|The Self is a maze. Please take care.|
(The Lonely Ones by Edvard Munch, 1899)
You are not you. I know, it’s hard to understand. You are not one person, one thing. You are five. They are all whole, not parts. You are not any of them. You are their tendency to stay together. But they wander, oh they wander so.
First is your Skin. It is the heaviest part of you and the easiest to change. It is your face, it is your shape, it is your limbs. It is one thing your parents give to you. It stays right where you left it when you dream. It is your breath and your life. But take care of your skin, my friend, there are sorcerers who want to take it and wear it themselves. They will do terrible things to your Skin. And if you choose to change your Skin, do not forget what you once were.
Second is your Memory. It is a little bird. A sparrow, a magpie, a dove. Its feathers are all you know. It flies to your side days after you are born and joins your unwhole wholeness. When you sleep, it glides through the dreaming world. But, oh, my dear, take care of your Memory. There is a huge raven called Desires-to-Know and he will dive at your Memory in the dreaming world and pluck out your feathers. This is called forgetting.
Third is your Follower. It is the last to become part of you. When you begin to teeth, you will know that it is with you now. It takes many shapes. A fish, a mammal, a bird, a man, a woman, a shapelessness. It is your personality, your sense of who you are. It keeps you safe. Evil spirits fear it and it can be made mighty in the dreaming and the waking world. But, oh, my sweetness, take care of your Follower. If it is destroyed, your whole self will be undone. If it is estranged from you, you will sicken and die. It goes ahead of you, not behind. So worry for your Follower, your enemies will see it in their dreams before they see you on the road.
Fourth is your Will. It is a bird also. A hunter, it soars in the clouds. It is your mind’s sharpness and the speed of your wit. It stays with you and does not wander in the dream but it may if you know how. In the dreaming world, it is a great protector. It can fly with your Follower, it can fly with your Memory and they will be safer from the hidden forces of the dreaming world. It can find lost spirits and bring broken selves together once again. But, my darling, take care of your Will. It desires things which should not be desired and in the vast expanses of the dreaming world it is easily tempted, it is easily lost. If you lose your Will, your thoughts will unravel and you will sicken and die. Keep your Will close, my dearest.
Last is your Luck. It is your eyes, bright and strong or dull and weak. It is your capacity to succeed. If your parent had a good Luck, hope it passes onto you when they die. It is always with you, your Luck. You cannot part from it no matter how hard you try and nothing can take it from you. Do not worry for it. Love it and carry it like a banner in the sun. When you have nothing left, you will have your Luck and it will draw your whole self together in such a way that nothing can stop you from finding victory.
It’s so hard, my sweetness, to keep yourself together. You have so many parts to lose. But keep trying, one day, soon, you will feel whole.
|It is made of lost things|
Losing Your SelfTo see is to be seen, to touch is to be touched. When one thread is pulled the whole tapestry can be unraveled. Your luck and your skin are usually safe, but your memory, follower, and will are often in jeopardy. There are evil spirits who can steal these things from you in the spirit world and in the mortal one. If part of you is taken by such a creature, there is usually a way to reclaim it.
If you are in a trance state or traveling in the dreaming world free of your skin and are unexpectedly brought back to the mortal world you have a 1 in 6 chance of losing your memory, a 1 in 6 chance of losing your follower, and a 1 in 6 chance of losing your will.
Your skin. It is hard to remove, but there are tools to do so. One Eyed Chief has a knife which can. All shape shifting involves mastering, transforming, or replacing this part of your self. Often, you must remove one skin to don another. Then it is vulnerable to those who would love to wear it themselves.
If you are without a skin:
Your speed is 5
You have only one hand
You have disadvantage on all d20 rolls
You will die in 2 days.
A creature without a skin doesn't just look a creature which has been skinned. Skinless, a creature is malformed and strange, no distinct limbs, always leaking, somehow resembling all animals and none.
Your memory. It is not just the contents of your mind. Losing your memory is not just a case of amnesia. It is losing the ability to remember at all. The locus of your connection to so many things is kept in this part of you.
If you lose your memory:
Your proficiency bonus is -2
You lose all armor proficiencies
You forget everything you know and you cannot form new memories. You can only remember things by using objects and mementos to fix information in your unwhole self.
All your acquaintances forget you. All your friends, family, enemies, and allies have a 4 in 6 chance of forgetting you. All your closest friends and any animal companions you have have a 2 in 6 chance of forgetting you. Even if you are remembered by a person, your face seems vague and indistinct.
Your follower. Your follower is your conduit to the dreaming world, it connects you to other spirits. Without it, you seem listless, dull, passionless. Even the naturally melancholic seem to have lost something vital to their personality without a follower.
If you lose your follower:
You automatically fail all saves against magical effects. (making a Dex save to avoid being struck by a fireball spell is not saving against a magical effect, but saving against a charm person spell is)
Any bonuses you gain from pacts made with spirits or boons provided by guardian spirits are lost
You cannot cast spells or make use of magic items which require attunement
You gain a point of exhaustion which cannot be removed in any way every 2 days.
Your will. Without a will you seem like yourself, personality intact, mind whole, but then it becomes clear that your sense of humor is gone, your ability to make conversation is shot, and you can't sing worth a damn. You also can't want anything. You may need food or water or love but never can your self be driven into motion to get those things.
If you lose your will:
You can't make your own decisions, you must follow another person's orders.
You automatically fail all WIS, INT, and CHA ability checks which aren't related to recalling information.
You gain a point of exhaustion which cannot be removed in any way every 2 days.
Your luck. It can be replaced very rarely but it can never be removed from you entirely.
|Hunt by Nikolai Triik, 1913.|
Putting Your Self Together
Getting your self back is not easy. If you're missing your skin, you must either take it off whoever is wearing it now or get a new one. If a creature or spirit has stolen another part of you, there will usually some specialized way of getting it back.
If your follower, will, or memory is lost in the Dreaming world, it's easiest to hire a shaman to find your missing parts. It will cost 10d20 gp in gifts and one favor, to be rendered at a later date. The Shaman will then enter a trance to find and return the missing piece, which takes 1d6 days.
Speaking with Whole Parts
Each part of you is whole. Each can speak in its own way in the dreaming world. Usually, it's hard to isolate any single part of a self, but when somebody has died recently their parts fly in every direction. A shaman can catch one and bring it with you to speak with in your dreams, usually for a fee of 3d20 GP in gifts or a single lamb.
Skins can speak, they are lethargic and forgetful. They talk about food and adrenaline and love to show you all the dances they once knew.
Memories can speak, they are fast talking and nimble. They will twitter on about people and places and things. There is very little to connect all these recollections of theirs but they enjoy telling you nonetheless.
Followers can speak, they seem like their person but more extreme, flaws and passions made more perfect. They'll like to tell you about grudges and crimes and deeds in a way which would suit their their personality.
Wills can speak, they are subtle and curious. They have such plans, so many things they have yet to do. They will ask you questions, lots of them. They want your secrets, your schemes. They have hated being locked up with these four other idiots who lack their vision but they can't wait to be slotted in again with another four.
Lucks can speak, they are either filled with conviction or weak with failure. They remember the long lineage of selves they have been a part of. Their lineages, which they love to remind you of, are often not perfectly genealogical.
This post is dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, who doubted. I see less of myself in you than I once did but I love you all the same.