Proper Etiquette — Card Notes

Proper Etiquette

You come upon a Sidhe noble and his retinue. Pay your proper respects or lose face. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated. If you are a noble you gain +1 Savvy for this Test.

Arcadia’s society is very hierarchical, and feudal. There are two types of people: commoners and nobles, “the shining hosts”, who rule over them. The nobles themselves have a hierarchy, with the king and queen at the top, and then, in descending hierarchical order below them the dukes/duchesses, counts/countesses, barons/baronesses, knights, and squires (who are, technically, not nobles, but serve knights, who are, and are basically in training to become knights).

Nobles are also organised in Houses. There are 13 main noble Houses, who are generally ruled by Sidhe, but other kith can be part of those Houses too. Six of these Houses are Seelie (House Beaumayn, House Dougal, House Eiluned, House Fiona, House Gwydion, and House Liam), six are Unseelie (House Aesin, House Ailil, House Balor, House Daireann, House Leanhaun, and House Varich), and the thirteenth House does not side with either Court (House Scathach). For reasons that are unclear, five Houses were banished from Arcadia during the Resurgence: House Beaumayn (Seelie), House Aesin, House Daireann, House Varich (all Unseelie), and the indifferent House Scathach. The only Houses that are mentioned by name on Arcadia cards are House Liam and House Fiona (both Seelie Houses). The other six that remained in Arcadia are never mentioned (but maybe some of them would have been included in The Lion’s Den, the third set that was never released?). If you are interested in learning a whole lot more about these Houses (in changeling society), look at these books: Noblesse Oblige: The Book of Houses, Pour L’Amour et Liberte: The Book of Houses 2, The Book of Lost Houses: The Second Coming, and Nobles: The Shining Host.

In the World of Darkness, the fae uphold the Escheat, a code of law that was created shortly after this world was cut off from the Dreaming, during the Sundering. The Escheat tried to uphold the traditions of Arcadia and also to ensure the survival of the fae in the banal World of Darkness. The Escheat stipulates six rights. The first of this is the Right of Demesne, which the Changeling rule book defines as follows:

A lord is the king of his domain. He is the judge and jury over all crimes, large and small. His word is law. A noble expects obedience from his vassals and respect from all others. In return, a noble respects those lords superior to him.

Though commoners are often critical of nobles and the noble houses, most fae don’t have a problem with the hierarchical structure of fae society in general. The courts are generally known to be fair, and nobles are aware of their duties towards society as a whole. This is from Nobles: The Shining Host (page 33):

Being a king isn’t all perks and reserved hitching posts. Implicit in the Right of Demesne is the nobility’s responsibilities to its subjects. There are few nobles (commoner or sidhe, Seelie or Unseelie) who do not take their responsibilities seriously. A noble who does not care for her subjects risks a nasty rebellion, but there is more to it than this. From the time that they are childlings, nobles are instructed that it is their sacred duty to protect their subjects and to treat them justly. The nobility of the Kithain have a far better record in this department than most human (or Prodigal) leaders. Many nobles even have a romanticized view of “the common changeling” and have been known to disguise themselves to go among them. (It is considered poor form for a commoner to recognize his liege when she is so disguised.)

Despite the nobility’s good intentions, noblesse oblige is a proprietary instinct. Many commoners rightly resent the nobility’s paternalistic and patronizing ways. In general, the nobility looks at commoners as beloved, but unruly and somewhat backward, children. It is not that the nobility underestimates the commoners (there are many scholarly treatises on “low commoner cunning”), but few consider them equals. Sidhe nobles extend this judgment to the commoner nobles.

Things do go wrong, of course, and Arcadia tells that story. There are plenty of nobles who act inappropriately: in The Wyld Hunt we have Duke Bane and his son Sir Wrathgar, as well as Lord Gamine’s regent, Bernard Assjack; in King Ironheart’s Madness we have King Ironheart himself. Each of them is hungry for power, and corrupted by that hunger.

So, when you encounter a noble, you are expected to show them the proper respect. If you know how to behave yourself in their company, you’ll manage to get out of the encounter unscathed, but it is probably unlikely that you made a good impression on them if you were a commoner, since you are likely just an uncultured commoner in their eyes. If you are noble, you are more familiar with the ways of the court, and so you are at an advantage. There are a few ways in which your Character can be of nobility in Arcadia. If you are a sidhe, you are automatically noble. As that Character card states:

You are a member of the nobility. This privilege can never be revoked. It is our way to rule, for none are as fit for leadership as we. To look upon our kind is to see wonder and perfection. Our love is limitless, yet so is our hatred when it is earned. Look to us if you wish to understand life, for we are life.

A female Sidhe

A female Sidhe (from The Wyld Hunt)

It isn’t difficult to see why commoners often think nobles—and especially sidhe—are stuck up! I like how that mood is captured in the artwork of Mark Jackson on this card. Other kith can also be noble, if they belong to one of the noble houses. In The Wyld Hunt there are two Advantage cards that do this: Fealty to House Fionna and Fealty to House Liam. The Treasure Fancy Pants (a card I love!) allows you to be a noble for a day. (Noble Characters are entirely absent from the King Ironheart’s Madness set, for some reason.)



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