It is not known exactly how many Queens and Kings once ruled the Kingdom; of this unknown number only eight still have the power to affect the world. Five are dead, two are living and one is... Transformed. Collectively the five dead Queens are known as the Radiant, for they remain loyal to the Light in spirit as well as word; for centuries the Radiant Queens were trapped deep within the Dreamlands, but now their trap has fallen. From their palaces within the Dreamlands they call out to Princesses, seeking Hopeful agents who will restore the Light upon Earth. The three Queens who were not trapped, but stayed active in the world throughout the Long Night, have all been compromised by the Darkness, or by what they’ve done to fight it (depending on who you ask) and, taken together, are known as the Twilight Queens.
Choosing a QueenEdit
It is rare for a Princess to ever agree with her Queen on every single point, and it is almost universal for a Princess to have some affinity for the teachings of several Queens. This can make it hard for Princesses (and players) to know which Court is right for them. Should a naturalist join the court of Diamonds with her fellow women of science, or the court of Clubs with her fellow nature lovers? In all likelihood such a Princess will show her shared ideals by acquiring both the Acqua and Legno Invocations, but the player still has to decide which Queen goes on the top of the character sheet. The answer is which Queen shares her approach to making a brighter tomorrow:
If you believe that ...
- ...self discovery and mutual understanding brings people together in harmony you will always be welcome in the court of Clubs.
- ...clear and careful thought will lead us to a better tomorrow you'll find minds that think alike in the court of Diamonds.
- ...a Princess' role is to build and lead communities into the light then you have a place in the court of Hearts.
- ...a spreading good cheer and laughter is the way to heal the world's ills then you'll fit right in at the court of Spades.
- ...the world needs individual heroes led by all consuming passion then you can proudly join the court of Swords.
The Twilight Queens also have an approach.
- If you believe that the Darkness must be destroyed no matter what it takes you are ready to enlist in the armies of Storms.
- If you believe that being a Princess makes you the most important and special person in the world, and a utopia is just going to happen because you're around then consider the Queen of Mirrors.
- Finally the Queen of Tears would say that if you believe in protecting your people no matter the cost, bring them to Alhambra where they will be safe.
Yet remember that of all the Queens only the Lady of Alhambra rules a kingdom that survives to this day. She asks, and offers, more than any other Queen. A Princess who believes in protecting her people no matter what should still think if she wishes to be a part of Alhambra, and if not she should choose another Queen.
Each Queen confers a benefit, unique to her, on the Hopeful who follow her. While this benefit is a supernatural ability, a Noble may use it in either her mundane or transformed states. Nobles with a strong Belief generally find their Practical Magic grows in power.
Princesses who follow no Queen are rare, but they do exist. They lack affinity to any Invocation. They have their own form of Practical Magic; while in mundane form, a courtless Princess may spend a Wisp to activate their transformed dots that apply to an action’s dice pool.
Some of the Nobility discover, in the course of their labors, that the ideas of the Queen they first swore to follow don’t fit with their experiences any longer; the philosophy of another Queen is truer to their present character, or possibly none of the Queens seem appropriate and she prefers to live outside the Courts. Should this happen a Princess always has the option to return her oath, and to beg audience with a Queen more harmonious with her new-won principles.
For a Princess, entering a Court is a simple matter of speaking to its Queen and offering fealty. With a Radiant Queen doing so involves a trip through the Dreamlands to her seat. The Queen of Storms speaks in the hearts of all who wish vengeance; any of her followers can tell a Princess how to listen for her and speak to her, and if such are not around a Princess can find the method with independent study. The Queen of Mirrors, disconcertingly, always turns up just when a Princess most wants to find her. Only the Queen of Tears poses a real difficulty; as she never leaves Alhambra, a Princess must travel there to swear to her, which normally involves begging a ride from an outpost. Nonetheless, it’s just a matter of time.
Leaving a Court is another matter. Recognition that the ideals and principles you fought and worked for in the mission to resist Darkness are mistaken, wrong-headed, unsuited to the problems you must solve, is mentally and morally disturbing; and the more you’ve dedicated your life and magic to those principles, the more serious the moment of crisis is. When a Princess abandons her current Queen she reaches a breaking point, and makes a compromise roll, taking a penalty to her dice pool equal to her dots in the Invocation favored by the Queen she’s leaving. The effects of the compromise are the same as any other compromise - the Princess leaves the Court whatever the result of the roll turns out to be.
Next: The Queen of Clubs