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  • Variant Courts

    The Unseelie and Seelie codes seem to me to be very much a Western European view of things than a universal truth. Has anyone tried laying out alternative codes for other cultures? Or had any thoughts on this?


  • #2
    I can't really speak of codes off the top of my head, but in general, I've always tended to view the overall divide as one of "light" and "dark" (not in the sense of good and evil, but more in the term of night and day, so to speak), with the specifics depending on cultural background and the like. And, just as personal head canon, I tend to treat Seelie and Unseelie as modern shorthand that encompasses all of these as they tend to appear in North America.
    As far as what these divides are, Spring & Summer vs Autumn & Winter is the most obvious. Also Day/Light vs Night/Darkness, which seems to be how Nordic mythology divided that Alfar and how certain Slavic creatures get divided up. (At least that's my layman's impression; I"m not an expert by any stretch.) From a Greek perspective, there's the Olympian vs Chthonic division, with the bright (relatively) orderly and urban/civilized gods contrasted with the dark, slightly chaotic, and rural/natural gods and beings. Similar to this is the Apollo vs Dionysus angle mentioned in various schools of philosophy and psychology. Elementalism can also come into all of this, with the "higher" elements of Air and Fire vs the "lower" Earth and Water. (The former are often connected with Olympus and the latter with Chthonic forces.)
    Again, I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that Egypt had this distinction between the black lands - the civilized, fertile, and settled area along the Nile - and the red lands - the savage, desolate and empty desert - as represented by Horus and Set. And my limited understanding of Zoroastrian Persia is a divide between Truth (fire, light, etc.) and Lies (darkness, evil, etc.). It may be a cultural holdover from this that Middle Eastern folklore seems to divide djinn into those that are Muslim and those that aren't. (Again, I'm not an expert.)
    The Loa of Afro-Caribbean religions tend to have two different aspects, Rada and Petro, with the former being more benevolent and the latter more aggression oriented. There might be some case for an Aztec divide between Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, but I'm not up enough on the culture and religion to know.
    And, if you want to go to the East, the Yang vs Yin divide is obvious. I actually kind of liked Changeling: The Lost's alternate courts based on the the four cardinal directions and their associated mythic creatures. (I think it would be possible to do something similar with the Ancient Greek concept of there being a wind god for each direction, each with its own personality and court.) I don't know enough about Indian folklore and Hinduism to guess about a possible division there. (Preservation vs Destruction, maybe?) Likewise for Southern Africa, Siberia, South America, Australia and the Pacific.
    But, almost all of these could be the basis for alternate courts, I think.


    What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
    Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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    • #3
      Right I mean how would you change them culturally? I can easily see different named divisions but if my "Court of Yin" is still saying stuff like "Honor is a lie" and "Glamour is free' it doesn't feel much like a cutural change you know?

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      • #4
        I think most of the above would have their own unique codes and cultures; I just don't really feel qualified to say what they would be or how they would manifest.


        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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        • #5
          I imagine, whether or not you want to reduce Changelings into individual real-world political/cultural views, fairytale distillations of popular beliefs of an area, or some blend of these, the court distinction is one which can be viewed through several paradigms.

          You view it as a strictly "seasonal shift," with the ethical implications shunted to the corner. For example, you could try running a "Day Watch/Night Watch" dynamic for Russia/the Caucaus if that's your shtick.

          Alternately, you could view Seelie/Unseelie as an ideological sliding scale of communalism versus individualism, creating the Hobson's Choice of whether you wish to trade your freedom for security.

          Or you could go for the archetypical "Light versus Darkness," "Freedom versus Tyranny," etc. depending on which worldview(s) existed in that area historically.

          Don't forget that just as Changelings have both Seelie and Unseelie legacies, domains and houses may have mixes of both houses, and individual adherence to (as well as whether you follow the letter or intent of certain codes) can vary across places.

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          • #6
            What I am looking for are alternative cultural tennants.

            LIke for example if A Djinn calls himself a member of "The Court of Iblis" I don't think he's going to be going on about "Glamour being Free" he might for example say "The Righteous Shall be Tested". I'm looking at the idea that there is broadly a Court for promoting your seelie/summer self and one for Unseelie/winter but that different cultures have different ways of seeing this.

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            • #7
              If you want, you could try and argue the Court logic as a sort of functional underpinning, with regional variations being "semantic" in their variance.

              So rather than "Honor is a Lie," it could be a variant of "Beware False Prophets." Instead of "Death before Dishonor," it could be "Fortune favors the brave," or something along those lines. The wording is different, but the underlying tenet is the same. The *interpretation* may change, as meanings do have a tendency to get lost in translation. (Consider, for example "Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mothers milk." Does this figuratively mean "no cheeseburgers," or does this literally mean not boiling goat kids with their mother's milk?)
              Last edited by MagicJuggler; 09-30-2019, 01:20 PM.

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              • #8
                I admit that I was always a bit disappointed that the Satyrs book didn't at least bring up the idea of an alternative ancient Greek court system that was different from the Celtic derived mainstream.


                What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MagicJuggler View Post
                  If you want, you could try and argue the Court logic as a sort of functional underpinning, with regional variations being "semantic" in their variance.

                  So rather than "Honor is a Lie," it could be a variant of "Beware False Prophets." Instead of "Death before Dishonor," it could be "Fortune favors the brave," or something along those lines. The wording is different, but the underlying tenet is the same. The *interpretation* may change, as meanings do have a tendency to get lost in translation. (Consider, for example "Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mothers milk." Does this figuratively mean "no cheeseburgers," or does this literally mean not boiling goat kids with their mother's milk?)

                  Those are some very different interpretations. Which I think is good. What I was getting at with Glamour is free and "The righteous shall be tested" both can be seen as justification for Ravaging but they also say something about their cultures even if they have similar practices.

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                  • #10
                    One separate aspect is that both Seelie and Unseelie follow the Escheat, and the Right to Dream may be interpreted differently depending on whether you believe Glamour is Free ("Nightmares are technically Dreams") or Beauty is Life (Which could either mean "Protect your Dreamers", or could be inverted as "Ugliness is Death," that is, running Seelie as Thalmoresque Elf Fascists).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MagicJuggler View Post
                      One separate aspect is that both Seelie and Unseelie follow the Escheat, and the Right to Dream may be interpreted differently depending on whether you believe Glamour is Free ("Nightmares are technically Dreams") or Beauty is Life (Which could either mean "Protect your Dreamers", or could be inverted as "Ugliness is Death," that is, running Seelie as Thalmoresque Elf Fascists).

                      I've had plenty of "Lawful evil" Seelie types. ("Only the beautiful deserve to live" thus its ok to kill anyone who's Not a dreamer..) and the ultimate one of "never forget a debt" I've also had a discussion on "Honor is a lie" which cribs heavily from Death's speech from the Hogfather.
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBnENlXt-H4&t=57s

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