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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Road to Skyeholme — Card Notes

This road leads through the Arborian Nation. It begins in the Kingdom of Night and ends in the High King’s palace in Skyeholm. With so much traffic, one never quite knows who one might meet.

Skyeholme (or Skyeholm, as it is sometimes spelled) is the mountain stronghold of High King Ardlanth, who brought peace to Arcadia and united its principal realms. This road was once one of the main thoroughfare’s of Arcadia, linking the Ardlanth’s court with that of his principal vassal, Middlemarch. It ran westwards from Middlemarch’s capital, and met the Grey River in the Kingdom of Night, but then ran towards the north, through the Arborian Nation—the realm of the tree-people, like the Willowtree and Oak-kin—to the mountain kingdom of Ardlanth.

But now the road is scarcely used. The Darkening has fallen over Skyeholme and has frozen the High King and all his subjects to stone. King Ironheart quickly took advantage of the ensuing political chaos. He has long had ambitions to rule the entirety of Arcadia, and built Mechopolis, his industrial capital city, to rival with the palace of Skyeholme. Seizing the opportunity, he sent his Cog troops to conquer the surrounding lands. His forces have already invaded Ardenmore, and he has already conquered the easternmost outposts of the Arborian Nation, destroying its woods to fuel his industries.

Few people still venture into Skyeholme. Rumours of the Darkening have reached Middlemarch and Ardenmore, but none that have since ventured into the High King’s realm have returned.

Skyeholme and its surrounding regions and the story of Ardlanth’s fate were to be the subject of the third Arcadia set, The Lion’s Den, which was never released. We will likely never know for certain what happened at the High King’s court, what the true nature of the Darkening is, or even what Skyeholme, the Kingdom of Night, and the rest of the Arborian nation is like.

One never quite knows who one might meet. How pregnant that phrase is now!

Tsu Ocean — Card Notes

The mighty Tsu Ocean has been receding for the last two hundred years. Each year, a little more of the coastline is exposed, and a few more dispossessed Tritons venture onto the mainland.

I bet the Ocean Leagues are the least used Leagues in Arcadia. They can only be placed next to a Border or another Ocean. They have a very high Enter and Leave Trial (some even require a Might Trial of 7 to enter or leave!), and they generally don’t let you recover anything if you fail the Trial. There is only one Quest that requires you to use them (The Flower Quest, which has you travel to Orchid Isle), but apart from that you never have to travel to the Ocean. And since they seem too difficult to use, why bother? These Leagues seem pointless.

What do we know about the Tsu Ocean? It lies to the east of Ardenmore and Middlemarch, and stretches “to the edge of Arcadia”. As two Tsu Ocean Leagues state, the Ocean has been receding gradually for two centuries, bringing every year more Mer and Tritons to the shores of Ardenmore and Middlemarch. It has been the site of several battles between King Ironheart and Lord Gamine, and in the southern parts Ironheart’s military vessels still scour the seas. Though the shores are relatively safe, the Ocean can be treacherous, and underneath its gentle surface strong currents drag the inexperienced swimmer far from land. The Tsu Ocean is particularly dangerous in the South, where seafarers try to steer clear of Ironheart’s patrolling cog troops—like his Cog Dreadnoughts, “gargantuan mechanical war-boats” which are quick to see anyone else cresting the waves to be threat, or the rarer, but not less dangerous, Cog Submarines, that might be easier to disarm than to destroy. My favourite, though, is the Cog Squid: “First you see the rainbow sheen of oil rippling on the water’s surface. Then your boat shifts under you as something huge displaces the water as it passes below. Finally, the clanking tentacles snake into the air around you, and you know you have a fight on your hands.” But the Ocean itself is also more merciless in the South: its waves have broken even mighty ships and carry the flotsam and jetsam of countless vessels. Only the most experienced—or the most foolish—sail far from the relative safety of Middlemarch’s coast.

So why would you venture out into the Ocean? It does indeed not seem worth the risk. Except, of course, if you are a Mer. Or a Triton. Or a Selkie. These three kith live in the Ocean. The Mer and Triton live under the Ocean’s surface. Mer build their coral cities on the Ocean’s floor, and that is also where the warrior tribes of the Tritons normally dwell. Both have surfaced more frequently in recent decades not just because of the receding shoreline, but also to fight against King Ironheart’s mindless pollution which is literally spilling into their realms. Selkies too have joined this fight. They are residents not of the deep see but of the “continually shifting shoreline” (The Toybox p. 127), and to save their kind have taken up the fight against Ironheart, who has been stealing the sealskin of Selkie’s and thereby enslaving them.

That there are 3 kith in Arcadia with ties to the Ocean is remarkable, given that they are very rare in Changeling: The Dreaming. Selkies were only introduced in a later source book on San Francisco, Immortal Eyes: The Toybox (see page 127), but almost as an afterthought. Mer(folk) were alluded to in some places, but not as character you’d play. There were no other Ocean kith in Changeling at the time that Arcadia was published. Mer characters were introduced in The Wyld Hunt and these aquatic characters figured also prominently on the artwork of many Merits and Flaws, signalling that the Ocean might play a prominent role in this world. The other two Ocean kith—Selkies and Triton—were introduced in King Ironheart’s Madness. Mer(folk) and Triton would not appear fully in the World of Darkness until 1999, when Blood-dimmed Tides was published. This sourcebook (useable for all World of Darkness lines) deals with the oceans, and introduces Merfolk (see page 59-70) as well as Heiké Crabs (page 56), which bear a striking resemblance to Tritons.

Of course, you do not need to play with any of these aquatic Kith to venture into the Ocean. These kith may be at home in the seas and be able to breathe under water, but the other kith are not prohibited from entering into the ocean either, even from visiting the fabled coral cities of the Mer. They can swim, of course, but they are more likely to take a boat, a ship, a dingy, or a raft and sail or row or float away. Some of the Waylays actually suggest this: see Capsized, for instance.

 

There are quite a few Ocean Waylays, actually—perhaps more so than one would initially suspect. In Arcadia’s ports you might bump into Buccaneer Colony or some Pirates or Slavers who wish to ship you off to Middlemarch’s Fack Tories,  or perhaps the Old Man of the Sea. The peaceful sea’s surface might suddenly turn into a swirling Whirlpool, “sucking you into the depths”, or you might have face a typhoon (see the Waylays Hurricane and Tornado, which can be played on Ocean Leagues). Along the shores of Middlemarch you are likely to sail into Polluted Water, at places where the sludge from his industrial sites is dumped into the sea. The creatures of the Ocean are no less scary. There are the Waterrunners, “large amphibians” who run on the water’s surface, and Water Elementals, who “have been known to attack boats and siphon their occupants down into the cold embrace of the deep waves.” There are Flocks of Harpies, who are the embodiment of stormy winds. And there are the vicious Rokeas or weresharks, who are luckily not all intent to kill you—some, like Dapper Rokea, even want you to work for them.

And then there is the Passing Kraken, which makes more sense when used in a full Ocean quest: “One of the two known Krakens in the Arcadian seas is swimming in this area, unaware of the disaster resulting from its passage. The water churns violently, and one of its tentacles smashes into you, upsetting your boat and leaving you to fight the monstrous undertow of the creature’s wake.” It does seem strange that such a giant creature would swim along Arcadia’s shallow shores, but if you are far at sea it seems more realistic to have one of these nonchalantly brush past you. (I do like that they gave it a Combat value of 89 just in case someone wanted to pick a fight with it!).

As I mentioned, Ironheart’s Cog Navy patrols in the South, but you will equally have to be wary of other troops. A Zip of Zeppelins might drift overhead. (You’d have to be really savvy to not be seen by them when you are in open waters! You’ll want to adjust the difficulty of this Test when using it in this setting.) Or you’ll be attacked from above by a swift Icarian Flying Skiff on their way to raid a coastal village.

There are quite a few common Waylays that can be played on Ocean Leagues, and they often have to be interpreted very differently than if they were played on land. Take Huntsman’s Snare: “You’ve triggered a huntsman’s snare. You’d best break free before the hunter returns.” As the illustration and name suggests this will generally be used on land when you are caught in a hunter’s trap, but it can be played on an Ocean League too, when you would be caught in a fisher’s net. Or take Lost! where you have become lost at sea, unable to determine where you are because there is no land in sight. Or Worn-out when you have become seasick or just sick of the sea. Each of these can be interpreted differently when set on the Ocean.

There are 5 different Tsu Ocean Leagues (3 in The Wyld Hunt, 2 in King Ironheart’s Madness), and a few special locations such as The City of Coral Ocean, the “last true home of the Mer” or The Graveyard of Ships, the site of an naval battle between Ardenmore and Middlemarch, and some important ports, such as The Shipyards and Oceanius. The Tsu Ocean Leagues are fairly common, and since they are so general they are also easily duplicated in your game. It is, therefore, not very difficult to build a significantly sized Ocean map, linking various islands and ports with each other and creating an adventure with a flavour unlike that of a normal Arcadia quest.

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.)

fealty

Geasa — Card Notes

Geasa Geasa Exhausted

Exhaust to enter a Resolve Test against another character. If successful, choose a League on the map that the targeted character must travel to before he may resume his Quest. As his encounter each day, the target may make a Resolve Trial difficulty 7 to dispel the effects of this Art and resume his Quest.

Geasa is the plural of Geas (or geis, pronounced gesh), which Wikipedia defines as “an idiosyncratic taboo, whether of obligation or prohibition, similar to being under a vow or spell.” Like many of the Arts in Arcadia, this one corresponds to a cantrip or spell found in Changeling. This is a cantrip of the Art of Sovereign, as the icon on the above card indicates (see more on this in this post of darkyeoman).

sovereign

Sovereign

With the Art of Sovereign one can control other people. Other Arts in Arcadia of this type are Protocol (in The Wyld Hunt), which forces any other person to follow nobles’ etiquette; Dictum (also in The Wyld Hunt), which forces a commoner to obey the commands of the noble caster; and Weaver Ward (in King Ironheart’s Madness), which prevents someone from entering a particular place or (as it is used in Arcadia) from acquiring a certain object. As several of these examples illustrate, the Art of Sovereign was long a well-guarded power of the nobility, who used it to control commoners, though some commoners have learned something of this Art too, to the dismay of the noble houses. (Keeping this in mind, you could decide that only noble Characters should be allowed to use Sovereign Arts in Arcadia, or come up with good story how a commoner might have learned this Art).

The Changeling rule book (page 185-186) describes Geasa, a cantrip of the Art of Sovereign, as follows:

When this cantrip is used, the power of Glamour is employed to direct a person upon a task or quest. This quest must be fulfilled to the letter, or the target suffers some kind of curse (designated at the time of casting). The target need not know what lies in store for him if he fails to complete the Geas, but the anxiety of knowing can be worse than the punishment.

The other use of this cantrip, called Ban, forbids a target from doing something or engaging in a specified activity. The most common use of this cantrip is the exile-Ban, which forces the target to leave a specified area and never return (or suffer the effect of the curse). A Ban can also be a forswearing of a  certain activity, such as smoking, killing another changeling, etc. Certain forsworn quests and oaths are Geasa of a sort, and need no caster to initiate (the oathtaker’s will and desire are initiating the cantrip). […]

A Geas can be long-term (“Fight injustice whenever you face it.”) or short-term (“No one may move  until I finish singing my ballad.”). The extent and power of the Geas (and the curse) are only limited by  the number of successes at the time of casting.

Keeping this last point in mind, if you use 10-side dice for Tests and Trials, you can decide that the power of the geas depends on the success of the Resolve Test against your opponent: for every success above your opponent’s, you add 1 to Resolve Trial he needs to make to be released from it.

There is another type of Geas in Arcadia. As mentioned in this quote, oaths are “Geasa of a sort”. One of the oaths discussed in Changeling is “The Oath of the Accepted Burden”. This is how it is described (on page 211):

Lay down your burden, that I might take it up. The road is long, and I swear I shall bear it for you, until all roads end. I shall [the actual task is named here], else may the road cease to lay beneath my feet.

Superficially similar to a geas, this oath is a promise to perform a certain deed. The nature of the deed itself is irrelevant; it could be anything from a kiss to retrieving the still-beating heart of an enemy. This oath is always made to another, and is made to verify that a task that he desires will be performed. When these words are spoken, a Willpower point is gained by both the oathmaker and the one to whom the promise is made. If the oath is not kept, each loses two Willpower points.

Sounds familiar? Here is Pilgrim’s Burden, a Waylay from The Wyld Hunt:

Pilgrim's Burden

Have you ever wondered why you would even think of continuing to lug that burden onwards when it becomes inconvenient? Why can’t you just leave it behind? It is because when you fail the Savvy Test, you have taken the Oath of the Accepted Burden, and now are forced to complete the pilgrim on behalf of the person you encountered. Oaths are not taken lightly, as we have seen, and you lose Glamour when you break one. But since this oath is a bit like a geas, it is not easy to break to begin with.

Jealous Redcap — Card Notes

Jealous Redcap

Egads! A local Redcap has accused his wife of cuckolding with you. The poor Redcap is just eaten up inside with jealousy. He’s also eaten his wife up to feed his insides, and he and his Redcap pals intend to make you dessert. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated.

Redcaps are the most vicious of the fae. If most of the fae arise from the collective dreams of mortals, redcaps spring from their nightmares. They are vulgar, violent, and truly terrifying. Other fae fear them as much as humans do. Their name derives from their headwear, a woollen cap dyed in the blood of one of their victims. It should come as no surprise that they are almost universally Unseelie.

RedcapThis Waylay, however, particularly refers to one of their strangest characteristics. They are not just violent, but also voracious eaters. They eat pretty much anything in sight. In the Redcaps Kithbook (page 31), one of the weirdest and most entertaining kithbooks, a redcap puts it like this:

What do redcaps do, you ask. Well, duh. We eat. We eat a lot. We eat everything we can get our hands on, and a few things we catch in nets and snares as well. We’ll eat stuff that’s alive, stuff that used to be alive, stuff that never was alive and stuff that might conceivably be alive in the dim and distant future, but you don’t feel like hanging around to check the results.

Now, that is not to say that we just eat everything in front of us. We’re redcaps, not vacuum cleaners. You can’t just set us to “suck a lot” and hope we’ll clear up everything in our path. I mean, come on. How stupid do we look? Yes, we eat. Yes, we’re always hungry—not, “Gee, I could go for a Chipwich right now, but it might spoil my dinner,” hungry, but rather, “I haven’t eaten in three days and I’d cut my own leg off and fry it up if I didn’t know I’d be just as hungry in an hour” sort of thing. It’s nothing we like and nothing we can control. It’s just who and what we are, and it’s always with us. We’re always empty, always needing something to fill us up. Stuffing something down the old gullet dulls that pain, at least for a little while. It’s going to come back, the same way the sun’s always going to come up in the morning, but in the meantime you can get a little peace and think straight for a bit.

The next big question is “What do redcaps eat?” The answer is “everything”. However, that’s the sort of reply that results in more nosy questions being asked, so I’m going to save you the trouble and explain it a bit more.

If you want to be technical, we’re omnivores. We eat animal matter, vegetable matter, mineral matter and now that I think about it, gray matter, too. We’re not picky, though generally when we talk about feeding someone a shit sandwich, we’re being metaphorical. All things considered, we’d rather eat something that tastes good, but in a pinch damn near anything will do. You know that story about the bunch of kids whose plane crashed and who ended up eating each other? If it had been us, there wouldn’t have been a plane left, either.

The one question that everyone is curious about but is too chicken to ask is this: Do we eat other people? (More accurately, they want to know if we eat other Kithain—screw the mundaners, even the elfiest of the lot are more worried about their own skins.)

The answer is pretty simple. Think about it. Think about the legends, and the stories, and how we got our name. Think about your worst nightmares, and the answer you really, honestly, devoutly hope isn’t true.

That’s always the right answer in the end, isn’t it? The one you don’t want to hear.

Let’s move on.

(This is then followed by 3 pages of “Eating People: The Rules”…)

This is captured in the Redcap Character card from The Wyld Hunt, which states:

What d’ya want? To talk to me? I got no time to talk to you, get outta my way! What? You really don’t know Redcaps, do ya? Okay, I’ll show you. Gimme your hand. Mmmm. Now outta my way or I’ll eat the other one too!

 

Sands of Sleep — Card Notes

Sands of SleepSands of Sleep

You may discard this card when you encounter a character or a creature Waylay. This causes the target to fall into a deep sleep and cannot move [be unable to move] or be encountered for 3 Days.

A Fianna Garou equipped with the Sands of Sleep only has to exhaust it to use it, instead of discarding it.

To explain why I like this card I’ll have to give a bit of background.

I love Werewolf: The Apocalypse. A little more, I think, than I like Changeling, but maybe that is only because I have played it more. In Werewolf you play (generally) a Garou, which is, well, a werewolf, but not one as you know it. Garou were created by Gaia, the Earth Goddess, to protect herself from evil (represented by the Wyrm). They fight the pollution, corruption, and spiritual decay that is caused by the Wyrm, whilst they also fighting themselves, because they are prone to violence themselves and, often to their own dismay, far from virtuous heroes. I’ll spare you the details, but I recommend you check it out, if you are not familiar with it. The world of the Garou is immensely rich and perhaps more consistently developed than that of Changeling. (A good introduction, as always, is the free Introductory Kit).

What I particularly like is that of all the World of Darkness games, Werewolf and Changeling are quite alike, in some ways. Both Garou and Fae fight, in their own ways, against the onslaught of some form of corruption that threatens not just this world, but also their spirit world—the Dreaming in Changeling, and the Umbra in Werewolf. But there are real connections between the two as well. Many Garou have ties to the noble houses of the Fae, and often work with them. This means it is not difficult to have a role playing campaign with both Garou and changelings, as I have participated in a few times. Good times!

 

There are different tribes of Garou, and of all these, the tribe of Fianna is particularly close to the fae. The Fianna tribe originated in the British Isles, and are said to descend from Danu, from whom also descended the Tuatha de Danaan, from whom all the fae are said to descend (though this is not entirely true; for more on this, see Immortal Eyes: Court of All Kings, page 25-26 and 30). Here is section from the Book of Lost Dreams (page 15) about the ties between the Fianna and Fae:

The greatest allies the Kithain have among the Garou are the Fianna. Bred primarily from Hibernian stock, the Fianna’s network of Kinfolk [their human relatives] is so intertwined with changeling blood that it has been know, though exceedingly rare, for Garou and Kithain (or at least kinain [human relatives of changelings with faerie blood]) children to be born of the same parents. The Fianna know more about fae society than any other Prodigals, with perhaps the exception of some mages. Fianna bards are often welcomed into fae freeholds, and Kithain are often in attendance at Fianna moots. This closeness of kin and attitudes have led some Kithain scholars to believe that the Fianna are the last Prodigals to leave the fold of fae to join the Garou.

fiannagarou

It is thus no surprise that of all the Garou, it is a Fianna that is included in Arcadia. In The Wyld Hunt a Fianna (a Galliard, to be specific, who is a guardian of sacred lore) appears as a Waylay, and there is a Fianna Character in King Ironheart’s Madness. In the Changeling: The Dreaming handbook (page 284) we read that “werewolves can enter the spirit world and travel to strange spirit realms [i.e. the Umbra]. It’s rumored that some of their elders can even travel to Arcadia, although this has never been proven.” I suppose this is proven in Arcadia. The Character card for the Fianna in King Ironheart’s Madness states:

I found my way to Arcadia years ago and have lived among my fae friends enjoying the pleasures of the fur. Now the time has come to fight, and seek out my place in legend.

The Fianna Character from King Ironheart's Madness

The Fianna Character from King Ironheart’s Madness

But now, back to Sands of Sleep! This is a good example of the cross-over between the game lines of the World of Darkness. Why do Fianna Garou only have exhaust this Treasure when they use it? Because Sands of Sleep is one of their “fetishes”. A fetish is an artefact that is imbued with the power of a spirit. When making a fetish, a Garou makes a pact with the spirit, and as long as the Garou does not violate that pact, the spirit remains in the artefact. Sands of Sleep is such a fetish. From the Werewolf Players Guide (page 125):

This fetish takes the form of a small bag made from a black material and filled with a fine powder that is absorbed when it comes into contact with liquids and solids. When activated, the bag must be swung open-end-first toward the target, striking him with the “sand”. […] To create this fetish, one of the following spirit types must be bound into the bag: Sleep, Dream, Calm or Night.

Since the Garou can create fetishes, like Sands of Sleep, this Treasure is not lost when used by a Fianna, but only exhausted. Any other kith may have acquired a little pouch of this, but once they use it, they have lost it.

Boggan Gang Bangers — Card Notes

Boggan Gang Bangers

They’re small, surly, and in rebellion against Boggan tradition. If you’re having a very unlucky day, they might even pose a threat. Discard this Waylay when it’s defeated.

The humour of this Waylay is entirely lost on those who don’t know what a boggan is. Boggans are hard-working, kind, and stocky fae, that are rather unlikely to engage in random violence. This is how they are described in the Introductory Kit (page 12):

Boggans derive their greatest pleasure from work. An honest job, good company and a regular routine are all that most boggans require. They’re known throughout Kithain society for their hard work and integrity. It is said that a boggan is as honest as the dirt on his hands.

This virtue includes a need to help others. Boggan homebodies are known for their hospitality, and few can refuse to help a traveler in need. Young boggans often take to the road to seek out those in need of help, even when this makes them seem like troublesome meddlers. Seelie boggans display altruism out of compassion and the goodness of their hearts. Unseelie boggans are drawn to the needy out of opportunistic desire. Regardless of Court, this kith’s philosophy of noble service glorifies helping others. Status among their kind is measured by the number of people they have “helped.” Beneficiaries who abuse boggan favors are cut off quickly.

There is another reason why boggans interact with others: They are notorious gossips. The secrets they just “happen to overhear” are considered just reward for their hard work. Seelie boggans insist that they gather this information out of simple curiosity. Unseelie tuck their information away to be produced on “special occasions.” Whether motivated by altruism or greed, boggans have managed to turn a vice into an art form.

Despite this weakness, boggans are deservedly proud of their reputation as hard workers. Some have been known to work themselves to death to do a job correctly. Questioning the quality of a boggan’s work is a sure way to send one into a rage. Though no one has actually seen an angry boggan stamp herself to death, some boggans are said to have done it.

It is in a boggan’s blood to do good and be honest, and the idea of a boggan youth becoming a “gang banger” is a bit incongruous, to say the least! (Notice the artwork, though: they wear red bandanas, in an attempt to be mistaken for redcaps, the most reviled and vicious of all fae—more about them in a later post). Hence the text on the card: “They’re small, surly, and in rebellion against Boggan tradition.  If you’re having a very unlucky day, they might even pose a threat.” Still, their Combat score is 3, which is not nothing!

Oathfriend — Card Notes

OathfriendOaths are not taken lightly in fae society. For a Seelie person, breaking an oath is one of the worst transgressions imaginable. As the Seelie Code states, “Never forget a debt: […] An oath of friendship should be answered with a corresponding oath. Never refuse to aid anyone to whom you are indebted.” But Unseelie do not take oaths likely either, and oaths are as common in the Unseelie Court as they are in the Seelie Court. The Changeling rulebook stresses the importance of oaths in fae culture (page 79):

Oaths are sacred vows that bind Kithain to one another in certain specified relationships or else obligate the swearer to undertake quests or journeys, fill certain roles, honor specified rights or refrain from certain actions. Some oaths bind one Kithain to another for eternity; others last for shorter periods of time. […] The whole of Kithain society helps to enforce oaths, but, more importantly, the weight of the Dreaming lends binding authority to these solemn vows.

The wording of oaths is very important, because it weaves Glamour into the bond that is formed by its speaking. Breaking an oath is not done lightly, for the consequences (usually specified at the time the oath is taken) assert themselves as soon as the oath is forsworn. In addition to any innate penalties, oathbreakers are shunned by Seelie and most Unseelie fae alike. A changeling’s sworn word is her greatest gift, and those fortunate enough to receive an oath-backed promise of loyalty or love consider themselves blessed by the Dreaming. Oaths define a changeling’s personal honor and respect. Spoken oaths are the foundation of noble society, and any who break an oath defy the values of their society and forego their right to remain a part of it.

Fae that have sworn oaths are bound together by an oathbond. Oaths can be taken between two individuals, but a group of individuals can also be bound by a common oath, forming an oathcircle. Oathcircles can be “informal”, but can also be sanctioned by a Court and thereby become official.

I find this Waylay, Oathfriend, a little strange. The text on the card doesn’t make any sense. It is a Savvy Waylay, and if you fail the Test, you lose a turn. In other words, if you can talk or charm your way out of it, you can ignore your this friend who is in need. You ignore a person with whom you have an oathbond and just get on with your life. This goes against the very idea of an oath of friendship! Why would you be penalised for upholding your oath?

So here is what I propose to do instead with this Waylay. If you encounter this Waylay, you have two choices: you help your friend, and you lose a turn, or you ignore your oathfriend, but then you have to exhaust up to 2 Arts, and you have get a -1 on all test and trials for the rest of the game (-2 if you are a Troll; see below).

This is a great card to bring storytelling into your Arcadia game, not just because this Waylay hints at a background story of your Character, but also because not all kith see oaths alike. For example, Boggans live to help others, but rarely swear oaths (I know that there is no Boggan Character card in Arcadia, but it is still interesting! :)). Sluagh may seem like the sort of kith that would not do so either, but they do help those that have helped them, and will invariably return kindness and respect. Trolls are dutiful and value honour (which is probably why the illustration on the card depicts a Troll). The Troll Character card in The Wyld Hunt states:

There is nothing so important to us as honor. The very strength of our bodies springs from the pure diamond hardness of our spirits, from our unbreakable loyalty, from our relentless resolve. Our very lives exist only to satisfy our oaths.

When a Troll breaks an oath, they lose their strength and become sick (hence the -2 penalty). Trolls also do not like oaths to be broken. This is the Changeling rulebook again (page 105): “This trust must extend both ways; if a troll’s trust is betrayed, he will be filled with anger, and must roll Willpower (difficulty 8) to avoid becoming violent.” So if this oathfriend of yours is a Troll, you could add more to this Waylay: you have to pass the Savvy Test (I suggest you raise this Waylay to a Savvy of at least 4)  to pacify the friend you abandoned, or engage in a Combat Test with him (probably with a Combat value of at least 4).

Favored by Ali’i — Card Notes

Favored by Ali'iFavored by Ali'i

Exhaust Ali’i to unexhaust up to 6 points of Arts

Who is this Ali’i?

Well, Ali’i is not a person. It is a type of fae. Like the Kokua, the Ali’i are Menehune, a group of fae that are associated with the South Pacific Islands, and particularly Hawai’i. The Kokua are warriors, but the Ali’i are the nobles, the equivalent of the Sidhe among the “Western” fae. Here is how they are described in Immortal Eyes: Shadows on the Hill (page 130):

Like the sidhe, ali’i are born to rule. Unlike the sidhe, they rarely let this go to their heads. They are fair and wise rulers, realizing fully the circle of life and the contributions of commoners. […] The ali’i are the bearers of the Menehune’s Glamour, which they call mana. Instead of balefire, ceremonies and feasts during the yearly Makahiki games [during the annual harvest festival] invest the ali’i with Glamour, which they apportion to the people throughout the year until the next Makahiki.

In other words, when the Ali’i favour you, you are able to recover a lot of Arts, because the Ali’i award Glamour, which the Arts depend on.

Blade of Cold Iron — Card Notes

Blade of Cold IronBlade of Cold Iron

Blade of Cold Iron — Weapon
* Against Cogs or Mechorgs, this weapon adds 2 to your score in any Combat Test. Against all other opponents, the blade adds 3 to your score in any Combat Test. If you win a Combat Test against another character, they must exhaust 2 Merits.
* Whenever the Blade of Cold Iron is unexhausted, all of your Arts stay exhausted and unusable. All characters except Humans and Renegade Cogs must also roll a Might Trial difficulty 6 any time the blade is used in a Combat Test. If the character fails this Trial, the Blade is exhausted.
A character may not normally benefit from more than one weapon at a time.

I remember when I got this card. It was in the second Story Pack of King Ironheart’s Madness that I opened. I immediately loved this card, and this expansions. This expansion was going to be a whole lot different from the relatively idyllic world of The Wyld Hunt. Cold Iron? In Arcadia?

Cold iron is wrought iron. The Changeling: The Dreaming book (p. 247) explains: “Cold iron is what we know as wrought iron. The best way to think about cold iron is not as a thing, but as a process, a very low-tech process. It must be produced from iron ore over a charcoal fire. The resulting lump of black-gray material can then be forged (hammered) into useful shapes.”

Cold iron repels fae, and wounds them unlike any weapon. This is because cold iron leads to Banality, the power of disbelief and doubt that destroys the Dreaming, which is made of Glamour. A weapon made of cold iron therefore does not just cause physical harm to a changeling, but also harms his chimerical nature, his dream nature that mortals can’t perceive. Cold iron is officially banned from the society of changelings, though some fae do use it, as defence against other fae.

Finding cold iron in Arcadia is quite a surprise, therefore, because it is a substance that destroys Glamour, the very stuff that the world of Arcadia is made of.

This is why the Blade of Cold Iron does double damage to your opponent, and why you can’t wield the Blade—if you can wield it at all!—and use any Arts.

It is no coincidence that the Blade of Cold Iron is part of King Ironheart’s Madness (and not The Wyld Hunt). There is another reference to cold iron in this set. Have a look at the League card for Kelwrath’s Volcano:

Kelwrath's Volcano

Kelwrath's Volcano

“Kelwrath’s Volcano is the secret source of the Cold Iron used to bring the Cog Armies of Middlemarch to life.” In other words, King Ironheart’s cogs are not just mechanical creatures, but creatures imbued with cold iron (which is used to “bring them to life”!). This is why they have the power to cause so much havoc on the fae of Arcadia. And this is also King Ironheart’s madness! He is mad not just because of his megalomaniac plans, but also because he uses cold iron to achieve those plans, probably not quite aware that what he uses to accomplish his aims will kill him too!