A freehold is a gathering of local changelings who agree to ensure each other's safety and counteract the influence of the True Fae in the mortal world. It's a safe haven for escapees, a social crossroads, and a larger stage for the Courts in the area. It also serves as the meeting place between the fae world and everyday life, where changelings can be themselves amongst their own kind.
While smaller freeholds are more easily hidden and protected, larger freeholds have more to offer, from magical services to mundane benefits like a place to stay. And although an area might only have enough changelings to make up one freehold, a larger metropolitan region could have several vying for resources, territory, and respect. Whether they like it or not, changelings need each other and most will eventually end up requiring a freehold’s aid.
Coming up with a nuanced organization of changelings isn’t necessarily a simple task, however. The core books provide basic details about freeholds, Lords of Summer went further in-depth for first edition, and Oak, Ash and Thorn put the basics in the players' hands in second edition, with only a few key concerns to cover. If you want a more detailed freehold, it can be difficult to know where to begin, what to include, and where to stop.
I can now offer three resources I've made for Freehold 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 cover the basics of a freehold. This can be a great tool to use when you have to come up with a freehold 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 Freehold Basics section starts with names. A long-standing freehold can have a historic name, nickname, and/or an official name used in pledges and such. Here are some examples of freehold name sources which can reflect a lot about a freehold you create:
Named after founders or local heroes (Arlene's Gather, first edition)
Named after an activity the founders favored (Fair Coin, second edition)
Named after a main focus of the freehold (see above)
Named after symbols or objects important to the freehold (Shield of Rust, first edition)
Named after places of origin (The Hollywood, first edition)
Named after an historic period (perhaps when it was founded)
Named after city nicknames, street names, neighborhoods, geographical features, or area codes (The River Refuge, second edition)
Named after historic buildings (The Inverted Pyramid)
Named after features of predominant Seeming (The Hundred Claws)
Named with descriptors (colors, directions, feelings) (Crimson, first edition)
Named with archaic terms or in dead languages (Galimaufry)
For on-the-spot or quick freehold names, consider adding the following together:
description (colors, directions, new/old, substances, temperament) + thing (The Iron Lake)
action + thing (The Roaming Rule)
thing + thing (The Shield of Rust)
I include Genre because freeholds can vary widely, depending on the types of changelings and Courts within it. Reputation and Specialty represent what the freehold is known for by Courtless fae and other freeholds, while Virtue and Vice influence how it operates as a whole. Knowing when a freehold was Founded can help get an idea of how long it's had to develop or break down. That date is also likely to be a holiday.
Here are some examples of how Vices can affect (and be reflected by) freeholds:
Freeholds rooted in Avarice might sabotage, attack, or plunder nearby freeholds, neighbors, or other rivals who have what the freehold craves. Unscrupulous members can use dreams, pledges, and Hedge gateways to harm targets before they even know what's going on.
Carnal freeholds may do a steady business in catering to the physical desires of mortals, with some services only available to changelings. They might hold parties that devolve into pits of intoxication that leave the freehold or its allies open to attack.
Freeholds that embody Corruption might have compromised local officials, forcing them to do nothing about crime (which could be the freehold's business). This is likely to be to the detriment of any neighborhood where the freehold keeps its holdings.
Freeholds given to Despair might turn inward, hunkering down in hidden bunkers, playing video games and eaten hoarded food because its members don't believe they can really improve the world. Others may abandon allies out of self-loathing.
A Slothly freehold could rely on a vast network of mortal agents for most of its needs, enjoying newly reclaimed lives and worrying about little else. However, their mortal servants might rebel out of sheer resentment, or the freehold could be unprepared to handle supernatural threats that arise.
Vain assemblies have a way of biting off more than they can chew. Perhaps they threaten the police, or take the juiciest tract of real estate beside the best local trod and ignore how bad the repercussions could be from the goblins who used to live there. Either way, they won’t see the payback coming.
Wrathful freeholds may strike out at targets even when they should be conserving their strength, or when they risk drawing the attention of every cop for miles, putting everyone in danger. Others spend their anger on each other and forget about the greater costs.
The History & Future section deals with major events in the past and what the freehold wants in the days to come. The Vital Details section gives the numbers of pledged members, visitors, and charges under its protection. It also has fields for major sources of income and cover stories that help reinforce the freehold's stability and secrecy. Government reflects the style of power it uses (apart from the governing styles within the different Courts) 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 freehold pledge, while others are reinforced by peer pressure. Duties refer to actions courtiers are expected to perform on behalf of the freehold, while Restrictions refer to actions that are forbidden. Generally speaking, the more a freehold offers, the more it demands from members in return. The Benefits section is divided up for visitors, charges, and members. Those who aren't pledged to the freehold aren't likely to get as many perks or the greater ones that are available to members.
The Heraldry & Pageantry section notes the freehold's symbols, colors, holidays, and common entitlements. It’s also the place to record the meeting days for freehold members. In some areas, freeholds call meetings or have events often, while in other cities, Courts meet far more often than the freeholds they're part of. Keep in mind that changelings are paranoid for good reason and probably won't want to big gatherings too often.
The Threats section covers Natural Disasters and Downturns that affect freehold holdings. It's followed by the Courts section, which briefly outlines the Courts within the freehold. If you want help with creating or organizing Courts, click here. Last but not least, the Basics worksheet includes a section for various locations that are important to - and possibly owned and run by - the freehold in question.
Following that is a section for characters called Freehold Faces. This sheet starts with details about the crown rulers of the Courts. Then, there's space for the changelings who have secondary roles in the freehold due to services they provide. This can help to add new layers to your freehold and give characters special jobs and influence in local changeling politics. Not every freehold will have an archivist or space for a library, but many will have scouts.
The workbook contains a Simplified Sheet that covers only the bare bones about a freehold in a quick and easy format. 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.
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Thank you, and happy gaming!