Oathfriend — Card Notes

OathfriendOaths are not taken lightly in fae society. For a Seelie person, breaking an oath is one of the worst transgressions imaginable. As the Seelie Code states, “Never forget a debt: […] An oath of friendship should be answered with a corresponding oath. Never refuse to aid anyone to whom you are indebted.” But Unseelie do not take oaths likely either, and oaths are as common in the Unseelie Court as they are in the Seelie Court. The Changeling rulebook stresses the importance of oaths in fae culture (page 79):

Oaths are sacred vows that bind Kithain to one another in certain specified relationships or else obligate the swearer to undertake quests or journeys, fill certain roles, honor specified rights or refrain from certain actions. Some oaths bind one Kithain to another for eternity; others last for shorter periods of time. […] The whole of Kithain society helps to enforce oaths, but, more importantly, the weight of the Dreaming lends binding authority to these solemn vows.

The wording of oaths is very important, because it weaves Glamour into the bond that is formed by its speaking. Breaking an oath is not done lightly, for the consequences (usually specified at the time the oath is taken) assert themselves as soon as the oath is forsworn. In addition to any innate penalties, oathbreakers are shunned by Seelie and most Unseelie fae alike. A changeling’s sworn word is her greatest gift, and those fortunate enough to receive an oath-backed promise of loyalty or love consider themselves blessed by the Dreaming. Oaths define a changeling’s personal honor and respect. Spoken oaths are the foundation of noble society, and any who break an oath defy the values of their society and forego their right to remain a part of it.

Fae that have sworn oaths are bound together by an oathbond. Oaths can be taken between two individuals, but a group of individuals can also be bound by a common oath, forming an oathcircle. Oathcircles can be “informal”, but can also be sanctioned by a Court and thereby become official.

I find this Waylay, Oathfriend, a little strange. The text on the card doesn’t make any sense. It is a Savvy Waylay, and if you fail the Test, you lose a turn. In other words, if you can talk or charm your way out of it, you can ignore your this friend who is in need. You ignore a person with whom you have an oathbond and just get on with your life. This goes against the very idea of an oath of friendship! Why would you be penalised for upholding your oath?

So here is what I propose to do instead with this Waylay. If you encounter this Waylay, you have two choices: you help your friend, and you lose a turn, or you ignore your oathfriend, but then you have to exhaust up to 2 Arts, and you have get a -1 on all test and trials for the rest of the game (-2 if you are a Troll; see below).

This is a great card to bring storytelling into your Arcadia game, not just because this Waylay hints at a background story of your Character, but also because not all kith see oaths alike. For example, Boggans live to help others, but rarely swear oaths (I know that there is no Boggan Character card in Arcadia, but it is still interesting! :)). Sluagh may seem like the sort of kith that would not do so either, but they do help those that have helped them, and will invariably return kindness and respect. Trolls are dutiful and value honour (which is probably why the illustration on the card depicts a Troll). The Troll Character card in The Wyld Hunt states:

There is nothing so important to us as honor. The very strength of our bodies springs from the pure diamond hardness of our spirits, from our unbreakable loyalty, from our relentless resolve. Our very lives exist only to satisfy our oaths.

When a Troll breaks an oath, they lose their strength and become sick (hence the -2 penalty). Trolls also do not like oaths to be broken. This is the Changeling rulebook again (page 105): “This trust must extend both ways; if a troll’s trust is betrayed, he will be filled with anger, and must roll Willpower (difficulty 8) to avoid becoming violent.” So if this oathfriend of yours is a Troll, you could add more to this Waylay: you have to pass the Savvy Test (I suggest you raise this Waylay to a Savvy of at least 4)  to pacify the friend you abandoned, or engage in a Combat Test with him (probably with a Combat value of at least 4).

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