– 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.
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.