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What is the functional difference between Contracts and Oaths?

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  • What is the functional difference between Contracts and Oaths?

    I am looking for feedback and advice with regards to understanding Contracts, Oaths, and how the two relate to one another. I've seen the "interpretation" of this vary between different games depending on Storytellers, and am not sure if there is a "single correct" mechanical answer to this.

    For example, when a Changeling swears an Oath of Vassalage, they receive a coin from their new Liege representing their service. A "badge of authority" is normally only an option that comes via Contracts 5: Sanctified Wards, but it appears as though this Oath circumvents the whole process.

    Depending on the game, I have seen several different rulings:
    A) A contract is an oath. You can only create a new type of Oath, if you have Contracts. In order to mimic effects like tokens, boons, etc, you need Contracts 5.
    B) A contract is not an oath, and is thus "temporary" by nature, and does not bear any penalties for breaking it beyond the normal penalties. For example, a Troll will not lose Strength for violating a Contract.

    Frankly, I'm at the point I might just rewrite the Art altogether.

  • #2
    MY opnion is that this art was unecessary.

    Anyone should be able to do oaths, even self oaths, that's the point of the oaths. I basically just don't use this art in my games. I belive this was caused by too many writers, many of them not much worried about lore as they were about mechanics.

    Dragon's ire was another example, everyone should be able to do that in certain situations, BUT if you consider it a art, it still makes some sense, but contract less so.
    Last edited by Rucun; 04-07-2020, 12:12 AM.


    • #3
      Option A, a contract is a type of oath. That being said, anyone can create oaths, the Art just allows you to modify and customize your oaths when making them.

      Also, the token of the Oath of Vassalage would be the equivalent of using prop to weave Done Deal. It's foundational to the oath, not just proof of it. You can upgrade it with Sanctified Ward to add extra benefits.


      • #4
        An Oath is a personal vow, with consequences to back it up -- 'if I fail in this Oath, my first-born will belong to you' kind of thing). Contract, as an Art, specifically invokes the Dreaming, which is *much* more powerful and much less predictable.

        The Dreaming is very direct -- you get *precisely* what you ask of it. The example in the C20 book is of the sidhe noble that asks for a fierce warrior willing to undertake a difficult quest -- and the Dreaming sends them an absolute blackguard of a Redcap. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

        Basically, the difference is that with an Oath, you have some control over how things play out, but with Contract, you ask the Dreaming and you have to take what it gives you.


        • #5
          Contracts and Oaths are definitely similar and there is a lot of overlap but the practical differences I see is essentially that an Oath is invoking the power of The Dreaming and requires a certain amount of formality while Contract is much more under the changeling's control to finesse and manipulate by its nature as an art.

          I also see it narratively as something of a distinction between Oaths which are something sacred and formal to be entered into with the most extreme thought and care & Contract which is done more for practical purposes such as jobs and relatively short term agreements, particularly ones you don't intend to follow you into your next life.


          • #6
            Way how I see it, their function is similar, but who they target is different.

            Oaths are only between changelings.

            The Contract Art (and when you factor in Realms) allows you to make oaths with all other non-changeling targets. So it's what you would need if you want to strike something with a mortal or a Prodigal.