Saturday, 9 April 2011

H is for Hedgefolk

There is something intriguing to me about Hedge Magic, and the Hedgefolk in kind, I often can't tear myself from. The Hedge is described as that boundary between the material and physical worlds. And those attuned to this boundary, the Hedgefolk, take on many shades, by region and belief.

Hedgefolk, think naturalist or Native American medicine man, go by many names: Cunning Folk, Wise One, Healer, even Witch (though more in a pejorative sense).The appeal of Hedge Magic may be that taste of persecuted lone wolf stitched together with our own human history. And persecuted they are. From the career narrative for Hedge Wizards:
Hedge Wizardry is dangerous and highly illegal in the Empire. If caught, you could well be executed. Think carefully before entering this career.
And yet in the history of the WFRP Old World, hedge magic existed long before the Colleges of Magic formed, making the practice of sorcery acceptable, if feared for being misunderstood. The hedgefolk tended to communities in whole and patients regardless of status. When the Colleges of Magic were formed by Magnus the Pious with the help of the High Elves to fight the first Chaos invasion, those that practiced hedge magic--an arcane, not divine, practice--were openly invited. Many hedgefolk did not join, and centuries later the mistake is manifest in the persecution by the Colleges of Magic, as the cults of Ulric and Sigmar before it.

The divine cults of Ulric, Sigmar, and Taal (though to a much lesser extent than the former) persecute the Hedgefolk relentlessly for mostly regional reasons. The Ulricans because Middenland hedgefolk align themselves with Ranald, the trickster god and for Sigmarites, through the Witch Hunters, for no less a slight than competing for the heart and minds of the rural communities as protectors.

I have never played a hedgefolk, though in a recent Pathfinder campaign, I played a Ranger with an affinity for herb lore (my history with Rangers is D&D is a long one).

WFRP 2e has four great sources of information on the Hedgefolk. The most expansive being Shades of Empire (SoE). Three new careers are presented in SoE--Hedgecraft Apprentice, Hedge Master, and Hedgewise--and the spell lists for Hedge Magic is expanded to set it par with Realms of Sorcery and the detail of the Colleges of Magic lores. RoC only explores Hedge Magic mostly as a narrative in context of the Witch Hunters. This narrative is excellent campaign background as well.The Warhammer Fantasy Role Play core rules set forth the outline for the Hedge Wizard and provides only the basic spell list for the player, Petty Magic (Hedge). Finally, a more regional look at hedgefolk is presented in Realm of the Ice Queen where new spells and careers are presented only for those on the Hedgefolk career path.

For the player wanting to explore a fun, if dangerous, aspect of living in the Old World, one which can be researched in history across many prehistoric ages, Hedgefolk is where to start.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:00 AM in d10


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