Posted on July 26, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Now its time to take a look at what the Changelings are up too.
Equinox Road is a new book for the ENnie Nominated Changeling: the Lost.
The road is dangerous, and you may be torn apart by the Thorns. The destination is a risk of death, or the return to slavery. But there’s much to be gained for those brave and clever enough to dare the return — the return to Faerie.
Here is an exclusive preview of this upcoming book…
The Parliament of Victors
It’s good to be the champ. I’ll do what needs doing to stay champ. I’ll win. I’ll kill. I’ll boast. I’ll woo. Whatever it takes to keep succeeding.
Want to join the Parliament of Victors? It’s easy. Win, and keep winning. Boast and offer challenges left and right. Slay the Keeper. Have a threesome with the two princesses. Steal the still-beating heart of the ancient Humbaba and eat it like it’s a pomegranate.
Every freehold has one: the hero. Not a reluctant hero, no. Not the guy who does the right thing but stays silent about it, who refuses to take the spoils of war and accept the laurels placed upon his brow. This hero knows what he is. He’s the cock of the walk. The best of the best, a platinum band amongst a handful of dirty silver ingots. And it’s not just about having a success here and there. Killing one of the Gentry is a good start, but it has to be done with flair, with narrative panache: killing the Keeper whilst protecting the queen that you just bedded with little else besides an iron candlestick, that’s something for the books. And that’s something for the Parliament of Victors.
See, a Noble Champion in the Parliament of Victors is on par with the king or queen, and may even be more popular. Everybody knows the Champion. They know of his exploits because he tells them of his exploits. It’s not about getting into the legends and earning some kind of twisted immortality the long way. It’s about the hero getting what he deserves now. Not later. He succeeds because he wants. What he wants — wine, women, song, whatever—are earned because he succeeds. The cycle recycles.
Consider Suli the Slayer, a Draconic who challenged his Keeper to a duel atop Coit Tower in San Francisco. Surrounded by a cage of Thorns and a whirlwind of biting glass butterflies, he took on his Keeper. He cut off its head and its hands, then kicked the body down to the street below (it crashed into a car on Lombard Street and then turned into a flock of gulls). He keeps one of the hands on a leather cord by his side.
Or consider Lady B, the Cyclopean gang banger who negotiated peace (at the ends of two gold-plated .45’s) between the four warring Courts.
Or what about Steamhead Cyril, the Broadback Gladiator of Queen Sarah and Victor of the Spring Court who performs at the behest of his mother, Queen Sarah? Who remains undefeated even after these ten years, despite the network of scars that criss-cross his leathery flesh?
All of them, Noble Champions in the Parliament of Victors. They are the heroes of their freeholds, above all others. Singular amongst the Lost.
Title: Noble Champion
Prerequisites: One combat-related Skill (Brawl, Firearms, Weaponry) at 4, Presence 4, Wyrd 6
Joining: Joining is easy, so to speak. Get the attention of the Victors by deed. They’ll come. They’ll wine the changeling, dine the changeling. Then they’ll make their offer. Problem is, it’s just as easy to fall from grace as it is to join. See, the Noble Champions of the Parliament of Victors don’t get to rest on their hindquarters. They have to keep up momentum. They’re heroes. They need to act like it. Loud. Boastful. Social. Harder still, they can’t fail a challenge. Someone comes up to a Champion and threatens to knock his block off? Or if he says he’s going to take care of that band of treacherous privateers lurking in the deep Hedge but doesn’t? That’s a problem. He won’t get kicked out of the eldritch order, exactly, but he will lose access to all three privileges until he can prove his mettle anew.
Mien: The changeling’s mien grows. It becomes larger-than-life, almost mythic in proportions. If the Champion’s mien has antlers, they grow larger, more impressive. If her skin is covered in scales or in ribbons of water, it shimmers, perhaps with a kind of iridescence. Lithe limbs grow longer and all the more beautiful. Big eyes deepen and shine with a captivating luster. In addition, the mien inspires a mix of intense emotion — the ugliest brute seems suddenly beautiful while the most stunning warrior-queen stirs both fear and self-deprecation in those who gaze upon her. It represents an aura of celebrity, palpable and pervasive.
Background: What does a take to be a Noble Champion? It isn’t enough to be good; it necessitates becoming the best. The best at what? Well, that’s where the different flavors of “hero” come into play. One Noble Champion might be able to put a bullet through a Keeper’s eye at 500 yards, while another might do surgical procedures with a rapier — blindfolded. Physical and martial prowess is common, but other supplementary Skills are apropos: a high Persuasion (used to coax the king into bed), Socialize or Expression (the better to boast with, my dear), Athletics (think Olympiad-level displays of might), and Intimidation (sometimes it’s necessary for the Champion to bully someone into recognizing his unparalleled aptitudes). If anything falls by the wayside, it’s Mental. Being a Noble Champion isn’t about chemistry experiments, fixing an engine, or book-learning. Well, it can be if done with the proper élan, but usually, who cares?
Of course, most Noble Champions tend to be profoundly full of themselves, and often sport the Vice of Pride (or, for some, Lust and Greed provided those aspects go to feed one’s narcissistic furnace). Speaking of narcissism, it’s not uncommon for a Victor to have particular derangements. Narcissism and Megalomania come to mind, though some gain a Fixation or an Obsessive-Compulsion about home-spun superstitions and folklore that keep the champ from losing. In addition, some Champions hide a very damaged inner core, building up walls around a frail self-esteem (and so, Depression and Inferiority Complex might manifest).
Organization: The Parliament of Victors doesn’t have any profound organization — in fact, given that there’s only one Noble Champion per freehold, the group doesn’t really need much formal organization. Since the Wyrd enforces the pledge of the hero to the order, it’s not like they need a secret council to vet one another outside the offering of an invitation to a prospective champ.
The one thing they do have is semi-regular gatherings. The Noble Champions often come to recognize that they have no equals among their peers, and so they go to be among other Noble Champions for a time. They might get together for a weekend retreat. They might come together for dinner. Maybe they compete, committing to games of sport or hunting parties. (And, the beautiful part is that in being defeated by another Noble Champion, it doesn’t seem to upset the pledge: one may still retain privileges upon losing a challenge to another of your heroic ilk.)
Concepts: corn-fed golden boy, fallen hero, haughty Draconic, one-woman army, preening Adonis, sore loser, violent supermodel
A Chronicle Book for Changeling: The Lost
• Advice on the Changeling endgame, from increased power levels and forging new Contracts to the narrative structure of the game
• Guidance on taking a chronicle into Arcadia itself, facing the hazards there and the True Fae at their height of power
• Wyrd evolution, Faerie domains, the Game of Immortals, and more
Pre-order Equinox Road at Amazon.com or stop by the White Wolf booth at GenCon Indy.