|Chapter Two: Practical Living|
Let me say flat out that we are not, nor ever will be, princes of men, or fae for that matter. A good number of us run freeholds and there are a few who play at “being the power behind the throne”, but by and large we are just not plumb fool enough to make ourselves targets like that. Sure, we might miss out on all of the fame, glory, and power, but if you think about it, none of those things are very tangible- not like good friends, a full belly, or a secure home.
Those who are in positions of power frequently have difficulty keeping friends, and those among them who manage to achieve long lives are the excessively paranoid. The sidhe and the eshu would have you believe that leading a simple life in a nice, safe home is nearly as banal as cold iron. Well, grand quests and magnificent palaces are all well and good, but really, where would they be without the contrast of a place to come home to? That is, the existence of a secure and comfortable home is what lends power to the stories of journeys and quests.
Sure, it might not sound dashing and daring, but at the heart of every story is either the establishment or the return to home. And that means, as the homebodies of the kithain, boggans are at the heart of our society. Oh, we’ll lead people or fight in battles if it’s needed, but if you want something well built, a warm spot by the fire, or just a sympathetic ear, then it’s a boggan that you go.
Now, because we tend to shy away from authoritative positions and have a reputation for reliability that is rivaled only by the trolls, we find a lot of menial tasks being put on us by those who are in charge. On the negative side, this means that we’re frequently seen as welcome mats to the other kiths, but there are also several positive aspects to this. One is simply that we can get things done three times faster than anybody else, allowing the gears of our fragile little society are to turn faster and more efficiently then they might otherwise. Another is that if we do it, we know the job will be done well. And, most importantly, we know what work is being done, who’s stockpiling weapons, who wants to build a castle, and other such things. Such information not only makes for good gossip, but also could mean the difference between life and death if hostilities were to break out.
Being the smallest guys on the block, survival has always been an important issue with us boggans over the long and turbulent centuries. The pooka flee into the wilds or their dreamburrows, and the sluagh hole up in whatever ghastly hidey-holes that they’ve contrived, but we’ve mastered the art of hiding in plain sight. Boggans make themselves so indispensable to certain powerful kithain or to freeholds that they are seen more as fixtures then as people, much less as threats. A few use debts that they have accrued or gossip that they’ve heard to blackmail their way out of trouble. The method that I prefer is to use our gossip network, knowledge of work contracts, social dynamics, and maybe a hint of soothsay to avoid trouble before it starts.
Nearly all boggans do two things. One is to cultivate the image of boggans as non-threatening peaceful little people who are much more useful then they are dangerous. And the other, even among most of our unseelie number, is to support the Escheat.
Birthrights and Frailties
In ages past, a boggan could work though the night and create an enormous palace; one built of gold and sunlight and fit only for the greatest of kings. This ability diminished along with the role boggans played in the course of human affairs. By the time of the Shattering, a single boggan couldn’t do much more than plow a farmer’s field in a single night, or make several pairs of expensive shoes. Although not as powerful today as it was before, this birthright still allows boggans to perform feats of manual labor much faster then anyone else possibly could.
Boggans must labor unobserved because traditionally, it is crucial that the boggan’s beneficiary is believed to have done the labor himself. The stories of heroes who are given impossible tasks such as separating piles of grain or spinning straw into gold are perfect examples. Invariably, their task was completed by some little helper, but with the ploy that it was the hero who had performed the task. If the boggan’s aid were to be discovered the dreamer might be killed and the boggan’s work would have been in vain. If no one saw the boggan work, who’s to say that it was him, and not the mortal princess who spun the straw into gold? It’s because of this ancient tradition that, to this day, boggans cannot be observed while using this birthright.
Like it or not, boggans tend to get neck deep in politics and intrigue. Between labor commissions and working in freeholds it’s hard not to get caught up in the whirl and dervish of fae politics. Most use these sorts of positions to pick up entertaining bits of gossip, but with this birthright an attentive boggan can also pick up the hidden subtexts of what’s going on.
Any blamed fool can figure out that Duke So-and-so is gearing up for war, but a boggan who spends any time around the right people can usually figure out that Count What’s His Face is the Duke’s target because of an insult at the last high court, but the Duke’s consort is having an affair with the Count’s brother, so she might betray her husband, and so on and so forth.
Not surprisingly the position of boggans in kithain society coupled with their gossip networks and this birthright make them information gatherers on par with the sluagh- but boggans aren’t mistrusted the way sluagh are. The boggans who decide to embroil themselves in politics are deft and masterful in this arena; I heard once of a boggan that was a full member of house Ailil. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a frightening thought.
Of course, there are many other uses for this birthright. Imagine a boggan lawyer for one, someone who can discern the relationship between his client, his opponent’s client, and the witnesses, not to mention being able to figure out the dynamics of the jury. Because of this ability, boggans make excellent marriage counselors, salesmen, advertisers, teachers, and social workers, just to name a few. Social dynamics is also an ideal way of discovering who might be in need of a helping hand.
Call of the Needy
The most important thing to remember is that it is “Call of the Needy” not “Call of the Whiney-Want-it-Now”. Being “needy” is fairly objective, and every boggan gets pulled differently by this frailty by those who he perceives to be in need. Some boggans are very attentive and play nursemaid to everyone that they meet; others only feel compelled to action should someone be in truly dire circumstances. The method of alleviating someone’s needs can also vary greatly.
Say a boggan meets a poor single mother who can’t make enough money to support herself and her sick child. Some boggans might get personally involved and volunteer to watch the child and donate food for their meals. Another might take a “larger perspective” position and lobby the government for better welfare provisions. To some of our darker brothers and sisters, a perfectly acceptable solution to the mother’s problem would be to abduct or even kill the child.
While praise or acknowledgement of aid is never sought by a boggan, payment sometimes is. In olden times a firstborn child or a maid on her wedding night were popular choices given to those who received aid in duress. It doesn’t matter that the boggan would have been compelled to help them without payment- the humans had no way of knowing.
While it is known for some boggans to ask for rewards, the vast majority do not. As a kith boggans have learned the value of what is commonly known as the “silent agreement”. When a boggan assists someone and asks for no reward or even acknowledgement, then not only does this give the boggan a generous reputation, but it leaves the recipient of his aid feeling indebted. Having people indebted to him, a boggan always has people he can go to for favors, assistance, or even sanctuary.
Phrased like this, it makes boggans all sound like tricky little connivers, which some of them most certainly are, but as a whole it’s merely another one of the many survival tactics that boggans have picked up over the years.
The Right of Demesne
We recognize the importance of this tenet in preventing anarchy in Concordia, but we do believe that the authority that it grants should be earned and not given. The sidhe, or any others, only have a right to rule so long as they prove themselves just and apt rulers. While we recognize authority, we don’t just roll over for it either. Those that treat guests well deserve respect in return. Those that offer no hospitality, or demand respect when it’s not due, shall quickly find themselves the ruler of an empty household, or nothing at all.
The Right to Dream
Even the most unseelie of us will refuse to engage in rhapsody or other practices that might prevent a mortal from ever dreaming again. All things dream, and deserve that right. When we interfere with this right, we starve ourselves. Mankind is capable of astounding miracles when given the chance.
The Right of Ignorance
We’re practical enough to know that sometimes this rule must be bent, if not broken, but by and large it is respected as an important precaution. Also, just as we prefer the simpler life in comparison to our fellow Kithain, we must respect the same of the Autumn world. If they wish to lead their lives without chasing dragons, so be it.
This doesn't mean you can't interact with mortal society, just respect the boundaries they have. There are... people... that don't understand what glamour truly is, and react poorly in its presence. Don't bring about your doom with poorly spent glamour. It's safer for all of us.
The Right of Rescue
As a kith who essentially adheres to this as a part of our fundamental nature, we wholeheartedly support this tenet of the Escheat. I just wish that the other kithain didn’t need a law to convince them to help another changeling in need.
The Right of Safe Haven
Like the Right of Rescue, this tenet (also known as the Right of Hospitality) is our bread and butter. The sidhe have made up a whole mess of formalities connected to this right,-the number of days that one should be granted hospitality, the guest’s boon, the guest’s position at supper, the host’s welcoming speech, and all manner of other tripe meant to keep to warring factions from killing each other over the dinner table. But at its heart, the Right of Safe Haven is just being neighborly and kind.
The Right of Life
Much like the “Thou shalt not kill” of the Ten Commandments, this tenet is quickly cast aside in time of war. Killing fellow kithain, though, is ultimately suicide. All signs point to the Long Winter being upon us soon, and when it comes we’ll only have one another to rely on. Is it not bad enough we slowly drift away more and more from our true fae lives, now we must shed blood at every opportunity? Our numbers grow fewer and fewer every night we fight, and now there are rumors of cold iron being used. I don’t know what’s wrong with the rest of the kithain, that they can’t see how dangerous for all of us this is.
A roaring fire, a soft chair, fine food, and good company. What more can anyone ask for? And yet time and again, we are mocked for preferring such things over the supposed glory of battlefields and the adventure of the road. Those are fleeting pipe dreams, and only a fool thinks that they’re more important then the comforts that one can find at home.
Now, many people, be they human or fae, have home lives that are somehow dissatisfying, perhaps even dangerous or abusive. And it is because of this that they leave their homes in search of something better. But what they are ultimately seeking is a new home. How many fairytales or legends end with the hero going off to fight more battles or back out on the road? Just about all happy endings have the hero winning a new home, or returning to their old home under better conditions. Us boggans, we just skip all that mess in the middle and go straight to the “happily ever after.”
So. you’ve got that whole thing about roaring fires and all. How about some details of what exactly it is that boggans like? Being homebodies, we have the advantage of ample time to spend in the kitchen, learning how to prepare tasty meals and brew fine ales. We usually indulge ourselves in this area. We grow as much of our own food and ingredients as possible, take our time in preparation, and then eat and drink as though we didn’t need to worry about going home afterwards. Of course, our birthright gives us the ability to spend as much time preparing our food and drink as we might need.
The over-used image of the boggan with his pipe of tobacco (in no small part due to one Mr. Tolkien, I’m sure) is naturally not entirely correct; most boggans do not smoke at all- much less smoke pipes. However, pipe smoking is a simple luxury that can be enjoyed in the home, and as such, boggans do smoke pipes in far greater numbers than other fae. Boggans rarely have the finances or glamour for more refined luxuries, but we have a greater appreciation for that which we can make ourselves over what can be purchased.
Boggans are spirits of the home, and freeholds are the erstwhile homes of the fae. As such, it is only natural that we are closely linked to nearly every freehold in Concordia. From small commoner holds to mighty noble lands, there are precious few freeholds without a boggan presence.
Of the few commoner-held freeholds, easily half or more are directly held by boggans. The primary reasons for this are that we seek out such positions and, more to the point, that we are good at them. You can count on a boggan to stay put, and really work at a place until it is in tip-top shape. We’re not about to get bored, wander off, or get called to fight some silly war if we have a home to look after. We’re also the kith most likely to be granted propriety of a freehold by the sidhe. You see, boggans are easily the second most trusted commoner kith after the trolls. Trolls, however, are far too valuable as bodyguards and soldiers for them to live in any hold but a noble hold. Besides, by this point we’ve proven our efficiency at running freeholds. We keep them neat, organized, and sometimes even peaceful.
Of course the sidhe nominally run their own freeholds, but our knack for organizing people, working quickly, and looking harmless has us in high demand in noble households. There is almost always a boggan in charge of the day-to-day operations of the larger freeholds. For the truly great palaces of the sidhe, there may be a whole staff of boggans to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Our duties frequently involve managing personnel (no easy task when working with satyrs, pooka, and chimera), cooking, cleaning, maintenance, chimera handling, accounting, scheduling, tutoring, record keeping, trod managing, gardening, and dealing with any manner of unexpected occurrences that may happen in a magical realm. For service to a sidhe lord, boggans are generally granted a position that affords them some small amount of status in noble society. Naturally, these positions are sneered at by many commoners. Any position may fall on a boggan, but the ones most commonly granted to us are: herald, chancellor, scribe, steward, and reeve. (For a full list and description of the different types of retainers, see Changeling: the Dreaming, page 77.)
When we control our own freeholds, they tend to be fairly small and simple affairs. There is usually little need or patience for official titles and duties in even our larger homes. We try to emphasize comfort in our homes, since we like to spend a lot of time there. With things like soft chairs and fireplaces, many of our freeholds adopt a sort of simple rustic look. English county hovels or American lodges are common frameworks for boggan freeholds, they exude a homey, sort of earthy feel (much like we do) and remind us of our proletarian roots.
Of course, there isn’t any sort of rule governing the appearance of boggan freeholds. I’ve seen one that looked like a Japanese pagoda, another like a fallen tree trunk, one burrowed under the ground, and another on top of a skyscraper. But all of our freeholds are treated with the utmost care and respect to the balefires. Unlike the sidhe, we can remember the long years when there were nearly no freeholds at all.
Boggans aren’t generally known as passionate lovers, romantic troubadours, seekers of paramours, nor as the objects of such affections. But they are known for being loyal, devoted, and very dependable. Unfortunately, most people, especially amongst changelings, think first of the kiths that are traditionally thought of as more dashing and exciting. The fact that boggans tend towards being short with potbellies and big noses doesn’t help either. Boggans fit neither feminine nor masculine ideals of beauty in a society that prefers people tall and skinny, and so it can be very difficult for us to find love.
This is particularly hard on such an inherently social kith, and many lonely boggans resort to using the gossip network as a dating service. Most fiefdoms have at least one matchmaker, a romantically inclined boggan deeply imbedded in the local gossip circles who makes it her (or occasionally his) business to find and match up all of the lonely kithain, kinain, and dreamers in her area. We tend to have a lot more respect for humans than the other kithain, and so we’re much more likely to have lasting friendships or committed relationships with them than other kithain.
If one is lucky enough find love with a boggan one can be assured that they will have a partner who will provide for, care for, respect, and love them forever. Kithain society is known for its mercurial relationships, but only trolls match boggans when it comes to long-term committed relationships.
Boggans aren’t built for direct combat. We have no special abilities that give us an advantage if faced with a charging ogre. But we’re not intrinsically weak or cowardly either, and there is nothing to prevent a boggan from becoming at least as skilled in the arts of battle as any sidhe or troll. When boggans do fight, our style tends towards being up-close and nasty, since we nearly never have the advantage of reach. Short swords, daggers, hammers, sickles, or anything that can be used in close are preferred by boggan warriors who try to take advantage of our small size to even the odds by attacking low vulnerable spots on our opponents- knee caps and hamstrings are popular targets. Despite our small size, however, boggans who take up the art of combat bring a determination to the field that matches or outmatches our larger companions. More than one troll soldier has referred to his boggan comrades as “the badgers of battle”.
However, even in times of heavy warfare, most of us won’t be found on the field of battle. Boggans are well-suited to serve as support staff for those doing the heavy fighting. Craftwork comes in handy for making weapons, furnishing escapes, or creating traps, and though we may not be as powerful as we once were, we can still feed armies if we work at it.
The Call of the Needy also turns many boggans into peacemakers, nurses, and doctors. Wanton bloodshed can be a difficult thing for some of us to reconcile with our innate drive to help others, and many of us are pacifists. Many boggans also, perhaps remembering the ancient geas of the Tuatha, blatantly refuse to take sides in the conflicts that frequently ripple through changeling society.
To be perfectly frank, boggans don’t usually make the most inspired leaders, nor do most boggans seek positions of direct authority. However, many boggans still enjoy playing this particular game. Boggans have quietly usurped power in the freeholds they work in, and the lords of those freeholds none the wiser. Social Dynamics makes manipulating the reactions of others child’s play for a politically savvy boggan, and this includes the mighty sidhe lords of our nation. Just through observation, we can tell who a lord fears, who he fawns over, and who he hates. As chancellors, butlers, and seneschals we frequently exert at least some control of our lord’s schedule and meetings and can take advantage of this to arrange certain meetings with commoner representatives or other lords, should we desire. What’s more, our observational abilities give us a clear edge should we ever find ourselves at a bargaining table.
Fae politics are of course dominated by the sidhe, but in addition to our involvement in most changeling political organizations and secret societies, boggans held far more seats than any other commoner kith in the Parliament of Dreams before it dissolved.
Boggans have, at times, been involved in mortal politics as well. Given our proclivity towards staying in one place and constantly working to improve it, many boggans get involved in grass-roots organizations and lobbyist groups. Also, say what you will, but we’ve been involved in the party conventions in the United States since there were any- I would be embarrassed to tell you how many electoral colleges have had at least one boggan member. Or, more to the point, how many didn’t.
We’re ideal campaign workers in many ways- we’re expert at identifying and solving social issues. Craftwork helps to free up the time necessary for getting involved in politics, not to mention being useful for boggans who want to churn out buttons, signs, or bumper stickers. And boggans, of all people, understand how important politics can be in helping or hurting people.
Under-appreciated by most changelings, we consider gossip as important an aspect of life as games of romance, warfare, or intrigue. Of course, all of the other kiths gossip also, they just don’t call it that- trolls in the V.A.W. swapping war stories, eshu bringing their tales and news from place to place, and sluagh sitting at high tea are all engaging in their own forms of gossip. For boggans, gossip is a source of entertainment and information, but primarily, it is a useful form of communication. A few carefully chosen words in the right ears can well serve to spread information, or misinformation. The boggan gossip network is both our first line of defense and our greatest weapon.
As a kith we have a significant presence in the courts, the guilds, and the secret societies of the kithain world. This provides us with an enormous amount of information on the comings and goings of our fellow fae. Some of it is fluffy fun stuff- like who’s boffing who, what the duchess wants as a wedding gift, or other such things. Other information, however, can be of dread seriousness. We not only know if a lord is gearing up for war, but what his provisions are, his weaponry, and where his troops are deployed. Should we choose, we could give this information directly to the lord’s opponent. Or, if we favored the lord, we could give misinformation to the opponent. Or, we could disseminate this information among whatever kithain would listen. More than one noble lord has been forced to abort an attack because information on the movement of his troops became common knowledge.
Like the sluagh, we boggans will ferret out secrets and use them as we best see fit. But unlike them, we don’t just hoard our information. We get it out there where it can do some good. What’s the point in knowing a secret anyway? You can’t share it with anyone, or it won’t be a secret anymore. In my opinion, if we can get more information out into the open, then we’ll have less to worry about and a lot less general distrust of one another.
The Top Ten Rumors Circulating in the Gossip MillSir Seif was last seen in the Kingdom of White Sands. Having failed thus far to find the High King, he is being hunted by some of the contending factions who want to get their hands on Caliburn.
Duke Dray is gathering the former knights of the Red Branch and creating an army.
Commoners in a number of fiefdoms in the Kingdom of Apples have started falling ill from some new disease- probably something that the sluagh created and sold to Queen Morwen.
The Unnamed Shield is hanging over the mantle of a boggan lord in the far reaches of the Kingdom of Northern Ice.
The nockers have built a doomsday device and have a huge stockpile of weapons. The Bes Din is sure to attempt a military coup of Concordia any day now.
There is a noble, called Peacemaker Niall, who walks amongst the warring factions, pleading for the bloodshed to stop. Some say that he is actually High King David.
House Liam has found evidence of House Eiluned’s involvement with the Shadow Court. But they won’t release their information unless they are granted more rights as a noble house and expanded holdings.
Chief Greyhawk and Duke Topaz were lovers during the Accordance War, but Greyhawk cheated on the troll with a Nunnehi brave. That’s why there’s such hostility between their kingdoms nowadays.
Gwydion the Grey, the legendary founder of House Gwydion, was spotted in Cymru three times last month. Each time, he was at a pub, drinking beer.
The pooka are preparing to retreat to their dream burrows en masse rather than risk facing the Fomorians.