In Changeling: the Lost, a Court is a larger gathering of changelings than a motley but smaller than a freehold. They share a similar philosophy of life after escaping the True Fae and swear a pledge as an added layer of protection against the Others. Each Court has a favored emotion that its members are particularly good at harvesting for Glamour. Courts also grant minor magical boons due to the Mantle each member receives; this Mantle also adds aspects of the Court to the changeling's fae appearance. Members often work together and protect one another. On the larger scale, each freehold has several Courts that take turns holding power and governing freehold members, locations, activities, and so on. By sharing power - something Keepers will never understand - the Courts help to stave off the attentions of the Gentry.
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 other Courts exist, however, especially if you consider all of the ones presented in first and second edition books. On top of that, Storytellers are 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've made three resources for Court creation: a Google workbook and Google Doc to record as many details as you'd like, and a generator file you can use at RPGChartMaker to whip up freeholds with the press of a button. If you use either of these tools, I'd love to hear how they worked for you or any problems you encountered; I'm always open to constructive feedback and happy to fix any errors.
I've chosen key aspects from the Google worksheets and made one random generator .json file that you can load and use at the RPGChartMaker website. It will randomly roll in each category you choose to include and whip up the basics for a Court. This can be a great tool to use when you have to come up with a Court in the middle of a game session. You can use the worksheets to record and organize the info, and fill in other aspects later.
Download the .json file above. Then, visit the RPGChartMaker site and use the Load button to load it. If you just want to generate results quickly and figure it out from there, hit the Roll! button. It's set to make 10 rolls by default, but you can put in another number, if you'd like. If you let the site make multiple rolls at a time, then if you don't like a particular result, you can look at those further down the list.
There are a lot of options at RPGChartmaker that you can use to get the results you want. Here are some of the most helpful:
You don't have to include every list in a roll. If you click the dice icon near the list's name so it's deselected, it won't be used until you select it again.
You can add a whole new list by clicking the Add button at the top.
You can add new entries into a list by typing in the List Entry box and hitting the Add button there. You can even cut and paste entries from a spreadsheet into the List Entry box and add them all at once. From there, if you want to alphabetize entries, hit the A-Z button.
You can change or delete an item in a list by clicking on it (press Enter to put it back in the list, press the minus sign to delete it).
Each list also has a trash can icon in the top right-hand corner; if you don't want to see that list ever again, you can delete it that way.
You can change the fonts and colors by using the palette button. There are several templates available for you to choose from, and you can adjust from there.
If you've made changes to the file and want to save them (and if you want to save the roll results), use the Save button in the top menu.
Here's an example of what the generator looks like
The Google Sheets version has a major benefit: it provides drop-down menus with options you can choose if you get stuck or need to decide on something fast. In fact, the workbook layout is great for quick details. If you want to get more in-depth, check out the Google Docs version. It doesn't have drop-down menus, but it's friendlier to lots of text and easier to search by keyword. Both versions have fields to record the same kinds of information.
The workbook starts with a long sheet (named “Court 1”) that begins with the basics. A long-standing Court 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). Reputation and Specialty represent what the Court is known for, whiile Virtue and Vice influence how the Court as a whole operates, 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 charges 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. Government reflects the style of power it uses and Influence represents how widely its power is felt. 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's a Court without some perks? The Benefits section is arranged in 3 sub-sections. This is because certain services are offered to charges, who aren’t even members and haven’t proven themselves to the Court. Charges are people of interest who the Court wants to protect. All of the same benefits offered to charges tend to be offered to goodwill allies, and the Court adds other boons from there. Pledged members can call upon the benefits for charges 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.
There are two full blank Court sheets and one simplified sheet that only includes the bare basics. In any case, you can choose to fill in as much or as little as you want, whether you're using Sheets or Docs. If you'd like, you can use the random generator first and then record the results you want to keep in one of the Google files.
I hope these tools help some other busy Storyteller to save time and stay organized!
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Thank you, and happy gaming!