“Out of stone we came, and back to stone we revert when our life is done. We say we gain life when the Vartach breathe their magics into us, but what of the stone that came before, and will remain after? Does that not have life also? We have more in common with the rocks beneath our feet than with the other children of the Shaper. If we could, while alive, access the ancestral memory of the land itself, think of the mysteries that would become clear to us and to us alone.”
– An extract from Righin’s “Stoneborn”
Who are the Fathach?
Strong, loyal, and unyielding in their purpose, the Fathach are one of the playable species in Five Oaths. If you’re playing a Fathach, your character was not born as other people are, instead they were created by one of the Vartach, and their very essence is linked to the reason for their creation. Your character could dedicate themselves wholly to that purpose, whether it be guarding their “parent” Vartach or seeking to gather knowledge on arcane secrets from all over the Five Realms. Alternatively, your character might have turned against their original purpose, either to escape an overbearing or oppressive Vartach or simply to feel like they have free will.
Beings made of living stone, the Fathach are the companion species of the Vartach, given life by the power flowing through the leylines that crisscross Draíod. Fathach experience emotion and have their own hopes and dreams just like other people, but they also have a strong sense of what they are supposed to do with their lives, imbued in them from the moment the animating magic suffuses their being. There are many reasons why a Vartach makes a Fathach, some want a servant or companion, while others take joy in the act of creation.
Unlike the flesh and blood species, Fathach cannot reproduce and do not inherently have sex charicteristics, and they find it hard at times to grasp concepts that come naturally to other species. Some Fathach find themselves drawn to trappings of gender common among the other species though most find the concept irrelevant to them.Sometimes two Fathach will ask a Vartach to animate a new Fathach, made from the same stone as its Fathach “parents”, as they wish to raise one of their own and understand the idea of family.
The Fathach are common enough in the gallóglaigh, where their strength and determination comes in very useful. They are regularly seen in the company of Vartach, and often defer to their judgement particularly in matters arcane. A Fathach captain of a band of gallóglaigh is a rare sight, but those few that there are seem to take a grim satisfaction in pulling rank on any Vartach under their command.
Origins of the Fathach
There are many legends of how the Fathach came to be. All of these legends agree that the Vartach first made the Fathach, just as they do today. Where they differ is the reason for it. Some legends say that the Shaper taught the Vartach how to make Fathach so that they could be protected against a great threat, a tyrannical Vartach who sought to enslave the world. Others say that the Fathach were made to balance the Vartach, to give them other concerns besides the hoarding of magical power. One legend says that many centuries ago the Vartach were afflicted with a disease that meant that very few Vartach made it through childhood, and the Fathach were fashioned to ensure that Vartach society and culture would survive in another form.
As far back as anyone can remember, and the Vartach keep extensive records, the Fathach have been at the Vartach’s side. They are most commonly found in Draíod, as are the Vartach. The two species have a symbiotic relationship, the Fathach need the Vartach to live, while the Vartach need the Fathach to stay grounded in this world. Some Fathach imagine a world where the Fathach could procreate like the flesh and blood species, and break free of the constraints of living alongside the Vartach. For the majority, these aspirations seem foolish. The life of a Fathach is to serve, it’s true, but why is that such a bad thing?
Playing a Fathach
The Fathach are a species with a high phys-rep requirement. All exposed skin has to look like stone. This can be any type or colour of stone you like, but it should be obvious to others that you are playing an animate stone being. We recommend you use a good moisturiser underneath the facepaint to make it easier to apply and to remove!
Fathach characters start play with the unique Pillar of their Community Feat. This reflects their stony nature, meaning that as well as normal healing effects a Fathach’s body can be repaired. As the creators of the Fathach, all Vartach characters are able to repair Fathach; and other characters can repair Fathach if they can repair heavy armour.
The Fathach are inextricably linked to the Vartach, and are often seen as subservient to their “parent” species. Some Vartach take advantage of this association, and will give orders to Fathach that they have no relationship with. It’s up to the individual Fathach how they take this. People of other species with a dislike for a particular Vartach might see their Fathach as an easier target, less likely to have all manner of arcane protections, but still a way of getting back at their enemy.
We expect the Fathach to be an interesting roleplaying experience. It takes a lot of commitment to wear full facepaint in the first place, and the idea of playing a species that owes its existence to another might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some of the closest links between characters will probably be Vartach and Fathach, but that remains to be seen!
The Lifespan of the Fathach
Average life expectancy: 150-200
Maximum life expectancy: 250
Common causes of death: Combat, tunnel collapse, exhaustion, old age.
How the Fathach view the other Species
Creidhe: They exist to fix what is broken, and they embrace their purpose.
Drakeblooded: The Dragons existed to guard this land before the Shaper. The Drakeblooded exist to mourn their passing.
Firetouched: Their purpose is unknown, but might include drinking, dancing, and commerce. Until the Vartach learn more, treat them with caution.
Humans: Their purpose appears to be converting stable objects into explosions.
Krieger: Dangerous. Made in other lands, their purpose is war.
Leasiar: Their longevity suggests that they should be the wisest, and natural leaders. But they aren’t the Vartach, so they cannot be. Puzzling.
Vartach: Our doting parents, they are here for us to protect. What would they do without us?
Wildlings: Their makers are not as kind as ours, but they were also made to serve. Some seem to be more loyal to this purpose than others.
Some Fathach You Might One Day Meet…
Coimirc is a thief taker in the Riding of Doirvios, deep beneath the ground in Draíod. Many years ago now, Coimirc’s animating Vartach was killed by a group of thieves operating in some of the out of the way tunnels. They set out to bring the perpetrators to justice. Saoi Vealtin, the Rider of Doirvios, was impressed at the tales of the Fathach they were calling the Grey Ghost, and approached Coimirc about taking on the role of thief taker for her Riding. Now Coimirc roams all over Doirvios, serving a new purpose, and striking terror into the hearts of ne’erdowells.
Eivir is an artisan in Crag Oscionn, the Iarla’s seat of Draíod. They were given life by a Vartach named Cealvin who was interested in exploring the limits of the Fathach personality, and thus she created a Fathach covered in beautiful designs and carvings rather than the usual rough-hewn stone. Eivir is drawn to beautiful objects, and to creating art which captures particular moments. Cealvin mostly comes and goes, bringing new supplies for the art which Eivir creates, which Cealvin studies for new insights. Recently Cealvin grew very excited about some carvings Eivir made after having a dream, of a primeval figure with eyes of flame and smoke. Eivir is frightened by the figure, but Cealvin has begged her to explore this concept more.
Aol is a gallóglach in the White-Eye’s Band, and also bodyguard to another gallóglach: Siován the Vartach. It is not unusual that when a Vartach joins a band of gallóglaigh, the Fathach they have created will join with them and they will serve together. Usually the Fathach do this for reasons of loyalty…sometimes they don’t have as much of a choice. It’s common knowledge in White-Eye’s Band that Aol did not want to join the band, but they owe Siován a debt that can’t be paid. Funny thing is, it’s also common knowledge that Siován is not the one who made Aol. How else does a Fathach end up owing a Vartach that much?