In both editions of Changeling: the Lost, the four seasonal Courts - Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn - are the most common gatherings of changelings in North America and Europe. Quite a few others exist, however, especially if you consider all of the ones presented in first and second edition books. On top of that, Storytellers have also been encouraged to create their own Courts and unique freeholds so players get a custom-tailored experience of the fae world.
And why not? Coming up with a Court concept can be easy: Start with a philosophy of living, tie it to an emotion changelings can inspire and feed on, and root it in an aspect of the material world. But keeping track of everything that goes into a Court can become difficult, especially when you’re using 3 or 4 of them and they have all the bells and whistles.
That’s why I created Court worksheets to record as many details as a Storyteller wants for as many Courts as they deign to use. The worksheets are fully editable in Google Sheets, once you make your own copy of the document linked above. You can use the longer form - which has ample spaces for tons of data - or the simplified sheet, which covers the basics and not much more. And since it’s easy to share Google Sheets with others, Storytellers can invite their players to work on Court creation with them and/or let players view the sheets for quick reference.
So you know what to expect, how to use everything, and why everything is included, I thought I would write this introduction.
The long sheet (named “Court 1”) starts with the basics. A long-standing freehold can have a historic name, nickname, and/or an official name used in pledges and such. I include Genre because some Courts have a particular bent (after all, Spring Court can be more erotic or romantic, depending on its members). The date a Court was Founded matters, as well as its general Population; these things often hint at a Court’s power.
Reputation, Virtue, and Vice will influence how others interact with the Court, for good or ill. The Court’s Favored Emotion hints at the kinds of moves courtiers will make to feed, and its Dates in Power tell you when its ruler wears the crown. The current Goal of the Court can reveal what most of its courtiers are being pressured to aim for, whether they like it or not.
The History & Future section deals with major events in the past and what the Court wants in the days to come. The Vital Details section gives the numbers of pledged members, allies with Court Goodwill, and wards under its protection. It also has fields for major sources of income and cover stories that help to keep the Court funded, operational, and hidden in plain sight. Finally, Impression covers its normal disposition to outsiders.
The Duties & Restrictions section covers the various expectations of members; some of these might be included in the Court pledge, while others are reinforced by peer pressure. Duties refer to actions courtiers are expected to perform on behalf of the Court, while Restrictions refer to actions that are forbidden. Generally speaking, the more a Court offers, the more it expects from members in return.
And what is a Court without perks? The Benefits section is arranged in 3 sub-sections. This is because certain services offered to wards, who aren’t even members and haven’t proven themselves to the Court. Wards are people of interest who the Court wants to protect. All of the same benefits offered to wards tend to be offered to goodwill allies, and the Court adds other boons from there. Pledged members can call upon the benefits for wards and goodwill allies, while also gaining access to the Court’s most exclusive (and usually the most generous and risky) offerings.
The Heraldry & Pageantry section notes special ways a Court distinguishes itself from others: symbols, colors, holidays, and entitlements of its members. It’s also the place to record the meeting days for Court members. A Court that meets too often is likely to intrude on the lives of its members and garner resentment. On the flip side, a Court that doesn’t meet enough will have weak ties. Members might hardly know each other, and it’s more likely that major problems will arise while most members are none the wiser.
The Threats section covers Natural Disasters around Court holdings, as well as recent Downturns that affect Court fortunes. The Mantle & Crown Powers section is the place to cover the magical powers that come with Court membership, from the basic level (Mantle) to the highest level (Crown Powers).
Following that are sections dedicated to the Court’s power players. The first part covers the Crown Ruler in quick, specific details. The second part has room for people who fill the secondary roles in the Court. These other positions are just as interesting as the Crown and also help to distinguish the Court from others. I scoured high and low to find as many of these roles as I could because different Courts have different needs and people. All together, the various secondary roles in the Courts comprise the offerings of a freehold.
Last but not least, my worksheets include a section for various locations that are important to - and possibly owned and run by - the Court in question. Hedge entrances and various magical flourishes are accounted for because some Court holdings may link to Hollows in the Hedge.
Various fields in the worksheets have drop-down menus to provide you with lists of quick ideas. These lists can be found in the Data sheet. You can add new entries to the lists or cut out entries you don’t want, but please read this first. If you want to add a whole new list of your own (and set up a new drop-down menu in the worksheet), add your list to a new row at the end of the Data sheet. You can delete entries in a list by right clicking and choosing Delete cell; this shouldn’t affect the drop-down menu at all.
Please note: the Data sheet should not be deleted; if it is, the drop down menus won’t work. Please do not delete the lists that are present within the Data sheet; this will throw off the drop-down menus in the entire workbook.
Each drop-down menu refers to a range of cells in a particular column of the Data sheet. The menus are set up so that if you add a few entries to a list, they’ll show up in the menus. However, if you add many more entries to a list, some of them might not show up in the drop-down menu because its range doesn’t cover the new cells. You can fix this by taking note of how long the list is in the Data sheet and then going to Data validation in the Data menu. In the Criteria box, set the range from the first cell to the last cell you want on the list.
For instance, there’s a drop-down menu for Virtues. The Data sheet has 7 Virtues in the list based on the custom Virtues from my site. If you want to replace them with 7 Virtues you like better, you can do so without a problem. You can even add a few more without causing an issue. Why? Because the drop-down menu is set to cover from D2 to D15. However, if you expand the list or Virtues to 20, the last few won’t show up in the drop-down menu until you fix it. Selecting the menu in the worksheet, I can go to the Data menu from the top bar, then click Data validation. The Criteria box will be filled with this formula: Data!D2:D15. All I have to do is change the range to D2:D21 (not including the first cell, D1, which has the title for the list) and click Save. Then, the drop-down menu should show the list in its entirety.
You can cut and paste fields and menus between different worksheets in the same Google Sheets workbook, but you can’t cut and paste menus between different Google Sheets files, as far as I’m aware. However, you can change the color scheme by selecting an entire sheet, then going to the Format menu, and clicking on Alternating Colors. From there, you can choose default colors, add your own custom colors, or remove alternating colors by clicking the box at the bottom of the panel. If you want, you can add rows before each character’s information and use the Insert menu to insert pictures for them into the cells.
You can make a new copy of the workbook for each city or region, if you wish. If you want to keep all Court details in one place, always keep an extra copy of the blank Court sheet; you can right click on its tab and duplicate it whenever you need a fresh sheet for a new Court.
I hope these sheets help some other busy Storyteller stay organized!