Welcome to the most complex character type in Changeling: the Dreaming. If the Sidhe don’t give you a headache, then you haven’t read enough source material. Allons-y!
Affinity Realm: None (except House Scathach, who have an affinity for Nature).
Appearance: Don’t let the dated 90s artwork in the books fool you (though Tony DiTerlizzi’s art is still awesome). The sidhe resemble humans of unearthly beauty; their bodies are perfect, their features pleasing and their hair richly colorful. They are ethereal and carry a hint of sadness even when they laugh. Tall and lean, they are fierce and regal, with tapering pointed ears, angular features and a commanding gaze. Their eyes are of odd yet striking colors, such as violet or silver. They rarely wear anything but the finest clothing.
Lifestyle: Just as the sidhe have positions of esteem in the courts of the Kithain, they tend to hold valuable positions in the mortal world as well. Wealth and privilege are common to them, and they are expected to live affluent lives. Those who cannot often become resentful and fall into a very Unseelie state of mind.
Seemings: Childlings of the Seelie persuasion know their blessings and act like perfect little ladies and gentlemen, while Unseelie brats can throw unholy tantrums when they don’t get their way. Wilders can be high-spirited and presumptuous, overconfident that chivalry and nobility will prevail or rebellious and scheming for power. Grumps have settled into the weight of their lofty position, pining for days gone by and finding release from introspection through court intrigues.
Sidhe are insanely beautiful. Even the so-called ugly ones are good-looking by human standards. Although their human appearances could be dull or even ugly, in faerie mien, they get a +2 to their appearance rating, even if it takes them over the limit of 5. So, yes, a Sidhe could have a final Appearance of 7 while in fae mien, and yes, he or she would be absolutely mind-meltingly, eye-burningly beautiful.
They are also extremely fragile. Sidhe are not like the other Kithain in the world. Since most of them came back with the Resurgence during the 1969 moon landing, they have not embraced the Changeling Way. They have not bonded with mortal flesh in the same way the commoners have. They’re more like body-snatchers, and thus, they are more susceptible to the ravages of Banality. For every point of temporary Banality a commoner would get, a Sidhe would get two points.
Their fragility also tends to drive them rather crazy. Sidhe can be prone to fits of depression. The weakest of them can overcome these fits by changing their Legacies back and forth. When this happens, the spell must last at least from moonrise to moonrise or sunset to sunset. Strong-willed sidhe escape this mania by retreating further into their Legacies; Seelie become impossibly idealistic and Unseelie sink to the very depths of villainy. Their great extremes can make them almost unendurable.
Furthermore, during the 600 or so years of their absence from Earth, the memories are gone. Sometimes, there are hazy, dream-like recollections of something happening, and there are fond longings for home. But no Sidhe remembers what happened in Arcadia or why they are suddenly in exile on Earth again. Some are not adapting well, but as a general rule, the Wilders and Childlings are faring better than Grumps. This often leaves the Sidhe somewhat confused and out of place in the modern world, especially those of more traditionalist mindsets.
Sidhe also have a very skewed sense of time that is not at all like commoners or mortals. Unlike any other race of beings in the World of Darkness, they do not experience time in a linear fashion. Yes, it gets a bit wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. But Sidhe have a very difficult time differentiating past from present. It doesn’t cause any dice penalties, but it should be role-played out.
This phenomenon lends a certain weight of reverence and awe for even recent events. It gives the Sidhe a sense of history where there was none before, which is vital to their psyches since most of them revere tradition so much. As a general rule, time seems to accelerate for humans as they get older; with Sidhe, it’s the opposite. A day seems to stretch out for an era to a Grump Sidhe. A noble could wax nostalgic about a grand and glorious afternoon during the twilight hours, speaking as if he were talking of events years ago. The only Sidhe who really have their shit together are those who actively study the Chronos Art and try to master time.
The Sidhe just love their hierarchies and their courts. There is a lot of organisation and a lot of history, dividing them up into political impulses and noble houses. Here’s a brief overview of what they are:
- Traditionalist: Comprising Sidhe nobility as well as a sizable portion of the commoner Kith, the Traditionalists believe in the rights of a king or queen as well as in the inherent leadership abilities of the Sidhe. They embrace the old ways, and their numbers are mostly composed of Sidhe, Trolls, Nockers and Boggans.
- Reformer: Composed of Kithain from all walks of life, the Reformers are the middle path. They believe in a constitutional monarchy, operated by a philosopher-king and open to the will of the people. High King David is a Reformer, and currently, Concordia (the nation that covers America) is a constitutional monarchy.
- Modernist: Rarely are these individuals ever Sidhe nobles. Modernists accept the modern world as a reality to be dealt with or to be embraced wholly. Commoners are to be accorded the same rights as the nobles. As vulnerable as they are to Banality, this is a dangerous prospect for Sidhe, although House Scathach is predominantly modernist.
- Purists: Less concerned with the balance noble and commoner, the Purists are those who believe that rulership needs to be divided between Seelie and Unseelie, as it used to be.
- Repudiators: Members of this Impulse believe that it’s high time the Seelie were overthrown and that the Unseelie take power. For 600 years, the Seelie have retained control. The Unseelie believe they are entitled to an equal amount of time in control.
- Ritualists: This impulse’s members work to advance the Unseelie cause, joining the Shadow Court, and searching for ways to reawaken lost ties to the Dreaming.
- Anarchists: This impulse believes it’s time to overthrow the government of Concordia, sow chaos, and spread destruction. Obviously, this is an Unseelie impulse.
Houses of Nobility
It’s worth noting that there are different ways to say ‘of House Blah’ between men and women. For men, it’s ap House, and for women, it’s ni House. Example: Gawain ap Fiona, Amelie ni Scathach. Furthermore, the Sidhe of the Houses often have additional boons and flaws to augment their Birthrights and Frailties (See +bf <house name> for info).
- Gwydion: The house of rulership and the greatest in power among the Sidhe, Gwydion is extremely traditional and boasts the best warriors, though House Fiona contests that. Gwydion is closely allied to House Dougal and is suspicious of Eiluned. High King David is of House Gwydion as an honorary member, and Baron Aitur ap Gwydion is a full member, who holds local power.
- Eiluned: Second in power only to Gwydion and masters of magic, Eiluned has a strong Unseelie presence and is forever challenging Gwydion’s power. Its dark reputation means that it goes largely untrusted.
- Fiona: Although not as powerful as Gwydion or Eiluned, Fiona holds the most land and is considered the most popular of the noble houses. It has a reputation for flighty Sidhe, who are notoriously passionate about matters of love, liquor and war. Of the houses, Fiona is the most egalitarian, and it rarely uses its power offensively, preferring the stable status quo.
- Dougal: Gruff, honest and practical, the members of House Dougal prefer to focus on pragmatic matters and leave leadership to House Gwydion. They are superb craftsmen and have little patience for political bullshit. With little guile at their disposal, they usually handle disputes through blunt honesty and force of arms. High King David is Dougal by birth.
- Liam: A disgraced house, considered to be dishonoured for the crimes of King Liam and the Christian Church, Liam holds next to no power in political intrigues. The house holds little land, but its Sidhe and other members are often widely traveled and serve as advisors to other houses. There are rumours of secret alliances with Fiona and Scathach, but there’s no proof. Furthermore, in the hopes of being reaccepted into society, they cast out all Unseelie from their ranks.
- Scathach: At the very bottom of the totem pole, viewed with disdain even more than House Liam, House Scathach is without political power in mainstream society and shows little interest in changing that. Unlike the other noble houses, Scathach did not abandon Earth and retreat into Arcadia during the Shattering. They remained, embracing the Changeling Way, and are rumoured to have dark alliances with the Gallain. Other nobles have “conveniently forgotten” that it was Scathach who greatly helped the returning nobles during the Resurgence. If any character wants to be born into House Scathach, see Raven. They have different birthrights and frailties than other Sidhe.
- Ailil: This house stands as openly Unseelie, for it, they’ve earned the enmity of many Seelie houses. They are schemers and masters of Machiavellian practices, and they yearn to see a return to the olden days, when the rule of the fae was divided between the Seelie and Unseelie, following the course of the seasons. Baroness Deirdre ni Ailil is a member of this house and holds power in Wood Grove Barony (Ypsilanti, MI).
- Leanhaun: Burdened by Finellia’s curse, this Unseelie house subject their greatest loves to their own form of Rhapsody to obtain their Glamour. Failure to do so results in the horrible aging and decay of the Changeling.
- Balor: The darkest of the Unseelie Houses, there are stories that the Sidhe of House Balor consort regularly with the Black Spiral Dancers of the Garou. Many are members of the Shadow Court, and each one bears some sort of deformity, like a club foot or a blinded eye.
Guidelines for Your Personal Background
In the early days of the Resurgence, many of the Sidhe were forced to “possess” the bodies of adults. It really was a full-on body-snatcher escapade. Now that the Sidhe have settled and better established themselves, newly-arrived faeries start their lives as children. Unlike the Commoners, who bind themselves to unborn souls and reincarnate, the Sidhe must continue to possess their bodies.
What happens to the human soul that had been in there previously? No one really knows, but the Sidhe believe the human goes to Arcadia where it shall be well-treated and pampered.
The Chrysalis happens the moment the Sidhe arrives to take the human body. Again, this is unlike the commoners’ Changeling Way, where it’s a gradual, cushioned process. However, for a Sidhe, the younger the body taken, the more chance they have of retaining the mortal’s memories. Pre-Interregnum memories are regained very slowly, and usually not until well into adulthood.
The Sidhe of House Scathach, however, are the exception to the rule when it comes to their Chrysalis. When the Sidhe disappeared during the Shattering, fleeing into Arcadia and leaving the commoners behind, House Scathach also remained. They embraced the Changeling Way, and so they experience a Chrysalis like commoners do. For this reason, almost all of the other Sidhe in the noble houses, both Seelie and Unseelie alike, regard House Scathach as only half-Sidhe or not really Sidhe at all.
From there on out, the young Sidhe is found by others of his kind, and then he is fostered and taught. When he undergoes his Saining – a ritual to determine his true identity and his true House – he must also complete his Fior Righ, a trial of ordeals to test his strength, wit, and endurance.
Sidhe who hold truly high rank (Count and above) can usually have the mortal halves of their lives handled for them. Money, food and shelter are often provided. It allows them to distance themselves more from humanity and focus on faerie matters, which is considered only right and suitable for the ruling class. Obviously, this carries high risks of Bedlam. For lower-ranking Sidhe, however, it is not uncommon to be forced to deal with the mortal half of life, even if grudgingly so. There are Sidhe knights who are forced to live on the streets, and there are Sidhe barons who have to hold down a job of some sort. For these Sidhe, the risks of Banality are extremely high.
Death is commonly, deeply feared among the Sidhe (except in House Scathach). The commoners know that they’ll only be reborn again into new, mortal bodies. So while the Undoing into Banality is a sad and mournful occasion, there is also the hope of rebirth and rediscovering their faerie nature. Sidhe, on the other hand, are not reincarnating. When they die, they don’t come back. No one knows what happens. They may move on to some other sort of afterlife, they may return to Arcadia, they may come back as commoners (a fate worse than annihilation, in the estimation of many Sidhe), or they may simply cease to be. It’s an uncomfortable topic of conversation, to be sure.