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The House of Rhapsody (2E)

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  • The House of Rhapsody (2E)

    "Illusion is the first of all pleasures."

    The power of the storyteller is a powerful thing, and with them is the balance between truth and lie. The House of Rhapsody knows how to use each as a weapon. They know that truth is a terrible thing. With it, a person can bring low an empire, can undo words of love, shatter illusions and bring about stark and horrible realizations. Many will claim that it is better to suffer the unhappiness of truth than to endure a lie, but the House of Rhapsody knows this isn't true, like so many things about the world, what we tell ourselves is not the truth, but the simple little lies that make the unbearable more reasonable. In fact, the greater the truth, the worse it is to deal with.

    The Rhapsodes attest that humanity’s never-ending quest for the ultimate truths is its greatest fallacy, for every individual is a product of society, culture, family and peers – in essence a fabrication. In fact, the House of Rhapsody took this claim even further through a manifesto written by its founding member called the Manual of Perfidy. In this treatise, seven fundamental beliefs of society are taken and rendered into nothing more than a fiction of its own – own that humanity accedes to in order to survive. Its final position reduces everything to a convenient fiction cultivated in opposition to a harsh and senseless reality. In such a devastating and unreasonable reality, a person must put aside pure reason and cultivate some sensible fiction.

    The foundation of any society, and in fact any individual is their fiction. When telling a story or fiction, what is important is not whether the story told is true or false, but whether it contains substance, meaning and evocation. For it is from these simple stories that our individual and collective dreams are born. The close association between fiction and dreaming has not been lost on the House. They have seen how the dreams of one person have given birth to world-shaking narratives, and how dreams have a way of propagating themselves from person to person through their retelling.

    Through the crafting of new tales that infect the human psyche in même fashion, the House of Rhapsody can hope to infuse humanity with new information and tales to prepare them against the Fae. The affinity of stories, rhyme to the unreason of dreaming, has cultivated for the Rhapsodes an intuitive love of dreams, and it is not uncommon for a Rhapsode to become a proficient oneiromancer. Indeed, the House of Rhapsody has a developed reputation for producing some of the finest oneiromancers known to the Lost. However, the House’s foremost reputation comes from being spinners of tales, master propagandists, potent heralds, shills and mouthpieces. For each member has learned to understand all the arts of fiction, from subtle lies, deception and misdirection to propaganda, misinformation and many other arts of psychological warfare.

    Titles: Lord or Lady Rhapsode, Maestro (informal), Marquis or Marchioness (see below)
    Prerequisites: Wyrd 2, Manipulation 3, Expression 3, Subterfuge 2

    Joining: The House of Rhapsody demands one major thing from its supplicants: adaptability. Those who can demonstrate a delicate sophistication and an aptitude for dissembling are quickly noticed, and often carefully solicited.

    These potential initiates are then tested by being set in an elaborate web of fiction. The objective of this trap is to lead the candidate away from the true objective and see if they can unravel its complexities. Usually, these lies are decidedly more comforting than the stark realization of truth, and only those with a certain mental fortitude can turn to see the endeavor through and face the naked truth.

    The test itself can vary beyond this point. Sometimes, it will be about uncovering an unpleasant truth on the changeling herself. Other times, it would involve confronting the facts about her durance, or the real nature of her mortal ties. Should she succeed, the new Rhapsode is asked to swear the formal oaths of the House, before she begins being groomed into a worthy maestro of fiction.

    Approach: Rhapsodes see themselves as guardians of truth, and thus train themselves to avoid falling for the deceptions of another. Huntsmen that abide by the House's Approach attempt to match the changeling's intrigues, subverting them to their advantage. Some do so by creating truths out of the Rhapsode's many lies, or spread her fiction in a warped and twisted forms. Others prefer a more direct approach, like forcibly revealing a truth hidden by the Rhapsode to those ill-prepared to receive it.

    Mien: Their eyes take on a certain mirror-like quality, reflecting the nature of whatever they see. Within these eyes, something quintessential about who they observe will manifest. As the changeling's Wyrd grows, their Mien begins to blur slightly, as though it was being seen through mist or smoke. It becomes difficult to see the perfect outline of features and markings, shrouding their features.

    Background: Anyone with the right suave affair could be a member of the House, and different courts and freeholds offer new and unique methods on how to cultivate fiction. Among the Seasonal Courts, those of Summer demonstrate skill in Hedge Duels and Oneiromachy, while the Autumn Court cultivates many propagandists. Winter courtiers, meanwhile, maintain the networks of subterfuge and misinformation, while those of Spring are often well-versed diplomats and emissaries due to being the troubadours and wandering minstrels that carry stories from place to place.

    Organization: There is rarely ever more than one Rhapsode in a single freehold. Yet though each individual Rhapsode may stand alone, they are never far from the words of their fellows. This is facilitated by a profficient method of communication which uses the Hedge itself as a medium, a far-spanning connection known as the Web of Lies.

    Beyond this, the Rhapsodes have a very informal arrangement. A gathering of the Entitlement is like a Munchausen competition, here each of them attempts to spin the largest and wildest lie imaginable. Such gambits can run from the impossibly absurd - where the claims are laudably false and the objective is to be as convincing as one can despite them, to the obtusely arcane - where the objective is to hide a real truth among a plethora of falsehoods.

    On occasion, the Rhapsodes will nominate amongst themselves candidates of great worth, who champion the arts of deceit. To these individuals, they award the title of Marquis or Marchioness. Such accolades demonstrate that they are paragons of what the House espouses, and usually come with descriptive attachments. The best known example is Lord Carabas, creator of the Manual of Perfidy, as it was a lie so great that people would accept it as the truth behind the House itself. For this, he was declared the Marquis of Pefidy.

    Outside of formal titles, the House of Rhapsody employs a number of internal ranks to denote a kind of role. Each rank resembles that of a chess piece. Pawns are the changelings who are manipulated by the House of Rhapsody, but not members themselves. Rooks are those who collect and disseminate disinformation among the various freeholds and collect information back for their own use. These Rhapsodes are often trained in espionage, and capable of reasonable self-defense. Knights are the next rank up, for they are the assassins and saboteurs, and are reasonably trusted to work on their own. Finally, the Bishops oversee large regional plots and set into motion the wheels of various games. They are often well-versed in magic, and provide many Hedgespun and tokens for the House's use.

    It is said that the Bishops are led, in turn, by a King and Queen, who jointly rule over the Entitlement as a whole. However, their roles, duties, and identities lie at the very center of the Rhapsodes' Web of Lies.

    Privilege: Bardic Gift
    The primary aspect of the House's blessing manifests differently for each Rhapsode. Some have mesmerizing eyes one could lose oneself, or entrancing voices with lyrical and silver tongued qualities. Others have bedazzling auras, where slips of light and shadow and dizzying colours fugue the opponent’s mind. Regardless, this benefit causes a penalty equal to the Rhapsode’s Wyrd made either to discern their true motivations, or to break through their lies.

    The second benefit can only be accessed if the changeling is a member of a Court. By spending a point of Glamour, their Mantle becomes more directly infused with their Mask. This transformation colours the Rhapsode’s appearance with the energies of the Court, investing its emotional resonance into suitable performances. This allows them to add their dots in Mantle to any roll made to tell a fictional story, so long as it is tied to the Court's emotion.

    Rumors of the House of Rhapsody:

    • The House of Rhapsody is nothing but a dirty bunch of liars and scoundrels. They've led more than one freehold to its destruction with their tricks. Of course, you'll never hear that from them.

    • The truth is questionable. The House has been subsisting on lies and deceit for so long they can no longer tell what exactly is the truth any more.

    • The House has been collecting secrets on you, and·they're going to use it as blackmail if you don't take care of it.

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

  • #2
    Bonus Material: Toronto, The City of Stories

    In a freehold whose Bulwark hinges upon the telling of a new story each day, the House of Rhapsody is honored. The city is one of the few places home to many of the order's talecrafters, and they are often sought out by the sultana to give her insight and inspiration for the stories she tells. A select few have even claimed Scheherazade's role at certain points, if the rumors are to be believed.

    The order is not taken lightly, however, due to both its local membership and the game of deception that it's known to weave in the city. A fraction of the Rhapsodes are sworn to the Seasonal and Seelie Courts, and one maestro from the Ivory Court was formerly of the Court of Ambition before he publicly renounced his ties to it. Thus, the House's dealings with the sultana for the last two years have been constantly watched for fear of the freehold's enemies acting through them.
    Last edited by Deionscribe; 01-21-2017, 05:26 AM.

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


    • #3
      A conversion of a homebrew Entitlement, one made by Angelus Morningstar. The original version can be downloaded in his Lost Shards folder.

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