Pledge is a vow tied into the strands of Wyrd, enforcing it with the very nature of the fae and fate itself. These pledges can grant changelings advantages in the form of boons, and inflict punishments against those who would break them.
Pledges are "simple" agreements infused with the Wyrd commonly made by the inhabitants of Arcadia. They resemble Contracts, but are far less formalized and often structured around interactions with two parties, not with concepts or forces.
The precise terms, tasks and boons for adhering to the agreement and penalties for failing to do so are outlined when the pact is made, and the changeling invests a tiny bit of his Wyrd into the agreement. The terms of the pledge can be veiled in casual language, thus binding an unsuspecting participant if the changeling is sufficiently crafty.
The wording of the sample pledges provided later represent both a more open and formal pledge, and one veiled in more casual language. Breaking a pledge has severe repercussions, as the Wyrd finds its way to punish those who break their word. Alternatively, those who are true to their word find themselves rewarded. A changeling may have a maximum number of such vows invested equal to his Wyrd rating +3.
The tasks of a pledge express the expectations of one or both parties to the pledge. In short, the task details what the sworn must or must not do.
The boon of a pledge describes the expected reward for fulfillment of the task of a pledge. These may range from a measure of Glamour to enchantment of mortal senses to small magical benefits granted not by the changelings in question per se, but by the Wyrd itself.
The sanction of a pledge describes the punishment that lies in store for those who forswear their pledges. In the case of some oaths and corporals, there is no additional sanction, due to the seriousness of breaking those pledges. Between changelings, the sanction of a pledge must be pre-established.
However, when a pledge exists between mortal and fae, the fae sealing the pledge may simply decide to include the possibility of a sanction. Should the mortal violate the pledge, the changeling may pronounce a sanction of the appropriate power at that moment, laying a curse on the oathbreaker. Should the changeling break the pledge, however, Wyrd lashes out, leveling a sanction of the appropriate power. Generally, Fate works strangely in such instances -- when the changeling is most suffering the effects of this curse, the Wyrd arranges for the betrayed mortal to catch a glimpse of the changeling's misery, filling the mortal with the understanding that this has come about as a result of the changeling's treachery.
The duration of a sanction, unless described otherwise below, is the duration of the pledge the sanction was safeguarding. Thus, breaking a pledge that had a duration of the "moon" invokes the sanction for a full 28 days, even if the pledge was broken on the 27th day of its course. If this sanction is against a mortal, at the end of the sanction's duration, the changeling has the option of spending a point of Willpower and continuing to empower the punishment against the mortal. Doing so invests the sanction into a point of the changeling's Wyrd, though, as though it were a pledge of itself.
The duration of a pledge details the length of time the pledge remains in effect. Most of these are cyclical adjudications of time, rather than something measured in hours.
Day - The pledge that lasts a day is a simple thing, often casually sworn at a whim. The terms of a pledge sworn for a day last for 24 hours. Lesser (+1).
Week - The pledge that lasts a week is among the most common of pledges -- such oaths last for precisely seven days, to the hour. Lesser (+1).
Moon - A pledge sworn for a moon lasts 28 days, the turning of a single lunar month. Such pledges are the most common of the vows that changelings consider serious -- the dedication of an oath for a full turning of the moon is usually understood to mean that those involved in the pledge take the oath quite seriously. Medial (+2).
Season - Traditionally, swearing a pledge for a season is performed at a solstice or equinox event of some kind. When a pledge is made for a season outside of one of these astronomical events, the pledge is understood to stand in effect for precisely 89 days, or one-quarter of a normal year. In freeholds where a different ruler holds power over each of the seasons, oaths of fealty are generally made for a season. Medial (+2).
Year and a day - Swearing the year-and-a-day pledge binds the word of those participating for 366 days exactly. The wording is an ancient necessity of the Wyrd -- it is said that those who swear an oath for only a single year risk the oath coming unfrayed in those years where the time-keeping of men did not agree with the passage of time in the world around them: intercalary, or "leap" years. Swearing for a year and a day alleviates this difficulty. Greater (+3).
Decade - The decade oath lasts for 10 years and 10 days precisely. It is rare to find oaths sworn for this duration -- they are usually pledges of tremendous importance and power. Most changelings prefer to simply swear pledges on a yearly basis or so; agreeing to swear an oath for more than a year reflects great dedication. Greater (+3).
Lifelong - A lifelong oath lasts until the death of one of the oathbound. Lifelong oaths usually achieve some measure of nearly legendary repute in changeling society; those whose dedication runs deep enough to dedicate themselves to a pledge for the rest of their lives are seen as simultaneously somewhat foolish and noteworthy. Swearing a lifelong oath requires the expenditure of a permanent dot of Willpower from one of the oathtakers in addition to any other invocation expenditures. Greater (+3).
Generational - It is almost unheard-of for a pledge to be sworn on a generational basis. When this is done, the pledge stays in effect for the lifetime of the oathbound. But even with death, this pledge is not released, for the onus of the responsibility passes on with the next generation -- the children of the oathtakers are themselves bound up to fulfill these oaths as well. This may not necessarily be the physical children of the oathtakers; in changeling society, this is most often an heir acknowledged before the rulers of a freehold. Though this is a greater duration, one of the oathtakers must spend a permanent dot of Willpower (in addition to any other invocation expenditures) in order to use this duration, and both must be in agreement. The oath lasts for a number of generations equal to the Wyrd of the oathtaker that spent the Willpower. Greater (+3).
Eternity - It is said that the Others possess the ability to bind up pledges for all eternity, forcing those so bound to adhere to their words even after their bodies have given up life, or into subsequent incarnations. This power is well and truly beyond any known changeling, and even the most puissant of great Fae lords are capable of invoking it only rarely. Unknown.
Sealing the Pledge
Once the pledge is spoken and the parties involved agree, one party -- generally the one who proposed and formulated the oath -- spends any Willpower necessary to bind the oath. For a moment, the hearts of those involved flutter, as though on the edge of panic. The oathbound feel, for just a moment, tied into a grander web of connections than most individuals understand exists and then the feeling fades.
Those watching with the means to perceive auras see red bands settle into the aura of those who share in the bond. When oathbound are within line of sight of one another, tiny red threads of Fate connect the bands to one another.
Types of Pledges
Pledges are divided into the following three categories: vows, oaths and corporals. The type of pledge determines how the pledge is invested.
- Vows - the basics of pledge-crafting, these pledges often entail a single goal to which the changeling aspires, outlining what is expected of the other, their rewards for adhering to the pledge and the curses they can expect for failing to do so;
- Oaths - pledges sworn on something important to the changeling - his true name, the true name of his Keeper, forces the Changeling genuinely believes in, etc;
Creating a Pledge
Step One - Determine the tasks involved for each party of the pledge. Tasks are rated with a negative number that reflects how onerous the task is to complete: Lesser tasks (-1) are relatively simple to fulfill, while greater tasks (-3) are quite epic in scope.
Step Two - Determine the boons involved for each party of the pledge. Boons are rated with a positive number that reflects the benefit of the reward for holding true to one's word: Lesser boons (+1) are minor rewards, while those who hold greater boons (+3) may find their very lives changed dramatically by their possession.
Step Three - Determine the sanctions involved for each party of the pledge. Sanctions are rated with a negative number reflecting the power of the curse that befalls the oathbreaker: lesser sanctions (-1) are annoying hindrances, while the terrible punishments of greater sanctions (-3) are the stuff of legend.
Step Four - Determine the duration involved for each party of the pledge. The duration is rated with a positive number reflecting the length of time the Wyrd binds the pledge to the fate of those involved: Lesser durations (+1) exist for short time, while pledges of greater duration (+3) are bound up for at least a year and possibly longer (+3).
Step Five - The sum of each party's tasks, boons and sanctions must sum to zero when added to the duration of the pledge. This may require some adjusting of other aspects to make the expectations of each party equitable.
Step Six - Determine the invocation cost for the pledge. All pledges cost one point of Willpower to invoke, plus any additional modifiers for specific aspects.
Step Seven - Determine the type of pledge involved for the pledge as a whole; all those taking part in the pledge must be eligible to make that kind of pledge (i.e., non-changelings may not make mortal corporals), instilling the power of the pledge's Wyrd into either their own Wyrd (in the case of a vow), into a name (in the case of oaths) or into an object symbolic of their connections with others (in the case of a corporal).
- The Ancient Pact
- Brotherhood in Arms
- Dueling Oath
- Forgiveness of the Imp
- Fostering Oath
- Fylgiar's Caul
- Good Neighbors Pact
- The Heart’s Oath
- Ironwood Pact
- The Knight’s Oath
- The Motley Pledge
- Oath of Retribution
- Oath of the Rose and Thorn
- Penitent's Pledge
- Pledge of Horn and Bone
- The Reaper’s Pledge
- Secrets of the Dead River