Leshy, Barkbleeder (derogatory), Spriggan, Cicatrix, Greenscar

Realm Affiliation: Spring

The Briars are touched by the realm of Spring, an exhuberant realm of uncontrolled natural forces dominated by green growing things that care not at all for humankind.

They are possessed of a strange biology, and driven by instinctive urges to be fecund and spread their lineage.

They are a Lineage that has a single strongly-defined physical expression, supplemented by a couple of other expressions. Lineage strength can wax and wane, and is to some degree under the control of the character.

The Briar Lineage is intended to appeal to players who want to play something primal or visceral, and has a strong urge to straightforwardness and physicality.

The Lineage serves a role in “humanising” the otherwise alien Spring Realm.

Briars also allow characters to play with some themes of discrimination; moreso than many others this Lineage is presented as “suspect” for a number of reasons within the setting.

An inspiration for the Briars draws a little on characters such as Swamp Thing who are outside yet drawn to the human world, as well as the story of Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot, or the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman rather than engage in an unneccessary duel with him.

Briar Trappings

The Eternals of the Realm of Spring are largely plant-like creatures of various sizes – some of them are the size of forests.

With an eye to the trappings – the physical changes that set a Briar apart from a human without Lineage – I’ve put together this short list. The “required trapping” is intended to be the baseline thing that defines a Briar – a starting point from which to build a look. Unlike some other Lineages, there is a mechanical “waxing and waning” to the appearance of the Briars.

Required Trapping : Barkskin

  • Patches of bark-like texture spread across the skin of the Briar. The barkskin is as sensitive as normal skin covered in a layer of latex would be.

Other Trappings

  • Green eyes
  • Thorns growing from bark. Typically rows of small thorns along the cheekbones or larger ones along the forearms. Generally anchored in bark.
  • Spreading green or black “veins” especially on the neck and arms.

Roleplaying Briar

Briar blood influences the character of the one who possesses it. Not every Briar expresses these effects to the same degree, but characters who strongly express these roleplaying effects often possess stronger blood than those who do not.

  • Briar are straightforward. They tend to make straightforward plans, and instinctively take the most direct route through (or round) any given situation. They dislike complexity for its own sake, and tend to respect plain speaking over elaborate argument. They generally express a pragmatic desire to get problems solved now, and where several options are available, tend to look for the simplest solution. They will neither avoid a perceived problem, nor dwell on one they see as irrelevant. This straightforwardness can also make them blunt or even rude in social situations, as they rarely hold back from saying what they think.
  • Briar are mercurial. They are likely to change their minds, spontaneous in their displays of emotion (sometimes inappropriately) and their moods shift without warning. They live for the moment, and few of them understand the idea of delayed gratification. They want what they want now, and some are over-eager to simply take the thing they want and then keep it as long as it interests them, discarding it when they become bored with it.
  • Briars are primal. They are often scornful of the trappings of civilisation, dressing simply, using tools only when they make a task easier, some even eschewing material possessions altogether in the long term. They are often driven to pursue self-sufficiency, and may be commonly found among small pioneer communities. Their straightforward attitude may combine with this to make them uncertain in social groups larger than a few dozen individuals known personally to the character, particularly if the roles and responsibilities within the group are not clearly defined.
  • Briars are physical. They like tangible, solid, physical things, rather than getting excited by ideas or concepts. They commonly become frustrated or bored in intensely cerebral situations – they make their point and then expect things to move on swiftly to a conclusion. While this often makes them appear “simple” it is not that they are less intelligent than other humans, just that they have little patience for what they perceive as convoluted logic, circular discussions or anything which over-complicates what seems to them a simple matter. When confronted by a mental or social situation, they often try and solve it in a physical way (for example, if someone is upset they provide food or go and smite the source of their friends’ unhappiness, rather than formulating a social response to the problem).
  • All Briars risk becoming destructive. Danger signs include the Briar becoming increasingly frustrated until they start to lash out. A Briar that completely loses touch with their humanity becomes a beast, killing anyone who gets in their way and striking out against structures and individuals that represent authority and civilisation. They often depart the civilised world completely, withdrawing to natural places (especially forests) and engaging in what amounts to banditry and terrorism.

The Blood

Briars are warm blooded and biologically the same as un-Lineaged humans. They mate and breed just like humans, they have hair, and they give birth to live offspring.

Briars are almost never born expressing their Lineage. Most Briar tell a similar story – they sustained a serious injury and the site of the injury was quickly covered in a barky “skin.” In almost all cases, magical healing was involved. It is believed that magical healing “catalyses” the Spring lineage, causing it to express itself more openly. However, magical healing does not always trigger the Lineage – some individuals are healed several times before their Lineage manifested. It is also believed by the scholars of Urizen that any Spring Realm magic has the chance to trigger the expression of the Briar Lineage lurking in the blood, it is simply that the most common type of Spring Realm magic individuals encounter is healing magic.

Because the Lineage can “hide” in this manner it creates suspicion and distrust. Some individuals feel “betrayed” when their friend turns out to be a Briar; other newborn Briars (especially if they were unaware of their Lineage until later life) suffer shock and damage to their stability when they discover they have been Lineaged all along, and when the urges of the blood become more powerful. Some more prejudicial characters “seek out” Briars, inflicting serious injuries that are then healed with Spring magic, hoping to reveal hidden Briars – as well as ensuring their own ranks remain pure.

It is a common belief that a Briar who avoids magical healing will “lose” the taint of the blood and not pass it on to their offspring, although this is probably wishful thinking. The Eternals of Spring are likely to recognise Briars as kindred spirits, although this may not be a uniformly positive experience.

Possible Advantage : Bleeding bark

The signature quality of the Briars is that they “bleed bark.” When their skin is broken, it heals over with bark-like material. Sometimes this material has thorns embedded in it. The bark tends to grow over a period of a couple of hours, giving the player time to go OOC and add some more latex bark. Most of this bark-like material will eventually peel away, usually to reveal fresh skin underneath, but some of it never disappears – almost every Briar has a few patches of bark that appear permanent.

The intent is that a Briar who receives a lot of damage will “spread” their barkskin effect, but that there is no requirement for them to keep the bark from event to event. For example a Briar who has their arm cleaved may add rings of bark to that arm for the rest of the event.

While barkskin doesn’t offer any armour or protection, the Briars are naturally tougher than mortals. They are notoriously resistant to disease, for example, and a Briar who appears ill is probably expressing mild symptoms of a serious illness indeed.

After death, a briar’s entire body is slowly covered with bark, appearing a lot like a fallen log. According to superstition, an area where a dead briar has lain will be “seeded” with alien, supernatural foliage. Many individuals, especially among the Navarr and the Highborn, insist that dead Briars be burnt to prevent this happening.

Lines of the Briar

This Lineage very rarely manifests itself in children.

Navarr are especially suspicious of the Briars, seeing a connection between them and the Vallorn. They are also suspicious of creatures that bleed strange blood.

Part of the prejudice some Imperials feel comes from past events where angry and frustrated Briars attempted to rebel and secede from the Empire, and the suspicion that their very biology is a tool for the Spring Eternals to colonize the realm.