Interlude: Workings vs. Halfbreed Innates

Bonus Meta Week! This week we will be taking a break from our scheduled interludes to present some fae-related metatext.

The variety of innate powers demonstrated by halfbreed Changes is one of the strongest arguments in their favor. While all Ellehemaei can use Words, and Workings grant Ellehemaei a wide range of powers and abilities far beyond those which humans can possibly achieve, being able to wield magic without needing Words is an entirely different story.

And as Addergoole has proven, there are significant advantages to wielding magic without words. Anyone with Meentik and Kwxe can create fireballs and set nearly anything on fire, but the number of people who can do so simply by thinking it are far rarer. In combat, this gives a significant advantage of speed. And, both in and out of combat, being able to wield magic without speech gives substantial advantages of stealth.

“How stealthy can one be while flinging about fireballs?” you may ask, but don’t be limited by a single example. What if you could read someone’s thoughts, without giving them any opportunity to know you were doing so? Daeva can manipulate emotions this way; what if your innate ability let you alter thoughts, or craft illusions? Even such a small thing as breathing underwater can be an enormous advantage.

Besides the obvious utility of many halfbreed Changes, however, the increasing number and variety of halfbreed Changes and innates have raised some interesting questions. Many of the Changes in Addergoole seem random and unconnected to their lineage; many of them seem to simply be a watered-down version of a true Breed. And yet others bear no resemblance to any of the three Breeds, yet seem to carry consistently to offspring in some form. Could there be more than the three Breeds possible, to breed true among them?

As fascinating as that question may be, there are other, even more significant questions raised. In particular, the assumption that, with the right Words, one can Work anything, has been turned on its head – especially by Addergoole’s teleporting cat Changes.

Teleportation is an especially fascinating innate power for a number of reasons. It is entirely unique to halfbreeds, for one thing, and cannot be tied back to the powers of any of the three Breeds. For another, there is no equivalent Working to achieve the same effect – that of making one person or object instantly appear in an entirely different location.

Seers are another halfbreed-specific power that highlight the gaps in Workings. The ability to see things in impossibly far distances, such as traditional clairvoyance, is not so far-fetched, but those who have the ability to scry through time into the past or future? There is absolutely no way to Work that.

But then, if one can wield those powers, the magical potential must exist for it, and as it has been previously discovered, there are, in fact, Words which had – or have – been lost to us entirely, such as the Word for magic itself.

These irreplicable halfbreed powers, then, can be seen not simply as a point of utility or academic interest, but as a hint. If there are Ellehemaei with the innate power to manipulate space, then surely there must be a Word for space. If there are Ellehemaei with the innate power to see through time, then surely there must be a Word for time.

As their numbers grow, the powers of halfbreed Ellehemaei seem nearly infinite in their variety. What other Words could they hint at existing, if we should be looking for them?

3 thoughts on “Interlude: Workings vs. Halfbreed Innates

  1. very, very nice. that last one has potential, though – if there is a connection between the words and the innates, and there is time-based innates… first thing I thought of is that I’d like to see more of that one. More time-based innates, maybe – a scared little firstie at hell night who suddenly discovers the innate to make time around her stop whenever she gets scared and gets out of problems that way… and other ways of manipulating time. After all, for things like mind and emotions, we have innates that see and those that manipulate. For time, we only have seers. For space, so far, I think we only have manipulators – would a seeing innate for that work like that famous “I can feel the planet rotating” thing from Doctor Who?
    So many possibilities…

    • If teleportation is a space manipulation innate (Have we actually seen, in-story, someone do this? And how do you keep someone like that inside Addergoole?!), then surely Finding is a space seeing innate?

      “Words which had – or have – been lost to us entirely, such as the Word for magic itself.” Interesting wording, making it kinda sound to me like the Word for magic is still lost, when it clearly isn’t.

      • I know that Sheba can teleport, but I’m unsure whether it’s actually been shown in canon to date. However, Porter in Year 9 can open doors to anywhere which are essentially teleportation portals, so that would be an example I know we’ve seen.

        As for keeping them inside the school, well… there are some very good and creative Workings on the school.

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