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Gnomes

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The Gnomes are possibly the most compassionate and conservative of the humanoid supernatural creatures. They are neither wholly social nor solitary, but instead tend to live in small scattered family groups. The males are the most commonly encountered, either taking a relaxing stroll or attending to the odd bit of work. It is sometimes claimed that their wives pride themselves on keeping a good home and that is possibly why they are seen less frequently. Gnomes are believed to be extremely long-lived; conversely, though they look ancient from a very young age, they remain relatively sprightly throughout their lives.
Gnomes speak all of the woodland languages and they concern themselves with caring for injured or distressed birds and animals. Though they may steer well clear of healthy owls, weasels and other creatures that may attempt to eat them, but should they see any of these beasts in trouble it is in their character to still try to help. Gnomes do not readily communicate with humans as often as they once might have, for they are deeply concerned about mankind’s general swing towards disregard and exploitation of nature. If they are encountered by people who show respect for the environment, then the Gnome is more inclined to offer a polite ‘hello’. At times they may also assist organic farmers and gardeners, or even traditional craftsmen such as cobblers and shoemakers if they appear to be struggling with their labours.


 

Dwarves

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True Dwarves are a rarer species in the Celtic lands than in the Norse and Teutonic countries, yet small troops and individuals have been encountered around Britain. Unlike their related species, the Gnomes, Dwarves are generally dour and unpleasant characters with little time or esteem for humans. Worse still are the mine-dwelling Black Dwarves of Scotland who will thieve, sheep-rustle and perhaps even kidnap and kill as a matter of routine. Dwarves are renowned for their excellent metal-working skills. Often oddly proportioned, many dwarves are extremely conscious of their feet which may be deformed, back to front or even shaped like those of a goose. Dwarves are extremely sensitive to sunlight and will spend the days either hidden in very dark places or otherwise transformed into the guise of toads.


 

Knockers

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The supernatural creatures most commonly encountered underground are the Mine Goblins or Kobolds. The most common of the subterranean British breeds are the Knockers of South-west England and the Coblynau of Wales.
The Knockers' name derives from the noises that they are heard to make in the darkness of the pit-shafts, noises which can lead miners to rich veins of ore. Knockers however can be most unfriendly if displeased. They object to cross symbols being used as markers, which led some people to suspect that they were the ghosts of archaic Jewish miners. Like other Mine Spirits, though, they also loathed swearing and whistling and any offending miners would likely be showered with a hail of pebbles. The solitary Cutty Soams of Northern England and the Knockers of Chaw Gully in Dartmoor, Devon, were altogether more nasty however. They were commonly believed responsible for the deaths of miners and it has been said that rich seams of minerals and precious ore were left unmined because of their vile presence.
The Coblynau (also known as Cobyln or Koblernigh) of Wales similarly could lead to rich pickings and held the same taboos, but they were generally reported of being of a more cheerful nature. Sometimes they were also observed above ground participating in strange, manic Morris-dancing.


 

Leprechauns

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The Leprechauns (who are also known by a number of other similar-sounding names) are strange and distinctive little men of a jovial but crafty demeanour. They are renowned for being able to grant wishes, for burying crocks brimming with gold and for knowing the whereabouts of other hidden treasures. Therefore many humans would hope to capture a Leprechaun and coerce him into granting desires or revealing and relinquishing his precious hoards. However the Leprechaun would likely treat such a confrontation as a game and loves a battle of wills. Because of his greater guile the Leprechaun is most likely to come out best in such a tryst. On one such occasion an Irishman caught a Leprechaun unawares and held him by his collar until he revealed the hiding-place of his treasure. The Leprechaun indicated that the gold was to be found buried under a particular plant in a field brimming with Ragwort. The man released the Leprechaun and before heading home to fetch his shovel, he tied his red neckerchief around the lucky plant. Upon his return to the field the man was however dismayed to find that every single one of the thousands of Ragwort plants growing there had an identical piece of cloth tied around them. Leprechauns are extremely dapper in their attire and are excellent shoemakers; however their talents are generally of little use as they will only craft a single shoe and never a pair. The Leprechaun is inherently Irish, but has often followed human emigrants from the emerald isle across the world, particularly to North America.


 

Clurichauns

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Also known as: Cluricaune, His Nibs, Clobhair-Ceann.
The Clurichaun closely resembles the Leprechaun and may even be the same species differentiated only by habit, habitat and a fondness for wearing plum-coloured attire rather than green. These little men (for no females have been reported) take it upon themselves to become the sentinels of wine and beer cellars. Here they will keep all the kegs and bottles in order, prevent leakage and contamination, as well as seeing off any intruders. They do this on the understanding that they can then help themselves to any tipple they so desire. However, as they have a notoriously tremendous thirst and are sometimes taken to neglect their self-appointed duties at night (to often instead indulge in drunken rodeo-riding on the backs of local dogs and sheep), some landlords and wine-keepers do not appreciate their presence. If they attempt to deny a Clurichaun access to the cellar or alcohol however, then he will cause them a great deal of fuss, chaos and damaged property.


 

Dunnshenchas

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Also known as: Dinnshenchas.
The Dunnshenchas are an archaic breed of Dwarf-Faerie that are nearly always reported as being female, though they can reputedly shape-shift into many forms. They are associated with the ancient Irish Goddess, Aine, and commonly tend to cattle, the most sacred of her beasts. The Dunnshenchas may protect cattle from malevolent or troublesome supernatural powers such as the Buachaileen (also known as Little Boys or Herding Boys), red-capped, shape-shifting Fays who delight in rustling or leading sheep and cattle astray. Frequently they may assist dairy-maids with their duties and will more readily befriend human females as they have an inherent suspicion of men-folk. At times they may use their shape-shifting abilities to avenge women or girls who have been mistreated by males.
The term ‘Dinnshenchas’ also has the alternative Gaelic denotation meaning the ‘lore of prominent places’.


 

Duergars

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The localised and unpleasant Dwarf species known as Duergars, are thought to have perhaps originated in France and to have possibly first come over to Britain with the Normans. The Duergars seem to regard mankind with utter contempt, yet their original grievance may have long since been forgotten. They do not tend to attack outright but instead cause a great nuisance of themselves by removing and reversing directional sign-posts, blocking paths and even trying to guide humans over the edges of cliffs and crags. They sometimes also elect themselves as the guardians of Faerie, though whether the Fay folk actually bother to have anything to do with them is unknown. Either way, at times they will chase people and animals off Faerie paths or will sit close to the hollow hills keeping a solemn watch. Duergars are strictly nocturnal and are almost always encountered in isolation, yet on rare occasions they have been said to congregate in packs in the vicinity of the Simonside Hills near Rothbury in Northumberland, with the intention of leading human-folk off the beaten path and into grave danger.


 

Trows

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The Trows are Troll-like creatures that inhabit the Orkneys, Shetlands and (to a lesser degree) the Outer Hebrides. Unlike their Scandinavian cousins, the Trows are more sharp-witted and social towards their own kind.
Trows have a curious code of conduct; though they habitually thieve from humans, should a Trow steal so much as a wooden spoon from one of its own kind, then it does so at the risk of becoming completely isolated and banished from its clan. Trow music is reputedly exquisite, yet their dancing (known as Henking or Haltadans - the limping dance) is bizarre and clumsy. Though they can speak the tongues of men, their own language is said to sound like the chirping of birds. Chieftains of Trow clans were known as King-Trows or Kunal-Trows and stood at almost man-size, whilst some Peerie Trows stood little over 6 inches high. Hogboons are very similar in size and appearance to the Trows and the casual observer could very well mistake the two. In exchange for milk or ale the scruffy, grey Hogboons would assist humans with manual tasks and tool maintenance. However should their earth-mound homes be disturbed, or if they should feel insulted, undervalued or exploited, then the Hogboons could prove themselves to be every bit as menacing as the Trows. Trows are also known as Hill Trows, Land Trows, Trowies, Drows, Night-Stealers, Grey Neighbours, Creepers, Peeries, Henkies and Ferries. Hogboons are also known as Hog-boys, Haughbondes, Bu-Men and Cattle-Men.


 

All artwork and text © Andrew L. Paciorek

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