Arts: Primal & Soothsay

[This is the second in a series of post on the Arts in Arcadia. Read this post for context and the variant rules that are referred to below.]



The power of the Art of Primal is derived from inanimate nature. From Changeling (page 178): “Much of the power of changelings arises from the elemental affinity between their faerie souls and the forces of nature. In ancient times, the spirits of rocks and trees whispered their secrets to the fae who lived in the forests and groves. The ability to hear the forests’ whispers was lost by most changelings during the Shattering, remembered only by the Inanimae. One of the first things the Inanimae taught the changelings after the Shattering was how to  whisper back. The Inanimae are mostly asleep now, and the Art they taught—Primal—is rumored to be only a fraction of the wisdom the nature spirits could have imparted. As a sign of gratitude to these beings, the cantrips of Primal are named after the spirits who helped the fae relearn these connections.
Kithain often stereotype other changelings who specialize in Primal cantrips as “salt of the earth” types: simple, stolid and honest. This oversimplification often makes them the butt of pooka jokemeisters (“Hey, troll! Did you hear the one about the Willow-Whispering farmer’s daughter who….”).”

There are six Primal Arts in Arcadia: Willow-Whisper, Heather-Balm, Oakenshield, Holly Strike, Elder Form, and Renewed Vigor. These do not neatly correspond to the 5 Primal cantrips that are found in Changeling. Changeling has one cantrip that is not found in Arcadia (Eldritch Prime, a 2-point cantrip that makes one of the natural elements appear in their purest form), and 1 of its cantrips corresponds to 2 Arts in Arcadia (Heather-Balm & Holly Strike). There is no 5-point Primal Art in Arcadia.


Willow-Whisper *

Exhaust to look at any 1 adjacent League. You may also inspect any Treasure hidden there. (TWH)

Willow Whisper allows you to talk to inanimate objects, as long as it is done in whispers, which is why you can use this Art to find out the nature of a League—you can talk to its rocks and trees—or a Treasure.

Heather-Balm **

Exhaust to recover any 2 Abilities or Allies. – Exhaust to return 1 Waylay of Rating 3 or less which your opponent has defeated to your hand instead of the discard pile. (TWH)

Heather-Balm and Holly Strike are the same 4-point cantrip in Changeling, like 2 uses of the same power. One heals, the other harms. From the Changeling book (page 179-180): “This cantrip has two uses: it can either mend that which is broken, or it can break something by expanding upon tiny imperfections in the object.” Heather-Balm is the healing application of this, which is why you can use it to either heal yourself or a defeated Waylay.

Oakenshield ***

Exhaust to change any Defeat to a Stalemate. (TWH)

From Changeling (page 179): “This cantrip imbues an object or person with the solid, protective essence of oak bark. Targets of Oakenshield can resist a tremendous amount of chimerical punishment.” Casting this gives you extra Health in Changeling, and it really only makes sense to use this Art only in Might or Combat Tests or Trials (since having the protective qualities of oak bark won’t help you much when you have to talk your way out of a situation!). I suggest the text of the card be rewritten as “Exhaust to change any Combat or Might Defeat to a Stalemate.”

Holly Strike ****

Exhaust to add 3 points to your Might for 1 Combat or Might Test or Trial. (KIM)

As mentioned above, this is the flip side of Heather-Balm in Changeling: “For Holly Strike, one Health Level of damage is caused for each success earned. When this Art is used on people, weird, jagged lacerations appear on random parts of the body.” (page 180) This seems replicated in Arcadia by giving you extra strength, though this is not a very neat match.

Elder Form ******

Discard to assume the form of a Dragon for a number of Days determined by a die roll. 1-3: 1 Day, 4-5: 2 Days, 6: 3 Days. The Dragon’s attributes are Might 7 and Combat 8; Resolve and Savvy remain the same. (KIM)

Elder Form is a 5-point cantrip in Changeling, but made a 6-point Art in Arcadia, and that makes sense. This is a powerful Art! From Changeling (page 180): “This cantrip allows the caster or another target to take on the shape of something else. The new form possesses all of the Attributes and disadvantages of the new form. If the changeling turns himself into a tree, he may be taller and tougher, but he won’t be able to talk […]. If he turns himself into a stone, well, he’d better hope he’s in a scenic spot, because he’ll be seeing a lot of it in the next several centuries. While it is possible for the changeling to transform himself into the form of a mythical beast, he does not gain any magical powers from this change. A character altered by Elder-Form only gains any natural abilities that form may have, not supernatural
powers. For example, a changeling who transformed himself to appear as a vampire would have pale skin and maybe even fangs, bnthe would gain none of the special vampiric powers (such as regeneration), nor would he be susceptible to a vampire’s weaknesses (such as sunlight). The
same would be true if a changeling transformed himself into a dragon; he would have scales and claws, but he could not breathe fire.”

Renewed Vigor ******

Discard to recover all exhausted Merits. You may only use this Art once per Quest. (KIM)

This very powerful Primal Art has no cantrip counterpart in Changeling.



Divination and prediction is what Soothsay is all about. This Art deals with Dán, the fae concept of Fate. The Changeling book explains (page 180): “Dán is like an immense, complex, shifting tapestry, too complicated for most to fathom. All beings, whether mortal, fae or Prodigal, have the threads of their fates caught up within this tapestry. […] This Art is for thinkers and contemplative Kithain. As such, changelings who specialize in Soothsay can often be found as seers and advisors to nobles. Most Kithain have widely differing views of those fae skilled in the Art of Soothsay. Nobles find them useful for court intrigue, and commoners are wary of their knowledge. In general, they are accorded much respect.”

There are 5 Soothsay Arts in Arcadia: Fair Fortune, Boil & Bubble, Tattletale, Augury, and Fate Fire. As detailed below, these correspond to those found in Changeling, though several are renamed.


Fair Fortune *

Exhaust to add 1 to a Character or Creature Waylay’s score in any 1 Test. This must be done just before the Test. (TWH)

This and the following Art (Boil & Bubble) don’t appear in Changeling, at least not under that name. But they both correspond to the 2-point cantrip Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair. This is described as follows (page 181): “With this cantrip, the caster can more actively affect the target’s Dán. She can curse the target with misfortune, or she can throw a ray of good fortune into a target’s path. In either case, the change is not usually major; the target’s situation usually only affects elements not already decided one  way or another. Powerful enemies will not suddenly die, but with a bit of good luck, the target may find a piece of information that changes her enemy’s mind about her, or (with bad luck) the target’s closest ally suddenly decides she is not trustworthy and joins the enemy camp. Whatever happens, the change is usually unexpected.”

Fair Fortune is then the good side of this: you give good fortune to a Character or a Waylay. Boil & Bubble, as the name suggests, is the bad side of this: the target gets some misfortune.

Boil and Bubble **

Exhaust to force another character to immediately retest a Victory. (TWH)

See the comment above. Just a brief note on the name: the corresponding cantrip in Changeling is, as mentioned, Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair. This is a clear reference to Macbeth: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: / Hover through the fog and filthy air.” (Act 1, Scene 1). The name of this Art is derived from the same play: in Act 4 the witches say:

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
[All:] Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Tattletale ***

Exhaust to look at any 4 Leagues in play. You may also inspect any Treasures located in those Leagues. (TWH)

From the Changeling book (page 182): “This cantrip provides a way to scrye through an object that is familiar to the caster. With Tattletale, the changeling can see anything that is within the immediate vicinity of the object.” Though in Changeling it is mostly used to observe relatively small areas, it is said that “there is no limit to the casting’s range”, so 4 Leagues are not exceptional.

This Art can quite easily be used with the dice-roll variant mentioned in the first post in this series. You could decide that if only less than half of your dice are successes, you can look at only 2 Leagues; if half or more, you can look at 4 Leagues.

Augury ****

Exhaust to look at 3 Waylays in your Opponent’s hand. Your opponent must now play these 3 Waylays before he/she may play any others. (KIM)

Augury gives a glimpse of a person’s Dán. From the Changeling book (page 182): “No one knows whether the caster of Augury engineers the future event, or the caster’s own Dan is at work as a moment in the future unravels backward in time, planting a kernel in the Augury of the intrepid caster. It is for this reason that Soothsayers treat Augury with kid gloves.”

Fate Fire *****

Exhaust to increase the score or difficulty of another character’s next Test or Trial by 3. – Exhaust to decrease the score or difficulty of your next Test or Trial by 3. (KIM)

This Art simplifies the cantrip of the same name enormously. This cantrip is a more powerful version of Augury, and is described as follows (page 13): “Many people have little contact with their Dán; this is why the concept is so elusive. The day of reckoning does not usually arrive for a while. Casters of Fate Fire can speed up the process and bring a person’s fate to manifest sooner for good or ill, depending upon the balance. The caster has no control over the outcome.”

This is probably not what you would have thought when reading the Art card, but once you know the background, you can see it is essentially the same Art/cantrip.


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