While there were, in the past, many natural sites called Glades where faerie magic existed in the world, Banality has eroded them over the centuries. The enchanted forests, sacred groves, and faerie rings are mostly gone, as are the great castles of the sidhe and fortresses of the trolls. They have disappeared into the Mists, hidden even from faerie sight, and the trods that once connected them to Arcadia lie closed by human disbelief. Some few places, though maintain their connections to the Dreaming and their Glamour or can be given such things.
Freeholds exist in the mundane world but, touched by Glamour, have a chimerical reality as well. They have a mundane existence, appearing in the Autumn world as normal houses, storefronts, or highway pubs, and a faerie one, just like the Kithain themselves. They are often warded to protect them from prying mortal eyes; that abandoned warehouse you pass on the way to work everyday may in fact be a thriving faerie tavern with wards that make you ignore it. An Eiluned Sidhe baroness' manse may be an old victorian house with wards that make it seem spooky, making any mortal who comes close want to flee.
Creating a freehold in the mundane world is not a simple matter, though not impossible. One must find a place with a certain amount of natural Glamour. Such locations are rare, and usually discovered only by luck or chance. Indeed, some Kithain spend years searching for one. With the location determined, the would-be creator must light a torch from another freehold's balefire and bear it to the newly established haven. They must light a new fire with this torch, investing a certain amount of their Glamour.
This fire becomes the balefire of the new freehold. The amount of Glamour invested determines the freehold's level (never over 5). The player subtracts the points from the Character's permanent Glamour rating, unless they bought the freehold with the Holding Background during character creation. Sometimes several changelings may hold a freehold, going so far as to use a commoner balefire. (The difficulties to resist Banality are reduced by one for shared freeholds.) Each can withdraw what they initially invested in the freehold. Thus, a changeling who invested three points of Glamour draws from the freehold at a higher level than the changeling who invested on point does.
Role in Society Edit
As in the Medieval feudal society that focused around land, freeholds create the structure of Kithain society. The Glamour rich sites provide the power and influence needed by the nobles and commoners who can claim and hold them. As these sites can have parts that exist in the Dreaming they can also serve as gates to the Near Dreaming.
Many changelings discover freeholds or are granted them, either as part of swearing vassalage to a liege or inheriting them from the fae who fostered them. After acquiring the site he or she must swear an oath to protect and invest Glamour in it. The owner may gain glamour from the site or grant it to whomever they wish. Some kithain steal glamour from such places in a process called Reaving but this harms the site and can even destroy it.
Faerie Homes Edit
While most changelings live in the mundane world, freeholds become the heart of their faerie experience as they consider their local freehold as their true home; the place where they feel most comfortable and where they can be their true selves without attracting ridicule from Banality ridden mortals. A few kithain, most notably nobles, will often reside full-time in freeholds but this constant exposure to the Dream carries with it the danger of Bedlam.
Because of this value, the Fae will be deeply loyal to their freeholds, even to the point of obsession over every detail which can turn disagreements in furnishings into major conflicts. Threatening a freehold is on a level with personal attack and defending a freehold is a sacred trust for every changeling. Without their freeholds, a changeling community will eventually wither like thirsty plants
The greatest concentration of Glamour in any Freehold is the Balefire, or Ignis Vesta. This chimerical flame is the heart of the freehold and the center of all magic in the structure. If it burns out the freehold is lost to Banality. When the sidhe left during the Shattering, they closed their freeholds but left the fires smoldering, waiting their return all through the Interregnum. With the Resurgence, these fires and freeholds reawakened. The source of all Balefire in North America is the great Well of Fire at Tara-Nar; High King David's castle.
Appearance & Structure Edit
The chimerical aspect of a freehold may not have any resemblance to the mundane structure. A Castle may be a dilapidated mansion, an old warehouse, or an abandoned church. A Mew, a commoner freehold, may be exactly what it seems to be: a great workshop in a warehouse, a tavern an abandoned building downtown, or a fantastical bakery behind the storefront. To an extent, the tastes of the highest ranking fae, assumed to be the head of the freehold, determines the appearance of the freehold as the Dreaming recognizes his or her right to the site, enforcing it with Glamour.
Amusingly, the space inside versus the space outside may not be the same. A small starter house may actually open up into a grand foyer and many rooms instead of the three rooms of the physical structure. This is largely determined by the power of the freehold. One with little Glamour will be less capable of such feats than one with legendary power. Of course, this is only possible if the entrance to the freehold is in fact a doorway into the Near Dreaming where anything is possible. If the site exists only in the mundane world it is restricted to the physical space it covers.
Effects on the Local Dreaming Edit
The owner of a freehold has the same effect on the local Dreaming as they do on the freehold itself. The color scheme of the freehold will manifest in the flora and fauna around it. The emotional state of the owner can also manifest as weather and ambience of the area.
Freeholds are protrusions of the Dreaming into the mundane world, but the opposite is also true. Freeholds feed the Dreaming Glamour, but Banality leaks into the Dreamrealms through freeholds, trods, and other such sites. This is not necessarily a bad thing; the mundane world gives the Dreaming form and variety. In its purest form, Glamour is ceaselessly chaotic. Freeholds are, by necessity, more banal than the Dreaming around them.
Most known freeholds are protrusions between the Autumn World and the Near Dreaming. Some may exist between two Dreamrealms, such as the Near and Far Dreaming. These are usually shadows of Earthly freeholds that have migrated (willingly or unwillingly) deeper into the Dreaming. Changelings call a portal between realms in any kind of freehold a Rath.
Ownership of a Freehold Edit
A changeling may acquire a freehold in one of four ways. They may create the freehold, gain it as a gift or inheritance, discover it by chance or as the result of a quest, or they may steal it from another changeling. If the fae discovers or inherits a pre-existing freehold or glade, they must swear an oath to protect it if they wish to stake their claim. The changeling must also invest an amount of temporary Glamour equal to the level of the freehold. If something destroys a changeling's freehold, the owner gains a number of temporary Banality points equal to the level of the freehold. If they created the freehold, they also regain any Glamour they invested.
Changeling tradition holds that once a changeling claims a freehold, no other may claim it until the owner's death... unless they chose to give it away. The full force of the Dreaming backs this law, making "claim jumping" rare. There are exceptions, though.
A noble with a pennon treasure (a count or higher-ranking noble) can use it to take a freehold against a commoner's will, though they must invoke a formal fior to do so. A "neutral" noble, mutually agreed upon by the contestants, chooses and administers the fior. If the commoner refuses the fior, the freehold becomes the legal mystical property of the noble and it responds to only their command. The returning sidhe used this age-old power to take over a number of commoner freeholds, but this practice has slowed considerably since the Treaty of Concord. Nobles who use this power too freely are understandably unpopular among commoners, and occasionally meet nasty ends.
If a changeling becomes Undone by Banality, their freehold's balefire gains a bluish tint and the freehold "dries up" at the rate of one Glamour point per year. If the changeling's Undoing is temporary, the owner may rekindle their freehold by spending a temporary point of Glamour. Another changeling may claim an "abandoned" freehold on the basis that it is better to rescue a freehold than to lose it to Banality. Seelie tradition dictates that the original owner has the truest claim to their freehold, and that a new owner should return the freehold without protest. The original owner typically thanks the freehold's "caretaker" with a small gift for protecting the freehold while they were away. Unseelie tradition holds more to a tradition of ownership by the strong; a changeling who becomes Undone is obviously unfit to maintain a freehold. A returning changeling must often invoke a fior to regain their lost property.
Gaining Glamour Edit
The owner of a freehold may use it to renew their Glamour, though they can also grant this power to another as a favor instead. To obtain Glamour from a freehold, the Kithain must sleep and dream in the balefire's light, or near the secret stone of a glade. Upon awakening, they recover a number of Glamour equal to the amount they initially invested (or the owner invested in the case of a favor to another) Of course, the changeling may never gain Glamour above their permanent Glamour rating. An unscrupulous fae can steal the Glamour through a process called Reaving. Glades function slightly differently; the first person to dream within the glade in a night is the one who gains Glamour. Changelings share glades.
Permanent Cantrips Edit
The owner of a Freehold may cast certain cantrips on the site itself that then become permanent. This is not often done as the personal expense to the fae can be great. The caster must invest a portion of his or her permanent Glamour for every level of cantrip as well have the highest mastery of the Fae Realm (5: Dweomer of Glamour) as well as the appropriate level of the Scene Realm to affect the space.
Fortunately this cost in Glamour may be shared by members of the caster's Oathcircle. Only one of them needs to have the Realms but all must know the Cantrip. This must be a willing sacrifice; the liege may not force his or her vassals, though certain cantrips may be used to coerce the expenditure of Glamour. Nobles and Commoners together often use this type of enchantment to create wondrous setting that defy the imagination.
Types of Freeholds Edit
- Glade: Glades are sylvan glens, typically located deep in a forest. Changeling's favor glades for many of their festivals. Unlike most freeholds, Glades are naturally occurring founts of Glamour. Glades have a sacred stone instead of a balefire as their heart.
- Hearth: A Hearth freehold is a faerie tavern, bar, or coffee house, usually with a back-alley entrance. Many speakeasies from the 1920s are now Hearths. All changelings are welcome as long as they have something to trade. See for example the Toybox Coffee Shop.
- Lodge: Cottages, houses, and mansions, collectively considered lodges, can be freeholds. Lodges are typically the strongholds of nobles, who spend much of their time in residence. (See also Troll Lodges.)
- Manor: A manor is a small faerie glen surrounding a cabin or other building, and is usually located in the wilderness.
- Eyrie: Eyries are high mountain freeholds and are typically the refuges of outcasts. See for example the Cloudland Freehold.
- Grotto: Grottos are often overgrown sylvan glades or abandoned mines. Sluagh and nockers often gather in such out-of-the-way freeholds, though others use then as well. See for example the Freehold of the Mammoth.
- Faerie Ring: A Faerie Ring is a very small glen found deep in the forest. These naturally occurring freeholds grow increasingly rare as the wild places of the world dwindle.
- Isle: These enchanted islands are rarely on maps or sullied by mortal feet. Isles are private refuges, and are among the most prized freeholds.
- Thorpe: A thorpe is a faerie town. They are rare these days. One of the most famous is a mining ghost town known as Mother Lode, located somewhere in Nevada, while Ireland boasts the village of Glenlea. See also Dudley Town.
- Urban: Only the hardiest Kithain dare to live in the World of Darkness' choking urban sprawls. Banality is at its highest here, and untainted Glamour is scarce. These freeholds are on the edge of the coming Winter.
- Market: Faerie Markets are places, often freeholds, where changelings come to buy, sell, and trade strange treasures from a thousand realms. These places often share space with human markets covertly, though she may exist wholly in the Dreaming. A human may purchase a piece of faerie craft "Accidentally" on occasion. Such transactions may be lucky or disastrous for the unwary human. See also the Fulton Fish Market.
- Lost One Freehold: Most sidhe left Earth for Arcadia with the Shattering and stayed away for over 600 years. Some, called Lost Ones, stayed behind, however, immersing themselves in their freeholds. These freeholds are rich in Glamour, but dangerous because of their Bedlam-inspiring qualities.
- Homestead: Homesteads are freeholds that are wholly in the Dreaming, yet without access to a Rath. They do not have the dual nature of most freeholds; their prime virtue is stability. The Kithain build homesteads to withstand the rigors of the Dreaming. Homesteaders are few but fiercely independent. Some changelings from every kith set up homesteads (even small villages) in the Near Dreaming. There is currently some tension between long-term homesteaders and changelings who entered the Dreaming after the Resurgence.
- Nunnehi Freeholds: Nunnehi freeholds are inherently different from any other kind, and are misunderstood by European fae. Severed from the Higher Hunting Grounds (their aspect of the Dreaming), Nunnehi freeholds may nevertheless have access to the "Upper" and "Lower" Worlds. They share many characteristics of Werewolf caerns and mage nodes; some Nunnehi and themselves in conflict with Garou or mages who covet their freeholds for their spiritual energies. Nunnehi freeholds vary widely in appearance and conform to the cultural conventions of the local tribe.
All Freeholds are aspected to one of the Realms: for example, Actor if the place is pub in the downtown.