythology, mainly (but not exclusively) the Irish side, but since most of what made up the old folklore is lost to the winds of time and the spread Christianity, not much is clearly defined.
This is both bad (not much to work with out of the box) and good (a lot of artistic freedom). Since I have to fill in a lot of the blanks myself, it\’s unavoidable to divert from certain \’facts\’ that are \’known\’ about some things. You notice I put some words in quotes. Since it\’s folklore we\’re talking about here, nothing of this is actually factual. I\’m making up stories based on stories. Part of that is a clear categorization of things like races.
Let\’s take a look at what I have, how I re-imagined them all to make for interesting stories. If you check out my magic system, you\’ll find I\’m a friend of rules that make it easy to check if something in the story is possible or not. Druids for example are magic users that can\’t shoot fireballs like a mage in a RPG. Their magic is ritualistic and can achieve great things, but not spontaneously. I\’m working in similar ways with races.
Humans in Aes Sidhe are what we know about us humans in real life, the \’baseline\’. No special traits or abilities. In many RPGs, humans are being displayed as fast learners or adaptable. Nothing like this applies to the humans in Aes Sidhe. Since only very few have magical abilities, \’the gift\’, so humans rely mostly on tech. The few magic users are druids and wield powers that have to be evoked in rituals (see above). The existence of humans in some way sustains the Otherworld (I won\’t go into detail here), which provides a motivation for its denizens to help humanity find a new home.
The picture on top of this blog post is that of an Ellyll. Not much is defined about Ellyllon in Celtic lore, they are just \’the Celtic elves\’, and descriptions are very vague to the point that I decided to make them shapeshifters. Shapeshifting is a spontaneous ability, a racial trait. This fits the nature theme in Celtic lore, which is a central point of the Aes Sidhe stories. Ellyllon don\’t wield spells like elves you\’d find in the DnD universe.
Lurikeen are also known as Leprechaun (\’Lurikeen\’ being the French name), little, red-bearded guys in green clothing who bury treasures at the end of rainbows. That\’s the modern, dumbed down version, of course — the original Leprechaun is nothing like that. In the original, Lurikeen are just \”small, mischievous faeries\” (or rather hobgoblins), and in Aes Sidhe, they are small (40-50cm) wing-less creatures who can project a kind of forcefield around themselves (not around space ships, that would be a druid spell).
The Ghillie Dhu
In Scottish folklore, Ghillie Dhu are tree spirits wearing a green coat and protecting the trees. The original version is a male spirit, but I decided to extend this to a complete race. Since the Ghillie Dhu is very similar in nature to Dryads in Greek mythology, I went with Dryad looks. Their appearance is that of a human with tree-like features, and their camouflage abilities are perfect. There is a Ghillie Dhu in Pendulum. Her name is Ailbhe, which means \’white\’, and her bark is white like that of a birch tree. She is a marine.
The Fir Bolg
The Fir Bolg in the original Celtic lore are a sibling race to the Tuatha De Danann that make up most of the deities of the mythology. They descend from the same race, and when they were driven out, those who would become the Tuatha fled north, while the ancestors of the Fir Bolg fled to Greece. They returned, ruled Ireland for a while, then got overthrown by the Tuatha De Danann. In Aes Sidhe lore, they are a large, sturdy race with regenerative abilities, almost a giant race, but \’only\’ a bit over 2m tall and broad. Since their innate ability is regeneration, they don\’t usually need any medical attention, which makes for awesome soldiers, but not all of them are interested in combat. One of them appears in Pendulum, Maon. He is a physician.
Faeries are the most often seen of the Otherworld races in Aes Sidhe. There are two rivaling organizations, the Winter Court and the Summer Court, who have a lot in common, but often very different goals. I depict Winter Court Faeries as icy blue. Blue wings, hair, eyes, and they have a freezing cold aura. The Summer Court Faeries, then, look orange/yellow and have a fiery aura. Some Faeries don\’t belong to either court. The number of unaffiliated Faeries is low, and their appearance can have any other color scheme, or even a mix of colors. In Aes Sidhe, Faeries possess a much faster personal time, which makes them perceive the world around them in slow motion. As a consequence, this makes them extremely fast in anything they do.
There are, of course, many other creatures in Celtic mythology, and some will pop up at different points in different stories. There\’s a Cu Sidhe and a Cat Sidhe in Pendulum, for example, and Baen Sidhe or Selkies are interesting enough to make use of them in another story, but only the aforementioned \’races\’ are relevant factors in Aes Sidhe. Individual members can belong to any of the two courts, or decide to stay independent.