A pukwudgie (puk-WUJ-ē), or pok-wejee-man (pok-WĒJ-ē-man), is a small, arboreal spirit similar to a gnome or pixie. Made of the bark of an ash tree, they stand 2-3 feet in height and resemble short, flat humans. A new pukwudgie is created when an ash tree sloughs off some of its bark in a process known as pukwudgination. Pukwidgies are only created from the ash tree, and only in Destiny and Mishipeshu Provinces, as far west as the Great Lakes.
Pukwidgies are mischievous protectors of the forest. According to legend, they were once friendly toward humans, but as settlers started deforestation, the pukwudgies turned hostile. Pukwudgies have been known to disable logging equipment, and are definitely responsible for at least ten deaths during the construction of the Erie Canal.
Pukwudgies are technically genderless, and are traditionally referred to as "they." Puckwudgies absorb carbon dioxide and "exhale" oxygen through their skin. They also absorb nutrients through their feet by means of tiny rootlets.
Pukwudgies live in small groups, usually around 6-10 individuals. They seem to act like extended families, but they do not actually care for each other, or have true parents or children. Pukwudgies rarely gather together in groups of more than 11 or 12.
Pukwudgies exhibit many supernatural abilities: they can roll themselves into a ball to travel along the forest floor, flatten themselves around the base of a tree and vanish from sight, shoot venemous thorns from their "hands," create minor illusions, and even control the souls of those they killed and send them to perform simple errands.
It is generally considered bad luck to see a pukwudgie. They have no love of humans, and will try to find a way to hurt or kill you. While they are considered sapient creatures, they are not protected by edict and may be harvested for magical components.
There is no such thing as a juvenile pukwudgie. A group of pukwudgies is called a grove.
Pukwudgies live in small dens in the base of ash trees in the forests of the northeast. They require this habitat and will die in captivity.
Pukwudgies are living, mobile ash tree bark, and as such they have no internal organs. They possess retractable roots in their feet by which they absorb water and nutrients from the earth.
Pukwudgies are autotrophic, requiring only carbon dioxide, sunlight, water, and a few key nutrients to survive. They produce oxygen as a side-effect of their photosynthesis. The few inorganic compounds they cannot acquire through photosynthesis they obtain by temporarily putting down roots to feed. Pukwudgies are mobile but must remain still to feed from their feet.
The bark the pukwudgie is made of can be pressed into magical parchment. Pukwudgies can be rolled into a cylinder, glued together, and used for wands. Pukwudgies will not work with humans to become familiars or neonates.
Pukwudgies are best left alone. Mundane or magical humans who cross a pukwudgie will find themselves the targets of persistent mischief at the hands of the wronged pukwudgie, which may include physical harm and "accidental" death such as being pushed from a cliff. Pukwudgies are vulnerable when they must stop to feed through their feet. A dehydration spell effect such as by the "kàpakamigà" spell will prove fatal to a pukwudgie if hit directly. A wind spell such as "flabrum diabolicum" may be effective at temporarily blowing them off course. Planting an ash tree in the wronged pukwudgie's honor may also stave off the mischievous hostility.