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Dream Shard The Gambit
Author: A ngelus Morning star Artwork : Gavin Hargest
Acknowledgements Lost Shards are fan- made products products designed for use with the World of Darkness book, Change Changelin ling: g: the Lost. Lost. A bsence of trademarks from copyrighte copy righted d materials mate rials does not constitute a legal challenge to the original owners. Any origin original al mater material ial is the intellectu intellectual al prop property erty of Angelus Angelus Morningstar unless otherwise c redited. redited.
Angelus Morningstar The system of the Great Courts is a dynamic of powers affinity of the Seasonal courts. That is to say, if a that is thought to keep the Fae away from the influence of changeling in the Suit of Swords harvests in a manner a freehold. The shifting and conceding of power is aligned with their stratagem of risk, they gain the extra considered to be the basis of confusion for the Fae, who glamour from Harvest. cannot understand such voluntary surrender of power. The Suit of Swords For the most part, the extant Courts in the world are based on naturally shifting phenomena, such as the change The Fae are stagnant and unchanging, the Fae are of the seasons, the partition of directions or the cycle of renown for their inability to create or innovate. The day and night. Yet here, there exists another principle of fundamental philosophy of the Suits is one of novelty and power division that is not based on natural events, but action. Thus, the Suit posits, an entire faction dedicated to rather that of chance and whim. Even more erratic than the pursuit and celebration of such things must surely be the power plays of the changing seasons or encroaching beyond their g rasp. direction is that of the Court of Suits. Each of these Courts Of the four Suits, the Swords are almost alway s the first derives their power from one of the suits of the tarot, to move. They are guided by a philosophy of action and whic h many changelings a ssert hav e a strange affinity with movement. They, like the fires of their crown, must always the fickle flow of fate. be in motion and hunger for novelty and originality. For By plac ing their trust in the shifting powers of the suits, the courtiers of the Swords, life is punctuated with huge a freehold can claim a more chaotic dynamic than any of bursts of glory and luck, followed by an equally devastating the other Court systems can attest. Power relies solely and downslide of disaster. They are commonly found pursuing purely on the fickleness of fate and chance, and not some activities involving risk, from high stakes gambling, to determined order. extreme sports, to entering the chambers of married However, the Court of Suits is very rarely stable, the spouses. shifting sands of politics is temperamental and conflicting Unsurprisingly, the changeling that originally bartered as the members of the freehold are constantly in arms and with the suit and forged an alliance with it , managed to do struggling ag ainst each other. The Court of Suits has found so with a gambit where he literally placed his life and soul popularity in cities where there is an immense level of on the line. T his great game of cards has been sung to hav e gambling, Las Vegas is notorious for the influence of these spelled out defeat for the hero, when he bet double or Courts, as is Monte Carlo. Beyond those two casinopoli it nothing on the last card, offering his life and soul as can be more common to find the Court of Suits to be recompense. The suit took this bid, only to find that with utilized in freeholds found entirely w ithin the Hedge. With the last card the suit had lost. Some still whisper that the fortunes literally turning at the toss of a dime or turn of a real game was no the cards, but to see how much the wheel, few changeli ngs are will ing to commit long- term to changeling would risk to get the alliance. the art of the Court of Suits. Typically, the courtiers of Swords are also the most From these circumstances, has emerged the custom of martial of the four c ourts. Not because they necessarily the Gambit. It is a temporary ( albeit sometimes longer have any particular prowess at combat, but because they than ex pected) cessation of the normal method of politics are quick to rush into the face of danger and spite their within a freehold and the establishment of the Gambit. enemy with whatever cunning artifice and device they may The whole purpose of this is to cause a great dissembling have at hand. One may just as easily see a Sword courtier within the freehold, to throw off the Others in times of battling hand to hand as gleefully t hrowing explosive s from emergency. range into the heart of the enemy.
The Four Suits
Heraldry The Suit of S words principally corresponds to Summer, the midday sun and the southern direction. For this reason, they may draw upon the heraldry of the Summer and Northern courts which are very familiar to them. Beyond this, the changelings in the c ourt of Swords, also draw upon images of fire, heat and light. In particular the metal bronze is a favoured substance that the changelings forge their weapons and trinkets in. Indeed, such changelings are known for having an array of bronze knick-knacks hanging from their lapels and skirts, some gaudy, some refined – but almost all seem to enjoy the gentle clink these trinkets bring.
A t the heart of the Gambit’s power lie the four S uits, and more often changelings will refer to their group as a suit, rather than by the more common name of Court. T he four suits are Swords, Cups, Coins and Staves. What follows is a break down of the different suits. Each small write up will contain the overarching themes of the Court. Unlike the normal courts, the Suits have neither conventions regarding their players ( or c ourtiers), nor dedicated rituals. The Suits are far to transient to develop trends like these. Furthermore, unlike the traditional Courts, the Suits do not so much have an emotional affinity as a strategy of game. This fundamental Mantle shift in property of Courts is just one of the factors that The mantle of the court of Swords is highly vibrant and confounds the Fae during the great game. Each Suit is energetic. As their affinity with the court grows, their body aligned with a stratagem, a modus operandi that flavours develops a certain movement, like the erratic flickering of their theme. flames. At low levels of Mantle, from • to •••, the Like the emotional affinities of the Seasonal and other Courts, if a harvest is performed in a manner associated changeling is suffused with a subtle sense of power, there is with the stratag em, the changeling gains a surplus of an aura about them like a heat haze that radiates energy. glamour as though they had harvested with the emotional A t higher lev els, ••••+, the changeling’s body is filled 2
Angelus Morningstar with almost volatile energy and their skin seems to flicker like the crackle of flames, their voice is more magnified and their hair and skins shines with a lustrous radiance. A t Mantle •, t he changeling feels a simple quickening in their steps, and function as though they had the Fresh Start Merit. Once the changeling’s Mantle reaches •••, they begin to manifest a much more fluid motion and step. With the cost of a glamour, the changeling may add their Wyrd to their Speed and Initiative. A t the height of th eir power, the cha ngeling’s internal energy lifts and moved them, and at Mantle •••••, the expenditure of Willpower on a physical action grants them the + 4 instead of the normal + 3 modifier.
Risk A t the heart of the Sw ord strata gem is to place a powerful faith in the game itself, to trust to fate, chance and all the forces that would push and pull at the hapless players. This is the art of risk, to take the leap of faith into the depths, the go beyond the new horizons that no-one has explored. Yes, with risk there is danger, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward (usually). Thus, the court of Swords play high on the gambits, and very often rash and plucky. A lmost always, the players in Sw ords are daredevils, thrill- seekers and in constant search of the next big gambit or punt. They veritably feed on the rush of adrenaline that comes with the risk, and such intense emotions heightened by risk are ambrosia to the Suit of Swords. Of course, as players of risk, they are not above putting their targets into risk’s way for the sake of the harvest. After all, the risk is often intensified when forced unwillingly into the gambit, as it’s that lac k of control that puts you on edge.
character came to the suit itself and produced such a soul wrenc hing tale of heart break that the stones were said to weep for him. Broken and pit iful before them, the suit w as moved to great measures of compassion, freely offering the protection of an alliance against the Fae. However, like most of his acts, this was one ruse among many. Such was the pride of the suit, and the legend that he spun, that upon the discovery of the falsehood, the suit was more inclined to uphold the agreement than to wreak vengeance on the shyster. Within the freehold, the courtiers of Cups are entertainers, performers, artists, creators of beauty and refinement, and even masters of etiquette. Beyond these roles, the Cup courtiers are often drawn to w orks of charity and compassion, seeking to provide succour and healing t o their fellow Lost, and nurture their freeholds much like a priest with their flock.
Heraldry The Suit of Cups principally corresponds to Autumn, the setting sun and the western direction. For this reason, they may draw upon the heraldry of the Autumn and Western courts which are v ery famil iar to them. Changelings in the Suit of Cups will also garb themselves in elegant and flowing clothes. Any outfit that can be composed of folds of cloth is considered highly desirable, including scarves, veils and sarongs. The Suit of Cups is also highly drawn to displays of ex otic apparel; piercings, tattoos, face paints and extrav agant make- ups are a common motif.
It is often said that the Mantle for Cups is called the Veil of Te ars. Those who are blessed with it draw about themselves a Mantle of emotional outlet that hides and Stereotypes disguises them. At low levels of Mantle, from • to •••, Cups: Who has time to worry and wallow in the depth the changeling’s skin and hair feel slightly damp to the touch as though they had just emerged from water. At of emotions? T hat’s old news. higher lev els, ••••+ , the changeling’s skin and hair seems Coins: Sedentary misbegotten wretches. Getting them to ripple as though the changeling i s moving underwater. out of their comfort zones would do them a world of good. The first • of Mantle ( Cups) grants the c hangeling the Staves: Lofty and proud, but their keen wit is a sign of ability to understand emotions with a simple flair. They some worth. gain a +2 bonus to any roll designed to understand The Suit of Cups emotions. Upon achieving ••• dots in Mantle, their art of Emotions are a deep source of glamour and power, as emotion becomes succinct, allowing the changeling to every changeling knows. The Fae may have some intuition of emotion, but the Cup courtiers attest that they are only subtract their Wyrd from any attempts to discern the perverse mockeries of those made by human hearts and changeling’s t rue emotions. When a changeling becomes the epitome of Cups, all minds. By truly and profoundly embracing the range of actions of deceit and guile becomes second- nature. For at mortal emotion, the Cups hope to put themselves beyond Mantle •••••, the changeling gains the 8 Again rule on the influence of the Fae who c annot truly ken their depths. The Suit of Cups draws upon the vast array of emotions all rolls inv olving deception and deceit or subterfuge. as tools as much as energy. Each single emotion is just one Bluff carefully made brush in a broad and wider palate. They are Never let the opponent know what you’re truly moved by their emotions and just as equally move their thinking. If they cannot perceive your motives, then how emotions to great heights. In attempting to seek these can they out-manoeuvre you? This is the purpose behind depths, the Cup courtiers are more succinctly drawn to a the powerful emotional array, for one display of emotion sense of aesthetics. They love art in its manifold creation becomes a veritable mask to disguise what one truly feels. and enjoy surrounding themselves with beauty. More than any other suit, Cups will patronize the arts and other This is the stratagem of bluff, to keep the enemy constantly off guard. endeavours of beauty. The changelings of Cups feed best when the emotions The first changeling to strike a deal with the Suit of they elicit are the result of false emotions portrayed. Thus Cups, was said to be a master charlatan and swindler. This 3
Angelus Morningstar the Cups changelings can be found anywhere from playing the false lover, to traipsing the stage and screen, to giving false but stirring speeches at the chapel. T hey cultivate false love, false hope and other tokens of unrequited affection.
also the sense of heav iness about their a pparel, as the re is a strong preference for leathers, denims, and other clothing that give the changeling a sense of protection (sometimes even turning to clothing with plates inside them as genuine armour) .
Swords: So forward, so direct, so very e asily l ed astray. Coins: There is some common sense to making a foundation of fortitude, but they’re always so grim. Staves: They may be aloof, they may be mercurial, but they are so confoundedly rational.
The Suit of Coins The best offence is a good defence, claims the Suit of Coins, and the best defence is to root the self in the materialism of the world. By virtue of the fact that Earth is far from Arcadia, then if immerses themselves in the foundations of the world one distances themselves from the influence of the Others. In particular, while the materialism of the modern world may help to detach from A rcadia, the foundation of human technology and invent ion further confounds the othe rs. The Suit of Coins luxuriates, invests into technology, and the array of human world. They surround themselves with trapping of the modern and human world, and more than any other suit, will make intensive endeavours to install modern contrivances and technologies into their homes. It is the home that is the foundation and pinnacle of each changeling in the Suit of Coins. They become veritabl e bastions against the encroac h of the Gentry. Not for the Coin suitors are the havens of the Hedge, for they feel most comfortable surrounded by the good solid brick and mortar of human hand or, even better, their own. For those changel ings who do not seek monetary fortune, there is a strong satisfaction that can be gain from constructing things with one’s own hands. Whether ac cruing wealth or building monuments, the impetus is toward some measure of security. The story of the alliance with the Suit of Coins was not one of trickery, guile or chance. No, it was simply a matter of purchase. The pragmatic founder of the suit’s alliance simply offers a considerable sum of payment to the suit, and after much haggling and negotiation the terms of payment were agreed acc eptable. Howev er, what exact ly that payment consisted of is a matter of speculation, and will run the gamut of inordinate amounts of wealth to payments with strange abstractions. The influence of the S uit of Coins within the freehold generally ensures a measure of stability and growth. Though not necessarily profiteers and entrepreneurs (though many are), they are more directed to the stable and fundamental building of the society through tangible and fungible commodities.
Heraldry The Suit of Coins principally corresponds to Winter, the night and the northern direction. For this reason, they may draw upon the heraldry of the Winter and Northern courts which are very familiar to them. Coin Suitors are known for displaying their materialism in ostentatious fashion. Whether it is a gross display or wealth, or an array of technological apparatuses. There is 4
The Mantle of Coins provides the changelings who sport it a very powerful resilience to the world around them, offering a sense of stability and grounding. Changelings with Mantle • to •••, will give the impression of being solid and firm people, even the more softer personalities will seem to hold a hard edge underneath like steel under velvet. When the changeling reaches a Mantle of ••••+, the changeling’s skin tends to become tougher, like leather or perhaps even calloused, their eyes turn steely or flinty and their face more angular. Mantle ( Coins ) • imbues the changeling with a sense of earthly stability. It grants them a +2 modifier to prevent themselves from falling over or otherwise losing their stance. For the changeling with ••• dots in Mantle, the changeling’s skin takes on a slightly obdurate nature and offers the changeling a 1/0 armour rating ( in addition to any other mundane armour that he may wear) . Changelings who have reached the peak of their Mantle w ith •••••, will find that while they are within their chosen home, it will take on the defensive qualities of the Suit. For a point of glamour, the changeling’s homestead will impose a negative modifier on anyone trying to break in (for that scene), equal to the changeling’s Wyrd.
Hold Security is paramount for the Suit of Coins, their first line of defence is the only line, and one that everything is invested into. To do this, a changeling must exercise prudence and caution by investing their good fortunes into something that will be a tangible barrier between them and the Fae. From the vantage point of these bastion estates, the changeling can safely extend their influence and will. For the changelings of the Suit of Coins, the most endearing emotions are also the most enduring. Not for them are the extreme, but ultimately transient emotions of the ev ery day, but those emotions rooted deep within the psyche. Thus these changelings will dip into deep wells, and bring them to the surface, either by inciting nostalgia in veterans, or reliving the unrequited love of many years – or even the torturous trauma of childhood that never went away.
Stereotypes Swords: So very, v ery reckless. All we hav e to do it wait them out. Cups: We both hav e fortifications, ours are simply worn on the outside. Staves: You can’t out think rock, and eventually you will come t o the mountain.
The Suit of Staves Every changeling can attest that at the heart of Arcadia is madness, a seething c old irrationality th at undermines all reason. Even those Fae with a v ain and cold logic of their
Angelus Morningstar own are underscored with specious reasoning. Thus, the Suit of S taves attests that a truly profound set of logic and reason is anathema to the mindset of the Fae. The Suit of Staves cultivate a keen and careful intellect. Even beyond the game of the Gambit, the changelings of the S taves are known to indulge in parlour games and board games to keep their edge. By learning strategy inside and out, the Staves hope to apply it to the larger reality of the Gambit. Beyond that, the Staves are highly Mercurial, fond of conversation and sophistry. For everything there is a reason, and the Staves like to reason about it all. Furthermore, of all the Suits, the changelings are the most communicative. Not only do they have an affinity for the written and spoken word, they extend that affinity to the pursuit of the contractual nature of the Wyrd. A Stav e suitor is just as l ikely to go into depth about the minutiae of a legal accord underpinning a pledge to look for either loopholes or edges to their advantag e. It is said that the Suit of Staves was swayed to an alliance with the changelings through the w eight of a wellreasoned argument. The S uit forced the supplicant to plead his case before a mock-court, and argued it so succinctly that the Suit could not but help accede to the case. Just as notoriously, legend abounds that the changeling had planned the case in its entirety, citing litigious loopholes and all manner of precedents. In doing so, the changeling was able to cat ch the Suit out in an acc ord it was obliged to fill to the True Fae, that was argued extended to their once kept vassals. She went on then to further posit that the Suit was then subsequently freed from it’s former obligations to the Fae as its purview was far more closely tied to the mortal world.. Stave suitors are diplomats, mediators, strategists, thinkers, philosophers, lawyers and keepers of the various accords. The Suit lauds talent of any description, placing mental faculties above any other. Yet, as long as those talents are applied in a carefully considered and rational manner, such skills are not gone to w aste.
Heraldry The Suit of S taves principally corresponds to S pring, the rising sun and the eastern direction. For this reason, they may draw upon the heraldry of the S pring and Eastern courts, which are very familiar to them. Of all the Suits, the Suits of Staves tends to be the most utilitarian in their outfits. Though the y may not dress drab, but there is often a formal cut to their fit and less embellishment in their design. T he Suit of Staves also prefers lighter garments, with minimal layers, and clothing that gives of certain softness. Simple, unadorned robes in pastel may ac company lightw eight suits and fashions.
Mantle The Suit of Staves offers a Mantle the brings to the changeling a quick and clear mind. When a changeling has a Mantle ( Staves) of • to •••, the changeling’s hair and clothing tends to ripple gently as though in a soft breeze. A t highe r lev els of ••••+, the changeli ng’s ev ery litt le movements are accompanied by simple gusts, their footsteps being a whirl of wind. When a changeling has • of Mantle ( Stav es) the changeling gains a + 2 modifier instead of the normal + 1 for rolls that utilize Specialities
With ••• dots in Mant le, the changeling suffers no negativ e modifiers for using unskilled Mental S kills. When a cha ngeling atta ined Mant le ( Stav es) •••••, the changeling has a keenly functioning intellect. By spending a point of glamour, they may re-roll a failed Mental roll, but must keep the second roll.
Plan Nothing beats a good game play. The best stratagem the S uit claims is one that is planned out to as many eventualities and variables as possible. Games of chance are about the odds, and these too can be calculated and included. While there is, of course, no such thing as a perfect plan, or a perfect plot, the Suit of Staves are all about devising the best plan for the oc casion. If that means the occasional cheating, or underhanded tactic, than that is simply part and parcel of the plan. The c hangelings in the S uit of Staves harvest emotions best that are produced as the result of some carefully planned contrivance. For the emotion harvested to produce the bonus, it must be the result of some manipulation.
Stereotypes Swords: Their brevity can sometimes match our levity. Coins: They are stuck in a bed of mud they have made their own, and cannot adapt. Cups: They cannot shake off the irrationality of their emotional detritus
Face Cards Within the traditional tarot deck, there are four face cards per suit. These cards are the King, the Queen, the Knight and the Page. Each of these cards holds certain functions and duties for the changeling lucky (or unlucky) enough to draw them). The King: Just as the Seasonal Courts hav e their King or Queen, so too does the Suits. The King of a suit is their leader, competent or otherwise, selected by Fate to guide and direct their fellow suitors. Naturally, the different Kings will be inclined t o different leadership styles pending the suit they must lead. Kings of Swords are often brash, direct and aggressive, while Kings of Coins are subtle, patient and unyielding. The Queen: This role serves as counterpoint to the King, the role of the Queen is to lead from the shadows. They work to be the power behind the throne, or the courtly advisor. Queens of Cups tend to assume a role of spy masters, while Queens of Coins become like some dynastic matriarch protecting her clan. Queens of Sword is likely to be a tyrannical beta to the Sword King, and the Queen of Staves tends towards becoming a taciturn diplomat. The Knight: Knights are given the task of being the champions of their Suit. Thrust upon them is the responsibility to defence the interests and honour of their suit. When there is a call for a Hedge Duel, they are expected to front up to face the enemy at the appointed time, and they are asked to be the last stand in defence against assaults upon the freehold. Of course, not all champions use conventional weapons, or even conventional combat. As long as they apply their powers, 5
Angelus Morningstar arts, talents or sheer brutality to the task, they fulfil their role. The Page: The role of a page is somewhere between that of an errand boy and a great advisor for the King. They are expected to insert themselves socially among the other suits and represent the suits interests, or bring back good will. Th ey are an all- round task performer for the suit, ranging from hosting the gathering, to marshalling the throng, to becoming a missive envoy. In all things they are the intermediaries between the suits.
Rules of the Game
They become the Fool, of no suit, and yet representing all of them, for they are the keeper of the pledge of the Gambit. Their function is one part Master of Ceremonies, one part Peace Keeper and one part Dealer ( or Broker) . The cards drawn remain in the possession of the changeling that drew it. T he remaining c ards are shuffled with the Major A rcana and kept by the Fool.
Play The game is broken down into turns, which is typically one week, but may be any regular interval. At the commencement of each turn, the Fool draws a card from the Deck. The first suit card is called the Rule, for it determines which Suit is in charge. It is the draw of the Rule that determines which Suit is in power for the next turn. For the first draw, simply which suit it is sets the power for the first turn. For subsequent draws, the Rule can be trumped by the ac tions of that Suit. Throughout each turn, the Suits will commit to pledges and attempt to fulfil them, which contributes to the strength of their play. If a play is strong enough, that Suit may trump the Rule.
So what is the objective of this Gambit? If it is a game, it must surely have goals and rules. There is, and they are rules that go back beyond memory. It is said that the Gambit is not just a game, but a smaller manifestation of the workings of the Wyrd itself. This is the game that the Fates play, the objective is to come out on top. For while the Gambit is in play, luck ( both good and bad) runs rampant through the freehold, and a canny changeling can use this achieve things they might otherwise be unable to. Fortunes seem to c ome hard and go fast in the Gambit, and Bid the hope is to hav e won more at the end of the events than not. The first action to be taken is the bidding. Each Suit The game itself is a game of politics, where each Suit puts forth a number of bids. Each pledge is sworn for the makes bids, and attempts to win tricks. These acts ac crue duration of each turn. The Task are either Endeavour or each Suit a measure of power, designed to place their Suit Forbiddance, with the limitation that Endeavours must be in charge for the next turn. Each Suit is either trying to completed before the end of the Duration, and build enough influence to trump the Suit in power and Forbiddances must be upheld for the length of the take charge, or maintain enough power to declare a Duration. vict ory. The Suit that can declares vict ory gains a For Sanctions and Boons, the normal range are not permanent bonus for all its players. permitted, allowing and introducing a single Boon called Central to this game is the Deck. This is a tarot deck the Award and a single Sanction called the Penalty. Both that bec omes the focus of the game, and is imbued with the A ward and Penalty giv e their suit a measure of influence powers of the game like a Corporal for a pledge. This Deck over the Deck, equal to their numeric value (both Award is mystically weighted with the influence of the S uits, and and Penalty can be of Lesser, Medial or Greater can literally control the fate of the freehold. It is from this magnitude). Thus if a changeling has a Task with the deck that the players are assigned a Suit and potential role, A ward, Medial Boon and Penalty , Great er Sanc tion, and it is the Deck that shapes the play. This Deck is the should they succeed, then their Suit is granted two sole property of the Fool (see below) and attempts to wrest measures of influence, but failure would penalize them it from him or her by force or guile will inevitably fail. three measures of influence. Influence can be reduced to, Their bond is sacrosanct. but not below zero. be possible for multiple c hangelings to swear to Commencement serveIt isthealsosame bid. That is, there are more changelings A s is c ustom, the reigning King or Queen has t he right working to serve the same pledge, thus giv ing it a bette r to cal l the procession of Suits to order. When this happens, chance of success. The t rade- off is that there are less actual the current state of politics is dissembled and the members bids being made, as the resources of players are ordered into of the freehold are called to draw a single card from the fewer bids. They ei ther succeed or fail as a group. Deck (which has first had the Major Arcana removed). These bids are made to the Fool, who takes note and The card they draw determines the Suit they join, and if score of the final result for each turn. The following factors they are lucky enough to draw one of the four face cards, in making the bid may increase or decrease the final value then they assume that card’s responsibilities as w ell. of the Award or Penalty by the stated amount. T hese Each changeling in the freehold then represents a values need not be calculated in t he pledge- crafting. single card within the deck. As is to be expected, most Pledging the oath publicly before the freehold freeholds do not have enough changelings to form an for all to hear +1 entire deck. It may be c hance tha t determines that one suit Forswearing any aid from friend or foe +1 is plentiful, while another is sparse, and that is the set up The Task is in line with the Suit’s stratagem +1 for the Gambit. It may also be that certain face cards are The Task is in line with the opposing Suit’s not drawn, and in these cases, those Courts will hav e to get stratagem (Staves vs. Cups /Swords vs. Coins) - 1 by w ithout those roles to support them. For every three changelings participating in the There is one single exception to this. The original King same pledge -1 or Queen who called the Gambit does not draw a card. 6
Throughout the remainder of the turn, the changeling is expected to pursue their pledge and fail or succeed. The core changelings will go out and attempt to fulfil their pledges, while those unsworn will typical ly run interference with the fulfilment of those pledges. The game will either run as an internal game, where all the pledges are designed to affect the other members of the freehold within the limited space provided, or an external game where the players must perform their deeds and return at the appointed hour. There are a large number of tactics available in the pursuit of these tasks. They primarily involve the attempted interference of the other Suits’ tricks, or intervention to prevent such interference.
The following rules can add a little more complexity to the game. They are entirely optional:
Return A t the t ime of the next draw, the changeli ngs return t o the appointed place. All pledges are declared fulfilled or forsworn by the Fool, and the total amount of influence is tallied. Then, the Fool makes another Draw. Like the original Draw, the Rule determines who is the ruler of the next turn. However, should a Suit have a higher amount of influence than the numerical value of the Rule (Pages = 11, Knights = 12, Queens = 13, Kings = 14), then they are declared the ruler instead. In cases of multiple trumps, the highest wins. In cases of draws, the Fool keeps drawing till one of the tied Suits’ cards is drawn. That Suit then becomes the ruler for the nex t turn. It should be noted, that the players should all have their cards they originally drew. This means that while some Suits may c ertainly be larger, or missing their face cards, this gives them an advantage in the draw, as the Suits with fewer players will have more chance of their Suit being drawn. Suits lacking face cards, have chances of very high numbers being drawn that are rarely trumped.
Denouement The game will come to an end when one of three things occ urs. Stalemate: The game can only go on for so long. At the beginning of the game, the duration is declared and when this time runs out, the game is at an end. Should the period of the Gambit expire in such a fashion, then the freehold’s normal power reasserts itself. Checkmate: If the ruling Suit trumps a draw of their own Suit. That is, if the Staves are the Ruling Suit, and a three of Staves is drawn, with the Suit having an influence of four, then they gain a state of absolute Rule and win the game. Foolsmate: The Final way for the game to end is through the death of the Fool. However, this is an undesirable ending for most of the payers and is possibly the most dangerous part of the Gambit, ( the risk is party, why it offers up so much protection) . If the Fool is destroyed by treachery, then the freehold is dissolved until the start of the new season. This leaves all of the freehold’s residents with out the protection a freehold formally offers.
Fortune Favours the Brave When the Gambit is enforced, the influence of the Suits kicks in and creates the following effects throughout the freehold. It should be noted that these benefits extend only to changelings, faerie c reatures and the Ensorcelled: Luck truly does run rampant in the Gambit, the requisite number of successes to gain an exceptional success is reduced by one. That is, an exceptional success can be achieved normally though four successes. Conversely, if an action fails normally then the chance for it to become a dramatic failure also increases. If, upon a roll w ith no successes, if any of the dice show a 1, it automatically becomes a dramatic failure (this may seem strange at first as more dice means failure has a greater chance of becoming a dramatic failure, but more dice also meant the roll had a better c hance to succeed in the first place). A player may spend a point of Glamour once in a scene to make a single roll again attain the 9-Again rule (or upgrade a situation with the 9 Again rule to the 8 Again rule for that one instance). •
By Hook or By Crook Not only are the face c ards providers of significant roles, they are augmented with particular powers that can be used once during a turn. King: The King’s participation in a pledge grants it a +2 influence modifier to the Award or Penalty Queen: The Queen’s participation in any attempts to interfere with an opposing Suit’s pledges automatically grants +2 to all rolls relating to running interference by mystical or occult means. Knight: The Knight’s presence in a pledge offers that group (or any pledges self- sworn) a bonus 2 to any Resistance draws against physical assaults. Page: If the Page participates in no pledges, they may request from the Fool the details of one of the hidden pledges of one of the Suits. The pledge is chosen by the Fool, though the Page may choose the Suit.
Lords of Misrule The Fool shuffles the Major Arcanum into the Deck. Upon performing the Draw, if a Major Arcanum card is drawn, then it triggers a freehold- wide event provoked by the symbolism of that card. After this, the Fool must draw another and another until a suit card is drawn. In this manner, a number of Major Arcanum cards may be drawn, each exerting their influence over the freehold. The Fool: This card symbolises capture by the Others. It represents both our kidnapping to Arcadia and our escape through the Hedge. In fact I would suggest it has close affinities to all journeys through the Hedge and newly emerged changelings. The Magician: This is the card representing the Wyrd, and those who would master it. While these mysteries are most closely associated with the Court of Autumn, it can
Angelus Morningstar also represent a greater magical intrigue at play. The workings of faerie magic are strong in this time. The High Priestess: This is the card of the human mystery. It represents the power and intrigue of that part of humanity lost to the changelings. When this card appears it nominally represents the influence of humanity into the freehold, unknowingly. It is also the card of humans within mystery, such as the ensorcelled. The Empress: This is the card of the nurturer. It represents the home and hearth, the mother, the family. With the influence of this card, the signific ance of changeling families come to the fore. It may mean an external threat to loved ones for the freehold, or the significant of their role. The Emperor: This is the card of the builder, the empire maker. This card represents the strong influence of the current ruling monarch (for whatever season it is). It suggests that the freehold's activities rely strongly on his or her leadership and activities right now. The Hierophant: This is the card of human divinity. While changeling may owe allegiances to some divine providence, they still seem the province of humanity at heart. This card represents the pull of such agency, either through their religious institutions or some other unknown Dues ex Machina. The Lovers: This is the card of the Fetch, it represents the influence and play that a Fetch can bring upon a freehold and their resident c hangelings. The Chariot: This is the card of conflict, of war. While it has strong associations with the Court of Summer, not all conflict comes from within. This is not the subtle Byzantine conflicts of politics, but the brutal politics of conflict and strife. It suggests blood will be spilled. Strength: This is the card of temptations and personal gratification. While it is strongly associated with the Court of S pring, not all yearnings come from their haunts. It suggests that the c ourt is caught up in affairs of the heart ( or other desires) , possibly frivolous, or possibly grandiose. The Hermit: This is the card of isolation. It could be suggesting the influence of bridge- burners or other militant groups. It could be a warning to sever more ties from the mortal world. Whatever the situation, it is a sign of distancing from either A rcadia or the mortal world at large. Wheel of Fortune: This is the card of Fate and the Wyrd. It represents powerful influences of these forces
throughout the freehold, and potentially the nearness of A rcadia. Justice: This is t he c ard of oaths and pledges. It suggests that commitments and obligations should be upheld and honoured, or that some form of broken pledge may occur. The Hanged Man: The Others in disguise. It represents the hidden influence of the Fae within the court, either a Fae who is currently trapped as a Charlatan, or loyalists under their sway . Death: This is the card of change. It represents that fundamental political /social or change within the freehold. There is a change in the winds. Temperance: This is the card of prudence and caution. While strongly associated with the Court of Winter, it is not the court exclusivity. It could be advise for a fallow period in the freehold, or for times of reflection and quintessence The Devil: This is the card of servitude. It represents potential capture by the Others, or the work of privateers. It is the fundamental card of bondage and enslavement that brings horror to the freehold. It is a v ery ominous card. The Tower: This is the card of disaster. Some ruinous activity is set to befall the freehold. Be it an invasion, natural disaster or internal w ar set to tea r them apart. The Star: This is the card of magic itself. It represents the influence of non-faerie magic within the freehold. While it could potentiall y point to supernal magic, it is any source of mystery that is not ken to changel ings. The Moon: This is the c ard of madness itself. It could mean something that will profoundly shake the clarity of the freehold, or it c ould mean that an agency of madness itself will wend its way through the freehold. It is a time of uncertainty, treachery, lies, deceit and illusion. (It may also represent the influence of the Moon Court) . The Sun: This is the card of revelation. It is a period where truth will out and cla rity is stabilised. It will represent a time where power triumphs over indignity and illusions are shattered. It is the glory of righteousness and justice to be done. (It may also represent the influence of the Sun Court). Judgement: This card suggests that something lost will be restored or returned to the freehold. Someone who has left wil l return. It is a c ard of redemption, rejuvenat ion and reinvigoration for the freehold. The World: This is the card of Earth. To it are attributed all aspects of the mundane world.