Shadows of Vulcan Changeling LARP

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The Fire Sermon
The river's tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of City directors;
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept ...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
(T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland")

Iron Dreams

Changelings are creatures of two worlds - the world of the Dreaming and the world of everyday life, sometimes called the Flesh Realm or Autumn World. As faerie souls trapped in mortal bodies, they chart a course between Glamour and Banality, madness and mundanity. They draw Glamour from the mortal Dreamers about them - the artists, poets, and performers of the world. Eventually they grow from young Childers to youthful Wilders to old Grumps, and then so old that they forget who they are, finally dying and being born again (though not the houses of the noble Sidhe, who live only once).

Changeling Kiths

There are many types of Changelings. Before the Shattering long ago, the five noble houses of the elfin and terrifyingly beautiful Sidhe ruled all of Faerie, passing control between the Seelie Court of Summer Light and the Winter Court of the Dark Unseelie. Because of this all nobles from any other Kith are called Commoner Nobles, while all Sidhe are of the nobility. The other common Kith include the industrious and busy Boggans, the wandering tale-telling Eshu, the cursingly creative Nockers, the mischievous Pooka, the gruesome Redcaps, seductive Satyrs, whispering Sluagh, and honest, steadfast Trolls. Wandering Eshu also speak of rarer Kith, such as the Clurichauns, Ghille Dhu, and Selkies.

History of the World

Once the world of the Dreaming and the realm of the mundane, work-a-day world were one. Then, sometime around the time that Bronze Age faded into the Age of cold, banal Iron, the Sundering split the Dreaming from the everyday Flesh Realm.

The inhabitants of the Dreaming were the Kith of the Fae, insanely powerful creatures of pure, dreaming Glamour. These Kithain walked this earth and the next for centuries, conservative Seelie and change-loving Unseelie changing stations in time to the dance of the seasons. But the coldness of iron spread, and Banality crept over the world. Many Kithain fled as the Faery roads, and the Trods to which they ran, closed one by one. Some Kithain tried to stay, settling in what would one day be the New World, but known then to the Fae as Tir-na-Nog. Others experimented with ways to remain walking upon the worlds of Man, and discovered the Changeling Way.

Then, suddenly, most of the remaining Trods began to quickly fade. The Noble Sidhe were among the last to leave before the Gates of Faery shut, though several Houses remained behind, such as fierce Scathach and some few of gentle Liam. Those "Commoner" Kith who had not fled, Trolls and Satyrs and Redcaps, were trapped in the Flesh Realm, separated from the Silver Paths of the Dreaming.

This was some six centuries ago. Those who had followed the Changeling Way and wrapped mortal bodies around themselves stayed and did as their Motley's were wont to do. The Seelie and Unseelie signed the Compact and laid aside old differences, though the Seelie took the reigns. All would have been sparse were it not for the Resurgence. In the Resurgence of the summer of 1969 a wave of Glamour burst through the Trods, re-awakening them. The Sidhe returned, and Glamour became plentiful again. There was a terrible war between Commoner and Noble, the Accordance War, but that was settled almost three decades ago. Welcome to the Now.

The Escheat

The Escheat is the Law of all of Concordia - its litany encompasses the traditions of the Changeling races, the Kithain. All Changelings are held to it by the Sidhe rulers and Commoner wisemen and woodwives, for it forms a tenet of Changeling society.

  • The Right of Demesne
    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.
  • The Right to Dream
    Mortals have a right to dream unhindered by our needs. The Dreaming will die if we steal directly from the font. No one is allowed to use Glamour to manipulate the creative process. Although you may inspire creativity in the mortal mind, it is forbidden to give direct instruction or to infuse a human with raw Glamour.
  • The Right of Ignorance
    Do not betray the Dreaming to Banality. Never reveal yourself to humanity. Not only will humankind hunt us down for our wisdom and our power, it will overwhelm us with Banality and destroy our places of power. The more humanity knows, the more ardently it will seek us, draining the world of Glamour and petrifying our essence with its basilisk's gaze.
  • The Right of Rescue
    All Kithain have the right to expect rescue from the foul grip of Banality. We are in danger together and must strive together to survive. Never leave anyone behind. Kithain are required to rescue other faeries or any creature of the Dreaming trapped by thoses who serve Banality.
  • The Right of Safe Haven
    All places of the Dreaming are sacred. Kithain cannot allow faerie places to be endangered. All those who seek refuge in such places must be admitted. Freeholds must be kept free of both Banality and worldly violence.
  • The Right of Life
    No Kithain shall spill the lifeblood of another Kitain. No Kithain shall bring salt tears unto the earth. No Kithain shall take from the Dreaming one of its own. Death is anathema.

Seelie and Unseelie

Light and Dark, Slow and Fast, Growing and Gathering... Seelie and Unseelie share the Dreaming and the Flesh Realm, though Concordia lies in Seelie hands. Here is a possible key to understanding the Seelie and the Unseelie...

    Seelie Code

  • Death before dishonor.
    Chivalry still lives. Honor is the most important virtue, the source of all glory. Personal honor must always be kept stainless. Sometimes death is the only path which can erase a mark of dishonor.
  • Love conquers all.
    Love lies at the heart of the Dreaming. True love transcends all and epitomizes what it means to be Seelie. Courtly love best expresses love in its highest form, although familial love and love of companions also serve as pure embodiments of that exalted virtue. Anything is permitted in the name of true love.
  • Beauty is life.
    Beauty is a timeless, objective quality that, while it cannot be defined, is always recognized for itself. Beauty is the muse of creation, the ultimate flowering of the Dreaming. Once found, it must be protected, for it is both eternal and fragile. To die in the service of beauty is an honor and a privilege.
  • Never forget a debt.
    One gift deserves another. The recipient of a gift is obligated to return the favor. Likewise, a curse should be returned in kind. An oath of friendship should be answered with a corresponding oath. Never refuse to aid anyone to whom you are indebted. Never forget a kindness... or a cruelty.
  • Unseelie Code

  • Change is good.
    Security does not exist. The slightest of circumstances can transform a king into a peasant. Nothing is certain in a world where change is the only constant. Embrace change or else fall before its onslaught. Chaos and discord rule the universe. Adapt or die.
  • Glamour is free.
    Glamour is worthless unless used. Hoarding Glamour makes no sense, since it is an eternally replenishable resource. So long as humans exist, there will always be dreamers - hence, there will always be more Glamour. Acquire it by any means possible, and you will never be without a constant supply.
  • Honor is a lie.
    Honor has no place in the modern world. It is a fairy tale constructed to cover the essential emptiness behind most traditions. Only through enlightened self-interest can any truth be attained.
  • Passion before duty.
    Passion is the truest state of the fae spirit. Follow your instincts and act on your impulses. Live life to the fullest without regard to the consequences - they will come about regardless of what you do. Youth passes quickly, so have fun while you can. Death can come at any time, so live without regret.

Topography of the Dreaming

The Flesh Realm or Autumn World - the "Real World"
Most Changelings normally live in the workaday world, called the Flesh Realm or Autumn World. Like the Fae souls of the Changelings themselves, bits of the Dreaming manifest in this world. More is created all the time by creative mortals, called Dreamers. Most Changelings garner the Glamour that they need from these Dreamers.

Some of these manifestations of the Dreaming are living creatures or inanimate objects of dreamstuff, called Chimera. Another manifestation is the way that a Changeling appears to others, which is called his or her Changeling mien, and the chimerical clothing that he or she wears, called voile. Changelings use Kenning to see and investigate these chimerical aspects that intrude on the Flesh Realm.

Special places in the Dreaming container noble or commoner Freeholds, places where a balefire serves as a fount of Glamour. These are usually carefully guarded by their owners... though sometimes the nobility will confiscate a freehold for their use.

The Dreaming
Now that the Gates of the Fae have been re-awakened by the Resurgence thirty years ago, Changelings can pass through Trods or the Raths of some Freeholds and actually enter the Near Dreaming. This can be dangerous - Changelings and enchanted mortals who spend too much time in Freeholds or the Dreaming can fall into that madness called Bedlam. Moreover, chimerical damage in the Dreaming becomes real - a nightmare can truly kill a Changeling who encounters it in the Dreaming.

The Dance of Beltaine and Samhain (May Day and All Hallow's Eve)
Once the world of Faerie cycled between Seelie and Unseelie, Light and Dark, Summer and Winter. The Seelie became ascendant at Beltaine, the Unseelie at Samhain. Now the Seelie Court grips the Courts of the Fae with an iron hand. But still the Unseelie call. And you answer that call on the night of Samhain every year, whether you are Seelie or Unseelie - for your Unseelie side does come to the fore. Some Kithain try to hide; others know that they will revel and forget, and so they merely make plans. Unfortunately, you do not remember what you do or did...
February's Fire and Festival: Imbolc and Carnival

Imbolc, February 2nd
The balefire is the most important feature of a freehold, keeping out the cold wind of Banality and preserving the Glamour that maintains the freehold. Imbolc is a festival celebrating the balefire and its replenishment after the long darkness of winter. Also known as Bard's Day, Imbolc marks great competitions among bards and other performers. Originally sacred to the Celtic goddess Brigid, patroness of fire, smithcraft and poetry, Imbolc honors the creative spirit.

On Midwinter's Night, special travelers, called Firebrands, set out from Tara-Nar, carrying lanterns that contain fire from the Well of Flame beneath High King David's palace. The lanterns are used to replenish the balefire of every freehold during the Imbolc ceremony. It is considered a bad omen if the firebrands fail to make their appearance at a freehold before Imbolc.

Carnival, February 28th
Formerly a wake for an old age and a birthday party for a new one, Carnival has risen in prominence since High King David assumed the throne. Now it celebrates the new unity between nobles and commoners. It is a night when kings and queens enchant entire cities, enabling the wholesale gathering of Glamour. Masked by the human Mardi Gras festivities, Carnival celebrations mark some of the Kithain's wildest parties.

Borrowing from such diverse sources as English Boxing Day and the ancient festival of Lughnasa, the ritual central to Carnival involves the elevation of a local mortal, befuddled by alcohol or dizzy with an overdose of Glamour, to the position of King or Queen of Carnival, while the local monarch takes the part of a jester. The new "monarch's" word is considered law, although in most cases, the chosen mortal is too addled by the effects of the substance abuse to issue any commands which might have lasting repercussions. The "jester," on the other hand, is open to all the abuse of his or her new position. Some kings and queens dread the approach of Carnival, but put up with it as part of their duty as rulers.