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New Type of Changeling--The Condottieri

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  • New Type of Changeling--The Condottieri

    Not every member of the Gentry spends their time brooding in Arcadia over captive Changelings or compulsively obsessing over those who have escaped. Like it or not, some have definite agendas in the mortal world, and need professional, reliable servants to carry out those agendas. While Huntsmen may be more powerful, they require a Title and may be overkill for certain applications, particularly those of a more mundane nature. Loyalists might be an answer, but these broken souls are often more fragile than even ordinary members of The Taken, and of suspect reliability. Also may not be available in the numbers or positions needed. The answer to this are the Condottieri, Changelings who were transformed not by being taken, and the Durance, rather they signed on the dotted line, agreeing to become what they are, transformed by a powerful Pledge, in the form of a contract, hence the name. This agreement transforms the human into a Changeling, and specifies the terms of their service, which does include recompense. So why might a human willingly agree to such a thing? Some do it for the money, power, or other benefits the Fae is offering, while others didn't have a lot of choice. A soldier bleeding out on the battlefield might find that time suddenly stops as an eldritch being of equal parts beauty and nightmare is standing over him, explaining what's going to happen in a few moments, while offering him a way around such a fate. Likewise, a prisoner may be awaiting execution in his dingy cell, when visited by such a Fae recruiter, or perhaps the individual had a relative dying of some affliction modern medicine cannot cure. Perhaps the most heartbreaking are those who signed on because they had a loved one who had become one of The Taken, purchasing their freedom at the cost of their own servitude. Whatever the reason, they are now effectively owned by that Fae, (often referred to the Changeling's "Handler") and expected to serve loyally, so long as the Fae holds their contract, and failure to live up to the terms of that agreement can result in any punishment the Fae wished to include, including death. The only way out is either if the agreement specified a length of service or other clause, or if the Changeling is somehow able to recover the physical document. The Pledge that creates the Changeling *always* manifests itself in the form of a document, the "Condotta," and if the Changeling is able to somehow take possession of that, then they are no longer bound to the Fae's service, though doing so is no simple matter. Others who might have such a thing fall into their hands find they have powerful leverage over a Condottiere, but the Changeling is still accountable to their original Fae master.

    Mechanically, a Condottiere is created the same as an ordinary member of The Taken, with the following exceptions. Firstly, because they did not experience the Durance, the Changeling does not use Clarity, rather Morality. Being a servant of the Gentry does not excuse them from the consequences of any immoral actions they may take part in on behalf of their employer, and over time this can take a toll on even the most resolute soul. A Condottiere who reaches 0 Morality is transformed into Hobgoblin, under the ST's control. Additionally, they may not become a member of any Changeling Court, nor use Court Contracts, as these are the domain of The Taken. Another limit they face is the Condottieri may not advance beyond Wyrd 8, as they are intended as servants and tools, and therefore may not begin to equal or surpass their masters. Finally, though subtle, each one has a Tell, that hearkens back to their employer, though this might be rather subtle in nature, but it's always present, and marks them as property of that Gentry. Finally, as part of their creation, each Condottieri gets 5 free dots of Merits,(It can be more at the ST's discretion) often in areas such as Resources, Fame, Contacts, or Allies, representing the payment bestowed by the Condotta. Also, due to their connections with their masters, Tokens, and Hedgespun rainment, armor, and weapons may be purchased for half experience. This represents being able to call on the assets of their Handler's Realm, though it does require that the Condottiere in question be in good standing at the time of the purchase.

    Though it's an unwritten benefit, service to the Fae bestows considerable other advantages, in that most Privateers and many of the more intelligent creatures of The Hedge will instinctively leave them alone, for fear of attracting their master's wrath. If one is killed, their Condotta is cancelled, and their Handler will immediately know, and be generally aware of the circumstances, and may well dispatch assets such as Huntsmen, or other assets as an object lesson. In the worst case scenario, it may show up in person leading such retainers, which seldom ends well for the offending party. Likewise, most Huntsmen belonging to other Fae will leave them alone, for similar reasons. Of course, there are exceptions, as many Fae have enemies among their own kind, and they may actually find themselves targeted by the servants of such opposing Fae, in the form of Huntsmen, Hobgoblins, Loyalists, and other Condottieri. For this reason, many Condottieri work in groups called "Lances," that are equivalent to the Motleys of the The Taken. Some very rare members of the Gentry may employ entire companies of Condottieri, though this is extremely uncommon. Condottieri with different Handlers who aren't at odds with each other may work together, particularly against common enemies, such as interfering members of The Taken. While unusual, Lances of such mixed backgrounds may occur. The biggest weakness of Condottieri operating in the mortal world is in most instances, they lack the kind of organization in the form of the Freehold that the Taken benefit from.

    As for the Taken, how they deal with Condottieri varies. Many see them no differently from Loyalists or Privateers, to be dealt with in the same fashion. This viewpoint is common among the Summer Court, in particular, though by no means limited to it. Other, more subtle Changelings prefer to watch such mercenaries, to perhaps learn of the Gentry's plans, as a way of thwarting the larger goals of those Fae, while others may even seek to cultivate an albeit dangerous relationship, as the Condottieri may possess a fair amount of beneficial information, contacts, or be able perform useful services regular Changelings aren't able to. While most will not betray their Handlers outright, they are often all too happy to leak details on the doings of other Fae and their servants they might run across. Typically, Condottieri are not used to infiltrate Changeling society, as they are rather easier to detect than your standard Loyalist, and therefore often do not come into direct contact, let alone conflict with The Taken. A further point about Condottieri needs to be made. While The Taken were habitually chosen for some personal trait that appealed to their Keeper, the perspective Condottiere was most often chosen for their skill. Often, such contractors were at the very pinnacle of their fields *before* being chosen, and their transformation into Changelings has only enhanced those abilities, making them very dangerous indeed. Special Forces operators, government agents, professional assassins, famous thieves, and the like may all be chosen, depending on their Handler's needs, and the ST is encouraged to create such characters as veteran mortals before applying the Changeling template. It's also worth noting that some of these Changelings might also hold considerable power and Influence in mortal society, particularly those who have lasted awhile in the service of the Fae.

    As for the services the Condottieri are expected to perform, that can vary a great deal, but often such are given missions to retrieve items of value in the mortal world, such as artifacts and the like, or perhaps to protect assets, such as businesses, individuals, or other important infrastructure, such as a vital Hedge Gate and Trod that are under threat from Bridge Burners. Others might be sent to deal with troublesome mortals of other supernatural beings who have either angered their Handler, or who are simply standing in the way of some goal. When facing truly formidable resistance, the Condottieri may find themselves issued special gear to deal with such opposition, such as Hedgespun Weapons, Armor, or other useful tokens, specifically intended to defeat such foes. Swords with blades of pure sunlight, against vampires, for example. Gathering information, particularly the vary rare and dangerous sorts is another common task. Often Condottieri are used as soldiers in proxy wars between two Fae, that transpire in the human world, though these conflicts may take a myriad of different forms that don't always involve military operations. Of course, some find themselves occupying comparatively mundane roles, as well, perhaps serving as managers or other employees some Fae enterprise or the other.

    Finally, it needs to be pointed out that every Condottieri has a relationship of some kind with their Handler. Since The Gentry are such an...eclectic group, the possibilities are endless. It may an impersonal one, where they receive orders passed down from some other servant, detailing their next assignment, or it may be rather more personal--for example, a Fae who takes on the role of a lawyer or detective in the mortal world, may choose a Condottiere for his secretary. Some may become trusted advisors or even lovers. A Condottiere who has pleased their master might be granted their freedom, when their use is done, or they might be offered positions of power in that Fae's personal Realm, serving as stewards, or even viceroys, ruling in the name of their masters when they are away engaged in other pursuits. Perhaps the most uncomfortable position such a contractor might find themselves in is serving as overseer of the master's other Changelings, those who were not so lucky as to get a choice about how they ended up there.

  • #2
    I came up with the Condottieri, less as adversaries for the Taken, and more intended to offer another, different kind of take on Changeling, one that does not revolve around the same themes of the base game. I actually play a character who is one of the Gentry, who is one of the better at passing themselves off in the human world, and who seldom bothers with the kind of Changeling described in the book, and instead routinely comes into conflict with other powers in the setting. (I've had this character for well over 12 years now, and have played them in the current setting and RP for nearly ten of those) The Character always had a Frailty that they were not permitted to abduct mortals to transform into Changelings, rather the human had to agree freely, and of their own free will to agree to enter the character's Realm. Since he wasn't interested wasting time personally arranging for the luring into service of every scullery maid, palace servant, or gardener, he would instead send a trusted servant around to various goblin markets and other places were captured Changelings are sold, and offer a deal, in the form of ten years of loyal service, in return for being safely being returned to the human world at the end of it. Such servants were largely seen mobile, living decorations and after ten years, he'd be ready to see new faces anyway. The service was very open ended in nature, and the Changelings would find themselves modified to meet the character's aesthetic whims, but were largely left to their own ends, under the supervision of others. Given that most Changelings so approached were looking at worse fates, such as being sent back to their original Keepers, or to some unknown new master, for an indeterminate time, it wasn't hard to find those willing to agree. Because this character in particular, styles himself after a mortal prince, having something resembling a viable kingdom was desired, and the Pledge was later amended to include the option of instead being granted the right to become a citizen in the Realm itself, (called Avonleigh) with the Changeling receiving a farm, shop or other home there. While most Changelings do not take this option, enough have over time that there is something like an actual population in the principality. Over time, these Changelings do transform into Hobgoblins, but the process is very, very slow, taking at least several human lifetimes,so most never even notice. Some do this, because they fear their original Keeper, others because they fell in love with the realm itself (it's an inhumanly beautiful, sensuous place) or perhaps because they fell in love with another Changeling (or even hobgoblin) there, and wanted more time with their love than what even the mortal world would offer.

    Of course, this was well and good, except the character spends the vast majority of their time involved in various shenanigans ironside, and needed servants who could function there. Since I started playing the character in First Edition, interactions with the True Fae were Clarity shattering affairs, I decided that a new model was needed to reflect this sort of Fae, and the kind of Changeling they would create, so I designed the Condottieri, for as I said, a different kind of play, with at least one of the Gentry taking on a less adversarial role, and I wanted to share this with the community, in the hopes that someone finds the idea useful or adaptable to their own game. I will note that I have not completely read or adapted all of 2E CtL to this, though I'm in the process of assimilating more of it. This is still being implemented in my current SL and setting, and I welcome any input or advice.


    • #3
      This seems supescionsly Gentry like, it doesn’t seem like something changeling society would tolerate.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Konradleijon View Post
        This seems supescionsly Gentry like, it doesn’t seem like something changeling society would tolerate.
        Changeling society often does not, but many Condottieri never even come into direct contact with The Taken. Mind you that Loyalists and Privateers aren't tolerated either, but that doesn't keep them from existing.
        Last edited by Van Owen; 10-12-2020, 05:55 PM.