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Arcadia, also known as Faerie, is the name of one of the Supernal Realms; that of Fate itself, the domain of the True Fae and once-prison to all changelings. It is also the realm that mages of the Acanthus Path Awaken to.
As all Supernal Realms, what constitutes Arcadia has been changed over the years. Mages who know of these changes debate whether this is a result of the Supernal itself changing, or if mortals have developed to the degree that they can see more of the Supernal during their Awakening than before. As access to the Supernal is impossible, the debates are mostly academic.
For Changelings, Arcadia is divided into several domains of various True Fae, who shape the environment to their liking. As a result, little consistent geography exists.
Around 5000 BCE, Arcadia was a realm dominant by a vast, hostile Sky. The flat landscape was endlessly tormented by billowing winds and heavy environmental changes. A singular stone pinnacle rose from the landscape. After a grueling ascent past savage, alien sentinels, tangled nests of thorny plants, and screaming clouds, the Wise would reach the stone brazier at the peak and Awaken.
Arcadia is a realm of constant change. The weather, the landmarks, even the geography is never the same per visit. Each Acanthus reports different features through which they must travel to the watchtower upon their Awakening. Mostly, the physical features of Arcadia are similar to those of the Fallen World, but taken to extremes. Great mountains, vast oceans, deep caves, fetid swamps, and plains and deserts that seem to stretch on forever are commonplace, but these features are transient. Rivers change their courses at will; mountain ranges rise up and erode over night. Only two features are known to be constant: the source of the Alpheus River and the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn. While the source of the Alpheus, though always present, shifts its location frequently, the Watchtower is always at the center of the realm; however, the center itself has been known to shift about from time to time.
The weather in Arcadia is even more fickle than the land. Storms form up out of a clear blue sky; F-10 tornadoes spin up out of nowhere, accompanied by earthquakes at least 10.5 on the Richter scale. These conditions disappear as soon as they come, giving way to skies of blazing azure with light, cool breezes. Droughts and floods, rain and snow, gales and storms each occur in places on a regular and disorienting basis. Time is as temperamental and unpredictable as the weather; some Acanthus believe the rapidly changing weather can be attributed to the fluctuations of time that move across the realm like the very storms themselves. Stories of people going to sleep in an isolated part of the wilderness only to wake up decades later, (i.e. Rip Van Winkle) probably stem from contact with the realm of Arcadia.
There is one element in the entire realm that is absolutely permanent-- the power of the spoken word. Words uttered in Arcadia have a great and terrible power, and the realm can exert this power over those who put their foot in their mouth or intentionally break a promise; those who lie or break their word must do penace until the lie is uncovered or the promise kept.
Arcana of ArcadiaEdit
The subtle expression of Arcadia, action is a driving factor in Arcadia; to do nothing is to stagnate. Every action in the realm of the Fae implies risk, and this risk powers the realm. Everything one does in Arcadia is a risky endeavor; even a perfectly executed plan can bring down a world of pain as the chaotic and uncaring environment foils foolproof plans. The power of chance is strong here, and to those who would draw their strength from here is granted the Arcanum of Fate: the power to increase their chances of survival, lay down blessings and curses, and make oaths binding.
The gross expression of Arcadia, time passes strangely in the realm of the Fae. What may seem like minutes in Arcadia may be the passing of years in this world, as myths tell, and the reverse may also be true. Journeys of miles may take days in the Fallen World's time yet seem only minutes to the traveler. To those who follow the Path of the Thistle, the realm grants power of the Arcanum of Time: seeing into the future, looking into the past and even interacting with the past and the future.
The environment of Arcadia is constantly changing; storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes are common coin in that world. This general unpredictability in the realm makes control of Forces there difficult to grasp at things that are constantly in motion. The Acanthus thus find their control over the powers of the Arcanum of Forces limited; drawing their powers from Arcadia as they do they are subject to the realm's weaknesses as well as its strengths.
The craft of Supernal Summoning identifies two types of being that can be called from a Supernal Realm; manifest beings of the Gross Arcanum of that realm, and recondite beings embodying the Subtle Arcanum. This is one of the few patterns the Fae of Arcadia follow, but as ever with matters Arcadian, there may be exceptions, as detailed below. In addition, mages debate whether Supernal Summoning really calls down creatures from another realm of reality, or simply gives form to the Arcana that rule one's Path through the mage's own connection to the Truth of magic.
- Anachronism (or Cronies) are the manifest Fae of Arcadia, embodying the Arcanum of Time.
- Moirae are the recondite Fae of Arcadia, embodying the Arcanum of Fate.
- Main article: True Fae (CofD)
Arcadia's inhabitants are as changing and as eternal as the realm itself; 'Fae' is a collective term for the creatures that live in the realm of Arcadia. The Fae seem to spontaneously emerge from the realm of Arcadia and certainly have an intimate connection with the land. Being of air, light and mystery, they are the very reflection of their home realm, in that they are flighty, enigmatic, and powerful. The Fae are a diverse group ranging from the jinn (genies) of the Middle East to the powerful sidhe of the Celts. Supernatural creatures from mythology all around the Fallen World can be found here: satyrs, the unseen people, and many more creatures of lore and legend, but in truth these are pale reflections of the Fae as they exist on Arcadia.
As evidenced by their cropping up in stories and folklore of every culture on Earth, the Fae have interacted with the Fallen World a great deal in times past, shining out in all their glory and primal splendor: radiant beauty and deep menace. A number of humans with strange powers have arrived in the Fallen World every so often, claiming to have escaped the courts of the faeries. They are called 'changelings', but call themselves the Lost; if they are to be believed, they've been abducted in the past by the faeries they refer to, and the mythological background supports their claims, to an extent. It's unknown whether or not the realm from which they claim to have escaped is the same as Arcadia, or if the 'faeries' are the same as the Fae; true or not it casts a dark and sinister light across the Fae of Arcadia. These changelings speak of a "Hedge" that separates Arcadia from the human world. Mages that have discovered and tried to cross this strange realm often meet a dire fate, with some surviving to exist in a tormented form referred to as Unmade.
The Fae that mages summon can be neatly divided according to either the Gross or Subtle Arcanum used, but the Fae encountered by the changelings do not appear to fall into either category. It may be that these True Fae, as they call themselves, are an altogether different class of being from the Fae that mages can call upon (which might render the latter as being advanced hobgoblins rather than True Fae): more simply it may be that changeling Arcadia and Supernal Arcadia are not the same realm. This is one of the many enigmas that mages contend with in the Fallen World, and the answer may never be known.
- Changelings, plainly, aren’t human. They’re neither more nor less, but something wholly different. They were once human, but they were dragged, probably unwillingly, into a different world where the forces of Time and Fate made them into something else. -- , emphasis added
The question on whether or not Mage's Arcadia and Changeling's Arcadia are indeed the same place has generated a great deal of discussion since Changeling was released in 2007. The question has never been definitively answered, and likely never will, in typical White Wolf fashion, leaving it up to individual Storytellers.
Some opinion has it that Changeling Arcadia is a "fallen" version of the Supernal Mage Arcadia, since the two are described so differently. Others point out that a changeling's journey through the Hedge may color their perceptions of Arcadia, just as an Acanthus visiting their Watchtower during an Awakening will see their surroundings reflecting their own soul. This doesn't even include the Keepers, who are essentially able to dictate reality itself within their own domains. Besides, Antarctica and the Amazon are described in wildly different fashions, but both are within the same Fallen World. Pledges could be in place to prevent Keepers from interacting with Mages that arrive via the direct method. As the physical features of Arcadia manifest depending on fate, it's trivial to suggest that only those fated to become trapped in a Keeper durance will ever encounter one.
Imperial Mysteries speaks of the Old Gods of the Thistle, inhabitants of Arcadia before the end of the Times Before, who, "defined themselves by the oaths they swore— to other Gods, to concepts, to aspects of Fallen reality and to individuals. By the rights afforded to them in ancient promises, they entered the material world to search for audiences and actors in their mad plays." These creatures were said to be living stories, similar to how the True Fae are made up of multiple parts given the situation.
The White Wolf Wiki employs Occam's Razor and treats both realms as the same. We see no reason to assume that there are two realms with the same name, same inhabitants, and same associations, when a single realm will do fine. In this circumstance, Arcadia used to have two methods of access: directly and indirectly (the Hedge). With the development of the Abyss, the direct method was no longer viable until the associated Watchtower was built. The Hedge isn't viable as an alternate route, as the thorns strip away a mage's soul, rendering them unable to perform magic, defeating the purpose of traveling to Arcadia.
It's not known at this time whether other Supernal realms have their own equivalents to the Hedge, or if the situation is unique to Arcadia.
- The Arcadia question is meaningless because whether they're different Arcadias or the same Arcadia or a parallel Arcadia or past or future Arcadia keeps changing. The Gods of Thistle keep coming regardless. — Dave Brookshaw, [RPGnet discussion about Imperial Mysteries http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?606859-Mage-The-Awakening-Imperial-Mysteries-still-coming-out-this-month&p=14888850#post14888850]