Brownies are a small fae that lives in a house and typically helps the occupants of the house. Male brownies are more commonly seen, but female ones have been reported too. They are found around the world under various names. The term “brownie” originates in Scotland; in England they were called “hobs” or lobs, though recently the Scottish term has displaced this name. The Welsh call them bwbach, the Manx fenodyree. Female brownies in England and Scotland are often called silkies. Wild brownies in Scotland are called ùruisg or urisk, but in Portugal they are called duende. The term duende (or dwende) is also used in Latin America and the Philippines, though here it refers to house brownies. In Russia, they are called domovoy. In Sweden, they are called tomte; in Norway and Denmark, nisse. The ancient Romans called them lares, but not all beings the Romans called lares were brownies. Other parts of the world have their own names for them.
Brownies are small and humanoid. They have exaggerated pointed ears, much more noticeable than those of an elf, as well as a big nose, usually somewhat pointed and not especially bulbous. They dress in a variety of clothing; some favour a cloak and pointed hat, others prefer pants and a T-shirt, usually worn and faded. Females generally wear a simple smock, often coupled with a wide-brimmed hat.
Brownies reproduce the same as humans. They reach full maturity quickly, in just ten years, but they can live far longer than humans. The exact limit of their life span is unknown, but there are some records of individual brownies living two or three centuries.
Brownies can eat anything a human can, but they have a special preference for milk and cream. They also tend to prefer fruit and other plant products over meat, though they’ll still readily eat meat if offered to them. They don’t need food to survive, however.
Brownies have a number of small powers. They are telekinetic, able to move things without touching them, even without the aid of magic. They have the ability to turn themselves invisible. Brownies also have an alternate form which usually takes the shape of a household animal, with dogs or cats being the most common, though others such as rabbits or ferrets are also precedented. The alternate form is always mammalian, though.
Society and Culture
Brownies are solitary creatures, each one living in a different house and serving the occupants of that house, provided they’re treated nicely. The threshold law is inverted on brownies, preventing them from leaving their home except under special circumstances. Some brownies dwell alone in caves instead of in a man-made house, but the threshold law still keeps them from straying far.
If given a gift of clothes, a brownie will leave its house and never return – seemingly, the act releases them from the threshold law. No-one truly knows why this is; some suggest they see the gift as an insult, yet they generally appear happy to receive the gift. It’s not something special about possessing clothes, either, for brownies wear clothes normally, generally ones they have made themselves. Yet other gifts, for example toys, don’t seem to trigger this.
A brownie can also leave their house if an occupant of the house requests a task that requires it, if the house is destroyed, or if a departing occupant invites them to a new house. They can also travel freely when the Earth’s leylines are at their ebb, around October 31.
Brownies who are treated nicely by their family and given an offering of food each night, preferably milk or cream, will help the family with chores, such as doing the dishes, sweeping the floors, and the like. If they get along especially well with the family, they may also willingly do things that the family asks, most of the time.
However, if the family never gives an offering, or if they physically hurt the brownie, then the brownie will become angry and, instead of helping the family, will torment them by making a mess each night or keeping them awake with small noises.
Some brownies fulfill the niche of the “monster under the bed” or “monster in the closet” for small children; this can be the case regardless of whether they are friendly towards the family.
Brownies usually get along with family pets, but they’re not overfond of cats, and cats seem to have a disdain for them as well. Other pets will often be pampered by the brownies, but if the house has a cat, the brownie will usually keep its distance. Of course, there are occasional exceptions where a cat and a brownie do get along, but they’re not common.