• Isaiah Schmit

Tuasyna: The Fey Folk of Omnus

Dear Reader,

I know what you’re thinking, “It’s him again, the Great Isaiah, here to impart on us great knowledge of ancient cultures and game-related things.” And you are correct, I am here to do just that, but take a minute to breathe, relax, get comfy. It’s okay; I’ll wait.

All settled? Splendid.

This story begins back in the golden days when I was a freshman at Purdue University. At the time, I was taking a course in Comparative Mythology, which would contribute towards my degree in Ancient Cultures and Religions. Throughout the class, we discussed the first cities of Mesopotamia and Sumeria, the great kingdoms of Egypt, and the passion-infused stories of Mesoamerica. These topics being quite my jam, I was elated during every lecture, practically bouncing in my seat. Towards the end of the course, my professor picked up the topic of Old Irish mythology, and boy did things get interesting.

You see, we don’t have a significant amount of actual texts, relics, artifacts, or any other tells of ancient cultures from the early Irish civilizations. This lack of knowledge is because the Gaelic people (the first settlers of Ireland) were orative and naturalistic, meaning they passed on their traditions through word of mouth and worshipped at shrines in nature, leaving little behind to tell their story after their traditions died out. The fact that most of what we do know is written by Christian monks who transcribed the religious beliefs of the Gaelic people furthers the point. This retelling resulted in the stories of fairies, wizards, knights, and magic that we are all familiar with in the form of childhood storybooks. Historians have worked tirelessly to reverse-engineer these stories, using context from ancient sites in Ireland, to develop a more precise understanding of what transpired in Gaelic society. And from this, we know about the Tuatha Dé Danann, the presumptive deities of the Gaelic people.

Via a very long story rich in battle, pacts, and betrayal that I would love to discuss with you, Reader, the Tuatha Dé Danann were said to sail to Eire (Ireland) to defeat the Fomoire, a race of monstrous, demonic, giants. I imagine at this moment, if it were a television show, there would be a record-scratch and pause with a narrator asking, “Hold up, I thought the Tuatha Dé Danann were the gods, but they sailed to Ireland? Gods don’t sail to new worlds; they make new worlds.” And that imaginative narrator is right! You see because we lack so much foundational information of the Gaelic religious system, we do not have a complete cosmology (the story of the creation of the universe). So we piece together what we can and try to make sense of it, and what we do have is a story of multiple waves of various peoples sailing to Ireland to attempt to defeat the Fomoire and take the land they controlled. Unfortunately for most, the Fomoire were very powerful and possessed powers over the land and of nature itself, proving impossible for anyone to defeat until the Tuatha Dé Danann came to Ireland.

A very truncated version of the story is that the Tuatha were able to bring the Fomorians to heel, and vowed not to slay them as long as the Fomoire taught the Tuatha how to wield the powers that they controlled. Fearing for their lives, the Fomoire accepted the deal, bestowing on the Tuatha dominion over the land. The Tuatha, keeping their promise but still wary of the Fomorians, used their newfound magic to force the Fomoire into a realm that lay underneath their own, known as the Sídhe (pronounced “she”). The Tuatha were happy with their living conditions for a time until a new wave of people arrived at the shores of Eire. These were the Milesians, who took issue with the Tuatha and subsequently waged war (it is a fascinating subject really), which they eventually won. History, in this instance, does repeat itself, as the Milesians made an agreement with the Tuatha that they would live above, and the Tuatha would move into the Sídhe below.

Now, a full disclaimer is in order as the information that I have relayed to you is as I understand it after my many years of research of ancient cultures. It is also very much abbreviated and reduced to fit into a small blog post, so there are more details and information out there for you to peruse at your leisure! I highly recommend looking into the history of the Gaelic people, as it is incredibly fascinating if you have a penchant for mythology or history as I do.

Now back to the issue at hand, I can hear you asking, “What does all of this have to do with NAJI Games, and why am I reading it?” A deliciously excellent question, Reader!

As you know, one of my many roles in NAJI Games is worldbuilding, which requires that I write in all of the different types of individuals that you may meet as you travel in our game Trials of Omnus: Land Ascended. My inspiration for one race comes from the tales and folklore of Old England and Ireland, which were the same tales written by the Christain monks so long ago that they became warped and bent over time. As I mentioned before, the traditions and religion of the Gaelic people have been transformed from their origins into silly tales of fairies, leprechauns, banshees, and gnomes. This transformation was done as a way of making pagan religion more palatable to the masses while diminishing that very religion into abstraction. Due to this, great tales of gods and goddesses, miracles, and power became the folklore of spritely fairies, mischievous gnomes, and the like that primarily float across Ireland and England. It is from these stories that I drew a great deal of inspiration.

That inspiration sparked an idea of a society based on the tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann after their move into the Sídhe. You may wonder what became of the Tuatha, what stories did their mythological lives generate. We can still uncover that with the right knowledge! Most have heard of the Banshee, the ghostly woman whose screams denote the arrival of someone’s death. Though this tale stems from the term bean sídhe pronounced “ban - she,” or “woman of the Sídhe,” from Gaelic culture. See the connection? The Tuatha became known as supernatural beings that haunted the moors and hills of Ireland, wreaking havoc, bestowing omens, and granting (or taking) fortune left and right. They were known as mischievous, troublemaking, and impish, causing turmoil or stealing a baby simply because they thought it was funny. There is one piece of lore that I am particularly fond of, which details that the fairies of England would entrance unsuspecting humans into their whimsical realm and entice them to eat. This act would, according to fairy law, deem that human to be the property of the fairies, and would force them to dance until the fey were bored, or the human died. Whichever came first.

I found these stories to be entirely too entertaining not to include in the fictional world of Omnus, so I decided to write an entire race based on them, the Tuasyna. The Tuasyna are spindly, tall, and beautiful yet haunting. Their skin ranges in color from blues, greens, and purples, and they all possess the same proclivity for snarky grins and sharp, broken laughter. The other people of Omnus are slightly wary of the Tuasyna, as they are a little freaky and tend to play tricks on others wherever they can. These troublemakers live in gated cities known as Tanistries across the world, which are matriarchal and completely sovereign from their home countries. Few know what life is like in these Tanistries, as most are terrified to think of the pure chaos that must roam their streets.

It is not uncommon to see a Tuasyna outside of their Tanistries, as they quite enjoy the nervous glances that others throw their way as they roam the streets of small villages and busy markets. They also tend to spread outlandish rumors about themselves to test the gullibility of the foolhardy. Contrary to how they behave amongst the other races of Omnus, the Tuasyna have a rather shocking societal system. Each Tanistry is run by the Toisech, who is elected by an administrative court known as the Roydammar. Being matriarchal, the Toisech, as well as the entirety of the Roydammar court, are prominent females of the Tanistry. A family name is of utmost importance to the Tuasyna, and their status is directly linked to their image and behavior. Because of this, society inside a Tanistry is a rather rigid and strict one where speaking out of turn could result in your family being stripped of its name, and losing everything they have.

The Tuasyna are wily, chaotic, mischievous, and troublemakers at heart. However, they hail from a society with complex social norms, a royal court with an eerie ruler, and devastatingly harsh laws. I am so excited for you to learn more with the launch of our game, Trials of Omnus: Land Ascended! Read the next paragraph for an inside look from the world:

“The two cloaked figures walk into the busy street of the Ondea city fair, their steps so light it seems as though they are floating through the crowd. Much to their dismay, no one notices the two Tuasyna over the cacophony of the crowded area and the shouts of merchants. Aola and Ifé simultaneously reach up and remove the hoods that shroud their faces, pulling them over the twisting, coiling mass that topped the heads of all Tuasyna. As soon as they reveal themselves, those that are surrounding them cease their various activities immediately, staring at the two Tuasyna. They scan the area around them, enjoying the nervous glances looking their way and the few figures who hurriedly pushed further into the crowd, avoiding them. But what made their day’s journey worthwhile was the small Savian woman directly across from them. She reached into the pouch at her side and pulled out a silver-gilded chicken beak, rubbing it counter-clockwise on her cheek three times, as she was told to do to ward off the chaotic energies of a Tuasyna. Ifé smiles a wicked smile as he sees this, knowing that the tale he made up a few years back and shared with a wandering tradesman finally paid off.”

Isaiah Schmit

Creative Co-Director and Resident Historian