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Untangling Arcadia, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love (Both) the Fae

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
    I know and appreciate this, but I feel the need to emphasize that the direction of the antagonism on this front as far as I had seen it was overwhelmingly more preemptively-reactive than responsive and that this produced one of my least favorite parts of Changeling 1e specifically because it was such a step backwards in the name of attacking that problem:

    The Unmade were a terrible execution on a moderately good idea. They exist in a context more at home with a view of mages circa Secrets of the Ruined Temple and they are presented in the penultimate book in Changeling's extended initial run three years after Secrets of the Ruined Temple was sandwiched between Tome of the Watchtowers and Tome of the Mysteries in the list of Very Early 1e Mage Supplements. "The Wise" may be an ironic self-congratulatory nickname for the Awakened among themselves on par with vampires calling themselves "Kindred," but Changeling 1e seemed fixated on the idea that mages were, by volume, complete dumbasses with magical powers (despite the starting point for those powers being tools for information-gathering).

    Yes, there's merit in the idea of mages getting in over their heads and being warped into something terrible by alien beings of godlike power — see as reference the many instances of that that exist in Mage already — but so much of 1e's problems seem tied up in the idea that, rather than happening to have a mental weight steering them a particular sort of way when presented with the mother of all psychoreactive rabbit-holes to fall down (and one that hampers their information-gathering tools besides), the Awakened would be seeking out Faerie for the same reason that a bit of early chapter fiction presents a handful of cranks insisting that the legendary heart of the Awakened Empire is hidden near the city of Atlanta. As Dave's pointed out before, Changeling 1e brings up mages far more often than Mage brings up changelings, and most of those instances amount to substituting them for members of a UFO cult.

    Changeling 1e introduces its metaphysics in terms drenched in sideways reference to Mage and then spends ninety percent of its direct Mage references defensively dunking on them instead of spending that pagespace on literally anything else. Like, say, examining the ways the Lost struggle to keep their stories straight and believable under the constraints of Clarity, or providing more examples of how the Hedge affects visitors (especially human visitors) in descriptive terms, or even just acknowledging more than passingly that people with a powerful interest in the occult do not have a good track record of heeding warnings from people scarred by the occult without the ability to coherently convey the dangers thereof. The position I'm making this thread from is that some poor execution happened along the way to Arcadia.

    I've no interest in defending the in-my-experience-largely-hypothetical Mage Supremacist Supreme that much of the backlash seems to be directed against, and in a discussion where I open by acknowledging that the lore not only is mutable but has been changed there's not much benefit to citing lore incompatibilities (not least because the stuff closest to the Supernal has always been unreliable and a Changeling book is where one of those unreliabilities is specifically highlighted).

    From a plain thematic ideas perspective, in other words, I'm still stumped for reasons to object to the Fae being the temporal face of distant, alien gods linked to a place whose experience in its original context was "through weird, symbolism-laden dream-quests, people seized the potential for godlike power from distant, alien places tied to a mythic cataclysm purported to have happened forever ago," particularly when that crossover is specifically built to throw a "there are more things in Heaven and Earth" wrench into things.

    I'm eager to hear things in that category of reasoning on this topic, but without a compelling case for why this cosmological overlap means either side "wins" I think I'm about set to start drafting up my supporting arguments.

    So, again, for clarity, setting aside the matters of reception and execution, I'd like to know what is wrong on a thematic level with the idea that the one realm-of-the-gods has anything to do with the other.
    I am both A) tired and B) drunk enough that I can't go into it, but it's worth noting that Changeling's response is, Doylistically, a counter-counter-(counter?) response to how Promethean handled the post-Awakening world of Chronicles in the collective worlds of 2006 to 2008(at which point, personally, I lose the entire narrative). The point on that is that Changeling faced something of a....not quite Catch-22, but approximate mildly-expanded-ground of the notion regarding how handle Promethean basically said "Fuck off" and Lost both could've and almost wanted to say the same thing, but the storytelling possibilities against was also way too great to simply ignore. I love that Dave Brookshaw was willing to admit to the fact that Changeling was more obsessed with the Arcadia=Arcadia connection than Mage was, but one of the more uncomfortable and messier elements to deal with on that factor is why that happened in the first place, or that honestly the Mage Connection was a Thing-I have no idea if anyone would accuse it of selling Changeling or not, or even against. (Again, Awakening succeeded in way that was outside of the expectations for it versus the expectations for Forsaken or Requiem[Though I'm working on incomplete information on that and so may admit I'm wrong])

    Thematically, particularly in a post-Imperial Mysteries and even-more-so post-Second Edition world, it actually doesn't matter a drahmhow Supernal the Strangers are unless you have a game hyperfocused on the issue. I think on the cosmological point of view, the general populace is a lot more willing to accept the Supernal Fae as the Arcadian Fae than they were in 2007 when the game launched.

    The truth to the drama is that it has that it's always been a personal matter. Thematically, it was wibbly enough to be a matter of "Who cares?", and since then it's become controlled enough to answer with "What do you want?"

    I mean, as someone who is reconciling with the fact they have actually been a fan of the franchise a whole year earlier than originally understood, I'm honestly admitting that the entire affair was an overblown issue. Thematically, even digging into deeper metaphysics, it's just kind of enough of a grey area that saying the Supernal Fae are/aren't the Arcadian Fae is sort of....really a moot point.

    The entire thing is really rooted in how people felt, which is why it was so heated to begin with. Really, now having had the time and space to back way and handle it more objectively, I really have to agree with you, in the sense of questioning what is actually wrong on the fundamental basis..
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 01-25-2020, 03:40 AM.

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  • Taidragon
    replied
    My big beef with Changeling and Mage Arcadia being the same, and the Gentry being the same as the Supernal Fae, really comes down to a number of pedantic aspects that I can’t really meet between Changeling or Mage. These are partially born from my lacking any immersion in Mage, owing to the density of the text, and the exposure to Mage players that has left me lacking any enthusiasm to delve into it in spite of owning both Mage 2e and Signs And Sorcery on PDF.

    1) The Gentry do not exhibit the same powers as Mages, and in turn Changelings lack powers approaching a Mage’s because their masters lack it. Reconciling this is to reconcile the differences between Mages and Changelings, and at that point you’ve all but separated the two into “Powers of lords” to “inadequacies of slaves”, which I feel does a disservice to both splats. One could possibly make a reason as to why the Gentry don’t use powers approaching Mage spells anywhere barring Arcadia or that they don’t use them on their servants or in their pursuit due to a quirk of their deals, but that just adds more contrivance to why supposedly all powerful beings as so handicapped in particular scenarios but not in ones that should be entirely similar.

    2) Mages know nothing about Changelings, which logically shouldn’t be the case if they encounter the Fae in the supernal and meet their servants. Mages regularly get basic aspects of other splats entirely wrong in trying to reconcile them to their own universe, but if they encounter the Supernal Fae then they should have some basis on the free Changelings and how their powers work. Likewise, Changelings show no knowledge of people who are not fae but wield powers that are approaching equal to their Keepers, which, considering all that they retain from their time in Arcadia without actively calling it to memory, seems like a very big hole. The fact that neither core book reference each other in anything but the vaguest possible sense really makes it hard to swallow.

    3) As noted above in 1, it outright reduces the standing of a Changeling as a member of the universe if they are the ex-slaves of beings who are part of what is possibly fundamental forces of the universe, when Mages are free roamers and able to call upon these forces themselves. Many of a Changeling’s powers are on playing with time, opening doorways to another dimension, escaping from entrapment and affecting fate if someone should so try to weasel out of a deal. These are powers that to Mage are old hat, and incredibly specific uses, but are core to a Changeling’s kit. Making a Changeling only a smidgen of the background in a Mage’s own ascension, with so much lesser powers for it, just... reduces Changeling: The Lost, and makes it so much less than what it is or deserves to be.

    4) This is a far pettier gripe than most, but another reason I have no reason to reconcile Mage and Changelings’ Arcadias and the Fae therein is simply because of the behaviour that Mage tends to encourage. Changeling is about recovering from your past, rebuilding your life, discovering new things and making yourself better than either if you’d never been to Arcadia or your heights in your durance, all the while fighting with the weapons the Gentry unintentionally endowed you with. Mage is about learning about the universe’s mysteries, wielding powers no other mortal could dream of and shaking the forces out that would make the entire world a horrible place, and your hubris in all of the above... but out of all those aspects, hubris never seems to stick.

    To put it another way, in all my time on the Chronicles of Darkness discord and in any of my games with crossover elements, I’ve never had any other splat come in and dominate the chat and play of another gameline other than Mage. Talks about how the lore of the various gamelines fits into Mage’s purview, in the chats for those very gamelines; talks about how Mages totally make the God-Machine obsolete, that they can upend it, that the God-Machine is inconsequential because of how the Exarchs have won reality; of how a single Mage player is allowed to make a supernatural mess even worse with a spell that makes all the other players have to work that much harder to keep what they have going, because saying No to it would impede the fun of the Mage player, even if they fully intend for the ensuing paradox to make their character non-playable thereafter. Even when a Mage NPC showed up in a Changeling game, they were the one that made the thrust of the game go from “running a halfway house to help newly escaped Changelings get back on their feet” to “run an Oceans 11 heist to get the Winter Queen out of having any debt to this Mage” without running any of this by the players before the changeover happened.

    I appreciate that these are bad actors, but the problem is that these are the loudest of the actors involved with Mage and people act surprised when others have problems with what they want, and it has left a supremely bad taste in my mouth for it... which is a shame, because it reflects rather badly on the players who don’t runneth over and spread ill will.

    Other people here have provided far better reasons with more eloquence than I could, but these are the reasons why I can’t broker a merger between the two Arcadias and the Fae that populate them. I apologize if this comes across as the ramblings of someone with experiences with just the bad and not the good, and if it’s outright missing or mistaking parts of the Mage side that make things easier to accommodate.

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  • Satchel
    replied
    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
    EDIT: Also, and I know I don't need to really point this out but I feel I should all the same,

    in those days, there were quite a number of Real Asshole Mage Fans, and That Was A Problem.
    I know and appreciate this, but I feel the need to emphasize that the direction of the antagonism on this front as far as I had seen it was overwhelmingly more preemptively-reactive than responsive and that this produced one of my least favorite parts of Changeling 1e specifically because it was such a step backwards in the name of attacking that problem:

    The Unmade were a terrible execution on a moderately good idea. They exist in a context more at home with a view of mages circa Secrets of the Ruined Temple and they are presented in the penultimate book in Changeling's extended initial run three years after Secrets of the Ruined Temple was sandwiched between Tome of the Watchtowers and Tome of the Mysteries in the list of Very Early 1e Mage Supplements. "The Wise" may be an ironic self-congratulatory nickname for the Awakened among themselves on par with vampires calling themselves "Kindred," but Changeling 1e seemed fixated on the idea that mages were, by volume, complete dumbasses with magical powers (despite the starting point for those powers being tools for information-gathering).

    Yes, there's merit in the idea of mages getting in over their heads and being warped into something terrible by alien beings of godlike power — see as reference the many instances of that that exist in Mage already — but so much of 1e's problems seem tied up in the idea that, rather than happening to have a mental weight steering them a particular sort of way when presented with the mother of all psychoreactive rabbit-holes to fall down (and one that hampers their information-gathering tools besides), the Awakened would be seeking out Faerie for the same reason that a bit of early chapter fiction presents a handful of cranks insisting that the legendary heart of the Awakened Empire is hidden near the city of Atlanta. As Dave's pointed out before, Changeling 1e brings up mages far more often than Mage brings up changelings, and most of those instances amount to substituting them for members of a UFO cult.

    Changeling 1e introduces its metaphysics in terms drenched in sideways reference to Mage and then spends ninety percent of its direct Mage references defensively dunking on them instead of spending that pagespace on literally anything else. Like, say, examining the ways the Lost struggle to keep their stories straight and believable under the constraints of Clarity, or providing more examples of how the Hedge affects visitors (especially human visitors) in descriptive terms, or even just acknowledging more than passingly that people with a powerful interest in the occult do not have a good track record of heeding warnings from people scarred by the occult without the ability to coherently convey the dangers thereof. The position I'm making this thread from is that some poor execution happened along the way to Arcadia.

    I've no interest in defending the in-my-experience-largely-hypothetical Mage Supremacist Supreme that much of the backlash seems to be directed against, and in a discussion where I open by acknowledging that the lore not only is mutable but has been changed there's not much benefit to citing lore incompatibilities (not least because the stuff closest to the Supernal has always been unreliable and a Changeling book is where one of those unreliabilities is specifically highlighted).

    From a plain thematic ideas perspective, in other words, I'm still stumped for reasons to object to the Fae being the temporal face of distant, alien gods linked to a place whose experience in its original context was "through weird, symbolism-laden dream-quests, people seized the potential for godlike power from distant, alien places tied to a mythic cataclysm purported to have happened forever ago," particularly when that crossover is specifically built to throw a "there are more things in Heaven and Earth" wrench into things.

    I'm eager to hear things in that category of reasoning on this topic, but without a compelling case for why this cosmological overlap means either side "wins" I think I'm about set to start drafting up my supporting arguments.

    So, again, for clarity, setting aside the matters of reception and execution, I'd like to know what is wrong on a thematic level with the idea that the one realm-of-the-gods has anything to do with the other.

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  • Draconis
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
    What's wrong with the idea that the True Fae are Supernal beings?
    My main issue with it isn't an issue with the idea so much as it is an issue with a certain type of player.

    There are certain players who have the idea that Mage is the be-all and end-all of CofD cosmology, and everything else should fit into it. Also, no issue of other splats should ever be more than a trivial inconvenience for a Mage ("I'm going to use Fate with Advanced Scale to fix all Deviants in the area permanently and forever!"). So when I see a theory that the big bad nigh-invincible antagonists of one splat are actually something Mages understand completely and can deal with in well-understood and well-documented ways, my hackles go up immediately.

    Now, I should clarify, I think those players are completely and utterly wrong. Sure, you can use Fate 4 to get out of a pledge with a Changeling…but if you do this enough the Wyrd metaphorically wants to know who's not paying their debts, and most Fate-Mages presumably don't want the cosmic force of reciprocity angry at them. Similarly, Changeling!Arcadia being linked to Mage!Arcadia doesn't have to mean that your average Acanthus can go around dick-punching Gentry. But I've dealt with enough of those players that I'm automatically wary of how they'll interpret such things, and don't want to see what'll happen with it. "Cold iron specifically can't be made with magic, it's part of the definition" "but ACKshually I have a spell that makes iron into cold iron permanently at no cost because fuck your thematics" was bad enough.

    EDIT: ArcaneArts put it better. Basically that.

    EDIT EDIT: And I should clarify for any non-Mage-players reading this, there is no longer a spell that makes iron into cold iron permanently at no cost because fuck your thematics. There is a spell that makes iron into cold iron temporarily at no cost, which still puts a bad taste in my mouth, but that doesn't annoy me as much as the permanent version because it's harder to abuse.
    Last edited by Draconis; 01-25-2020, 01:49 AM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    In regards to a pure cosmological point of view, the real problem was that there wasn't a Super Clear Way to Look At the Supernal, and a lot of people who had the point of view that would eventually become Second Edition's Hard Line had to deal with the fact that the people who felt the Supernal Was A Place That Echoed Outward weren't wrong as far as the limits of text on the matter went, and the fact that Mage Seemed Predictive of Elements to be included to the Chronicles Banner was not helpful.

    The coincidental correspondences of Promethean and Changeling to Mage mixed in with the realities of why and how they were released the way they were was really inconvenient, the sort of thing that actually wouldn't have enough room to properly dissolve until ironically Curse came out.

    Currently, with things like Pangaeans and high rank Spirits, Goetia, and "Ghosts" probably playing the Supernal, the Strangers blurring the literal line between conceptual and realistic powers and forms is a lot easier to swallow than it was in the year of 2007 simply because the precedent has now been laid out how such interactions and forms might be.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 01-25-2020, 01:55 AM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
    These are also good points that I'll get to in those later posts I mentioned, but for clarity, I'm asking more after where the objection some people seem to have to the concept at a… moral(?) level comes from.

    We saw a brief redux of the phenomenon with the release of the Dark Eras Companion with the mostly one-directional complaints about the idea that mages could have any metaphysical relation to what the Arisen call A'aru, for example, and while I can understand wanting to keep games' metaphysics sufficiently separate from a lore perspective most of the vocal backlash against the idea I've seen prior to 2e seems to have come from a more for-lack-of-a-better-word territorial position.

    Or, to put it more plainly, a lot of the historical beef (i.e. prior to the concepts being specifically differentiated) seems to be from people not wanting Mage's view of the metaphysics to have any involvement with Changeling's view of the metaphysics at all, and I'd like to get some data from those people or people with a better grasp on that perspective as someone who's never really held that sort of objection to a concept in these games.
    For the most part I'm on Tessie's argument, but addressing this:

    While my ideological beef has always been something along the lines of "One does not simply walk into [the Supernal]" because [something something nature of Ascension and Supernal attainment], the personal belief that is highly territorial was very much that there was a space where in.....honestly, there wasn't as much ground to keep your thing yours, particularly from Mage which had a wide perspective that at the time seem all consuming-I mean, even I bought into the hype of "Okay, so Werewolves are Primal Wild and Vampires are Stygia, so that means" etc, etc. If all you HAD was Vampire and Werewolf at the time, it's easy to get caught into it, particularly since of the initial three, mage was at least the most evocative of the three and the most willing to just, you know, have fun (Love Forsaken 1st, but both Forsaken and Requiem had some "So Bleak as to make everything taste of ash" going on, as old members might remember my own complaints about Requiem might go).

    Thing of the matter is that Promethean and Changeling were game changers for the franchise, and part of that was the way both games tapped into something extremely personal for anyone reading it, particularly if it's themes and ideas correlated with your experiences (which time has revealed to be way more of a depressingly common truth than anyone could have expected), and all of a sudden, this outsider, this invader, was somehow trying to consume your thing by just making it a facet of their thing, and it was. Well.

    Stolen Ground.

    Hell, It was someone repossessing your home, to be thematically on point.

    From a cosmological point of view, I suppose it largely was dependent on your point of view on how the Supernal was supposed to be dealt with, but from the street level view, the mage arguments started to be the devaluing of a special thing into cosmic property, and to feel like you were a second class citizen to another, more superior citizen when this game offered raw expression and possible true healing and emotional catharsis was grating.

    I think it would be something of a denial to discount the fact that Changeling the Lost touched a lot of people on a deep and intimate that felt devalued where Awakening's point of view was concerned, and that the fundamental root of the push and pull of that arguement revolved, honestly less around the two games, and more people where it was very deeply felt versus those who might have enjoyed changeling, but was not anymore moved by it than Mage's form of actualization or simply presentation of enjoyment.

    Now, ALL OF THAT SAID,

    "One does not simply walk into [the Supernal]", and also [something something nature of Ascension and Supernal attainment].

    EDIT: Also, and I know I don't need to really point this out but I feel I should all the same,

    in those days, there were quite a number of Real Asshole Mage Fans, and That Was A Problem.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 01-25-2020, 01:30 AM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by Raistlin View Post
    Well, Father Wolf and the Pangeans were pretty much Supernals who fell after the Ascension if the Exarcs. So, maybe the Fae got themselves in a similar pledge.
    Uh.
    No.

    The text surrounding the Pangaeans has always had an opposite relation to this discussion- that they are not fallen Supernals, but fundamentals of the Fallen reaching towards the Supernal. Pillars of the World they might have been, but nothing has suggested the world of the Border Marches (a fairly purely Phenomenal occurence) was anything but their nativity, Wolf as it's God-Lord. The best you could argue from the materials is that they are the shadow-reflections of Supernal Gods, but at no point are the Pangaeans not at home in the Fallen World. These Are Their Lands.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    Originally posted by Raistlin View Post
    Well, Father Wolf and the Pangeans were pretty much Supernals who fell after the Ascension if the Exarcs.
    I think you're mistaking Pangaeans for the Bound.

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  • Raistlin
    replied
    Well, Father Wolf and the Pangeans were pretty much Supernals who fell after the Ascension if the Exarcs. So, maybe the Fae got themselves in a similar pledge.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    I dislike the idea on the level that it may lead to problems when writing for either game.
    The Supernal is very central to Mage's metaphysics, and Supernal Arcadia needs to fit the same mold as the other four Supernal Realms. Changing Arcadia (or the Supernal in general) to make it fit better with Changeling's cosmology would take a lot of work and shut the door on a lot of ideas that has been realised in Mage.
    The Gentry in Changeling, however, are designed to fit a specific role within that game's narrative and gameplay loop. They need to act in certain ways, have certain limitations, and even weaknesses. You could come up with a few different models, but if you are beholden to information from Mage, then you've stiffled the creativity by locking some possibilities and putting hurdles in front of other possibilities.
    Alternatively, you could just say "fuck it" and not bothering reconciling the two, like in first edition, but then you'd be very disgenuine as a writer if you claimed the two are the same when they never were written to be the same. Even suggesting it feels off to me, unless it's like "the two were written to fit the specifics of each game, but if you want them to be the same then go ahead".

    Basically, I don't want the writers to have to reconcile two very different roles in two different games when trying to write about Arcadia or True Fae in either.

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  • Penelope
    replied
    People are gonna hate me for this, but I always thought the True Fae were Fair Folk nobles from Exalted who got lost in a Wyld storm while they were out hunting for slaves and ended up in the CoD universe.

    That being said, I think Tessie makes some really good points about why the two Arcadias are not the same place and why the True Fae are not Supernal entities.

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  • Satchel
    replied
    Originally posted by Tessie View Post
    I think there are three main problems that needs to be overcome in order to make them the same:
    These are also good points that I'll get to in those later posts I mentioned, but for clarity, I'm asking more after where the objection some people seem to have to the concept at a… moral(?) level comes from.

    We saw a brief redux of the phenomenon with the release of the Dark Eras Companion with the mostly one-directional complaints about the idea that mages could have any metaphysical relation to what the Arisen call A'aru, for example, and while I can understand wanting to keep games' metaphysics sufficiently separate from a lore perspective most of the vocal backlash against the idea I've seen prior to 2e seems to have come from a more for-lack-of-a-better-word territorial position.

    Or, to put it more plainly, a lot of the historical beef (i.e. prior to the concepts being specifically differentiated) seems to be from people not wanting Mage's view of the metaphysics to have any involvement with Changeling's view of the metaphysics at all, and I'd like to get some data from those people or people with a better grasp on that perspective as someone who's never really held that sort of objection to a concept in these games.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
    What's wrong with the idea that the True Fae are Supernal beings?
    I think there are three main problems that needs to be overcome in order to make them the same:

    1.) The differences in how True Fae and Supernals are portrayed in both games. It's not a big problem, though, if you just say that the Gentry aren't the same Fae that the Acanthus summons through their Path. They're a different type of Supernal beings, just like the Exarchs and Ascended mages are different from summoned beings. But there should probably be some kind of explanation as to why they are so much more able and/or willing to directly interfere and even visit the Fallen world than their fellow entities.

    2.) That you can literally walk to and visit Arcadia in Changeling. Emanations and Lustrums do exist and can make it possible within the metaphysics of Mage, but the vast number of connections is pretty uncharacteristic for a Supernal Realm and some might feel it cheapens Arcadia's role in Mage as a higher plane of symbolic existence by making it so accessible as a physical location.

    3.) Huntsmen being the original inhabitants of Arcadia without having much in common with either summoned Supernal Entities or exiled Bound. Also, where did the True Fae come from before they kicked out the Huntsmen? (To be fair, the latter question isn't answered in Changeling, and unlike that game Mage does provide enough fuel for a few theories.)

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  • TheStray7
    replied
    I kinda always thought Arcadia was the Supernal Arcadia...but I never really wandered into the weeds of this discourse, so I'll just have to remain watching on the sidelines.

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