King Ironheart — Card Notes

– Infuriated by your support of Lord Gamine, King Ironheart promises to give you “special” attention. Cog Soldiers and Cog Dragoons each add 2 to their score in any Waylay against you.
– Your opponent can exhaust this Flaw when you are on any League with a border to force you to skip your next Day.

In our last Arcadia campaign, one of the characters caused some confusion with those new to the world of Changeling and Arcadia. Yvonne, a female greybeard Knocker, was rumoured to be related to King Ironheart (which was how the Advantage card Ties to Middlemarch was interpreted).

The person who was leading the campaign (and who was new to this setting) was confused by this. Are all fae royalty not Sidhe? And, if so, how can a Knocker be related to a Sidhe? Or is Ironheart not a Sidhe?

King Ironheart’s race is never made explicit in Arcadia, but he is obviously a Knocker (or a Nocker, as they used to be called in Changeling: The Dreaming). This is how (K)nockers are described in the Changeling handbook (page 92):

Nockers are master artisans. Their skill and inventiveness are legendary. So are their cynicism and bitterness. They are highly critical of their rulers and eminently sarcastic of the people around them. Most nockers dislike having to deal with “imperfect” things, including people. Most prefer to surround themselves with treasures of mechanical wonder and ingenuity, instead. Things are much more reliable than people, and they’re much easier to fix. Nockers are also known for their great talent for crafting chimerical inventions.

A nocker’s standards of perfection are impossibly high. These Kithain got their name from their habit of rapping on things to inspect their quality. Unfortunately, they treat others the same way. They “knock” others by insulting them, testing their reactions and trying to find their faults. While this is a great way to test machines, it doesn’t work as well with people. As far as nockers are concerned, they’ve elevated ridicule to a high-art form. This hardly improves their popularity.

(K)nockers are craftsmen, tinkerers, inventors. They create toys, weapons, vehicles—anything they can, really. Their creations have a real steampunk quality to them, for very practical reasons. Though they may be versed in our worldly science, not all of this works well in the Dreaming, where different laws of nature operate. Steam is immensely important to (K)nockers, because steam works reliably anywhere. As a (K)nocker explains in the Nockers kithbook (page 29): Steam drives most of our powered inventions. […] The old brick walls of Banality and thermodynamics won’t let most chemical reactions work in the Dreaming. […] Steam, on the other hand, is easy. A little balefire, a little chimerical water, and you’re cooking.

In Arcadia too, Knockers use steam. Althros “The Steam City” is a Knockers town in central Ardenmore, that is fuelled by the Hills of Steam Fields in the north, where Knockers “harvest” the steam needed to keep the city running. But, more importantly, steam is also what powers many of Ironheart’s creations. He has enslaved the Steam Sprites to animate his machines (see the Waylays Cruel Geyser and Sociopathic Steam Sprites, and the Ally Liberated Steam Sprites). The most dreadful instance of this is Steelwing the Steam Drake, a vicious beast of Cold Iron (Quest XX). Steelwing is the result of the Mad King’s ‘repairs’ to a mortally wounded dragon. He is thus a blend of draconian flesh and arcane mechanisms (Steelwing Waylay), who now roams through the darker parts of Mechopolis and the surrounding swamps, constantly hungry for prey.

Ironheart’s Cog armies also point to (K)nockers. These are not just machines, but animated machines—animate chimera. This power to animate chimerical objects is one that is associated particularly with (K)nockers. As detailed in their Kithbook (page 56-58), (K)nockers have an Art that they guard jealously and that is rarely found in other kith: Infusion. This Art is the fundamental Art of nocker craft, and most nockers are conversant with its principles (page 56). It lets them manipulate chimerical objects, and, for someone especially skilled in this Art, create animated objects, like Golems.

In the world of Changeling, Golems are not quite the clay creatures from Jewish literature. Golems are the automated servitors of nockers, and most serve and accompany their creators willingly, the Kithbook explains (page 57). Like all chimera, golems may range wildly in power, size, and appearance. The only constraints on a golem’s features or capabilities are a nocker’s talent, materials, and imagination. Most golems have a mechanical appearance, though a nocker may use Phantom Shadows [the Legerdemain Art/cantrip] to make the golem more natural in appearance.

Golems are exactly what Ironheart’s Cog soldiers are. Indeed, they are called as such in several Waylays from The Wyld Hunt (but strangely never in King Ironheart’s Madness): see Cog Dragoon (These mechanical golems serve as the heavy cavalry for Middlemarch’s armies), or Cog Soldier (Words cannot placate these mindless golems).

As I mentioned, Ironheart is never explicitly identified as a (K)nocker, but the artists clearly depict him as one. Take this image (by Tony Diterlizzi):

Compare this with the description of Nockers that is given in the Changeling handbook (page 92):

Appearance: Although a far cry from the deformed stereotype of legend, nockers are nonetheless grotesque in their own fashion. They tend to have thick reddish skin, pointed ears and knotty digits. Their faces look like masks of overdone stage makeup: pasty-white complexions with red noses and cheeks. Their translucent white hair frames prominent brows that crown their beady, ratlike eyes. A nocker’s rarely seen grin reveals rows of pointed teeth. Their court clothing is typically clean and smart, second only to the sidhe in fashion and complexity. Curls, spirals and swirls are nockers’ favored patterns.

Nobles are traditionally indeed Sidhe. Nobility rule the commoners (or so they like to think), and the noble houses are predominately Sidhe houses. The Sidhe are naturally noble, the other kith have to be raised to that status. It wasn’t always like this, though. The Changeling book (page 104) says: Legends tell that the trolls were actually the first noble kith; when the sidhe appeared, a great war began. The trolls lost, and as a result, swore loyalty to the sidhe. More importantly, though, as mentioned, commoners can become nobles and swear fealty to a particular house.

(K)nockers seem unlikely to become nobility, though. They are infamous for their uncouth speech and lack of manners, and not likely to rule people. As the Changeling book (page 92) says:

Typically, they are highly critical of their rulers and eminently sarcastic of the people around them. Most nockers dislike having to deal with “imperfect” things, including people. Most prefer to surround themselves with treasures of mechanical wonder and ingenuity, instead. Things are much more reliable than people, and they’re much easier to fix. … Nockers are also fiercely individualistic. Once one has selected her tastes in artwork and craftsmanship, she immediately condemns everyone else’s. When she works, she develops a style of craftsmanship that defines the work as hers. Anyone else’s attempt is second best.

Not quite the material Kings are made of! But perhaps all that is irrelevant to the character Ironheart. How he became King of Middlemarch is never made explicit. It is clear that (a large part of) the land he now rules used to be ruled by others: the Ali’i of the Menehune. This is why the Kokua, the Menehune warriors, are those who launch the offensive against Ironheart, since he continues to usurp more of their land.

Also, as the story of King Ironheart’s Madness unfolds–and here is a spoiler warning for those who want to discover this as they play the game–we also come to learn that Ironheart is really just a puppet. There are more obscure forces at work behind him. Aldrich the Mechician–more on him perhaps later–is the mastermind behind Ironheart’s expansion as well as Gamine’s disappearance (which is the story of The Wyld Hunt). In other words, Ironheart is not really a king, but a (K)nocker gone mad who was given the power by others to turn Middlemarch into a giant workshop where he can pursue his craft on a never-before seen scale–a (K)nocker’s greatest dream! In other words, he is King not because of a special birthright, or even by climbing the ranks of the nobility, but rather because he has been pushed into that position by others who saw in him an opportunity to further their own sinister plans.


Arcadia’s rarity revisited

Some time ago, darkyeoman mused about the “rarity” of Arcadia cards: which ones are rare, which ones uncommon, and which ones common? As that post points out, it is a little complicated to figure out because of the way the cards were distributed in the two different packs. Rumour has it that all cards were of an equal rarity, and Scrye allegedly said so. The former is obviously not the case. Anyone who has tried collecting these cards quickly has plenty of some and very few if none of others. As some readers have pointed out in the comments to that post the way the cards are sorted in the (Story) packs also suggests that they are not all equally rare (or equally common?).

The latter, it now turns out, isn’t entirely true either. Thomas, a kind reader, sent me a scan of Scrye’s list of Arcadia cards. The list occurs not in the magazine but in the book Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide by John Jackson Miller & Joyce Greenholdt, published in 2001 by Krause. You can download the scan here:

Scrye’s Arcadia Card List

As you can see, the authors of the book don’t mention what cards are common or rare, in contrast to the lists for other games given in the book (or so I ‘m told). Since the authors mention that all these card lists were based on data given to them by the publishers, perhaps White Wolf gave them a list that did not mention rarity (though I don’t know who at White Wolf would have done that, since they were no longer publishing card games at this point), and that they therefore just omitted it in this book (though it is then odd that they don’t mention that).

But if you look at the price list, based on what various North American sellers charged for individual cards, you get a a more complex picture: not all cards are as expensive, and at first glance this isn’t based on the “game value” of the cards but rather on their availability.

Character Profile: Yvonne, Female Knocker

Knocker, Female — Yvonne

Might: 1, Savvy: 3, Resolve: 2




Ability: Clear Thinking (Resolve, Seelie, 1), Witty Repartee (Savvy, Unseelie, 1)

Advantage: Sense of Direction (1), Ties to Middlemarch (2)

Art: Will-o’-the-Wisp (Pyretics, 1)

Treasure: Knocker’s Artifact (3), Wooden Horse (1)


Weakness: Coward (Savvy, Unseelie, 2), Weakling (Might, Unseelie, 3)

Yvonne is a grump Knocker (and also a grumpy one). At first glance, she looks incredibly frail: she is thin, her back seems bent with age, and (despite her years on the open road) her skin is very pale. But walk with her for a few minutes and you’ll notice her wiry frame hides an incredible resilience and strength. She’ll out-walk those half her age, and needs little rest.

In appearance she is what you expect from a knocker: a nose most other kith would consider too big for her face, black beady eyes, thin white hair, pointed ears, knotty digits, and the like. In speech she excels most of them: she can swear in ways that young knockers can only dream of.

Yvonne has travelled the length and breath of Arcadia for as long as people can remember. Though not exactly famous, she is a common sight across the land and well known in most smaller towns. She shuns most company, and only gets involved in others’ business if their business is her own.

No one quite seems to know what she does on her travels or why she travels or even where she travels to, and she likes it that way. She hates meddlers and nosy people. Nevertheless, there are countless stories that circulate about her in the smaller towns of Ardenmore, one more incredulous than the next, and she likes it that way. The stories keep people at a respectful distance, but also create an interest in her that she can exploit.

The rumours that she has some relations in high places in Middlemarch seem true. Mysteriously, cog soldiers sometimes turn a blind eye to her, and some say they have seen cogs even help her. The rumours are that she is related to a Knocker who works with Aldrich, or to a Knocker in charge of designing cogs in one of the main Fack Tories. When Ironheart just came to power, she herself spread the rumour she was related to the mad king himself, when it seemed useful to do so, but now that he has shown his true colours and is at war with Ardenmore, she consistently denies it, and will likely spread different rumours to divert people’s attention from those stories she herself sent out into the world. Because of her connections with Middlemarch, some believe her to be some sort of spy, but those who have met her many times, strongly doubt it. The type of loyalty that this would require is not in her nature. She is unattached and free and will align herself with someone only briefly, if it is in her interest.

She also has the gift of the gab. She is as foul-mouthed as the next knocker, but also immensely witty, and can talk herself out of pretty much any situation. She has often encountered bandits or others who intended to rob or harm her, which is why she now lugs that clunky canon around (mostly strapped to her wooden horse). She rarely intends to use it, and has used it even more rarely, but there are plenty of stories that circulate in which she is said to have blown to smithereens stingy shopkeepers, defeated redcap gangs, smashed the crystal chandelier of some sidhe noble, and even one in which she is said to have used it on Splendourscales once, when she wanted some artefact he owned. Whatever the truth to those stories, and whatever their origins, they serve her well, because when it would come to a fight she’d certainly lose. Not only has age weakened her considerably, but her courage always failed her in a physical fight. This doesn’t bother her much, though: her arsenal of insults and verbal tricks makes up for it, in her mind.


Arcane reviews of Arcadia

Arcane, a British magazine focussing on role-playing games (with a good coverage of other games popular in the 1990s) reviewed The Wyld Hunt in issue #11 (October 1996). Click on the images below for a bigger version.

They briefly reviewed King Ironheart’s Madness in issue #17 (March 1997):

Both sets were also announced earlier in the magazine. See here for The Wyld Hunt (Arcane 7), and here for King Ironheart’s Madness (Arcane 15).


Character Profile: Sylvia, Human Female

Human, female — Sylvia

Might: 2, Savvy: 2, Resolve: 2




Ability: Brilliant Strategy (Resolve, Seelie, 3), Deductive Reasoning (Resolve, Seelie, 1)

Advantage: Fealty to House Liam (1), Sea Worthy (2)

Art: Dreaming (1)

Treasure: Glamour Dust (2)


Weakness: Indecisive (Resolve, Seelie, 2), Weak Knees (resolve weakness, 3)

Enemy: Sidhe (1)

Sylvia is ordinary in every respect: not greatly athletic or strong, not particularly beautiful, not exceptionally intelligent. You would not notice her in a crowd, and would likely never have heard anything special about her, and she is fully aware of that. Whatever she is now, she keeps reminding herself, she is because of her own hard work and perseverance.

She is a thoughtful person, who will always think before she acts. She is patient, and not one quick to judge. If she can, she’ll avoid conflict. She is not quick to intervene in others’ affairs, but if she does, she’ll try to mediate and find a middle ground. Her thoughtfulness also leads to her biggest weakness: she can be terribly indecisive, seeing both the good and bad in all the options that present themselves to her. She is very introvert, and does not make friends easy, but those that she does have are close. Honour and justice are immensely important to her. She is, proudly, a woman of her word—sometimes to a fault—and there are few crimes as great to her as cruelty, nor anything more hurtful than breaking trust.

She remembers but little of her life before Arcadia—mostly fragments of emotions ungrounded in person or place. But one image recurs in her dreams: the waves of the wide ocean. She dreams often of sailing on the rough ocean, exhilarated and free, dancing, as it were, with the undulating waters around her. When she first caught glimpse of the Tsu Ocean, east of Ardenmore, like everything else in this strange land it seemed so radically new to her, and yet, unlike any other place she’s seen, also so very familiar.

Though she remembers but little about her life in the real world, she often wishes she could forget much of her life in the Dreaming. Especially those first days! She arrived in Arcadia utterly lost: she had no idea where she was, no idea who she was. Those first days were terrifying, and the wonders of this world that was so new to her did nothing to alleviate that fear–quite the contrary. This world was too bright, too careless, too glamorous to someone so afflicted by confusion, fear, and doubt. What made this all the more difficult is that she was at that point not aware of the extraordinary power she had over the Dreaming. She’d fall asleep in one place, and wake up in another, a place that corresponded to her dreams. She wouldn’t have been the first human in Arcadia to lose her mind.

She never talks of those days, so what exactly happened, and how she came to be taken in by Lady Hester of House Dougal, is a mystery. Lady Hester took her in and cared for her. She helped her understand the nature of Arcadia, and taught her how to control Glamour, and thereby she helped her to control her special power–the power that only humans have over Arcadia. Though she never became a member of that or any other House, as a protégé of Hester, she became rather well known and enjoyed unique privileges.

At first she was relieved to have found some home in this strange new world. But her happiness was very short lived. It was hard to turn a blind eye to the way nobles treated commoners, of the unashamed exploitation that occurred even in the Seelie Houses. One day she realised the only reason they treated her better, was because of her power over Arcadia through her dreams. These Sidhe’s interest in her was really an interest in her ability to control and shape the Dreaming.

She met Lord Regolant of House Liam on the road crossing the Splendour River. It seemed a chance encounter, though later she learned Regolant had long been searching out humans, and had likely been keeping an eye on her for a good while before they met. She too had, of course, heard of him and his House. It was spoken of with great contempt among the nobles she had come to know: this was a House of oathbreakers,

exiled among nobility, traitors to the fae. Lord Regolant in particular was despised by the other Sidhe. He was one of a handful Liam nobles who had managed to stay in Arcadia after the House was exiled, by setting up his court in the Marsh of Grey Filth, an area no sane noble would want to travel near to. Worse, even, was what Regolant’s exiled court had become: though once one of the proud Seelie Houses, it now embraced a wild rabble of despicable Redcaps, criminals, and other exiles from Ardenmore society. Whatever former glory might have once been associated with this House had certainly vanished by now.

That should all have made her incredibly wary of Lord Regolant, and she was indeed cautious if not dismissive when they met. She did not trust him, but they spent the better part of the day together, travelling in the same direction, and as they talked, she was surprised to find in him a noble who actually cared about <em>her</em>. His compassion for her plight was mixed with an anger towards the Sidhe in general, for having created a situation that forced humans into Arcadia against their will. When they parted ways, late in the afternoon, she did not think they’d ever meet again. By this point she had decided the nobility of Ardenmore were not to be trusted, and that she should remove herself from their company, whatever the benefits they might have brought to her so far.

But they did meet again, and she also met other members of House Liam. As she gradually learned, Regolant’s House was not totally shunned by every noble in Ardenmore. In recent years, more and more cog soldiers marched into the marsh where Regolant had made his home, and Lord Gamine relied, secretly, on him in fending off those attacks from Middlemarch. Though Regolant himself rarely travelled to Eidolon, he often sent envoys (of the more respectable kind), and worked with Gamine for the welfare of Ardenmore.

When she made the decision to join Regolant she can’t remember. In retrospect it seemed like she could do little else. It just seemed the natural thing to do. Her aversion of nobility continues to this day, but this House seemed so different from all other Houses she encountered. In his unusual rabble of misfits she had expected to find traitors and villains of the worst kind, but instead she found kithain of true nobility: truly honourable, compassionate, and righteous. Even the motley of Unseelie that had aligned themselves with this House fought and quarrelled, in their own wild ways, for a noble cause. Lord Regolant ruled the House with a firm but tolerant hand. He was forgiving, but would also not hesitate to expel someone—Seelie or Unseelie—when they threatened to destroy the refuge he had created.

When she moved to Irondew, she had expected to do nothing more than live there for some time, while figuring out what to do next. She certainly had not dreamed of becoming a full member of House Liam herself. But Regolant saw in her thoughtfulness and diplomatic nature the potential of a leader, and, without pressure, encouraged her to consider to become more, to swear fealty to House Liam and thereby help him in his mission.

Her joining this exiled House and turning her back on the favours bestowed to her by her former noble allies caused a real stir in all the courts of Ardenmore. In their eyes, by this act, she had only confirmed the vile nature of this House, and she incurred the wrath of all the Sidhe. This was something she had anticipated, and had discussed at length with Regolant before she swore her oaths. She looks now at this with some irony: she, who has always despised treachery, is now a member of the “House of traitors”!

What she had not anticipated, however, was the reaction she got from her new House: the Redcaps at Irondew in particular made her life immensely tough. Though they did occasionally beat her, the fight was mostly psychological @ (though they also did eat her few belongings). Lord Regolant and other senior members of House Liam turned mostly a blind eye, and she realised this was a test of her loyalty, of her resolve. Though she did consider leaving at one point, she persevered, and after about a year, the hazing stopped. Only very recently she has been fully admitted to House Liam. She is a noble now, but only very rarely uses the title–a title that, in most circles, brings her more harm than good. The title is inconsequential to her: she swore fealty to the House because they fight for a cause she believes in, and as a way to repay the kindness she has been shown by Regolant. House Liam shows Arcadia what its world could be like: just, compassionate, honourable, if slightly anarchic.

Character Profile: Vitali, Male Sidhe

In preparation for a new campaign I’ve been preparing, I’ve asked all the players to create a profile of their character and send them to me. I thought it might be of interest to others too, so I’ll post them all here.

The campaign will be set in Ardenmore, and we’ve decided to use only The Wyld Hunt cards to create the characters. We decided on the following rules: Characters have 5 default points for Merits. Each character needs 2 Abilities, at least 1 Advantage, and at least 1 Art. Each character needs at least one Flaw (of more than 1 point). No Allies are allowed. And, most importantly of all, whatever cards are chosen need to work together, to create a realistic character with certain strengths and weaknesses. Each player was also asked to provide a background story that explains the Merits and Flaws that were chosen, but that also left some things unsaid.

So, without further ado, here is the first profile.

Sidhe, Male — Vitali

Might: 2, Savvy: 3, Resolve: 2

Noble–You are a member of the nobility. This privilege can never be revoked.




Ability: Commanding Presence (Savvy, Seelie, 2 points), Vengeful (Resolve, Unseelie, 2)

Advantage: Cityboy (2)

Treasure: Bag of Gold (x2, 1)

Art: Dictum (Sovereign, 2)


Weakness: Dishonest (Savvy, Unseelie, 1)

Enemy: Sophia’s Hatred (3)

How should I describe Vitali? He is a spoiled, selfish, spiteful, vain, and untrustworthy noble brat. He is probably also one of of the most charming persons you’ll ever meet.

Vitali grew up at in the city of Eidolon, and only went out of town a few times, and each time against his will: once for a wedding of his cousin, held in a fancy “magical” pavillion some knockers built for the festivities in Goldenreach Fields; and several times in the autumn to Oceanius, where his family went on holiday each year. But he did not like what he saw: too many commoners, too much poverty and misery. So he has stayed for most of his life in Eidolon. He knows the place well, and feels at home there, especially at the court of Gamine.

Vitali is a common presence at all the main social events in Eidolon, and people like to have him around. Especially if they are visitors to Eidolon and don’t know him well. He is charming, and you feel glamourous just by being in his presence. But the nobility of Eidolon are getting a little tired of his antics, especially after what happened when Lady Sophia last visited the capital. What happened? No one quite knows. Or, at least, no one dares to talk about it. Some think he insulted her betrothed, Lord Gamine. Others speculate Vitali got too drunk and tried to rape her. Others think she is just a stuck up bitch who probably made all of it up to discredit Vitali because he ignored her clumsy advances. Whatever the reason, Lady Sophia now hates him, ardently, and Lord Gamine’s patience with him has worn very thin.

He is born in wealth, and likes to flaunt it. Money often gets commoners to do the proper thing. If wealth doesn’t work, his skill in the Art of Sovereign helps him to impose his will on the idiot commoners that serve the court.

In the rare case that he has done you a favour, you’ll know about it, because he’ll constantly remind you of it. If you’ve wronged him, you’ll know it even more. He is not someone who forgives, nor does he forget. Except when he owes you something, and especially so if you are a commoner. Then he forgets. Or he doesn’t even notice. It is hard to tell sometimes. But chances are you won’t mind too much, as long as he favours you. Because he is charming and a pleasure to be around, and that charisma does a good job of hiding his unpleasant traits, sometimes long enough for you to forget what he really is like.


Scrye magazine often published articles about collectible card games that were written by the game’s creators. Often these are not very exciting–sometimes they are little more than an excerpt from the rule book–but they certainly were a good way to get good publicity for the game you created!

Scrye #17 (November 1996) included a full map of Ardenmore with a brief article describing some of its prominent sites written by Mike Tinney, one of the creators of Arcadia. The text of the article is mostly based on the League cards themselves, and thus does not provide any information players themselves would not already possess, but this was the first time, I believe, that players were shown what the entire kingdom of Ardenmore looked like, when all the Leagues were put together. (Click on each image for a bigger version.)



Fealty to House Liam — Card Notes

– You have a noble title and are entitled to the privileges therein.
– You recover 2 times the listed Rest at any House Liam-held Castle.

House Liam, one of the five Seelie noble Houses in the World of Darkness, is by far the most controversial of them all. It is a House of the exiled, and (at least in the eyes of most Kithain) a House of oathbreakers. The trouble started with the founder of the House, Lord Liam himself. The history of Liam’s exile from the ranks of nobility is troubled and complex. Those interested can read the details in Noblesse Oblige: The Book of Houses. The Changeling handbook summarises it like this (page 110):

The quietest (and some say the wisest) of all the house founders, Lord Liam was exiled to Earth for his eloquent defense of mortal folk. Centuries ago, the earliest Kithain held a great contempt for humans. Many saw them as the cause of rapidly spreading Banality, and some argued that revenge against them would remove this curse from the world. For many years, Liam stood alone against those who argued for retribution against humans. The outrage against Lord Liam was so great that all who supported him were condemned by the High Lords of Arcadia, and his followers were exiled to Earth.

Members of House Liam don’t see humans as perfect—far from it. They do, however, believe that humanity has earned the right to exist undisturbed. They fiercely despise Ravaging and Banality; their peaceful demeanors can turn wrathful when they encounter such.

All this happened long ago, at the end of the sixth century AD. House Liam remained in exile on Earth, guarding their few remaining freeholds or, in some cases, even remaining fully in the world of men. Some fled back to the Dreaming.

During the Resurgence, House Liam was again exiled from Arcadia. Nobless Oblige (page 114):

House Liam’s return to Earth was no choice at all; members of the house of oathbreakers were expelled with dispatch. There are many tales of those who attempted to stay in Arcadia—most of which end in violence—enough to justify resentment against any other house. The expulsion of House Liam was swift, direct and harsh.

As this card shows, however, not all members of House Liam were expelled from Arcadia, and, as we will see below, there is indeed still a stronghold of Liam in Ardenmore. But its members are still reviled by most nobles, and they continue to be seen as traitors. Though Sidhe of this House will still be respected as Sidhe, other members of the House are normally not given that same respect. The few territories they still claim in Arcadia are barren, desolate, grim places—like the Marsh of Grey Filth—that other Houses gladly avoid.

Members of House Liam do not advertise their allegiance. Though it is not a small House by any means, it lives mostly in secrecy, and its members roam the world, often serving as sages, loremasters and storytellers who remember the earliest fae societies (Changeling, page 110).

Though House Liam readily accepts commoners, there are very few commoners who belong to House Liam. This is mostly because of two reasons: it is not easy to meet the high standards expected of the members of this House, but very few commoners also desire to belong to a House with such a troubled reputation. Perhaps as a result of its exiled statues, House Liam expects its members to uphold their oaths of fealty strictly. If anyone—noble or commoner—wishes to join the House, they have to convince an assembly of the entire House to accept them. The candidate’s past actions are scrutinised, their motives questioned, and their character examined. Few make it beyond this step. The few that do are conditionally accepted into House Liam. They will have to live with the House for a year before they make their final oath, the Oath of Union, and are free to change their mind at any time before the year is over. It is not unusual that younger members of the House haze these petitioners, and test their resolve. If they stick to it, they can then swear fealty to the House of Liam and will from then on be considered members of the House. The candidate takes the Oath of Union while naked, standing before the witness of the House with eyes closed. If she is convinced of the candidate’s sincerity, she will clothe him in simple white robes, and accept him into the House. Because it is so rare that someone joins Liam, members who do choose to belong to the House are often seen as more honorable than those who are merely born into it.

Whether by birth or not, membership to a House is sworn with oaths, and as I have discussed here, oaths are never taken lightly. The Oath of Union captures well the weight of this commitment:

I come naked before you, unbound by ties of blood and honor,
Unbound by doubts or hesitations. I stand unadorned before you.
I humbly ask that House Liam clothe me, in the manner of the house;
In the manner that is fitting. I pray that you grant me this boon.
I swear I will accept the burdens of House Liam, as they are no burdens;
It is not hardship to protect. I swar that I will take them up with joy.
I hope that I will wither if I fail it, as a rose without water;
As a life without meaning: For my life is united with the house.

After this oath, members of the House—whether by birth or by acceptance—take a second oath, the Oath of Duty:

May the light of the Sun burn my skin,
May the light of the Moon bring me fear,
May the food of the Earth bring me hunger,
May the waters of Life parch my throat
Should I forgo the compas of my journey,
Should I neglect the care of the Dreaming,
Should I be blind to the needs of my charges,
Should I ignore the purity of my duty.

Apart from Sidhe, of course, the most common kith in House of Liam are Boggans, Pooka, and Eshu, though a few Sluaghs and even the odd Redcap have been known to join the House.

As these oaths illustrate, House Liam has very high standards of morality and duty and nobles of other Houses recognise this, even if they do not wish to declare so publicly. Many sidhe admit (in private) that the individuals of the house are usually of pure heart and honest mind (Noblesse Oblige page 116).

Liam is overwhelmingly Seelie, and the official House Liam position… is that the Unseelie Court is completely unwelcome within the house. Those found to be of that court are stripped immediately of any title they hold and drummed out of the house, or worse. (ibid., page 116) In practice, though, things are more complicated, and there are some Unseelie members of the House, even if they are very few—far fewer than would be found in any other Seelie House.

There is but one Liam-held Castle in Arcadia: Irondew Keep, the home of Lord Regolant. This border fort stands east of the Grey River, in the dank Marsh of Grey Filth, in a nomansland between Ardenmore and Middlemarch . It is an unusual stronghold for House Liam: Here, an army of Unseelie goblins and Redcaps obeys the orders of Lord Regolant, a House Liam Seelie noble. It is a haven for misfits, who all abide (to some extent) to the rule of Lord Regolant, and are united in their fight against the madness of King Ironheart, whose mechanical troops regularly invade their land.

Since Lord Regolant does support Lord Gamine of Ardenmore, Irondew Keep is Ardenmore’s first line of defence against the armies of Middlemarch, and in the events between The Wyld Hunt and King Ironheart’s Madness, Irondew is the first stronghold to be sacked by Ironheart’s Cog troops. The ruins of the once great if controversial house become then the staging ground for future assaults on Ardenmore.

The blazon of House Liam

In Changeling: The Dreaming, there is little said about the specific nature and position of House Liam in Arcadia after the Resurgence. Indeed, it is suggested that the entire House was exiled. But many members of House Liam on Earth have visions of what their House is like in the heart of the Dreaming. Noblesse Oblige: The Book of Houses describes it as follows (page 114):

There is a persistent dream that has come to many members of the house: A number of House Liam knights led by King Liam battle their way through opposing forces to bring a group of mortals into Arcadia with them. This small band, under the cover of night and concealing magics, journey to a distant corner of Arcadia where they establish a city, away from prying eyes.

In the dream, this city is a shining monument to the ideals of House Liam. King Liam and his mortals find joy in companionship and in living in cooperation. This union demonstrates the value of truth between faeries and mortal-kind. He rules there, or so the dreams have it, even to this day.

However, the book is quick to add, this tale is as ridiculous from the first word to the last. One can hardly imagine what effects a community of mortal worshippers would have on the purity of Arcadia. And, even if by some miracle such a city could exist, all in Arcadia would surely feel the strangeness of it. It is nearly impossible to believe that no mortals from that city would have been returned to Earth upon the Resurgence. The tale cannot be true.

Nevertheless, since the Resurgence humans do exist in Arcadia, and, since the Dreaming depends on the dreams and imagination of mortals, they have an unusual power over the land. Given House Liam’s long interest in humans, it is rather likely that at least some of these humans have been taken into the protection of Liam, if not into its very House.

Whiselkane’s Lane — Card Notes

Near the juncture of the Eastern Coast and Arden roads, a graybeard Satyr named Whiselkane watches and waits in the forest. Although flighty and distrustful, the elderly bard knows a great many things.

And now, a brief note on the age of the Kithain, disguised as a “Card Note”.

Kithain are grouped in three age categories: Childlings, Wilders, and Grumps or Greybeards.

Childlings are those between the age of 3 and 13. As children, they have the freedom to play, and revel in the glamorous world of Arcadia. They are not all innocent and naive, though, and can be vicious. They are not given much importance in fae society, and are not involved in the affairs of the adults, but they are protected. As the Changeling book states (page 86): Childlings enjoy a certain degree of privilege in Kithain society. They’re nurtured, taught and encouraged. Because they’re learning, they’re often forgiven for their misdoings. Inexperience, however, shuts them out from many adult activities. The solution is to live in a dream of their own. In their own private reality, playtime never ends.

Wilders are the adolescents, those between the age of 13 and 25. They have the vigour, enthusiasm, ambition, and recklessness of youth. It is not uncommon for Wilders to be in positions of great authority and power in fae society. Says the Changeling handbook (page 86): Living on the edge, wilders follow ambitions that propel them into positions of responsibility without authority. Rebelling out of desperation is the natural response. … Wilders live lives filled with constant energy and motion. Chaos and adventure fuels their very essence.

Finally, the Grumps or Greybeards are those above 25. “Greybeard” is the term they prefer for themselves, but “grump” is what they are generally called by Wilders, because they see them as cynical persons who have lost their idealism. Though Greybeards can indeed be bitter, grumpy old men and woman, they often also have the advantage of accumulated wisdom and experience. Since Wilders rarely care for anything that they have not directly experience, Greybeards are the keepers of lore and tradition, and hope that at least some Wilders will carry those on. Though Wilders often occupy prominent positions at the courts of Arcadia, the Greybeards often exert their influence more subtly, behind the scenes—an influence that is not to be understimated.

Of the three, Greybeards are the only category named in Arcadia. There is mention of Greybeards (or “Graybeards”, as it is spelled here) in two Leagues. Whiselkane’s Lane, pictured above, which is named after a graybeard Satyr named Whiselkane who lives here. And at The Eastern Coastal Road, pictured below, a graybeard Knocker lives near here and sells a hundred kites a year.

Sandman — Card Notes

One of the restless dead, a wraith, has blundered its way into Arcadia, the land of the Dreaming. The wraith is a Sandman, and it attempts to haunt your dreams, depriving you of any rest and taxing your spirit. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated.

This is another instance of a crossover with one of the settings of the World of Darkness. Wraith: The Oblivion was the least popular of the World of Darkness lines, and, ironically, the shortest lived. Wraith was launched in 1994—a year before Changeling—and ended in 1999. Wraiths are the spirits of the dead who are still bound to something of this world and can therefore not “transcend” or leave for the hereafter. They are trapped in the Underworld until they come to peace with their death, and roam there restlessly, trying to resist the pull of Oblivion. Not a very cheery setting for a role playing game!

Wraiths feed on raw emotion or Pathos, which gives them their spiritual arts or powers (Arcanoi). Wraith society is divided into 13 Guilds, each of which excels one of these arts of the dead. The Sandmen—one of the 13 Guilds of the Wraith—are Wraith who excel at the creative use of Phantasm, the art that manipulates dreams and creates illusions. They are the dramaturgists and actors of the Wraith world, who offer entertainment in the grim cities of the dead. The Wraith handbook (page 156) describes the Sandmen like this:

Charged with artistic fervor and a love for the dramatic, the Sandmen sculpted stages of dreamstuff and performed great works in the theatres of sleep. Deathlords and Anacreons bartered for their services, and the arts of Phantasm granted considerable prestige. […] Phantasm was more than a job to them, it was a labor of love. Even today, wandering troupes of Sandmen bring their shows to Necropoli across the world, recounting tales and rumors because they love nothing better. Sandmen clothe themselves in gossamer, a faintly incandescent material borrowed from dreams. They are also distinguishable by their often over-dramatic mannerisms and bearing.

Of all the Wraith, the Sandmen are most closely linked with the fae. The Sandmen Guildbook spends considerable time on their relationship (page 37-38). I quote a few passages from that here:

Though seeming so similar in origin, vampires and wraiths share few characteristics. The opposite question arises among those who know of changelings (fae inhabiting the Earth): What do Sandmen not have in common with changelings? Both exist in a world spun from the gossamer silk of dreams. Both live for their imaginations and dread the mundane. And both enjoy sharing their inspiration and artistic appreciation with others of like mind. However, most changelings whom we encounter fear us immensely—to them we are the terrifying stuff of legends, creeping out of the afterlife from our so-called Dream Pits to haunt the changelings and their kind. A silly, but understandable myth. […]
Changelings and Sandmen are often drawn to one another by their shared interest in the imaginative capacity of dreams. Amusingly, some Seelie fae speculate that we are but a by-product of their Unseelie kin; that we are but chimera created by twisted fae imaginations. They believe that, like ours, the Unseelie power over dreams is a dark one, often twisting mortal imagination toward change and madness, away from tradition and inhibition.

To the Sandmen, the fae offer both peril and pleasurable prospects. As the Guildbook continues (page 58):

I mention all this to give my warning context: Beware the fae, so seductive to such as we! By nature we are drawn to illusion, dynamism, unspeakable beauty and mysterious allure—all the things that changelings represent. So potent is their dreaming that we, who are more susceptible than most, become lost in their fae “reality”. Sandmen slipping into their dreams (an easier process than entering those of mortals, but far more dangerous) have reported sighting their chimera (their term for mythical monsters) following them long after the changeling awakened.
Horror stories of this sort abound: Regis Finbane, the well-known Sandman actor, is said to have entered a changeling’s dream one night twenty years ago and never returned. Others who have tried to steal changelings’ souls have disappeared as well. Some say that our lost Guild brothers have become monsters in these changelings’s dreams, but no one knows for sure.

On the other hand, dangerous as they are, these fae exude almost impossible amounts of imagination and can be valuable allies in the quest for drama. Changelings are said to produce Sands [the glittering dust harvested from dreams, which Sandmen use for their craft] far richer and more various than any mortal can—and on a nightly basis. […] But you are well-advised to harvest changeling Sand carefully: just as harvesting leaves mortal dreamers listless the next day, harvesting Sand from changelings leaves them strangely weakened come morning. Prolonged harvesting can kill them—but, be sure, once they find out you’re harvesting them, you won’t continue for long.

Of all the Wraith, the Sandmen are thus the most dangerous to the fae. As a Sluagh explains (in the Changeling handbook, page 286):

There are ghosts out there who drink the dream right out of you. They’re called Sandmen, and once one sinks his claws into you, he’ll never let go until you’re drained dry. Ever have one of those mornings where you just don’t want to get out of bed, and you can’t remember your name unless it’s written on the bathroom mirror? That’s a sign a Sandman’s been at you.

Then again, if you can get a Sandman to be your friend, you’ve got it made. Think about it—you get to go make dreams! It’s hard to get started on that type of friendship, though. It’s one of those “You-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter/You-swiped-the-creativity-that-fuels-my-existence” sort of things.

And now it turns out one of these has made its way into Arcadia—don’t ask me how!—and threatens to feed on the dreams of any fae it encounters. If you face this Waylay, you have to battle the Wraith with your willpower and pass a resolve test.

According to the Changeling handbook (page 286), a changeling who is affected by a Sandman loses Glamour “for every night of the wraith’s attention”. You could therefore argue that a Character who fails this Resolve test, should exhaust an Art if able, and may not unexhaust Arts until the Wraith is overcome again. The Character may try again each turn to overcome the Resolve test against the Wraith (which does not count as his encounter for that turn, and has no negative effect when failed). Or, if your Character is able to turn a Resolve test into a Savvy one, you could also try to convince the Wraith the dreams of another fae would be so much nicer than your own.

Glamour Dance — Card Notes

Glamour Dance

Sprites are attracted to Glamour in your area. They have come to siphon the Glamour energy. If you’re not careful, they’ll siphon your Glamour as well, but if you can join them, you may take part in their dance to gain Glamour.

If you fail a Savvy Test with the sprites, exhaust all of your Arts, and discard any Arts that were already exhausted. If you win a Savvy Test against the sprites, you may recover any Arts you have exhausted. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated.

This is a Waylays from They Wyld Hunt I’m fond of, because unlike most Waylays this one is not an encounter you want to avoid, but one that you want to join in!

Glamour is what dreams are made of, and thus the very foundation of the Dreaming, at the heart of which lies Arcadia. It is “the living force of the Dreaming” (Changeling, page 8). Just as this world is made of matter, the world of the Dreaming is made of Glamour, and the deeper you travel into the Dreaming, the purer the Glamour. It is best described in the first edition of the Changeling handbook (page 56): The whole being of a changeling is suffused with a magical energy called Glamour. Glamour describes the mystical, elemental power of what exists on the Other Side, in the realms of fantasy and fancy. While chimera are the “physical” embodiments of dreams and imagination, Glamour is the “power source” that fuels and animates those chimera and the Dreaming as a whole. When a changeling draws upon Glamour, she draws upon the very energy of the Dreaming. That energy can be used to alter the Dreaming or change and modlfy material reality. Changelings can use Glamour to evoke their magical arts and cast their mischievous cantrips.

Or, this is how the second edition (page 151) describes it: The stuff of dreams, the magical clay, the energy of awe, the workings of wonder, the breeze that blows the cobwebs of disbelief from our eyes—Glamour is all of these things and more. The ability to live your dreams, to perceive the true and fantastic essence of the world, abides in Glamour. Everyone can create it, even normal humans. However, only the fae have the ability to give it form, to use it, and to wield its creations as a weapon.

The Arts work by shaping or manipulating Glamour, which is why you want to join in this Glamour Dance—the dance will restore your exhausted Arts by “replenishing” your Glamour. You’ll have to charm the sprites, asking them to let you join them, because you run the risk of losing your own Arts!

Sprites are “born of fancy and delight” (Changeling, page 278). They are not malicious by nature—at worst, they are just mischievous—but you could become an unfortunate collateral casualty of their magic dance.

Pre-order promo cards

Before the release of each Arcadia sets, White Wolf produced the pre-order promo cards pictured here, which were meant to create some excitement for each Arcadia release and give retailers an idea of how many boxes they should order—not a bad idea at a time when a new collectible card game was produced every month.

I can’t remember where the The Wyld Hunt pre-order cards were included. The King Ironheart’s Madness ones were included in The Wyld Hunt packs. Though a third set, The Lion’s Den, was planned, there were no pre-order cards for that set, as far as I know. They were not included in King Ironheart’s Madness packs, which perhaps suggests that the decision to not produce the final set had by then already been made.

Naga Guardians — Card Notes

The Naga are reclusive and untrusting of strangers. To gain their trust, you must use reason to make your case. If you fail, the Merit you exhaust must be an Art if possible. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated.

The Naga are guardians of ancient secrets and masters of the Arts. The have chosen to live far from the other fae, in the far, desolate steppes of the south-east of Middlemarch, in the wastelands around the Ruins of Srissan—the remains of a civilization none but the Naga still remember. Naga culture is often misunderstood by outsiders, and, on the rare occasion that outsiders meet Naga, this has often led to great conflict. For the Naga are strong-willed and prone to aggression—it is certainly no coincidence that the Merit Naturally Aggressive in Arcadia depicts a Naga! Their poisonous weapons are universally feared—a simple scratch from them can, if untreated, kill even the strongest warrior.

As the Naga Character cards state: We are the ancient mysteries, the strangest magics. The forgotten places are ours to roam. Do not cross us, for our humor is likely beyond your understanding.

Nevertheless, time and again adventurers of Arcadia have sought out their help, because they know more of Arcadia than anyone else—not of the current happenings in Arcadia, though, but of its history: what every other kith has forgotten, the Naga guard. But, more importantly, they know Arcadia better than anyone else, because they have an unparalleled mastery over Glamour and the Arts, which shape the very land of Arcadia. Male Nagas are born with a proclivity to Pyretics, which lets them manipulate the power of fire, which is used in benign ways to create Will-o’-the-Wisp that let them scout out terrain but is also used in combat to deadly effects (to blind the opponent, to engulf her in flame, or even to create an ally of living flame). Female Nagas, on the other hand, master Imagery, an Art which lets them create new forms (and is thus unlike Chicanery, which works only by altering the perception of others). Compared to the innate powers of their male counterparts, Imagery may seem like a fairly benign Art, but those who have been targeted by this Art in combat certainly disagree!

A female Naga (from King Ironheart’s Madness)

It is especially because of their mastery of the Arts that others have sought out the Nagas. Some travel to Srissan in the hope of gaining some of their power, but the strange customs of the Nagas and their unpredictable temperament—unpredictable, at least, to those with little knowledge of their ways—have made this incredibly difficult. Some who have travelled to those wastelands have not returned, though no one quite knows why: the wastelands are certainly not the most hospitable regions of Middlemarch, and it is easy to perish even before finding Srissan, but there are also rumours that the Naga occasionally devour persons who have breached their codes. Others have indeed found Srissan, only to be expelled and gained the perpetual enmity of the Naga. But most travellers were just ignored, and ultimately left the Naga capital disillusioned, neither wiser nor more powerful. What drives people to Srissan, however, are the tales of the rare individual who has been accepted by the Naga as one of their own, and was rewarded with great power and treasure. Some, it is rumoured, have even been honoured by the Naga and received not just their loyalty but also their secrets, though many who have encountered the Naga think this to be a myth.

Whilst the Naga are secretive and prefer to keep to their own, a few individuals—such as the renowned Nyya, “Mistress of Secrets”—have formed allies with other fae and live among them. For their knowledge and mastery of the Arts they are immensely honoured: they are used to cancel Arts cast by others and the more powerful Naga can even “absorb” the Arts of others, giving them temporary mastery over them. These special abilities have made such lone Naga very desired, and they are frequently offered immense riches and great protection for their services, which gives them more comfort and power than they perhaps would have found in Naga society. The downside, however, is that even these Naga remain Naga, and are thus not easily convinced to join your cause.

A male Naga (from King Ironheart’s Madness)

However, the chances of encountering a Naga away from their homeland is rare, and when you do encounter one, as in this Waylay, it is almost certainly one who guards their home from the eyes of unwanted intruders. They will block your passage and though they could easily use force, they will try in various ways to dissuade you from travelling further. You must exhaust an Art when failing this Waylay, because that is where their power lies—if reasoning fails, they will strip you of your ability to use the Arts of Arcadia.

The Naga, mythical serpents of India, were introduced in King Ironheart’s Madness. There is no reference to them in The Wyld Hunt and were also not part of the Changeling world at the time, and, to the best of my knowledge, were never introduced in any later book.

They were, however, included (as Nagah) in the world of Werewolf, as one of the many “changing breeds”. They were there introduced in 2001 in the “breedbook” Nagah, and included in the 2001 The Players’ Guide to the Changing Breeds (see pages 121-129). These works could be useful to develop ideas for playing Naga Characters in Arcadia,  there are nevertheless important differences between the Naga of Arcadia and the Nagah of Werewolf. Like the Naga, the Nagah are secretive and prone to aggression, but they are a “changing breed”, shapeshifting weresnakes. They appear like humans and keep their Nagah identity secret—even many of the other changing breeds do not know of their continued existence. They now act mostly as assassins, but were created by Gaia with a very specific purpose. As stated in Nagah (page 14): When the world was young, the Nagah were given the task of watching the other Changing Breeds, to make certain that their cousins performed their jobs fairly and well. They had no need to reward those faithful to Gaia and their duties—those that did well found reward enough. But those who betrayed their duties, who abused the trust given them—these shapeshifters were the true targets of the Nagah. For the Nagah had been given venom—and their job was to punish. The Nagah were nearly driven to extinction by the Garou, as retaliation of the assassination of a Garou leader—and now rarely reveal themselves, trying to carry out their assigned mission in the greatest secret.

The Naga of Arcadia are clearly different—the last thing they probably want to do is to police everyone else! But I think of them in somewhat similar terms as the Nagah: they are the ancient guardians of Arcadia who have lost sight of their original purpose over the centuries—perhaps when their fertile, tropic lands turned into the dry, sterile wasteland it is now. Now they just hoard their unequalled insight in and knowledge of that world, using it to grow in power rather than for the benefit of the greater good.