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 is 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 end.
Years ago, I came up with a freehold worksheet that I used for my own games; I shared it here and tried to hone its structure as I went along. Recently, I revamped the entire thing so it covers more ground in an organized way in just a couple of pages. I even came up with a simplified sheet for those who don't want to dig too deep in the first place. I used Google sheets so it can be filled in and shared online quickly and easily (so if you want the entire group to have a hand in creating the freehold, everyone can add their ideas in one place).
All you need to do is click the link above and use the File menu to make your own copy. From there, your copy is yours. You can fill in as much or as little as you'd like, move sections around, remove or replace what doesn't suit you, and more. Just do not delete the Data sheet if you want the drop-down menus to continue working.
Here's a breakdown of what you can expect in the worksheets, as well as additional advice about building a freehold.
The Freehold Basics sheet starts with space to record official names, nicknames, and historic names. The longer a group exists, the more likely it is to have multiple names. Most changelings shy away from fairy-tale references for their freeholds, if only out of superstition. They want to have a shared sense of identity but also need to blend in with normal people. Having a name that draws too much attention can make it difficult to refer to the freehold when surrounded by normal people, which changelings are going to have to do eventually. It's fine if the freehold name sounds like a slightly strange place, event, or social club; such things exist everywhere. But freeholds with names that spook the locals aren't going to stay secret for very long.
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)
Genre refers to the overarching vibe of the freehold. Some will be like high fantasy elven courts while others will be full of intrigue (Drama) or strife (Punk).
It helps to know when the freehold was Founded so you have an idea of how much time it has had to develop and gather secrets, rivalries, and the like. You can tie new freeholds to historic events, either in the mortal world or in local supernatural history.
The Population of changelings in a freehold will depend on a number of factors, including the prevalence of Hedge gateways in the area, social stability, and the volatility of the people involved. But even the best gatherings will see some turnover as members die, move, lie low, or mysteriously disappear. More details and examples can be found in Lords of Summer (and can still apply to second edition games).
Knowing the Virtue and Vice of a group gives a quick guide to its overall tone and reactions. Members whose Virtues and Vices are close to the freehold’s are likely to approve of the its methods and aims; members whose Virtues and Vices oppose the group’s are likely to be on the fringes and uncomfortable with the way things are run. The predominant Virtue and Vice of a freehold might shift radically with the seasons, depending on how tight a rein each Court has when it’s in ascendance.
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 is 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 and Mystery section of the main sheet is the place to jot down Recent Events and the freehold's Desires. Members are likely to gossip about these things and be affected by them (and the more standing a changeling has, the more they will want to handle these matters).
The Vital Details section begins with the types of people who are in and around the freehold: sworn Members, Visitors, and Wards. Only so many changelings will have sworn to the freehold, but changelings from other cities, goblins, or other guests could be in the area. Recent escapees, endangered mortals, and mad changelings may be considered wards and might be housed on freehold property. You only need to jot down the numbers here to get an idea of how populous the freehold is.
The fields for Income Sources and Cover Stories are important to operations. While changelings may not have to scrape for money like others do, they still have to make sure enough funds go into the freehold, or its holdings in the normal world will decay or be taken away. Freeholds may require that each member or motley pay a regular tithe. They might be dedicated to a certain line of business, or use a member's inheritance for freehold matters. It can also help to have a cover story for a freehold, at all or in particular locations. Why does such a diverse group of people come together for a private party once a month at a local nightclub? What is a good, normal reason for the members to know each other and spend time together? Finally, the Impression field gives the general Impression the members make when they're together.
The Duties and Restrictions section is all about Obligations and Forbiddances. A freehold could have a few simple duties for members to perform, like giving a few hours a week in service and coming when called to freehold emergencies. They might have more forbiddances, such as staying away from the True Fae, loyalists, privateers, and non-market goblins. Other freeholds could ask for far more.
In exchange, members will gain the Benefits in that section. Benefits are not the same for everyone; visitors will be offered the least, wards will be offered more, and members will gain the most. Much of the time, members will provide the benefits described, either directly, through pledges, or other means.
The Heraldry and Pageantry section of the worksheet is for the fun distinctive details about a freehold, Symbols and Colors, as well as scheduled Meeting Days and Holidays. A freehold that does not gather often enough will lose touch and fall apart, while some freeholds may schedule a lot more chances for interaction. The longer a freehold exists, the more likely it will be to develop its own holidays, perhaps to freehold founders, elders, or victories.
Threats range from Natural Disasters to Downturns, and there is room on the worksheet for your own notes.
The Courts section is set up to help you quickly outline the Courts that rule the freehold in question. A freehold is in part defined by having Courts that each take a turn leading the freehold during the year. Since second edition encourages Storytellers to create their own Courts, the worksheet is set up to cover the basics for each.
Finally, the first worksheet ends with a section to put details about places that the freehold owns. They could be locations in the real world or the Hedge.
The second worksheet is about Freehold Faces. First, there is a section to outline the Crown Rulers of the various Courts, since they tend to have the most personal power in the freehold. Next, you can sketch out the changelings who have Secondary Roles in the freehold. The Court Crowns are not the only ones who matter; freehold healers, scouts, and ritualists count, too. Finally, there is a section to outline Local Motleys. Which major motleys are present in your freehold? How powerful are they? You won't forget once you note them down.
The Simplified Sheet covers everything in the first two sheets - Basics and Faces - in an abbreviated format.
Once again, the Data sheet is important; it has all the lists that the drop-down menus reference. You can add to the lists if you wish, change entries, or replace them with your own. Be aware that deleting columns will throw off the drop-down menus and deleting the sheet will cause the drop-down menus to stop functioning altogether.