AKA: The Queen of Knaves, The Queen of Thieves
Kingdom: The Confederacy of Four Winds
Followers' Epithets: Knaves, Rogues (affectionately derogatory), Scoundrels (affectionately derogatory)
- Why does everyone think we Knaves are lazy? Being a Knave is hard work, last week I had five parties, five! That was a lot of planning, and dancing all night really tires you out. Then I spent all last night watching great stand ups and making notes. I know everyone in school's name, that took weeks of work, I had to write songs to help me remember, and then there's birthdays and everyone's favorite foods and what kind of jokes they like. After all that you have to keep yourself full of energy because any time something goes wrong people expect you to be the fast thinker, and you can't do that when you're tired.
- But it's all worthwhile when I see my friends smile.
A lot of the world’s problems aren’t nearly as hard as we “know” they are. If we could just step outside the box and give ourselves space to look at other ideas, space to breathe, we could accomplish so much. The Queen of Knaves leads a Confederation of Princesses who challenge common knowledge and teach people to laugh at the absurdities of the rules which define them. They do the Light’s work with a quick wit, nimble hand and lateral thinking.
Tales of the KingdomEdit
Drifting above the mountain-side settlements that form The Confederacy of Four Winds the Queen of Spades rules from a palace carved out of the clouds themselves. Blessed with limitless energy the Queen breezes through her palace and amusements trailing courtiers and petitioners in her wake. Her regal presence comes not from her appearance but from her character. She is youthful, yet she possesses a presence that blows from her; carrying with it a sense of confidence and power, the smell of windswept desert sand, spices and the Queen's infectious laughter. Fashion at the royal court is a turbulent affair. The Queen changes her style frequently; always trying to keep one step ahead of fashions. This has memorably led to her occasionally presiding over a court of punks and ravers while dressed in ermine robes.
In conversation with her Princesses the Queen of Knaves breezes from topic to topic; she actively resists her Princesses trying to pin her down to a single topic. It's a game to her and unlike the citizens a Princess is expected to be skilled enough to play. Asking the Queen to stay focused (or worse: Get annoyed) is the fastest way to lose the game. If a Princess keeps her wits about her she may discover the Queen has answered all her questions (though not always in the order the questions were asked; and the answers may be hidden in riddles or metaphor). The Queen favours Princesses who play well, any Knave who can adopt her Queen's breezy style of casual conversation and trick the Queen of Knaves into answering a hidden question scores highly indeed.
Her enemies say that the Queen of Knaves was a rebel before her coronation and remains a rebel at heart. Her supporters and citizens ask who better to lead a nation of tricksters, scoundrels and merchants than the Queen of Thieves herself? However the weight of truth travels with these accusations. The Queen is nostalgic for her days as a rebel and frequently leaves her throne unattended to travel her kingdom as a commoner, playing pranks and jokes before departing with the winds. She's infamously responsible for about half the graffiti in her kingdom. Her supporters again retort that what she lacks as an administrator, she makes up for by being the laughing heart of her people.
The Queen of Spades shows that you can solve any problem with an open mind and a smile.
Find the Center of the ProblemEdit
The Queen of Spades delights in unorthodox solutions. She has reached infamy for immediately suggesting one sentence solutions to complicated problems and insisting her followers prove it wont work or else carry it out. Many of these suggestions are obviously absurd but it doesn't matter, their purpose is not to solve the problem. By playing the devil's advocate with a bad idea she forces her followers to question “obvious” assumptions and ingrained dogma and so learn the first of her Philosophies: To look beyond the obvious and the assumed, to question what the real problem is, and to act only when she has found it. If the best answers are obvious after they've been found, then they are already obvious to she who just looks in the right way.
Free As the WindEdit
Power carries within it the seed of tyranny. The Queen of Spades sees no virtue in submitting to the demands of an authority. Moreover, it’s wrong to make such demands on those who have promised nothing. If the only way to get a thing done is to hold a blade to someone’s throat until they do it, well, that just shows it shouldn’t be done, or that you’re meant to do it yourself. The Queen of Spades holds it meritorious to frustrate those who oppress and extort service, and to release those who suffer in bondage; becoming free as the wind yourself is necessary, and working to free others is glorious.
Laughter is the Best MedicineEdit
You can't change the past, but you can choose how you react to it. Who would prefer to cry than to laugh? To the Queen of Spades laughter really is the best medicine, and a positive attitude is just the thing to get a Princess who's feeling down out the door and fixing her problems.
Champions of Spades often rely on speed and agility in favour of raw power, if they have a weakness it's a tendency to rely on their ability to avoid a blow and consequently Knaves can't take a hit as well as some other Courts. When fighting alongside other Princesses many specialise in harassing their foes support while their allies fight the main battle. Outside of combat Champions of Spades are peerless scouts and messengers, before the spread of modern communication systems they served as a vital backbone in communication, trade and governance. Their powers of speed and flight made the knaves vital despite their carefree attitude.
Graces of Spades are not the teachers, mentors or diplomats you'd find in the other Courts. They don't want to change the way you think, a Grace of spades just wants to turn that frown upside down! The life of every party and the first onto the dance floor; everyone has a great time if there's a Grace of Spades around. Graces of Spades are often called upon by their counterparts in the other Courts, especially when they're working with large groups of mortals. It is easier to keep people's attention when they're enjoying being here but it's a double edged sword for the Knaves bring a party atmosphere that can be counterproductive when the Princess is working on serious matters.
Menders of Spades have an unusual focus, but a vital one. They heal the ills people inflict upon themselves. Closer to a teacher than a psychiatrist the Menders seek out those who've internalised harmful views of themselves; whether it's a cruel parent's insults or a demeaning cultural stereotype. They subtly and deftly force their patients to confront their opinion again and again until they realise at last that it was no more solid than a dark cloud before the sun and it vanishes in a puff of wind.
Seekers of Spades are taught to be open minded and to keep their eyes open. Often the answers to the toughest problem is just lying out in the open, just waiting to be seen by someone open minded enough to accept it. In a Nakama a Seeker of Spades is the one to come up with the plan, directing the group to unorthodox but effective solutions, they do their best work with small focused goals.
Whatever medium she uses, A Troubadour of Spades is the mistress of two arts: How to make people laugh and how to make people think. Some are out there day after day in the worst, most deprived areas showing people how to laugh despite it all. Others are renowned for art that looks at old ideas in new ways and finds fresh answers to questions that were long thought solved. The very best combine thought with laughter as peerless satirists who can have you laughing riotously at your ideological foes until you realise the joke has been on you.
The free spirit of the Knaves is usually evident even before they Blossom. The Court of Spades draws its members from various countercultural groups (or as close as it can get given the young age of the average Blossoming), quite a few members were even outright criminals who Blossomed through a heroic effort to turn their life around. Even when they aren't actually members of countercultural groups would-be spades often have some of the attitude. They are the self proclaimed jokers, slackers and class clowns who fight with authority, usually for the fun of it.
Joining the Court of Clubs encourages these traits, but also softens them in its own way. Declaring war upon "The Man" is less of an issue when you can just fly away, and when you can live on magic instead of a nine to five job. Knaves are more likely to make fun of what they see as wrong in society than they are to take up arms, and when they do decide to make a change their approach is often subtle, finessed and sometimes incomprehensible to others. It is usually delivered with a smile.
As befitting a Court built in individualism and independence Knaves can be incredibly varied. Most have high scores in at least two Finesse attributes: Wits to live life outside the normal systems, Manipulation to get away with it. Dexterity isn't always favoured but if it is needed it tends to be high. Skills often emphasize the free spirited lifestyle: Survival to live on your own wits, Streetwise to make a fast buck without getting tied down to a nine to five job. Many knaves mix Persuasion and Subterfuge to talk their way out of trouble. For Merits many a Rogue's dashing charm and witty nature leads to a high Circle, which compensates for how her philosophy is at odds with the responsibilities of a Mandate. Knaves often have very broad Contacts, especially Graces for she who throws great parties shall never want for friends. Physically, Fleet of Foot and Fast Reflexes come naturally to a practitioner of Aria.
Heraldry: The Heraldry of Spades is the light blues of wind, the greys of the clouds and the oranges and browns of falling autumn leaves. The Knaves tend to be very individualistic in their choice of Regalia but light breezy outfits mixed with counter-cultural symbols are common. So are subtle visual puns for the observant viewer.
The Queen of Knaves is a friend to the outcast, the downtrodden and the rebellious, and teaches her followers how best to aid them. When a Knave wishes to help someone escape the wrath of an authority, or to persuade an authority to mercy for a transgressor, she may spend 1 Wisp to gain an exceptional success on 3 successes instead of 5. She may use this to help herself, or another person. The authority in question may be a single person, an institution or the general opinion of the public; it must, though, have real power over the person the Knave wants to help.
High Belief grants extra dice to her dice pool for the affected action: at Belief 8 the Wisp adds a +1 bonus, at Belief 9 it adds +2, and at Belief 10 it adds +3.
The Invocation of Spades is Aria, the enviable lightness of being. It is the principle of detachment, the paradoxical unity of speed with forethought, and the laughter in the wind. Aria is taught by the Queen of Spades and her followers learn it easiest of all.
Aria applies at no cost when a Princess is blown by strong winds, moves at running speed or faster, or is at risk of falling from a height; and when the target of her Charm is the air, or other gases. It also applies without cost when a Princess intends to catch someone by surprise, to make someone laugh, to cast doubts, to expose pretensions and humiliate arrogance, and to subvert formal rules of an organization or society.
Aria will not support any assertion of authority over another person. A Princess is free to advise, to persuade, to appeal to friendship, and even to deceive (within the limits of Belief) while using Aria, but if she issues a command she cannot apply the Invocation for the rest of the scene.
Clubs: Good-natured sort, by and large - except when they're not. The little groan from a “Let’s go clubbing” joke never gets old.
Diamonds: I probably shouldn't take quite so much pleasure in pointing out when they’re wrong. It’s a rare enough thing that it’s a treat, though.
Hearts: Too static and too reactionary to really quite get it. She sometimes gives the impression she cares more about organisations than the people in them.
Swords: Passionate and vivacious; oh, what fun!
Tears: The last part of the Kingdom? Hardly. It’s nothing more than a rotting paper-mache mockery of anything that was good.
Storms: Hate is like a ball-and-chain around their legs. Even if they start bludgeoning people with the weight, they’re still trapped by it.
Mirrors: Look at them, staring into their looking-glasses. Of course they only see themselves wherever they look.
Vampires: They seem to be at the heart of any rotten power structure. I wonder; do they corrupt things, or are they just drawn to such things like flies to meat?
Werewolves: Discretion is often the better part of valour when a pissed-off eight foot monster is on the prowl. But sometimes you just have to get between them and their victims to draw them off.
Mages: Look at the puppet-masters, making society dance on strings to their tunes. Never let them catch you with scissors.
Prometheans: I met a girl made from a hanged woman once. She wandered the world as free as a bird, and no matter where she went people tried to trap her. I was tempted too... I don’t like the side of me I showed there.
Changelings: Tricksters and lawyers to a man. Don’t try to beat them at their game of words and promises unless you’re sure you’re very good, or they’ll ensnare you.
Sin-Eaters: I’m not sure what to make of them. It’s a little... creepy that things so morbid can be so cheerful.
Mad Scientists: Oh, don't mind us. We're just watching but um, can we like, be the beautiful lab assistants and shout “It's Alive!” or something?
Leviathans: Um, right, yeah, living in the sky is starting to look like a good idea.
Hunters: Such a mixed bunch. Some of them are just people; others are as bad as the monsters. Some of them are monsters. If you extend the hand of friendship, be ready to pull it back if it looks like they’re going to cut it off for use in medical research.
Mortals: People of the world, cast off your chains!
- Lighten up! This will be fine, and if not we'll just run for it.
Next: The Queen of Swords