Distrusted by most of their noble kinfolk, the Sidhe of House Scathach are often thought of as half-sidhe. The reasoning behind this is that unlike all the other houses, the Scathach never left the Autumn World during the Shattering. Instead, they stayed and fought injutice, and scattered to the winds. Further edging them away from traditional Sidhe is their lack of loyalty to a court and lack of formal titles. Though they once favoured the Seelie side of things, they have since become neutral, favouring balance overall. The Seelie domination of Kithian society serves to only distance the Scathach further... Scathach Sidhe, having spent as much time on Earth as the other fae, have developed an affinity for the Nature realm.
The history of the Scathach pre-dates most available Kithian lore. It was said that in the days where the Tuatha de Danaan ruled the lands, that a beautiful, mysterious creature known as a Morrigan made a love pact with a Tuatha God, Dagda, and bore him a daughter, which she named Scathach (meaning The Shadowy One). It was around this time that a tenuous pact between the Tuatha and the Formorians began to crumble after a young appointed king, half Tuatha, half Formorian, took to using his Formorian Father's power to keep his subjects in line. The Morrigan, a servant of fate, fortold the end of the current age and where the Formorians would first appear from their nightmare trods. It was during these battles that she met the White King Indech, scion of the Ivory Court and hunts marshal for King Tethra of the Emerald Dream. The splenderous man bore the body of a great wyrm, and bid her to pass from his way. When she stood, silent, his anger broke and he drew his blade. As he was about to strike, his sword was parried by Ogma, gentle poet and warrior-scholar. Though Indech carried the advantage, the Morrigan overstepped her bounds as a mistress of fate, helping to drive Ogma's blade through Indech's heart. Though it was not his time, he played his part, and his son Octriallach swore vengance as he evaporated into a white mist among the trees.
Around the time of the Sundering, the Tuatha began to depart the waking lands for that of the Dreaming. Among them was the Morrigan, she and the Tuatha leaving the fae to fend without their guidance. Before her departure, the Morrigan met one last time with Dagda, the pair deciding to spirit their child away to be raised on the Isle of Shadows, Skye, that would one day bear her name. This was sensible thinking, given what had happened to the pairs' previous children, Aedh, Mechi, and poor haunted Leanhaun. After getting her affairs in order, the Morrigan took the shape of a crow, and flew off into the deep dreaming, never to be found again.
Scathach grew up with a split life, spending time with both the mortal villagers of Albion and a tribe of Fuath who had remained loyal to the Tuatha de Danaan. In her youth she gained notierity as a warrior, hunter, and sorceress. As she aged, her fame as a young adult came from teaching martial arts to celebrated individuals such as the warrior Cu-Chulainn. It is thankful that she was so capable, given the rift that the Tuatha made when they left. The descendants of Ogma (among whom are believed to be House Gwydion) and the worshippers of the Morrigan vowed to safeguard Indech's sword, the Sword of Tethra. Belief stated that if the cursed blade was ever drawn again, it would signal the end of the dreaming. Perhaps helpful is that anyone who dared touch it died horribly, their souls cast into howling darkness. Putting aside their differences, the two factions decided to guard it together.
It is here that the Scathach break with the traditional Sidhe. Though they too were born of the dreams of rulers, they never saw it as their birthright to rule over others. Indeed, it was in their bloodline to rebel, starting with the Morrigan's rebellion against fate. A select few bold commoners underwent the Changeling Way Ritual even before it became a necessity; though this was not unheard of among the fae, the Scathach were the first among the Sidhe to undergo this process, among them Scathach herself.
The War of Trees was the last time Scathach would fight amongst their fellow Sidhe. The Formorian threat was again becoming tangible in the mortal realms, threatening the younger fae. Scathach called upon Gwydion and Ailil for help in finding and slaying Octrillach. They ventured deep within the Winterweir, a twisted land where the sun never shines, and home to a never-ending flurry of Dark-kin, icy chimera, and invisible spirits. Though members of the party would sometimes disappear, only to reappear as frozen, dismembered corpses, they pressed on, into the heart of the White Court's lair. Coming upon Octriallach, the overconfident Formorian wished to detain Scathach and force the location of his father's sword out of her. However, though it was the White King who held the advantage in battle, he failed to notice Scathach's sorcerers weaving themselves into an intricate spell-knot. When the incantation was completed, the stark white trees writhed around him like tentacles, trapping both him and Scathach inside.
Upon the Formorian's Defeat and the Shattering, the Tuatha left the waking world for good. Under Scathach's orders, her house was to stay behind to test the cold winds of Banality, they seeing it as just another foe to be challenged. When the Gwydion left, however, they tried to take the Sword of Tethra with them to the Dreaming. The Scathach opposed this, their seers having prophecised calamity should the sword reach the heart of the Dreaming. By that point, the lands surrounding the sword had gone from a peaceful, beautiful meadow to a twisted, tainted swamp. Perhaps it is good then that the sword was lost to the depths of the toxic dreaming surrounding this place.
Left by the other Sidhe, and ordered by Scathach to guard the mortal realm, the House spent the Interregnum turning their attention mostly away from the commoners, who viewed them with suspicion, instead focusing on the Prodigals in the World of Darkness. In addition, the Scathach worked as defenders and supporters of change, acting in the interests of rebellions and freedom movements. Due to the lack of Sidhe presence in the world, the Scathach, along with the other Sidhe, became little more than a legend to the commoners.
The Scathach were not only unsurprised by the Resurgence, but were prepared. They predicted the exact hour that the Sidhe would return, though as excpected, the Scathach reception was mixed. On the one hand, here were the ones who despised them as mongrels. On the other, here was their long-lost kin. As such, the Scathach offered their services to both sides, with the hidden agenda of peace. Sadly, the Scathach could not predict the Night of the Iron Knives, however the house did their best to prevent further bloodshed, saving 200 during the Accordance War and shortening the conflict by at least 6 months.
Attitudes and Lifestyles
Being born of a Morrigan, a warrior goddess, the Scathach are reknowned for their martial prowess. They have several martial arts and fighting techniques exclusive to their house. Despite this, they are a very fair and just house, choosing to aid noble and commoner alike, whoever serves the interests of peace more. They have aided in revolutions and protected the weak on more than one occasion. Though they once favoured the Seelie court, they quickly shifted away from their brethren even before the Shattering, noting the arrogance their Seelie cousins had in thinking they were better than the common fae. As such, they align themselves with no court.
Given their lack of community ties (except to their house), these fae could make a good living as travelling martial arts instructors, mercenaries, spies (though this might be a bit too shady for their sense of justice, unless they were working to overthrow someone unjust), police officers, and any profession where they can humbly work for peace. A few might even enlist in the military.
As they align themselves with neither court, and work only for peace, these Sidhe do not take on titles except in the most special of cases, and even then it is never for long. They instead choose to prove their worthiness through hard work rather than just lineage. No matter what family a Scathach belongs to, she will need to work her way up the ranks just the same. Those that do take on titles awarded them by other Sidhe may lose rank and respect within their own house.
Boon and Ban
As with all houses, Scathach has a Boon and a Ban that come with allegiance.
Those of House Scathach are silent and efficient warriors. They rarely make any sound when fighting, causing great consternation in their foes. Once entering a fight, they lose sight of almost everything else, reaching a hypnotic "fugue state" in which the world seems to move more slowly. Because of the percieved time crawl in this state, they recieve an extra die on all Brawl and Melee rolls and make Stealth rolls at -1 difficulty. Recent returnees also enjoy this boon.
Most nobles look own upon House Scathach. All Social rolls with other Sidhe (except Houses Beaumayn, Fiona, Liam and Leanhaun) and commoners with strong royalist sympathies are at a +2 difficulties (or up to +4 with Traditionalist nobles). Furthermore, because of an ancient blood pack, Scathach are forbidden to use the Art of Sovereign. This ban is enforced by the full weight of the Dreaming. Scathach who have just returned from Arcadia still suffer from the Social difficulties of their house members if those with whom they are interacting know their house affiliation. They are not forbidden to use the Sovereign Art as are their Autumn Scathach counterparts.
A House Divided: Autumn vs. Arcadian Scathach
Scathach, for who the house is named, bore a daughter she named Uathach (literally meaning The Terrible, taking the name from a prophecy foretold by her mentor, the old Tuatha wizard Mathgen). No one knows the identity of the father, something Scathach kept to herself. Even as a child Uathach bore sorcery skills that outshined the clan's oldest magicians. Her loving mother indulged her daughter's desires, encouraging her to practice these Arts. For the first 7 years of her life, mother and daughter were inseperable, but on one winter's night the girl learned in a dream that she could take on the form of a sable unicorn. After that, she roamed far and wide, traveling roads forbidden to her by her mother. As Uathach grew into a young beauty, she attracted many a suitor (including, eventually, Cu-Chulainn), though none ended well. In Uathach's twentieth year, the wizard Mathgen finally succumbed to the call of the departed Old Ones and left for Arcadia. Uathach took his place as Malik and head of the Morphean Oracles, a position in the house second only to that of her mother. She grew in that role, and even if she occasionally persued unhealthy studies into the nature of the eldest of the Elder Darks, she still served the house well as her mother's right hand for centuries. However, a division came when Scathach decided that she and the tribe would undergo the Changeling Way. The mother and daughter spoke harshly, eventually driving Uathach and a group of like-minded followers to the Sea of Silver in the Dreaming, just a few years before the War of Trees.
In recent times, these Arcadian Scathach have begun to return to the waking lands. They are re-swearing oaths of fealty to House Scathach, and hold some contempt at the other houses for their treatment of the Scathach Sidhe. They exude a raw power not seen in even of the oldest of the "true" Sidhe. To make matters more confusing for those outside the house, when casting an art on one, the caster must use the Fae 2 realm (Lofty Noble) to affect an Arcadian Scathach and Fae 1 (Hearty Commoner) to affect an Autumn Scathach. The commoners see the Arcadians as proof that the Scathach, despite their commoner ties, are and always will be aristocratic Sidhe. The Sidhe see the Autumns as proof that House Scathach is nothing more than dirty, commoner-loving traitors with no idea of the proper place of things. (Please bear in mind that these terms are only to tell the two apart; calling one an Autumn Scathach is liable to get you killed!)
The Hierarchy of House Scathach
Though House Scathach no longer has Titles or Fiefdoms, they still retain some level of Hierarchy. Rank in the House is based purely on skill; in short, it is a Meritocracy. No matter your station in life or your heritage, you start at the bottom in House Scathach, and work your way up by proving ability.
The Minimum requirements for each rank are just that. Having scores that exceed that level are not grounds alone for an increase in rank. A fledge with Soothsay 5 may be a prodigy, but she has nowhere near the breadth of knowledge to wisely alter Fate at this point.
Adherents to Scathach's path persue physical, mental, and spiritual mastery. Besides the requirements below, changelings of House Scathach frequently pursue the humanities (particularly history), wilderness survival, and--unlike most Sidhe--keep abreast of human technological and social trends.
0 - Fledge. Scathach of this standing have just undergone the Chrysalis, are somewhere in the process of Fosterage and are discouraged from wandering unaccompanied. The Sidhe's only responsibility at this point is to begin training. (Minimum requirement: None)
1 - Seeker (Salik). The character has just undergone the Fior-Reigh and is a full, if provisional, member of the house. Scathach of this mastery may wander but are on a short leash and expected to report to a house sponsor. (Minimum requirement: Brawl or Melee 1, Stealth 1)
2 - Disciple (Murid). The character has gained both some status and responsibilities, including monitoring less-experienced house members. (Minimum requirement: Brawl or Melee 2, Changeling or Dreaming Lore 1, Gremayre 1, Stealth 2)
3 - Fellow-crafter. Scathach at this level travel without supervision and are the backbone of the house's fighting forces. (Minimum requirement: Brawl or Melee 3, Soothsay 1)
4 - Knight. Characters of this rank are called knights, carrying the honourific Sir or Lady, as one of the house's few nods to its aristocratic origins. Knights are the primary commanders within the warrior house but are restricted in policy matters. (Minimum requirements: Gremayre 2, Changeling or Dreaming Lore 2, Stealth 3, Soothsay 2)
5 - Enlightened One (Arif). At this level, the character is assumed to have enough insights into Fate's tapestry to make minor decisions in manipulating its threads. (Minimum requirements: Brawl or Melee 4, Changeling or Dreaming Lore 3, Gremayre 3, Stealth 4, Chronos 1, Soothsay 3)
6 - Master (Khwaja). The Khwaja is a roaming operative who seeks out major "defects" in Fate's tapestry. Very few Scathach are trusted with such a charge. (Minimum requirements: Brawl or Melee 5, Changeling or Dreaming Lore 4, Gremayre 4, Stealth 5, Chronos 2, Soothsay 4)
7 - Shadow (Khwaja dirigens). The character undergoes the Trial of Shadows, becoming in effect a phantom presence in Fate's designs and a living avatar of the Morphean Oracles. There is only one Scathach of this rank on a continent and a few sprinkled throughout key Dreamrealms. (Minimum requirements: Brawl and Melee 5, Changeling or Dreaming Lore 5, Gremayre 5, Chronos 5, Soothsay 5)
8 - Oracle. The character takes her place among the Morphean Oracles, the defining force within House Scathach.
9 - Malik. The Malik is the only authority above the Morphean Oracles, excluding Scathach herself. Only three individuals throughout the house's history have held this position: The Tuathan wizard Mathgen, Scathach's daughter Uathach, and currently a blind sorceress known only as Veleda.
10 - Head. No official name exists for this rank, the Head of the House. Scathach was and is the only one to fill this role, however since her disappearance during the War of Trees, all house authority has been left to the Morphean Oracles and the Malik.
The Warrior's Halo (House Scathach Martial Arts
From the Book of Lost Houses: The Second Coming:
"Scathach herself was a renowned martial artist, and the fighting style she passed on to her descendants is a synthesis of mind, body, spirit, and Glamour. To learn a martial feat, the character must have at least an equal number of dots in either Brawl (for unarmed feats) or Melee (for armed feats) as the level of the feat she wishes to learn. The cost for each feat is x1 freebie points (or x2 experience) the level listed below.
Whirl of the Chariot Chief (Level 1) This move is as ancient as it is simple: Grab, spin, throw. The warrior may choose to throw his opponent directly to the ground or hurl her away from him.
Roll: Dexterity + Brawl
Difficulty: 7 (8 for Sidhe vs. Troll, or Childling vs. Wilder or Grump)
System: A thrown opponent must make a contest Dexterity + Athletics roll (difficulty 6). Failure means she loses her remaining actions that turn or suffers +2 difficulty to actions the next turn (if she has already acted). Those who succeed must still add +1 difficulty to any actions they attempt that turn. the warrior throws his foe 5 feet for each success.
The Hero's Salmon Leap (Level 2) The character can jump her maximum distance vertically or horizontally, carrying whatever or whomever she wishes (as long as the burden's weight doesn't exceed her Strength's carry maximum).
System: No roll is required; the character simply succeeds. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour.
Cantrip Combination: The character gains an automatic extra success on the Wayfare cantrip Hopscotch and may choose to break one long leap up into multiple short leaps with a Dexterity + Athletics roll. (Difficulty 7, one leap per success; the cumulative area covered may not exceed the character's maximum distance for a single leap.)
Running up the Lance (Level 3) After a successful dodge, the character runs up the attacker's weapon to deliver her counterattack. Roll: Dexterity + Dodge
Damage: Strength + Weapon
System: With this feat, the character dodges her attacker and leaps upon his weapon, adding 2 dice to the counterattack. Furthermore, this feat requires the target to make a Strength + Melee roll (difficulty 6). Failing to match or exceed his opponent's number of successes means the target loses his weapon. Size makes no difference when using this feat; a grump troll could as easily stand on the end of a childling's blade as the reverse. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn.
Hero's Twisting Around the Spear (Level 4) Using this feat, the character charges toward those using ranged weapons, closing the distance and arriving close enough to engage in melee the next turn. Roll: Dexterity + Dodge
Difficulty: 6 (+1 per extra opponent)
System: The character gives up all actions besides the feat. In the Dreaming the character covers an additional x1 his maximum distance per success. (A single success adds 50 percent to the character's speed.) The Autumn World demands that the warrior call upon the wyrd or else move "only" a maximum of double her normal speed. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn.
The Shaman's Fire Walking Feat (Level 4) This feat protects the warrior from fire. Roll: Stamina + Survival
System: Each success reduces fire damage by 1 point. this feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn per success. Exceptionally hot fires (dragonfire, napalm, etc.) require an additional point of Glamour.
Breaking the King's Crown (Level 5) Although House Scathach has surrendered its rulership and the right to use Sovereign, this does not mean that they allow others to use them as pawns. This martial feat represents such a degree of mental mastery that the user can resist the Sovereign Art and other forms of mind control. Roll: Willpower
System: Each success reduces the number of successes scored against the warrior by 1 point. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour.
Throw the Staff (Level 1) The character throws a staff (spear, baseball bat, pool cue, etc.), aiming low in an attempt to unbalance his target.
Roll: Dexterity + Melee
Difficulty: Weapon + 1
System: An opponent hit by the thrown staff must make a contest Dexterity + Athletics roll (difficulty 6). Failure means she loses her remaining actions that turn or suffers +2 difficulty to actions the next turn (if she has already acted). Those who succeed must still add +1 difficulty to any actions they attempt that turn.
Cantrip Combination: If the caster uses the Ledgermain cantrip Ensnare upon the weapon, the character may attempt to knock down one foe per cantrip success.
The Shield Rim Feat (Level 2) After a successful shield parry, the wielder may attempt a standard weapon attack plus an unsporting riposte with the hard rim of her shield.
Roll: Dexterity + Melee
System: The character must split her dice pool for the second two actions, but both the weapon and the shield benefit from the Boon of House Scathach.
The Musket Duel Feat (Level 3) When involved in a gunfight, the warrior may cloak himself in gun smoke.
Roll: Dexterity + Stealth
System: This feat requires someone in the near vicinity to discharge some kind of firearm; the "dirtier" the weapon, the better. A cannon or flame-thrower might be difficulty 4, while an old-style flintlock is difficulty 6. Comparatively smokeless modern weapons may be difficulty 8 or 9. Numerous weapons in the are decrease the difficulty. For each success the Scathach character scores, his opponent loses one die against him the next turn (as long as their action requires that they see him). Multiple successes can be divided among multiple opponents. Because this is a warrior's feat, only weapon smoke will do. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour.
The Thunder Feat (Level 4) The character throws a small, blunt weapon (club, rock, sling-stone) into her opponents. The weapon bursts with a clap of thunder, and all in the targeted area take damage.
Roll: Dexterity + Melee
Difficulty: Weapon -1
System: The radius of effect is 5 feet per success. This feat requires 1 point of Glamour, and damage is consistent throughout the blast area.
Cantrip Combination: When used with the Primal cantrip Holly Strike and the proper Realm, the cantrip damage is added to the weapon damage. Only things of that Realm, take extra damage, however. Targets not of that Realm take only the feat's standard damage.
The Scythe Chariot Feat (Level 5) The character leaps into the air, spinning in a savage blur and attacking with one weapon per hand. She neither splits her dice pool nor suffers from an off-hand penalty.
Roll: Dexterity + Melee
System: This feat requires 1 point of Glamour.
Cantrip Combination: When used with the Wayfare cantrip Quicksilver, the true power of this feat becomes apparent. Whereas a normal fae might gain three actions, a character using the scythe chariot feat could gain up to six attacks (if she has the Glamour to cover all three feats). Such remarkable destruction has led some Scathach down the road to Bedlam...
Developed by Scathach herself, the Oath of the Honor Bound Allies (see Merits, below) allows the user to teach a commoner either unarmed or armed skills, permanently giving the student +1 die on either her Melee or Brawl dice pools. The commoner, in turn, shares a bit of her Birthright. The Scathach character loses his house Boon against all members of the kith to which he has sworn the oath; the commoner does not get the new combat bonus against members of House Scathach. Members of the kith listed below may buy their own kith's feat at 1 freebie point (or 2 experience points) below cost, while they may buy feats belonging to other kith at 1 freebie point (or 2 experience points) above the listed cost (provided a member of House Scathach is there to perform the Rite). The storyteller is the final arbiter of what feats a player can buy in this manner. If either party breaks this oath or commits deliberately vile deeds (cold-blooded murder, oath breaking, and so on) against any member of the allied house or kith, he breaks the pact and loses any benefits he gained from it. Only the oath breaker loses these benefits; the other party to the pact retains her honour. The violator also permanently gains +1 difficulty to all future Charisma or Manipulation rolls when dealing with members of the offended kith, at least until he makes serious restitution (often a quest in and of itself).
The Jaw Feat (Level 1) Taught by Redcaps (very rarely), this unarmed feat allows the character to stretch her jaws impossibly wide, turning her face into a frightening visage.
Roll: Strength + Brawl
Damage: Strength + 2
System: The practitioner gains +1 die on all Intimidation rolls, plus she can do bite damage at almost the same level as a Redcap (the damage difficulty is a standard 6, compared to the Redcap's difficulty of 5). No limb severing or eating nonedible material allowed, however; such things are solely the province of the Redcap. This unarmed feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts 1 turn per success.
The Long-Arm Feat (Level 2) The character can stretch his body parts, ie: neck, legs, arms, whatever.
Roll: Dexterity + Athletics
System: Effects could be variable: +1 initiative die if one were to stretch an arm out for a quick attack, +1 die on wrestling moves or to escape (Storyteller's decision). A changeling may not use this feat in the presence of unenchanted nonfae. This unarmed feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn per success.
The Charioteer Goad Feat (Level 3) This feat allows a character to heap verbal abuse upon his weapon until it, eager to prove its wielder wrong, attacks or parries foes on its own.
Roll: Manipulation + Intimidation
Damage: Weapon (roll Manipulation rather than Strength)
System: The character makes a Manipulation + Intimidation roll; the number of successes is the dice pool for the weapon's attack. Because this feat requires some direction, the caster is -1 to his dice pool for the feat's duration. This armed feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn per success. Autumn World weapons require the character to call upon the wyrd.
The Disrespectful Left Side of the Chariot Feat (Level 3) Taught by the Pooka, the warrior physically or verbally taunts her target so fiercely that he becomes cross and makes a mistake.
Roll: Manipulation + Persuasion
Difficulty: The target's Willpower + 4 (maximum 10)
System: Each success translates to -1 die from her opponent's Perception pool (minimum 2). This feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn per success. This unarmed feat can be used only against a single target, and each future attempt against that opponent reduces the feat's efficacy by one success.
The Tongue of the Satirist Feat (Level 3) House Scathach leads by deeds, not words (though some Scathach Sidhe are excellent orators). The Eshu can teach the skill of glib oration like none other, giving the student additional skills in the volatile arena of wordplay.
Roll: Manipulation or Charisma + Leadership or Persuasion
System: Not necessarily a combat feat, this ability lowers the difficulty by 1 point for any Persuasion or Leadership rolls. This armed or unarmed feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one half hour per success.
The Apple Feat This is the classic "show-off" combat skill. Taught by the boggans, this feat allows the character to make an attack plus one extra noncombat action per turn without splitting her dice pool. The famous Boggan chef, Deuce "Hasty" Blancmange, is said to have prepared a seven-course meal while holding off a coterie of hungry Redcaps in this manner. Note that if engaged in melee combat, characters have only one hand free with which to work.
Roll: Dexterity + Athletics
System: The action's complexity is the key concept here. Flipping a switch is a simple task; defusing a bomb is not (though the latter may be performed with increased difficulty and multiple accumulated successes). The Storyteller has the final say on what deeds are possible with this feat. This unarmed feat requires 1 point of Glamour and lasts one turn per success.
Cantrip Combination: When used with the Wayfare cantrip Quicksilver, the caster still gains only one additional noncombat action from this feat per turn.
The Respectful Right Side of the Chariot Feat (Level 5) This potent Troll feat allows the warrior to force an "honourable truce" with an opponent, temporarily forcing the adversary to cease hostilities.
Roll: Manipulation + Empathy
System: The caster's roll is a contested one against the target's permanent Willpower (difficulty 6). If the caster gains more successes, the target must suspend hostilities for the remainder of the scene. Subsequent uses against an enemy reduce the caster's dice pool by 1 point per attempt. A warrior who casts this rite an then violates the treaty to gain a temporary advantage over an enemy gains 1 permanent point of Banality and temporarily loses 2 points of Strength (to a minimum of 1) as the Dreaming exacts its revenge. This armed or unarmed feat requires 1 point of Glamour.
Relations with other Kiths, Houses, and Others
From Changeling: The Dreaming, Book of Lost Houses: The Second Coming:
"In many ways the best of our kind, most Boggans are levelheaded, kindly, and know themselves--a rare commodity these days. Be careful about sharing secrets with them, however. Despite their best intentions, they are shameless gossips, almost on par with the blatherskites of House Daireann. Of course, we sometimes use this to our advantage. Share an inconvenient secret with a Sluagh, and he'll sit on it until it suits him. Share one with a Boggan, and it's all over the county by lunch.
"Along with the Sluagh, Eshu are the least frequently seen changelings; even we who share their road see them only rarely. Over the centuries we have forged a policy of mutual assistance, developing a vocabulary of symbols to indicate distance, trods, and hidden dangers.
"Scathach was a patron goddess of blacksmiths and learned much from Skye's ubiquitous Nocker population. We have some small talent in smithing, though nothing approaching the skills of this wily kith. Unlike most houses, we don't depend on them for our weapons.
"A fine kith in most respects. They know what it is to be both the hunter and the hunted. Unlike other Sidhe, we are not immune to the pookas' pranking cantrips. After six hundred long years of dealing with them, we are not without humour, but consorting with Pooka is enough to have even the best of us rethinking our rejection of noble status. They have taught us...patience. Despite our Vulnerability to their pranks, most of them know not to push things too far. Once angered, we're not the easiest people in the world to placate.
"With few exceptions, we have lost all trust for this kith. Many of them stayed on the side of the divide during the War of Trees but never fully severed their ties to the Midnight Host. As we guard against incursions from the Nightmare Realms, we are often as not battling Redcaps.
"Our existence is mostly a solitary one, and it is easy to become disconnected. The Satyrs, more than any other, help to keep us grounded. Whether approaching them for lore or liaisons, we have found that underlying most Satyrs' hedonism is a seriousness of purpose that rivals our own. Despite this, some of the Unseelie variety see our devotion to duty as a challenge and try to seduce us away from our responsibilities.
"Because of our stealth and penchant for secrets, other houses have called us the most Sluaghlike of the Sidhe. I doubt this is meant as a compliment. Most Sluagh distrust Sidhe as a matter of course, and, despite centuries of proving otherwise, this suspicion still often pertains to us. Even so, we have found it useful to work with each other when our goals are aligned. Ironically, our diminished status among the other Sidhe is our best asset when dealing with our fellow whispers.
"Trolls make good allies and worthy adversaries. Both of us consider the protection of the other fae our duty, but we have split on how to fulfill these ends. Many Trolls continue to support our fellow Sidhe as leaders of the fae, and, while it is tempting to call such loyalists "lackeys", this is an oversimplification. Troll support, and the threat of its removal, has provided an invaluable check on destructive noble machinations within both courts.
"We have a mixed relationship with our fellow Sidhe. They are blood-of-our-blood and we have no grudge against them as such. On the other hand, our beliefs long ago put us in an adversarial relationship with most houses.
The Seelie Court
"We were once affiliated with this court, and even now most of us are more sympathetic to Seelie sensibilities. On the other hand, recent Seelie domination of the Autumn fae has caused an unhealthy imbalance in the Dreaming, one we will soon rectify.
"As fellow prophets and wanderers of the French countryside, we have been both allied and at odds with this house, but never enemies. They were apparently imprisioned while in Arcadia. Like us, they now share the enmity of the other houses; we must learn more of this.
"Those of House Dougal are our superiours in matters of crafting; we acknowledge these skills but little else. They are honourable and may be approached as such on an individual basis, though Balor spies in their ranks make this a dicey proposition. As a house, they are far too invested in supportin House Gwydion. Until this changes, we are unlikely to be friends.
"House Eiluned nearly rivals us in divination and surpasses us in other magics, but the Mists cloud their motives. At least they have a healthier view than most of their faerie nature vis-à-vis the courts and do not let one philosophy blind them.
"We find you Fiona as admirable as you are puzzling, as honorable as you are beguiling. I speak with all due affection, but it has always been our perception that House Fiona loves the common fae without fully respecting them. If you did, how could you continue to rule them? Nevertheless, we value our Fiona allies, even if you don’t always recognize us as such.
"How can sidhe so individually noble and heroic be so timid and vacillating as a house? At first glance you might think that we would get along quite well with the Falcon House; we are both warrior clans and loathe to retreat from any challenge. Despite, or perhaps because of these similarities, however, we have been locked in a death dance from nearly the beginning. While we may aid and even befriend them individually, we no longer recognize their right to rule.
"This marginal family of outcasts is quite possibly the most worthy of the Seelie houses, despite their inexplicable insistence on holding onto the failed feudal system of the past. They have suffered the other nobles’ contempt with honor and decorum, and have defended us more than once. We gladly render them aid, if for no other reason than it annoys the other houses.
The Unseelie Court
"We see the Unseelie nobility as no more worthy or unworthy than the sidhe of the Summer Court. We have gained a certain currency within their schemes and, in order to further our own designs, the Unseelie among us occasionally work with them. Then again, there are influential members of the Shadow Court who seem hell-bent on selling out their vaunted freedom in return for power…
"Haughty, earthy, cruel and proud, this house embodies both the best and the worst of the Unseelie houses. Honorable and yet contemptuous of those they deem inferior, they nonetheless seem to have a fascination with us that stems from their Volva tradition. Their warriors are among the best I’ve seen and their Volvas approach our seers’ prophetic abilities.
"Ironically, the most fluent schemers among the Unseelie Court have been our greatest assets when crossing the shadow Court's designs. Ailil politics may be nigh impenetrable, but we have little difficulty in recognizing where our objectives coincide. Most of this house realize that when the Elder Darks return, the best even they can hope for is the status of favoured slaves. To this end, despite their patrician arrogance, we have let them "cultivate" us as a hedge against House Balor.
Despite your companion's overtures, the chances of us allying ourselves with the Serpent House are considerably smaller than those of my flapping my arms and flying to the moon. Yes, we share a certain outcast status, but the similarity ends there. They offer us "revenge on and power over" the Seelie fae when their Formorian progenitors sweep them to victory. How little they understand us. It is possible their dark kind may one day inundate the world, but House Scathach will ever oppose them.
We have an "interesting" relationship with the Oaken House. The progeny of two puissant warrior queens, our houses have been fierce rivals since the beginning and so on opposide sides of more than one battlefield. Even so, our relationship has always been one more of rivalry than hate. This feud began when a garrulous member of House Daireann revealed our ally Cu-Chulainn's weakness--ironically to a renegade avatar of the Morrigan--resulting in his death. We are pragmatic about such issues, however, and have no desire to spill fresh blood over so ancient a grudge.
If you go back far enough, all Sidhe are related through the Tuatha de Danaan, but we have a special connection with the house of Scathach's half sister. Intelligent, mercurial, cultured, and cruel, the House of Thorns has long had our admiration, if not our approval. Unfortunately, their family's curse weighs heavily on them, their desperation inexorably compelling them toward an unknown darkness. No doubt remains that we are on a collision course, but whether our ultimate destiny is to die in aiding or destroying them, I cannot say. No matter what, we are close kin and find them intriguing. For now, we can sympathize with their plight and enjoy their company without falling prey to their wiles.
We know little about this Russian house, but what we have seen disturbs us. They are weavers of patterns and control the spirits of field and hearth. They also seem to have an unhealthy interest in the dark winter chimera who appear ever more numerously at our borders. Yet, they are a proud house and may wish to stay free of the Elder Darks. Fate obscures their final role. We will watch, wait, and when necessary, act.
More than almost any other fae, we have gained experience with these children of the Formorian Dream. When we encounter them, it is almost inevitably as enemies. We have some small sympathy for the neutral Adhene--Scathach herself was raised by Fuath. We have also made tentative alliances with the muses and some independent agencies among the keremet and fir-bholg, but those who worship the Formorian Dream can expect no quarter. Owing to our less than sanguine view of Fate as immutable, the Moirae do not much care for us, viewing us as "loose threads" in Fate's tapestry. We are wild cards, and the vassals of Fate do not like surprises.
Think what you want of us, about our diluted blood, repudiation of your traditions and propensity to stick our noses where they do not belong. It is all to one end. The Elder Darks are awake and even now shape the world to their alien appetites. The White Court has freed itself of its arboreal prison, but Scathach, imprisoned with them, has disappeared. We are not a vengeful house by nature, nor do I boast, but if she is dead, noforce in existence will stay our wrath. Formorian or not, the White Court will choke on its own nightmares. Fate tells us that the world will soon plunge into night everlasting and we, foolish, half-breeds, are just arrogant enough to question her prophecies. These are the times for which we were born.
Views on the Escheat
The Escheat is a constitution of sorts for Changelings, a set of rights for Kithian and Mortal alike to keep everything in balance and peace. The Escheat also keeps Kithian safe from mortals' prying eyes, thus preserving the Dreaming. For more information on this, see The Escheat or the Changeling: The Dreaming Corebook, Second Edition, page 79.
The following was cut from the source material (Changeling: The Dreaming - Book of Lost Houses: The Second Coming), but is still relevant to this article.
The Red Branch "Let us diverge for a second and speak of the Red Branch, since that has long been a point of contention between House Scathach and the other houses. I would never deny the invaluable contributions the Seelie houses made in forming and supporting this noble order, while at the same time regretting the anachronistic feudal structure they persist in following. If it was not for us, I doubt that there would be any commoners in the order, though I’m sure you would not consider that a drawback. From time to time other houses have tried to turn it into a tool to further their personal agendas, though the order’s strict moral code has made it an unwieldy tool for even the most skilled would-be manipulators. The first and only time we ever influenced the Red Branch was through its one time leader CúChulainn, and that was to enshrine a self-governance code in its oath. The Red Branch must retain its autonomy, even from us.
The Escheat "If nothing else, the Escheat is a valuable code for keeping the Kithain from killing each other. Most fae give at least lip-service to these laws, though, like you of House Balor, we have our own interpretation of its provisions.
The Right of Demesne "Let us strip away the rhetoric that frequently surrounds this provision and see it for what it has become: A tool to prop up the nobility at the expense of the common fae. In case I sound too much like a Ranter in this regard, I will concede that it also calls upon fae to respect the property of commoners, but really — who controls the majority of property among the Kithain? The noble houses snatched up the vast majority of trods and freeholds during the Accordance War, and precious little of it has found its way back into commoner hands.
The Right to Dream "Most fae of both courts see this as a practical law, after all, Ravaging depletes the Glamour supply. While we fae can shape and encourage human dreams through our activities, our meddling is just as often harmful to the Dreaming. Changelings of our house follow this law for reasons that transcend the merely practical. We have seen the destruction of dreams and dreamers during the Interregnum ; even the Unseelie among us use Ravaging only in emergencies.
The Right of Ignorance "This is a sensible precaution from a security standpoint, and one we rarely have difficulty following. We have lived among humans long enough to know what trouble can come from exposing our secrets. Of course, we are adaptable and, as with any other rules, we will break them if the situation warrants it. We have occasionally traded our secrets with those prodigals whom we deem trustworthy and useful.
The Right of Rescue "Just because we are often at odds with other fae, does not mean that we do not take this provision seriously. One Undoing diminishes us all and we do not allow fellow Kithain to fall to Banality lightly. Having said this, I am sure, as a scion of Balor, you can appreciate the concept that the fae as a whole are best served by the premature 'retirement' of some malcontents. Maybe a decade working behind the counter of a Quicky-Mart somewhere will give the offender a better perspective on the privilege of being Kithain.
The Right of Safe Haven As wanderers, we more commonly request this right rather than grant it, though in truth we rarely do either. We are creatures of trods, not of freeholds. Where we do have property, it is usually a manor house or similar dwelling, far from other fae in either the Dreaming or the Autumn World. We prefer our solitude. Even so, we share a certain campfire camaraderie and rarely turn someone in need from our door.
The Right of Life Again, this laudable sounding sentiment has been used to create divisions between the rulers and the governed. While Kithain claim this as an immutable law, the reality is that the noble class holds some lives far more valuable than others. 'Sidhe life is more valued than that of the common fae who, after all, reincarnate.' Perhaps this is true, perhaps not. The fundamental difference between commoners and sidhe is the Changeling Way Ritual and, as the only sidhe who have undergone this transformation, I can assure you that the jury is still out on this one. It’s convenient for the other houses to maintain this tradition. It means that killing a noble generally entails harsher penalties than killing a commoner. It also means that most sidhe see our conversion as a danger to this legal chicanery. Is it then any wonder that most houses do not welcome us at their door?
Backgrounds, Merits, Birthrights, and Frailties
Unlike other noble houses, House Scathach has a Background and some Merits semi-exclusive to it. In addition, the Birthrights and Frailties of Sidhe apply differently to members of this house.
This new background reflects the character's place in House Scathach's Meritocracy. Although there are 11 levels of merit in Scathach society, beginning player characters cannot go higher than the fifth level. Clearly, a player may not buy a rank higher than the minimum requirements for that level (see The Hierarchy of House Scathach, above). Characters without this Background are mere fledges, though a Storyteller should grandfather a longtime player character to an appropriate level within the hierarchy. 1 dot - Salik (Seeker) 2 dots - Murid (Disciple) 3 dots - Fellow Crafter 4 dots - Knight 5 dots - Arif (Enlightened One)
Oracle (4 Points)
Except for the Moirae and the Sidhe of House Beaumayn, the seers of House Scathach are quite possibly the best in the Dreaming. This is a birthright handed down through the generations from the Morrigan herself, giving the character -2 difficulty on all rolls involving the Soothsay Art. This Merit is not exclusive to House Scathach, but is possessed by the most able prophets of other kith and houses. Because most others don't share Scathach's prophetic heritage, however, the cost is +1 freebie point for all other fae except the Moirae and House Beaumayn.
Oath of the Honour-Bound Allies (5 Points)
Where Sidhe with Sovereign command obedience, Scathach with this ritual forge alliances. This oath is exchanged only when a member of the house has done a great favour for a commoner, or vice-versa. Each Kithian involved in the transaction must exchange blood and spend 1 point of temporary Glamour. Only Scathach's descendants may master this potent ritual, and the caster must have at least Fae 2 (Lofty Noble) and Gremayre 3 to learn its intricacies. The cost for casting this rite is 1 point of Glamour; thus, if the caster is also party to the exchange, she must spend 2 points of Glamour (one to cast the spell and the other to seal her half of the oath).
Phantom Fate (5 Points)
Fate's tapestry records the life and destiny of every living being. Most lives are stitched in bright and vivid threads, easy for Fate's disciples to watch and record. Others, however, are recorded in threads invisible to all but the most discerning eye. Because House Scathach has taken up a contrarian relationship to Fate's design, some have become truly adept at camouflaging their patterns. Such "ciphers" are all but invisible to the soothsay cantrip Omen (the only way to track such a character is by deciphering the "ripples" she causes when she interacts with others). Furthermore, all other Soothsay cantrips are at +3 difficulty when cast against her, though this additional difficulty pertains to beneficial and detrimental effects alike. The character is just as likely to deflect blessings as curses and may not purchase any Merits or Flaws pertaining to luck. Scathach who attain the seventh level of mastery undergo a rite known as the Trial of Shadows and automatically exhibit this Merit--if they survive. This Merit is not exclusive to House Scathach (indeed, even some humans may unwittingly be ciphers) but is quite rare elsewhere. The cost is +2 freebie points for all other fae. Moirae may not purchase this Merit and are particularly antipathetic toward those so endowed.
Birthrights and Frailties
Scathach's Birthrights and Frailties have changed somewhat since the house's first appearance in Nobles: The Shining Host.
Awe and Beauty - The beauty of the Sidhe is somewhat diluted by the Changeling Way Ritual. Scathach Sidhe recieve only 1 additional point instead of the usual 2. (The Attribute may still exceed 5.) Note that this does not apply to those Scathach who have just returned from Arcadia.
Noble Bearing - Like most Sidhe, those of House Scathach have a raw nobility but no defense against cantrips making them look foolish. This weakened Birthright still means that no Scathach Sidhe will ever botch an Etiquette roll. Scathach just returned from Arcadia do not have this weakened Birthright.
Blood Madness - Because of their changeling nature, Sidhe of this house do not suffer from Banality's Curse. They do, however, exhibit a strange madness in battle. Although a member of this house will not attack friends or bystanders, she has great difficulty leaving combat until either she, or all her enemies, are defeated, though not necessarily dead or even unconscious. (She may accept an honourable surrender.) To leave a conflict, the player must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 7) and accumulate six successes before retreating. A botch returns this count to its starting point, and the warrior must wait a full turn before attempting to retreat again. A character may burn 1 point of Willpower for only one automatic success during this process. Unlike in the Gwydion Flaw, Scathach in this state take all the usual Health penalties when injured. A Scathach warrior becomes preternaturally silent during combat and has great difficulty speaking above a whisper. To speak more loudly the character must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 7) and may utter one short phrase per success. Recent returnees are subject to this frailty just as their more "common" house members.