The fictional German town of Miranbrück originated some years ago, when I and some friends prepared to start a massive Changeling the Lost online game. The town was described with a great love for detail and it was generally a labor of love.
Alas, the online game never really took off. In no small part due to my own fault. This should be no reason for the setting description to languish in my backup folders, though. Rather, I’d like to see it made accessible to the interested gaming public in a slightly reworked version.
As the material is far too extensive for a single article, this will be the first installment in a series detailing Miranbrück. It will appear in parallel in its original German and in the English translation you are currently reading (the German series was preceded by an additional article providing a translation matrix of game terms for German players).
Our first article presents a short history of both the town and the Freehold of Miranbrück. It goes on to explain the atypical structure of Entitlements in the Freehold.
History of the town of Miranbrück:
Even though the region around the modern-day town of Miranbrück boasted several protohistoric settlements, the town itself can be traced back to a village which sprung up in 680 AD around a new bridge over the river Mira, built by order of Ebroin, then majordomo of the Frankish kings.
When in the year 800 Benedictine monks founded a monastery (destroyed in a fire in the 13th century) near the bridge in what would later be considered the quarter of Wornbrunn, the population of the small settlement began to increase dramatically.
By the 11th century, several more villages had sprung up on both banks of the river and some of these old villages are still recognizable today in the names of Miranbrück’s quarters. After a series of mergers and incorporations over the course of the next century, Miranbrück received its town charter in 1279.
During the chaos of the Thirty Years War, the town archive was badly damaged. Secondary sources from other libraries, too, offered scant information about Miranbrück’s history between the 13th and 16th centuries.
What is known is just that Miranbrück was granted the privileges of a free city during this time despite a largely stagnating population.
After a surprisingly peaceful occupation by Napoleon 1807, Miranbrück for a short while became the capital of the electorate Miran, which was abolished again only a few year laters and incorporated into the province of Westphalia following the restructuring of the Congress of Vienna.
Due to low tax rates and the rapid expansion of industry Miranbrück grew into a veritable metropolis before the outbreak of the First World War. It was also around this time that a strong art and museum scene began to establish itself in town, soon leading to Miranbrück earning the nickname “Westphalia’s memory”.
The total mobilization during the war placed a heavy strain on these cultural developments. In their stead, Miranbrück rose to prominence as a regional manufacturing center for the ever important army uniforms.
After the end of the First World War the Miranbrück boarding school was founded. Though it went through several iterations since then, the school is still in existence today.
Critical reflection of the Nazi era is generally avoided by Miranbrück historians, probably due to the almost effortless and certainly unopposed rise of the Nazi party and its ideology in the town, culminating in the murder of 78 Jewish citizens during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938 – more than in any other German town.
The uniform industry was unable to reestablish itself in Miranbrück and the town was thusly considered to be of no importance to the German war effort and Miranbrück avoided major bombings. Partially because of this, Miranbrück today boasts more historical buildings than most neighboring communities.
History of the Freehold of Miranbrück
Rumor has it that the Freehold was already founded shortly after the village itself in the 7th century. Such a timeframe seems dubious, to say the least, but Miranbrück must still be considered the location of one of Germany’s first known Freeholds.
The oldest source recognized by the Lost of the town describes several laws of the Freehold dated to 1191.
The Freehold was very small at first, though it grew to a size of at least 80 Lost by the end of the 19th century. Most of the Freehold’s customs date back to that time. Also around then, the metaphorical names for the different Entitlements were created, which are still used by the Courts today.
For some decades, all seemed to go well for the changelings of the town. The Freehold grew and the many Entitlements guaranteed safety and kept the sometimes overeager Lost busy with their political maneuvering and power plays.
The First World War brought with it massive problems but an at the time united Freehold helped the Lost to ride out the time of upheaval. Only in 1921 did events conspire to create real trouble for the changelings, when one of the True Fae learned of the Freehold. The exact circumstances are unknown even today, as the only written record of the happenings in that year is heavily damaged. It is known, though, that the Lost managed at great cost and by means unknown to close off all of the major roads from Arcadia to Miranbrück. At first they were hailed as heroes and saviors for it, but soon enough it became apparent, that by this act the ways had also been blocked for other Lost, preventing their escape to Miranbrück, while the number of abductions did not seem to go down the slightest.
Accordingly, the next century saw only a few new fugitives reach Miranbrück. For a time, the gradual loss was compensated by immigrants from other Freeholds, but bit by bit the Freehold dwindled in size. During the Second World War many changelings left Miranbrück, some of them by choice, some of them by force, winding up at the frontlines – or in the camps.
After the war the number of Lost in the town stabilized at 20 to 30, with a few still finding their way from Arcadia to Miranbrück. Some Entitlements lost their purpose and were no longer occupied, while others decreased in importance. The Freehold was still lead with pride in its traditions and long history.
This was finally to change in 2006. It is still a complete mystery what exactly happened, but some weeks before Easter 18 Lost vanished, amongst them several old and important dignitaries and even two of the four leaders of the Courts. Panic spread and no stone was left unturned but there neither was nor is not even the slightest hint what happened.
Finally things settled down in an uneasy peace and the positions of those who had vanished were newly assigned, even though the investigations were never officially closed. In spite of this pretense of normalcy, for most the shock still has not fully abated.
This further reduction of the Freehold’s size has lead to a change in how the Lost deal with one another. On the one hand, dealings became less formal out of necessity, while on the other hand, the unusual constellation of Court leadership made the interaction between the Courts more aggressive.
Most recently, there has been an as of yet unexplained increase in the number of freshly escaped fugitives stumbling from the Hedge into Miranbrück.
Up until today the Entitlements of the Freehold are not distributed within the Courts like mostly done within the Changeling community. Even if they are in theory bound to a single season, they are in fact even when the ruler of the Freehold changes static. The bearers are changed on the current rulers whim but this power is only rarely used and if it is mostly in the middle of the season. The only thing that changes are the names. According to the current season one and the same entitlement is called differently.
As the appointees are static it would seem that the courts have only little influence. There is however a fix for that even if it is not one spoken off loudly. The authority and corresponding powers connected to an entitlement are heavily shifted. As such the Epee is given more power in Summer as in any other season whereas the Lecturer is way more important in Fall as to the rest.
As an result even if officially only the ruler changes, in fact the policy of the Freehold is completely changed with every seasonal change.
The names of the entitlements where made up a long time ago and follow distinct patterns. The underlying metaphors may have been once full of meaning but if so it was lost in the struggles of time. Today they are only used for the names of the entitlements.
But plain the metaphors are:
- Spring: Orchestra/Musical Instruments
- Summer: Soldiersgear / Weapons
- Fall: Academy / University
- Winter: Death/ Ways of Dying
Considering all documents there are a plethora of entitlements in the Freehold. But truthfully only a few of those are remembered and even less are actually in use. The following are the better known ones for which there is at least a chance that they will be bestowed upon a Changeling if there is found a suitable candidate and a reason for it.
The leaders of the courts are the only entitlements which don’t change their name in the course of the year. Thus these names are not for one and the same person but four distinct ones.
- Spring: Maestro
- Summer: Sword
- Fall: Headmaster
- Winter: Deceased
Within the long existence of the Freehold there were a few Tokens or occult books which turned up. Especially after the shrinkage of 2001 there were a lot of those without a certain owner.
As a result this entitlement was brought back which only task is to protect and store the various Tokens until they are needed again, be it with for the more important tokens or without the request of the ruler for the lesser once.
- Spring: Bassoon
- Summer: Swordbelt
- Fall: Librarian
- Winter: Defunct
Troublemakers are everywhere, notably within the Changeling society. Whenever there is somebody who has proven to be too much of a problem, this entitlement gets the job done. The appointee is simultaneously one of the most feared in the Freehold and one of the most powerless as everybody keeps a sharp eye on him. As such every step has to be well considered and thus the ruler only rarely does but the bearer into action. Still the simple existence of the entitlement has probably prevented one or the other transgresses.
- Spring: Harp
- Summer: Arrow
- Fall: Secretary
- Winter: Poisoned
Before the ways to Arcadia where closed this entitlement was used to help the newcomers to be found and to settle in the Freehold. After now suddenly a lot of newcomers are coming by it is considered to search for a new office holder.
- Spring: Triangle
- Summer: Foil
- Fall: Tutor
- Winter: Smothered
Every form of organization need a hatchet man or two. This entitlement is for those who stand vanward when things get rough. They protect and serve not only the freehold in generally but the office holders in particular. Most of these people come from Summer or Fall.
- Spring: Drums
- Summer: Flail
- Fall: Assistant
- Winter: Fallen
With no newcomers from Arcadia the Freehold was dependent on relocated Changelings to keep the Freehold alive. To accelerate that relocations this entitlement was created. Of course it was always inoffical, as nobody wanted to admit that the Freehold was actively trying to “steal” members from other cities. Now as there are newcomers from Arcadia once more this entitlement has probably lost its purpose.
- Spring: Oboe
- Summer: Rapier
- Fall: Superintendent
- Winter: Choked
Every rule needs one to enforce it. The sort of Sherriff of the Freehold.
- Spring: Contrabass
- Summer: Sabre
- Fall: Hall monitor
- Winter: Slayed
Within fighters there are those who lead and those who follow. Bearer of this honorable entitlement are the Leaders, the commanding officiers which coordinate any attack that may be lead from or against the Freehold.
- Spring: Piccolo
- Summer: Epee
- Fall: Lecturer
- Winter: Deathbled
An old freehold has a lot of traditions and rituals build up. In particular in the golden age of the Freehold there were so many of those, that almost no one could remember each and every one of them. This entitlement serves as a reminder and instructor for those so that nobody has to make a gaffe.
- Spring: Clarinet
- Summer: Mace
- Fall: Master
- Winter: Sacrificed
Once the Freehold was too big to be led by just one person. To ensure its survival there had to be a go to person for the less important stuff, the day to day business so to speak. From time to time the bearer of this position has proven to be way more influential as expected in particular because this “simple bureaucrat” was often longer in exalted position than just one season.
- Spring: Viola
- Summer: Shield
- Fall: Dean
- Winter: Beheaded
The Hedge has been source for good and bad in the past. The worse surprises like Hobgoblins or even True Fae had to be spotted early on and the better ones like Goblinfruits had to be found just the same. One of the Changelings who had proven that he knew his way around in the hedge was given this title.
- Spring: Bugle
- Summer: Spear
- Fall: Custodian
- Winter: Starved
Pledges are a big part of Changeling interactions. Every single one of them should learn early on how to phrase the words to their own good. Of course some were better than others. While this entitlement was never bestowed but more earned, it describes the go to person if you want a really fine pledge worded. Not only should the appointee have a talent for wordplay but he just as well documents proven pledges for reuse. Of course he was also the one who knew first if a pledge had been broken and could influence the trustworthiness of a single Changeling with a single word.
- Spring: Piano
- Summer: Targe
- Fall: Professor
- Winter: Executed
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Changeling the Lost und alle damit verbundenen Namen sind Geistiges Eigentum von White Wolf und urheberrechtlich geschützt. Diese Elemente wurden inoffiziell und ausschließlich als Referenz zitiert ohne die Absicht damit verbundene Rechte anzufechten und ohne eine Billigung durch den Rechteinhaber zu implizieren. Andere Inhalte dieses Artikels werden ohne Genehmigung oder Lizenz veröffentlicht.