Fosterage is practice where a new, young member of one of various supernatural races of the World of Darkness enters under the guidance of an older, more experienced member to learn about their new life.
While all of the supernatural races of the World of Darkness have some sort of period where a new member learns what it means to be a part of their new life, some groups specifically use the term Fosterage or Fostering to describe the process. Traditionally, and in cultures across the world, fosterage is a process by which a family or person not related to a child is given care of the child to teach them what it means to be part of a culture or to learn a trade. It is often a political act for tying clans, tribes, or families together in mutual trust or, in darker times, a form of control of underlings or untrusted allies by holding their children under the threat of violence or training them to be culturally tied to them over their family of origin. The practice and term are particularly associated with the British Isles and Northwestern Europe.
The Fae Edit
Kithain EditAfter a new Kithain undergoes his or her Chrysalis and Dream Dance, and realizes their new place in the world, they need to find someone to show them the ropes. Fortunately, the explosion of Glamour from the Chrysalis alerts nearby changelings who will collect them and bring them to the nearest freehold to be taught the ways of the Fae. Usually they are given a mentor who "adopts" them. The new Faerie's mortal family could never understand what's happened and so the Mentor and his or her motley becomes a sort of second family to the Fledge. To protect the new changeling, both parties, mentor and mentee, swear an Oath of Fosterage. This is usually the first experience of the power of the Oathbond for the newbie.
The Mentor is usually a Grump but may be a Wilder and is assigned by the ruler of the Freehold which first sheltered the fledge. If the new fae is a member of the nobility then the local Lord or Lady decides who the fosterling's mentor will be. While the practice exists to aid the newcomer, politics can often interfere when deciding who receives the 'honor' of being named protector. There are unfortunate tales of guardians saddled with fledges as a form of power-play or humility lesson on the new guardian. On the other hand, a lord could gift a promising young fledge to a guardian as a means of expressing favor. In such cases, the fledge-guardian relationship is often not a good one. Resentment can build between two parties if a hidden agenda forced them together. How do you think it would feel, for example, to be forced to be a mentor? What goes on in a fledge's mind when he finds out that his guardian was handed him as a form of punishment? I've also seen fledges act spoiled as tomatoes if they find out that they were a "gift" bestowed upon the guardian: "You better treat me nicely, or I'll tell the whole court how you mistreat your prize fledge." Commoner fledges often do not play this type of game, because most do not have the power. A fledge is given to a guardian, the guardian teaches the fledge the basics of survival; end of story. Ideally the mentor should be of the same kith but this is not always possible or desirable.
In the past, nobles used to name guardians for both commoner and noble fledges. This is no longer the case. A Commoner motley will rarely want to turn over a new changeling to the local Lord or Lady and will often foster them instead. In this case the Guardian is the most influential member of the group or the one best suited to the fosterling. Fosterage among commoners lacks the hierarchical taste of the nobles and the guardian tends to act more like a big brother or sister than a parent.
Wards don't usually end up as carbon copies of their mentor. A staunch Seelie could end up with an Unseelie protege; the traditionalist with a rebel, especially as creatures as dynamic as the fae can be rebellious. However it happens, the bond is usually strong between the two unless the relationship is abused. Guardians often make their wards their heirs as well to ensure continuity between generations.
This period traditionally last a year and a day and is divided into two periods of Warding and Watching. During the time of Warding, the Guardian is responsible for the newcomer and takes responsibility for any transgressions. The time of Watching involves relaxed supervision as the new Changeling learns now from experience. The period of Fosterage usually ends with the Saining (naming) of the Kithain.
A Note On Grumps Edit
Changelings who undergo the Chrysalis later in life (as a Grump) are usually treated as guests of the freehold or motley and respect is given to their years of experience even as they are taught their new place in life. While some new Grumps feel relief on learning their true nature others who have their whole world turned upside down often need a subtler hand.
An Awakening Inanimae sends out ripples of Glamour similar to the Chrysalis but they are much more subtle than the fountain accompanying one of the Kithain. Other Inanimae recognize them easily but the Kithain must have strong kenning to pick it up and probably won't understand what they are feeling if they do sense it.
If an Inanimae is fortunate enough to be found shortly after their Awakening, they will be taken as a fosterling. The Slow Empires have fosterage compacts that assure that an Inanimae of any Phylum who reawakens, whether of the Glade or Kroft, will be cared for. The Solimonds are an exception and must make their own way to a Solimond mentor, though most of the Empires will point them in the way to get them cared for a quickly as possible.
Once the fae is taken into fosterage, the first step is to form a Husk or Façade. Learning to form a mortal seeming helps them to fit into their surroundings. A teacher makes sure the Husk is passable in human society before allowing his or her charge into the world as an obviously supernatural façade will bring Banality crashing down on the Inanimae.
While the teacher helps the ward to cope with the world, the fosterlings own memories and senses reassert themselves. The first to come are memories of the Shattering and then slowly the events leading up to the Inanimae's Slumber. Occasionally the ward may remember a reason to hate the mentor but it is considered bad form to kill one's teacher during fostering. Memories will return without the aid of a mentor but come more quickly with aid.
Before the end of the fostering the guardian may offer to introduce the fledgling to the local court. Then, with survival skills learned, the fosterling is left to fend for themselves. Those who never find a teacher never manage to create a decent Husk and usually drop back into Slumber within days. However, even an orphan Inanimae, through hit or miss, will eventually learn enough to stay active though possibly with skewed perceptions of the world and the Dreaming. The remembering process always brings with it the Inanimae's true name so no Saining is done.
Inanimae found and fostered by the other fae of the world often face problems such as mistaking what they are and losing part of their heritage. It is possible for them to forget their Anchors and quickly become undone as they loose their attachment to their own Glamour.
The Changing Breeds Edit
One could argue that discovering you're one of the Changers is the most traumatic welcome into the supernatural world of all and all breeds require special aid to fit in. The Fianna and Bastet particularly use the term Fostering.
Being from the British Isles particularly, the Fianna have a long history of fostering. At one point in their history a new cub was born in one Sept was sent to another Caern to learn tribal culture. They are trying to reinstate this practice with a little success but with so few Garou and so few traditional cultures, a cub with no knowledge of at all of their history is usually just fostered in the nearest caern. Usually coming to terms with being a werewolf is struggle enough without having to be shipped all over the world.
The fostering usually takes a few months of adjustment and training. The cub is kept isolated from the modern world because the Fianna believe the Wyrm throws enough temptations at them to distract them as is during the difficult time.
The young Fiann is assigned to a mentor of his or her auspice who then works with Garou of all auspices to put the cub through a rigorous training schedule that gets them used to all aspects of their new life. During this time they must learn the 12 great tribal sagas and be prepared to recite. (Galliards obviously have to do it better.) They also have to craft an item of great value in the eyes of the Council of Song; an item which will ultimately be sacrificed to the Caern Totem. In the modern world most young Fianna also have to be taught to respect their Kin and family, a virtue most Fianna think is lacking in the world. Success earns the cub the right to do their Rite of Passage.
Oh... and during the fostering the cub is not allowed to drink alcohol or have sex. This is often the extra incentive it takes to get them through the fostering.
Most of the other tribes have a similar process as they all shared information in the past.
Fostering for the Bastet is a little less structured, as they are a solitary bunch. During this "apprenticeship" an older cat of the same tribe takes a new-changed kit and teaches them the ropes. This teacher, called the Kuasha, is more of a mother cat teaching the young one the secrets of hunting and play than a learned mentor, though some of the tribes (Like the Bubasti) may be exactly that. At the end of a 12 month period, if they have proven themselves worthy, the kit is told the tribal Yava (the highest act of trust) and released on their on recognizance. The Kuasha melts away like the mist they are named for and, though the 2 may cross paths again, it will never be a mentor/student relationship again. The Tekhmet (Rank 1 Bastet) is left to her own problems and prizes.