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The Courts of San Francisco: Work in Progress (ideas?)

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  • The Courts of San Francisco: Work in Progress (ideas?)

    I'm just starting to toss around some ideas for a homebrew court system set in San Francisco. Looking to major elements of the 'mythos' of The City by the Bay, my first thoughts were:

    - fog
    - earthquakes (& hills)
    - fire (& The City's rebirth after the Great Quake & Fire, regrowth of vegetation after wildfires)
    - the sea (surrounds us on 3 sides)
    - gold (49ers)

    Going w/ these, I have:

    - The Court of Fog and Shadow
    - The Court of Shattered Stone
    - The Court of the Phoenix
    - The Court of Sea and Storm
    - The Court of the Gleaming Coin [rename?]

    And here's where I've gone w/ that so far:

    The Story of San Francisco

    It’s a story of change – of leaving what was and embracing what is to be. It’s a story of rebirth – the city rising from the ashes of the Great Quake & Fire, the early settler leaving the safe eastern seaboard to pan for gold, the Latina resettling her family in a land of opportunity, the man just out of the Navy after WWII refusing to return to the expected small town life & lie of marriage and kids. Sometimes the individual chapters don’t end well – the 49er who came seeking fortune and ended begging for food; the immigrant who found discrimination and sexual harassment; the man who came out and left his conservative hometown behind only to die at the end of a baseball bat – but the Great Story, the story of The City, keeps going.

    The Bulwark of the Chrysopylae

    San Francisco is a place of destruction and transformation, of rebirth, of starting life anew. This is represented in the combined rituals of the Bulwark and the change of courts. Every significant celebration of change or transformation held in The City throughout the year is an occasion on which the courts vie for the crown. Each selects a Champion to compete in events that form the backbone of The City's rambunctious and colorful life. From the general rowdiness of New Year’s Eve, to the parade and fireworks of Chinese New Year's, to Pride in June, to the Folsom Street Fair leather celebration, to Halloween, every great mundane event in The City draws the local courts into its cycle. The rules of victory vary – most romantic kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s, best lion dance at the Lunar New Year's Parade, most 'conquests' at Pride, able to withstand the most pain at Folsom, best 'costume' at Halloween - but one rule remains the same: the Champions must compete in costumes that reflect their true Mien to the smallest detail.

    The winning court then rules the Freehold until the next great event in the social calendar, with the winning Champion as the new King or Queen. The Fae are left confused by both the costume worn by the Champion (what folly would lead one to disguise oneself in an appearance of one’s own Mien?) and the transformation from the costumed appearance during the competition to the standard Mask during the reign. Every court competes, and every Champion puts forth their best effort, but should the same court win the crown in successive competitions the Bulwark is broken. For the Chrysopylae, life truly is ‘change or die’.

    So... what sort of nature might these courts have?

    [Edit: Slowly working through the information on court creation in 2e.]
    Last edited by Snapdragyn; 12-21-2016, 04:36 PM.

  • #2
    Hey! I started a thread over here for just this purpose! If you don't mind I'd love to add this to it and start a bit of an archive of homebrewed freeholds, or if you'd prefer just add it yourself Of course if you would prefer not to that is fine too!

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    I use blue writing because it's my name....
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    • #3
      I love the ideas presented! I have been planning a campaign set in San Francisco, but I don't live there so a locals perspective is incredible valuable. I would put forward the cultural influences, the Spanish missionaries and the Chinese Immigrants and how their culture and legends might have a influence on the rituals of the freehold. My idea was that the courts would be heavily influenced by the Directional Court system (I settled on a Elemental Court system - but I really do like how you approach the themes)

      The Artificer's Workshop - A collection of Exalted Artifacts
      Curios, Relics, and Tomes - A collection of Relics (Cursed and Otherwise)
      The Horror Lab - A collection of Beasts, Monsters and less definable things.
      Strange Places - A collection of Dark, Mysterious, and Wondrous Locations
      Twilight Menagerie - A collection of Ephemeral Entities


      • #4
        I don't know, seems somehow random to me. From what I know, 2E Courts should make some 'Story' to sustain Bulwark on Freehold. What would be story of San Francisco? Maybe it's various disasters? Also, should not Emotions be tie to each Court?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
          I don't know, seems somehow random to me. From what I know, 2E Courts should make some 'Story' to sustain Bulwark on Freehold. What would be story of San Francisco? Maybe it's various disasters? Also, should not Emotions be tie to each Court?
          The coming and going of major events that shaped the city, including the disasters, seems to be what the OP aims for as the central story here.

          The individual courts don't have to clearly map to actors, props, and settings in the city's story, so there's room for some 'randomness'. The courts in Toronto are based on human culture, but the story of the city is that of Scheherazade, something that isn't directly related to demographic diversity.

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          • #6
            Not sure if you would be interested, but I worked up my own San Francisco freehold back in the original court creation thread, which I've been tinkering with on and off (though admittedly mostly off) since then. I went in a pretty different direction than you did, but if you want I can link you to the google docs where I have more information.

            The basic premise is that the freehold was founded toward the end of the Gold Rush, and its membership initially consisted disproportionately of Chinese immigrants who had fallen through the cracks and right into Arcadia. As a result, its rituals and stories are heavily influenced by the culture and folklore of China, particularly of the Guangdong region, and the central narrative that binds the freehold together revolved around "gold" as a metaphor for wealth, prosperity, and the power to build a life for oneself. Here's a brief writeup I posted a while back, modified slightly to account for some of the changes I've made since then:

            Originally posted by CatDoom
            At the core of the story of Gold Mountain is a simple idea: that wealth leads to a better life. Wealth, in this case, can mean literal money, but doesn't have to. It basically refers to everything that a person owns which could, at least theoretically, be bought, sold, traded, or stolen. During a Changeling's durance, they owned nothing - not even themselves. In escaping from Arcadia, they won back that much, and now they want more.

            Each of the Courts of Gold Mountain defines its place in the Freehold's story by answering two questions: how do they acquire wealth, and what do they do with it once they've got it?

            For the Court of the Mint, aka. the Court of Greed, the answer to both questions is the same: they invest. Whether they're merchants buying low and selling high or venture capitalists carefully choosing which start-ups to finance, they believe that the only correct thing to do with wealth is to use it to generate more wealth.

            The ideology of the Court of the Bridge, aka. the Court of Trust, dictates that wealth should be earned through hard work and dedication. It stresses, however, that true success requires cooperation, and so the courtiers of the Bridge pool their wealth with those they trust and rely so that they may all reap greater rewards.

            The Changelings of the Court of the Dome, aka. the Court of Anger, take wealth from those whom they feel are undeserving, particularly those who have used it to abuse those less wealthy than they. Many are outright criminals and vigilantes, while others are activist lawyers or whistle-blowers dedicated to rooting out corruption. All seek to uplift the poor and downtrodden, but most aren't above enriching themselves along the way.

            The Court of the Tower, aka. the Court of Satisfaction, are socially-conscious visionaries who fit uneasily into the larger story of the Freehold, considering wealth a goal unworthy of pursuit. Nevertheless, they are often expert fund-raisers, or rely on the support of wealthy patrons to make their visions reality. They channel what wealth comes their way into making the world a better place, either through charitable works or by creating things of beauty in the pubic sphere.
            Last edited by CatDoom; 01-01-2017, 02:55 AM.