The infobox to the right is included due to OOC guidelines for wiki pages.
See below for IC information regarding the role of The Fool vs. the Kindred who plays it.
The Nature of the Fool
Natural Fool vs. Licensed Fool
One may conceptualize fools in two camps: those of the natural fool type and those of the licensed fool type. Whereas the natural fool was seen as innately nit-witted, moronic, or mad, the licensed fool was given leeway by permission of the court. In other words, both were excused, to some extent, for their behavior, the first because he "couldn't help it," and the second by decree.
In ancient times, courts employed fools and by the Middle Ages the jester was a familiar figure. In Renaissance times, aristocratic households in Britain employed licensed fools or jesters, who sometimes dressed as other servants were dressed, but generally wore a motley (i.e. parti-coloured) coat, hood with ass's (i.e. donkey) ears or a red-flannel coxcomb and bells. Regarded as pets or mascots, they served not simply to amuse but to criticize their master or mistress and their guests. Queen Elizabeth (reigned 1558-1603) is said to have rebuked one of her fools for being insufficiently severe with her. Excessive behavior, however, could lead to a fool being whipped, as Lear threatens to whip his fool.
Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no one else would dare deliver. The best example of this is in 1340, when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. Phillippe VI's jester told him the English sailors "don't even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French."
The Fool as Advisor
It is in the nature of jesters to speak their minds when the mood takes them, regardless of the consequences. They are neither calculating nor circumspect, and this may account for the "foolishness" often ascribed to them. Jesters are also generally of inferior social and political status and are rarely in a position (and rarely inclined) to pose a power threat. They have little to gain by caution and little to lose by candor—apart from liberty, livelihood, and occasionally even life, which hardly seems to have been a deterrent. They are peripheral to the game of politics, and this can reassure a king that their words are unlikely to be geared to their own advancement. Jesters are not noted for flattery or fawning. The ruler can be isolated from his courtiers and ministers, who might conspire against him. The jester too can be an isolated and peripheral figure somehow detached from the intrigues of the court, and this enables him to act as a kind of confidant.
The foolishness of the jester, whether in his odd appearance or his levity, implies that he is not passing judgment from on high, and this may be less galling than the "holier than thou" corrective of an earnest adviser. One of the most effective techniques the jester uses to point out his master's folly is allowing him to see it for himself. Rather than contradicting the king, the jester will agree with a harebrained scheme so wholeheartedly that the suggestion is taken to a logical extreme, highlighting its stupidity. The king can then decide for himself that maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all.
The Fool's License
In short, the Fool's License not only grants permission to the Fool to entertain and mock other Kindred in court, but also requires him to do so. The extent of these prerogatives and duties, as well as the protections afforded the man behind the role, are covered in detail under the terms of the Fool's License.
Read the full terms of the license yourself.
Of course, if one asks The Fool about his own contract, the answer is more roundabout:
The prince who accepts contract's payment
acquires The Fool in motley raiment
charged to amuse
but not quite abuse
all who attend court engagements.
Know, too, that The Fool is a carper,
ego to him like hair to the barber
He sees through the guises
and quite criticizes
and wisdom he shares like the barker.
The Fool speaks his mind as he wishes
and delivers bad tidings with fishes
severe he must be
but with jolly tee-hee
while he sashays along with some swishes.
The Fool is the court's own internist
who shan't diagnose it in earnest
harpy, prince, duke
shall him ne'er rebuke
when his tongue shares the truth but unvarnished.
A prince has The Fool as companion
to mark up the court via fanion
to show him the way
his courtiers sway
his liege he would never abandon.
The Fool is charged not to abstain
from upholding his prince's domain
that absolute tower
of benevolent pow'r
to anarchs and autarchs both bane.
And should the Fool e'er have slipped
when over the line he has skipped
the prince is the guy
before public eye
to by his hand see the Fool whipped.
A World of Foolery
Early jesters were popular in Ancient Egypt, and entertained Egyptian pharaohs. Jesters were popular with the Aztec people in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. In Chinese culture, the jester element often has to be singled out according to context, although the key character you does seem to have referred specifically to jesters, originally meaning somebody who would use humor to mock and joke, who could speak without causing offense, and who also had the ability to sing or dance: "The you was also allowed a certain privilege, that is, his 'words were without offense' . . . but the you could not offer his remonstrances in earnest, he had to make use of jokes, songs and dance."
There are few active licenses at this time.
Recent Past Licenses
- Fredericksburg, VA, enacted June 14, 2013 by Prince Adeline Bellamy
- Kentuckiana (i.e., Greater Louisville), enacted June 29, 2013 by Prince Silas Wardell
- Grand Rapids, MI, enacted July 19, 2013 by Duke John Smith
- The Michigan Imperium, enacted July 20, 2013 by Imperial Prince Mircea De Luna
- The Fool is actually the dominant personality of Walter Jones, a.k.a. Walter the Grey.
- The Fool has no purpose but to bedevil Harpies.
By the Fool:
- "Oh, yes, that's an excellent plan! If you kill the witness, he can't tell anyone about your slip-up in the alley. Of course, his family might want answers about how he died, and certainly the police and the D.A. will be looking into it. Easily rectified, though! Just kill the witness's family and the police force, too! And then when the press looks into the local spike in murders and the FBI comes around, you can kill them, too. This plan is excellent! Just kill all the mortals, and the Masquerade will never be breached! What a brilliant, foolproof plan!"
- "Why Sire, how magnanimous and brave a prince you are! You even invite your would-be assassins to your court!"
About the Fool:
- "He is an exemplary teacher to neonates and Princes alike. Mistake his wise counsel and tireless service for madness at your own expense, or even at your peril." - Prince Adeline Bellamy
- "This here is my Camarilla Clown. As I'm sure you're aware. After all, every good Camarilla has a Camarilla Clown!" -Vanhook
- "Just because you pass a law that says the sky is red doesn't make it fucking so." - Salvatore Giovanni
- "Danse Macabre" - Camille Saint-Saëns
- 1960s cereal commercial
- "Summer Camp" in Trekmaster (James B. Johnson, 1987)
- The Court Jester
- "If I only had a brain"
The Man Behind the Fool
The role of the Fool is played by the Malkavian Elder Walter Jones, a.k.a. Walter the Grey.
The Philosophy of the Fool
The Fool is unsurprisingly explained best by Walter Jones, a.k.a. Walter the Grey, the man who plays him, most often in candid, private conversation with those willing to ask him (i.e., if you want a good RP scene, this topic might be a good trigger):
The origin of The Fool goes back to the Conclave in 1751. That was when the Toreadors were pushing to increase the powers of the Harpies. And I was vehemently opposed to it. It's simple enough: the Harpies represent an increased rebellion against the Tradition of Domain on behalf of the Councils who back them. To increase the power of the Harpies was to challenge the very notion of a Prince. Even though the Harpy is seen as the "moral voice" of the city, the absolute power of the monarch must, by noblesse oblige, also be benevolent. And so a Harpy is unnecessary. Moral judgement also comes from the Prince and the Camarilla's law. Only a just Prince would have divine right. An unjust prince who does not uphold noblesse oblige is a tyrant, and tyrants are unstable in the end (something the French Toreadors had not yet discovered in 1751, it seems, but soon did).
The Fool teaches and aids the Prince's power with insight from the vantage of humility. Power benefits from the vantage of the powerless. In a way, the Fool is a ritualized, socially encoded form of empathy in the court, that the Prince may understand the subjects and that the subjects may understand themselves and how they appear to the court. But there is also a very pragmatic reason to have the Fool. Though Kindred we strive to be, we are by nature backbiting predators cursed with too much time to keep us from becoming idle and turning on each other. That is not conducive to civilized coexistence of Kindred at court. Thus, the Fool distracts other Kindred with levity. When focusing on the Fool, they are not contemplating how to murder each other.
Also, the Fool may lack any powers in the court, such as the raising or lowering of standing in the Camarilla, but he *is* an effective counterbalance to the role of Harpy. If there *must* be a Harpy with such meaningful powers over us, then let there also be an adversary to the Harpy who is politically powerless, but instructive. We Elders... we instruct our lessers. We train them up right in our ways. Thus... the Fool.
As the Fool is the ally of all Princes of the Camarilla, then those who are enemies of the Fool are the enemies of every prince's law. Furthermore, those who would be the enemy of the Fool? Those who hate the jester, the jokester, the powerless, the humblest of the realm's subjects? Well, hate the Fool, and be revealed as foolish for it, because the Fool is no threat to those with any power, for he is beneath them all.
Player Name: John Scott
MES Number: US2002023603Location: Bloomington, IN