Faerie Chess is a Hedge game of dream logic developed by Hobgoblins, and has only gotten more convoluted since chess was introduced from the mortal world. The game is especially popular in Buena Vista's region of the Hedge, where there is a brisk (and often clandestine) trade for rare chess pieces. The Gentry have also been known to take it up, often turning their captives into pieces to be used in their even grander games.
Most games involve some manner of gamble or are done as a non-violent form of conflict resolution, typically with sealed promises. Goblin Debt is also a common wager. Defeating other players to win their prized game pieces is quite common. In extreme cases, people can be wagered and turned into game pieces or restored, though this typically requires a special arena or a powerful referee to enforce the terms. Living pieces retain some animation, but generally lack any sort of precision in their movement beyond speaking and hopping. For Changelings, keeping a captive living piece is a Clarity breaking point.
Number of Players
Most games are one-on-one, but every kind of multiplayer format is possible. Those with living pieces can play "solitaire chess," typically with the living piece trying to win their freedom, though the living piece seldom has anything to wager against their captor.
MechanicsA game of Faerie Chess uses a variation of the Chase rules, with the following modifiers to the number of successes required to defeat the opponent:
- Base number: 5
- Opponent has a set type advantage: +1
- Opponent has a superior quality set: +1 to +3
- Your first game: +1
- Board/Terrain advantage: -2
- Researched opponent's strategy: -1 to -3
- Wyrd greater than your opponent's: -1
- Opponent has no Wyrd: -1 (stacks)
On the first turn, players roll a contested dice pool appropriate to their opening strategies. The player or team who rolls the most successes gains The Edge. In the event of a tie, use Initiative as a tiebreaker. in following turns, players with The Edge may use any strategy for their turn without penalty. Their opponents then chooses a strategy in response. If there is ever a turn where no one has The Edge, settle it in the following turn as if it were the first. A player who wins an opposed roll with a counter-strategy seizes The Edge.
Strategy and Counter-Strategy
A strategy is represented by an appropriate dice pool. A calculating strategy may be represented by Intelligence + Academics, while a deceptive strategy may be represented by Manipulation + Subterfuge. The player with The Edge chooses their strategy for the turn, and the opponent chooses to respond with their own strategy or a counter-strategy that addresses their opponent's thrust. A passionate strategy (Presence + Intimidation) counters a calculating one. A predictive strategy (Wits + Empathy) counters a deceptive one. If the side without The Edge uses their own strategy, they lose the 10-again rule for the roll and get a cumulative one-die penalty to future rolls until they seize The Edge.
Example Strategies and Counter-Strategies
- Logic (Intelligence + Computer) versus Passion/Luck (Presence + Persuasion)
- Sneaky (Manipulation + Subterfuge) versus Domineering (Presence + Intimidation)
- Cheating (Dexterity + Larceny) versus Watchful (Wits + Composure)
Components and tools
Faerie Chess Set
Each player needs a set of pieces to use. Most players, especially Hobgoblins, work toward a unifying theme to their set, though strange hodge-podge combinations are legal and possible. Obtaining a set can be as simple as gathering a collection of mortal minatures or as difficult as negotiating for prized pieces in the Goblin Market. A conventional set of chess pieces are legal, but are often derided as "garbage tier" or "purist." Being defeated by a mortal or Changeling with a conventional set is considered the most humiliating defeat for a hobgoblin. Meanwhile, such a mortal is sure to become an instant celebrity among faerie chess players. Game pieces from other mortal games are considered valuable, especially if individualized, such as painted minatures from expensive games like Warhammer 40,000.
Arenas are typically created by Hedgespinning, often to create a giant board and larger versions of the players' pieces. Local terrain may factor into gameplay. Some formal games may be played at dedicated arenas, where audiences and (relatively) trusted referees watch over the game.
Faerie chess is serious business in Buena Vista's region of the Hedge. Challenges often occur as a means of conflict resolution, and is frequently done as a form of duel. It also exists as a spectator sport among hobgoblin communities who appreciate the displays of trickery and the frequently larger-than-life personalities that manifest in proficient players. Declining a chess match when one has an adequate set of pieces is often derided as cowardly, often forcing reluctant players to refine their skills or learn to keep their matches secret to the general hobgoblin public.