Gremlins / Tien

One hazard of technology in the world are the Gremlins. Most of the time Gremlins are in the benign Tien form - a black shadow humanoid form with tapered and pointy limbs and no discernible features. Tien gather and collect things, like disordered squirrels. They lay out stones, berries or seeds in circles and patterns. They make patterns in fields and crops. They collect leaves and set them in interesting arrangements. This seems competitive between different Tien. They chirp, tick and make knocking noises when appreciating order or beauty in nature. They may fly or skate on water and depending on temperatures leave trails of blooms, water plant blooms or ice. When they do this they shed golden fairy dust. Gremlins occur when Tien come across technological devices- the more complex, the more fascinating and likely to produce a Gremlin response. They must investigate and work it and figure out how it works, which often means taking it apart, losing parts or destroying it. Simple devices - like a butter churn- may be used and helpfully produce butter as they work it back and forth a few dozen times. Door knobs and levers will be used repeatedly, letting loose animals or leaving doors open. More complex invite destruction.     "That is a Gremlin trap!"- any overly complex elaborate machinery

Basic Information


Tien: these appear as a living humanoid shadow with tapering points at the ends of limbs. They have horns or ears that stand up and taper. They have no face, eyes or other distinguishing features. They skate across water or fields leaving either trails of blooms or traceries of ice and frost with a trace of golden fairy dust.

Gremlinization occurs when Tien or an active Gremlin encounter some mechanical device. They will be drawn to it and work it repeatedly. The more complex the more likely they will convert to Gremlin or go into destructive rage. 1-2 parts is easily resisted, 3-4 moderate difficulty, 5-6 hard, 7-8 very hard and more parts will almost certainly produce a gremlin or rage. Gremlins develop multiple razor sharp fingered claws at the ends of their arms, eyes that glitter like gems but are dead white and a mouth of long pointed teeth. They otherwise remain pitch black.

Biological Traits

Powers: invisbility. Bounce ( short teleport in line of sight or recently seen 30-40 ft, if into a solid object they flicker and make a bleeting "Myep! Myep!"
rage: Gremlins are driven to extremes by complex devices. They become furious and hostile, ripping the devices apart and attacking any that try to stop them or things that get in their way. They will typically calm down once a thing is destroyed, given 20-30 minutes of calm. Sugar, honey and sweetgrass can help calm them, each pound of sweet grass or oz of honey or pure sugar giving then a +1 on calming/ resisting rage. When working devices they tend to cackle maniacally.

Dietary Needs and Habits

It is not known what Tien and Gremlin normally eat - or if Tien eat at all.  Gremlins can chew and digest anything they can fit into their mouths - approx 30 cm or less.  Even otherwise impervious magical materials can be bitten to pieces by Gremlins.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Tien/ Gremlins are a source of Fairy Dust.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Tien have darkvision and infrared/ UV spectrum.   Their hearing is sharp and readily detect those who try to sneak up on them.

Gremlins see well in darkness but seem to have lost the ultraviolet and Infrared in favor of a type that seems to see inside of things -  background scatter xrays.  Their vision is keyed to movement once engaged and anyone sitting silent and motionless may avoid attack by Gremlin.  Hearing is still acute and sensitive.  Sense of smell seems less than many animals but perhaps better than humans.

Civilization and Culture

Common Taboos

Gremlins hate cats and cats hate Gremlins. Bahku also deter or invoke hostility from Gremlins. There is no Tien animosity.
The worst combination is a complex mechanical device that is also magical.  Gremlins get caught in these devices.  Each Gremlin increases the risk of the device misfiring in someway.  Once there are enough points of spirit/ power to break the magical device or it is broken in some other way, then all Gremlins contained within will pour out.

Common Myths and Legends

Gremlins hate cats and visa versa.
Gremlins love cheese. 
  Use shiny things and glass chimes to attract Tien. Putting up glass chimes is an act of spite against people and households.
Genetic Ancestor(s)

Cover image: by mutterwolf


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