Dawn Court is one of the two transitional courts among the changeling. Members of this court consider themselves as the creators of their own destinies and improvement of their future. They thrive on Hope.
Changelings are survivors. During their durances, they have been the playthings of an inhuman godling, endured that which would destroy most humans -- and survived. They have traversed the Hedge, suffered soul-rending injuries and spiritual transformation -- and survived. They have returned to a world that no longer holds a place for them, found themselves denied the comfort of their former friends and families -- and survived. They have built a society of outcasts and refugees, bonding together with a sole common purpose -- to survive at all costs. And yet...
Survival cannot be the be-all and end-all of a group's long-term goals. There must be something more to keep them going. A degree of selflessness, compassion and generosity (or at least enlightened self-interest) is vital to any group's continued health. A group where each individual is solely motivated by their own personal survival quickly degenerates into utter selfish chaos. In such an environment, resources and information are hoarded. Trust is never extended. Others are valued only as tools and resources, expendable in the face of even the smallest potential risk. Only the utterly ruthless survive, and in the end, they too become vulnerable as the rest of the group is thrown to the proverbial or literal wolves at the first signs of danger. By focusing solely on the immediate battle for survival, the long-term war, both for survival and for any hope of betterment, is sacrificed. At some point, individuals and groups who wish to survive long term must be willing to look beyond the immediate, to grasp the big picture, and to work towards a better future. It can be difficult, especially for those who have survived a horrific past, to believe that the future can ever be better than the present. But some Lost believe that it is possible. They have faith that, with effort and sacrifice, the night will not go on forever and bringing about the dawn is a task that rests firmly in their own hands. While the odds seem stacked against them and the road is certainly not an easy one, the Court of Dawn dedicates itself to the ideal that, with hard work -- and sometimes painful sacrifice -- creating a better future is possible.
Within Lost society, as in any group, members make certain compromises and concessions to keep the group viable and strong. Those who are not willing to make such sacrifices either find themselves alone or suffer the wrath of those who see the benefits of a group's protections and are willing to protect and promote the greater good.
Most times, these sacrifices are either so small or come so naturally that they are hardly thought of as sacrifices at all. Pledges to a freehold are made. Protection and companionship are the reward, but restrictions on one's behavior are the price. An outspoken individual holds their tongue (or accepts some punishment for not having done so) to keep the peace with those who share in the freehold's defense. Grudges are settled in acceptable ways, before they degenerate into out-and-out war. Despite the possible reward, an individual member does not sell out the secrets of the reigning monarch at the Goblin Market, and the safety of the entire freehold is preserved. These minutiae are the sacrifices that foster the status quo, that give the Lost a sense of security and protection, and allow them to believe that they are safe, both individually and as a group. They do not, however, foster hope for improvement. At best, sacrifices made to support the status quo can only hope to allow a group to hold its own temporarily against the coming onslaught, with no real potential for betterment.
There are times, however, when a crossroads is reached and the potential for great change exists. When, with decisive action or great effort, going beyond the (often dismal) status quo and achieving a true step forward is possible. Great change rarely comes easily, however. Someone has to be willing to make the effort, break the calm, take the risk, in order for it to be achieved. Whether that means risking public ridicule and distrust by implementing a new form of freehold government, or standing up to lead a suicidally small force against an incoming army of Border Reavers, sometimes the greater good is served only through great individual sacrifice.
While any changeling is capable of rising to that occasion, the members of the Court of Dawn have made it their business to ensure that when those crossroads happen and potential exists for change to be implemented for the greater good, someone is willing to stand up and make the necessary sacrifices to bring about that change. Their certainty that it is not only possible but assured that things will get better for the Lost -- so long as the necessary prices are paid -- fills their courtiers with great optimism. However, their knowledge that those changes cannot be made without equally great sacrifice often balances that optimism with pragmatism and practicality, sometimes even to the point of cold-hearted ruthlessness; all in the name of the greater good, of course.
While the plight of the Lost may seem an endless night of danger, separation and pain, the Court of Dawn believes that, like any night, eventually the torment the Lost endure will end. It is this potential, this hope (and the willingness to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure it comes about) that forms the core of the Court of Salvations.
Just as there are limitless ways for Lost to follow the tenets of Wrath, Sorrow, Fear, or Desire, not all Dawn Courtiers view Hope in the same fashion. Some focus heavily on the idea of the coming dawn, with every action focused entirely on the idea that better times are just around the corner. These individuals rarely become long-term members of the Court, however, as they often eschew the hard work and sacrifice that the majority of the Court recognizes is vital to actually bringing that dream to fruition.
Others focus on the theme of sacrifice. They believe it is their personal mission, their raison d'etre, to surrender themselves in one fashion or another for the greater good. They often have escaped from their durance under improbable or seemingly miraculous circumstances, and hold that their escape was an act of destiny to allow them to survive until such time as they might give their all to help the rest of Lost society. While this faction tends to refer to themselves as Saints, they (and the rest of the Court of Salvations) are often called Martyrs or worse, Victims, by those outside the Court. However they are viewed, Saints have been responsible for turning the tide in many crucial situations in Lost history, carrying out suicidal missions to protect endangered freeholds, or gathering vital items or information to improve other changelings' chances of survival, safety and prosperity. Many have paid harsh prices for their bravery -- bearing the name of traitor from those who do not understand their work, being taken back across the Thorns, or giving their life for those who cannot or will not comprehend the level of self-sacrifice that sometimes is required to instigate great change.
Much of the Court, however, believes in a combination of hard work, careful planning, and painstakingly exact sacrifice to bring about change. Officially, the Court's credo is that it works for change "for the greater good," and certainly for many situations that is true. Like any other people, however, self-interest sometimes creeps in. Any individual member's interpretations of what is "for the greater good" are of course colored by his own interests, viewpoints and philosophies.
Most members of the Auroral Court do not believe in the value of change simply for change's sake, regardless of the cost or potential outcome. That mindset is, however, sometimes represented by sub-factions within the Court, as well as by members or allies of certain extremist Entitlements that view themselves as the rightful agents of change in the world. The main body of the Court tends to eschew connections with these anarchist groups, however. Such rogue elements are as likely to bring about utter chaos with no potential for positive outcome as they are to accomplish any improvement in the lot of the Lost.
Many Dawn Courtiers gather on the Winter Solstice to celebrate a ritual of remembrance for those who have fallen in service to the Court. Those that have been recently lost (killed or taken back across the Hedge) are remembered, as well as great Dawn heroes whose names have become legendary for their sacrifices. This celebration begins as a solemn one. The host lights a single large candle on the morning of the solstice, preferably just as the sun has fully breached the horizon. Throughout the next day and night, as the first mention of any fallen Martyr is brought up, a member of the Court lights a small candle from the central one. By the time evening falls, the entire gathering place is lit by the flames of countless candles, each representing one of the Court who has paid the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to hold back the night and bring the possibility of dawn to the Lost.
Throughout the day, other members of the Bloody Rose gather together, spending the day in quiet conversation. Topics include not only stories of those of the Court who have fallen, but also of current threats and dangers to Lost across the globe, both active and passive. It is not uncommon for decisions to be made throughout the day on which situations need change to be brought about and which should be left for now, as well as what course of action would be best used by the Court to bring about change where it is deemed necessary. The talks and stories continue throughout the longest night of the year, waxing and waning between seriousness, storytelling, merriment and melancholy. As the night gives way to dawn, the gathering begins to break up. At last, only the host is left to extinguish the candles after the sun has once again risen past the horizon.
As with many aspects of the Auroral Court, the symbols Dawn Courtiers choose to represent themselves and their philosophy may often seem to be a study in contradictions to those outside the Court. Some bedeck themselves in brilliant finery, choosing gold and rose colors and eye-catching patterns. They may, like their sister Court of Dusk, favor medieval stylings, although their tastes tend to run to velvets and silks rather than simple wools. Others take the opposite view, eschewing all finery and embracing an utterly austere visage they feel is more in keeping with the Court's theme of sacrifice. They may wear burlap or other rough fabrics, or dress all in rags, with the most severe wearing hair-shirts and other items of clothing specifically designed to be uncomfortable and unpleasant for the wearer. These individuals tend to be of the Martyrs, and their insistence on denial and discomfort
Symbols commonly associated with the Court of Salvations include, of course, sunrises and roses (often either dripping blood or with bloody thorns). Also frequently used, however, are wheels (especially mill wheels or wind mills' turning blades), caterpillars and butterflies or moths, pelicans (especially heraldic representations of them feeding their blood from their own breast to a nest full of young), the Tower card from the tarot, the Greek letter Delta (which resembles an upright equilateral triangle), sickles, chameleons, toads and frogs, lightning bolts and any of the symbols associated with individual historic martyrs. While Dawn does not tie itself to the Scandinavian culture as their sister courtiers often do, it has also adopted several runes as traditional symbols of the Auroral Court. These include Thursaz (also known as Thorn, for its shape), Raidho (representing wheels), and Dagaz (or daybreak).
Contracts of Potential - Entropy is an active force in the world, attempting to break down all aspects of reality. Left unguided and unsupported, all manner of things will deteriorate, whether they be objects falling to decay, politics tangling to disorder or ideals tarnishing into apathy. To combat this force and bring about positive change, active effort must be made. Determining where and when to bring about change is a heavy responsibility, but to ignore it is to concede the Lost existence to destruction, and that is an unacceptable fate to allow.
This is the basis of the Dawn Court’s philosophy, and the bargains they’ve struck with Potential reflect their views. Because Dawn Court believes not all Lost are capable of the insight or responsibility to Lost society that must be possessed to use the Contracts of Potential wisely, Court Goodwill for Dawn is required in order for those outside the Court to purchase the Contracts of Potential. It is their hope that all Lost will eventually come to see the wisdom of the Bloody Rose, and, in doing so, play their own vital role in Lost culture’s future. They are, however, pragmatic enough to know that time has not yet come. Contracts of Potential are non-affinity Contracts for any Lost who is not a part of the Dawn Court.
The Mantle of a Dawn Courtier represents both the wisdom to see where and when change should be made and the strength and self-determination to act, regardless of the cost. Thus Dawn Mantles are sharp and jangling sensory experiences, carrying with them the feeling of alertness and potential action. This may manifest as the smell of ozone in the air, the crisp crackle of electricity, or the feeling of impending change that is found when one season or time of day is about to give way to another. Dawn Mantles can sound like the sharp crack of breaking glass, eggshells, or bones, or the disturbing yet vibrant echo of a newborn's cries. They always carry with them the aura of impending transition, but not of capricious whim or senseless destruction.
The Mantles of many Courts clash when those of differing Courts are near to one another. A strongly Mantled Winter Courtier's icy breeze may push away at a weaker Spring Courtier's gentle gusts, or drop the temperature around a Summer Courtier's wrathful flames. Dawn's Mantles tend to warp those of other Courts when nearby. A Spring Courtier who is normally accompanied by a Mantle of classical music may find her tune changed to something more modern or upbeat, or a member of the Leaden Mirror find that his brightly-colored oak leaves have changed to maple or ash. These changes are always temporary, only existing when the Dawn Courtier is within five feet of another courtier's Mantle, and they only come into effect when the Dawn Courtier's Mantle is equal to or at a higher level to that of those she is near.
A member of the Dawn Court with Mantle 1+ has begun to realize her potential for creating change in others. She receives the benefit of the Inspiring Merit at no cost. If she already has this merit, she can use its benefits twice in any given day (even on the same individuals). A character with Mantle 3+ is fortified when exerting her will to make significant change in the world around her. Once per day, she can focus her efforts and receive a +3 die bonus to any single instant action in a situation on which her efforts are focused, creating significant change. Whether a situation is applicable or not is left up to the Storyteller's discretion. A character with Mantle 5 benefits directly from her efforts to break others out of their stagnation. At any point she successfully spawns a significant change in another individual, her Glamour pool completely refills. "Significant" change is left to the Storyteller's discretion, but might include things like changing a character's long-time views on a certain issue, recruiting someone into changing Courts, talking someone into (or out of) something they've decided their course of action on, etc.
The Transitionists are a little-known subsect even amongst the main body of Dawn Courtiers. They believe the Lost are a supernatural evolution of humanity, with the Gentry acting as an unfortunate but necessary catalyst for the transition. Further, they believe that changelings are just the next rung above humanity on the evolutionary scale, and that further evolutionary "progress" is possible.
Exactly what sort of experience could rival or exceed a changeling's durance and trigger the next stage in Lost evolution is a matter of conjecture amongst the sect. Some believe this secret lies hidden among ancient legends of the lost culture of Atlantis, while others believe that to fully achieve their potential, they must become as powerful as the Gentry while somehow avoiding the Others' utter loss of humanity.
Their views of the True Fae garner the Transitionists enough distrust and hatred that most hide their views from other Lost, communicating with one another only through clandestine Internet sites and mailing lists, or small in-person gatherings held well away from the eyes of other members of the Bloody Rose.
- Swords at Dawn, p. 133-137