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The County of Brotherly Love -- Philadelphia in Changeling: the Dreaming

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  • The County of Brotherly Love -- Philadelphia in Changeling: the Dreaming

    The County of Brotherly Love -- Philadelphia in Changeling: the Dreaming

    Philadelphia is known as “The City of Brotherly Love,” and even though it can be just as much an urban jungle as its rival big brother, New York City, Philly residents do indeed take a fierce pride in their community. Whether it’s debating the “correct” way to order a cheesesteak or discussing the present state of any of the city’s professional sports teams, you will encounter as many heated opinions as people you ask. Their home is the birthplace of the American Revolution and, by extension, the American Dream. The Avenue of the Arts is brimming with historic culture, but Philly retains a strong working-class identity as well. Its public murals are world-famous, hoagies are a food staple, and it’s still possible to hear the distinct Philly accent on the streets: The Eagles are the “Iggles,” “water” is pronounced “wudder,” “road” is identical to “rude.”

    Like anywhere else in the world today, however, Philly is changing. The American Dream seems increasingly unattainable for most people. Many neighborhoods are gentrifying, rapidly developing but losing their identity as small businesses close and major franchises open. Families that have lived for generations are suddenly becoming displaced. Inequality is widening and the notion of meritocracy, if it ever existed, is discredited. Most people resign themselves to the status quo, content to sustain themselves and those they care about. A handful, however, continue in the tradition of the first dreamers who called Philadelphia home and made it the city that it is, showing courage and ingenuity in the face of adversity rather than surrendering to complacency.

    Among the Changelings of Philadelphia, conditions are different, but much the same. The Duchy of Liberty’s Heart encompasses the whole of Pennsylvania, but the capital of the duchy—the County of Brotherly Love—is Philadelphia itself. The current duke, Allenion, is one of the more notable members of House Gwydion in Concordia, although he is well into his twilight years. As such, he spends an increasing amount of time within his personal freehold, Hearts-ease, near the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, grasping onto the youth and energy its Glamour provides him. Consequently, he has slid into Bedlam, a fact that his advisers and supports try to keep hidden. With a reputation as a kind and just ruler, Allenion has started to worry the commoners with his progressively arbitrary decisions and his reluctance to enter the Autumn world.

    With the Duke vulnerable for the first time in ages, the various dissidents of the area have become more active. Allenion’s Ailil adviser, Jyana, poses as Seelie when in truth she is an agent of her Unseelie kin, hoping to spread chaos to make the duchy even more exposed. Some fae support reform toward a more constitutional system, akin to what High King David has sought, while more militant voices—such as those belonging to House Liam—claim returning to the pre-Accordance War norm of commoners ruling commoners still has merit. Just as age-old values and institutions are being questioned in the mortal world, so too are changelings wondering if their feudal models of politics should be adjusted, given the shortcomings of many Arcadian sidhe and, even more importantly, the multitude of threats changelings face. Unsurprisingly, the Arcadian ruling class derides any proposal to modify the status quo. As tension builds, the fae of Philly feel that inevitably things will explode, and no one knows how things will play out.

    Philly’s Notable Kithain

    Allenion, Duke of Liberty’s Heart (Seelie Arcadian Sidhe Grump) – Representing the better qualities of House Gwydion, Duke Allenion has ruled since the Accordance War and did much to improve the character of the nobility during the subsequent peace. He has always viewed his position as a heavy responsibility, and his fair dealing with kith of all status endeared him to nobles and commoners alike. Long separated from any mortal life and now in his twilight years, Allenion spends most of his time in the stronghold of Hearts-ease, where he languishes in the initial stages of Bedlam. In occasional bouts of lucidity, he still attempts to exert his will, to various degrees of success and with a middling record of evenhanded decisions. Some of his council, most vocally his advisor Jyana, recommend imprisoning the Duke for his own safety, although a few hold out hope for finding some means to cure his madness.

    Jyana, Seneschal of Liberty’s Heart (Unseelie Arcadian Sidhe Wilder) – Jyana is legendary among the prodigies of House Ailil of how precarious even the brightest rising star can be among their kind. The eldest daughter of two luminaries, born with every privilege and advantage, she seemed destined for greatness even as a childling—until scandal ruined her forever. During the Accordance War, she betrayed her own parents to a commoner general. Shunned by the nobility, she dramatically made a show of changing her court membership from Unseelie to Seelie. She claimed her remorse and guilt was so great that she was traumatized, and thus became beholden to oaths and their power. It was all a ruse, of course, and Jyana remains staunchly Unseelie and even sympathetic to the Shadow Court. Few yet know of her deception, however, and while she is mistrusted, many still treat her as a loyal leading adviser to the Duke.

    Steve Okumu (Seelie Autumn Sidhe Childling) – Having only recently undergone his Chrysalis, Steve is still relatively new to the world of changeling politics, but his passion is unmatched even among fellow members of House Liam. To him, it is obvious feudal government is an unjust anachronism, as is the historic custom of sidhe supremacy. After all, he argues, what is more banal than adhering to clearly flawed institutions and refusing to innovate? Once treated as a well-meaning but inexperienced kid, Steve is gathering a growing following as more commoners start to feel alienated and anxious about the future. So far, he has managed to keep a level head, and his enemies underestimate his political acumen at their peril. He earnestly wants no power for himself (he prefers a democracy, anyway) and maintains his mortal profession as a lawyer serving low-income families and doing pro bono work for the vulnerable.

    Sir Ben “Benji” Freeman (Seelie Satyr Grump) – “Sir Benji” claims to be the reincarnation of Benjamin Franklin himself, who he insists was also a Satyr, citing Franklin’s impressive list of venereal diseases as evidence. He claims dominion over his own freehold, near the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in West Philadelphia. Even if other changelings doubt that he is Franklin reborn, none deny he is a genius. His organizational and craftsmanship abilities are the envy of any boggan, and his ability to tinker on chimerical items is in league with the most accomplished nockers. He has on occasion given counsel to the Duke in the past but prefers instead to focus on his shamelessly hedonistic lifestyle. He maintains a popular blog that reviews local bars, restaurants, and clubs, and he makes a point of carousing at each one he visits. Changelings seeking him out can usually find him at the hottest and newest spots.

    Slugger O’Toole (Seelie Clurichaun Wilder) – Slugger owns a hearth in South Philly that takes the form of Molly’s, an Irish pub hidden from mortal eyes and open to any fae (although Unseelie generally know better than to show their faces). A collector of rare whiskeys, Slugger tends the bar himself and is active in Philly’s large Irish-American community. While certainly charismatic, he has many conservative and even reactionary views on several issues, and his solution to the myriad crises facing the Kithain largely revolve around using his fists. He is a proud sponsor of the yearly Mummer Parades, which he argues is a source of Glamour in an age of unprecedented banality. Others, however, point to the use of blackface and claim there are better ways. Slugger, however, refuses to back down by nature, and with centralized authority weak, it is likely his autonomy will continue to grow, until South Philly becomes his fiefdom.

    Helen Quackenbush (Unseelie Pooka Wilder) – “The Attack with Quack” is one of the most popular local radio shows and podcasts in the Philadelphia area, even though there is no universal agreement whether it is the genuine ravings of a deluded conspiracy theorist or a creative satire of “fake news” merchants and their Web sites. Helen (or “Quack” as she is widely known) promotes and publishes outlandish stories that still find believers among the mortal population. She avoids propaganda and anti-Semitic canards; her rants and polemics are directed at cabals of extra-dimensional creatures plotting against regular people using popular media as a form of social control. Among changelings, “Quack” drops her conspiracy theories but is just as oblique and irreverent as any of her kith, showing little but mocking contempt for the pomp and pretensions of the Duke’s Seelie court. Still, she wants to prioritize meaningful action toward stopping the disappearance of Glamour and the return of the Elder Dark.

    Charlene “Chugs” Bentley (Seelie Troll Wilder) – Joyfully naïve and domineering, “Chugs” is the enforcer for Duke Allenion’s court, a young African-American woman with the personality of a stereotypical frat brother. When not carrying out orders, she fills her days with beer, sports, fighting, and sex, although she does it all in an innocent and honest way. She cares nothing for politics and has no interest in the power struggle arising from the Duke’s condition. This, however, could change if the commands given to her go against her strong moral compass, although even then she would find it hard to materialize her complaints outside of physical conflict. She has many friends among the satyr and the clurichaun, and despite her role in changeling society she is more liked among her fellow commoners than the nobility, who see her as a vulgar tool for maintaining order (and their own power). She also often intercedes when new fae undergo the Dream Dance, making sure the damage they do is minimal.
    Last edited by Anatole; 12-11-2018, 03:21 PM.

  • PhillyCuriosity
    replied
    I run a Mage chronicle in and set in Philadelphia. Mind if I flat out pick this up?

    Leave a comment:


  • Anatole
    replied
    The Lay of the Land
    As told by Charlene “Chugs” Bentley

    Hey, Mac. One bourbon, one Scotch, and a Yuengling for me. Kid, you want anything?

    Look, I know this is all new to you, and you probably have a million and one questions. If you don’t, you ought to. We may be faeries, but this world ain’t rainbows and unicorns. It’s as serious as it gets. It’s life and death. It’s… Wait a minute.

    Change seats with me.

    There. Now I can see the game.

    Where was I? Oh, yeah. This is life and death. Some folks say we’re living in the End Times, right before the Long Winter, which pretty much means extinction as far as we’re concerned. Normally I’d be saying that’s all rumor and gossip, but lately things have been bad. His Grace the Duke is pretty good as rulers go, and he’s done all right, but lately some of his decisions have been… below average. For a while, I thought he was doing a King Solomon thing, y’know, ordering kids be cut in half? Not literally, of course, but sometimes his decisions don’t always match the situation. I’d follow him to the gates of Hell, obviously, but if something’s wrong with the Duke, that’s real bad.

    Why? I forgot, you’re not used to kings and queens and dukes and stuff. I mean, mortals have nobility too, but they just wear fancy outfits and have babies. We have the real Game of Thrones stuff going on. I mean, no one’s been stabbed at any weddings, at least not yet. But things could get that way real soon if the Duke looks like he’s weak.

    See, Philly is the capital of the Duchy of Liberty’s Heart, and it lies within the Kingdom of Apples, which is basically New England. But within the Kingdom of Apples is the capital of Concordia, which is like a North American empire for us Kithain. The point is that changelings here are more fixated on politics than other places, because they have a better chance of actually affecting decisions. Plus, some stuff has been going down that has some people wondering whether Concordia itself may be breaking down.

    Well, it’s complicated. Over in Massachusetts, you got Duchess Peraniya, the only Unseelie ruler in the Kingdom of Apples. It’s pretty much understood that she’d like to destabilize the other Seelie duchies and accumulate her own power. Meanwhile, the Duchy of Mirrors (or Connecticut, as you know it) has fallen to commoner rebels who want to rule through town hall direct democracy. Because of that, we have a lot of sidhe exiles from there passing through, only too happy to meddle in our own political affairs, as well as pressure for the Duke to help them restore their titles. More than any of that, some people are starting to doubt that High King David, the ruler of all Concordia, is the changeling messiah the prophecies held him out to be. It’s the kind of useless mean talk I like to avoid, but few can really argue that things don’t look pretty bleak for us faeries.

    Hey, Mac, another round for me, please!

    You’re lucky, though, because as cities go, Philadelphia is pretty rich in Glamour. You got the Broad Street Arts Corridor and the art museum district, plus Temple, Drexel, U Penn… Hell, more universities than you can shake a stick at. I think I heard someone say we have the oldest opera house in the country… Not that I would know anything about that. We have more passionate sports fans than anywhere else in the U.S., from baseball to professional wrestling. Point is, we got a lot of Dreamers, who are necessary for generating Glamour. I don’t claim to fully know what Glamour or Banality are, but best as I can figure it, Glamour comes from thinking outside the box, from people using their imagination for some positive purpose… Well, whether it’s someone painting a masterpiece mural, writing a brilliant thesis, or realizing that dream of hitting a grand slam home run or an elbow drop from the top rope, you can find it here.

    Hold on a second.

    ARE YOU BLIND, UMP?! NO WAY THAT WAS OUTSIDE THE STRIKE ZONE!

    Anyway, be glad you didn’t awaken in Peoria, Illinois, where Glamour would be hard to come by. Plus, there’s also Old City, Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell… Tourists from all over the world go there and dream about freedom, liberty, all of that. Faeries too come from around the world for that Glamour, because there’s nothing quite like it, and in today’s world, it offers something in short supply: hope. Some say it encourages Philly fae to be a little more civically engaged than most, but I wouldn’t know about that. Us trolls tend to do their duty anyway. Why should we expect a cookie for what we’re supposed to do? Chances are, you’re gonna be swept up in the politics of this place, whether you want to or not. My advice? Stick it out with the Duke. No matter what happens, I’d rather be remembered as a faithful servant than an ungrateful rebel.

    Leave a comment:

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