As the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the city is the 44th most populated in the United States, with a population of 417,650, it is the principal, central, and most populous city of the Miami metropolitan area, and the most populous metropolis in the Southeastern United States after Washington, D.C. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami's metro area is the eighth most populous and fourth-largest urban area in the United States, with a population of around 5.5 million.
Decadent, sun-drenched Miami, the Gateway to the Americas, is a city that epitomizes both the beauty and the darkness at the core of Changeling. From the neon-bedecked skyscrapers of downtown to the art deco finery of South Beach and its endless nightclubs, Miami is one of the most beautiful cities in North America. And yet all that bright color hides a heart as dark and fetid as any city in the World of Darkness. Drugs flow in from South America, and the authorities are powerless to stop them. Poverty and crime are at obscene levels, and in the weird candy-colored light of the neon, things alien and antithetical to humankind lurk. In the nearby Everglades, paths twist and wind between the mangroves, folding in on themselves and trapping the unwary in a swampy Hedge inhabited by ancient, crocodilian nightmares.
The Freehold of Miami in Changeling: the Lost is described a city on the brink of war. The Summer Court holds control of the freehold and refuses to relinquish it, and the other Courts grow more dissatisfied every day. The True Fae have been reported skulking at the edges of the city, looking for an opening to descend and drag their wayward servants home. Even within the Courts themselves, schisms and power struggles set camp against camp as influential courtiers seek to gather as much power as they can to themselves, even as they undermine any chance of throwing down the tyranny of the King of Endless Summer.
The theme that predominates in Miami, then, is one of conflict. The Trident is a prime example of a freehold that does notwork as a freehold should; the cycle of the seasons is broken, and that failure is tearing the structure of changeling society apart. Neutrality is all but impossible, if only because there are so many factions at work; everyone must take a side, or the rumor mill will choose one for them. Rivalries can spring up at a drop of the hat, and the schisms within the freehold can turn old allies into enemies without warning.
Going along with the theme of conflict, the mood of Miami is one of a gathering storm. The freehold is poised on the brink of a precipice, and unless someone steps up and does something about it, there’s going to be one hell of a fall, with the likely end result of a civil war between the Courts or a full-scale invasion by the True Fae — or possibly even both.
Climate - Miami has a humid, subtropical climate, verging on a true tropical clime. Although technically the city has only recorded triple-digit temperatures once in its history (July 21, 1942), the humidity often pushes the heat index up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The city does experience cold fronts from November through March, and even recorded snowfall once in 1977. Rain is abundant, with roughly six feet per year. Miami is statistically the most likely of any major city to be hit by a hurricane.
Economy - Despite Miami’s reputation as a city dependent on tourism, the city is a major financial center, and a prime location for international commerce. Many corporations who do business in Latin America have regional headquarters in Miami, and the city’s airport and seaport are among the busiest in the country. Despite this, poverty is a very real problem in Miami, with almost 30% of the population below the poverty line.
Government - Miami is governed by an elected mayor and a council of five city commissioners representing the city’s five districts.
Population - The population is just over 350,000 in Miami proper, with 2.3 million in the larger urban area. The majority of the population is Hispanic, and Miami has the largest percentage of individuals who speak a language other than English at home. English, Spanish and Haitian Creole are the city’s official languages.
Media and Culture - The Miami Herald is the city’s primary English-language newspaper, with El Nuevo Herald and Diario Las Americas serving the Spanish-speaking population. The city has several professional sports teams, including the Miami Dolphins (football), the Miami Heat (basketball), the Florida Panthers (Hockey) and the Florida Marlins (baseball)
Little is known of the history of the Miami region before Juan Ponce de León arrived in 1533. Some 10,000 years ago, a tribe of Native Americans built several villages on the banks of the Miami River, but those peoples left behind only a scattering of tools and weapons made from shells. By the time the Spanish arrived, the area was inhabited by the Tequesta peoples.
The Miami region was largely ignored throughout the Spanish colonial period. From the mid-16th century to the early 18th century, several attempts were made to establish missions in the area, but they never took hold. What did take hold was smallpox and a host of other European diseases brought by the explorers, which largely decimated the Tequesta people. By the time Spain ceded Florida to Britain, the Tequesta were all either dead or relocated to Cuba.
The early 20th century was a time of tremendous prosperity and growth for Miami. By 1900, the population sat at around 1,600 souls. By 1910 that number jumped to 5,400, and by 1920 the population had skyrocketed to almost 30,000 and showed no immediate sign of stopping. In September 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane made landfall. The inhabitants of Miami, largely thanks to extremely short warning and the immigrant population’s lack of familiarity with the power of such a storm, made few preparations and, by and large, did not evacuate. In total, the storm inflicted $100 million in damages (an astronomical sum in 1926). The official death toll is recorded at 373, but the precise number may never be known, as many victims were simply reported missing and never recovered.
During World War II, Miami became a major training center for U.S. troops, with a half a million enlisted men and 50,000 officers going through training in Miami. After the war, many of those troops returned to the city, providing a population and economic boom. After the Great War, a soldier returned to the city, calling himself Tom Hood, the “Headsman’s Ghost.” In France, he was initiated into the Autumn Court and brought the idea with him when he returned home to Miami. Tom contacted two of the most personally powerful changelings he could find in Miami: Grandfather Thunder and Rose Thorne, who, to Tom, exemplified the ideals of the Summer and Spring Courts, respectively. A changeling to represent Winter could not be located, and many modern changelings of the Silent Arrow consider this snub to be the principal reason their Court remains low in prominence.
Tom, Thunder and Rose met in Miami Beach one moonlit night, and Tom outlined his plan to create a freehold of Miami. He offered the other two access to ancient books he had brought with him from Paris, books that described the philosophies and the mystical theories behind the changeling Courts. In return, Tom himself was guaranteed a place of prominence in the freehold, regardless of the season and current ruler. Thunder and Rose agreed, and at midnight on September 23, 1946, the first pledges of the Trident, the freehold of Miami were sworn.
As time went by and Miami became the principal point of entry into the United States for South American cocaine, Jeremiah Sleet and his Winter Court established themselves as major players in the drug trade, feeding off the sorrow it generated. Keeping pace with their rivals, changelings of the Summer Court rode (and at least partially influenced) the violent crime wave that came along with the influx of drugs and money. Meanwhile, the Spring Court increased its hold on the city’s pleasure districts and rode the high that came with Miami’s increasing reputation as America’s decadent tropical paradise. Tom Hood kept his own counsel, as he always had, but even the Leaden Mirror was flush with Glamour as the mortals grew to fear the encroachment of drug addiction, the criminals running rampant and even the immigrants taking their jobs.
On June 21, 1999, at the height of Grandfather Thunder’s reign, the King of Endless Summer announced that, by virtue of its climate and the general essence of the city’s character, Miami would henceforth be known as the City of Endless Summer and that the seasonal governance of the Courts was dissolved. He would still allow the other Courts to hold their current territories, and even to recruit new members, so long as all changelings swore an oath acknowledging the primacy of the Summer Court.
Had Tom and Rose combined their forces to deal with Thunder, the whole affair might have been nothing more than a footnote in the freehold’s history. As it was, the Antler Crown and Leaden Mirror each made their own play, and were soundly defeated by the knights of the Summer Court. In the shadows and the half-light of neon and street lamps, an invisible war was carried out, masked by gang violence and swept under the rug by a jaded, overworked police force. It is difficult to say which Court got the worse end of the battle. Tom Hood was killed by Grandfather Thunder’s chief enforcer, Deathless Ivan, and the forces of Spring were utterly routed and driven out of the city by the Iron Spear.
Rose Thorne and her closest advisers have regrouped in the Everglades, but their numbers are severely diminished. Recently, a semi-independent Spring Court has returned to Miami Beach. Derisively called “Vichy Spring” by Rose’s loyalists, this branch of the Court is led by Maria Thorne, Rose’s “daughter.” The Autumn Court, meanwhile, has withdrawn to its holdings in and around the University of Miami in an attempt to deal with their grief at the loss of the father of the freehold of Miami. In 2003, the Autumn Court finally chose a new leader in one of Tom Hood’s protégés, the Autumn Queen Naamah.
The Winter Court has stayed out of the struggle so far and, despite repeated entreaties from the Spring Court’s envoys, shows no sign of changing that in the future. Many changelings feel that Jeremiah Sleet is drunk on his own sorrow, and that nearly a quarter century of nurturing the drug trade like a gardener nurtures his plants has utterly consumed the man’s soul.
The following section provides a brief overview of several of the five most prominent districts in the city of Miami. Obviously, this section can only scratch the surface of a city as diverse and fascinating as Miami.
Downtown Miami is renowned for its unique skyline, with many of the buildings decked out in brilliant greens, pinks and orange neons that sometimes make the city look more like Las Vegas in Florida. Urban folklore holds that angels eat the light from those neon-lit buildings; whether or not angels find it palatable is open to debate, but changelings, at least, can gain a point of Glamour once per night by plucking a shard of neon light from the air and eating it.
Some members of the Spring Court prefer the downtown scene, and changelings of all Courts who fancy themselves more cultured take in attractions such as the Bayfront Park Market and outdoor shows at the AT&T Amphitheater. The Summer Court, unsurprisingly, attends athletic competitions regularly at the arena.
Of more interest to most changelings, though, is the Court of the King of Endless Summer located in the abandoned Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Boulevard. This 255-foot skyscraper was used as a processing center to document and provide medical and dental care to Cuban refugees in the 1960s and ’70s. The upper floors of the building contain a Hollow; if one makes three right turns through three doorways on the top floor, one enters a space reminiscent of the building’s cupola, only considerably larger and decorated in the rich livery of the Summer Court. Thunder’s Courts are typically held in the early afternoon, with the sun at its peak and the city at its hottest. On his fiery throne, he hears grievances, settles disputes and addresses problems within the freehold. Lately, and distressingly, this has focused more on responding to alleged sightings of the Others and the disappearance of more than a few changelings.
In recent months, a peculiar story has begun circulating among the children of Coconut Grove; specifically among students at St. Stephen’s School, a private school for children up to sixth grade. The story came to the attention of a scholar of the Autumn Court while researching the childhood concept of fear, and she spread it to the rest of the Court of Fear, from whence it spread throughout the city.
The story goes that if a child is left unattended on school grounds and admonished to behave (specifically, to notengage in a specific behavior or activity) while the adults are away, a terrible fiend called the Great Tall Tailor-Man will burst through the nearest door and horribly mutilate the misbehaving child. Often, the punishment is said to relate to the mandate the child broke: a child who peeps in a filing cabinet after being told not to look around has his eyes sewn shut, a child who sucks her thumb against the teacher’s authority has the digit snipped off and so on. Sometimes, the stories say, the Tailor carries the naughty child away to some unknown and grim fate.
Called the “City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is an independent city often lumped in with Miami due to the presence of the University of Miami. Coral Gables is very much a college town. The Autumn Court is thick on the ground here, with quite a few of its members either enrolled or ensconced in staff positions (mostly security, janitorial and similar menial jobs, but at least one Darkling has tenure in the psychology department), and they vigorously defend their “turf” against encroachment. Naamah, the Autumn Queen, holds court on every gibbous moon in the John C. Gifford Arboretum on campus, and several of the younger courtiers are known for putting on a very impressive (and exclusive) Halloween party, complete with “haunted” house (which actually winds into the Hedge in one or two instances, if the stories are to be believed).
Thanks to the efforts of several prominent citizens, Little Haiti is gradually experiencing an urban rejuvenation, including the evelopment of the trendy Miami Design District in the southern tip of the district, but crime and poverty still remain very real problems. The Winter Court, in particular, has worked against the renewal process, as Little Haiti is one of the Court’s pre-eminent markets in the drug trade.
Recently, the neighborhood has been the site of several violent vigilante attacks on drug dealers; at least three have been beaten to death and dumped at the feet of the statue of General Toussaint L’Ouverture on the corner of 62nd Street and Miami Avenue. One of the victims was an ensorcelled ally of the Winter Court, and several members of the Silent Arrow suspect the Summer Court’s involvement.
This neighborhood is best known for its annual Calle Ocho Street Festival, a part of Carnival. The massive celebration takes place on 8th Street (hence the name “Calle Ocho”) between 27th Avenue and 4th Avenue and attracts more than one million visitors each year, including a sizable portion of the city’s changeling population. Calle Ocho has been a tradition among all the Courts, but especially the Antler Crown, for 15 years, and is generally treated as an excuse to cut loose and enjoy the wild side of life.
Maria Thorne and her faction hold the deeds to three clubs in South Beach: one on Ocean Drive and two more on Washington Street. Currently, they are called Kim’s, the Condor and Born, though they may well change at a moment’s notice. Vichy Spring claims no actual territory, though, and South Beach is a common haunt for changelings of all Courts. The clubs are popular places to get a Glamour-buzz, negotiate backroom deals or just hook up and get laid (mortals don’t have a monopoly on drunken debauchery, after all).
Overtown is a bastion of the more aggressive members of the Summer Court, and at least a few of the street gangs in the neighborhood are either led by or composed entirely of Iron Spear soldiers. The close proximity to downtown means easy access to the Court in the Freedom Tower as well.
Liberty City fares little better than the neighborhood it was founded to help (Overtown). An extremely poor neighborhood, Liberty City has a high index of violent crime and gang activity; in 1998, a drug war between rival factions of the John Does street gang served as a smokescreen for a skirmish between the Winter and Summer Courts, with the Silent Arrow retaking a sizable chunk of the territory the Court had lost in the riots 18 years earlier.
The Hedge around Miami takes on a semblance of the Everglades that once covered the area: dense, swampy paths wind through impossibly tangled mangroves, and sawgrass lashes thirstily at anyone foolish enough to leave the path. Closer to the mortal world, the detritus of the city bleeds through: used needles, spent shell casings and other relics of the sordid side of life litter the Hedge.
In some places, the “path” is not a path at all, but a waterway navigable by barge or raft. Several changelings have reported encountering strange, Charon-like beings poling roughly made barges along these watery trods, witch-lanterns glowing on the ends of their poles. Supposedly, these boatmen will ferry a changeling through the Hedge for a pledge of Glamour or a small token.
The Goblin MarketEdit
Every Saturday from the witching hour till dawn, the Bayside Marketplace becomes a haven for nightmares. Goblin barges, poled by strange creatures from the depths of the Hedge, dock along the deserted quays to hawk their wares. Most weeks, the Market is fairly small and consists mainly of a dozen or so barges and boats tied up along the pier. Every new moon night, though, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of goblin watercraft converge on the bay, lay anchor and run gangplanks from dock to dock. In this floating warren of mazelike walkways, an innumerable bounty of goblin fruits, tokens and dreamscapes are bought and sold, alongside wares even stranger and more surreal.
Despite being tied so intimately to an earthly locale, the Goblin Market actually takes place in the Hedge, albeit very close to the mortal realm. On the smaller market nights, each barge sets up a simple, empty doorframe on the dock; patrons walk the pier in the mortal realm and step into the Hedge at each market stall to inspect the wares. On the nights of the grander market, those who know the key can enter the Hedge by passing under an archway near the water while holding a finger bent like a shepherd’s crook over the heart.
These larger markets are a dizzying affair to navigate. One urban legend among changelings holds that part of the Goblin Market’s Contract is that the Others may take any unfortunate who gets lost amid the shifting mass of decks, planks and rope bridges. Prudent changelings hire an experienced guide, or just avoid the Market altogether on those nights — just in case.
The Miami CircleEdit
The Miami Circle is believed to have been created by the Tequesta approximately 1,900 years ago. Popular archaeology states that the holes were likely post-holes for the supports of a large building, either communal housing or a ceremonial lodge of some sort. Naturally, the changelings have other theories, and many link the Miami Circle to the theory that the Tequesta people worshiped or at least made offerings to the Others and claim that the circle was a gateway to Faerie itself. Others claim that it was not built as a gate at all, but as a prison, and that an ancient and powerful lord of the Fae lies entombed within the limestone bedrock.
Changelings coming into Miami from the Florida Keys have reported seeing ethereal apparitions of Native American villages alongside desolate stretches of the Overseas Highway. Courageous travelers who exited their vehicles and attempted to interact with the ghostly inhabitants of the phantom village claim that the spirits do not react to the presence of earthly beings save to mutter that the Grandfathers of the Glade will soon grow displeased with the lack of offerings given to them. Invariably, the specter and the entire village vanish after imparting this warning.
A new drug has been hitting the streets in recent weeks. Known by the street names “fairy dust”, “Tinkerbell” or just “D,” the dealers say it’s like combining the best of acid and Ecstasy in one hit; you’ll see things both wonderful and terrible, and it’ll open your mind to things you’ve never thought possible.
At least, that’s the sales pitch. Rumor has it that the Winter Court created the stuff out of goblin fruits and strange psychedelic mushrooms found in the Hedge, and the drug opens your eyes to the wonders of Faerie. The downside, of course, is that when you can see the Others, the Others can see you.
The Miami metropolitan area is home to approximately 100 Changelings. The following characters are among the most prominent: Court leaders, up-and-coming players and just those who have gained a reputation:
- Rose Thorne
- Maria Thorne
- Grandfather Thunder
- Deathless Ivan
- Jeremiah Sleet
- Brer Spider
- Tom Hood (deceased)
- La Llorona (deceased)
The Spring CourtEdit
The Spring Court is on the verge of self-destruction in Miami. Completely exiled from the city until quite recently, the Antler Crown has at last reestablished its presence in the city. Maria Thorne’s “Vichy Spring” has regained a portion of the Court’s former holdings in Miami Beach, but the majority of the Spring Court remains in hiding outside the city. Rose Thorne herself has gone completely underground, fearing that the King of Endless Summer will have her killed should she surface publicly. Her exact whereabouts remain unknown: along with three of her fiercest and most loyal knights, she operates out of the Everglades, relaying messages to her Court by courier.
A small, ragtag band of Spring Court changelings called "the Vichy Spring" emerged from the Everglades and requested asylum from the King of Endless Summer. Their leader is known as Maria Thorne, and she claimed to be Rose Thorne’s daughter. She announced that she had grown tired of her mother’s erratic behavior and obsession with restoring the seasonal Court, and that she wished to reestablish a Spring Court in Miami on her own. Quite to the surprise of the movers-and-shakers of the City of Endless Summer, Grandfather Thunder acceded to her request and granted Maria Thorne the title of Duchess of Spring (Maria herself refused to be named Spring Queen until her mother was lawfully deposed) and control of several nightclubs in South Beach formerly owned by the Court of Desire.
The Summer CourtEdit
The Summer Court is unquestionably the most powerful Court in Miami. The Iron Spear is easily twice as populous as the Leaden Mirror, the next largest Court, and unlike the Autumn and Winter Courts, the Court of Wrath has firmly entrenched itself in the politics of the City of Endless Summer and thus holds the majority of political clout in the city. Coupled with the abundant wrathful Glamour that hangs over the city and the mystical potency afforded by Miami’s perpetually torrid climate, the Court of Wrath has dug itself firmly into the position of primacy and shows no signs of letting go any time soon.
Miami is the City of Endless Summer, and if the Summer Court has anything to say about it, it will stay that way for a long, long time. Ruled by Grandfather Thunder, an old and wily changeling and one of the only surviving founders of the freehold of Miami, the Iron Spear has established itself not only as the dominant Court in the city but as the only ruling body of Miami’s changelings. In the years since the coup, Grandfather Thunder and his followers have waged civil war, survived two successive rebellions and pushed an outlaw Court almost entirely out of the city. And that was just the external politics.
The Autumn CourtEdit
The Autumn Court is just beginning to find its feet again after the death of its leader. Tom Hood quite literally wasthe Autumn Court, having led it since it was founded in the late 1940s. His murder at the hands of Deathless Ivan threw the Court into chaos, effectively decapitating any further attempts at revolution against the self-proclaimed King of Endless Summer. Reprisals against the Leaden Mirror were brutal, but mercifully brief: three of Tom Hood’s oldest and closest advisers were executed for their treason, and four more were exiled from Miami for “as long as summer shall endure.” Only now, years after the coup, is the Autumn Court re-emerging as a force within the city.
Still, the Autumn Court holds little in the way of actual “territory.” Most Court members live in the same general vicinity, with a high concentration in and around Coral Gables and the University of Miami campus, but the Court does not claim any part of the city as “theirs” the way the Summer and Winter Courts do. The Leaden Mirror is almost universally united in its hatred of the Summer Court, either for Grandfather Thunder’s abolition of the seasonal Court or the murder of Tom Hood. The Winter Court is given little thought to; if Jeremiah Sleet wants to play gangster and deal in drugs and sorrow, the Autumn Court says let them. They can be brought back into the fold when the more pressing threat is dealt with.
The Winter CourtEdit
Jeremiah Sleet, the Court of Sorrow’s King since the late 1970s, has forged his Court into a well-honed machine, growing steadily in temporal power even as it poisons the city around it. And yet, for all of that, the Winter Court remains the weakest of the Courts that remain in the city. The smallest of the Courts (with the possible exception of Maria Thorne’s faction of the Spring Court), the Silent Arrow has been marginalized and pushed to one side in matters of freehold politics since the Court was founded.
With a talent for stealth and hunger for the sorrow of mortals, the Winter Court has established a niche for itself in the Miami underworld. The Winter Court is by no means the largest or most powerful group operating in the narcotics trade — wealth and power attracts exactly the attention the Winter Court doesn’t want — but word on the street is that the “Snowmen” are a quality operation with an uncanny knack for staying under the radar and worming their distribution network into any neighborhood. Sleet runs his Court like a street gang: new recruits serve as mules, runners and lookouts, while the more established members handle the manufacture and distribution of the merchandise. Initiation rituals are said to be a harrowing experience; being jumped in by a gang of Ogres and Beasts is a process even the toughest might quail at.
Some members, particularly older ones, hold a grudge against the Summer Court for the death of their former leader, La Llorona, but are careful not to beat their breast over it too loudly, lest mourning for the previous monarch be taken as regret over the current one. Likewise, much of the Winter Court has never quite forgiven the Autumn Court for Tom Hood’s perceived bias against their Court.
- Changeling: The Lost (Rulebook), p. 324-345