Arts: Introduction

Dark Yeoman commented that her comparative study of character creation in Changeling and Arcadia is “mostly academic” and will maybe “not have a great effect on the way you play Arcadia”.

Well, I disagree. 🙂 The reason I disagree with that statement has to do with the Arts. The best part of her excellent comparative study are the parallels she draws between the Arts of both worlds, and I think that deserves a separate post (or a series of posts, if I get around to it!), because I think it got buried in a lot of technical stuff that is indeed maybe more academic. (If you haven’t read Dark Yeoman’s post, please do. It is very much worth reading!)

In this and future posts I’ll talk more about the Arts, and give some variant rules on how to use them with greater flexibility in Arcadia. Those variant rules are mostly found at the end of this post.


As Dark Yeoman points out in the above mentioned post, the Arts in Arcadia match the Arts of Changeling, and perhaps more so than the simple use of the Changeling Arts icons on the Arcadia Arts cards indicates. To recap, each Art card in Arcadia displays an icon in the left border, which indicates what type of Art this is. In Changeling there are 9 main types of Arts, which use the following icons:



Arcadia has a few more, as Dark Yeoman notes in that post, but we will come back to those later. (Arcadia also doesn’t have Spirit Link Arts).

The Art cards in Arcadia are really cantrips or spells. The Arts are the different types of fae magic. Each cantrip is a spell that is of a specific type of magic or Art.

The way cantrips work in Changeling is complex. Too complex, really. To cast as cantrip there are 7 steps (and that is not even considering the 2-pages of “Advanced Cantrip Rules”)! I do not propose to follow this in Arcadia, but I do give some optional rules below that are very loosely based on/inspired by this.

When you create a character in Changeling, you don’t select the Arts you know willy nilly. They should match the rest of your Character’s characteristics. Here is a relevant section from the example given in the Changeling handbook (page 125) to explain the process of Character creation (Angie is the sample player; Emma her Character):

Angie thoroughly reads all the Arts and Realms descriptions before she begins to allocate points to them. Once done, she begins with Emma’s Arts, immediately putting two points in Primal due to her athleticism and Primal’s connection with the body and other things physical. The next choice comes less easily, but in the end, Angie decides to give Emma one point in Wayfare, another Art that somehow seems related to physical movement.

So choose your Arts carefully. Choose those that match the rest of your Character’s Abilities, and specialise in one Art, before selecting others (see the variant rules below). Often Arts are also associated with particular types of persons, with commoners, with nobility, or even with specific kith. I encourage you to pay attention to these guidelines as well (and will mention them in subsequent posts).

In Changeling each Art has cantrips of varying difficulties, ranging from 1 to 5. As mentioned, the Arts in Arcadia often correspond closely to the cantrips of Changeling, and their difficulty is expressed in Arcadia by their cost, ranging from 1 to 6. The Arts with a difficult/cost of 1 to 3 are found in The Wyld Hunt, whereas the Arts with a difficult of 4 or higher are only found in King Ironheart’s Madness. In other words, there is a good reason the Merits in King Ironheart’s Madness cost more than those in The Wyld Hunt!


Arts are great, because they make Arcadia a more fun and challenging game. Without them you do little more than moving and facing Waylays each turn, but with Arts you can do more unpredictable things, and challenge your opponent directly, rather than through a Waylay.

For this reason, I’ve been thinking of and experimenting with ways to make Arts more prominent in Arcadia. We now have two basic variant rules when it comes to Arts:

  • Every Character needs at least 1 Art.
  • When you take a 5 or 6-point Art (during Character creation or when you gain more experience points) you can automatically also take 1 Art of the same type that costs less than half the value of the greater Art you’ve chosen. This lesser Art does not count towards your Merit cost. So, if you pick Captive Heart, a 5-point Chicanery Art, you can also take Fugue (2 points), since this is also a Chicanery Art, and you’ll still have 5 points of Merits to spend (in the King Ironheart’s Madness rules), since Fugue does not cost you anything.

These two rules are obviously meant to encourage players to use Arts, but also encourage them to take more powerful Arts. A 6 point Art doesn’t let you choose a lot of other Merits, and so you might not be quick to take it. but if that 6 point Art comes with another (free) 2 or 3 point Art, this becomes a more compelling choice. With the increased number of Arts, cards like Favored by Ali’i become a lot more useful (and are particularly recommended for Kokua.

Obviously, this also means that we do mix Merits from The Wyld Hunt with those from King Ironheart’s Madness. Dark Yeoman thinks this doesn’t go so well, but my experience/experimentation tells me otherwise. (To clarify: since we don’t live in the same country now, we very rarely play with each other, and all the rules she posts are those that she has been using with the people she plays with. When she talks of “we”/”ours” that generally does not include me and the people I’ve recently been playing with).

The way we mix Merits from both sets is as follows:

  • You get 10 points of Merits for Character creation, and can choose freely between Merits from both sets.
  • You can’t take only Merits from The Wyld Hunt. You need at least as many points of Merits from King Ironheart’s Madness as you have of The Wyld Hunt.
  • One major Flaw is selected by your opponent, as in Dark Yeoman’s House Rules, but those points do not give you more Merit points (so a 5 point Flaw does not give you 5 points extra Merits). But you can also choose to take only 1 minor Enemy Flaw (of 1 point), and this does allow you get 1 extra Merit point.

These two rules ensure that your Character cannot get too powerful. The Merits from both sets also complement each other nicely. Abilities from The Wyld Hunt, for example, always need to be exhausted to take effect, and generally only give you 1 extra point, whereas those from King Ironheart’s Madness give you a fixed increase in Might/Savvy/Resolve/Combat and don’t require to be exhausted (but do not take effect when exhausted).


We’ve also been experimenting with one rule that makes Arts dependent on dice rolls:

  • Whenever you would normally use an Art, you make a roll with 10-sided dice. The number of dice you roll is twice the number of unexhausted Arts you have (so if you have 2 unexhausted Arts, you roll 4 dice, if you have only 1 you roll 2 dice, etc.). If you roll at least 1 number equal to or higher than the cost of the Art, the Art is cast successfully, and you must exhaust it. If all your dice rolls are less than the Art cost, the attempt to cast the Art fails, and the Art remains unexhausted.
  • Any 1 you roll negates a success (i.e. a roll higher than the cost of the Art), as in the “standard” 10-sided dice variant rules. If you roll more 1s than successes you mess up badly. You are unable to use the Art, but have to exhaust it nonetheless.
  • For some Arts you can add a success rate: depending on how many successes you roll, the Art will be more or less successful. For example, Quicksilver, a 2 point Wayfare Art, lets you move 3 Leagues, but if you roll only a single success, you can only move 1 League. I will note which Arts I think would lend themselves to this in future posts.
  • Optional: you could also add a penalty to the dice roll if you are using the Art to affect a Character, Waylay, League, or Treasure that is is separated from your Character by more than 2 Leagues. For each League after 2, you have to roll 1 higher (so with a 3-point Art, you will have to roll a 4 or higher if you want to affect something or someone who is 3 Leagues away from your Character).

We’ve only played a few games so far with these dice rolls, and we like them, but will have to test this a bit more. The reason we like them is that they both make it a little more difficult to use Arts (which offset the advantage of having extra (lesser) Arts), but also forces you to have a bit more strategy, because the more Arts you use the fewer dice you will be able to roll (so you may want to wait casting that lesser Art, if you soon want to cast that greater one).

All this (and especially the degrees of successes) may seem to make what was very simple hopelessly complicated, but it isn’t that difficult, really, once you take into consideration what the Art really does, aside from the “technical” aspect of moving a League or having to undergo a Might Trial, etc. Once you understand why your opponent has to undergo a Might Trial, it isn’t so difficult to remember what you could do to him when you roll only successes. But all this will probably (hopefully!) make more sense once I begin talking about each individual Art, in future posts.


6 thoughts on “Arts: Introduction

  1. This looks interesting, and I look forward to trying out this variant later this month. But I am not sure of the logic of this part: “When you take a 5 or 6-point Art (during Character creation or when you gain more experience points) you can automatically also take 1 Art of the same type that costs less than half the value of the greater Art you’ve chosen.”

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that you would have to start with a lower Art (a 1 or 2 point Art), but that if you add another, higher cost Art of the same type, you only pay the difference. If you had learned Heather-Balm (a 2 point Primal Art) and then acquired Holly Strike (a 4 point Primal Art), you would only have to spend 2 points of Merit, instead of 4, since you had already mastered 2 points of Primal. That seems to be closer to the way it works in Changeling: The Dreaming, if I understood that correctly, but it also makes more sense that it would be easier to learn more advanced Arts of the same type. What do you think?


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