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Alternative Wards for the Seasonal Courts

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  • Alternative Wards for the Seasonal Courts

    I love the idea of each Court giving you magical protection against the gentry. But I found the actual mechanics for the seasonal courts lacklustre, so I present alternatives:
    General: The fundamental idea behind these wards is that each court channels threats in a way that incentivised changeling to become the kind of person idealized by that court as a way of building their defences to face the likely avenue of attack. Contrawise if you want to become the kind of person one court ideals you can join that court knowing the ward will protect you. Because of this, when using these rules a Changeling benefits from their own Court's protection all year round rather than rotating through each during the year.


    Spring: Before the Others or their loyalists can act to harm a changeling or the new life she has built, that changeling must desire the hound or the bait she has placed in her trap. She could agree to sell him a desired token then have her goons fall upon the changeling when he steps into her office, or she could post a pornographic video of herself on a website the changeling frequents and breach the protections of Spring entirely. But the desire, whatever form it takes, must be real.

    - Rationale: Under the current protections it's entirely possible (if bad Storytelling) for a True Fae to feel a sudden desire for a Changeling then swoop down and snatch them off the street without warning. Even when the storyteller is sensible the cannon ward is deep in the an NPC's private thoughts and so has few ways for a player to interact with it. This new protection provides the court of renewal with the ability to build a new life and protect it all. But putting yourself out to build again means exposing yourself, this ward has the most flexible avenue for attack. Only a Changeling who fulfils springs credo: Who understands and owns their desires has nothing to fear. The Others can't tempt them if they have already fulfilled their desire, and if they truly understand their desire they know every angle of attack. It also likely to mean the battle between Other and Changeling revolves around social manoeuvring where one tries to tempt and the other tries to resist.

    Summer: Before the Others or their hounds can take a changeling they must first be beaten down, literally or metaphorically. And before they can attack a changeling they must announce their challenge, even if only by walking up to them with a naked blade and declaring "draw!".

    - Rationale: Under the current protection the Others are incentivised to avoid combat and have free reign to use any technique they like, it's a tool for a Changeling who wants to attack but provides no real defence. This reverses that: Under these rules the Other must inflict the Beaten Down tilt or they must do things like attack friends and family until the changeling feels defeated. But if you're a true son of Summer you can't be metaphorically beaten down. The more the Other tries the angrier you get, so the only way to breach this ward is the Beaten Down Tilt. If you master Summer's anger you're guaranteed your fight, master combat and you win that fight.

    Autumn: Before the Others and their pawns can move against a changeling they must send a message spelling out their plans. The more powerful the Gentry the clearer this message must be but contrariwise, the further in the future the Gentry will make their move the more cryptic they are aloud to be. Two rules remains absolute, the message must be received by it's intended recipient, and only the clue must remain in place until the attack unless destroyed by the intended recepient. If the Other hides a message in a newspaper advertisement and the Changeling doesn't buy their usual copy, they must try again even if that means sending the message straight into the changeling's home. If they hide a message as crack on the wall and someone else covers it up, the crack or a suitable replacement must reappear.
    - Rationale: Why rule out cryptic messages for the court that's stereotyped as occultists? With this reversal a Autumn Courtier who's a skilled occult investigator can spot the warning while one who lacks their Court's skills cannot. And a Courtier who masters their fear will have a healthy paranoia to keep an eye out for clues, but one who is mastered by their fear will chase shadows and miss the real threat.

    Winter: In winter the Others and the vassals must respect the rules of hospitality. They cannot enter a changeling's home uninvited, nor can they shoot arrows or spells at it, and should they be invited they cannot act against their host in any way other than with words alone. What's more the Winter court have no obligation in kind, they are free to slam the door in their former jailer's face if they are willing to bear the risk of giving an insult and may freely attack any Gentry within their home or from behind the safety of their threshold; which is why no Gentry will ever enter without a receiving a binding promise of fair treatment.

    - Rationale: Winter is the court of "I just don't want to be hurt" and so it gives the ultimate protection. But if you break Winter's ideals, if you have friends, a life. If you have something to loose then the gentry is free to take your life apart piece by piece to lure you out. You can't even leave the house to defend them, for where the other courts provide protection everywhere Winter only protects your own abode. If you want to have your cake and eat it your best chance is to hide your connections with subterfuge and secrecy, and if that fails cultivate a cold heart that can bear the sorrow of loss to keep yourself safe until winter passes and it's safe to come out again.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 06-20-2020, 01:24 PM.


    “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
    My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
    Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

  • #2
    I like it a lot.
    I m tempted to make it canon in my chronicle

    Comment


    • #3
      They are interesting, but not my personal cup of tea. I feel they direct the action too much. Like any actions by the Others during a given season will too strongly resemble one another.
      More specific thoughts:

      Spring
      The negative you list for the existing Bargain of Spring seems highly unlikely to occur. Like you say, it would be bad storytelling to just have some Gentry who has never met the changeling desire them. (And not just desire, but "heart's desire".) And it'd be hard for them to meet the Changeling during Spring, when they couldn't fight back if they were attacked unless they already desired their target. So that doesn't seem like much of a mark against it. ^^
      "Act against" is a bit vague. I'm assuming it's essentially the same as "do violence against". (Of any kind.)
      I don't like it as much as the original since it dictates the steps you must take before an attack can come, rather than who can attack, and seems to discourage behaviour that I feel is essential to celebrate Spring.

      Essentially with the "official" one, every conceivable form of attack remains possible, so all possible storylines remain open... so long as true desire is involved. Especially for Loyalists, that is very relevant. In your version, I feel the Freehold would have to outlaw any seductive actions or actions that could be seen to "tempt" other Changelings. After all, tempting others is exactly what a loyalist would do in this circumstance, as otherwise he cannot try to attack or sabotage another member of the Freehold, if he doesn't first get them to desire him.
      Everyone would also get very secretive about their desires, for fear they'd be used against them.
      This would effectively curb the expression of desire for the season, especially when each individual Changeling is also incentivized to shun anything they might desire for fear of it becoming an attack vector. This seems very... un-Spring.

      Remember that during High Season, that season's patron needs to be celebrated and venerated. Spring wants desire to flow during its season, it doesn't want people to be extra guarded about what their desires are and unwilling to risk pursuing them.

      Summer
      This part: "If you are a true son of Summer...", I'm not so sure I like. The Bargain isn't supposed to only apply/be helpful if you're a member of a Court or live by that Court's ideals, it's supposed to help everyone or be a tool with which the ruling Court can help everyone. I'm also not quite so sure that a "Son of Summer" can't be beaten down metaphorically; these are Changelings, trauma victims, we're talking about. They take refuge in Wrath precisely because they're not over it yet. Even the "Give and Take" part says eventually wrath and anger run out and leave you weak and tired.

      I also really don't like a Bargain like this that seems to just be daring the Others to hurt people you love as a proxy for you. That seems very cowardly, it actively feels like you're hiding behind your loved ones, or at least shoving them into the path of danger by making them such an obvious attack vector and you a more inconvenient one.
      I think the Others would often forget to go after loved ones, or not care to "waste time doing that" when, in their arrogance, they think they can beat you easily. But if you make it the rules that they can win by breaking you by attacking your loved ones, you are drawing their attention to it, and "using the stated rules to my advantage" is very much True Fae. :P

      I prefer the current Bargain for Summer, because it allows Summer hunting parties to better clear out the area and protect their Freehold. Even if Others and their servants go after loved ones, Summer can arrive on the scene, lock them down and make them pay for it. The version suggested conversely doesn't offer any ways to help protect these innocent people it is putting in the crosshairs.

      Like with the Spring one, I feel this one discourages rather than encourages the celebration of Summer. It doesn't encourage hunts or war parties, because it's never about being captured and taken in those events anyway, Beaten Down is easy when lethal weapons are involved, and the Others and their Hounds have no incentive to not simply slash and run. It doesn't really facilitate an offering of blood and hunt to Summer.

      Also, Beaten Down is not used if either side has a lethal goal. So no blood for summer. D:

      Autumn
      Why wouldn't the Freehold's enemies all launch really cryptic clues at the start of the season? And True Fae are good at cryptic, they think in cryptic. Autumn is forcing its patrons to fight on the enemy's terms here, and that's odd. Can you imagine the insane levels of paranoia already paranoid Changelings will reach when they have to wonder at every little "sign"?
      Also nothing would be stopping such a high amount of fake cryptic messages that the real ones just get drowned out. I think you'd have real trouble writing the Bargain in such a way to include "but the sending of fake messages is forbidden for the season." or something like that. It seems fairly unworkable to me.

      Also a nightmare in actual play, since you'll be encouraging players (the most paranoid breed of people that exist! xD) to look for cryptic clues in everything you say!

      "It's a beautiful day as you step out onto the streets. Three birds chirp in the morning bre--"
      "Wait, did you say three?! Like my keeper, The Three-Faced Lord!"
      "Erm, no... I..."
      "I run back inside to start plotting this out and get my cryptographic ciphers to see if this is could be a hidden message signalling his future attack!"
      "Alright... you... find nothing of the sort."
      "Huh, ok. I guess I'll go back out and meet Mike where we said we'd meet now."
      "Alright. Good. Well... You begin heading through the park. Mrs Jefferson from next door waves at you on your way past, and an elderly couple is feeding ducks in the pond, the usual."
      "Wait... so you're saying there's three people that I pass there, just like... *gasps*."
      "God dammit."

      Highly stylized, but you get my point. xD

      This also incentives Courtiers to take in as little information as possible, as less info streams = less avenues of potential messages = less data to sift through to find clues = higher chance of detection, lower chance of attacks. Again promoting pretty un-Autumn behaviour, I think.

      And the non-Autumn members can't possibly be expected to be able to analyse all of this or even to remember everything they see so that someone could help with it, so Autumn is setting them all up for failure, essentially.

      Winter
      I don't think they're the court of "I just don't want to be hurt.", they're the court of "I'm already hurting and don't just want to pretend I'm not." Also, wouldn't this one serve as a very easy "tell" for Loyalists? As "vassals" of the Others they couldn't go anywhere they're not invited, so you'd actually want people to constantly ignore the rules of hospitality to prove they're not loyalists. Which feels odd.

      I don't feel any Sorrow in this bargain, it's more the just Politeness. ^^

      This one dictates the proper course of action way too strongly I feel, if you play it the way you seem to intend to want it to play out. Like you note, I think it'd end up as a carbon copy of Summer as it stands, though. Just like with Summer, attacking loved ones so the Changeling comes to you seems like the way to go. It also isolates each Changeling, which makes it hard for Winter to show the Freehold why it is valuable. You'd just have people hiding in the safety of their homes while the loved ones of others get attacked to draw them out. So either you abandon all sense of Freehold cooperation, or you essentially make the Bargain do very little to nothing.

      Winter's chance to show its value to the Freehold is essentially it saying "You're all on your own this season, guys!" which... wouldn't win any hearts I think. xD

      Hiding connections and such is all fine and good for the Winter courtiers themselves, but do they expect everyone to live like that year round? Like I mentioned above, the bargain should protect all Courts or help the Ruling court keep the freehold safe. This one just seems to say the other three courts are about to pay the price for not living like Winter courtiers year round (after all, many enemies are carried over from one season to the next, so it's not like information from past seasons cannot be used.)

      And if it prevented any attack on loved ones as well, it's just way too powerful and simply feels like a "No you don't, I simply don't allow it." card, which doesn't feel right to me.

      Not trying to tear you down, and I can see a lot of thought in these, but they seem very focused on only helping the Ruling Court and feel like they actively discourage paying homage to the Ruling season in the ways it would like in some places.
      Last edited by Unahim; 06-11-2020, 03:52 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Loads to reply to here:

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        They are interesting, but not my personal cup of tea. I feel they direct the action too much. Like any actions by the Others during a given season will too strongly resemble one another.
        I have to disagree here. Take Spring, I think it (mostly) locks the Others down to social manipulation to find/create desires. But social manipulation is a huge category. The Loyalist who tries to become your friend and then lead you astray is very different from the one who tries to impersonate your boyfriend and use that pre-existing desire against you. Or for Autumn; my new version is exactly as flexible as the old one. The difference is that in canon you get an obvious warning, followed by any evil scheme at all. In this new one you get a cryptic warning followed by any evil scheme at all. The only difference is that now Autumn's typical skills are directly relevant.

        I'd also say that directing the action a lot is also intentional. From an in charachter perspective the Court Founders said these are my strengths, lets define *the game* so it stacks the odds in my favour to the limits of what magic can provide. From an out of charachter perspective it lets the players - by picking a court - define what kind of threats and challenges they want their charachter to face. If you play a Summer swordsmaster you most likely want to get a chance to swing that sword, and since avoiding recapture is a core changeling gameloop you probably want your skills to apply there too.

        Obviously an easy solution is to simply ask your storyteller, but personally I'm a big fan of when the in-universe and out-of-universe logic fit together. A smart loyalist who wants to kidnap a swordsmaster would slip a drug into their drink not challenge them to a dual. This ward gives the storyteller an easy explanation for why the loyalist doesn't do that and instead gets into a fight.


        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        The negative you list for the existing Bargain of Spring seems highly unlikely to occur. Like you say, it would be bad storytelling to just have some Gentry who has never met the changeling desire them. (And not just desire, but "heart's desire".)
        While the specific example I chose was exaggerated for emphasis and thus unlikely. The underlying flaw is the cannon spring ward is so pervasive that it's unavoidable. And that's that it really is in the domain of the storyteller.

        What can a player actually do to influence whether their old keeper desires them? If the Keeper remains in Arcadia and sends a Huntsman how can a player remove that desire if they can't even get close enough to the Keeper to interact with them? How can a Changeling keep track, day to day, of which Keepers desire them and thus who is a threat?

        Unless the keeper turns up personally their desires are so deep into the Storyteller's private domain of offscreen NPC's internal feelings that the ward basically doesn't exist at all. If the Storyteller thinks the Story calls for a Spring Changeling to face a threat, they'll declare that this or that Gentry desires them. If they are a hardcore simulationist they might say a changeling is undesired, but even then the player didn't do anything to earn it or even interact with that system.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        "Act against" is a bit vague. I'm assuming it's essentially the same as "do violence against". (Of any kind.)
        I meant it quite broadly.

        Spring is the Court of "I want a new life". You want a family, a circle of friends, a career. The idea was that that the ward protects all of that stuff. A gentry might disguise themselves as your boyfriend, but if the Changeling spots the ruse and never starts to desire "the person standing here" instead of "my boyfriend" the ward means they can't kill the actual boyfriend in a fit of jealousy. Nor could they kill the boyfriend just to remove the risk of a badly timed text message blowing their cover. They might give them free cinema tickets to ensure their phone is off for a bit, but they can't inflict any actual lasting harm to them or the relationship.

        I'll clarify this point. I'm thinking I'll reword it to "inflict harm on the changeling or their new life".

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        I feel the Freehold would have to outlaw any seductive actions or actions that could be seen to "tempt" other Changelings. <...> Spring wants desire to flow during its season, it doesn't want people to be extra guarded about what their desires are and unwilling to risk pursuing them.
        I don't think it would result in outlawing seduction because I think that's a loosing strategy. And I think the Court of Spring would be even stronger on that point.

        Take seduction. Spring would argue that if you outlaw seduction you'll just end up with a lot of pent up desire that the nearest Loyalist in a low cut top can exploit. On the other hand if everyone's owns and fulfils their desires it becomes a lot easier to listen to that little voice saying "this tall dark stranger is trouble, just go home and call one of your friends with benefits instead"

        I'd also add that Spring is intentionally the court whose ward offers the most but only if you expose yourself to risk and overcome it. Metaphorically it matches the way the reward of finding love requires you to expose yourself to risk of rejection and hurt when you first ask a girl out at the bar. Lets say a Changeling does what you suggest, and is unwilling to risk perusing their desires. In that case why not join Winter instead? If you're going to stay at home Winter gives you better protection - you can safely browse the internet without worrying about loyalists putting pictures of themselves on your go-to websites.

        But if you actually *want* to peruse your desires. If you want to get married and start a family. Or if you want to be a star with crowds screaming your name. Spring is by far the best ward to also protects that family or that crowd from being targeted as a way of getting to you. So when you start with the Changelings who want to pursue desire and add the ward on top, you get a system where the best strategy is to fulfil those desires; a fulfilled desire is one with which you cannot be tempted.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        SummerI'm also not quite so sure that a "Son of Summer" can't be beaten down metaphorically these are Changelings, trauma victims, we're talking about. They take refuge in Wrath precisely because they're not over it yet. Even the "Give and Take" part says eventually wrath and anger run out and leave you weak and tired.

        I also really don't like a Bargain like this that seems to just be daring the Others to hurt people you love as a proxy for you. That seems very cowardly, it actively feels like you're hiding behind your loved ones, or at least shoving them into the path of danger by making them such an obvious attack vector and you a more inconvenient one.
        That bit is absolutely not supposed to imply that they can't be beaten down. A "true son" is the goal not the baseline.

        Rather, it creates an incentive to become someone who cannot be beaten down but just becomes angrier and angrier. The more you master summer's ideals the more pointless it becomes for the Gentry to target the people around you. But the onus is on you to master those ideals.

        The [Kubler-Ross model](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model) outright says the anger is directed "especially at proximate individuals". The ward metaphorically reflects that. A summer courtier hasn't honed their anger into a tool risks it being a danger to those around them but one who has does not.

        Combining this ward with a contract where you can get stronger the angrier you are would work very well, since that contract creates a disincentive to try and beat them down via friends and family because - what if you're wrong and now a hulked out Courtier is after you - while leaving that thematically appropriate strategy open against Changelings you know lack resolve. But any such contract is beyond the scope of this microproject.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        I feel this one discourages rather than encourages the celebration of Summer. It doesn't encourage hunts or war parties, because it's never about being captured and taken in those events anyway
        I think you're putting too much on the ward. Summer can have hunts and war parties because they want to have hunts and war parties. A ward's job, IMO, is to offer what changeling's desire most. Safety. It's the foundation of the court, it says if you uphold these ideals you're safe from your Keepers. Following Summer's ideals gets you a lot of people who have honed anger and know how to fight, that naturally leads to war parties.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        Also, Beaten Down is not used if either side has a lethal goal. So no blood for summer. D:
        But the Summer Courtiers themselves have no special need to Beat Down their opponents, so they can spill blood. And since if they refuse to be beaten down but instead fight on till the death the Gentry have no choice but to retreat or oblige: More blood.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        Autumn
        Why wouldn't the Freehold's enemies all launch really cryptic clues at the start of the season?
        Because that gives their enemies lots of time to unscramble the clue. The idea is that the difficulty scales naturally with the time limit to create a fun and balanced challenge for the players.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        Autumn is forcing its patrons to fight on the enemy's terms here, and that's odd. Can you imagine the insane levels of paranoia already paranoid Changelings will reach when they have to wonder at every little "sign"?
        All that is the point.

        Autumn is the court of the occultists and the Changelings who deep down like the magic, the glamour, and want to explore or indulge in their faerie side. So of course they playing with the same tools as their opponents, but don't forget the True Fae still have to play their riddles with a handicap. And of course the ward for The Court of Fear plays with paranoia - that was explicit, healthy paranoia is needed to use it effectiveness but too much paranoia will turn against you.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        Also nothing would be stopping such a high amount of fake cryptic messages that the real ones just get drowned out.
        Just wrap that into the general balance. You get a certain amount of crypticness based on the time you're giving the changeling to figure it out and your power level. If you want to spend all of it on one fiendish riddle or spend half on the riddle and half on a pile of red herrings then both are valid.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        This also incentives Courtiers to take in as little information as possible, as less info streams = less avenues of potential messages = less data to sift through to find clues = higher chance of detection, lower chance of attacks. Again promoting pretty un-Autumn behaviour, I think.
        I did think of that possibility, it's why I mentioned sending the message directly into their home.

        But I think you overlook a key point. Data is also required for solving clues. If you get a highly cryptic letter (which might be the red through the post you'll have to go out and investigate it so cutting down info streams isn't really going to happen.

        And since you can't cut out your info-streams anyway you might as well continue going out investigating, learning, because once you solve a riddle and it says "I'm coming for your mother on Halloween" the next step is to defend your mother and that's where all those occult secrets you've learned come into play.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        WinterI don't think they're the court of "I just don't want to be hurt.", they're the court of "I'm already hurting and don't just want to pretend I'm not."
        Here's how the wikipedia page for the Kubler-Ross model describes Depression: "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon, so what's the point?" That's exactly the behaviour I wanted this ward to encourage. Don't try anything, just stay at home.

        Also, conversations I've had with people who suffer from depression do describe safety as a core aspect to it. Why If you don't try you can't be disapointed when you fail. I wanted to capture that too.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        Also, wouldn't this one serve as a very easy "tell" for Loyalists? As "vassals" of the Others they couldn't go anywhere they're not invited, so you'd actually want people to constantly ignore the rules of hospitality to prove they're not loyalists. Which feels odd.
        Possibly. But the cannon summer ward has that same problem - make it freehold law that everyone must fight a dual and prove they can run away half way though (or attack random freehold members to test them) - so I'm not concenred.

        Originally posted by Unahim View Post
        This one dictates the proper course of action way too strongly I feel, if you play it the way you seem to intend to want it to play out.
        The way I think it would play out is you'll get three groups.

        Young winter who try it for a while, typically shortly after returning from Arcadia, but eventually realise this isn't how they'll want to live their lives and eventually change Court (that was explicitly a thing in a 1E book and I think it works). Then you'll get some people who actually can live at home alone forever without connections anyone can target. They're not PC material but could make a decent NPC, someone who due to their untouchability has survived a long long time and has useful information.

        Finally you'll get the third group. The group who realise that yes, their one priority above everything is safety. But it's not their *only* priority. They need connections for their mental health. So they try to have a bit of both. They keep their absolute place of refuge so if all goes wrong they can abandon their friends and hide (a total dick move, but I think it's an in charachter one for a worrying number of changelings) and they develop spycraft to avoid being linked to their connections. Then since they have spycraft the freehold will call upon them to do spy things; if they have a clear escape route. And there's great plot potential when they realise that actually, abandoning this friend is too hard.

        Also, if they keep their connections small and motley sized they can shelter them all at their home so they do have stuff to contribute. (I'd say that if you build a huge mansion and try and have the whole freehold live there safely, the ward would just define your home as your private quarters).



        “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
        My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
        Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
          Loads to reply to here:
          That's how you know we're having fun!

          I have to disagree here. Take Spring, I think it (mostly) locks the Others down to social manipulation to find/create desires. But social manipulation is a huge category. The Loyalist who tries to become your friend and then lead you astray is very different from the one who tries to impersonate your boyfriend and use that pre-existing desire against you. Or for Autumn; my new version is exactly as flexible as the old one. The difference is that in canon you get an obvious warning, followed by any evil scheme at all. In this new one you get a cryptic warning followed by any evil scheme at all. The only difference is that now Autumn's typical skills are directly relevant.

          I'd also say that directing the action a lot is also intentional. From an in charachter perspective the Court Founders said these are my strengths, lets define *the game* so it stacks the odds in my favour to the limits of what magic can provide. From an out of charachter perspective it lets the players - by picking a court - define what kind of threats and challenges they want their charachter to face. If you play a Summer swordsmaster you most likely want to get a chance to swing that sword, and since avoiding recapture is a core changeling gameloop you probably want your skills to apply there too.

          Obviously an easy solution is to simply ask your storyteller, but personally I'm a big fan of when the in-universe and out-of-universe logic fit together. A smart loyalist who wants to kidnap a swordsmaster would slip a drug into their drink not challenge them to a dual. This ward gives the storyteller an easy explanation for why the loyalist doesn't do that and instead gets into a fight.
          The problem with that is that the ward applies to everyone regardless of Court. So essentially by using the ward to guide this aspect of gameplay, you're forcing everyone to play like a Spring Courtier 1/4th of the year, Winter 1/4th of the year, etc... Because joining Summer isn't what's stacking the odds here, it simply being Summer is.

          People want to be their Court 4/4ths of the year.

          Like you say "it lets the players - by picking a court - define what kind of threats and challenges they want their character to face"
          => Exactly, by picking a Court the character already decided, because their Court will call upon them to do that thing they joined up to do. ^^ There's no need for the ward to do that, and there's no need for the player to ask the Storyteller either, it's just a natural consequence of being a Summer courtier. You took an Oath to join the Court, after all! That Oath is what will lead you to these circumstances.

          A ward should be a way for a Court to show the Freehold "This is how we have your back". I feel yours all dictate ways in which the members of the Freehold need to have their own backs.

          And as far as forcing people into duels goes, there's lots of easy ways to do that in a Changeling game if you really want to. Tokens, a Fae's Title forcing them into certain constraints, a sworn hostile Oath needing to be upheld, etc...
          There's really no shortage of them. ^^

          Also, as an aside: I don't see what in your ward actually compels a duel. Blowing both of a Changeling's legs off with a high cal sniper rifle after giving a quick shout seems perfectly fine (or one in the head if capturing them isn't the goal for some reason), and just having drugged tea on the table and them "happening" to pick it up without prompting and you then announcing your intentions so they can hardly fight back while you "beat them down" also seems fine.
          You'd have to specifically make it prohibit a lot more to make it work 100% in the case of "a smart loyalist", though I generally don't pay too much attention to "a smart loyalist" cases since they're always so white room and devoid of initiative on the side of the "victim". ^^

          While the specific example I chose was exaggerated for emphasis and thus unlikely. The underlying flaw is the cannon spring ward is so pervasive that it's unavoidable. And that's that it really is in the domain of the storyteller.

          What can a player actually do to influence whether their old keeper desires them? If the Keeper remains in Arcadia and sends a Huntsman how can a player remove that desire if they can't even get close enough to the Keeper to interact with them? How can a Changeling keep track, day to day, of which Keepers desire them and thus who is a threat?

          Unless the keeper turns up personally their desires are so deep into the Storyteller's private domain of offscreen NPC's internal feelings that the ward basically doesn't exist at all. If the Storyteller thinks the Story calls for a Spring Changeling to face a threat, they'll declare that this or that Gentry desires them. If they are a hardcore simulationist they might say a changeling is undesired, but even then the player didn't do anything to earn it or even interact with that system.
          Any Keeper (or, more likely, Huntsman) showing up is always in the domain of the Storyteller. That's nothing new, nor is it specific to Spring.
          "You can't do anything to change your Keeper's desire" (which is not always going to be true, but every example will be highly specific to the reason the keeper desires the changeling, if any, so won't go into it!) is often sort of the point.
          Maybe individual Changelings can't change the chances they'll be targeted, but since many Changelings will get a reprieve from being targeted, the Freehold can band together to protect those others--should it be necessary. It's not because it's spring that it's more likely that a True Fae will act on their desires. They just happen to be the only ones who can that season.

          This plays very well with what I see as the point of the wards: they show what the Courts do for one another, and provide moments for the Freehold as a whole to come together. All yours are very "What must I, personally, do" rather than "what do the Coruts/Freeholds do?" which I feel is the wrong focus for a mechanic tied to membership rather than individual merit.

          I don't think it would result in outlawing seduction because I think that's a loosing strategy. And I think the Court of Spring would be even stronger on that point.

          Take seduction. Spring would argue that if you outlaw seduction you'll just end up with a lot of pent up desire that the nearest Loyalist in a low cut top can exploit. On the other hand if everyone's owns and fulfils their desires it becomes a lot easier to listen to that little voice saying "this tall dark stranger is trouble, just go home and call one of your friends with benefits instead"
          Yeah, that's sort of the problem with this ward. The best way to utilize it is exactly as I described, I think in terms of safety that's essentially an objective fact. Yeah, pent up desire would mean a Loyalist in a low cut top could exploit it... but not without casting serious doubt on their loyalty to the Freehold, as that is obviously exactly what a Loyalist would do. It'd still be emotionally harmful and against Spring's ethos, which is an issue.

          During Spring you're supposed to celebrate, have random flings, whatever. You should not be worried that this other Changeling you're about to fuck might be a Loyalist waiting for that opportunity to shank you. Spring wants you to indulge without worry. The Spring Court is the Court of not worrying!

          I don't see how "mastering your desire" means "deciding not to have gratuitous sex". It's basically just a desire lottery by that point, whether your desires have Loyalists behind them or not.

          Yeah, the "tall dark stranger" is pretty obviously dangerous, but Loyalists don't need to be tall, dark, or strangers. :P

          I'd also add that Spring is intentionally the court whose ward offers the most but only if you expose yourself to risk and overcome it. Metaphorically it matches the way the reward of finding love requires you to expose yourself to risk of rejection and hurt when you first ask a girl out at the bar. Lets say a Changeling does what you suggest, and is unwilling to risk perusing their desires. In that case why not join Winter instead? If you're going to stay at home Winter gives you better protection - you can safely browse the internet without worrying about loyalists putting pictures of themselves on your go-to websites.
          But... the ward applies to everyone, regardless of Court, in Spring. So if I'm in Winter, Spring is just hanging me out to dry and setting me up for failure when those Loyalists do send dick pics and for once in the entire history of the world they're actually well-received rather than provoking disgust. xD

          But if you actually *want* to peruse your desires. If you want to get married and start a family. Or if you want to be a star with crowds screaming your name. Spring is by far the best ward to also protects that family or that crowd from being targeted as a way of getting to you. So when you start with the Changelings who want to pursue desire and add the ward on top, you get a system where the best strategy is to fulfil those desires; a fulfilled desire is one with which you cannot be tempted.
          I fundamentally disagree with your view of "fulfilled desires". You say it as if it's possible for most people to achieve some sort of Golconda (the real-life term, not the vampire one :P) and essentially enter a monk state.
          When I sex my husband up, an hour after we get up from cuddling in a heap of contentment, a provocative picture can set me right off again. xD
          Most desires (non-sexual ones as well) just aren't a box to check off and be done with in such a fashion. And part of living is picking up new desires and shedding old ones all the time. I just can't agree with this idea of "fulfilled desires can't be tempted" on a deep, fundamental level.

          Rather, it creates an incentive to become someone who cannot be beaten down but just becomes angrier and angrier. The more you master summer's ideals the more pointless it becomes for the Gentry to target the people around you. But the onus is on you to master those ideals.
          So all Courts have to master Summer's ideals during Summer now? This goes back to my problem with this from above: you shouldn't have to become a Summer Courtier 1/4th of the year to get by.
          With the original ward, Summer can ask for some more volunteers than usual to take advantage of the ward, but it doesn't force each individual person to "master those ideals" or pay for it.

          I think you're putting too much on the ward. Summer can have hunts and war parties because they want to have hunts and war parties. A ward's job, IMO, is to offer what changeling's desire most. Safety.
          I agree with that, but it should do so while also allowing the celebration of that season, and I feel many of these wards are more effective when you go against the season, which is weird.

          But the Summer Courtiers themselves have no special need to Beat Down their opponents, so they can spill blood. And since if they refuse to be beaten down but instead fight on till the death the Gentry have no choice but to retreat or oblige: More blood.
          If they even so much as state their goal in the combat is one that involves lethal force, there effectively is no Bargain, since you do not use Beaten Down rules in that regard. Which is a really weird mechanical contrivance; in-universe there shouldn't be such a clear divide between using "Beaten Down" in a combat and not, and the decision to use it is mostly a meta one since you decide it even if the opposing sides of the combat don't know one another's intent.
          A Summer courtier whose goal is "Kill this Loyalist" would actually be susceptible to "Beaten Down", while the Loyalist whose goal is "Beat Down and capture that guy" would not be. The Summer courtier would get Beaten Down after 1 lethal damage and have to start paying willpower, while the Loyalist would not get Beaten Down ever (since his opponent's goal involves killing him). So actually the Summer courtiers are forced to use non-lethal goals, else they're literally at a disadvantage. :P
          Doesn't sound very "wrathful". ^^

          Because that gives their enemies lots of time to unscramble the clue. The idea is that the difficulty scales naturally with the time limit to create a fun and balanced challenge for the players.
          At some point clues just can't be unscrambled, let's be fair. And who will say what is too cryptic and what isn't? Seems like a mess waiting to happen.

          All that is the point.

          Autumn is the court of the occultists and the Changelings who deep down like the magic, the glamour, and want to explore or indulge in their faerie side. So of course they playing with the same tools as their opponents, but don't forget the True Fae still have to play their riddles with a handicap. And of course the ward for The Court of Fear plays with paranoia - that was explicit, healthy paranoia is needed to use it effectiveness but too much paranoia will turn against you.
          Ok, and fuck Courtiers of every other Court who are essentially doomed to fail here and probably won't even notice the vast majority of clues as being a potential clue to begin with? :P

          Just wrap that into the general balance. You get a certain amount of crypticness based on the time you're giving the changeling to figure it out and your power level. If you want to spend all of it on one fiendish riddle or spend half on the riddle and half on a pile of red herrings then both are valid.
          Seems a bit contrived to me. :P
          Any communication by me during this season may easily be seen as a potential clue by a Changeling, even if I don't intend it. So there's really no need to go out of my way to send cryptic clues, I can just busy myself doing other stuff and set my minions to random tasks in the area, and it'll automatically lead to confusion. And since I have to wait to attack, obviously I'll need to be doing other things in this time. Policing what is and isn't in this "cryptic budget" is going to be so vague, you might as well not bother with it.

          I did think of that possibility, it's why I mentioned sending the message directly into their home.

          But I think you overlook a key point. Data is also required for solving clues. If you get a highly cryptic letter (which might be the red through the post you'll have to go out and investigate it so cutting down info streams isn't really going to happen.

          And since you can't cut out your info-streams anyway you might as well continue going out investigating, learning, because once you solve a riddle and it says "I'm coming for your mother on Halloween" the next step is to defend your mother and that's where all those occult secrets you've learned come into play.
          Letters are so obvious, they essentially scream "possible clue here!". We're talking about beings who can and would send messages by arranging the piles of leaves on your lawn in a certain way. Letters seem unlikely, much too straightforward. :P

          I see the main problem for this ward not with solving the riddle, but even seeing it as a riddle at all. If you don't realise it is a riddle when you see it and don't register it as an active memory, the True Fae wins by default. Obviously that should be the goal here. Whether it's solvable or not is secondary, just making them dismiss it is so much more effective.

          Also, you mention "I'm moving against your mother" here... So this one protects personal life as well? :P They are all going to at this point, and I feel that's a natural consequence of focusing on the individual rather than how the Freehold comes together and uses the ward, like the original ones do. It's always just easier/more effective to go after innocents, so every ward ends up needing a specific ban against that or will just end up being subverted by it.

          Here's how the wikipedia page for the Kubler-Ross model describes Depression: "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon, so what's the point?" That's exactly the behaviour I wanted this ward to encourage. Don't try anything, just stay at home.

          Also, conversations I've had with people who suffer from depression do describe safety as a core aspect to it. Why If you don't try you can't be disapointed when you fail. I wanted to capture that too.
          Depression is the potential "trap" for Winter Courtiers, the flipside of Sorrow. Why is the ward encouraging the thing that is seen as the biggest danger for its Courtiers? ;o

          The point is to not let Sorrow become Depression, just like Summer courtiers are supposed to not let Wrath become Anger.

          Possibly. But the cannon summer ward has that same problem - make it freehold law that everyone must fight a dual and prove they can run away half way though (or attack random freehold members to test them) - so I'm not concenred.
          That would be an affront to Summer, one that I wouldn't be surprised ends up losing you its patronage entirely.
          You could also reason quite easily that a duel that is intended for both parties to run, isn't really one, and would not trigger Summer's protection.
          So I can't agree at all that Summer has that problem.

          Conversely, the Winter one works fine, you don't need to go out of your way to vet or ordain it, you simply cross everyone who doesn't wait for an invitation off your mental list of potential Loyalists and that's that. Winter is far less likely to be affronted by this, seeing as hospitality and politeness isn't really a core value to begin with.

          The way I think it would play out is you'll get three groups.

          Young winter who try it for a while, typically shortly after returning from Arcadia, but eventually realise this isn't how they'll want to live their lives and eventually change Court (that was explicitly a thing in a 1E book and I think it works). Then you'll get some people who actually can live at home alone forever without connections anyone can target. They're not PC material but could make a decent NPC, someone who due to their untouchability has survived a long long time and has useful information.

          Finally you'll get the third group. The group who realise that yes, their one priority above everything is safety. But it's not their *only* priority. They need connections for their mental health. So they try to have a bit of both. They keep their absolute place of refuge so if all goes wrong they can abandon their friends and hide (a total dick move, but I think it's an in charachter one for a worrying number of changelings) and they develop spycraft to avoid being linked to their connections. Then since they have spycraft the freehold will call upon them to do spy things; if they have a clear escape route. And there's great plot potential when they realise that actually, abandoning this friend is too hard.

          Also, if they keep their connections small and motley sized they can shelter them all at their home so they do have stuff to contribute. (I'd say that if you build a huge mansion and try and have the whole freehold live there safely, the ward would just define your home as your private quarters).
          These all sounds like Winter Courtiers.

          I've been wondering it at other points during this discourse, but you realize the ward applies to those outside of the Ruling Court too, right? xD

          To sum up my dislikes in a few bullet points:
          - Wards seem to focus on individual over group, which I think is the wrong focus for something that is a result of group membership
          - Wards seem to overly focus on the "Court Fantasy" of PCs joining a specific court, seemingly forgetting they apply to those outside the Court as well in those seasons, and offering no protection to those not "masters" of Court values that are potentially not their own.
          - "Just target loved ones" seems to be the best answer nearly year round, unless you heavy-handedly just ban that.

          I've spread around other more specific points, but these I think are the three largest dislikes I have with it. ^^

          Oh, also, some of these topics (like "fulfilled desires") seem to regard Changelings as quite stable, but they really aren't I think. They have some of the whims of the Fae in them, and they're altered. It should be much harder for them to have the kind of stability and consistency many of these wards expect.
          Last edited by Unahim; 06-12-2020, 04:46 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            That's how you know we're having fun!
            Indeed it is.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            The problem with that is that the ward applies to everyone regardless of Court. So essentially by using the ward to guide this aspect of gameplay, you're forcing everyone to play like a Spring Courtier 1/4th of the year, Winter 1/4th of the year, etc... Because joining Summer isn't what's stacking the odds here, it simply being Summer is.
            Indeed, that's why if you check the OP again you'll see that you overlooked the section I added yesterday morning saying that as part of this homebrew each Court keeps it's own ward all year round.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            Also, as an aside: I don't see what in your ward actually compels a duel.
            Wait, you don't? It's this bit "And before they can attack a changeling they must announce their challenge".

            That would prevent blowing someone's legs off with a sniper rifle before the initiative roll. Firing a warning shot next to the changeling to announce yourself, I'm actually ok with that. Sniper duals are as cool as sword duals, and it gives the changeling time to dive for cover or fire off a defensive Contract. What's more, if the goal is to capture them a changeling can keep struggling onwards even without legs until they bleed out so a weapon as big and blunt as a rifle wont work to capture one who has mastered wrath.

            More importantly, what you've described is a very summer strategy. It's forceful, violent, and very very direct. If the ward has made the enemy behave like Summer then the ward has done it's job. The ward sets the battlefield to Summer's choosing, it's the Changeling's job to actually be competent on that battlefield. So high powered sniper rifles, working as intended but you need to give a warning shot.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            This plays very well with what I see as the point of the wards: they show what the Courts do for one another, and provide moments for the Freehold as a whole to come together. All yours are very "What must I, personally, do" rather than "what do the Coruts/Freeholds do?" which I feel is the wrong focus for a mechanic tied to membership rather than individual merit.
            Ahh, the ultimate root of our disagreement.

            Ultimately there's not much that can be argued here because it's subjective preferences. To me, if I'm playing a Spring Courtier the ward doesn't exist at all in terms of how I'd approach the charachter. It's a background setting element that the storyteller controls. It doesn't help me make my charachter more Spring-ey or use their Spring-ness.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            Yeah, that's sort of the problem with this ward. The best way to utilize it is exactly as I described, I think in terms of safety that's essentially an objective fact. Yeah, pent up desire would mean a Loyalist in a low cut top could exploit it... but not without casting serious doubt on their loyalty to the Freehold, as that is obviously exactly what a Loyalist would do. It'd still be emotionally harmful and against Spring's ethos, which is an issue.

            During Spring you're supposed to celebrate, have random flings, whatever. You should not be worried that this other Changeling you're about to fuck might be a Loyalist waiting for that opportunity to shank you. Spring wants you to indulge without worry. The Spring Court is the Court of not worrying!

            I don't see how "mastering your desire" means "deciding not to have gratuitous sex". It's basically just a desire lottery by that point, whether your desires have Loyalists behind them or not.
            Consider the difference between a Changeling who regularly goes home with strangers and a changeling who has a phonebook full of eager partners to their exact tastes. Both have gratuitous amounts of sex but the former is at the mercy of chance, they might not meet anyone when they want to, or meet someone who disapoints them. The latter has a higher quality of gratuitous sex and, for the purposes of this ward, their lifestyle bestows resistance against a loyalist trying to seduce them or impersonate a lover (since they know their lovers).

            Overall I don't think this damages the spring ethos so much as pushes them to up their game. They still enjoy celebration, music, and drink. But I never saw getting black out drunk on cheep bear until you wake up in the gutter with a spliting headache to be thematically appropraite for spring. Where's the glamour in that? Instead they partake of the finest wines and know *exactly* how much to drink in order to maximise their enjoyment and minimise the hangover. They have random flings, but those random flings are a seduction where some nervous mortal goes from fearing her desires, to understanding them, to fufilling them all in one night she'll cherish the memory of forever. If some loyalist tries to be that mortal the only way it can work on a Spring courtier is if they can fake desires better than the Springer undrestands them; if they do that they deserve the win.

            I think that interpretation of Spring works a lot better than one who goes home with complete strangers regularly. If for no other reason that the only way a Changeling who regularly goes home alone with random people for sex is displaying such poor safety protocols that a storyteller would have to work hard to explain why any loyalist targeting them didn't invite them home and drug them when their guard was down.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            If they even so much as state their goal in the combat is one that involves lethal force, there effectively is no Bargain, since you do not use Beaten Down rules in that regard. Which is a really weird mechanical contrivance; in-universe there shouldn't be such a clear divide between using "Beaten Down" in a combat and not, and the decision to use it is mostly a meta one since you decide it even if the opposing sides of the combat don't know one another's intent.
            Out of universe it is a simple and clear rule that neatly plugs into existing systems. In universe it would be phrased less mechanically, with a sort of "you'll know it when you see it" (and maybe they literally see their mantle dim or something). At the table the players and storyteller will use the combat & beaten down mechanics as is and then after they've rolled the dice they'll narrate what the dice really mean. That's how I've always played it.

            So honestly, I don't see any problem here.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            A Summer courtier whose goal is "Kill this Loyalist" would actually be susceptible to "Beaten Down", while the Loyalist whose goal is "Beat Down and capture that guy" would not be. The Summer courtier would get Beaten Down after 1 lethal damage and have to start paying willpower, while the Loyalist would not get Beaten Down ever (since his opponent's goal involves killing him). So actually the Summer courtiers are forced to use non-lethal goals, else they're literally at a disadvantage. :P
            But... the Summer courtier isn't forced to use lethal goals. "Avoid being kidnapped" is a non-lethal goal and very appropriate to this situation.

            If the Summer courtier clearly won't allow a loyalist to leave alive, the loyalist *will* fight harder than if they're left an escape. That's just common sense. It's up to the player to judge if it's worth forcing a fight to the death.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            At some point clues just can't be unscrambled, let's be fair. And who will say what is too cryptic and what isn't? Seems like a mess waiting to happen.
            In universe: Autumn says. Out of universe: The Storyteller has the responsibility to make it all balanced. Ultimately you cannot have a game based around solving mysteries (looking at you Mage) without trusting the storyteller to design mysteries that a balanced and not unsolvable. I see no problem in trusting storytellers here.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            Any communication by me during this season may easily be seen as a potential clue by a Changeling, even if I don't intend it. So there's really no need to go out of my way to send cryptic clues, I can just busy myself doing other stuff and set my minions to random tasks in the area, and it'll automatically lead to confusion. And since I have to wait to attack, obviously I'll need to be doing other things in this time. Policing what is and isn't in this "cryptic budget" is going to be so vague, you might as well not bother with it.
            The "cryptic budget" is an in universe explenation for why out of universe the storyteller makes a balanced challenge for the players. The onus is on you do to that.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            I see the main problem for this ward not with solving the riddle, but even seeing it as a riddle at all. If you don't realise it is a riddle when you see it and don't register it as an active memory, the True Fae wins by default.
            I'll clarify that the riddle must remain present for the duration. If the riddle warns in a month time you can't have birds sing it once, they have to sit there singing for a whole month (so maybe don't use birds there)

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            Also, you mention "I'm moving against your mother" here... So this one protects personal life as well?
            It's supposed to.

            Spring is the best at protecting your personal life: The Fae can't touch it at all without breaching the ward, and the attack on their personal life needs to direclty tie into the desire they're exploiting.

            Autumn provides partial protection: You get a warning, but even if you solve the riddle and know the time/date your mother will be attacked it's still your job to fight off the attackers or whatever you do. With Spring if you win the desire battle your family are untouchable. With Autumn even if you win the riddle battle there's still a threat.

            Summer provides incentives (with a risk of backfiring): With properly honed wrath attacking your family just makes you stronger and paints a target on the loyalist's back. Spread a reputation about why this is a bad idea.

            And Winter, unless you keep them locked up home, provides nothing.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            Depression is the potential "trap" for Winter Courtiers, the flipside of Sorrow. Why is the ward encouraging the thing that is seen as the biggest danger for its Courtiers?
            Because all these wards are designed to be a two edged sword.

            Take Autumn. With too much Fear you jump at every shadow and miss the real clue. With the right amount you're alert and spot the clue when it comes. With winter the ward could create a secure foundation from which you can slowly and secretly reach out, safe in the knowledge that you can retreat if you need to. Or it could become a prison of depression.

            It's up to you to ensure it becomes the former.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            - Wards seem to focus on individual over group, which I think is the wrong focus for something that is a result of group membership
            Contrawise I think this individual level means the ward mechanics becomes something players can interact with in fun and interesting ways where as the previous ones are too often an ignored background detail if you're not combat focused.

            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            - Wards seem to overly focus on the "Court Fantasy" of PCs joining a specific court, seemingly forgetting they apply to those outside the Court as well in those seasons, and offering no protection to those not "masters" of Court values that are potentially not their own.
            Hence why I stated that with this rule Changelings keep their ward permemently rather than use current season's one.
            Originally posted by Unahim View Post
            - "Just target loved ones" seems to be the best answer nearly year round, unless you heavy-handedly just ban that.
            • Spring forbids targeting loved ones until after you've already breached the ward. Depending on how you breached it, maybe not even then. Actually, probably not even then.
            • Summer intentionally leaves as a possibility with the stated intent that it's the threat of the courtier's wrath that stops anyone taking that possibility. The onus is on the player to make that threat and make sure people fear it. Merits and/or Contracts to specifically aid this would be very fitting but are beyond the scope of this mini-project.
            • Autumn doesn't give any ward related advantages to targeting your loved ones.
            • Winter explicitly is supposed to have targeting your loved ones as the optimal strategy against the courtier. So hide your connection to your loved ones.
            Last edited by The Kings Raven; 06-20-2020, 01:17 PM.


            “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
            My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
            Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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