Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Protectors of Éire for the Ghosts of Albion RPG

Tá an chumhacht agaibh. Cosnaímis mé, a Chosantóirí na hÉireann!

The Protectors of Éire
Like it's neighbor, Albion, Éire (the mystical name for Ireland) has also had her Protectors.

At the time of Swifts (1839 on) the Protector of Éire is Tadgh O’Braohain and he is detailed in the upcoming adventure "Ghosts of Albion: Blight", which can be played this 2010 Gen Con.

Though until then here are some of the more famous Protectors of Ireland's shores.

Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn Mac Cool)
Protector of Éire

Fionn Mac Cumhail was believed to have lived sometime around the Fifth to Second Century BCE. Fionn lost his father, Cumhail, when he was killed by a rival clan. Muirne, his mother, called her son Fionn which means fair-haired. Knowing that the Clan Morna would seek him out as well she took him to be raised by the wise Ban-drui Bodhmal and her anamchara the warrior woman Liath. They taught Finn to be both a warrior and a druid. He was taught magic, poetry, and the arts of survival.

Fionn learned also from druid Finegas. Finegas captured the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn cooked it. He burned his thumb on the fish and sucked on it, giving him the gift of wisdom. When Fionn wanted to gain insight to a problem he would put his thumb into his mouth, behind his molars and contemplate.

Fionn later went on to become captain of the Finana, an army of men loyal to the High King Fiachadh (fee-a-kuh). Fionn implemented a code of honor among them, changing the Fianna from an unruly band to a group of champions of the people. The Fianna became models of chivalry and justice. Some claim that the tales of the Fianna formed the basis of the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.

Fionn is also the ancient Protector of Éire, the mystical name of Ireland. Fionn was the father of the Irish hero Oisín, by the goddess Sadb. Fionn battled many mundane and supernatural foes including a Scottish giant and his greatest enemy of all, the Dark Druid. Details of his death are sketchy and many contradict each other. Some say he is not dead at all but merely waits for Ireland to need him. When Éire is in its greatest need he will return.

Special Notes: Fionn generally avoids overt magical use. He knows some spells (as needed by the Director) and performs them when he must through the use of poem or song, though he is not as powerful in this respect as his son Oisín, considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest Occult Poets. Fionn prefers to use his magic in a more passive role, for healing or discovery. This however does not make him a pacifist, far from it, Fionn enjoys to defeat his enemies in combat either by weapon or hand to hand.

As a protector Fionn is allowed to use Magical Flourishes and may use any Magical Defence maneuver.

Name: Fionn Mac Cumhail
Protector of Éire
Character Type: Hero
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 4, Constitution 5, Intelligence 3, Perception 3, Willpower 4
Ability Scores: Muscle 14, Combat 17, Brains 12
Life Points: 64
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +1, Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 6, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Poet, Protector of Éire (Ireland)
Drawbacks: Adversary (Dark Druid and others) 5, Archaic (in 20th Century)
Skills: Use Brains Score for Occultism and Wild Card (Herbal Remedies)
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 17 Defense action
Grapple 19 Resisted by Dodge
Kick 16 14 Bash
Punch 17 13 Bash
Big Sword 17 29 Stab/slash; two-handed

Notes: Fionn appeared in the first published Buffy RPG Adventure, the Dark Druid. He has been updated to the Ghosts of Albion RPG here.


Cú Chulainn
Hero of the Ulster Cycle (The Red Branch, The Cattle Raid of Cooley), the Hound of Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba

Known as in his early childhood as Sétanta, the boy who would be Cú Chulainn was already the fairest and strongest in the land. Even at the age of seven Sétanta would enter into battle and invoke his ríastrad to defeat enemies three times his age and twice his size. Tutored by the bard and occult poet Amerigan as well as the druid Cathbad, it was predicted that he would be Ulsters greatest warrior. It was also foretold that his life would be a short one and that its beginning and ending would be marked by the death of a dog.
The first dog was one of the great hounds of the blacksmith Chulainn. Stanta was visiting the smith on the invite of his fosterer King Conchobar MacNessa. Conchobar though forgot to let Chulainn know and he released his guard hounds. Stanta was attacked, but he managed to kill it with a hurley ball. Devestated at the loss of his prized hounds, Chulainn demanded retribution. Sétanta, already honorable beyond his years offered to rear a new hound for him and until such time the hound was ready he himself would be his guard dog. From that point on he was known as Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Chulainn.

Worried that Cú Chulainn will steal their wives and daughters now that he is of marring age, the elders of Ulster decide that he should be sent to train with the fierce warrior woman of Alba, Scáthach, the Shadowy-one. In Alba Cú Chulainn learns not only the skills to become a master warrior, he also impregnates Scáthach, her daughter and Alfie, Scáthach’s mortal enemy and sister. Each bare him a son in due course.

Cú Chulainn returns to Ulster and has many more battles and adventures (and sons).
For more see

Cú Chulainn first was called by Éire at age seven to become her Protector. Though mostly associated with Ulster (Northern Ireland) his adventures took him all over. His training by, and his command over, Scáthach earned him the Protector of Alba (Scotland) as well. His defeat of Alfie gained him the Protectorship of Manx.
Like Fionn, Cú Chulainn learned his magic from bards, ovates and druids. He often sings his spells when going into battle. Again, like Fionn, Cú Chulainn prefers to be more physical.

His greatest weapon is the Gáe Bolg, or great spear. The skill to use this devastating weapon is only know to Scáthach. She at first refused to teach it, but was overcome with Cú Chulainns resolve to learn it. He had also by this time impregnated her daughter so she demanded he stay. The Gáe Bolg is a heavy spear that can be used as a melee weapon (min STR 4) or a throwing weapon (min STR 5). What makes this weapon so awful is the spear blade is formed with many barbs so that removing the spear causes even more damage, represented by the number of Success Levels from the attack.

Name: Cú Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba
Character Type: Master
Attributes: Strength 6/9*, Dexterity 4, Constitution 3/6*, Intelligence 4, Perception 3, Willpower 5
Life Points: 64/94
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +4, Fast Reaction Time, Gáe Sidhe, Hard to Kill 6/8*, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Protector of Éire (Ireland), Manx and Alba (Scotland), Ríastrad*
Drawbacks: Adversary 5, Geas (the death of a dog will end his life, 5), Geas (must accept any dinner invitation offered to him, 5)
Skills: Armed Mayhem 9
Name Score Damage Notes
Gáe Bolg 13 28/40* Removing spear causes an extra 12+SL points
(thrown) 12 21/30
Dodge 13 - Defense action
Grapple 15 - Resisted by Dodge

New Quality

5 Point Quality
Ríastrad, or Warp Spasm, is a type of supernatural attack in which the attack can go into a berserk sort of rage. During a ríastrad the attackers Strength and Constitution are increased by 3 each, with an additional 2 levels of Hard to Kill (with corresponding increase in Life Points). Attractiveness though drops to -3 regardless of what the previous level was. In addition the ríastrad will cause the attacker to attack everyone, friend and foe alike.
To enter ríastrad the attacker must be excited, that is to see blood or an army massing. A failed fear check might be enough to push someone into a ríastrad against their will.
Once in the throws of the ríastrad the attacker’s body twists and bloats. Arms and legs become huge with tendons and veins visible under the skin. Their hair sticks out in chaotic directions, eyes bulge an pop out while their tongues look engorged with blood. The scene is frightful enough that friends and foes alike must make a fear check.
The attacker then my attack, usually running into the direction they were facing and randomly attacking all. Only a difficult Will test can calm the attacker down.

Gáe Sidhe is detailed in the Ghosts of Albion corebook.

New Drawback

1-5 point Drawback
A Geas (Gesa) is a magical taboo that has it roots in the Celtic tradition. A cast member must always follow his Geas or a calamity will occur. The nature of this calamity should be up to the Director, but it should never personally be life threatening. Unlike a curse the Geased person can violate the taboo by force of will, but must pay the price.
A Geas of 1 point is something the character is never likely to break or has minor consequences, such as never owning a black cat or violate it to be overcome with a fit of coughing. A 5 point should be something that the cast member cannot avoid, such as always accepting any invitation to dinner offered, or something life threatening.
The player and the director can work out the details of the Geas. How did the cast member become Geased? Is it magical taint? Karmic debt? They must also figure out how the Geas needs to be paid off. The director should not allow the player to buy off the Geas with points, they must actually do something; like lay the bones of a long dead relative to rest, or travel to some distant land and bring back some water from a sacred stream. Or maybe there is a time limit, such as when they reach their 30th birthday.
In the case of C Chulainn he could not avoid his Geas and it did end up killing him in the end. He is offered dinner by his enemy Lugaid who feeds him dog meat. This breaking of his Gesa manifests by removing the power of the Protector from him. He is then defeated in battle by Lugaid.

Brigit of Kildare
Protector of Éire

"A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn, do bhrat fionn dom anacal."
- Traditional prayer to Brighid

The Goddess Brighid is one of the most beloved by the Celtic people. Every year they celebrated her feast day, Imbolc, to celebrate the return of spring.

Brighid, also known as Brigit, Brigantia, Bridget, or Bride, is the Celtic Goddess of the rivers and rural life. She is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery and Wisdom. She was the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the wife of Bres of the Fomorians, with whom she had a son, Ruadn (the Red).

Brighid is one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people, with some saying that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts.

Once the Christians came to Ireland the Goddess Brighid was not forgotten, but her worshippers favored the new Christian God.

Later in the very center of Brighid's worship center, Cill Dara ("Kildare"), a woman of God was born. Her name became Brigid.

Here, as a nun Brigid of Kildare performed miracles, healed and taught. All the things that pagan Brighid had done. When she had done enough in this world she left and was made one of the Patron Saints of Ireland.

Brighid as a Protector
Not all Patron Saint were Protectors and visa versa, but in Ireland there was a great sense of pride and of belonging with the land. This was land of the Goddess and she choose her own Protectors. Like Patrick, Brigid was very much a part of Ireland. It is natural then that Ireland Protector, a land that never fought against the Christian conversion, would choose to exemplars of it's faith to lead it into the next age.

Brighid as the Protector embraces both halves of the heart of Ireland, the Christian and the Pagan.

Name: Brighid of Kildare
Motivation: Protect her worshippers, Christian and Pagan
Creature Type: Protector, Goddess or an Irish Saint, hard to say really
Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 9, Constitution 9, Intelligence 6, Perception 8, Willpower 9
Ability Scores: Muscle 18, Combat 18, Brains 22
Life Points: 88
Drama Points: 5
Special Abilities: Aspects (Fire, Healing, Water, Wisdom), Age (Ancient), Immortal(?), Iron Mind, Hard to Kill 6, Magic 9, Regeneration (2 Lifepoints per turn), Supernatural Senses (Empathy, Insight, the Sight)
Dodge;18;;Defense Action
Grapple;21;;Resisted by Dodge
Spell;22;by spell type

New Quality
Blessed of Brighid
1 Point Quality
Prerequisites: Must have red hair; taken only during character creation (or by special Director permission).
In Ireland is said that those marked by Brighid lead charmed lives.  They can usually be spotted by their firey red hair.
The Blessed of Brighid can do one of the following once per day.
1. Aspect of Three.  The player may roll three (3) dice (d10) for any one roll made and choose the more favorable of the outcomes.
2. Add 3 to any one roll. The player may add 3 points to any one roll made in a day.  The choice can be made after the roll is done.


Tim Knight said...

I never realised that "warp-spasms" were a genuine part of mythology, I thought they were invented for the Slaine strip in 2000AD. Shows how much I know! Thanks for another brilliant article, Tim.

When Ghosts finally hits shelves in dead tree format, will you be collecting all your articles from this blog into a single pdf download for the new fans?

Timothy S. Brannan said...


I really should. There would be a lot of stuff.

Daniel M. Perez said...

I used your post as part of the St Patrick's Day RPG Blog Carnival I organized. Here's the link:

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Cool! I will have to check it out.