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The Fae battle each other in the Game of Immortals to generate Legends and live — but a legend has no weight if it does not involve great difficulty and an equally great triumph. In order to fight, they need each Other’s permission. Arcadia’s ruled by oaths and Contracts; dire enemies must negotiate their wars. These agreements create Feuds: alliances of enemies that dominate Gentry society.
True Fae don’t have bodies but adopt them when the occasion demands it. They don’t need nourishment and rest unless these are required by an oath. They don’t age or feel pain unless they promise to experience those things. The Gentry dine on stories and vows. Flesh is a game. If a mortal was thrust into existence as one of the Gentry he might exult in the power and scope of his new existence, but would quickly learn it has its own vulnerabilities.
For all the power of the True Fae, their fluid nature is a weakness. Like humans and changelings, Gentry are defined by a basic duality: subject and object, Self and Other. But unlike mortals, Gentry are not guaranteed duality. They only have a tenuous ability to set themselves apart from Arcadia. At the whim of material existence, mortals cannot help but experience a separation between themselves and their world. Tensions between the Self and Other drive their lives. They remember conflicts, link them together and forge life stories.
By contrast, True Fae are the places they dwell and the things they experience. Without duality there’s no conflict and without conflict, they cannot truly exist. Instead of air, water, food or shelter, the Gentry need to struggle. They need adversity, surprise and risk. They can’t create these conditions by themselves (and while the Fae can simulate all of these things, it would be a meaningless exercise on their own).
A Keeper creates a fiery moat between herself (really, the body she’s created for the occasion) and a trapped lover — another extension of her desire. She leaps the moat and rescues her love, but it’s not real conflict. She is the moat, so leaping it is insignificant. Even if she fell, the fire would persist, and she would live as the fire. She is her rescued love. His peril — her peril — is voluntary. The love itself is false. None of it sustains the faerie. At best, it’s a diversion, like daydreaming or masturbation. At worst, it's autocannibalism; the desperate faerie mimics a true conflict to deny her own starvation. The True Fae need conflict to survive, lest they succumb to the Dwindling.
Each faerie in a Feud sends manifestations of itself against others, where they play out tales of genuine peril and difficult victory. One Keeper plays the hero of our last example, but another plays the fiery moat and a third, the imperiled lover. This time, the fire can burn the questing faerie. Her lover might spurn her, too. If she can’t overcome these obstacles, their ruling Fae win the right to devour a bit of her essence, but if she didn’t take up the challenge, she would fade away. Some Winter Court writings call these story-battles "Legends".
Feuds are not the only way True Fae create conflict. There’s also the Wild Hunt: an expedition beyond Arcadia to alien realms like Earth, human dreams and the Hedge. Natives challenge the Others with strong wills and strange ways. Changelings know the Hunt. Often as not, they were the prey. Mortals are valuable commodities: a free will is precious. Human duality grows stronger before Arcadia. Mortal fear, hate and disorientation strengthen psychic boundaries and feed a Keeper’s needs. Resentful slaves are the most valuable kind. When they rebel, they trigger Legends of their own, and True Fae revel in them. These conflicts sustain them, too.
The challenged Fae casts the Wyrd Oracle to learn the Legend’s style. The style determines the stakes: how a victory or loss will affect each party. It also provides a suggested mood, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. The conditions for each style are:
Glorious - Glorious Legends are straightforward affairs. The warring Fae (and the players) narrate affairs, using their manifestations to bring the Legend to life. If the challenger wins, she devours the opponent’s Title, adding it to her own, or earns an Indulgence — her choice. If she loses, the challenged Fae wins the challenger’s Title.
Spiteful - Spiteful Legends are tragedies and cynical comedies where characters are rewarded for their sins and punished for their virtues. If the challenger wins she gains nothing, but if she loses, the challenged Fae wins the challenger’s Title or earns an Indulgence — his choice.
Unbound - Unbound Legends don’t come to definitive conclusions. They leave room for sequels and twisted retellings. If the challenger wins, she doesn’t take her rival’s Title, but wins an Indulgence. If she loses, the challenged Fae wins the challenger’s Title.
The legend ends when all of the Gentry attain one of the following states:
- Devoured or Dwindled - Enemies eat the Fae’s name, or she dwindles into incoherent chaos because she can’t or won’t forge Legends.
- Exiled - the Fae leaves Arcadia to save herself from destruction.
- Wyrd Transcendence - the Fae evolves into something greater than an Old God.
- Equinox Road, p. 83-84