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Fae Traditions in London

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  • Fae Traditions in London

    [Something Isabella and I came up with for the Walking Shadows Campaign]

    A collection of traditions from our Changeling: the Lost game: some weird, some fun, some somber, some taken from the book and embellished on, some borrowed from the White Wolf forums, some stolen from Wikipedia, and some made up wholesale.

    Our Changeling game is set in London, where the courts have merged into Seelie (Spring and Summer) and Unseelie (Autumn and Winter) alliances.

    High Festivals

    Festival of Misrule (February 28th-29th)
    Just which court claims this celebration is a matter up for debate - the Spring Court certainly has some claim, though it is often considered to be an Unseelie festival. The Freehold throws a bash where by everyone is expected to dress in drag, speak lies, hurl insults at one another and so forth. The monarchs wait upon their servants, and the low are elevated high. Rumor states the festival started as a way to further confuse the Gentry about human custom. A venue is chosen, but no invitations are sent. Whomever shows, shows. A new monarch, the King of Fools, is chosen for the evening. A mob of unruly, usually drunk courtiers descends upon likely candidates: anyone with a low mantle is fair game. The victim is then hoisted up in front of the crowd, as the changelings shout their approval or disapproval. If the candidate is deemed acceptably unacceptable, the crown manifests on their head. This King or Queen of Fools acts much like a defacto monarch, but their authority (and punishments) are limited to the venue - and ends the minute the festival does. It is almost unheard of for the crown not to manifest, but if not, so much the better.

    Gift exchanges are common, but the gifts are often "gag gifts", white elephants, and other useless paraphernalia. The gifts may be expensive or cheap, but trend toward the ridiculous - more modern changelings often distribute home shopping network duds such as gutter demagnitizers and egg cubers. It is often accepted that a cheaper and humbler gift conveys a more sincere feeling of friendship. Gambling is encouraged, usually with embarrassing dares as the price for losing. No changeling is allowed to bind another into an oath on this night, as anything spoken at this festival is certainly a lie.

    The King of Fools is considered the new Freehold monarch to everyone at the festival. Any participant who holds a Fealty pledge is considered to hold fealty to the King of Fools instead. They are not pledgebound to the King of Fools, but so long as they remain in the Festival, their old fealty pledge does not apply and cannot be broken. For this reason the Monarchs and their most trusted servants rarely attend.
    In addition, no new pledges can be created at the Festival of Fools. Anyone at the venue may speak any promise, and can not be bound to it by the wyrd.

    The Shikar (May 1st)
    The first day of May begins and the hunt is on. The Shikar, born from the traditions of royal India and brought over in the late 19th century, is a hunt shepherded by the Red Victor of the Seelie Court, known in this case as the Mir-Shikar. The Red Victor declares one or several targets for the hunt, and the target is universally something that has been plaguing the freehold over the past year. Might be a rogue fetch who's gone psychotic and is sending mail-bombs to Seelie Courtiers, or maybe it’s a wolf faced Keeper who’s been making secret trips to the freehold to murder husbands and steal the resultant widows. The traditional celebrations of May Day (the various parades and festivals) allow the hunt to move relatively unnoticed among mortals.

    At dawn that day, the hunt begins, and it does not end until dawn the following day (technically the 2nd). Just before the first cracks of light, the Mir-Shikar gathers all participating Lost in a field (Dana usually does this in the Corpse Farm, with the Jack's permission), and reads out the name of the target from a scroll. Weapons are passed out, and then the as the first rays of light cross the horizon, the Shikar begins. There are few rules, but this is emphatically a team effort. The Shikar works together, with spies, outriders, 'beaters' to harry the prey close, lures and traps and tricks.

    After twenty-four hours, successful or not, the Seelie Court throws a small celebration (small as most of the participants will be exhausted). If successful, the target's body is brought back to the field and buried within the soil.

    The results are simple: capturing and destroying the target allows all who participated to fill their Willpower pools. Failure to destroy the target, however, results in a –2 penalty to all Resolve- or Composure based dice pools for the subsequent week as a kind of low-grade depression sets in.

    Midsummer’s Tournament (June 21st)
    This is the grandest ceremony of the Seelie Court, a huge festival and tournament in the near Hedge. Courtiers clear an area of the Hedge in Greenwich, not far from the Greenwich House home of the the Seelie Queen, and then Wizened quickly put up tents and seating while Spring courtiers grow flowers everywhere. It's a festive occasion, with everyone dressed in their brightest, cheeriest colors, and enough food to feed a regiment. The Tournament often draws hobgoblins to attend, and many goblin marketeers briefly relocate to the tournament grounds, hawking their wares and taking bets.

    The centerpiece of the Midsummer's Tournament is the series of competitions and contests that extends throughout the day, presided over by the Seelie Queen. Contests might be combats — two Lost in a boxing ring, two Lost battling it out on a rotting log over raging rapids. Games sometimes manifest as sporting events: brutal games of football and lacrosse or events performed Olympic style. Competitions go from the simple (throw this stone, whoever throws it the farthest wins) to the complex (hurl these logs up through that window, then climb up the side of the house into the window, and chop those logs into splinters with a camping hatchet, whoever finishes the pile first is the winner). The knightly duels and single-combats are most famous, with Dana the Tall the reigning champion and Aurora's unabashed favorite, but there are plenty of other contests as well. The Bartender's Duel is a popular one, where cooks and brewers are challenged to make an intoxicating meal out of a handful of ingredients. The House of Doors is a race wherein several Lost must try and navigate a series of Hedgegate checkpoints, racing through London and navigating the Hedge with utmost speed. The Unseelie Court usually digs a few deep pits and holds riddle-games in the deep darkness.

    The Seelie Court provides prizes for many of the contests, in the form of victor's garlands or small pots of gold, and it is traditional for the winner of a single-combat to claim the loser's weapons (though it's considered good form to give them back). Many Lost also settle disputes by way of duels or competitions at Midsummer, hoping that the spirit of the holiday will help make any resolution stick. In all, the Tournament has a festive air about it, with competitors trying to make a name for themselves and attract some attention, or begging for favors or tokens from ladies (or whomever) before they compete. Dana the Tall always has some token of the Seelie Queen's, for instance. Midsummer is also when a great many of the strange rituals of the Seelie are carried out, such as the ritual dunking of a very young courtier in a duck pond, or the setting of an entire feast (with wine and food) for the 'spirits of air', which is then left on a table at the edge of the field. And at the end of the night is the sacrifice. Two sacrifices, actually: one, a straw man whose face is painted to roughly match that of one of the Court’s persistent enemies; and two, a large mammal (pig, boar, ox, horse, as the Court hasn't done a human sacrifice for the ritual since the late 18th century).

    The effects of competing are fairly straightforward: win a contest, gain a Glamour point. Lose a game, lose a Glamour point. Having someone's favor grants a one-time bonus equal to the giver's Mantle to a relevant roll (an attack roll in a duel, an Int+Investigation roll in a riddle-game, etc).

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Homecoming (July 27)
    Every year, the Spring Court holds a Homecoming. The Homecoming usually takes place on the date of the Spring monarch’s escape from Faerie, but it is occasionally rescheduled to honor a particular changeling - especially if one is newly escaped. The homecoming is a celebration of every Freehold member's escape from slavery. Floats and hedge steeds are decorated with flowers, and lead in a parade that starts with the Hedge and ends at the Spring Queen's manor. Any changeling that has escaped since the last Homecoming is offered a place of honor at the head of the parade. Once everyone has arrived at the manor, a huge bash is held. The Spring court does its best to ensure that at least one desire of every guest, no matter how small, is met before they depart. Everyone is invited, and they are all expected to “let loose.” Surprisingly, most of the guests actually do.

    This is also the official recognizing of all new Seelie courtiers. All new candidates are presented before the Spring Queen, swearing their oaths of fealty, as the Queen recognizes each one in turn. A flower is taken from the floats and given to each of the courtiers to wear, marking them as new members. The rest of the evening is pure revelry. A single table is always set and left empty, to represent those still left behind in Faerie. A solemn toast is held at the end, in hopes that those left in Arcadia may one day join them.

    Participating in the revelry can strengthen a courtier in the face of adversary, and those who attend regain one willpower point. Seelie courtiers must also be marked with a flower during the ceremony before they can be considered full members of the Court and are allowed to gain Status.

    Samhain (October 31st)
    Also known as All Hallow's Eve, Samhain sends the Autumn court out in full force, armed for all manner of tricks and mischief. Unlike Halloween in America, the London Unseelie do not tend to know of the "treat" part of "trick or treat". Instead they play practical jokes, or hide to scare people out at night. There is one minor exception to this - anyone who joins the Autumn in their pranks is exempt from being the victim of one, and is often rewarded with treats and soul cakes. What convinces the courtier to accept someone is subjective and varies from courtier to courtier, but should the person manage to actually spook the Unseelie courtier, the courtier is not allowed to retaliate. There have been incidents where blustering courtiers have tried to claim they were "not actually scared", but this tends to garner ridicule and mockery from the rest of the court.

    There is purpose to this, however, as the Unseelie tend to lurk in highly occult areas of London. Every time they successfully scare someone off in fright, they leave a small candle or lantern on the spot, and find a new place to lurk. It is considered very bad form to actually harm someone during the evening, and anyone who goes too far can expect severe ostracism and ridicule. At the stroke of midnight, however, they are done - even a changeling mid-trick must abandon it and run back indoors (another reason why dangerous pranks are discouraged). Afterward, the courtiers tend to meet up and hold a party of their own.

    Since many people wear costumes or are familiar with the practice, Changelings may walk openly without their Masks, though many do still wear mundane masks over their faces.

    A changeling participating in All Hallow's Eve and who has devoured at least one soul cake may reveal their true form to unensorcelled mortals without risking clarity.

    Nameless Mourning (Usually early December)
    The morning after the first cold snap of the winter, the Unseelie builds a gigantic bonfire for all to see (though now this is usually done in the Hedge). At noon, the fire reaches its peak; the Unseelie invites every citizen of the freehold to cast something symbolizing his secrets or his old, human life into the blaze. Some freeholders write letters to mortals who will never read them, or confessions that will never be read. These join other symbolic items on the blazing heap.

    This ritual is followed by a symbolic funeral for every changeling who died at the hands of the Gentry. It’s sad because one of the Lost has died, but joyful because in death she has escaped recapture. The Unseelie Court builds an effigy out of woven black branches, and invites the other courtiers to dress and decorate it. Tradition says that the result symbolizes the state of the freehold. A manikin with gaudy, mismatched accouterments belongs to a confident, disorganized freehold. One in solemn, matching clothes stands for harmony and secrecy. Pallbearers from both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts carry the effigy to the bonfire, and a grave is dug at the foot of the flames. A full funeral then plays out according to local mortal custom, a full Church of England ceremony, but accented with Fae superstition and freehold traditions. Once the effigy’s been laid to rest, the freehold celebrates the freedom of death — a rowdy wake is the usual way to do it. Winter celebrants provide the venue and refreshments, but maintain their distance from the actual event.

    By nightfall, the fire’s been reduced to dull coals; at midnight, the coals are cold ash. Senior Unseelie Courtiers spend the rest of the night burying most of it before letting the Thorns claim the area, while most of the other participants make their way home. The next morning, the courtier who wears Unseelie's crown gives a traditional sermon, musing upon secrecy, and death, and the flames of revelation. Afterwards, he dips his hand in a pail containing some of the remaining ashes and marks the foreheads of new Unseelie courtiers to let the freehold know who they are.

    Participating in the ritual funeral can be cathartic, and those who attend regain one willpower point. Unseelie courtiers must also be marked with ashes at the end of the ceremony before they can be considered full members of the Court and are allowed to gain Status.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      The Midwinter Masque (December 21st)
      This is the Unseelie Court's largest and most dramatic festival, taking place every year upon the Blackheath. Large, black tents are set up beforehand, and massive bonfire is lit in the center, with enchantments and security keeping curious mortals away. On sundown, all of the Lost gather at Blackheath, veiled under the Unseelie Court's trademark secrecy. Midwinter is a masquerade ball, and all of the Lost wear masks and disguises for the ceremony. They come as white-furred animals or snowy-scaled serpents, as demons of frost or satyrs of ice. Costumes are extravagant in the extreme, visions of beauty or grotesqueness and a good showing at the Midwinter Masque can make a changeling the talk of the freehold... if, that is, anyone knows who they are. The chance to hide their dealings in secrecy is just as enticing as the chance for acclaim, for some. It is a night for secret deals and assignations.

      Presiding over the ball is the Snow King or Snow Queen, masqued as a hunched old man or shriveled crone in rags and tatters leaning on an oaken staff with silver decorations. They are accorded the highest respect, but also feared and shunned, for they are Winter and they are Death, until the midpoint of the night. Then, at the moment of absolute darkness, the Court Horologist calls a sign, and all lights are doused but for the central bonfire. There is silence, and then the Snow King or Queen casts off their rags. A great Rowan tree is brought out, along with a table full of small silver bells. Courtiers approach one at a time and decorate the tree with bells, each one speaking a wish; the bell is rung as it is placed so that no one can overhear the words spoken. The wish is traditionally one that the changeling has given up hope on ever coming true, though many Seelie courtiers simply name a heart's desire. At the first light of dawn, the oaken staff is tossed into the flames.

      Many strange rituals are conducted over the course of the night. Seven sparrows with silver collars are formally released. The Snow Queen has her hands shackled with gilded chains. When the bonfire burns down to ashes, the gathered Lost take turns leaping across the embers, for luck. Finally, when dawn approaches, the ceremony is over.

      Playing the part of the Snow King or Snow Queen is a great honor. Any Lost so honored (and who doesn't flub the performance) gains +1 to their Court Status for the rest of the year. The role is chosen by the organizers of the event (who are themselves chosen by the Unseelie Monarch). It is considered very gauche, however, to play the part more than once in a span of years.

      Christmas (December 24th-25th)
      This Seelie Court event, the only one that occurs 'out-of-season', is a moment of joy and thanksgiving nestled between the secretive freedom of Midwinter and the eerie frightfulness of Childermass. It's a straightforward Christmas party, beginning on Christmas Eve, a sort of ward against the common chill of the season. Aurora rents out the Menier Chocolate Factory, a theater/restaurant in Southwark, and the entire Seelie Court sets in with a will to decorate it in the days leading up to Christmas. Recent examples have included bringing in a dozen live pine trees, swarms of song birds, and live bands. Mistletoe features prominently on every door and window. Presents are given and received, there is music, dancing, eggnog, a certain amount of very Seelie-ish making out. Everyone is invited, and it's not uncommon to see the occasional vampire, werewolf, or mage present.

      Near the middle of the evening is an adapted Boar's Head Feast - if a boar head cannot be found, a hog head is used in its place. All food at this feast must be made by hand, no store-bought food is permitted. Four white candles are places around the boar's head and lit. At the start of the feast, a special cake is served, one slice containing a bean. Whomever gets the bean is crowned King of the Feast; if somehow the bean is split in two, the crown is split and both changelings are crowned, each placed at the opposite heads of the table. If someone eats the bean without realizing, no King can be crowned, though some changelings have solved this by replacing the bean with a trinket or (in one extreme case) a jalapeño.

      After the feast, Christmas crackers are passed out, containing tiny gifts or sweets. While not required, the oldest Courtier in the Freehold is often press ganged into acting as 'Father Christmas', to hand out presents while clad all in red-and-silver. At midnight, electronic lights are dimmed, and each changeling is given a unlit white candle. Before they depart, they are expected to place the candle down among others. In the early hours of the morning, the candles are all lit, and Christmas Carols are sung a capella. Once dawn arrives on the 25th, the celebration is over, though bands of Seelie will usually go wassailing or gift-giving afterwards.

      Those who participate (who really participate, meaning they’ve given and received at least one gift each) gain, upon waking the next day, a number of Glamour points equal to the Seelie Queen’s Mantle score.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        Minor Festivals

        Burns Supper (January 30th)
        This is the brainchild of the new Lord Scrivener of the Unseelie, Horus; a celebration of the life and works of the Scots poet Robert Burns. The evening is a mixture of speeches (serious and comical), recitations of Burns' poetry (most famously the Address to a Haggis), and food (including the aforementioned haggis and plentiful whiskey). So far its only a small celebration, taking place in one of the rooms of the Cat's Cradle, but the promise of free food and whiskey is luring a few courtiers into attending.

        Proof of Charity (Last Day Before Lent)
        Once a year, the Seelie Court looks for a volunteer for the Proof of Charity. It is not uncommon that none arises, and if such is the case the Freehold moves on without comment. If one steps forward, the changeling dresses in their finest clothing, puts on their most expensive accessories and loads a duffel bag full of fine possessions - anything goes, and past examples have included food, jewelry, video games, tokens, and the keys to the changeling's car - before walking out into the city. They have until sunset to give each and every one of the possessions on their person (including their clothes and undergarments) to someone else. While the recipient can be convinced (and often must be, as they are no doubt looking for the catch), it is considered very poor form to force a gift on someone who doesn't want it. If the changeling is successful in giving away all of the possessions they brought, they must then high-tail it back to their Court (without getting caught by the police for streaking) where they are showered in gifts and, mercifully, clothed.

        The Spring and Fall Equinoxes (March 20th and September 22nd or 23rd)
        These are the traditional dates for the hand-off of power between the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts. Historically, these have been very tense occasions, when all the most loyal courtiers turned out en masse and armed to the teeth to guard against treachery, and the more unreliable Lost watched from a distance. Now that the Seelie and Unseelie are no longer quite as much at one another's throats, they occasion has become a very formal affair, with processions of the ranking Courtiers either at Greenwich House or at the Ebon Engine, everyone dressed in their Sunday best, and copious speechifying from the monarchs and nobility of the Courts. There's still a tradition of carrying enough firepower to outfit a regiment, however.

        October Plenty (First Saturday of October)
        In a somewhat more friendly tradition, the Unseelie weaves corn dollies from sheafs of corn - not living in a farming environment, most of these are store bought nowadays. The dollies are little woven ornaments, though many courtiers make little dolls instead, and the results are hung from an oak tree in the Old Oak Common, or secreted away in the courtiers homes. Afterwards, the Unseelie gather at the Ebon Engine. The last courtier to return is covered in flowers and garlands, and paraded around the Freehold. To prevent anyone from abusing this, a time limit on stringing the dollies is usually set, and anyone returning afterward has missed the boat on the festival. Afterward, the Unseelie usually holds a huge corn roast, to get rid of all the excess corn required in making the dollies.

        The Ashen Auction (Last Monday in October / October Bank Holiday)
        The Unseelie court holds an open gathering, both auction and showroom, to show off mystic advances and discoveries. The evening begins with a display of the latest tokens, hedgespun, goblin fruits - it is even whispered that new Contracts have been displayed here in the past. Given the Autumn court's current makeup, however, the most common sight are new models of hedge machine. On occasion, guests or courtiers who have made an exceptional breakthrough give lectures on their discoveries. Following this is the auction portion of the evening. Not everything displayed is up for sale, but anyone who demonstrates an occult creation had better be prepared for offers, whether they want them or not. The available merchandise provides a somewhat safer purchase than the usual Goblin Market standard of caveat emptor.

        Childermas (December 28th)
        Formerly this was one of the grand festivals of the Unseelie, reduced in prominence over the last few years. It was the Jack-of-Crow's self-proclaimed birthday, when all the Lost had to come and give him a present. It had about itself something of the air of a demand for tribute, truthfully, though the Jack's erratic nature meant that some could escape with relatively cheap presents, as long as they had some thought put into them. Nowadays, it's no longer a required occasion for the Lost, though plenty still attend so as to stay on the Jack's good side. He normally brings out some casks of cider, and otherwise leaves his guests to fend for themselves, so it's also been a potluck of sorts.

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material


        • #5
          Strange Rituals and Traditions

          The Underground Circuit (January 10th)
          On this day, the anniversary of the opening of the London Underground, a delegation of the Lost take a large, man-sized mirror and take it -- over the course of the day -- to every one of the Underground's stations. It's considered good luck to visit some of the closed stations as well, though this isn't always practical. Afterwards, at a small gathering, the mirror is held above a fire until it is no longer reflective, and then hidden away. Rumor has it that the Freehold has over a hundred such fire-blackened mirrors, all carefully stored in some forgotten corner of London.

          Candlemas (February 2nd)
          Every Candlemas, the Unseelie check the weather. If the weather is stormy or snowing, they do nothing - if the day is clear and bright, they go out and place a single snowdrop on the lichgates of each of the seven cemeteries built after the closing of the churchyards in 1832 (the Highgate, Nunhead, Abney Park, West Norwood, Kensal Green, Brompton and Tower Hamlets Cemeteries).

          The Hounslow Spring Cleaning (First rain after March 20th)
          On the first day when it rains after Spring has officially begun, the incoming Seelie Court sends several people to an old house in the Hounslow District (in south-western London). The house, an unassuming suburban, two-story home built after the Second World War, is then cleaned from top to bottom. Everything is washed and scrubbed, the sheets are ironed, minor repairs are done on the house, and anything broken or decayed is replaced. Somewhat more strangely, the house must also be cleared of living things. Any insects are expelled, all the plants in the small front yard are carefully picked up and moved off the property, and by the time of the next rain (or within 17 hours, whichever comes later), all the changelings leave the house. No one lives in it, nor has for as long as the Seelie have been doing this.

          St. George's Day (April 23rd)
          It is traditional for the Seelie Court to wear roses on St. George's Day, though considering the nature of the Saint, some Unseelie join in as well. The Seelie court places a single rose on every statue of St. George in London. It is also considered traditional for each courtier to enjoy a cup of tea, though being England, this is not usually different from any other day. While not tradition, a few Seelie courtiers treat the day a bit like Valentines day - men give women roses, women give men books. The (not entirely serious) claim is that it appeases the ghost of Shakespeare, who died on St. George's Day.

          The Presentation of Apples (May 29th)
          On the 29th of May, each of the Seelie court is expected to present an apple to the Spring Queen. This apple must have been made by their own hands: it could be carved from wood, made of wax, or hand grown from a seed by the changeling, but it cannot have been bought or commissioned in any way. Depending on the skill, resources, and care of the courtier, the apples have ranged from golden masterpieces to crude crayon drawings - one courtier has even made a habit of writing poems to capture the essence of an apple. The courtier does not need to physically present the apple to the queen, but it must be delivered. A single courtier is then sent with all the apples, to hide or bury them among other trees, never to be found.

          The Roses of Hampstead Heath (June 24th)
          On the 24th of June, the Seelie take rose petals to the streets around Hampstead Heath. Each courtier involved walks down the paths of the parks and surrounding neighborhoods, scattering rose petals in front of their feet. They must do this until a stranger approaches and addresses them directly; even a "hey you" is enough. Once this happens, the courtier must stop, and leave.

          The Automatons of Woolwich Polytechnic (Nightly, September to May)
          Established in 1912, Woolwich Polytechnic is an exclusive school for boys in Greenwich, focused on science and technology. Since not long after the First World War, however, the Lost have been forced to maintain a watch on the school, which usually consists of a single changeling that lives in the district and keeps an eye on happenings there. Most of the time, matters are quiet and the job is a simple sinecure, but every few years something emerges from the Polytechnic, mechanical automata that look like humans but are not quite. They move about the school, and occasionally out into the grounds, where they do strange and meaningless things (stare at a fence for hours, buy a single apple and then smash it into paste). Some then disappear, but on at least three occasions since the 1960s the automata have turned murderous, so now the Unseelie policy is to destroy them as soon as they appear.

          St. Guy's Day (September 12th)
          In a relatively new tradition, the Unseelie Court decorates their windows with wreaths of garlic flowers, places wooden stakes of oak or hawthorn into the ground, and lights massive bonfires in the Hedge around Guy's Hospital. Holy symbols of all religions are placed on doorways, or worn prominently (though often in ironic fashion, such as a goth's cross necklace). No one is verbally invited into any building, and bags of rice are spilled randomly on the ground. It is an unspoken challenge among the Unseelie to ensure no one in Guy's Hospital dies on this night. They do not always succeed, but to do so is considered very good fortune.

          Anointing the Deptford Market (First Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday after September 19th)
          The Deptford Market is a sizeable open-air market for fruit, vegetables, antiques, and so forth in the Deptford district of Greenwich. On the first Market day after the feast day of St. Theodore of Tarsus, the outgoing Seelie Court sponsors a mission to the Deptford Market. The Lost anoint the the stalls with blood (they usually bring rabbits for this). This is made challenging by the fact that this must be done between dawn and dusk, in other words, when the market is active, though thankfully just a splash will do.

          The Hedge Capsule (First Friday in November)
          Every Autumn, a dozen high-ranking (Status 3+) Unseelie courtiers go to a secret location in the Hedge and offer something to be buried deep in the ground. On that same night, they dig up whatever it was they buried there last year to see what changes have been made to them by the Hedge.

          The Hunting Tree (Last Full Moon in November)
          Deep in Epping Forest, in the northeast of London, there is a very old oak tree at the edge of a peat bog known to the Lost and to certain witches as the Hunting Tree. On the night of the full moon, when most of its leaves have fallen, several elders of the Autumn Court gather at the tree, bearing seven live sacrifices. In modern times, the tradition is to bring a rat, a rabbit, a hog, a dog, a horse (usually a small one), a cat, and a crow, though it has not been so very many years since a man had been brought. They are hung from the branches of the tree, and the Autumn Court keeps watch, listening to their dying words, which they record in Autumn's archives. After the last is dead, they are cut down and sunken into the bog.

          The Doors of St. Giles (Nights of the new moon, December to March)
          St. Giles-without-Cripplegate, in the Barbican, is one of the oldest churches in London, having survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. On the nights of the new moon in the winter, when the sky is black and the temperature threatens to plunge beneath zero, two Unseelie Courtiers are assigned to the Church. Their task is to ensure that the front door is open, and that all other doors are thoroughly locked and bolted, from dusk till dawn. They also do their level best to keep people away, for the safety of everyone involved.

          GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
          New System and Setting Material


          • #6
            My London changelings had three major Autumn Court festivals:

            Autumn Equniox (varies between the 21st - 23rd September)
            This is the big festival of the year held by the London Autumn Court and is the day when the different Autumn courts around London and the Greater Metropolitan area hold a massive gathering where occult truths and myths are mixed upon the stage in specially decorated theatres with an impressive number of performances designed to frighten and inform. There are also a number of static art shows, such as wax figures, and demonstrations of new tokens and hedgespun equipment and automata. There are also often informative presentations on subjects as diverse as hedge fruit farming techniques and foreign cultures. Changelings of all courts who belong to established Freeholds and ensorcelled humans attached to known Changelings are invited. Each Autumn Court monarch may invite an additional three individuals to the festivities who do not fit these parameters. No Changeling may leave the Autumn Festival Grounds directly into the Hedge nor range within 500 yards of it for fear of drawing hobgobling or Fae attention.

            Superstitions: To mention individual Gentry at all, even through metaphor, will call them to the event as large gatherings of Changelings are noticeable enough without such comments. The Autumn Equinox festival must be held in part on Earth with the majority of the Lost at any one time being in the Earth portion as to do otherwise will court attention. Seven saucers of milk must be left about the Hedge and replaced daily for three days before the festival lest mischief makers crash the festivities. If one breaks glass within a room, it must be immediately vacated and sealed for the rest of the festival. If one breaks a mirror, the festival must end and all must leave.

            Samhain (31st October)
            Samhain has been seen as a time when the "door" to the Underworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. In its early years, this was a day of myth making about foreign monsters, placating the dead, feasting, and making votive offerings for those left behind in Arcadia. Since the 1880s it was co-opted as the night when the Autumn Court renewed its vows with the Ordo Dracul coterie detailed here and where business deals would be made with such Kindred. The Kindred are invited into a particular Hollow called the Sepulchral Amphipheatre through a particular door and are ushered through a long corridor by an Autumn Court knight. The deals made here with the Kindred aren't backed by pledges as the Kindred already have their maximum number of three pledges laid upon them. There is an official statement from Joy Tyler and a representative of the Autumn Monarch (who never attends this event in person). There are certain chambers in the Sepulchral Amphitheatre where Changelings kneel singly, in pairs, or in motleys, to light a candle or some incense to lost lives of all sorts. The Kindred are not welcome in this.

            Superstitions: It is a time when pledges can be accidentally made so one must use inconclusive language when bartering for goods or services until the deal is struck or else the Wyrd might make your comments binding. One must avoid entering the Hedge on this day unless passing directly into a Hollow as the Hedge is said to thin and the True Fae are thought to hunt and weave their stories on this day. If it is necessary to venture into the Hedge, one must carry a flaming torch or else will-o-the-wisps will arrive to lead you astray and onto the path of a Keeper. While it is safer to walk upon the Earth, if leaving your home at night, keep to the light and make it quick. If forced to walk in the darkness, turn your clothing inside-out and carry salt to keep the fairies at bay (few believe it works, yet most still follow it just in case).

            Day of the Innocents (1st November)
            This day, to the Mexicans, had as its focus the honoring of children and infants but in its transfer to the London changelings it came to mean the profound loss of innocence felt by changelings. The Winter Court collude with the Autumn Court to set up reminders of all that has been lost and the Changelings of the Azure Freehold visit symbolic altars that match what they have personally lost and make an offering or other sign of acknowledgement to them. For those who wish to maintain their privacy in loss, they will visit each altar in turn but their heart will only be sincere at the ones that matter. Such altars might be to lost friends, lost youth, lost love, lost homes, lost safety, lost warmth, and lost ability to trust, among other things. That night the Kindred will be allowed to visit the Sepulchral Amphipheatre for two hours to conclude any deals made the night before. During this time, select myth making performances from the Autumn Equinox will be performed to impress the Kindred. A feast is provided with the assistance of the Spring Court, with ample alcohol, and the night swiftly moves into a raucuous wake for what has been lost. This is also the day of telling scary stories of loss and devastation as warnings of what might happen. The celebrations end at dawn.

            Superstitions: If you see your face reflected, you must spit over your shoulder, lest you lose something else into the mirror. Avoid the laughter of innocent children for the comparison between their purity and your miserable losses will mark you and the child out to the Gentry. Other than that, general laughter and loud noises are good because it will confuse the Others and keep you safe. Being drunk on this night, or even high on life, will bring you good luck for the following year. Feeling fear touch your heart this night will bring you omens when danger approaches and thus help you get out of the way.

            Day of the Dead (2nd November)
            The celebrations begin at dusk, allowing the Changelings to sleep away the day. This day has as its focus the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember deceased or Taken friends and family members. Again, the Winter Court collude with the Autumn Court but on this day it is the Icebound Lake (a hollow) which houses the occasion. One can whisper the names of those Take or dead into the well in the middle of the lake and it will cause those names to etch onto the walls themselves. No distinction is made between the Taken and the dead. Some will use metaphors or nicknames rather than true names, though this isn't as common as one might think as there are thousands of names etched upon the icy walls and thus anonymity. Besides, the Changelings find some comfort in knowing that their loved ones have achieved some form of immortality, if only in name. This is a quiet and sedate day with voices barely raised above a whisper. It is customary to sit and contemplate the icy wall of names and confront your own fears or death and loss, allowing yourself to soak in the fear. Food is provided but it is all quite bland and ordinary. At midnight, the Changelings leave in silence to their own homes and often private parties hosted by the Spring Court to cheer people up after such a morose session. Some will hold meals, or even banquets, for the dearly departed at this time.

            Superstitions: You won't be haunted by the dead if their true name is etched onto the wall. Do not touch another Changeling lest you lose what they have lost. Hugging a mortal human is good luck. Feeding a child is good luck.

            Age of Ravens Blog has some good ones here:

            My horror roleplaying blog with a strong focus on World of Darkness and Call of Cthulhu can be found here:


            • #7
              This will be useful for my upcoming Victorian Lost chronicle. Thanks!


              • #8
                I really love these. Definitely going to take inspiration from them for my chronicle.

                My horror roleplaying blog with a strong focus on World of Darkness and Call of Cthulhu can be found here: