These are cursory Alpha rules for playing Bulmäs characters. You can use these rules to cover Shapeshifter or Nature Spirit characters in your own games, or ignore them and use your own preferred method.
History of the Bulmäs
The Bulmäs were created as sentient terraforming engines by Desi early in the history of the Universe T13. However they went wrong somehow and chose not to be truly immortal any longer so that they could experience life, and therefore understand their role better. Originally each species had their own Bulmäs patron, but since that time they have Seperated into separate groups. After the events of the Paradox War (for a given meaning of After) the Path of Teucoi has linked the Bulmäs allowing more Social interaction between the groups.
The Lea connects reality together, on a planet the Lea is created by the paths that certain animals take across the planet, it also connects worlds across the multiverse. The Lea may represent a network of naturally occurring wormholes through time and space that are connected to certain animals. The outer edge of the Lea are all animal paths, easily distinguished and walked, closer in the paths get harder to follow and create a nexus of lea paths that is known as the Labyrinth. At the centre of the Labyrinth is the city of Cæster, that connects to almost every world in the Omniverse, and is based around a World Egg/Tree that is at once part of the Goddess Desi and also the map of the Lea.
Bulmäs are able to travel the Lea because of the second soul that they have (referred to as a travelling Soul because it always has a Yonder Core) that is the Soul of another previous Bulmäs integrated into their Personality. Each type of Bulmäs has a different way of gaining their travelling Souls. Bulmäs children often adopt aspects of the Personality of their Travelling Soul, which might be seen as a form of reincarnation, although each Soul becomes a copy of the original adding new experiences from that moment, but remembering their original life.
The Lea sometimes opens connecting two points in the Omniverse almost at random. Usually the two sides of the Path must be in a very similar state, similar weather, similar air pressure, similar ecology, for the way to naturally open. However these natural wormholes are the original Bulmäs migratory paths, and technically are the Vermis’ Dragon Paths, but most Bulmäs cannot become a Dragon.
Wyrd Tarot and Bulmäs
Most Bulmäs do not gain access to Wyrd Tarot or Yarn cards for that matter. This is because the Goddess did not allow them access to the Wyrd aspects of herself until after Teucoi’s choice. Those that do (because they are hanging around with Mercari for example) should have at least one Significator (Enigma) Core. All cards they draw are automatically (one of) their Significator(s). Particularly suitable Significators include: Escape, Death, Fear, Spot Hidden, Jam/Parry/Dodge, Surprise, Psst, or Safe Passage. Although the Ref has final say.
Instead, it is normal to use a hand similar to Wyrd Tarot cards to mimic the Bulmäs ability to Lea walk and shapeshift. The cards in the Bulmäs hand represent the nearby Lea paths. These cards are used as part of Lea Ordeals, allowing the character to change shape into powerful animals or even later blend elements of animals together in new way.
|Suit||Paths||Bulmäs types that can appear on that path|
|Hearts ♥||Blue Aquatic or Black Migratory||All|
|Clubs ♣||Green/Turquoise Herbivore||Herd, Broccen, Vermis, Labyrinthian, All-Walkers|
|Spades ♠||Red/Purple Carnivore||Hunters, Broccen, Vermis, Labyrinthian, All-Walkers|
|Diamonds ♦||Brown/Blue Omnivore||Broccen, Vermis, Labyrinthian, All-Walkers|
|2||Microfauna||Plankton/Zooplankton||Microscopic animal and bacterial paths, often overlooked.|
|3||Meiofauna||Small Nematode worms/shrimps||A lot of parasite carnivore paths at this level|
|5||Macrofauna||Earthworm/Mole||Small (burrowing) creatures|
|6||Megafauna – Tiny||Canary/Domestic Cat||Animals smaller than 40 Kilograms|
|7||Megafauna – Small||Hare/Dog|
|8||Megafauna – Medium||Cattle/Lion|
|9||Megafauna – Large||Wildebeest/Tiger|
|10||Megafauna – Largest||Elephant/Dinosaur|
|Jack||Man-paths/Broccen Territory||Human, Groonians, Eelafin, etc||Broccen may use Jack’s to dig new tunnels in the Lea, creating species to fill niches. Jacks may also be used to create Chimerical changes, blending parts of different animals together.|
|Queen||Black paths and Migratory||Native Form — Dragon||These paths open and close naturally through the Lea from time to time, they are easily walked by all Bulmäs, but Vermis and All-Walkers may walk them in Swarm or Dragon configurations.|
|K||Labyrinth||Labrys patterned Minotaur||Kings represent paths in the Labyrinth, and Cæster in the centre as well. A normal Bulmäs that tries to walk the labyrinth would be lost. The Labyrinth can connect any point in space and time to any other allowing Bulmäs to consciously time-travel through the Lea. A King can allow a Bulmäs to create or reload a Chronolith, just like a Mercari.|
|A||All-path||All-Walkers||The Paths of the All-Walkers can allow Bulmäs to do extraordinary things, like walking an individual’s life-path, so that all of their personal history is known to them. All-Walkers can assume even the forms and souls of other people by using these paths, without directly eating of the Soul. All-Walkers can play other cards from their hands as Wyrd Tarot cards, once they have played an Ace on themselves.|
So the Bulmäs hand represents the Paths that currently surround them, that they can perceive, other Bulmäs may sense other paths nearby. The Referee may also decide that a location has a particular associated path, (Jacks in cities for example) that will always be present in that location and is accessible by any local Bulmäs that can walk that path.
It is worth noting that if you are Herd while you cannot walk a Predators path, you can walk the Prey animal of that Predator, but you will have less idea where the path leads if you are walking ‘out of suit’ like that, and vice-versa for Huntsmen. So if a Huntsman draws an 8 of clubs as a possible path, she could chase along the Cattle path as a Lion or Direwolf, but would not have more than the vaguest clue where it would go to (North say), but the 5 of Spades, centipede path, she would know exactly where the path lead.
Path walking is usually a Three stage Ordeal, Entering the Lea, Walking the Path, and Exiting the Lea (making a kill), but more stages are possible, especially avoiding Predator stages, or finding food stages.
When a Bulmäs shape-shifts along a path, they place the Lea card in front of them like a Mercari places a played card. The card in question will add to the Facets associated with that card either a number of success levels or the number of pips on the card.
For example, after shifting into a Grizzly Bear form, by playing a 9 of Spades, a Bulmäs can add 9 pips to any Spades Ordeal cards or add 3 success levels to any actions to do with Gossamer, Inertia, Key, Miasma, Trial or Yonder (as long as it in keeping with the shape of a bear).
Of course, a Bulmäs cannot walk a path unless they are powerful enough anyway. No Broccen can walk a Vermis path, until they have tasted spoilt meat, for example. Some cards are therefore only useful to the more “Advanced” Bulmäs.
In this type a Significator will represent the preferred shape of a Bulmäs. For example a “Werewolf” Huntman may have a 7 of Spades Significator.
Large, and generally passive, the Herds travel between worlds, as the largest mass of the migration between worlds. The herds walk the Green Herbivore paths through the Lea (and occasionally the ‘Turquoise’ Blue Oceanic paths) as well as the Ancient migratory paths (which are Bulmäs migration paths and must be walked in their normal form and are actually the Vermis Dragon paths).
Herd Bulmäs are large in their natural form (10-12 feet /3-4 metres tall generally, but some subspecies can be much smaller), most of the Herd sport horns, and hoofed feet, so they resemble Minotaurs, or Fauns in shape.
The Herd are granted their travelling soul by the Brahman of their tribe or ‘Field’, who will select a suitable soul fruit (from a tree planted upon a Bulmäs corpse). Generally the Brahman will try to select a Soul that the child will be able to easily integrate, but this is not always possible (see the Paradox War, particularly the Second Shadow story).
Herd generally live in Tents made from cloth, they have good understanding of textiles and agriculture. They eat exclusively vegetative matter, and may add other souls if they eat more soul fruit like a Mercari adds Alternate Personalities.
The herd believe that if they taste blood or meat they will become Huntsmen, actually it requires the meat or blood be from a Bulmäs or Mercari.
The Herd worship the Goddess (by one of her many names) in rituals and prayer, taught to them by the Brahman.
Amongst the Herd those who are especially connected with their Travelling Souls may become Brahman. A sort of priest or shaman class amongst the Herd, they are able to walk another soul’s history, examining it and sensing it in the Lea. In actual fact amongst the Bulmäs as a whole the Brahman are the norm rather than a rarity. Essentially the normal Herd, without their Brahman abilities, are the oddity across the entirety of the Bulmäs.
Also called the Followers, Hunters, Soul-hunters, or Hounds. Smaller than the Herd (generally 6-8 feet / 2-3 metres tall) the Huntsmen also generally have sharp teeth and claws. Huntsmen walk the Red Carnivore paths and occasionally the ‘Purple’ Oceanic Blue paths. They gain their travelling Soul by making (or sharing) a kill on any Bulmäs, they gain the Souls of any they kill and add it to their own. Usually the newly gained soul is considered Split (but will rarely actually take control of the Bulmäs).
Huntsmen have an uneasy relationship with the Vermis, preferring to leave a kill before it attracts them. The Huntsmen fairly exclusively eat meat, although they do ingest some herbs and spices for flavour and medicinal reasons. They must eat the meat before it ‘turns’ as bad meat will cause them to become Vermis.
The Huntsmen worship the Consort of the Goddess as their patron. They see him as more powerful than the Goddess. As he represents Death and Destruction, where she is Creation and Fertility. The All-Walkers teach instead that the Consort intervenes with the Goddess on his followers behalf, and is nothing but an aspect of herself anyway.
Also known as the Brocken, Bears, Badgers, Soul-Eaters, and Children of Rat. Broccen are able to walk Green, Red, and Brown Paths (and most Oceanics), as they are Omnivorous in nature. The Broccen however tend to be non-migratory. They instead have a Territory that they keep (considered a Real Estate or Province). The Territory will generally have a card played on it that is the Broccen’s Significator if they have one, if they do not a random card is drawn and played upon the Territory when the Broccen claims it.
Claiming a Territory is always an Ordeal, usually a Story in its own right, as the Broccen is their territory and vice-versa. Territories are usually claimed by defeating and tasting the Soul of the previous owner (often the previous tenant is completely eaten).
Broccen can dig new paths into the Lea, which can create new species that try to exploit the niche that the Broccen has walked into existence. It was on the Groon that the Bulmäs walked the human path, and were able to evolve the Groonians as Sapient Insects.
Broccen have learned how to perform partial shifts, walking parts of their bodies onto differing animal paths. They can create Chimerical forms, but they are quite complex to do properly.
Broccen have learned how to cook food to preserve it, and have a direct connection to the Vermis because of this. The Broccen do not fear the Vermis, but they aren’t keen on them either. Broccen also may become Vermis if they eat bad meat, but unlike the Huntsmen they can smell the difference between good and bad meat easily.
The Broccen worship the Goddess and Consort as a duality, although they describe the individual animal spirits as aspects of this Duality, they do not consider them Gods or Godesses themselves.
The Vermis, the Black (or Death) Swarm, or the Kill-Stealers, walk the Black paths, the paths of Detritivores and Scavengers. Theirs is the maggot or worm path, they eat the fallen and preserve their souls. Then, taking the Dragon paths, they fly between worlds, to seed that new world with all the Bulmäs Souls they carry (although they also keep a copy). Vermis can seperate their souls out, creating swarm bodies that are still all the same being (in the same way that Vermis itself is doing into their separate bodies). They sleep in the ecosystem letting their souls distribute into the world in this way, the individual souls reincarnating and duplicating again and again, until the Vermis wakes.
All Vermis are technically just Alternate Personalities of Lord Vermis (and his Personality is an immense Reaper one). All Vermis are aspects of the Vermis and so are Solos.
Vermis has strong (and even Demonic) Duty and Devotion Handicaps to the Goddess.
Also called the Guardians of the Goddess, the Keepers of the Centre, and the Finders of the Lost. Those Bulmäs Souls who become truly lost are found in the Labyrinth by the Guardians and recruited into their ranks. They learn the true secrets of the Labyrinth and the Lea beyond. They may walk all of the paths of the Lea with or without changing form, can create new paths, can find paths to almost anywhere.
To become Labyrinthian a Bulmäs must defeat Asterion, and taste his Soul. He guards the very centre of the Labyrinth. The Goddess herself.
All Labyrithian Bulmäs have a Demonic Lost (Lament) Handicap as well as a Devotion to the Goddess. Their weapons, horns, and claws are marked with a Labrys pattern (and Handicap) that allows them to negate an opponents Twists with their own.
Also called the Followers of Teucoi, Veelans, or New Brahman. Descended from Souls that have eaten from the Apple tree that Teucoi was buried beneath in the South of France on Earth in the universe designated Terminal Thirteen in the Paradox War.
The All-Walkers are strange by Bulmäs standards. They are varied in power level, starting as any Bulmäs Child, but upon gaining their travelling soul they are fused with Teucoi, and effectively the Goddess herself. Sometimes this fusion adds little power to the Bulmäs, other times it is profoundly altering, unlocking the ability for the All-Walker to eventually become One with the Goddess.
All-Walkers are intermediaries to the Goddess, and recognise Wyrd as an aspect of her, as well as her sister. This connection grants them the abilities of Mercari or Solos as appropriate to their power level (and number of stored Souls). They are all capable of Shamanic/Theurgic magick (they call upon the Goddess in one of her aspects to perform magickal effects such as healing, protection, attack, and even flight).
All-Walkers have a unique understanding of Souls. They can even read details of non-Mercari souls, and have the ability to copy Souls onto themselves, without damaging or removing the original (just as Mercari may add Alternates). All-Walkers can even create a duplicate of a Solo’s personality (although the Solo has no perception of that copied Alternate, it is no longer part of the Solo).
Alternates and Bulmäs Souls
Bulmäs can use the same rules as Mercari for adding alternate personalities, but this quickly becomes unworkable as the number of Souls consumed rises. Bulmäs refer to integration of Souls as Soul-Walking and Tying-on. The Bulmäs is largely unaware of the Split or Co-Dominant alternates, but can access the memories and abilities of integrated and coalesced Alternates as a Mercari could. So you could ignore unintegrated Alternates/Souls.
To mimic the concept of a Bulmäs carrying thousands of Bulmäs Souls (and perhaps millions of others too) we can use one of the following rules.
Rule #1: For cheap Bulmäs. For use if you don’t want Bulmäs too powerful. Look up the number of Souls that are not detailed on the Sway table as a number of targets as well as the Type of the Souls. Look up the Sway and add them to the Bulmäs Personality Value. For example after casually hunting and eating a single(+2) Adult Herd Bulmäs (+24) a Huntsman adds 26 Value to their Personality, where as consuming a million or so (+184) Grunts (+16) over the course of their adventures adds 200 Value to their Personality.
Rule #2: Powerful Bulmäs. To make Bulmäs more powerful (and genuinely terrifying) look up the number of Souls and Type as Yarn and add that number to the Personality Boon of the Bulmäs. With this Rule eating a single Adult Herd adds 4 Boons to the Personality and a million or so (+16) Grunts (+3) adds a substantial 19 Boons.
To track these numbers Bulmäs should have a small table, like this, to keep track of the numbers of Souls they have collected.
|Soul Type (Yarn/Sway)||Number held||
|Chorus (Extra) (+2/+10)|
|Grunts / Bulmäs Kids, Calves or Cubs (+3/ +16)|
|Mercari / Goblin / Adult Bulmäs (+4/+24)|
|Demon / Fairy Commoner / Broccen (+5/+32)|
|Solo / Vermis (+6/+42)|
|Greater Dæmon / Fairy Noble / Labyrithian (+7/+52)|