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Kaeki

Summary

(Kay-ah-ky), According to myth the Kaeki are a species of near-human or demi-human created by the Vox, the last of the Ayr, to act as spiritual and practical guides for humanity. Physically they are nearly indistinguishable from humans with the exception of monochromatic eyes and the metallic and crystalline patches and ridges which they some develop on their skin as they age. The most notable feature of the Kaeki is their ability to see the world not through light and shadow but by perceiving the rays of force and umbras of probability. The Kaeki are alternately revered or demonized depending on the culture; seen as holy seers or unnatural aberrations. They have extremely long life spans and the eldest Kaeki can live for millennium, outlasting families, cities, and even cultures.

Advantages

As supposed ‘children of the Vox’ the Kaeki possess a celestial willpower that can carry them through even the most hopeless situation and an innate talent for languages that allows them to communicate easily. They also possess a unique sense of perception which grants them a special view of the world, letting them see what many others cannot. Kaeki are also able to detect and avoid the effects of most Lingua Arcana more easily than others and with practice can even negate the arcane languages. Some Kaeki develop skin patches that are either hard and resilient creating a natural armour or fragile and beautiful enhancing their appearance and perception.

Limitations

The Kaeki’s unique perception does not come without a significant risk. In the modern absence of the stabilizing influence of the Ayr, many Kaeki perceive the world in chaos and perceive faults and voids in reality that are hidden to those with conventional sight. This leaves the Kaeki susceptible to increased stress and mental illness. Kaeki senses can also be overwhelming, particularly in areas with a high density of sapients, where probability and force are in constant flux, pushed and pulled by sapient Will. Finally, Kaeki are somewhat frailer than humans, more easily injured and slower to heal. Kaeki typically intermarry with humans and their traits appear very rarely and apparently without obvious cause. This, coupled with the penchant of some cultures to persecute and kill Kaeki on birth, has limited the Kaeki population severely.

Description

According to Aeldan legend the hidden species of quasi-humans known as the Kaeki were one of four gifts given to humanity by the Last Ayr, Vox. The Three Lingua Arcana were first; Shifting, Shaping, and Singing, given so that humanity might better survive and understand the world and their place in it. The Vox then gave the Seers to guide humanity to that place. According to these stories the first Seers were said to be humans ‘elevated’ by the Vox, the most noble and wise of the mortal race, gifted with a portion of the perception of the Ayr. This is one story of many; some stories suggest the Kaeki were the only gift of the Vox and that all Lingua Arcana derive from their insights into the world; other stories suggest that the Seers were agents of the One who survived the fall of the great tormentor; and yet others posit more alien origins for the Kaeki, as entities from the space between life and death, spirits infesting human bodies like parasites.

Whatever the truth, the Kaeki are known for one thing above all else; their perception. All Kaeki are born ‘blind’, incapable of seeing the world as humans do. In the absence of conventional sight, young Kaeki instead develop an extraordinary perception that transcends vision, a sensory ability known as Diascience, a perception across and beyond the mundane. According to the Seer’s they are able to perceive the world as the Ayr do, in rays of force, umbras of probability, and the weave and motion of matter. As a result Seer’s need no light to apprehend the trail of an enemy, the history a person or object, or the causality of an ambush or battle.

The quasi-human nature of the Kaeki is a subject of debate among natural philosophers and lorekeepers. They are born rarely and seemingly at random to human and Kaeki families alike; a pair of Kaeki is no more apt to produce another Kaeki than any human couple. A young Kaeki baby or toddler is almost always seen as simply a blind human, not anything special or notable. It’s not until the Kaeki begins to develop their Diascience that the differences become apparent, often in ways inexplicable to their human families and stressful or traumatic for the Kaeki themselves. A Kaeki child who begins to perceive their parents choices before they are vocalized, or understand the history of objects older than they are for example, can often play such things off once they understand the reactions such mentions evoke, but a Kaeki who catches glimpse of a dark intellect lurking in the seams between space and time is, at best, rendered mute by terror, and at worst, left haunted and deranged by the experience.

The danger of uncontrolled Diascience is such that some Kaeki make it their life’s goal to seek out others of their kind, particularly children, in order to help them cope with their abilities. What Kaeki culture exists is the result of such pilgrims and their ‘apprentices’. In some places the Kaeki are welcomed and new Kaeki are handed over readily, either out of hope for future benefit or fear of immediate repercussions. In other locales the Kaeki are viewed with suspicion and hatred, forced to remain hidden from the populace lest they be hunted or enslaved. The random nature of Kaeki birth means that many stories end poorly for Kaeki children born to such locales.

Linguists
Kaeki are gifted at learning mortal languages and rapidly develop native fluency with even short exposure. This is largely attributed to their supposed relationship to the Vox, who was the first to give humanity language and then, later, the Lingua Arcana.

Reading
Kaeki experience books very differently than humans. Instead of ink on a page they perceive the knowledge itself; memories and perspectives from the author tethered to the page. This ability comes with a significant downside; most cannot perceive the text on a Luminar in any way. Such technological marvels are merely inert slabs to most Kaeki. Only those who refine their perception through meditation can begin to see the ephemeral energies as information.

Willful
All Kaeki possess a fierce will that they apply readily. Many Kaeki are driven and indomitable by mundane or arcane means, gifted with a willpower that drives them through torments and hardships that would leave others broken. The source of this particular gift is unclear. Some say it is their relationship to the Vox, the most willful of the Ayr, while others argue it is the result of their Diascience and understanding of the world.

Diascience
The idea that Kaeki are ‘blind’ and that their eyes are vestigial is a common and understandable misconception, common enough that most Kaeki fail to correct others on the topic. Fundamentally this fallacy is based on an error of logic; that Kaeki cannot see light and shadow as humans do does not mean they are blind. Instead, Kaeki perceive the world through a set of senses inaccessible to humans, discerning features imperceptible to humans. The most common analogies are made with sight, but this is a convenience; some Kaeki find other sense terms more appropriate, describing the world in tastes, sounds, or smells. In the end these are all weak analogies given to make humans more comfortable; it is no more possible for a Kaeki to convey what their perception of the world is like than a human could convey to them the colour red, a bat echolocation, or a shark electroreception.

Ayrskin
Some mature Kaeki develop patches of metallic and crystalline material on their bodies as they age. These patches typically grow in symmetrical patterns across the body, particularly on the back, arms, legs, and sometimes the face. The texture of the Ayrskin is different for each Kaeki and while often described in terms of a resemblance to elemental materials such as metals and gemstones, the material itself resists such classification. The material can grow resilient enough to offer additional protection to the typically frail Kaeki and many point to this as evidence of the Vox’s benevolent intervention in their creation. For others, the material grows sheer and feathery, offering less obvious advantages. The Ayrskin is not universal, but it is relatively common.

Supernal Awareness
An important feature of Kaeki Diascience is their ability to directly perceive the use of the Lingua Arcana. This is in contrast with the typical human perception of the effects of their use; a human sees a rock float while a Kaeki sees the invisible forces buoying that rock. This awareness grants Kaeki an innate resistance against arcane effects, making it harder to target or impact such beings. In particularly powerful cases the Kaeki can even ‘dispel’ the works of Linguists; a Shaping might simply dissipate before a powerful Kaeki, a Shifter might find themselves fighting against a reflex to revert to their base form or a Singer might find each of their notes falling flat. It is important to note that while the Kaeki can perceive the actions of a Linguist directly, even learn from and dispel them, that does not mean they can replicate them. Like all quasi-humans Kaeki are unable to utilize the Lingua Arcana.

Mimics
Discerning a Kaeki from a human is difficult at best. All obvious Kaeki features can be hidden; Ayrskin beneath clothing and eyes behind spectacles, masks, or even a low hanging cloak. As a result Kaeki are able blend in to most cultures, even those where they might be hated. It is obviously not impossible to expose them, but Kaeki Diascience makes such endeavours more difficult than would be expected.

Fragile
For reasons known only to their creators the Kaeki possess less physical fortitude than humans. They both succumb to illness more readily and take a longer time to heal from disease and injury. To some degree this physical fragility is innately compensated for by their strong wills, but only to a degree.

Lurkers in the Dark
The greatest danger to the Kaeki is the result of their greatest strength. Kaeki perceive more, and deeper, and further. This exposes them to dangers other mortals are blissfully unaware of. Beyond the relatively mundane chaos of human choice in the world, perceived by the Kaeki as eddies and whirlwinds, hurricanes of probability, they can also see the thin spots in the world; unseen breaches and fissures in the skein that teem with hidden danger; and worst of all, vast and unnammed things that lurk in the shadows of our world. These ‘spirits’ are entirely oblivious to humanity but a Kaeki who looks too hard, or catches the wrong eye can attract their attention…

Factions

Kaeki factions are defined by their perception of their own Diascience and any perceived obligation it imposes.

Kindred

The Kindred Kaeki are driven to seek out others of their kind. Whether from loneliness, altruism, or a sense of identity, these Kaeki embark on lonely, often fruitless pilgrimages across Aeldos in search of others of their kind. When found the Kindred might offer to take the child from their parents, gift for many peasants and drudges who lack the coin and capacity to care for a child they see as crippled. Less scrupulous Kindred ask no permission, and instead spirit the children away in the night. Even elder Kaeki who have grown up within a community of humans are sometimes tempted to leave by the promise of someone else who can see as they do.

Oracles

Some Kaeki see the legends of their origin and role as guides to humanity as guidance, placing themselves at the disposal of humans. These Kaeki often take on roles as curates, priestesses, monks, and other holy figures, acting as soothsayers and diviners, trying to help humanity better itself indirectly. Such Kaeki often become figures of renown in their culture and destinations for pilgrims of many religions.

Weavers

Not all Kaeki are content to merely watch and guide humanity passively; some seek instead to rule a species they see as lessers. Weavers use their preternatural senses to construct complex webs of causality, building delicate but powerful machines of probability that leave the events of the world within their grasp. While the rarest of a rare breed, a single skilled Weaver can bring a city under their control and some rumors suggest that particularly ancient and patient Weavers have established control over entire regions or cultures. The dangers of such endeavours are enough that some Weavers are willing to subsume their personal goals and desires to the wills of powerful or popular humans, individuals who can act as the public face of a Weaver and as a shield against mundane persecution. How much of that is part of the Weaver’s plan keeps many such ‘shields’ up at night.

Species Calling: Seer

Features

Calling Specialties
Kaeki excel at the following callings:
Kaeki Guard: Investigation = New Level x2
Kaeki Diplomat: Languages = New Level x2
Kaeki Spy: Observation = New Level x2
Kaeki Hunter: Stealth = New Level x2

Deliberate: +2 starting Will, maximum of 7
Diascience/Celestial Sight: The Kaeki perceive the world using different senses than humanity. They can see in all light conditions and gain an innate +3 bonus to perception checks. They are almost impossible to catch flat-footed and gain their full defense to all attacks, even ranged.
Ayrskin: As Kaeki enter maturity some develop strange patches of skin that offer +1 armour against all types of damage. The skin can grow even stronger over time, but it requires the Kaeki to focus on cultivating this odd feature through specific diets and meditations.
Supernal Awareness: Kaeki are able to perceive the use and users of Lingua Arcana and are resilient to the effects thereof. All Kaeki can roll 3d10 when resisting the effects of Lingua Arcana.
Unnoticed: Kaeki are typically mistaken for human. Beyond their blindness the only other obviously inhuman feature is the Ayrskin which develops as they age, but even this can be easily hidden.

Fragile: Kaeki constitutions are less robust than humans. Injury and illness are greater risks to them. When calculating a Kaeki’s health the formula is Power + Will + 3 rather than the +5 for humans.
Slow Healing: Kaeki heal at a slower rate than humans and techniques used to accelerate human healing do not work as well on a Kaeki. They heal at a rate of their Power -1 each week (minimum of 1). Further, any assisted healing heals 1 point less than it normally would.
What Should Not Be Seen: Kaeki face a unique danger innate to their gifts of perception; they can perceive too much. A Kaeki truly opening their perception may be inundated, observing a torrent of information that they are unable to filter or are incapable of understanding. The respiration and circulation of every living thing in a bar, the clatter of every atom between every blade on a battlefield, or a million probable outcomes for a single essential action. Worse, some Kaeki report perceiving other entities lurking in the periphery, things vast and terrible and entirely hidden to the world of humanity. On a perception based roll of 2 the Kaeki takes 3 stress and reflexively turns off their higher perception in order to maintain their sanity. The Kaeki cannot use their higher senses again until the scene is ended. As a result most young Kaeki find dense urban populations overwhelming to their senses and are driven out of such places by the constant ‘noise’ they perceive.

Skill Purchase Modifiers
Kaeki have modified XP costs for purchasing the following skills.
Athletics +1 multiplier
Medicine +1 multiplier
Technology +1 multiplier
Languages -1 multiplier
Stealth -1 multiplier
Observation -1 multiplier
Investigation -1 multiplier

IN PROGRESS

Kaeki Core – Diascience : The core trait for a Kaeki is their Diascience or Celestial “Sight” – their ability to perceive more than the world of light or shadow. This innate sense is powerful, but focus and meditation can make it more so. Such endeavours also seem to forge a deeper connection between the Kaeki and the Vox, granting them access to a variety of powerful abilities. Each point in Diascient adds a point to the Kaeki’s initiative. Diascience also enables the Kaeki to take on advanced abilities. Ability levels cannot exceed the character’s level in Diascience. All Kaeki can refine their senses with practice but not all do.

Abilities

Truth and Lies: The Kaeki can perceive the colours of deceit and are able to discern if someone is telling them a truth or a lie.

Connections: The Kaeki can perceive the subtle connections between individuals, discerning the natures of their relationships

Farsight: The Kaeki can perceive things far further afield than light or sound carries.

Anchored: The Kaeki can spend 3 points of stress to negate the effects of a Shaping equivalent to their level in Diascience.

Observing Silence: The Kaeki perception of the world is so fundamentally different from humans that they are greatly disadvantaged by certain forms of technology. A simple screen that reveals much to a human appears as little more than a skein of energy to a Kaeki. This limitation can be overcome with study and meditation, allowing the Kaeki to see beyond the technology and to the meaning behind it.

The Skein of Causality: The Kaeki perceives events almost before they have happened and gains an advantage to react as a result.

Cascades: The Kaeki perceives the chances of various events occurring and can act to aid or hinder them in subtle ways. This might take the form of placing an obstacle where they know an enemy may step, or removing one where an ally might; chipping away a key piece of mortar in an otherwise sturdy wall to reduce its integrity; or simply speaking a few words of warning or inspiration in the right ears. The end result is that a Kaeki can grant a bonus or penalty to a target equal to their level in [X]

Celestial Skin:

/ NOTES
Echoes: perceive people not merely as they are but also as they have been in the past.

Gamble: a better perception of causal forces grants a better ability to judge the probabilities of an event

Sense Malice: perceive a person’s hidden shadow

Opportune Attack: The Kaeki tunes their senses and reflexes to make a perfectly timed attack, bypassing even the most capable defense.

Prescient Defense: The Kaeki tunes both their senses and their reflexes becoming an infuriating opponent. Using this ability the Kaeki can automatically avoid a single attack, regardless of the skill with which it is made. The Kaeki can avoid a number of attacks equal to their level in the core trait.

Foresight
Prognostication
Psychometry

Seers are at a distinct advantage in learning the old tongues simply because they can already perceive them throughout the world. Where Singers, Speakers, Shifters and Shapers must learn the Words through tomes, teachers, experimentation, or more arcane means, the Seer merely needs to observe the world to begin to pick out the Lingua Arcana.