A realm beyond reality, beyond any laws of nature that you understood. Forests of glass, mountains carved from bone. A nightmare from which there was no waking. A Prison from which their was no escape. A place known as Arcadia.
Beings of alien otherness, outside empathy or understanding. The Gentry, some call them. Or the True Fae. Their reasons for taking you were many and varied. Perhaps they locked and you in a kennel, beat you and fed you like a dog. Maybe they sealed you in a lantern somewhere in their cyclopean, maddening estates, using you as a human source of illumination. Or they possibly just threw you down into the dark and locked you there, leaving you surrounded by the gloom and the silence and the things that chittered and slithered across a hidden floor.
Your time in captivity, your Durance? It changed you. Warped you. Trapped in the realm of faerie, you found yourself taking on aspects of it. They beat you and treated you like a dog? Soon you found yourself becoming one, the power, instinct and urges seeping into you. They sealed you in a glass cage and used you for illumination? Soon your skin glistened and beamed, as you were slowly but surely transformed into a living light. They sealed you in a prison of darkness? Soon you found yourself twisting and contracting, allowing the darkness to become a part of you, allowing yourself to become one of those chittering, slithering things.
Maybe you got lucky. A cell door left unlocked. A key left abandoned. A chance opportunity that you seized upon. Maybe you fought for it. Red-soaked memories of blood and desperation, of the corpses you left in your wake when you remember who you once were and what you had to get back to. Maybe you were clever. Maybe you used the same guile and cunning that got you captured to reverse your fate. Whatever you did, it led to you fighting through a forest of thorns and bramble that tugged at your flesh and your spirit, that ripped away literal and metaphorical pieces of you. Close your eyes and you can still feel it. Your essence being torn away as you pressed forwards, only the memories of the life you once led keeping you from being pulled apart by the magics of the Hedge.
That bittersweet moment when you returned to the world you had been taken from, only to discover that there was no returning to what was taken from you. Not really. Your captors were cunning in their crime. In your absence they left imposters forged from scraps and twigs, who looked and spoke like you, who carried your memories as they carried on your stolen life. Or perhaps the decades you spent in captivity only translated to a few days or hours in this world. Even with your Mask, a disguise of Glamour that allows you to blend with mortal society, there was no just stepping back into the existence you left behind.
'Changeling: The Lost – A City of Endless Summer' is a Chat RP set in White Wolf's 'World Of Darkness' setting. Players take the role of a loosely affiliated group of Changelings, victims of a group of supernatural being known as the True Fae who have managed to escape from the supernatural realm they were taken to. Returning to our world, they find themselves irrevocably altered by their time in captivity, and must work alongside their fellow Lost in order to stay out of the grasp of the True Fae.
This chronicle takes place in the Freehold of Miami, a community of Changelings that exists within the city itself. A decade ago, the Summer Court led a coup that ousted the old rotational system of rule by the four courts and placed their leader in charge as the King of Endless Summer. Old rivalries, bitter grudges and other tensions are beginning to bubble to the surface again, and on the outskirts of the Freehold dark things are beginning to stir.
As newly liberated escapees from Arcadia, the player characters will find themselves thrust into this brewing battleground. It is up to them how they will help to alter and shape Miami's fate.
Themes are an extremely important element of a World Of Darkness game, defining the manner in which the story progresses. Mood, meanwhile, sets the tone and feeling of the game.
The prevailing theme of Changeling is the quest to find one’s way home. For some, this may mean reclaiming the mortal lives they were stolen away from as best they can. For others, it means finding a new home among the freeholds and Courts of the Lost. It’s no simple journey, and the stories of each chronicle unfold around the challenges of this road. Who can you trust? What is your heart’s desire, your ideal home? What is the price you will have to pay to achieve it?
The secondary theme of the game reflects the nature of the fae. A common hallmark to legends that feature things we think of as “fae” in fact the characteristic that may define a supernatural entity as “fae” or not, is a certain theme of deception or dishonesty. In some stories, the fae are the ones who trick mortals, appearing to be things they aren’t, substituting their own young for human children or leading wanderers astray. In others, humans are the ones who break some form of social contract with the fae, although often while unaware that the contract is in place, and are punished severely by the fae for their “disloyalty”. The themes of deception and mistrust run through many Changeling stories, as the Lost must hide themselves away from friends and family in order to keep from drawing their enemies’ eyes.
The mood of a Changeling chronicle can shift many times, reflecting the mercurial nature of the fae. The prevailing mood, however, is bittersweet. The Lost walk through an unseen world of wonder tinged with danger and deceit. The beauty of the fae is often sinister. The Hedge is alluring, and offers both succor and danger. The magic that changelings work is wondrous stuff, but has its strange catches and costs. And yet, for all the fear of the Others, the suspicion of betrayal and the hurt of necessary lies, the Lost still feel the glory of intense emotion and see the vivid colours of fae magic.
The game will take place on [URL]http://www.roll20.netRoll20[/URL], so you'll need an account there. Follow the 'ENTER THE GAME' link and I'll be able to make you a character sheet using that site's Journal system.
I'm aiming to stick to the core rulebook of Changeling as much as possible for characters, just to keep things simpler for new World of Darkness (WoD) players. If there's a particular kith or merit in one of the supplements that you absolutely just have to use, though, ping me a message and we'll take about it.
Ask if you can use third-party/homebrewed Seemings and/or Kiths and I will fire you out of a fucking cannon. >:[
Changeling is a game about intrigue and subtlety (unless you're playing an Ogre), so be ready for lots of politicking and potential betrayal. Cos that shit's not just allowed: it's encouraged.
AWWW YIS WE ARE.
OVERARCHING: These follow the main plotline of 'Changeling: A City of Endless Summer', and are for all characters present in the game. They will move the story forward, for better or worse, and can have dramatic impacts upon both the characters and the other plots they may be involved in.
COURT: These follow plots focusing on one of the four courts of the freehold, and can involve any members of the court the story focuses on (and any additional help they may call upon). They are aimed at increasing the court's standing and influence in freehold society, and some may have repercussions on the main plot.
PERSONAL: These follow plots relating to one or two members of the motley, for which the rest of the cast do not need to be present. They are used for character development, interaction between characters and NPCs, and for resolving personal stories.
Maybe you brought it on yourself. Maybe you were prying in places you ought not to have been. Maybe you cut a deal you didn't realise the full ramifications of. Or hell, maybe you were just unlucky.
Doesn't matter. Somehow, you caught the attention of one of the Gentry.
And They liked you so much that They decided to take you home with Them.
The abduction is a terrifying, mind-shattering experience for any human being. Normality shattering as some ancient, alien being outside of any laws of nature you understand drags you from your life and into a place of nightmare. Some of the True Fae treat the abduction as sport, revelling in Their target's terror as They hunt them down like animals. Others take a more subtle approach, tempting Their victims into Faustian bargains or luring them across the threshold that separates the mortal world from the Hedge.
Once a human has crossed over? Left their world and found themselves dragged into Arcadia? They find themselves in a world that is utterly, inescapably alien to them in its mystery, its terror and its beauty. This is a land ruled by ancient deals brokered and pledges signed; without access to these, a human is doomed in this world. Water will not quench their thirst, food will provide no sustenance.
If they wish to survive, they must pledge themselves to one of the True Fae, gaining access to these deals by proxy of their new master.
It is here that their durance, their servitude, begins.
And as they serve under their new Master they begin to adapt and shift to this new world, moulded by the role their Keeper has assigned them. It is here that their eventual Seeming and Kith begin to manifest. Dragged through the Hedge, ripped at by Thorns that tore away both flesh and mind, a newly indentured human in Arcadia is a pitiful, broken thing. Memories of their life before quickly fade, if they haven't been ripped out already during their Abduction, and soon they are little more than hopeless slaves to their True Fae masters.
It is a savage fate. Incarceration of both body and soul.
For most victims of the True Fae, this is where their story ends. Trapped forever in Arcadia, bound as slaves to their Keepers.
But not for all.
Perhaps it takes months. Perhaps it takes years, decades. But through the fog of servitude, past the holes torn by the thorns, memories of a life before all this can begin to re-surface. Only the most powerful of memories can survive the crossing between the mortal world and Arcadia, something truly defining and potent. Vestiges of a loved one's smile. The feeling of a child's hand in yours. The smell of home. These feelings and remnants pull at the Changeling, and awaken them from the torpor they have been languishing in under their Keeper.
Escaping Arcadia is no small task. Though the process of returning to the human world obfuscates much of a Changeling's recollections of their Durance, they remember enough to know that winning their freedom was a dangerous gambit. There are some stories of Changelings escaping in pairs, or else returning to our world in entire groups that suggest an uprising or rebellion took place.
Free at last from their Keeper, a Changeling wishing to return home must fight their way back through the Hedge. Once again they will feel the bite of the thorns, ripping at their memories and skin, tearing away their experiences in Arcadia. Once again, it is only those potent memories that first awoke them that allow a Changeling to successfully cross over the Hedge and return home.
Homecoming is a strange thing for a Changeling. The laws of reality as we understand them do not function in Arcadia, and Time is no exception. A Changeling who swears he was only held for a few months in the land of Fae can return home to find that years have past. The world has forgotten him, moved on without him. Another Changeling who was captive to her Keeper for decades comes back to find that it has only been a few days, a couple of weeks, since she was taken. While she has aged and suffered, her home has barely changed.
As if these setbacks were not enough, a newly-escaped Changeling will quickly discover the full extent of their kidnapper's cunning and cruelty. In the place of every abducted human a simulacrum is left. This being, this thing, that the Gentry leave behind looks identical to the person whom they stole and, if the person were older than a child, can function in the abducted human's life with little difficulty. But that thing that the Gentry leave behind isn't human and isn't fae. It is something in between, a construct made of shadow and Glamour called the Fetch.
Simply stepping back into the life that was stolen from them, to the thoughts and emotions that drew them back in the first place, is not possible.
The victory of their escape is bittersweet. For even in their freedom, a Changeling is still lost.
The Lost are beings ruled by emotion and feeling, experiencing thoughts and sensations far more potently than ordinary humans. In their isolation, it is little surprise that many of them choose to band together with their fellow fugitives from Arcadia. Ostensibly this is for reasons of safety. Every Changeling fears the possibility that one day soon, their Keeper will return for them and attempt to drag them back to Arcadia. By standing alongside their fellow Lost, they find a measure of support and security; if the True Fae come for them, they will not be alone this time.
Changelings are not solely human any longer, and although they may have suffered torturous cruelty in Faerie, their eyes were also opened to an entirely new plane of wonder than is possible to experience in the mortal world. Arcadia is the land of dreams as well as nightmares, and even at its most horrific, it is a place of miracles and magic. Few changelings are willing to admit that there are aspects of Faerie that sparked flame in their spirit and wonder in their existence in a way nothing human can. But it is a need, a longing that cannot be quenched by even the most vibrant of human art or the most passionate of human lovers. Amongst their own kind there is safety to experience somewhat of that fae marvel without much of the danger inherent in actually travelling into the Hedge, let alone Arcadia.
There are many social structures within the societies formed by the Lost.
FREEHOLDS: Part Changeling settlement, part support network, a 'Freehold' is the name given to the community of Changelings that exist within towns and cities. They are governed by the Four Courts, and provide both security and community for the Lost that live within them. Some members of the Freehold guard the borders, keeping watch for creatures of the Hedge, True Fae or other threats. Others act as part of administrative figures or political leaders, rallying other Changelings around them.
COURTS: The Great Courts are common social structures on a greater scale than motleys. Great Courts serve much the same purpose (safety from the Fae) but on a larger scale and with more organisation. Each of the four Courts has its own unique affiliations with one of the seasons and a dominant emotion, bound to the Court through oaths its founders exacted from the seasons many, many years ago. Changelings bound their Courts to the seasons for the strength it would give them against their one-time captors. Any pact provides power in the form of Contracts, but the founders explicitly chose to align their Courts with an aspect of the world that the Gentry couldn’t understand. A Fae lord may tyrannize a realm of endless winter, but he would never forsake his power and allow another to warm his land to spring. Tying their resistance to the voluntary progression of the seasons gives the changelings a stronger connection to Earth and a basis for defence that the Others are, so far, unable to undermine.
MOTLEYS: Motleys are the smallest social group likely to be found amongst Changelings, representing a small cabal or social circle of changeling friends and compatriots. As an increased measure of security against more insidious threats, such as Loyalists and Privateers, some motleys forge a Pledge of Friendship to bind their group together through glamour and magic. Yet even if a motley does not choose to take this measure, they are powerful social bonds: a fellow member of a motley is a true ally, ready to stand by your side come thick or thin.
CONTRACTS: The enigmatic powers of the changelings are curious, just as the Fae themselves, because these powers aren't innate abilities. Rather, supernatural changeling abilities, known as Contracts, come as a result of bargains struck between the Fae and the natural world. Indeed, they are literal contracts between the dream-folk and the worlds they inhabit. The nature of the Contract defines its appearance: A changeling who seems “fireproof” actually has a Contract with fire itself to cause him no harm, while a changeling who can fly might have either a Contract with the air to buoy him or with a bird to grant him its aspects.
What is important, however, is that the changeling does invoke the Contract with a bit of his own supernatural essence. In most cases, gaining the benefit of a Contract costs the changeling Glamour. With certain Contracts, a changeling must also or alternatively spend a point of Willpower, as invoking the Contract takes on an additional degree of focus. This is common among the more powerful Contracts, in which the results are so far beyond the pale of what the normal world expects to be possible, or when the natural forces behind the Contract are exceptionally reluctant to indulge their side of the bargain.
Contracts come in a variety of types. Each type is denoted by a symbolic element or governing entity that represents the Contracts associated with it. These elements or entities are, effectively, the signatories to the Contracts, the fire and air and birds described above. Some Contracts are open to all changelings: The "common" Contracts of Dream, Hearth, Mirror, and Smoke. Other Contracts rely upon seemings or Courts, and their powers are more dearly gained by those not of the favoured group.
THE MASK: A changeling’s true face is something hidden from most of the mortal world. Although the changeling’s physical body has been changed, ordinary humans and even most supernatural beings are unable to see the Lost for what he has become. They see instead the Mask, an illusion made of Glamour that hangs around each changeling and provides a human guise. The illusion is quite complete, able to deceive even film and digital media with only the occasional faint blur or after-effect.
The Mask is not a choice. It protects and disguises the Lost even when they would have it otherwise, even beyond death. The Mask seems to be another expression of the ancient pacts struck by the Fae to protect them and theirs from the eyes of common men and women. Though the Lost are no longer the Gentry’s in many ways, apparently changelings are still close enough for the purposes of this bargain. So they appear to be who they were instead of what they have become… for the most part. There’s always just a hint of the changeling to the Mask, be it skin that reminds someone just a bit of strong oak wood or eyes that sometimes seem to reflect light just like a cat’s, if even for an instant. The Mask may appear a few inches taller or shorter than the changeling’s true mien, or add or subtract 20 pounds or so. However, the Mask remains close to the mien’s actual size; an Ogre with the Giant Merit is clearly over-large, even to mortal eyes.
PLEDGES: The word-bond carries tremendous weight among the fairies, and even the renegade changelings understand the importance of one's pledge. An oath is never given lightly, a promise never casually made, for who knows when the Wyrd may entangle those words, tying them to the speaker's destiny? Among the many secrets of the Others changelings bore with them when they fled is the understanding of how to entangle words in the Wyrd. This is more than simply a means of making sure both parties uphold their ends of an agreement, however: the art of pledge-craft is an ancient one. Those who uphold their word with honour and forthrightness shall reap rewards of the world; those who fail to do so are punished appropriately.
DREAM MANIPULATION: The arts of dream manipulation are practised by many changelings. Though all have the ability to shape dreams, not all bother to hone the skill. True oneiromancers seek to understand the nuances of the human condition, as expressed through dreams. The Skill associated with oneiromancy is Empathy -- because changelings were once mortal, their manipulation of dreams is, of necessity, half psychology. They do not have the potency of Wyrd to wholesale reshape dreams the way the True Fae do, but if changelings understand what dreams mean and how they work, they can get the same result from a mortal dreamscape.
Decadent, sun-drenched Miami, the Gateway to the Americas.
A city that epitomizes both the beauty and the darkness at the core of Changeling.
From the neon-bedecked skyscrapers of downtown to the art-deco finery of South Beach and its endless nightclubs, Miami is one of the most beautiful cities in North America. And yet all that bright colour hides a heart as dark and foetid as any city in the World of Darkness. Drugs flow in from South America and the authorities are powerless to stop them. Poverty and crime are at obscene levels, and in the weird candy-colored light of the neon things alien and antithetical to humankind lurk. In the nearby Everglades paths twist and wind between the mangroves, folding in on themselves and trapping the unwary in a swampy Hedge inhabited by ancient, crocodilian nightmares.
This is not the Miami you may know. This is the Miami of the World of Darkness, where all the problems of the real world are magnified and layered atop an ever-shifting foundation of madness and the occult. The surface details are similar, but like a funhouse mirror, the World of Darkness reflects a distorted reflection of the world we know. This is a city of excess in all respects; the rich are richer, the hard partiers party harder and the desperate full of even more desperation.
On the moonlit night of September 23, 1946, three Changelings met in Miami's South Beach to forge a pledge that would usher in the creation of the Miami Freehold.
The first of these three was Tom Hood, the Headsman's Ghost and future King of Autumn. Taken by the Fae during his time serving the United States in World War Two, Hood was a survivor of both the brutalities of modern combat and the Gentry, and returned to his homeland possessing knowledge garnered from the Changelings of Europe. With him was Grandfather Thunder, the future King of Summer. Even by 1946 Thunder was a legend amongst the Lost of Miami; rumours were whispered that he had beaten one of the Gentry to death with his cold-iron hammer, and that he patrolled the waterfronts on stormy nights, roaring the name of his former Keeper. Rounding out the trio was Rose Thorne, the wily and cunning Changeling soon to become the Queen of Spring. No changeling could be found who embodied the ideals of the fourth court, Winter, something that remains a sour note for members of the Silent Arrow to this day.
With the Courts now established in name, the three leaders of the freehold began to spread their teachings, recruiting many of the city’s formerly Courtless changelings and establishing their power bases. Even to this day, the original territories of the Courts hold, more or less. Rose Thorne and her Spring Court claimed South Beach and the nightclub district, Grandfather Thunder and the Iron Spear solidified themselves in Liberty City, and Tom Hood took his Autumn Court and fortified himself in downtown Miami.
There was no Winter Court in Miami until the middle of the 1960s. For the first 19 years of the freehold’s history, the year was simply divided three ways instead of four. The precise origin of the Winter Court in Miami is subject to a good deal of hearsay and speculation, but the official story goes that the Silent Arrow was founded when a Courtless changeling called La Llorona managed to steal the original texts Tom Hood brought with him from France. La Llorona learned from them the secrets of the Winter Court and chose to make her own pledge with Winter. She brought her new teachings to several of the disenfranchised Courtless of the city, especially those living in the high-poverty, high-crime areas. In a surprise move, the Winter Court seized much of Liberty City from the Iron Spear and established a presence in the freehold.
The problem with this story is primarily that, by 1965, the Summer Court was already the largest and most powerful Court in the city, and it seems doubtful that an upstart Court could unseat Grandfather Thunder. Many changelings suspect that Grandfather Thunder was even then laying the seeds of his eventual takeover of the freehold, and that he introduced La Llorona to the teachings of Winter himself in order to place a wedge between Spring and Autumn.
Once the Winter Court established itself and its rightful rule over one-quarter of the year, the freehold settled down for the most part. The Summer Court won back a major victory against Winter in 1980, when the Liberty City Riots erupted in territory controlled by La Llorona and created a tremendous influx of wrath that fueled the Summer offensive. La Llorona herself was killed in the riots (although many Winter Court changelings continue to insist that a Summer Court assassin struck the killing blow) and was succeeded by Jeremiah Sleet, who holds the title of Winter King to this day.
The 1980s are often looked back on as the golden age of the freehold of Miami by many changelings. The decade started off joyously, as the Mariel Boatlift brought 125,000 Cuban refugees into the city. In what the Courts called an incidence of Wyrd creating sympathetic vibrations, concurrent with the Boatlift nearly 100 changelings arrived in the city, freshly escaped from Faerie. Many of these changelings (dubbed Marielitoseven though they were not part of the Mariel Boatlift) chose to settle permanently in Miami and bolstered the freehold ‘s power.
As the decade wore on and Miami became the principal point of entry into the United States for South American cocaine, Jeremiah Sleet and his Winter Court established themselves as major players in the drug trade, feeding off the sorrow it generated. Keeping pace with their rivals, changelings of the Summer Court rode (and at least partially influenced) the violent crime wave that came along with the influx of drugs and money. Meanwhile, the Spring Court increased its hold on the city’s pleasure districts and rode the high that came with Miami’s increasing reputation as America’s decadent tropical paradise. Tom Hood kept his own counsel, as he always had, but even the Leaden Mirror was flush with Glamour as the mortals grew to fear the encroachment of drug addiction, the criminals running rampant and even the immigrants taking their jobs.
If the ’80s were the golden age, the ’90s were the proverbial fall of the Roman Empire. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew ripped through Dade County just south of Miami, sparking panicked rumours of the return of the Great Miami Hurricane and its alleged True Fae masters. The rumour ultimately proved unfounded, but the storm’s earthly damage was no less severe. The city’s economy was devastated, and subsequent financial scandals earned the city the dubious honour of fourth poorest city in America. The drug wars continued to escalate, feeding the Summer Court’s wrath and allowing Grandfather Thunder to make his most audacious move yet.
On June 21, 1999, at the height of Grandfather Thunder’s reign, the King of Endless Summer announced that, by virtue of its climate and the general essence of the city’s character, Miami would henceforth be known as the City of Endless Summer and that the seasonal governance of the Courts was dissolved. He would still allow the other Courts to hold their current territories, and even to recruit new members, so long as all changelings swore an oath acknowledging the primacy of the Summer Court.
The Spring and Autumn Courts did not greet this news with much enthusiasm.
Had there been some co-ordination of efforts between Tom Hood and Rose Thorne, Thunder's pretensions to the sole rulership of Miami might have been relegated to an embarrassing footnote in the Freehold's history. Instead they made solitary moves against Summer, and found their forces outmatched in the brutal shadow war that erupted in the alleys and hidden places of Miami. Jeremiah Sleet and his Winter Court meanwhile, ever the outsiders within Freehold politics, accepted Thunder's terms on the condition that they were allowed to remain impartial to the fighting.
Amidst the carnage Tom Hood was murdered by Grandfather Thunder's lead enforcer, Deathless Ivan, and Rose Thorne was driven from the city limits, fleeing out into the recesses of the Everglades with her few remaining courtiers. There she has remained to this day, rallying her power base and attempting to re-gain lost ground. Recently, a semi-independent Spring Court has returned to Miami Beach. Derisively called 'Vichy Spring' by Rose’s loyalists, this branch of the Court is led by Maria Thorne, Rose’s 'daughter'. The Autumn Court, meanwhile, has withdrawn to its holdings in and around the University of Miami in an attempt to deal with their grief at the loss of the father of the freehold of Miami. In 2003, the Autumn Court finally chose a new leader in one of Tom Hood’s protégés, the Autumn Queen Naamah.
TRUE FAE: Thankfully for changelings, the Others are rarely en-countered in the mortal world, which possesses more than enough of its own dangers. Most wayfarers will never see another Fae after having escaped Faerie, and they strongly prefer to keep it that way. Even so, the fear of the Gentry, both for their own inherent solipsistic cruelty and because of the threat of being returned to Arcadia, is one of the greatest driving forces in a changeling’s life, and with good reason. When one of the Gentry is encountered, there is often little a changeling, or even a motley, can do to thwart its efforts. They are preternaturally endowed with skills and abilities the likes of which even the most adroit changeling cannot hope to rival alone. This often makes the best encounter with a True Fae the one that a changeling escapes from with his life.
LOYALISTS: The Fae rarely hunt openly. More common (and more insidious) are those who do their bidding. These loyalists, serving as spies, investigators and saboteurs, can often cause more harm to a freehold through their clandestine presence than could a direct raid by the Fae.
Some loyalists are unwitting spies. They may believe they are serving their Court or noble order in their clandestine observations, not realizing the identity of the individuals they re-port back to. Others, for one reason or another, serve their Fae mentors deliberately. These loyalists may believe such betrayals of other changelings will net greater profit than the price upon their newly returned souls and thus be willing to provide information, perform tasks or even act as subtle assassins, all while moving undetected among their changeling cousins. Not all of those who serve the Others knowingly, however, do so willingly. The Gentry are masters of manipulation, and more than one changeling has accepted what seems to be a sweet bargain with them, only to realize otherwise too late.
PRIVATEERS: Most changelings agree that capture and bondage at the hands of the Fae is not a fate they would wish on anybody, traumatised still by their own memories of their time in Arcadia. Most, but not all. There are some among the lost perfectly willing to hand mortals over to the creatures of the Hedge, or even the True Fae themselves, in exchange for power or influence. These mercenary figures, universally loathed by changeling society, are known as Privateers.
Unlike the Loyalists, Privateers are not motivated or compelled by their former captors. They capture humans, and sometimes even other changelings, for sale to the denizens of Arcadia of their own volition, arguably making them far more nefarious enemies for freehold society. An increase in disappearances can bring unwanted attention upon the lost, after all, and in cutting deals with the devil it is feared that the Privateers could unwittingly bring a terrible fate upon the freehold they operate within.
BRIDGE-BURNERS: The passageways between the lands of the Fae and the lands of humans are fraught with danger. But no risk found on the path is as great as the fact that they exist at all, at least according to some. These radical separationists believe the only safety from the insanity of Faerie and the predation of the True Fae comes in cutting off passage between Arcadia and the mortal world entirely. And they are willing to sacrifice anything - the lives of those still in Faerie, the safety of those around them, even their own changeling powers and eventually their lives - to ensure their goals come to fruition.
MILITIA: For generations, some particularly militant Lost have gathered others to themselves in the name of exacting retribution upon the Fae. Some militant Lost seek to merely stop the Fae’s marauding enslavement of humans; others to drive the Fae to annihilation, if such a thing is possible. The most ambitious seek not only to put an end to the Fae, but, finding no place for themselves in the mortal world, seek to claim Faerie for themselves and create a changeling realm within their former prison. For the most part, these groups have remained the stuff of drunken aggrandizing and wishful, if impractical, thinking. Even were the factions to muster a standing army, their incursion into Arcadia would likely be doomed. Vengeance, however, is a harsh mistress, and those driven by revenge often eschew logic in its stead.
What makes these militia antagonists is their zeal. They are willing to make “sacrifices” that the Summer Court would ordinarily revile, throwing pawn after pawn away in the effort to catch a single rook. It doesn’t matter that their pawns might have lived better lives if they hadn’t been recruited or press-ganged into the militia cause, or even used as unwitting bait or couriers to draw an enemy out of hiding. The war-hawks, in the pursuit of their cause, have become as callous toward their “comrades” and “fodder” as the Others.
HOBGOBLINS: Caught between the world of Faerie and mortal lands, the Hedge is home to a bizarre plethora of beings the likes of which are seen nowhere else. Some are constructed, willed and crafted into being by the True Fae, and then lost or discarded when their fae interest wanes. Others are freed intentionally to guard the byways of the Brambles against intruders. Some of the most macabre seem to be manifestations of the Hedge itself, weird creatures that make their home in the inhospitable Thorns, or have carved out a niche for themselves in a Hollow. These entities run the gamut from sentience to merely reacting to stimuli, and vary in size from infinitesimal to hulking masses. Some are stationary, others lethally mobile. And while some small few are fairly innocuous, seemingly content to merely eke out an existence in this bizarre zone, many are violently predatory. Unfortunately for those who must make their way through, looks are often deceiving, and what seems to be a harmless denizen might easily be their downfall. Just as the clearest passageways through the Hedge can hold the most danger, so the most mundane encounters within its walls can quickly turn deadly.
MIAMI AT A GLANCE
Climate: Miami has a humid, subtropical climate, verging on a true tropical clime. Although technically the city has only recorded triple-digit temperatures once in its history (July 21, 1942), the humidity often pushes the heat index up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The city does experience cold fronts from November through March, and even recorded snowfall once in 1977. Rain is abundant, with roughly six feet per year. Miami is statistically the most likely of any major city to be hit by a hurricane.
Economy: Despite Miami’s reputation as a city dependent on tourism, the city is a major financial centre, and a prime location for international commerce. Many corporations who do business in Latin America have regional headquarters in Miami, and the city’s airport and seaport are among the busiest in the country. Despite this, poverty is a very real problem in Miami, with almost 30% of the population below the poverty line.
Government: Miami is governed by an elected mayor and a council of five city commissioners representing the city’s five districts.
Population: The population is just over 350,000 in Miami proper, with 2.3 million in the larger urban area. The majority of the population is Hispanic, and Miami has the largest percentage of individuals who speak a language other than English at home. English, Spanish and Haitian Creole are the city’s official languages.
Media and Culture:The Miami Herald is the city’s primary English-language newspaper, with El Nuevo Herald and Diario Las Americas serving the Spanish-speaking population. The city has several professional sports teams, including the Miami Dolphins (football), the Miami Heat (basketball), the Florida Panthers (Hockey) and the Florida Marlins (baseball).
Miami’s central financial and business district runs from South 10th Street to North 17th Street, and from I-95 to the bay. The Miami River divides the neighbourhood into two sub-districts: north of the river is the shopping and government district most popular with tourists and the terminally trendy, while south of the river is the Brickell financial district. Downtown also hosts several large venues, including the American Airlines Arena (home of the Miami Heat) and the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, which includes an opera house and a concert hall. Downtown likewise hosts a sizeable club district, though one that doesn’t compare with Miami Beach. Still, some members of the Spring Court pre-fer the downtown scene, and changelings of all Courts who fancy themselves more cultured take in attractions such as the Bayfront Park Market and outdoor shows at the AT&T Amphitheatre. The Summer Court, unsurprisingly, attends athletic competitions regularly at the arena.
Downtown Miami is renowned for its unique skyline, with many of the buildings decked out in brilliant greens, pinks and orange neons that sometimes make the city look more like Las Vegas in Florida. Urban folklore holds that angels eat the light from those neon-lit buildings; whether or not angels find it palatable is open to debate, but changelings, at least, can gain a point of Glamour once per night by plucking a shard of neon light from the air and eating it.
Of more interest to most changelings, though, is the Court of the King of Endless Summer located in the abandoned Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Boulevard. This 255-foot skyscraper was used as a processing centre to document and provide medical and dental care to Cuban refugees in the 1960s and ’70s. The building was sold off in 1974, after the first major wave of immigration, but the hope and joy of all those people for whom the tower was the first taste of a life of freedom left an indelible imprint on the building. When it was eventually abandoned, the building became a haven for squatters and the homeless — still a place of refuge, albeit in a different way. Homeless children refer to it as “the big pink haunted house,” perhaps a reference to its mystical activity.
The upper floors of the building contain a Hollow; if one makes three right turns through three doorways on the top floor, one enters a space reminiscent of the building’s cupola, only considerably larger and decorated in the rich livery of the Summer Court. Thunder’s Courts are typically held in the early afternoon, with the sun at its peak and the city at its hottest. On his fiery throne, he hears grievances, settles disputes and addresses problems within the freehold. Lately, and distressingly, this has focused more on responding to alleged sightings of the Others and the disappearance of more than a few changelings.
Once an independent city in its own right, Coconut Grove stretches from N. Prospect Avenue in the south to the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Brickell Avenue in the north, and from Le Jeune Road in the west to Biscayne Bay in the east. Coconut Grove is one of the trendier and wealthier areas of Miami, famous for an annual art festival and the huge variety of restaurants in the district. Coconut Grove has a very Caribbean atmosphere, and hosts many festivals celebrating Caribbean lifestyle, cuisine and music throughout the year.
By night, Coconut Grove comes alive, with an ample selection of bars, nightclubs and shows that cater primarily to a younger crowd: students from the University of Miami, young professionals fresh off work in the financial district and the like. In keeping with the neighbourhood’s styling, many of these venues feature Caribbean music such as calypso or reggae.
In recent months, a peculiar story has begun circulating among the children of Coconut Grove; specifically among students at St. Stephen’s School, a private school for children up to sixth grade. The story came to the attention of a scholar of the Autumn Court while researching the childhood concept of fear, and she spread it to the rest of the Court of Fear, from whence it spread throughout the city.
The story goes that if a child is left unattended on school grounds and admonished to behave (specifically, to not engage in a specific behaviour or activity) while the adults are away, a terrible fiend called the Great Tall Tailor-Man will burst through the nearest door and horribly mutilate the misbehaving child. Often, the punishment is said to relate to the mandate the child broke: a child who peeps in a filing cabinet after being told not to look around has his eyes sewn shut, a child who sucks her thumb against the teacher’s authority has the digit snipped off and so on. Sometimes, the stories say, the Tailor carries the naughty child away to some unknown and grim fate.
Called the “City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is an independent city often lumped in with Miami due to the presence of the University of Miami. Coral Gables is very much a college town, with plenty of student housing, shops and restaurants, and a pedestrian-friendly layout. The city is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its strict aesthetic regulations, covering everything from mandatory bicycle racks to requiring that all buildings, even parking structures, maintain architectural styles that complement their neighbours.
Without a doubt, the University of Miami is the city’s most prominent landmark, with its 240-acre campus and several satellite campuses around town. The Autumn Court is thick on the ground here, with quite a few of its members either enrolled or ensconced in staff positions (mostly security, janitorial and similar menial jobs, but at least one Darkling has tenure in the psychology department), and they vigorously defend their “turf” against encroachment. Naamah, the Autumn Queen, holds court on every gibbous moon in the John C. Gifford Arboretum on campus, and several of the younger courtiers are known for putting on a very impressive (and exclusive) Halloween party, complete with “haunted” house (which actually winds into the Hedge in one or two instances, if the stories are to be believed).
Between 36th and 85th Streets, bordered by U.S. Route 1 and Miami Avenue, lies Little Haiti. Little Haiti (or La Petite Haïti) began life as Lemon City, a small agricultural town known for its lemon groves. Lemon City was annexed by Miami in 1925, and over the years, a steady stream of Haitian immigrants gave the district its new name.
Haitian markets and restaurants abound in the district, and voodoo is practised prominently (albeit usually in secret for fear of discrimination). Thanks to the efforts of several prominent citizens, Little Haiti is gradually experiencing an urban rejuvenation, including the development of the trendy Miami Design District in the southern tip of the district, but crime and poverty still remain very real problems. The Winter Court, in particular, has worked against the renewal process, as Little Haiti is one of the Court’s pre-eminent markets in the drug trade.
Recently, the neighbourhood has been the site of several violent vigilante attacks on drug dealers; at least three have been beaten to death and dumped at the feet of the statue of General Toussaint L’Ouverture on the corner of 62nd Street and Miami Avenue. One of the victims was an ensorcelled ally of the Winter Court, and several members of the Silent Arrow suspect the Summer Court’s involvement.
Little Havana was once one of the largest Cuban neighbourhoods in the state. Ironically, despite the neighbourhood’s name, recent years have shown a trend toward an exodus by Cuban Americans and an influx of immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Part of the neighbourhood is actually referred to now as “Little Managua.” Never the-less, Cuban culture remains a prominent part of the neighbourhood and draws many tourists.
The neighbourhood is best known for its annual Calle Ocho Street Festival, a part of Carnival. The massive celebration takes place on 8th Street (hence the name “Calle Ocho”) between 27th Avenue and 4th Avenue and attracts more than one million visitors each year, including a sizeable portion of the city’s changeling population. Calle Ocho has been a tradition among all the Courts, but especially the Antler Crown, for 15 years, and is generally treated as an excuse to cut loose and enjoy the wild side of life.
Assumed by many to be a neighborhood of Miami, Miami Beach is actually an independent city, albeit closely linked to Miami. Miami Beach occupies the largest of the barrier islands in Biscayne Bay, and is linked to the mainland by three causeways: I-195, the Venetian Causeway and MacArthur Causeway. Famous for its Art Deco district, Miami Beach has been a popular tourist destination for decades; the famous South Beach district in particular has been greatly re-vitalized by the tourist trade. Before the area was made world famous as a primary shooting location for Miami Vice, much of South Beach was home to retirees living in small tenements and to the famous “cocaine cowboys,” the entrepreneurial early smugglers of cocaine into the United States.
No mention of Miami Beach would be complete with-out a discussion of the clubs, bars and nightspots that make the city famous. South Beach (composed of the southern-most 23 blocks of the island) is the most prominent night-club district on the island, and “exclusive” barely begins to describe it. Typical covers range from $20 to $60, and if the door staff doesn’t like your look, you won’t get in even with the money. The clubs themselves are mercurial and ever-changing; one might even suspect them of being owned by the Others. A goth industrial club that was all the rage last season might become a hip-hop club that no one would be seen dead in this season; obviously, one must be extremely astute to navigate the South Beach social scene.
Maria Thorne and her faction hold the deeds to three clubs in South Beach: one on Ocean Drive and two more on Washington Street. Currently, they are called Kim’s, the Condor and Born, though they may well change at a moment’s notice. Vichy Spring claims no actual territory, though, and South Beach is a common haunt for changelings of all Courts. The clubs are popular places to get a Glamour-buzz, negotiate backroom deals or just hook up and get laid (mortals don’t have a monopoly on drunken debauchery, after all).
Directly north of Downtown Miami lies Overtown, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. Created in 1896, the same year Miami was incorporated, Overtown was born out of the Jim Crow laws of the day. The law restricted where blacks were permitted to live, and so the land west of Henry Flagler’s railroad tracks was given over to the (mostly black) rail workers and became known as “Coloured Town”. In its early years, the district was a vibrant and active part of the community and a popular tourist destination, frequently featuring entertainment by the era’s most prominent artists, including Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. Over the years, though, as the discriminatory laws were repealed and many residents moved out, the area became one of the poorest places in all of southern Florida. Today, Overtown is a violent, gang-ridden neighbourhood with one of the highest murder rates per capita in the country.
Overtown is a bastion of the more aggressive members of the Summer Court, and at least a few of the street gangs in the neighbourhood are either led by or composed entirely of Iron Spear soldiers. The close proximity to downtown means easy access to the Court in the Freedom Tower as well.
Along with Overtown, Liberty City is Miami’s largest African American community, with more than half of the city’s African American population. The neighbourhood runs east from 27th Avenue to I-95, and from 97th Street south to 41st Street. Liberty City was named for the low-income Liberty Square Housing Project built in the late 1930s to relieve crowding in Overtown. In the 1960s, Liberty City achieved notoriety as the location of the first fully interracial congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the American South. In 1980, the neighbourhood again came to prominence, though for a less noble reason: the acquittal of five white police officers involved in the fatal beating of a black motorist touched off a three-day riot that could not be quelled even by the deployment of 1,000 National Guardsmen and earned Miami a “disaster area” label by the federal government.
Today, Liberty City fares little better than the neighbourhood it was founded to help. An extremely poor neighbourhood, Liberty City has a high index of violent crime and gang activity; in 1998, a drug war between rival factions of the John Does street gang served as a smokescreen for a skirmish between the Winter and Summer Courts, with the Silent Arrow retaking a sizeable chunk of the territory the Court had lost in the riots 18 years earlier.
The Hedge around Miami takes on a semblance of the Everglades that once covered the area: dense, swampy paths wind through impossibly tangled mangroves, and sawgrass lashes thirstily at anyone foolish enough to leave the path. Closer to the mortal world, the detritus of the city bleeds through: used needles, spent shell casings and other relics of the sordid side of life litter the Hedge. In some places, the “path” is not a path at all, but a waterway navigable by barge or raft. Several changelings have reported encountering strange, Charon-like beings poling roughly made barges along these watery trods, witch-lanterns glowing on the ends of their poles.
Supposedly, these boatmen will ferry a changeling through the Hedge for a pledge of Glamour or a small token.
Every Saturday from the witching hour till dawn, the Bayside Marketplace becomes a haven for nightmares. Goblin barges, poled by strange creatures from the depths of the Hedge, dock along the deserted quays to hawk their wares. Most weeks, the Market is fairly small and consists mainly of a dozen or so barges and boats tied up along the pier. Every new moon night, though, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of goblin watercraft converge on the bay, lay anchor and run gangplanks from dock to dock. In this floating warren of maze-like walkways, an innumerable bounty of goblin fruits, tokens and dreamscapes are bought and sold, alongside wares even stranger and more surreal.
Despite being tied so intimately to an earthly locale, the Goblin Market actually takes place in the Hedge, albeit very close to the mortal realm. On the smaller market nights, each barge sets up a simple, empty doorframe on the dock; patrons walk the pier in the mortal realm and step into the Hedge at each market stall to inspect the wares. On the nights of the grander market, those who know the key can enter the Hedge by passing under an archway near the water while holding a finger bent like a shepherd’s crook over the heart. These larger markets are a dizzying affair to navigate. One urban legend among changelings holds that part of the Goblin Market’s Contract is that the Others may take any unfortunate who gets lost amid the shifting mass of decks, planks and rope bridges. Prudent changelings hire an experienced guide, or just avoid the Market altogether on those nights: just in case.
A Seeming is a label for changelings who have undergone similar transformations while being held prisoner in the Faerie realm. It is largely a reflection of the experiences and environment the Lost was held in before escaping. Changelings who share a Seeming often share not only physical traits, but psychological and emotional ones as well; they have shared common experiences of Faerie, and were often captured by or drawn to their Keepers in similar ways.
Seemings may be further categorised into Kiths, Changelings who share very specific similarities beyond those of their Seeming. While their supernatural changes might be similar, however, Changelings of the same Seeming, or even the same Kith, may have radically different Miens.
“A story tells of a man who, on the final leg of a long journey, sheltered from a storm in an empty palace.
As he leaves, he takes a rose from a garden. The owner of the palace, a aerie in the shape of a terrible Beast appears and catches him, and tells him he must die. The man begs to live, for he has a daughter whom he loves, and the beast demands that the daughter come and stay with him. The man agrees, although he has no intention of sending his daughter away.
When he returns home, he finds that his daughter has died. In truth, the Beast has taken her away and left a fake to die in her place. The Beast treats the girl well, certainly, but she cannot leave. One day, having lost all hope of escape, she agrees to become the Beast’s wife.
There is no ceremony, only an agreement, a veil and a wedding night. And on that wedding night, she lays with him, and she becomes like him.
A Beast forever, her memory and thought washed away in the flood of sensation, the tyranny of the now.”
Losing yourself to instinct can mean losing your very humanity: this is a truth the Changelings known as Beasts understand all too well. Their Seemings are connected to the animal world. They come in many shapes and sizes, and may be tied to a particular type of animal, an animalistic concept, or even an animal that never existed in the real world.
Beasts were all used by their Keepers as animals in one form or another, and they all bear at least some bestial features. Many were innocents, lured into the Hedge by the tempting excitement of the wild, but regardless they felt the pull and power of raw instinct and sensation.
Beasts are blessed with a wild nature that gives them an affinity with animals and a raw, bestial attractiveness that they may use to gain favour with humans. This same animalism is also their curse, however; their ties to instinct and the simpler thoughts of the animal world make it hard for them apply themselves to cerebral tasks unless they have had training in a specific area, and they are rarely able to access human levels of mental insight.
Broadback - beasts of burden. Blessing: Stoic Forbearance.
Coldscales - kin to reptiles of all kinds. Blessing: Reptilian Blood.
Hunterheart - predators and hunters. Blessing: Tooth and Claw.
Skitterskulk - creepy-crawlies, spiders and insects. Blessing: Impossible Counterpoise.
Steepscrambler - climbers and tree-dwellers. Blessing: Gifted Climber.
Swimmerskin - aquatic beasts of all kinds. Blessing: Natural Swimmer.
Venombite - poisonous creatures, from snakes to scorpions. Blessing: Poisonous Bite.
Windwing - flying beasts. Blessing: Gift of the Sky.
Fang & Talon
“This story begins with a hill, somewhere not far away, and they say that the Invisible Throng congregate there, three times a year. The rules are simple. From sunrise to sunset on that night, the people must not speak of the Invisible Throng, and from sunset to sunrise of that night, they must not leave their homes.
Consider the young man of courage and curiosity, who would rather see the faeries for himself. He tells his sweetheart, the sweetest girl in fifty miles, that he wishes to see the faeries that morning, and she recoils in horror, and says that he must not speak of — but it is too late, and she has spoken of them, too. She cries, and says that she will not go with him. And she retires that night with her rosary and she prays.
And the young man of courage and curiosity hides at sunset on the mound, in a tree. And he sees them, as they swoop from the sky in their hundreds, and without warning they descend upon the tree and sweep the young man of courage and curiosity away, and the tree with him.
And one hour before dawn, the sweetest girl in fifty miles hears the voice of her sweetheart at her window, begging to be let in. She goes to the door and steps outside to embrace him, and she, too, is gone.
One day the young man, still of great courage but no longer of great curiosity, will escape. His sweetheart never will.
She is theirs forever.”
A person's actions always have consequences: this is a truth the Changelings known as Darklings understand all too well. Many were stolen away as the consequence of attracting the attention of the Fae, and find themselves forever tainted by shadow and darkness. They often resemble folk tale creatures of the night or underground: grave-wights, banshees, kobolds and weirder things still. Every one of them is unsettling in appearance, with many gaunt, tall and thin.
Whether experimented upon, chained in a factory as slave labour or simply tossed in a dungeon and forgotten by their Keepers, all Darklings were kept from the light of Faerie. Their memories of their durance are usually full of foreboding, fears sensed and ever-present, but never revealed. Many Darklings share a sense of curiosity, and most crossed some kind of line that brought them to Faerie, whether they are aware of the nature of their transgression or not.
Darklings are possessed of a cunning born of darkness. Each and every one can think quickly and lie well, and they are all gifted at concealment. Their time away from the light, however, has made it anathema to them, and they find their magics difficult during daylight hours.
Antiquarian - keepers of ancient lore and artefacts. Blessing: Keys to Knowledge.
Gravewight - creatures who feel more at home among the dead than the living. Blessing: Charnel Sight.
Leechfinger - faeries who steal the life from mortal folk. Blessing: Sap the Vital Spark.
Mirrorskin - masters of disguise whose real forms are malleable as clay. Blessing: The Mercurial Visage.
Tunnelgrub - dwellers in the tight spaces and darkness underneath. Blessing: Slither and Squirm.
“Once upon a time a girl was taken by a cruel faerie who lived in the river, who forced her to become his bride.
She stayed for a while, for a few years, no more, and in that time, he enchanted her and changed her, and she became a Rusalka, who lured the innocent into the river and gave them to her husband to eat. One day, she escaped her cruel husband and returned to her hometown by the river, to see her family and her sweetheart. But oh, the Rusalka had changed so much. Her hair was green now, and her skin was cold, and the rushing of the river was in her voice.
And oh, when her cruel husband took her he was cunning, and he left behind a false girl who sickened and died in her place, and so her family did not recognize her for they thought that she was dead. And oh, her sweetheart had married someone else and had forgotten her for another’s caresses. So the Rusalka walked through the streets of her hometown, and could see that there was nothing for her there. And so she returned to the river, telling herself that her cruel husband would take her back.
And a day later, the pieces of a girl’s dismembered corpse were washed up on the river bank at the
edge of the town, one by one, and because no one knew who she was they buried her in an unmarked grave.
And there was no one to mourn.”
You cannot go back to what you once were: this is a truth the Changelings known as Elementals understand all too well. While most other Lost became the way they did through simply living in a faerie's home and eating faerie food and doing faerie work, the Elementals were often deliberately changed. Transformed into slaves of some kind or another or features of the land until one day, they awoke to themselves and realised they had to escape. Their memories of Faerie are often difficult to understand. Some know that once, they understood what it was to be a tree, or a stone, or a mound of earth. Some remember being lost to enchantment, becoming a clockwork doll or a lover made of ice. Others recall being lost in an environment now alien to them: perhaps the changeling served as a manservant in a flying city of glass or a blazing city made all of brass.
The Elementals were often those whom the Fae desired in some way, those whom they sought out and went to some effort to kidnap. Most were already exceptional in some way. Perhaps the changeling was beautiful enough to excite a faerie's desire. Perhaps they needed a guard or a servant of some kind. A musician or dancer could become the prize of a Fae who fancied himself a doyen of the arts. When they come back, they still possess those talents that attracted the Fae to them in the first place, but now their element alters it in many ways, some subtle, some less so. Some, however, wandered into the Hedge on their own, in some ways bearing the marks of whatever thorny wasteland they wandered in before being taken to Faerie.
The Elementals are further removed from humanity than other changelings, and find humans harder to understand and to influence.
Airtouched - the Elementals of wind, cloud, smoke, and sky, who can be as healthy as a fresh breeze or as pestilent as the miasma that surrounds the dead.
Earthbones - Changelings who have the mark of earth and stone: lumpen Paracelsian Gnomes, sand spirits, dour men of peat and dwarfs made of mountain granite.
Fireheart - Elementals marked with fire, heat or electricity.
Manikin - Changelings who have the character of man-made objects, such as caryatids, mannequins, and other, stranger things, such as enchanted beings powered by clockwork or steam or living bodies made of mercury or glass.
Snowskin - The Children of the cold, who can be as powerful as the Arctic ice or as delicate as a snowflake.
Waterborn - Changelings who are imbued with the nature of the waters, soft and brutal, gentle and mighty: undines and nymphs, man-eating river demons, water babies, ladies of the lake.
Woodblood - The children of the plants: Green Men, flower faeries, spirits of mandrake, rose, thorns and all manner of medicinal herbs fair and foul.
“Once upon a time there was a young man, who dreamed of the love of a beautiful girl in his village. One night, he made a special cake from a recipe he learned from his grandmother, and he waited in the dark for a faerie to come and take it. The door opened; a dark, tall faerie came in. He said to the faerie, “Not for you,” but he sinned in this: he shouldn’t have spoken to her. So he sat and waited a little longer, and the door opened; a loathsome hag stepped in. The hag reached out her hand for the cake, but the young man tapped her on the wrist and said, “Not for you.” He sinned in this: he shouldn’t have touched her.
So he sat and he waited a little longer, and the door opened; a lady of unearthly beauty and grace stepped in, and he could say nothing, so stunned was he, and the lady said, “For me,” and took the cake. She stayed with him after that, this lady. She granted his wishes, but somehow they were always twisted.
He wished for money, and soon he married a rich but ugly old woman, in the hopes that she would die and leave him her wealth. The old woman proved healthier than he could have imagined, and was cruel and mean. The youth turned to his Fae lady again and wished the old woman dead. True to her word the Fae lady brought the plague to the town and the old woman died, but so did the young man’s sweetheart. He gained the mean old woman’s riches but his love was dead, and he wished himself dead, and he fell into a deep sleep. He awoke in his coffin, buried six feet under the ground, and as he began to beat upon the wood, he heard a sweet, sweet voice say, “For me.”
And if anyone were to dig up his coffin, they would find nothing there but dried leaves and stones.”
Beauty can be a curse: this is a truth the Changelings known as Fairest understand all too well. For them Faerie should have been - and in some sense was - bright and wonderful. They embody the wonder and beauty ever-present in folklore: the elves, the Shining Ones, the fairy maidens and dashing fairy knights. But theirs is a beauty not of this world; they are wondrous to look on, but they're too perfect. Their faces may be too symmetrical, or their features impossibly angular or chiseled; perhaps they literally glow with a warm light. They are still changelings, and their true forms are still inhuman.
The Fairest are frequently taken for their beauty, but usually this is not the only reason. Each has some other quality or talent that attracted their Keeper, most often artistic skill or the ability to play music or perform. Since this skill becomes their sole reason for their existence in Faerie, Fairest sometimes become obsessed with it, desperate to prove their worth. They are, however, almost without exception supremely social creatures, used to admiration and hungry for approval.
While the Fairest were ostensibly loved by their Keepers, such clear and pure emotion is unknown to the Fae; what passes for love among them can seem like obsession, cruelty, slavery or worse to mortals.
The Fairest live up to their name: not only are they physically appealing, but they are enchanting in a literal sense: their magics allow them to make the most of their beauty, and get what they want. All social activities come naturally to them, but perversely, they also find it hard to truly come to peace with themselves. Of all Changelings, they are the most likely to lose their sense of Clarity.
Bright One - the shining Changelings who embody the beauty of light in all its forms. Blessing: Goblin Illumination.
Draconic - inheritors of the blood of Faerie's "great beasts", from dragons to demons. Blessing: Dragon's Talon.
Flowering - the epitome of nature's beauty. Blessing: Seductive Fragrance.
Muse - beauties who inspire great art by their presence alone. Blessing: The Tyranny of Ideas.
“Once upon a time there was once a troll, a beast who dined on human flesh and carved knife-handles out of the bones. Business was good, and the troll decided that he needed assistance in his workshop.
One night, he stole into a village and took away three sons of a shoemaker. The ogre worked the three boys in his workshop, on the drill and lathe and chisel and awl for long hours. Every day, at dawn, he beat them, and he fed them on scraps of raw flesh. One night, the eldest boy took one of the knives he had made for the troll and crept in upon him while he was sleeping. But the knife shrieked out loud and would not kill the troll, and the troll awoke and cooked the boy in a pie and forced each of his brothers to eat a slice, before he beat them so hard that they were all bruises.
The second son made a pick so that he could open the lock on the door of the troll’s workshop, and at night he crept to the door and picked the lock. But the troll was waiting behind the door, and he chopped the boy up and cooked him in a stew, and fed it to the youngest son before beating him so hard that his teeth were all broken and his mouth was all blood.
The third boy worked so hard and so well in the workshop that the monster could find fewer and fewer reasons to beat him, and the knives the boy made were beautifully carved, and the troll found that he could sell them for more gold than he ever had before. One day, the troll came into the workshop, and he leaned over the boy’s shoulder as the boy carved the knife handle, and the boy pointed out a detail of the carving, and the troll craned closer to look, and quick as lightning the boy turned his hand and stabbed the troll in the eye. And that was the end of the troll.
The boy wanted to run away, but he turned back and saw that the workshop was now empty. And he didn’t leave. He ate the troll’s food and slept in the troll’s bed. And now he dines on human flesh, and carves knife handles from the bones.
And business is good. One day soon, he will need assistance.”
Abuse can create abusers: this is a truth the Changelings known as Ogres understand all too well. They resemble the big, brutish figures of folklore, like the troll under the bridge or the Cyclops of Greek myth. Ogres serve as guards, gladiators, and heavy labourers in Arcadia because of their outstanding strength. Due to their hardiness, Ogres endure particularly vicious and bloody Durances. Once back in the real world, Ogres are stereotyped as universally dumb, but are feared for their prowess nonetheless.
Ogres are big and imposing figures. Some are kidnapped because of their size and strength and are honed to frightening proportions in Arcadia. Some are taken because they were already cruel and intimidating in the mortal world, and could be used as weapons by the Fae.
Ogres are some of the most monstrous-looking of the Changelings and are even imposing to humans. They are often misshapen in some way, with abnormally tough skin, pustules, or tusks. This can make others wary and rightfully so, since Ogres are capable of outstanding feats of strength. Most of them continue to build their physical abilities and many are used as enforcers. And while they are not necessarily stupid, they can be gullible and rash.
Cyclopeans - monstrous hunters and guardians. Blessing: Smell the Blood.
Farwalkers - hairy and stealthy wild men. Blessing: The Elusive Gift.
Gargantuans - can grow to a gigantic size. Blessing: Spurious Stature.
Gristlegrinders - possessed of voracious appetites. Blessing: Terrible Teeth.
Water-Dwellers - appear as water demons of folklore. Blessing: Lie Under the Waves.
“You know this story.
It’s night. A man drives along a lonely country road. He sees lights in the sky. They swoop down, engulf the car. He blacks out. When he comes to, he is driving along that same stretch of road. He’s travelled maybe a quarter of a mile, but his watch says he’s been gone five hours. It’s nearly dawn. When he gets home, his wife notices that he is covered with little scars that look like healed-up burns. He says he’s sore and itchy all over.
Over the coming months, the man will begin to recall being taken into a strange circular room, and being experimented on by small, pale, dark-eyed creatures. It’s a classic abduction scenario.
Except… the truth is, this man who comes back with all his memories and relationships, he isn’t a man at all. He’s a thing made of sticks and stones, and he doesn’t even know who he isn’t. The real man is still in the clutches of the beings that took him. They’re still doing their experiments.
They’re swapping his eyes around. They’re repositioning his internal organs. They’re taking out his hair one strand at a time and slicing off his nose and sewing on a different one. They’re draining his blood out. And all the time he’s conscious. And all the time, each different procedure is turning him into one of them.
And worst of all, they are doing it to him for no reason. They’re not learning anything. They’re not even doing it for fun.”
Bad things can happen to people for no reason: this is a truth the Changelings known as Wizened understand all too well. They are the ones who embody the 'little people' and 'wise women' (or men) of fairy myth. They are unmatched artisans and tinkerers, and generally excel at a particular skill or occupation, whether butler or artisan, clerk or fortune teller.
The Wizened often seem to have less in common than other Seemings - they come from a diverse number of backgrounds. Many were taken on a whim or stumbled into the Hedge through bad luck. They may have served any number of functions for their Keepers or merely been the butt of cruel "jokes", but they are without exception known for their cunning and nimbleness - traits necessary to escape the clutches of the true Little People.
While they always seem like 'little people', the Wizened are not necessarily small in size: some may be tall and thin, but walk with a stoop, while others may be normally proportioned yet give the feeling that there's somehow less of them. They are without exception extremely dexterous and nimble, a trait that applies equally in combat; though few are great warriors, all are good at avoiding the blows of enemies. Their long suffering however, has made them ill-equipped to deal with others, and their social skills are somewhat lacking.
Artist - master craftsmen, artisans or artists; gnomes, elves and goblin-smiths. Blessing: Impeccable Craftsmanship.
Brewer - possessors of secret fairie recipes. Blessing: The Inebriating Elixir.
Chatelaine - the perfect butlers, manservants without peer; in formal circumstances their social skills are second to none. Blessing: Perfect Protocol.
Chirurgeon - Changelings able to work magic with blade and scalpel. Blessing: The Analeptic Charm.
Oracle - Changelings with the ability to tell fortunes. Blessing: Panomancy.
Smith - forgers of Faerie weapons and superb equipment. Blessing: Steel Mastery.
Soldier - drafted into Faerie armies, these Wizened find battle is second nature to them. Blessing: Blade Lore.
The Courts are the primary structures of Changeling society. Each Court represents both a philosophy and a supernatural pact with an aspect of the world that helps Changelings bolster their existence in the mortal realm, making them less vulnerable to the attentions of the Fae. Most Courts also draw power from a specific emotion which is associated with the powers of the Court; Changelings of the Court find it easier to harvest Glamour from their Court's emotion.
Each freehold has its own local Courts, usually reflections of the larger Court structures known to Changelings. The best-known Court structure (at least in the West) operates on a seasonal system, but there are Courts which are affiliated with different Earthly phenomena. The structure of a freehold's Courts is usually heavily influenced by the cultural heritage of the area and the folk tales and superstitions known to its members. All that really matters is that the Courts' affiliation somehow confounds the Fae; this may be achieved through ties to cyclical events, as the Fae are unchanging, or by the sharing of power, a concept alien to the Gentry.
The Antler Crown, The Emerald Court, The Court of Desire
“There’s only one reason to get away from Faerie, miss, and you know it. We come back to Earth to leave the dreams behind.
Feels good to finally wake up, doesn’t it? Thing is, there’s no point in getting back to Earth if we don’t get back to real life. Too many of us get all tied up in just being away and not getting caught that we don’t think about what we’re gonna do now. We have to move forward, and we have to enjoy ourselves: there’s no other way to escape all that misery we all share.
But it doesn’t have to be one or the other, fun or safety. With us, the Spring Court, leaving the past behind is our defence. No offence, but I’ve seen you dance, miss, and I think you know it. You’re not just enjoying yourself and making friends.
You’re keeping them away.”
ASSOCIATED EMOTION: Desire
The Iron Spear, The Crimson Court, The Court of Wrath
“No, I don’t worry about Them at all, and you don’t need to either. Okay, well, that’s an exaggeration. They’re always out there, and we’re Their prey, but we have sharper teeth than we did the first time Their hounds took us down. This time, we’re ready to fight back.
And that’s really what you want to do, isn’t it? You’d have to be damned stupid to pretend they’re not coming, and you don’t look like a hider to me. No, when they come back, you want to be there with a gun and a sword in your hands. I don’t know about you — I have a guess, but I don’t know — but I want to make them bleed when they come for me.
And you look like someone I’d want at my back.”
ASSOCIATED EMOTION: Wrath
The Leaden Mirror, The Ashen Court, The Court of Fear
“The Fae gave us the weapons to fight them when they took our lives away. They just don’t know it. See, they think our memories fail us when we escape to Earth. For the most part, they’re right. But I remember some of what I saw there. A lot of what I remember… don’t get me wrong, it was Hell. But even Hell has its miracles.
In between all the things I never want to see again are the little wonders. Dropping a leaf from the ground upward to a tree. Food appearing on a table. Paths turning inward on each other so you never find your way out — well, that one’s a mixed blessing. I hated it, and still do, but I love the magic.
Look at yourself. You have the same light in your eyes I did when I realized that I’d stolen from Faerie as much as they stole from me.”
ASSOCIATED EMOTION: Fear
The Silent Arrow, The Onyx Court, The Court of Sorrow
“Jesus, will you shut up? There’s a war on out there, and if you’re too loud you’ll end up in somebody’s sights. Better to stay down in a foxhole. Down here, you’re hard to see, which is good because the war’s nearly invisible. But it’s there, it’s deadly, and it’s much, much better to be out of the way where we are right now. Can’t see you, can’t shoot you, right?
See, you may have forgotten most of Faerie, but Faerie hasn’t forgotten you. It wants you back. And the world may look normal to you, but you, you stick out like sore thumb. Gotta learn how to hide that, the mien. Put it away where they can’t find you, and you’ll be fine. Some of us go ahead and fight back, killing in the dark like, but I prefer to stay out of it.
I’m gonna live forever.”
ASSOCIATED EMOTION: Sorrow
A Quick Guide
1. THE BASICS
1.1: Record your character's Name, and your character's rough Concept (a quick summary/snapshot of what your character is all about).
1.2: Choose your character's Virtue (a positive personality aspect that allows your character to regenerate Willpower when it is performed).
1.3: Choose your character's Vice (a negative personality aspect that allows your character to regenerate Willpower when it is performed).
2.1: Record your initial Attribute points, which represent your character's innate capabilities. Every character begins the game with one point in each Attribute (this is usually recorded on sheets, but its best to make sure).
2.2: Assign your Attribute category priorities. These categories are MENTAL (Intelligence, Wits and Resolve), PHYSICAL (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) and SOCIAL (Presence, Manipulation, Composure). One is your PRIMARY category, the other your SECONDARY category and the final your TERTIARY category.
2.3: Place 5 points in any configuration into the Attributes of your PRIMARY category. No single Attribute may go above FIVE points at this time.
2.4: Place 4 points in any configuration into the Attributes of your SECONDARY category. No single Attribute may go above FIVE points at this time.
2.5: Place 3 points in any configuration into the Attributes of your TERTIARY category. No single Attribute may go above FIVE points at this time.
3.1: Skills represent your character's learned capabilities. Assign your Skill category priorities. These categories are MENTAL (Academics, Computer, Crafts, Investigation, Medicine, Occult, Politics, and Science), PHYSICAL (Athletics, Brawl, Drive, Firearms, Larceny, Survival, Stealth, and Weaponry) and SOCIAL (Animal Ken, Empathy, Expression, Intimidation, Persuasion, Socialize, Streetwise, and Subterfuge). One is your PRIMARY category, the other your SECONDARY category and the final your TERTIARY category.
3.2: Place 11 points in any configuration into the ten skills of your PRIMARY category. No single Skill may go above FIVE points at this time.
3.3: Place 7 points in any configuration into the ten skills of your PRIMARY category. No single Skill may go above FIVE points at this time.
3.4: Place 4 points in any configuration into the ten skills of your PRIMARY category. No single Skill may go above FIVE points at this time.
4. SKILL SPECIALITIES
4.1: Assign 3 Skill Specialities to any skill of your choice. Specialities represent further refinements of a skill that your character possesses, such as knowledge of a specific type of weapon or a particular field of academia.
4.2: These three Specialities can all be assigned to one Skill, or spread amongst several.
4.3: Skill Specialities add additional dice when they are invoked during a skill check.
5. CHANGELING TEMPLATE
5.1: Choose your character's SEEMING. This reflects their experience during their time in Arcadia, and is the manner in which their fae nature manifests itself. The choices are BEAST, DARKLING, ELEMENTAL, FAIREST, OGRE or WIZENED.
5.1.1: Each Seeming comes with both a BLESSING and CURSE, which you should note.
5.1.2: A Seeming provides a free Skill Speciality to either ATHLETICS, BRAWL or STEALTH rolls, representing the way in which a Changeling's physical form has been altered by their time in Arcadia.
5.2: Choose your character's KITH, a sub-group of their Seeming that further refines what sort of Changeling they are and provides an additional BLESSING.
5.3: Choose your character's COURT, representing the group within Changeling society they have sworn loyalty to. The Courts are SPRING (Desire), SUMMER (Wrath), AUTUMN (Fear) and WINTER (Sorrow). Your character also has the option to remain COURTLESS, if they so choose.
5.4: Purchase your character's CONTRACTS. You have FIVE points to spend on them, and at least TWO must be spent on either Seeming or Court contracts.
5.4.1: Each point of a Contract (also called a clause) must be purchased in order; you cannot purchase the second point without purchasing the first, for example.
5.4.2: The fifth point of a Contract costs double.
5.4.3: Goblin Contracts can be purchased during character creation, but contracts more powerful than two points are not available.
6.1: Record your HEALTH. This is equal to your STAMINA+SIZE score.
6.2: Record your CLARITY, which tracks the delicate balance between the mundane world and the maddening realms of Glamour. This begins at 7 for all Changelings.
6.3: Record your WILLPOWER. This is equal to your RESOLVE+COMPOSURE.
6.4: Record your GLAMOUR. A character begins play with a number of Glamour points equal to half his Glamour pool as determined by Wyrd (rounded up). For beginning Changelings, this is 5.
6.5: Record your WYRD rating, which begins at 1.
6.6: Record your SIZE. Unless improved by Merits or Seemings, this is 5.
6.7: Record your SPEED. This is equal to STRENGTH+DEXTERITY+5.
6.8: Record your INITIATIVE modifier. This is equal to DEXTERITY+COMPOSURE.
6.9: Record your DEFENCE rating. This is equal to the lowest of either your DEXTERITY or WITS score.
6.10: Record your ARMOUR RATING (if you have one), which is obtained from Equipment.
7. MERITS & FLAWS
7.1: Select your character's MERITS. You have SEVEN points to spend on them.
7.1.1: Changelings have access to both the regular MORTAL merits listed in the core rulebook (provided they are not restricted to Mortal characters only), and also the exclusive Changeling merits.
7.1.2: The fifth point of any Merit costs double.
7.1.3: If a merit has any prerequisites, these must be met before it can be purchased.
7.2: FLAWS can be taken at character creation to enhance a character and to provide additional experience in-game.