London Lost setting guide
The thing about London, is that it’s big. Big, and old. Really big, and really old. So it’s impossible to provide a fully detailed history and guide to the past and present of London. All I can do is describe some significant details in an attempt to create a sense of the flavor of the city for changelings. So what follows is just part of the overall picture and you as players will have to imagine that there is a lot more out there that could enter the game at any time. A lot of it will come from the characters you bring with you, so if there are things you would like to be publicly known about your character, or about locations that are part of their story, feel free to write up a description for me to add to this setting guide.
The Barony of London
The Barony of London is as ancient as you might expect. Changelings have lived there since London first came into being. The exact structure of the Barony has shifted and changed over the years, but the current political structure has existed since some time in the 18th century as far as Lost historians can tell.
No-one can say with any certainty exactly how many changelings reside in London, let alone how many work there or regularly visit. The last attempt at a census was in 1982 by an ambitious group of the Magistrates of the Wax Mask. They gave up after three months, blaming “unnecessarily secretive and obstructive behaviour on the part of the Barony’s citizens”. Their best estimate was that anywhere between 50 and 100 changelings might be living in the Barony.
To most members of the Barony, the exact number of their fellow changelings isn’t important. They tend to keep to themselves and their motleys, only occasionally attending the large events hosted by the Baron or the courts. It therefore falls to those changelings who choose to get involved on a regular basis to help run the barony, usually by working for the Baron’s councillors, or even stepping up as one of the councillors. The culture that has been built up over the years is that those who care enough to show up, and who help with the business of the barony, are those who deserve to have a say.
The current Baron has been in the position since 1998. Benjamin Winthrop was a member of parliament in his mortal life, and carried on his career in politics after his return from Arcadia. He served as Warden for a decade before assuming the role of Baron. Baron Winthrop is a wealthy and well-connected individual, and has freely used his personal assets to help the Barony prosper. In most day-to-day matters he has remained hands-off and allowed his council to run the Barony, only stepping in to help when required.
The post of Baron is leftover from the feudal era. There is no democratic process for electing a new Baron; usually a baron appoints a successor before stepping down. On those occasions when a baron has died in office with no named successor, the Baron’s Council has chosen a new Baron, usually from amongst their number.
The Baron’s Council
The four councillors are generally responsible for the day-to-day running of the Barony, but they also each have specific duties and areas of responsibility. The nature of the roles means that most Lost assume that each role ‘belongs’ to a seasonal court, and while most of the time this is true, it is not required, and members of different seasons (or non-seasonal courts) have sometimes taken a role not associated with them when the Barony has required it.
Councillors are technically appointed by the Baron, but traditionally when a council position needs to be filled, a candidate is chosen by the members of the Barony and then confirmed by the Baron. It has been a long time since a Baron has refused to confirm whoever was chosen. The term of each position is one year, beginning at the start of the season traditionally associated with the role. The Baron can dismiss a councillor prematurely, but this has only ever occurred on those few unpleasant occasions when a councillor has been found guilty of a crime.
The Chamberlain (traditionally Spring)
The Chamberlain is responsible for overseeing the social life of the Barony, often by arranging and hosting social events throughout the seasons. Some changelings dismiss the role as little more than a jumped-up socialite, but the wiser recognize the significance it actually plays. Nurturing the social ties between the Lost of London helps strengthen the Barony itself, building friendships and social connections that help keep Changelings grounded, and forging a unity that can resist any challenges that may threaten the Barony. The role has unsurprisingly tended to draw candidates from the Spring Courtiers of London.
The Chamberlain also handles the management of the various properties and business interests owned by the Barony (except where those resources fall into the area of a different councillor).
The Chamberlain was, until the hedge storm struck, a woman called Pallavi Kamini. Pallavi was also the leader of an Order of the Hallowed Garden motley in Southall. She vanished during the storm, although her motley claim that they do not know why she would have been in the hedge at the time, and no further information about her fate has surfaced so far.
The Marshall (traditionally Summer)
The Marshall is responsible for the physical defence of the Barony, whether by appointing Watchmen to keep the peace, or by assembling a militia to respond to a threat. Whoever is chosen for Marshall is usually a strong fighter capable of leading and planning effectively, hence why candidates most usually come from the Summer court (although at least one Marshall has been a member of the West court).
The Marshall is usually based out of the Garrison, which exists in both the real world (Phoenix Wharf in Wapping) and as a secure hollow in the hedge accessible from that location. The hollow was damaged in the Hedge storm and is in the process of being rebuilt and restocked.
The current Marshall is Bastion, a stone-skinned knight who has served the Barony for over 20 years and is widely respected as a strong fighter and leader with an eye for details.
The Librarian (traditionally Autumn)
The Librarian is responsible for keeping the historical records of the Barony, documenting any significant events for future reference. They are also tasked with managing the occult resources of the Barony: tomes containing knowledge of contracts, records of creatures of the Hedge, tokens crafted for every eventuality, even secret knowledge of the Gentry acquired at great cost. The Librarian is tasked with protecting and using all of these in service of the Barony. The role has always belonged to the Autumn court, who make sure that no candidate other than theirs is ever put forward for consideration.
The Library of the Barony was an impregnable hollow filled with all this lore and magic, but two months ago, the hedge storm resulted in the Library vanishing from that part of the hedge, along with the current Librarian.
The missing Librarian was Lord Anders, a wizened scholar and member of the Eternal Echoes. It was rumoured that he had memorized most of the library’s tomes and rarely needed to even open a book to provide an answer.
The Warden (traditionally Winter)
The Warden is responsible for the safety and security of the freehold, but in a different manner to the Marshall. The Warden is tasked with maintaining secure safe houses and hollows for those newly escaped from the hedge, or for when an existing resident is in need of refuge for any reason. They are also expected to gather intelligence on possible threats to the Barony. The Winter court naturally gravitates towards this position, agreeing upon a candidate from among their number and then supporting him in the role, although they have supported candidates from other courts. Some suspect that, in typical Winter fashion, whoever they put in as Warden is not truly in charge but is just a public figurehead.
There are safe houses dotted across London that the Warden has use of and is expected to maintain, but most of the hollows were lost in the storm and are in the process of being re-established.
[The current Warden has not been detailed yet, as I am waiting to see what the player base looks like before I decide what the state of this position is – Ross]
Law and justice
The Marshall is responsible for physically enforcing the laws of the Barony and Freehold, and often appoints watchmen to assist with this. The Warden and Librarian are often brought in when additional intelligence or occult support is required. The Marshall and watchmen have the power to freely levy small fines or penalties for minor offences, but for more serious crimes, the accused is brought before the Baron for judgment. As has become the case in many things, the council usually acts in the Baron’s stead for such matters. The accused is allowed to defend themselves against the charges levied against them, either personally or by appointing a representative. The Marshall or a watchman presents the case against the defendant, and the Council or Baron then decide if the evidence is sufficient before passing sentence. Generally the Barony adheres to a rule of law as similar to the mortal world as possible, striving for fairness and justice, but on occasion matters are dealt with a little more directly if the circumstances demand it.
The Hedge Storm
Two months ago (March 2015), the hedge of London was beset by a storm of unprecedented ferocity. Over the course of several days, the local hedge was hammered by hurricane-level winds and torrential rain, and the thorns of the hedge shifted and writhed unnaturally, re-writing the landscape. Many landmarks of the London hedge were destroyed or displaced, including the hollows of many residents. Entire tribes of hobs were swept away. At least a dozen changeling residents of the Barony have not been seen since. The bodies of three London Hedge Wardens were found, but no other bodies have been seen, and the other missing changelings have been presumed dead or worse.
So far, no-one has been able to discover the cause of this remarkable event, and many have written it off as a freak occurrence, a surge of the wyrd within the Hedge. Of course, the possibility that everyone has considered but which no-one wants to truly believe is that it could be the work of one of the Gentry, perhaps as part of a new assault upon the barony (see The Long War below).
Among the significant locations that have been lost are several centuries-old hollows associated with the Barony itself, including the library, which as far as anyone knows contained the Librarian at the time…
The Goblin Markets
There used to be many small goblin markets dotted throughout London, but after the storm many have struggled to rebuild themselves and are yet to reappear.
There are also large seasonal markets that occur throughout the year, and these look set to occur as usual, albeit with slightly reduced numbers of traders. Some of these are held in the hedge, but others set up in hidden parts of London, using old and abandoned buildings, briefly filling them with busy weirdness for a few hours or days.
However, when people think of the goblin markets of London, they don’t usually think of these lesser gatherings: they think of the Fleet Market, or the Caravan of Cagliostro.
The Fleet Market
The Fleet River is long gone from London proper, paved over in the expansion of the city, but in the Hedge a tributary remains, along with the vanished market. The Fleet Market of the hedge was a bustling, thriving market spread across the river – on the banks, on islands, on pontoons, on boats, on anything that a hob could find that floated, with a chaotic web of makeshift bridges and skiffs linking it all together. When the storm hit, a colossal wave surged up the river and swept it all away. But marketeers are stubborn creatures, and many managed to ride out the storm. The Fleet Market has regrown quickly and the river bustles once again.
The Caravan of Cagliostro
The Caravan of Cagliostro is a more exclusive market, and not so much famous as infamous. It moves from place to place. Each stall is mobile in some fashion – whether a caravan drawn by a hedge beast (who sometimes are the traders themselves), a hut that walks of its own accord, a box suspended from a hot air balloon or a cage carried by a giant bird, the entire market is capable of motion.
There is a reason for the mobile nature of the market. Some time ago, the Barony of London decided to start regulating the goblin markets in the local Hedge, attempting to curb the worst excesses that they had to offer, such as slaves and the most dangerous magic of the wyrd. They met with some success, and to this day the local markets and the Fleet Market do not offer such services. But the Caravan continues to sell whatever it wishes to whomever it wishes, and whenever the Barony has attempted to move against it, it always seem to know that the visit is coming and the traders all disperse. It has been many years since such an attempt has been made, and those Lost who were keen to stamp it out have grumpily resigned themselves to its existence.
Most attribute the unusually resistant and organised nature of the Caravan to Cagliostro, the ‘owner’ of the market. Few have met this individual, and there are many rumours. Some say Cagliostro is a Lost, others a powerful hob. A few mutter that he or she might even be one of the Gentry. It is believed that Cagliostro carefully controls who has knowledge of where the market is and who its traders are, ensuring that all who attend are self-interested enough to not jeopardize the market’s existence.
A curious point to note is that, when the storm broke, the Caravan was not in the area affected, but had vanished into the deeper hedge mere days before. Speculation is rife as to whether this was a coincidence, or if the Caravan was aware of what was coming.
The Diocese of Croydon
The area of the Barony of London has grown as much the same way London itself has expanded over the centuries. There used to be numerous smaller Lost settlements in the area, but one by one they were absorbed (usually peacefully) into the Barony. One area that has so far avoided becoming part of the Barony of London is Croydon. It is referred to as the Diocese of Croydon, as the ruler is titled the Archbishop of Croydon, the latest in a succession of Blackbird Bishops who have shepherded the Lost there.
Centuries ago, a Blackbird Bishop and his motley established ownership of the area. They offered it as a refuge to Lost who had been expelled or exiled from other baronies and freeholds, providing a place for the rejected criminals and outcasts of Lost society. A tradition arose in London and other nearby settlements of offering the worst offenders a chance to go to Croydon, thereby avoiding having to execute or fully exile offenders (imprisonment being of course unthinkable).
The Archbishop of Croydon is a draconian ruler, and binds those who come to live in the Diocese with pledges that leave them little room to cause further trouble and instead push them to serve the community. The worst dregs of Lost society have accumulated in Croydon over the years, and the Archbishop and his Deacons are harsh masters. It is not exactly a prison, although there are some who would say that it is as good as, and that London should have nothing to do with it, or should even take steps to dismantle the dictatorship of the Archbishop. However, the Barons of London have maintained a civil relationship with the Diocese, as it has proven a useful place to put those who would otherwise cause trouble. After all, surely it is a more humane solution than execution or exile from the protection of Lost society (which could result in a fate worse than death). The Archbishop claims that those sent to him are given another chance at life, and that those are under his care are treated harshly but fairly.
Outright traitors such as loyalists and privateers are the exception, as they are considered too dangerous to afford the luxury of mercy. However, inadvertent loyalists who were being unconsciously manipulated by the Fae are sometimes shown leniency and given a second chance, but the Bishops keep them under even greater scrutiny than the other residents.
There has been some form of place to gather and drink at 24 Cornhill since the 1680s, when a coffeehouse was opened there by a changeling called Nathan Silver. It was one of the thousands of coffeehouses that sprang up in London during that period, and one of several established by Fairest who were looking for sanctuary from the anti-Fairest sentiment of the time. Silver’s coffee house was one of the most successful, and proved popular with both changelings and mortals alike. The original building is gone, burnt down in 1748, but a motley of Fairest have maintained possession of the site, renovating it as time goes by from restaurant to bar to night club and so on. The public name has changed frequently, but the changelings of London still refer to it as Silver’s.
These days it is a trendy bar for city workers, but the more exclusive private area is usually reserved for changelings – specifically friends of the motley who maintain the establishment. It’s an exclusive group, but occasionally the doors are thrown open a bit wider for special events.
12 Wilton Crescent
This large terraced town house in Belgravia is traditionally the office and residence of the Chamberlain. Small social gatherings are often held there, as well as meetings of the council. The most recent Chamberlain, Pallavi, chose not to reside there but did use it for official gatherings.
The Garrison (Phoenix Wharf)
Phoenix Wharf in Wapping is another property that has been owned by the Barony for some time. The Marshall is based at Phoenix Wharf, and the building is often referred to as the Garrison. It was originally chosen for the presence of a hedge gate and its location on the banks of the river (which was useful in both the mundane world and the hedge). The building was renovated a couple of years ago. Upstairs there are several private flats available for use by the Marshall and his Watchmen. Downstairs are offices that serve as a base of operations for the Marshall’s activities. The armoury was kept on the other side of the hedge gate in a secure hollow, just in case mortal police ever searched the property. Unfortunately, when the hedge storm struck, the river in the hedge burst its banks and swept the hollow away, and everything stored there was lost.
The Warden’s location
Only those who work with the Warden know where the current base of operations is located. It is generally thought to be somewhere secure and nondescript. It is also said to relocate every couple of years. Some claim there isn’t actually a central office at all, and that it is merely a rumour spread by the Winter court to make enemies of the domain waste their time looking for an intelligence hub that doesn’t exist. The Winter court remain silent on the matter.
Rochester House is a 17th century country house in Hampstead that was bequeathed to the Barony in 1738. It became the traditional residence for the Baron, and is often used as a venue for large social occasions.
There are members of many of the noble orders present in London. Some individual members of particular entitlements are detailed elsewhere. Below are those orders which have members in noticeably greater numbers than the others.
Magistrates of the Wax Mask
There are several Magistrates in London, and they have assisted with the day-to-day running of the Barony for as long as anyone can remember, fulfilling their chosen role as the civil service of changeling society. The most notable Magistrate in London is the Baron’s Private Secretary and each councillor has a similar assistant. While dedicated to the running of the Barony, they are also answerable to the Magistrates who work at the highest levels of the Freehold of the East, alongside the monarchs of the courts. Barons and their councillors come and go, but the Magistrates remain.
Bishopric of Blackbirds
As mentioned elsewhere, the Diocese of Croydon contains several Blackbird Bishops. The only Blackbird Bishop not associated with Croydon is Bishop Erasmus, who is part of the Tabula Rasa motley.
College of Worms
The College of Worms has maintained a presence in London for centuries, and several famous diviners mastered their vision of the threads of fate there. Of course, far more of the diviners failed to ever demonstrate such mastery… The current head of the college of London is a Wizened Oracle called Athena. Athena foresaw the hedge storm just before it hit, and the tocsin bell of the college was rung, but the Barony was still caught off guard by the unprecedented nature of the event.
The Tolltaker Knighthood
There is a local Knight Banneret who oversees several Tolltakers, assigning them tasks as he sees fit. The Barony has been known to use the Knights when the occasion demands it… and move against them when their activities conflicted with the best interests of the Barony. The Diocese of Croydon regularly employs the Tolltakers as ‘Deacons’ when they have need of extra manpower, or are trying to track down a wayward charge. Interestingly, the residents of Croydon also include at least one Tolltaker who went too far and ended up in Croydon as punishment.
Magi of the Gilded Thorn
A noted Magus of the Gilded Thorn who had lived in London for decades disappeared in the hedge storm. Rumour has it that another Magus has arrived in London to investigate the nature of the storm and to locate their lost colleague.
Ancient and Accepted Order of Bridgemasons
There is a motley of Bridgemasons who own a construction and property maintenance company called Wright & Sullivan’s (the motley shares the same name). They offer their magical and mundane services to changelings at reasonable rates, and have helped build and maintain various properties around the city that belong to the Barony.
The Eternal Echoes
There are a couple of these scholars present in London. The most prominent Eternal was, until recently, the Barony’s Librarian, Lord Anders.
Guild of the Sacred Journey
London contains a Guildhouse for this order, as the extensive travel links make it an ideal hub for the Guild. Until the hedge storm, London also offered access to many useful trods, but these have yet to be re-established. An interesting historical note: the Guild in the UK is unusual in allowing non-Fairest members. This is traced back to a period of anti-Fairest resentment, in which the Guild threw open its membership to other seemings to rebuild trust in its services. Candidates still have to be sufficiently charming and diplomatic, of course!
The Hedge Wardens
The London Base of Hedge Wardens is old and well-established, and the London hedge was one of their great success stories. While never free of danger, it was as close to tamed and cultivated as could ever be hoped for. That all changed, of course, when the storm struck, and many of their number who were there at the time have not been seen since, including most of the leadership. The order have been working to rebuild themselves, but have not yet even begun to tackle the daunting task of re-conquering the hedge.
The Order of the Hallowed Garden
There are several motleys belonging to this entitlement dotted throughout London. Each of them has staked out their territory and spread their values, in some cases tied into a local ethnic population, in other cases as part of some other aesthetic that brings a community together.
Motleys of note
The Friends of Silver
The group that maintains Silver’s is descended from Nathan Silver’s original motley. Over the centuries, new members have been carefully recruited and ownership of the site passed down from generation to generation. They have almost always been Fairest, with very few exceptions. While they do not generally involve themselves in the politics of the Barony or the Freehold, they are still well-regarded and are influential in both changeling and mortal society. The three who currently make up the group are also all members of different entitlements (the Duchy of the Icebound Heart, the Satrapy of Pearls and the Guild of Goldspinners).
Tabula Rasa is the latest in a long line of motleys dedicated to helping newly escaped Lost re-establish their lives. They are led by Bishop Erasmus, a Blackbird Bishop who is not aligned with the Diocese of Croydon (indeed, he is one of the Diocese’s strongest critics). Jennifer Birdsong is a Knight of Uttermost Silence who helps those who have need of her entitlement’s abilities and connections. Weevil is a young Lost with an aptitude for computers, who specializes is creating identities that have a presence beyond mere legal documentation. The motley also has many allies, both Lost and mortal, who they use to help changelings build new lives for themselves. They never, however, help anyone reclaim their old life, as this almost always involves the murder of a fetch, an action they do not support.
The Guilds of London
The Guilds of London refers to several organizations that existed historically in the Barony. They were not, strictly speaking, entitlements, and should not be confused with any of the noble orders that also call themselves guilds and still exist in the present day (e.g. Sacred Journey, Goldspinners). The Guilds were much more similar to the equivalent mortal institutions, in that they were concerned with the regulation and control of certain activities that exist in Changeling Society, e.g. token making, trading at the goblin markets, dream crafting and so on. In order to practice any of those ‘trades’, a Changeling had to belong to the appropriate Guild, and pay the necessary dues. Any who tried to ply their craft without doing so were swiftly punished, as the Guilds and the Baron worked hand in hand to ensure that the monopolies were preserved. Some tried to resist, or campaign for reform, but it was a fruitless battle.
By the mid 19th century, the Guilds were so strong that it was widely acknowledged that the Baron was just their puppet. The Guild Masters kept a stranglehold on the Barony, preserving power and wealth in the hands of the few, and most Changelings went along with it as it was the best way to advance, hoping they would rise to the top one day.
Towards the end of the 19th century, however, the power of the Guilds declined steeply, and by the early years of the 20th century, the Guilds were all disbanded and any laws that granted them their privileges were overturned. There are rumours that, behind the scenes, there had been a ferocious and cut-throat political struggle, but the exact details are buried in the Barony’s historical records.
The Long War
In 1995, the Freehold of Wales was lost in a loyalist uprising. In one night, loyalist sleeper agents and privateers conspired to destroy or capture the baronies of Wales. The Crusade of Light – as apparently they called themselves – attempted to take Bristol as well, but the Free Lost there were able to hold them back. However, the loss of Wales sent a shockwave across the country, which was followed by more loyalist attacks elsewhere.
In London and the Freehold of the East, several loyalist cells attempted to assassinate key Barony and Freehold figures. Their success was limited, and London was able to root out and deal with the traitors. After the initial attacks, London remained relatively quiet but the war raged elsewhere. Many in the freehold left to help take the fight back to the loyalists. Many never returned.
As losses grew on both sides, the battle subsided, and the raging conflict shifted into a cold war situation. London has watched from afar, occasionally lending aid when required, but mostly keeping a careful eye open for further attacks. The Winter court has become very good at playing this game, preventing new cells from gaining a foothold in the city and catching sleeper agents . The Summer court, meanwhile, waits for the day when the final counter-attack on Wales will begin.
The Hedge Storm has resulted in the greatest loss of barony members since the war began twenty years ago, and some are speculating that the two are linked. Who knows, perhaps the storm is the beginning of a new assault upon the city?