A Princess who has to face the Darkness alone seldom lasts long; the Darkspawn of a strongly Tainted area, the machinations of an entrenched Dark cult, even the enmity of mundane criminals or armies eventually bring her down. In the Long Night, when Nobles Blossomed so rarely that one was incredibly lucky to meet another, the Hopeful who declined the Twilight Queens’ offers of support for service worked for a few years before cracking or being killed. In these latter days, though, the Hopeful meet far oftener; it’s a rare Princess who knows no others of her kind, and in some cities there are hundreds of Nobility. No Noble today is forced to bear her burdens alone.
No one understands a Noble’s mission better than another Noble. The bonds that form between Princesses who have faced down the Darkness together last for a lifetime. In Japanese the word nakama means any of “colleague”, “compatriot”, “friend” or “comrade”, or a group of such. Among the Nobility (if they aren’t Japanese) nakama has a more restricted sense: the small cliques of Nobles who were thrown together (perhaps all Blossoming in the same town, or facing the same great crisis) and have become something very close to a family because of it. They share more than the Hopeful’s duty - they intertwine their mundane lives, as well as their Noble calling. As youths they go shopping, see movies, plait each other’s hair; as adults they sit for each other’s pets and children.
A Nakama can and often does also include the actual families of the Nobles, as well as their nakama in the full Japanese sense - people with no trace of magic in them, but who are intimate parts of the Nobles’ mundane lives. This is especially true if, as sometimes happens, the mundane companions are brought into the secret of the Nobles’ magic and true role.
The primary purpose of a Nakama is to help Nobles destress after the pressures of the job, by providing friends who understand what it means to be a Princess, and occasionally forcing a Princess to get a good night’s sleep no ands, ifs or buts while another member covers her responsibilities. For the most part it is rare for a Nakama to sit down and create elaborate plans for improving the world. Most Princesses have strong convictions on the subject and would rather have a supportive friend than long arguments with coworkers. However when Princesses are reacting to a problem, be it the Darkness, the Twilight Queens or something mundane like an earthquake, a Princess’ first call to form a team or a task force is often her Nakama. They trust each other, know each other well enough to work well together, and of course they all have each other’s phone numbers.
Frequently a just-Blossomed Princess’ meetings with her first fellow Nobles aren’t left to chance; it’s a common thing for the first Princess of a future Nakama to meet an unusual creature in the days before they Blossom - commonly an animal that’s clearly tame but not obviously owned, and is more intelligent than other beasts of its kind. The creature will follow or lead the Noble-to-be to a private place, where he speaks, introduces himself, warns her of the new world she is soon to enter, and offers himself as a guide. In the loose network of the Hopeful community these magical teachers and companions are named Shikigami. Once a Shikigami has arrived and befriended his first Noble, he usually becomes something between a boon companion and a mentor to her, and to several other Hopeful in the area who Blossom at about the same time; experienced Hopeful, indeed, have come to expect that, where a new Shikigami appears, multiple Blossomings will soon follow.
The Hopeful aren’t called to oppose the Darkness in only its overt shapes, though it’s those that their powers are best for defeating. They also have to disperse the shadow of evil that lies on every human heart; and on that side, Nobles can scarcely act without mundane allies. Unfortunately, while fighting the Darkness in its obvious outbreaks is something every Noble agrees on, the best way of bringing Light into human affairs is a matter of sharp disagreement. Even the Radiant Queens themselves are divided on the ideal form of society. In a particular situation every member in a Nakama might have a different idea of what the trouble really is and how it should be dealt with. So, it’s fairly uncommon for a Nakama to work together on any mundane issue; far better for one Princess and three mundanes to cooperate with enthusiasm on a plan they agree on than for four Nobles to reach a grudging compromise.
A common way for Nobles to bring the Light to bear on mundane issues is to work on those issues as mundane people. It’s a great deal easier, if one wishes to expose official corruption, to become a private investigator or journalist; if to heal the sick, to become a nurse or physician; if to defend the innocent, to join the police or learn criminal law. The Nobles who follow such careers find not only that their magic gains by it, but that their mundane colleagues share many of their views and can sometimes be trusted with knowledge of the Light and Darkness.
A second way to influence the world for the better is through proxies. In the course of their work against Dark creatures and cults Nobles often end up saving ordinary people who happened to be in the Darkness’ way - or being saved by such a person’s timely aid. One of the Charms the Hopeful can learn allows them to open a mundane’s eyes to the Light, if they are willing to oppose the Darkness; these are the Sworn, who can borrow magic from the Nobility. And sheer good luck might lead a Princess to find a person who has seen a glimpse of the Light on their own; these Beacons inspire and uplift their neighbors much as a Noble does, and share their Sensitivity to suffering.
Still another way lies open to the Nobility who combine heartfelt dedication to a cause and the ability to persuade others to support them. Such Nobles may call on the Light to bless their cause and form what the Hopeful call Nations: special sects that, by convincing people to work for a worthy cause, also initiates them into mystical techniques that spring from the Light, as shaped by the Nobles’ will. In many ways a Nation resembles the mystery cults that spring up around occult phenomena in the World of Darkness - the main difference, in fact, is that the typical Nation can announce its true purpose to the public, keeping secret only the powers at its disposal.
A single Princess and her mundane allies can resolve problems on the personal level. A full Nakama can keep the peace for a neighborhood or two. But the really big problems need many hands to tackle - and that’s where the larger networks of the Hopeful came from. The first of the Camaraderies were ad hoc alliances of many Nobility to respond to forces threatening whole cities, usually from the Darkness (powerful Cataphractoi, entrenched Dark cults, a few Dethroned.) Having once discovered each other, the assembled Nobles quickly saw the advantages of cooperating to face future threats, and of actively searching for other Light-touched, in their own homes and elsewhere.
The most common tasks taken on by Camaraderies are helping with secure communication, discovery and tracking of Darkness, discovery and training of new Hopeful and other light-touched characters, and promotion of resource sharing between members. Security is a frequent concern of Camaraderies because discovery by dark forces can spell disaster for its members, but this depends largely on the themes of the individual Chronicle and should be adjusted to taste. A Camaraderie that has less to fear from discovery can afford to be less paranoid.
The Hopeful are for the most part a young culture, and even the parts of it that regularly communicate haven’t got any formal body to standardize language. While there is a linguistic legacy that predates the Release, two in fact, one is the Royal Tongue (which many Princesses find cumbersome, or just annoying) and the other is Alhambran (which many Radiant refuse to use on principle). Consequently the Radiant use a fast changing system of slang, memes and technical terms that vary across geographical regions and even parts of the internet. The language of the Radiant is young enough that most words can easily be traced back to their origin. The special terms we use in Princess: the Hopeful are usually used by Princesses in the anglosphere, having been spread across that portion of the internet. Some of the more specific terms are unique to American Princesses.
Terms in Japanese originate from Bonnie Getsuei, an American (and complete japanophile) who forged much of the Radiant community in San Francisco and even provided a common entry point to the online Radiant community for English speaking princesses (presumably actual Japanese Princesses also use their native tongue).
Italian words can often trace their origin to the Queen of Hearts’ earliest followers in the United Kingdoms (The Court of Hearts had a late start in America, as the first impressions of that court often clash with America’s national ideals. Today few Princesses even remember what the fuss was about) influenced by Andartan culture. Those Princesses chose to use a romance language, and since they didn’t want to use French, Princesses everywhere sprinkle their magic with Italian terms.
Greek and Latin words both share origins in the Court of Diamonds; the early Lights were the first to attempt to begin classifying and studying Hopeful magic and related phenomena. This project was split between those who were more influenced by their Queen and wanted to use Greek, and those who were more influenced by human academia and wanted to use Latin. The argument was never settled and various words from both languages have become part of the Princess lexicon, mostly for things a Princess can go a while without encountering as everything else was named through informal, and therefore faster, channels. Exceptionally nerdy Princesses sometimes use Greek instead of the Latin terms or Latin instead of the Greek, and Latin or Greek instead of English, Italian and Japanese terms.
The Embassy to the Dreamlands, perhaps the only lasting Radiant organization to exist through the Long Night, tended to use names taken from people, living, Dreamlander and even fictional (note that the three are rarely distinct categories). Few of these terms are still in use.
Finally English is, obviously, the de-facto language of English speaking Princesses. Anything that did not get a catchy enough name quickly enough is likely to be in English. One unusual, and uniquely American, fact about English is that many Princesses adopt a more “royal” manner of speaking in their Transformed identity, which is to say a British accent ranging from “BBC English” to “not even the Queen lays it on that thick”. Princesses who are actually from the United Kingdom usually use their natural accent, though as the British will parody anything some have been known to play up, or adopt, incomprehensible regional accents when around Americans.
The Hopeful on the NetEdit
The Internet, developing almost congruently with the rise of Blossomings after the Release, has proved an invaluable tool for the growth of Camaraderies. Frequently, Camaraderies will run one or more websites exclusively for the use of its Light-touched members. Sometimes these sites are accessible by the public and the Princesses who use it do so without revealing their nature, discussing magical topics under the guise of more mundane concerns. Sometimes they are completely private, which lets the Hopeful talk frankly, but puts its members at risk if it is ever compromised. Of course, nothing stops individual Princesses from running their own sites as well. The need for communication, education, and simple desire to vent has caused a sprawling magical culture to emerge across a network of blogs, forums, and social networking sites.
Despite this, the Internet still has its dangers. Many Princesses eagerly flock to debates about occult theory or magical phenomena, but a wise Noble doesn’t contribute to them. A Princess’s emotional understanding of her magic often clashes with more accepted occult principles. The resulting arguments can draw the unwanted attention of experienced supernatural beings who recognize their magical style for what it is.
As useful as the Internet is, it is extremely unusual for it to be a Camaraderie’s lone method of communication. Snail mail and phone calls have their own benefits and drawbacks, and nothing can replace face-to-face conversation. Depending on how clandestine they need to be a Camaraderie might have regular meetings where the members show up transformed and vote on policy changes or they might meet in secretly in small groups to quickly exchange important information before departing.
All Princesses need to keep the Darkness in mind. Even if a Princess isn’t focused on fighting monsters or cleansing Taint, the Darkness is a threat to her. Camaraderies provide an invaluable service to Princesses that would rather spend their time healing the sick or re-socializing abused dogs by keeping track of the forces of Darkness.
Members of a local Camaraderie are almost always expected to report every encounter with Dark creatures or new Tainted areas to the Camaraderie, to ensure that knowledge of the enemy doesn’t die with them. Sometimes compiling this information and notifying its members is as far as the Camaraderie goes, but they might also dive deeper into analysis and prevention, tracking the movement of Darkspawn, researching Dark cults, and compiling profiles on prominent Mnemosynes and Cataphractoi.
Mapping of Taint is a major part of tracking Darkness. In addition to simply reporting the places they’ve happened to encounter, Princesses might also scan the news for events that may have caused Taint, go on scouting missions, or use divination magic. Characters with the Taint Awareness Merit are particularly valuable to the cause. Prevention may also be a priority, with the Camaraderie locating places that are likely to become Tainted in the future, and urging members to make appropriate countermeasures.
Early in her career, a Princess’s greatest defense is knowledge. Without that knowledge, a newly-Blossomed Princess is especially vulnerable to the monsters lurking in the shadows. Some Princesses are lucky enough to have Shikigami that seek them out before or shortly after their Blossoming to give them the rundown. Others must hope that their peers find them before the Darkness does.
Finding and training new Princesses usually falls to the local Camaraderie(s). Any reports of vigilantism, girls in unusual costume, or displays of magic usually merit immediate investigation. That being said, the Veil can be a powerful thing, and even other Princesses can fail to pierce it. Magic is helpful in finding and recruiting new Princesses, and certain clever combinations of Charms have succeeded in bringing them to the Camaraderie, but nothing is ever certain. Even after contact is made, some new Princesses, especially those that have gotten by on their own for too long, are slow to trust.
A Camaraderie can be especially useful to Princesses who Blossom while still in school. Even when they aren’t actually charities nearly all Camaraderies offer volunteer positions, so Noble minors can report their work for them as volunteer hours. Many a late-night excursion has the understandable excuse of staying late to help out, and an adult will back up the teenager’s story if necessary. It gives the impression (actually pretty accurate) that one’s child has become active in the community, and many families take pride in that.
Alongside finding new Nobility, Camaraderies frequently locate and protect Beacons, Sworn, and Blessed Places. In addition to the moral necessity (they attract the attention of the Darkness nearly as much as Princesses and are less able to defend themselves), the Light-touched are valuable allies and resources. Once it's existed for a few years a local Camaraderie will know of almost all the Hopeful in the city, and many other Light-touched as well - which allows it both to call on all of them in an emergency, and to introduce Nobles with interests in common to each other.
Organization and PoliciesEdit
As a rule, a Camaraderie’s organization is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the setting and the personalities of the Nobility that administrate it. In a low-tension setting, the core of a Camaraderie might be a single Nakama that handles communication and organization while the rest of the city’s Hopeful focus on their Vocations but provide assistance when asked. A high-tension setting might give rise to a rigidly organized and secretive Camaraderie where membership is required and Nakama are assigned tasks by their superiors. Some cities may have no Camaraderie at all, while some might have two or more. The following guidelines are only frequently true.
- A Camaraderie’s policies are not defined by a single person. Sometimes a single Nakama votes internally, but usually every member has a say. That might mean there are strict rules about voting or that the members discuss it until they can come to an agreement.
- Camaraderies don’t have explicit ranks (apart from Princess, Sworn, Beacon, and mundane, and sometimes not even that). Merit, experience, and contribution are usually recognized informally and members in high regard have more pull than others, but this is true of any group of people.
- Camaraderies assign duties to those willing to do them. Only when no one volunteers are nominations called for, and even then Camaraderies are usually reluctant to force the issue, preferring to rely on guilt when withholding resources will likely just hurt others.
Although Camaraderies are primarily concerned with magical issues, their membership isn’t necessarily comprised only of the Light-touched. Anyone willing to pitch in is accepted as a member, whether or not they have magic powers. While membership can be more dangerous and less beneficial for mortals, Princesses have a deep respect for those who would fight the Darkness without magic to defend them.
Regular people who join a Camaraderie usually do so in order to have their time and money directed to the place it can do the most good. They can expect that their concerns are listened to with the same weight as a Princess and can make the same kinds of requests. Often, mundane members are made into Sworn, if such a thing is within the Camaraderie’s capabilities and the mundanes have proven themselves.
Some Camaraderies, especially those with a front organization, have employees. Because they aren’t usually aware of the Camaraderie’s true nature, they’re not usually considered full members, but Princesses make sure to pay attention to their troubles and opinions. While some might treat mundanes as second-class citizens, most are aware of this temptation and do their best to resist it.
A Camaraderie’s open handed nature extends to other supernatural beings as well. While it would be quite unusual for a blood-sucker to join, it wouldn’t be inconceivable. Every World of Darkness game line has characters with the potential to do good and make the world a better place. They’re granted the same benefits and duties as any mundane member, though they might be watched with more suspicion at first.
An important variation of Camaraderies appeared somewhat later, when the Hopeful applied the principle of mutual aid to more normal issues than intrusions from the Darkness. In several cities the leaders of the first Camaraderie tried to expand its mission to include such issues, and touched off political quarrels and bad feelings that split the Camaraderie or threatened to. The veterans of those early divisions are wiser now; they encourage groups of Nobles who share the same passions to form groups of their own, each to its own issue. At first these groups were also called Camaraderies, and some Nobles still do, but the differences in their objects and structures has led most to use a different name: Principalities.
Unlike Camaraderies, Principalities tend to help members with their Vocations rather than the general duties of a Princess. A large Principality of healers (Mender and otherwise) might put their skills and resources together to assist medical efforts, while a smaller one might tie thespians of various stripes from multiple Nakama to support a community theater. Due to their more mundane aims, Principalities are far more open to mundane members - it’s even common for them to appear inside a mundane institution when a few Nobles who happen to belong to it discover each other’s presence and decide to collaborate. For the same reason, Principalities are very likely to become Nations so mundane members can benefit from the Light. (Camaraderies generally are not built around Nations, because their goals aren’t easily explained to mundane people. Only places where supernatural threats are overwhelming will have Camaraderies that are Nations as well.)
Successful and long-lasting Principalities tend to grow beyond the city where they were founded, and sometimes even beyond the control of the Nobles who created it, as the mundane side of the organization dilutes their supernatural contributions. This is normally a sign of success, as it implies that large numbers of mundane people are being guided by the founders’ ideals; but it can lead to trouble if the mundane members interpret those ideas in ways the founders didn’t intend.
Eventually, there will be disagreements. It’s an unfortunate truth of humanity. A group of Knaves disagrees with the rigidity of the Camaraderie’s structure breaks off to form a group with a more personal structure. A Champion, dissatisfied with the return on her investment, founds a Camaraderie for those who agree that all members should contribute equally. Because Princesses are generally pretty good at putting their differences aside and working together, it’s important to think about what differentiates separate Camaraderies, whether its philosophical or practical.
Founding a CamaraderieEdit
Creating a Camaraderie, especially in an area without one, is a perfect goal for a Nakama of player characters. They’ll need to convince local Hopeful, establish infrastructure, gather resources, and make a name for themselves. Characters forming a new Camaraderie can represent their gradual efforts with the Allies, Contacts, or even Staff Merits, representing the characters they’ve recruited. Once they’ve reached a certain point, those Merit dots should be traded for Status dots.