Thursday, July 11, 2013

By Light, By Night Part 3

The Changeling Way (cont.)

Making more changelings

Depending on what kind of mature themes you want to handle in your By Light, By Night campaign, you may find yourself confronting the problem of changeling reproduction.  Changeling fae are not infertile, but most changeling infants are stillborn and most of those that survive are merely human (humans imbued with excellent luck and maybe a little magic, but humans nonetheless).  A very small percentage of children born to changeling parents are also fae… but the only way to know a child is fae is to wait for that inevitable, terrible, glorious night when the child is stolen from its crib while the parents sleep.  No changeling in living memory has been raised by her birth parents and no changeling child who has scoured the Earth to find her birth parents has yet succeeded.

Because all fae are outsiders and orphans, they naturally make new families for themselves by gathering with other changelings.  Adult fae seek out newly-bloomed youngsters and “adopt” them into locally-organized families or clans.  Adults usually try to adopt children of the same fae type – alfar adopt alfar, brownies adopt brownies, cluricans adopt cluricans – but this isn’t always possible.  Whether these homogeneous clans then try to gather into larger heterogeneous collectives depends on whether the fae belong to the Light or the Night.

The Light and the Night

There are two main factions of fae: the Court of Light and the Parliament of Night, also known in human folklore as the Seelie and Unseelie.  To describe them as “good” and “evil” is too simplistic; Light fae can wreak terrible revenge on those who have offended them, while Night fae can be very protective of those who have helped them.  One could describe them as opposed forces of law and chaos, but even that overstates the differences between the factions.  The best way to describe them might be to compare them to two popular science fiction shows with opposing viewpoints: “Star Trek” and “Firefly.”

The Court of Light tries to conduct itself a lot like “Star Trek’s” United Federation of Planets.  They prefer to settle disputes through arbitration, they believe in the validity of all cultures while also adopting a protective central government, and they value discovery in all its’ forms: art, introspection, magic.  They regard the Parliament of Night much the same way the Federation regards the Maquis – as potentially dangerous and atavistic troublemakers who have rejected enlightenment.

The Parliament of Night is a lot more like the crew of the Serenity: a disparate group of outlaws and troublemakers banded together to enjoy a life free from the control of a monolithic government.  They value individual initiative, personal codes of honor, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.  They regard the Court of Light with the same distrust and skepticism that Mal Reynolds has for the Alliance. 

Neither faction is completely right nor completely wrong.  Both sides have their heroes and both sides have their villains; keep in mind that the same criminal counterculture that embraced brave and independent Zoe also embraced the sadistic kingpin Niska while the same Federation that created compassionate and self-sacrificing Ben Sisko also created the manipulative and genocidal Section 31. The Court of Light is home to gracious fairies and playful pixies, but is also home to the haughty daoine sídhe and dour dwarfs.  The Parliament of Night has helpful brownies and puckish pookas, but also bullying goblins and terrifying trolls.  Both the Light and the Night see themselves as heroes.

Keep that dichotomy in mind when you tell your stories.  It’s all right to pick a side and tell the stories that skew toward your preferred faction, but treating this as a fight between boring old good and evil is dull.  FATE and FATE Accelerated Edition are games about drama.  True drama comes from the conflict of people who all believe they’re doing the right thing.

(continued)

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