The Pooka are not seen as combat-oriented. They are pranskters, comedians and cheats. They are nature-loving tree-huggers. They turn into cute fuzzy bunnies and harmless little mice. With this sort of image, it's no wonder the other Kithain don't see the shapechangers as a threat in a fight.

But this does the Pooka a grave injustice. When war rears its ugly head, the Pooka have always been ready and willing to stand their ground. They are brave and honorable (in their own way). They are loyal to their allies and show their enemies all the mercy an angry pack of wolves shows to a lone deer (sometimes literally). Their primal instincts make the ferocious fighters. Their unusual thought patterns help them to use original and odd strategies and tactics. In short, the Pooka are as capable in war as any Troll or Sidhe.


Attitudes Towards War
While Pooka are generally peaceful pranksters, they do not always shy away from battle. Some do, some do not. Their reactions are as varied as any other kith. It has a lot to do with Court and Animal Affinity.

Unseelie Pooka are more controlled by their animal instincts. For those with gentler affinities, this usually means they flee from combat. For the predatory ones, it means kill or be killed. The Seelie have more control over their instincts, but they still feel them, and are guided by honor and higher ideals as well.

But even those with less hostile animal affinities try to do something, even if they don't leap into the fighting. Despite their noted tendancy to run, these Pooka are not cowards. Not everyone is cut out for combat, after all, and courage takes many forms. Still, Pooka will fight when cornered, and as anyone will tell you, an animal is at its most dangerous when cornered.


Roles in War
That being said, most Pooka do not make for good front line troops. Depending on Court, Legacy and Animal Affinity, they find their nitch elsewhere in combat.

Soldiers: While most Pooka don't make good foot soldiers, some do. Those with more powerful Animal Affinities do best here, such as bears, wolves, tigers, bulls, wolverines, sharks and others. Claws, fangs, horns and bad attitudes find excellent use on the battlefield. More often, combative Pooka find a place as "skirmishers," making hit and run attacks against the enemy rather than going toe-to-toe.

Scouts/Spies: More up their alley is the role of military scout. A lone Pooka can sniff out the enemy, get into places more fae can't and have modes of travel open to them that allow them to cover great distances quickly. A bird pooka makes an excellent eye in the sky, and few enemy sentinels will notice a housefly, spider or mouse hanging around camp. As most battles are fought in the wilderness, Pooka are naturals in that environment.

Medics: Gentler Pooka can still be important to a faerie army. One example is that of a battlefield medic. Packing some bandages, casting Heather Balm and Oakenshield, the Pooka can help keep his friends on their feet when the fight is underway.

Battle Sorcerers: The Sidhe may be seen as the greatest sorcerers (mostly due to their own PR), but the other Kiths and the Gallain are just as skilled in the Arts and Realms as any elf. The Trolls have their runemasters, the Nunnehi have their shamans. The Pooka have their witches and druids. A Pooka well schooled in fae magic can be devestating on the battlefield, often hurling natural forces like fire (Pyretics), lightning (Skycraft) and boulders (Legerdemain) at the enemy and commanding the very trees and plants (Primal) against their foes. A Pooka sorcerer is often underestimated until it is too late, and they usually like it that way.

Saboteurs: Being the master pranksters that they are, it should come as litle suprise that Pooka have learned to adapt their practical joking skills to war. Sabotage is a natural extension of prankology. More than just tying the bootlaces of a sleeping Troll regiment together, Pooka can set traps, mess around with enemy maps, misdirect battleplans and create all sorts of general havoc that will hamper the enemy's ability to perform.


Pooka-Fu!
Bless you! Naw, just kidding. Pooka combat tactics are, like the Pooka themselves, unconventional. To say they are cowards who will not fight is just the idiotic ramblings of Redcaps. To say they fight like animals is more accurate but just the beginning. So, listen well, grasshopper, and learn the ancient secrets of Pooka-Fu!
Barehanded fighting techniques are as varied among the Pooka as they are among anyone. Pooka cna learn all sorts of martial arts (though, admittedly, the animal styles of Kung Fu are rather popular to certain Animal Affinities. Why wouldn't a Tiger Pooka want to learn Tiger Kung Fu?).

What is here is basically a listing of combat maneuvers and other tricks Pooka often use in combat. When you have fangs and claws, or can fly, you have advantages that your average Troll can only envy.

Claw: A simple, straightforward strike using your claws (or pincers), if you have any, rending the flesh of your opponent. Damage is Lethal in Animal Mien, Chimerical in Fae Mien, Aggravated when Wyrded.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 6
Damage: Strength +1
Actions: 1

Bite: Not the sole territory of Redcaps anymore, a Pooka with sharp fangs can be just as deadly. The Pooka simply sinks his teeth into the foe. Extra damage due to bite placement (the jugular, for instance) is up to the Storyteller. As with claws, damage is Lethal in Animal Mien, Chimerical in Fae Mien and Aggravated when Wyrded.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 5
Damage: Strength +1
Actions: 1

Eye Pluck: A maneuver for bird Pooka, it involves the shapeshifter spearing and plucking out an opponent's eyeball with the beak. It is a highly difficult maneuver, and requires 5 successes to hit and at least 2 levels of damage after soak. If this is acheived, the eyeball is plucked out. This is considered aggravated damage. Obviously, the eye will only grow back through magical means.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 9
Damage: Strength +1
Actions: 1

Hamstring: Similar to Tendon Slice (Changeling: the Dreaming 2nd Edition, page 240), this involves the Pooka using her natural claws and/or fangs to rip the tendons of an opponent's leg. Bipedal foes are crippled and unable to move. Quadripedal foes halve their movement rates. Without immediate medical or magical attention, the foe may be lame for life.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 8
Damage: Strength +2
Actions: 1

Taunting: Pooka in combat often do what they do best: Annoy the hell out of people. Sometimes you just have to go with your strengths. Here, the Pooka dances around her foe, barking, mewing, hissing, howling, yelling insults and making offensive gestures. This shocks and distracts the foe to the point that he hesitates, giving the Pooka and his allies the edge. For every two successes the Pooka gains, the opponent loses one die from his next action.
This maneuver can be used by more than one Pooka at once, in which case the effects are cumulative. A whole pack of taunting Pooka can reduce an enemy's dice pool to nothing, in which case the foe is so flustered he can do nothing but dodge attacks.
Note that the taunted foe, provided he survives to the next round, may become enraged and come after the Pooka in question, so be warned and prepared to flee (or to stand behind the nearest friendly Troll).
Roll: Manipulation + Intimidation or Persuasion (player's choice)
Difficulty: Opponent's Wits +4
Damage: None
Actions: 1

Aerial Bombardment: Flying Pooka have the advantage of range on their grounded opponents. They can stay safe in the sky and drop heavy, hard or sharp objects on those poor fools below (discounting the probability of those on the ground having guns or bows, of course).
Roll: Dexterity + Atheltics
Difficulty: 8
Damage: Varies
Actions: 1

Battering Ram: Pooka with horns have the option of simply lowering their head and charging full tilt at their enemy, usually impaling his foe or crushing numerous bones on impact. This attack can be dodged, but not blocked or parried. The attack does Lethal damage in Animal Mien, Chimerical in Fae Mien, and Aggravated when the Pooka is Wyrded. The victim must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 6+1 per damage success before soak, maximum difficulty 10) or be knocked down as well. Trolls and Satyrs, who also have horns in their Fae Miens, can use this maneuver, too.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 7
Damage: Strength +2
Actions: 1

Flying Tiger Attack: Clawed Pooka who are graceful and good jumpers (such as Cat Pooka) can try this difficult attack. The shapeshifter basically jumps past her opponent, slashing with her claws as she goes by. If successful, the Pooka lands out of range of any counterattack.
This maneuver requires two actions used together. Thus, the Pooka must either split her dice pool or have a Cantrip active that gives her extra actions (specifically, Wayfare •• Quicksilver or Chronos ••• Dream Time) that turn.
First, the Pooka must successfully jump far enough. A Strength + Athletics roll (difficulty 3) needs at least 2 successes to jump far enough (4 feet per success horizontially) to ensure she lands out of reach of her foe. If the Pooka has the Physical Abnormality Merit Leaping Legs, it helps greatly with this maneuver.
Second, the Pooka makes a Dexterity + Brawl roll (difficulty 8) to strike her opponent as she flies by. If she fails her jumping roll, she can still make her attack roll at +1 difficulty. She has landed short and is a bit off-balance. The damage type for this attack is the same as for the Claw Maneuver above.
Pooka without claws can still use this maneuver with a weapon, rolling Dexterity + Melee instead.
Roll: Strength + Athletics/Dexterity + Brawl or Melee
Difficulty: 8
Damage: Strength +1 or by weapon
Actions: 2

Dive Bomb: This works much like Flying Tiger Attack, but is used by flying Pooka. It too requires two actions. But rather than jumping, the first action requires the Pooka to fly past the opponent at high speed. A Dexterity + Flight roll is required, but only one success is needed to succeed. The Pooka may fly straight past the target, or swoop down and up (thus the name "Dive Bomb").
Roll: Dexterity + Flight/Dexterity + Brawl or Melee
Difficulty: 8
Damage: Strength +1 or by weapon
Actions: 2


Pooka Weaponry
While Pooka may generally be more comfortable with whatever natural weaponry their Fae Miens may possess, not all are so blessed. In warfare many shapeshifters must turn to crafted weapons.

Like most fae, Pooka prefer traditional weapons like swords, spears, axes and bows & arrows. High tech weaponry is usually snubbed, due to the Pooka distaste for technology. Guns, especially, are rare. Few things irk a Pooka more than a hunting rifle, which has killed off more animals (including entire species) than anything in their recent memory. The dirty, smoke-belching contraptions of the Nockers are likewise generally found to be disgusting, if curiously interesting. Pooka are not Luddites, though. They will use such weaponry if they deem it necessary. Or if they just feel like it.

The weapons of ancient Ireland and Wales have the strongest bond to the heritage of the Pooka. The kith's emigrations to everywhere from Egypt to Scandinavia to the pre-Columbian Americas, though, have broadened the base of traditional arms they weild. It is not unusual to see a Pooka using anything from a Nordic axe to a Native American spear.

In Closing...
Pooka are most certainly not cowards and, as a kith, will not shy away from a fight when it looks necessary. They are as brave as any Troll, and can be as vicious as any Redcap. That the other kiths can only rarely recognize this is their short-sightedness. The Pooka know what they are worth, and when war comes again, they will prove it.