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Ancient and Accepted Order of Bridgemasons (2E)

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  • Ancient and Accepted Order of Bridgemasons (2E)

    "Every sacred construction is a mirror of the causeway to freedom, built by the Mighty before time. I will build in secret, so that the free folk will ever reside in mighty dreams of wood and stone. Should mortal eyes profane my work, let it crumble like a dying dream and let its falling shards pierce my unfaithful heart."

    Swords and strong words pull freeholds from deadly crises, but the Ancient and Accepted Order of Bridgemasons devotes itself to a quieter occupation, less glorious but stone-strong, en- during through the ages. Time is hard put to wear away its work, but the modern, urban age attacks the entitlement itself. In a world filled with construction, a Master Builder's skills aren't as valuable as they used to be.

    The Bridgemasons' Order is an old one, dating back at least as far as the Dark Ages. Its doctrine says it was born during a distant mythic era, when the Gentry slipped between worlds with ease. The ancient True Fae took artisans as slaves. They taught them how to build bridges across the Hedge so that the Gentry could ride down safe and fast. They made some slaves into huge, strong laborers. They bound others into elemental forms, and then melded them into living rock and dream-stuff: The substance of each bridge.

    The Order says there was a war -- the first great battle between Earth and Arcadia -- led by the Gentry's victims and fought by a great alliance of mystic beings that's never been matched. The True Fae withdrew, ordered their craftsmen and engineers to smash the bridges and haul the once-human "bricks" and "mortar" back to Arcadia. The Gentry then put their slaves to other tasks, but they never forgot their old roles and remembered the secrets of the bridges well enough to build them again -- when they got the chance. Two changelings studied bridge-lore in depth. In its ceremonies, the Order calls them Stoneman and Hammerwoman. They gathered a host of former bridge workers, led them in a great rebellion and put them to building a new causeway to Earth. They built in stages; the host marched to the edge of each section while they waited for the next to be built. Hammerwoman laid the plans; she knocked stones and other materials into their proper places. Stoneman took the shape of keystones and powerful columns to support them all. This way, they built and journeyed for a year and a day, pursued by the Fae war-host that followed them along the causeway. Some of the Gentry fell to hidden traps and others were crushed between Elementals, but this only slowed them; they dogged the rebels all the way to Earth.

    Only a handful of survivors reached the mortal world. The Gentry were close at their heels, so Hammerwoman took up her maul and shattered Stoneman. He was the final foundation stone of it all, so when he crumbled, the bridge's mundane rocks and Hedge-stuff collapsed in a heap that shook both worlds. The Gentry and their warrior-slaves fell far into the Thorns, crushed beneath the wreckage of the mightiest thing ever built by the Lost.

    Now free, the survivors safeguarded the secrets of their labor. So many died in the journey that they couldn't retain all the secrets, but the remaining fragments were still potent. They became the art of Wyrdbuilding. Practitioners founded the Order of Bridgemasons and made themselves a great guild among the Lost. They built mighty walls, tunnel-ridden mounds and high temples for their freeholds. Wyrdbuilding became a powerful asset for anyone able to learn it. Frauds pretended to know the trade. Some of them struck powerful pledges that made it look like they had the art, but long after they fled their obligations would come due, go unpaid, and reap a penalty in fallen towers. Lost lords died in the accidents and the Order's reputation suffered for it.

    To safeguard the true craft of Wyrdbuilding, the Order instituted a strict regimen of training. It drew secret signs and mysteries from its legendary origin. If a Master Builder didn't know the signs, he would be exposed as a faker. Over time, the rites and signs became important in and of themselves, especially as cities grew and grew and the Lost found it easier to rent and buy homes than commission Wyrdbuilt constructions. Philosophy mixed with practical tradecraft to produce the modern Order.

    Wyrdbuilding is still a valuable skill. Freeholds hire Bridgemasons to add secret rooms and concealed hideouts, and among the elite a Wyrdbuilt home is a powerful status symbol. Some freeholds have age-old agreements with the Order to handle all construction that takes place in the local lord's domain. That's tricky these days because changelings don't live in mounds and towers any more. Instead, the Order takes over local construction businesses, adding their own touch to mundane buildings when they know the Lost intend to live or meet there. Bridgemasons also focus on construction as an art. They build beautiful statues and elaborate experimental buildings. Some modern Master Builders are famous (if antisocial) architects who personally apply a few magical touches to flowing, novel designs.

    There's always been a bit of tension between the Order and its employers. The Bridgemasons are still an artisans' guild: A power bloc that demands certain prices for services. They believe they have exclusive rights over their trade. If outsiders horn in they'll either put a stop to it or demand compensation. They also stand up for the "common changeling's" rights when a freehold's lords demand onerous services. Wyrdbuilding is now more of a luxury than a necessity, so the Order's power is on the wane. Nevertheless, they refuse to budge an inch on matters related to their age-old rights. When they stand for the low-status members of a freehold, they more often than not find support.

    Titles: Master Builders
    Prerequisites: Wyrd 3, Crafts 3 with Specialty in Construction

    Joining: For all the ritual and secrecy surrounding its initiation rites, the Order is surprisingly active when it comes to recruitment. A Bridgemason who sees potential in a changeling may encourage the would-be recruit to work on his crafting skills, and guide him to learn a thing or two about construction. Most new recruits are sponsored in this fashion, and when their mentor deems them ready, they are taken into a secret room in one of the many edifices built by the Order, where an elaborate initiation ritual awaits them.

    Approach: What is built endures, but even the sturdiest building can collapse if built on a shaky foundation. So it is with the Bridgemason's Approach. A Huntsman who abides by it works to tear down the changeling's Wyrd-built projects. Sometimes, it involves discovering and exploiting flaws in the construction. Other times, they drive mortals to witness the Wyrdbuilding itself.

    Mien: Bridgemasons are big. Even if they used to be small, slight people or had a slender mien, this changes. Muscles sprout from their shoulders, backs and chests. Thick, knotted quadriceps and calves envelop the bones of their legs. But the truly striking characteristic they develop are huge, thick-fingered hands of rough stone. These are easily three times the size they should be on a human of the same size, even after accounting for the unusual builds of certain changelings.

    Despite the transformation, the changeling doesn’t turn clumsy; his new hands are as sensitive as the old ones. Members wear rough-beaten bronze rings on their left hands. This is a sign of the entitlement. They don’t discuss its significance with outsiders, but plenty of rumors circulate among the Lost: it honors the memory of the order’s founder, it is an emblem of their pact with stone and metal, it is part of a secret initiation rite, and so on.

    Background: The Order takes its members from two main sources. Most were laborers, working in construction, roofing, home renovations and other hands-on jobs fixing, building and wrecking large structures. They support the dominant, working class Bridgemason ethos. They work hard, get their hands dirty and use their gifts for pragmatic reasons, but that doesn’t mean they ignore the esoteric symbolism of the Order. They like it just fine, but when there’s something to build, it’s time to put the philosophy to rest.

    A significant minority were (and many still are) architects, engineers and environmental designers. These educated, scientifically-minded changelings push the cutting edge of their fields. Thanks to their abilities they can realize their dreams at a whim. These Bridgemasons are fond of rituals and secret signs. They explore occult symbols with an eye toward rendering them in stone and steel. Still, they can’t be unschooled in the brick and mortar side of things. Wyrd-built things can’t defy the laws of physics.

    These groups don’t always get along, but when they work together they produce breathtaking results. Secret fortresses, hidden passages and labyrinthine mansions grow out of their “arguments” as each side demonstrates its points using the Order’s trade.

    Organization: Part guild, part mystery cult, the Order evolved from being the Lost’s builders to an occult society, filled with secret traditions. The Order never asks anyone to join, but never discourages anyone from asking, either. There are two traditional paths to membership. In the first, an unskilled changeling spends four years learning the requisite craft skills from a Bridge Master, who intersperses lessons with tests of character. Apprentices are not members. They pay for their education with constant service, so this path isn't a particularly popular one. Nowadays, it's more common for an established builder to petition for membership. He can join in a matter of months, provided the local Bridge Masters like him. The Order looks for creative, hardworking Lost who have an instinctive feel for metal, stone and concrete.

    In a secret ceremony, the initiate learns a secret phrase and grip (handshake), vows never to reveal it to anyone else, and is thereupon known as a Bridge Walker: A member of the lowest degree. Bridge Master is the next title, gained after at least two years of membership, provided the Bridgemason has Crafts 4 and Wyrd 4. In many places, these are the highest-ranking members of the Order around; they rule by council from the Causeway Temple: A special building filled with ceremonial chambers and the long, thin stone beam (the "Primordial Causeway") used in Bridgemason ceremonies. Some of a Causeway Temple's rooms are segregated by rank because they contain special writings and ceremonial implements that must not be profaned by unworthy eyes.

    After a decade and the fifth dot in both Crafts and Wyrd, the Master becomes a Worshipful Pillar who's usually the undisputed leader of all local Bridgemasons. At every rank, members learn new grips, secret words and rituals. The hierarchy is quite formal, but that doesn't keep members from using "brother" and "sister" as the customary forms of address.

    There are rumors of higher, secret initiations, whose benefactors rule all the Bridgemasons from a secret temple in the Hedge, or a tunnel-filled mountain in the wild. Members scoff at this publicly, but most of them believe that there are some secrets kept from the Worshipful Pillars, for even they are at a loss to explain some of the stranger parts of their secret rites.

    Privilege: Wyrdbuilding
    The Order's power is spectacular to watch in action, but it's often disparaged by changelings who value martial or arcane abilities. Quite simply, the Bridgemasons know how to construct buildings, earthworks and other solid, monumental things. They don't need tools or other workers -- just materials, time and secrecy.

    Bridgemasons use Wyrdbuilding to create beautiful yet functional homes, monuments and fortresses for the Lost. They also alter existing constructions for changeling owners, adding secret passages, labyrinths and ornate decorations. The Winter Court hires them to build secure hideouts, but demands a pledge of secrecy. The Order even fashions lairs inside old bridges and bleak mountains for the most antisocial elements of Lost society so that they can indulge their monstrous whims in complete privacy.

    Each Bridgemason discovers her own form of Wyrdbuilding. Some of them sing their work together; each note slams rivets into steel and bricks into mortar. Others yank the pieces into place by hand, displaying the superhuman strength to move tons of concrete, and benefit from strange luck as nails, planks and plumbing bounce into place. None of these benefits transfer to other feats of strength or twists of fate. The weakest Elemental can build a two story house by hand but still can't out-wrestle bears.

    Bridgemasons work alone or in groups. Every hour, one Bridgemason can complete 20 Size points of construction at the cost of 1 point of Glamour. The building (or other construction) must touch bare earth or natural rock. He has to have all the required materials on hand, though exact sizes and shapes aren't necessary. His power can bend and cut sections with precision. He doesn't need any tools, but he needs to know how to build his project. For complex constructions, this requires an extended Intelligence + Crafts roll based on the difficulty of the project, just as if he was a normal foreman. An engineer or architect can assist with detailed plans, turning the roll into a teamwork action with them as secondary actors. Bridgemasons can take breaks in the midst of construction, but must always work continuously for at least an hour at a time.

    Bridgemasons can also use Wyrdbuilding to alter or destroy existing constructions at the same rate as they can build them, though faster demolitions (still taking no less than an hour) might work if the character targets a vulnerable point.

    No mortal can witness the construction process, even via photographs or video, or else it fails. Once a witness sees the process, the project erodes at the rate of 20 Size points per hour (or one Size point every three minutes), regardless of Structure or Durability. This nullifies work in progress. If a mortal sees how a Wyrdbuilt construction was put together after the fact the whole thing gradually falls apart; examination reveals perfectly normal (though at times, unlikely) flaws in construction.

    Wyrdbuilding can't be used to construct anything out of cold iron.

    Rumors of the Bridgemasons:

    • In the Middle Ages, the Bridgemasons built prisons for the Lost. Freeholds cast their traitors and intolerable madmen inside jails worked from bare rock and (as it cannot be Wyrdbuilt into place) hand-bolted cold iron. The so-called Wyrd Gaols are ruins now, filled with stone wreckage, rotted wood and sinister tales. The Wyrd's touch lingers; it changes animals and desperate people who live in the ruins. In the shadow of an old Wyrd Gaol, there are always rumors of talking foxes, sinister trees and witches' huts. The Lost also say that in some of them, prisoners were left to rot in the darkness. They never escaped, but raised families of blind, Wyrd-tainted mutants.

    • Changeling lore commonly attributes all kinds of mysterious structures to the Bridgemasons. Examples include Stonehenge, the Giants' Causeway and Florida's Coral Castle. The claims are false -- most of the time. When they're true, these structures usually have secret features that the order's Bridge Masters know about and might exploit during emergencies. Of course, accidents happen and from time to time, changelings and others stumble upon Trod gateways, Token vaults and secret libraries behind false walls.

    • Changelings have circulated rumors about the Order's inner workings for centuries. Entitlement members are not well-liked in more traditional freeholds because they're so secretive about their rites, but effusive in their criticism of the power structure. People say that if a Bridge Master demands it, his inferiors will betray their own motleys and conspire against rulers. A few cranks even say that the Bridgemasons' myth is a lie, that they bought their way out of bondage with certain services, and that their buildings are mystical beacons for the Gentry. Almost nobody believes this, but when the Order leads a protest, a local lord might lend credence to stories like these if it suits her political agenda.
    Last edited by Deionscribe; 10-12-2016, 12:37 PM.

    "My Homebrew Hub"
    Age of Azar
    The Kingdom of Yamatai

  • #2
    Another simple conversion. I just had to do away with that Seeming requirement since it didn't seem apt given the changes in 2E. I also decided to divorce it from the Autumn Court, to open up characters whose concepts do not use the Seasonal Court model.
    Last edited by Deionscribe; 10-12-2016, 11:41 AM.

    "My Homebrew Hub"
    Age of Azar
    The Kingdom of Yamatai


    • #3
      Wanna run a Changeling dungeon crawl in a decrepit Wyrd Gaol now. I also want to see a local Court based on these guys.

      2E Legacy Updates
      Brotherhood of the Demon Wind
      Choir of Hashmallim (plus extra Summoning content)
      Storm Keepers