Changeling: The Dreaming
|Changeling: The Dreaming|
|Role-playing game published by
|Rule System||Storyteller System|
|Authors||Mark Rein·Hagen, Sam Chupp, Ian Lempke, Joshua Gabriel Timbrook|
|Essential Books||Changeling: The Dreaming|
Also known as Otherkin: The Glamourbombing. Take a fucking guess why? I'll give you a hint: Motherfucking Elves. Changeling: The Dreaming takes place in the World of Darkness, so the fluff mentions Mages and you can use Vampires and other emo RPG shit in here. The game teeters on the edge of fuckfaced shitawful and christdamn fuckawesome. It's a really good premise executed poorly: the writers were sort of all over the place as to what they actually wanted the game to be about. Is it a hopeful game of restoring beauty and glamour to the world? Is it a grimdark game of coping living in a world where you see and feel the magic slowly dying? Fuck if I know.
We recently saw the release 20th anniversary book of Changeling, and it turns out to be not as pretentious as Mage 20 was (but it's Changeling, so it's still pretentious) and has a whole bunch of stuff on the game, just like how a 20th anniversary book should be.
- 1 Premise
- 2 The Nature of Changelings
- 3 Politics
- 4 Kiths
- 5 The Noble Houses
- 6 Glamour, Greymayre, and Magics
- 7 Of Banality, Bedlam, and Balance
- 8 Shortcomings of Changeling
- 9 Salvaging Changeling?
Long time ago, fae/fairies were common, and shit like shoemaker elves and troll bridges were for real. Then the elves for some reason decided to get the fuck outta dodge (probably because pre-Technocracy Mages wanted to nerf magic in the world). So they packed up and left for the moon. Only, those other fae thingies that weren't elves got left behind for not being beautiful enough, so developed some prancing magic to protect themselves from the encroaching disbelief of the supernatural (Many of the mythical creatures were part of consensual reality, and as people realized that maybe there weren't dragons and unicorns, they started dying and/or leaving for Mythic Realms). Changelings did exist in the old days as babystealing pricks, only now they went for reincarnating themselves in mortal bodies (displacing the human souls in the process too).
Centuries later, the astronomy division of the Technocracy figure "hey, every time we go to the moon, elves fuck our shit up, let's get the sheeple to believe the Moon is just a ball of rock orbiting the Earth, and then their collective faith will make it so, and we can finally build moon bases there." So they organize the Apollo missions, and make sure that everybody's watching when they land and there's no green cheese and no little green men (little green elves, get it?), just a vacuum, dust, and outer-space desert wasteland.
Well, the astronomy division fucked up big time. Everyone watching saw the Moon, and yup, it's dead, it's empty... but everyone also though "Holy shit, we made it to the Moon! The motherfucking Moon! If we can do that... why, we could do ANYTHING!" When millions of sheeple are watching TV and all hoping and believing the same thing, well, how can Paradox not cause something to happen? So, the elves got evicted from the Moon, the sheeple watching teevee short-circuited the eviction and the elves got a first-class ticket and a red-carpet invitation to return to Earth...
Except not really. Basically every Changeling that wasn't an elf said "Screw it, we've gotten used to being free of you all." So the Elves did some stupid magic war thing, involving mass battles on horseback, epic battlefields, and fell magics (Note: This all basically amounts to one giant LARP where some people are throwing beanbags, while yelling "LIGHTNING BOLT! LIGHTNING BOLT!"), then the elves rule everything once again. As an overture to the commoners, some get titles (seldom with holdings to go with them).
However, not everyone is pleased. High King David is the supposed "Nice Guy" of the Sidhe, and tries for constitutional monarchy. However, things go to hell in a handbasket, the king disappears, and around the same time as the Week of Nightmares, Arcadia opens again, bringing more elf nobles into the world, as well as extradimensional true fae. Too many goddamn elves; naturally, the commoner got sick of this shit and decide to go on an elf-killing spree. It's wartime again, lock and load!
The Nature of Changelings
Most Changelings are Faerie souls reincarnated into a mortal body in a burst of Glamour known as the Chrysalis (hence the original nickname Otherkin: The Glamourbombing). Upon this Chrysalis the Changeling sees the world of dream-reality layered on top of this world, as well as assuming a new mantle known as a Fae Mien. Changelings instinctually view each others Miens accordingly, though their mortal forms exist in the main world. Note that not all Changelings are born via the Chrysalis (Arcadian Sidhe are a notable exception), yet whether "reincarnated" in a new host body through the Chrysalis or through other means, the end result is that a Changeling exists in two realities overlaid atop each other: one mundane, and one Chimerical.
Chimera are literally dreams given semi-physical form. Every abandoned imaginary friend, every invention that never got proper funding, every folk tale, fairy tale, or the fevered nightmares of Abdul Alhazared the Mad Arab, literally become dream-matter that Changelings interact with. Likewise, paranoia about economic instability, the opioid crisis, conspiracies about black helicopters, etc. can result in Noctnisa and Nervosae, collective paranoia given Chimerical form.
Being a Changeling means walking a narrow tightrope between mundanity and insanity. While in 2nd Edition, the description of this played out as a mix of a Don Quixote episode or a giant LARP-fest where an odd group of people engage in an elaborate game of pretend, Changeling 20th expands on and clarifies how "mundane" reality interacts with Chimerical Reality in several ways to make the game more palatable.
Chimera can either exist by themselves (in the case of imaginary friends, etc), or be overlaid on top of a pre-existing item (Mortals see a pen. Changelings see a sword). As a general rule, Chimera can can only safely interact with Chimerical Reality, and if any mundane mortals see something out of the ordinary, then Banality triggers in to attempt to resolve any contradiction. For example, if two factions of Changelings engage in an duel through Chimerical Airships and a regular plane flies through them...a bunch of Changelings will get shunted through the Near Dreaming, as the airplane would have otherwise seen humans floating in the air.
There are ways to get around this: A Changeling (or some Chimera) can enchant certain targets, allowing them to interact with Chimerical Reality. Alternatively, a Changeling (or some Chimera, ex. Will o' the Wisps) could call on the Wyrd, to temporarily force Chimerical Reality into the mortal world. Alternately, Chimerical can interact with the mundane world so long as mortals do not directly witness it. Said Plague Nervosa formed from drug abuse nightmares could, for instance, switch the labels or contents of medications if not witnessed. If all else fails, then keep actions easy to rationalize: For example, a Chimera picking up a newspaper from a newspaper stand would trigger Banality, as it would otherwise appear since the newspaper was "floating" by itself. However, a Chimera running off with a sheet of paper on a windy day is another story. Think of how Mage handles Coincidential Magic and you're not too far off.
Changeling society is mostly feudal. This is because the elves associate most folk tales with the middle ages and Victorianized medieval fantasy, the short-sighted fuckwits that they are.
There are good elves (Seelie, or Summer), and bad elves (Unseelie, or Winter). The Unseelie elves aren't really so bad, just ruthless. It's kinda like Democrats and Republicans -- really the same thing, but call one of them the other and they'll punch your lights out. Then there's the REALLY bad elves, the Shadow Court, which is a secret conspiracy to... I dunno, since all they can really do is beat each other up and maybe make nightmares for the Mundanes, or harass Werewolves and Mages until one of those powerhouses decide to really bitchslap the sparkly little faggots. The Shadow Court are not your friends.
The Parliament of Dreams
British style parliament, The 2 power blocks are the royalists and the shadow court
The royalists attempt to play Noblesse oblige, yet have a secret group of assassins who act like the KKK except aimed at the commoners known as The Beltaine Blade. Still ocasionally they do act the part of chivalric knights. Yet they also deny the right of commoners to own many things like freeholds, and gods help you if your a Kinane because you don't get rights half breed.
There are unaligned moderates as well and hidden alliances.
The shadow court acts like a political party for the disenfranchised, the chimera, the commoners and the thallian, it has little representation yet often moderate stances. However, it is secretly manipulated by a group within known as the black court who are evil, The black court is being controlled by the thallian and is a front for the Fomorians. The thing is they black court actively sabotages deals and moves goals posts attempting to radicalize the commoners.
The royalists may rule but they rule poorly and are greedy decadent fucks, A french style revolution is on the horizon and anyone with a brain can see it but no one wants it, except the Fomorian and their Thallian servants.
Just like Vampire Clans, Werewolf Tribes and Mage Traditions there's many kinds of elves so you can be different from other players without having to come up with your own ideas; in addition to powers, all the different kiths tend to have their own personality written on them (Heaven forbid you play a lock-n-load Boggan or a vegan Redcap). It's like all these games are imitations of each other, or written by the same guys.
The Core Kiths
Kiths normally found in Europe and North America. These are the default Kiths because most players of Changeling: The Dreaming live in those areas.
- Boggans: Busybodies from the "Shoemaker and the Elves" tale.
- Cluríchaun: Leprechauns. As Irish as they come. Are also hoarders, but not necessarily hoard gold.
- Eshu: Elves from African stories, the gypsies and storytellers. Can learn Talecrafting.
- Nockers: Violent, subterranean gnomes/dwarves, with superior tech, a hatred of Elves, banality resistance, and the ability to fix technology by swearing at it. Fond of Steampunk and the Sons of Ether.
- Piskies: The Kender of the game. Steal everything that's not nailed down with cold iron nails. Shoot on sight.
- Pooka: The furries of Changelings, comedians. Tend to shapechange into "cute" critters like cats, though nothing prevents one from playing one who could shapechange into an elephant. Nockers tend to *really* hate Pookas as a result. Cannot tell the truth.
- Redcaps: Violent little bastards that leave bite-marks on everything. Can and will eat everything. Think Orks dedicated to Khorne. Their splat was written by Richard Dansky (writer of Wraith: The Oblivion), so it has some fun stuff in it (The meatgrinder, a giant machine which could turn anything thrown in it, into sausage. Pass the elf-meat around).
- Satyrs: PROMOTIONS! BOOZE! MOAR PROMOTIONS!
- Selkies: Swimmers. Unique in that they can pass on their "skin" (can be a shirt, scarf, belt or any other piece of similar clothing) to turn someone else into a Selkie. Destroying the skin kills them. Can turn into a seal/sea lion at will. Notoriously have a spelling mistake in the C20 book where it says that they can take the form of a sea instead of a seal, which would mean that by RAW any Selkie can drop several cubic miles of water wherever they want. Of course, no ST worth their salt would let you do this.
- Sihde: Arrogant upper-class elves, arrived with the Moon landings and figure they're more "pure" because they didn't have to hide inside human children as long. C20 created a split between the Arcadian Sidhe (the old school ones) and the Autumn Sidhe, who went underground alongside the other Kithain, who as a result have a slightly higher opinion of them. Both of them cannot be humiliated by prank or Cantrip, and they get an extra dot of Appearance. The Arcadian Sidhe in return get hit extra hard by Banality (with an option to replace this with a disdain for plebs) while the Autumn Sidhe run risk of getting mortals obsessed with them whenever they roll a success on any social interaction with said mortal.
- Sluagh: Things that go "bump," in the night, the emo gothfags of elves. Can't speak above a whisper no matter what, but they have good Perception, can speak with ghosts and can contort themselves in extreme ways.
- Trolls: Oversized blue walls of muscle, they're the Lawful Stupid elves. This lets them resist being lured away from their duty and makes them stronger the more Oaths they swear, but if they do break an Oath thye are hit extra hard.
There are also several less common Kiths, with quite a few being either subgroups of the more common Kiths or just very rare:
- Ghille Dhu:
- Morganed: Sirens.
- Oba: Eshu royalty. Contrasting with Eshu, Oba are "tied" to a specific realm or region which they cannot leave without taking damage. In exchange for losing their freedom on the road, they get the Sidhe nobility bonuses.
- River Hag: A Redcap variant, which trades the Intimidation Birthright and Frailty for being tied to a river.
- Swan Maiden: Created from the dreams of tragic romance, the Swan Maidens (Swan Princes, Swan Lovers) engage in deep romance that always ends in tragedy. A bit like the Selkie, except it happens to the other person. They might be monogamous to the max or really get around, depending on their Court affiliation. They get extra Dexterity and Apperance, get a discount on the Winged Merit and can reduce the difficulty of their rolls for a scene by thinking about their lover really hard (with an extra reduciton if this person is their True Love), but taking True Love inflicts the Dark Fate Flaw on either the Swan Maiden or their lover, they can't use their waifu/husbando power if they got laid in the last 72 hours and if they suffer heartbreak it can be so severe they take a dot of Banality.
- Wichtel: Dwarfs/Gnomes. They are expert miners, with +1 Stamina, and an inability to botch jobs involving manual labor. However, do them wrong and they will go to any extreme for vengeance.
Asian Changeling consisting of spirits which would gank a person's body just as the soul left (aka "Near-death" experiences). Have animal-form commoners and elemental rulers. They have Luck and curses instead of Glamour and Banality, and a Yin and Yang value rated 1-5 a Tao value based on the average and a Yugen value based on twice their sum. Their powers are drived from the Wu Tan, elemental sorcery based on the five Chinese elements.
- Chu jung:
- Fu hsi:
- Heng po:
- Nyan: An animal kith consisting of autistic busty catgirls. (Nyaa~)
The manifestation of natural environments. Based on the classical air, water, earth and fire, but also plant life and man-made items. Instead of taking human bodies they have Husks, things that look like human bodies that rapidly age only to be reborn in an adolescent form later. Because of their lack of human interaction they can only mimic being human, which means that prolonged contact with humans can inflict Banality. Inanimae all have an Anchor or some kind: either a location or a man-made object. As long as it exists, the Inanimae can keep coming back, but if it's destroyed the Inanimae is gone as well. They come in six kinds:
The Fae of the Hawai'ian islands, named after the spirit-like Menehune of Hawai'ian myth. They are cut off rom the Dreaming to a greater degree than their fellow Changelings, and therefore have come to rely on nature to harvest their Glamour. Because of their distance from the rest of the world the islands and through them the Menehune went largely untouched by the fuckery of the Inquisition and the Order of Reason, until Captain Cook arrived and fucked everything up for natives and Changelings alike. With the baptizing of every Changeling, with the tearing down of each sacred idol, one Menehune died forever. The Menehune have four Kiths, who have very little physical distinction between them. Instaed, they can be distinguished by how they dress and what their duty in Menehune society is.
Native American Kiths named after the Nûñnë'hï, a race of spirit people in Cherokee mythology. Harkening back to Werewolf and their description of the displaced Native American tribes. They come in thirteen flavors:
- Rock Giants:
- Water Babies:
- Yunwi Amai’yine’hi:
- Yunwi Tsunsdi:
Nunnehi have Summer and Winter Legacies, and pick one for both. Which one is dominant is based on the season. They also have access to Totems, much like how Werewolves do.
Added in the C20 Player Guide, because more splats. Djinn are the Kithain of North Africa and the Middle East.
- Ghul: Technically a variant Ghast, the Ghul replaces its ability to use the Mists with the ability to ignore any wound penalties not caused by Cold Iron.
- Djedi: Named after a mythical prince of Egypt, the Djedi are all about flashy displays of magic. How flashy? Basically, Djedi have the Changeling equivalent of Presdigitation, where they can spend Glamour on minor magic tricks. Oh, but that's nothing compared to their real hat trick: By spending Glamour, a Djedi can lower the difficulty of all Cantrips for that scene. Their drawback is that drawing on such power is taxing, and Djedi suffer penalties to all their rolls in the next scene after...however, judicious use of the Time Realm to prepare Cantrips in advance, and this drawback becomes a non-issue. Djedi make things blow up.
South American Kiths
Some of the splats aren't meant to be PC options, but are given writeups the same way for Storytellers to build them like PCs, or in case you're running an evil campaign.
Fundamentally altered from 2nd edition to the 20th Anniversary. In their original incarnation, Dauntain were Changelings that succumed to Banality and used their inverted powers to spread it around. Many of them tended to become Psychologists, in a way that would make them the ultimate Scientologist scapegoat.
In the 20th remake, Dauntain are those Changelings that were somehow born...wrong. Functionally, this means applying a "Brand" on top of a regular Kith, a drawback which grants access to an Art of dubious use. It may be recommended to houserule some of them.
- Brand of the Cadaver: Aka Typhoids, those that bear the Brand of the Cadaver have a plague-ridden Chrysalis. This means that a Typhoid's glamour sheds in leprous fashion, turning into Dross...which can infect other Changelings, like a faerie zombie outbreak. RAW, there is no cure, which makes one wonder how Changeling society isn't a heap of rotting flesh.
- Brand of the Forsaken: Also known as The Lost, Dauntain bearing the Brand of the Forsaken were those that were captured and tortured in Arcadia before eventually escaping. They suffer from Nightmares and can only recover Glamour from Dreamers that likewise suffer from Nightmares. Best learn Oneiromancy!
- Brand of the Iconoclast: Also known as Nihilists, Iconoclasts must destroy things of the Dreaming or suffer.
- Brand of the Lich Also known as Warlocks, Dauntain that bear the Brand of the Lich are born with a Phylactery containing their essence. If you can find a Warlock's phylactery, you basically control it.
- Brand of the Quisling: Also known as Quislings. These are the reincarnated souls of Traitors, and the Dreaming punishes them accordingly; Chimerae attack them on sight and they can only regain Glamour by Ravaging.
- Brand of the Unholy: "Everyone else," so to speak. Notably, this can include mortals who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Changelings with this mark suffer a die penalty to all their rolls equal to their Glamour whenever encountered with their specific trigger.
Thallain were originally DOUBLE-UNSEELIE versions of other Kith. This was because in their original version, they had two Unseelie Legacies. However, in the Anniversary Edition, they instead have a Nightmare Legacy as a primary, and their choice of either Seelie/Unseelie as a secondary. Thus, you can run Thallain as anything from the "Ends Justify the Means" Inquisitor-type, to a derpy Starscream.
Originally there were eight of them, but thanks to the 20th Anniversary Edition there's now 20 of them. They were created by the Fomorians to serve as the evil counterparts of the Kithain, and after the defeat of their masters the Thallain work to bring about the return of their masters. They are:
- Aithu: Evil Eshu. While the Eshu tend towards the adventuring and treasure-hunting sides of "1001 Nights," tales, the Aithu tend to be the ones filling the "Evil Vizier" archetype. They can tell stories for the sake of hypnotizing their foes/making them more suggestible to their own nefarious plots, and they have the ability to change appearance to look like either a young suitor or an old crone/man. The Aithu main weakness is that ironically, if you can trick them into listening to a story, the Aithu remains entranced, and grants a token at the end of the story, which can be used for a one-time favor. Basically, the Aithu are a mashup of the Sultan Schezerade enthralled, Jafar from Disney's Aladdin, and street con-games. Think Ravnos stereotypes and you're not far off.
- Beasties: Evil Pooka. Where Pookas can turn into an animal that falls under nature (be it an aardvark or zebra), Beasties turn into a monster form. Sadly, the rules don't give any mechanical bonuses for this. The Mists shield them from witnesses remembering them in this form, and they must attempt to transform once a month.
- Bodachs: Evil Clurichauns. Bodachs, rathet than being experts at finding hiding spots or starting fights, are experts at entering places due to their boneless bodies being able to contort through tight spaces, and at being able to find what their victims fear most. Bodachs have less health, since they're spineless gits, and a cat can scare them off easily.
- Boggarts: Evil Boggans. While Boggans embody clean honest "salt-of-the-earth" labor (or being an enterprising craftsman making a name), Boggarts represent the fears of shady subcontracting, job outsourcing, union corruption, and making a sale over delivering quality. Boggarts are able to build things faster like Boggans, though with more corner-cutting, but the real difference is that instead of knowing the local social/political landscape, Boggans know how to find and look after each other. Rather than helping the needy, they help themselves, and Boggarts have difficulty with corruption, bribes and kleptomania.
- Bogies: Evil Sluagh.
- Ghasts: Evil Redcaps. This sounds like a paradox ("aren't Redcaps already nightmarish?") but while Redcaps eat and fight indiscriminately, Ghasts are cold. Silent. Precise, and surgically so. They are masters at slicing, and the Mists conceal their work, so that a mortal or Changeling may wake up in a tub of ice missing a kidney. A ghast must eat a Glamour-rich organ each week or suffer increased penalties.
- Goblins: Evil Nockers. While Nockers represent the quest for perfection that can never quite be reached, Goblins are the military-industrial complex run amok. Goblins can build powerful but shortlived superweapons, and can make things explode in catastrophic form.
- Huaka'i po:
- Kelpies: Evil Selkies that take the form of water-horses that want to drown you. But don't worry, if you put a bridle or necklace/earring/jewelry on them, you become their master and they your slave! At least until the 'tack' is removed. Then you're sure to have a very angry water-horse that wants to drown you.
- Mandragoras: Evil Ghille Dhu. Or Warhammer dryads. These tree-walkers find a tree, possess it, and turn it into a personal hideout, where missing pets, homeless, etc, that stumble into it get recycled into spare Glamour. Kill the tree they're in and hope Banality does the rest, and guard the important ones.
- Merrow: Evil Merfolk. Howwver, instead of being fish-bottomed, Merrows are more like Cthulhu|Deep Ones, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and other such aquatic horrors. They're amphibious, and depending on their form, can have certain aquatic powers like electroshock or neurotoxin. Their drawback is tragic: As they acquire Banality, they lose their ability to remain underwater, and Undone Merrow live a short existence, cold and alone beneath an unforgiving sea. Thus raids on isolated fishing towns, or starting Shadow over Innsmouth-type cults would be their way of maintaining a supply of Glamour.
- Nasties: Evil Satyrs. While Satyrs embody passion and a life well-lived, Nasties are That Guy with that Fetish or vice. Simply being around a Nasty brings out your inner /d/ and if you try to attack them...let's say they aren't exactly hygenic. On the other hand, they give themselves away in public when they come across their special vice...
- Night Hags: Sleep paralysis given shape of old women who invade homes in the night.
- Ogres: Evil Trolls. While Trolls represent Strength and Honor, Ogres are Might Makes Right personified. They are strong but dumb meatheads and bullies.
- Sevartal: Evil Sidhe. They can easily disguise themselves as Sidhe and use their position to do harm, but those who escape their schemes will have an edge against their former masters.
- Spriggans: Spriggans are evil Piskies. However, rather than a compulsion to steal items, they steal children. All Spriggans have one specific item they always seem to have on them, no matter what. And they can summon storms. Yeah.
- Weeping Wights:
Fae beings that retired into the deepest regions of the Dreaming time ago, losing contact with the autumn world. They are not exactly evil, more like inhuman and out of touch with modern morality. Instead of two legacies, they have three arìa, inspired by the three aspects of human mind(Id, Ego, Super-Ego).
The Noble Houses
Being fancypants elves with delusions they're all really knights, princesses, etc, the Sidhe have their Noble Houses, which they seldom allow commoners to join. Being Rich and Beautiful and being a House-member, generally brings more mechanical bonuses and flaws. Each House also has a Seelie/Unseelie affiliation.
- House Beaumayn: Seers and monster hunters who are trying to kill the Fomorians.
- House Dougal: Elves pretending to be dwarves. Skilled smiths, can convert Glamour to willpower; however they must play a "wounded" (read, superficially flawed) otherkin form.
- House Eliuned: "Seelie" in that they support said Court, but many tend to go Unseelie. They're the "spooks" of Sidhe society, and tend to focus on magic prowess; several also become necromancers.
- House Fiona: Fancy-prancy elves, with a tendency to fall for romantic love and all that wishy-washy crap. Tend to have loads of sex.
- House Gwydion: Political bastards obsessed with divine right to rule. High King David Ardry is one of their members.
- House Liam: Cool dudes who stick up for mortals and commoners, so naturally are social outcasts.
- House Scathach: Back when the other Sidhe fled to Arcadia, those of Scathach said "Come back ya pussies, Earth is where the fightin's at." So they lost most their "beautiful people" powers but don't have the same Banality weakness of the other Sihde... however, they need to roll Willpower when they want to *Flee* from battles and most other nobles don't like them. Part of the Seelie Court, they spend so much time away from large-scale politics their membership is in name only. They don't subscribe to feudalism, are fond of modern tech, and have their own form of Fightan Magic. Think Atreides and yer not too far off.
- House Aesin: Viking elves who wear horned helmets and worship the Norse gods.
- House Ailil: Sneaky political bastards. So they're elves, AND politicians. Many run for Congress. Beware them.
- House Balor: Claim to be the bastard kids of Fomorians and Sidhe. Are immune to Cold Iron but have a wounded otherkin form. More so than the other houses, are likely to join the Shadow Court, and team up with Black Spirals to cause havoc and lulz. However, they're Goreans (One of their Oaths lets one mind-control a mortal by branding/piercing her) so they are fail.
- House Daireann: Honor, Hospitality, Vengeance. Those are the tenents of House Daireann; uphold them and they will be your fastest friends, violate them and their wrath will be terrible.
- House Danaan: The mysterious Fourteenth house, playing a part in the Endless Winter scenarios from the Time of Judgement book. Only nominally aligned with the Unseelie Court, they try to recapture the Dreaming and reopen Trots. They are immune to Bedlam caused by living in the Dreaming, but are prone to forgetting details about their mortal lives.
- House Leanhaun: Super-charismatic elves that need to drain human souls to remain beautiful and not age.
- House Varich: Basically Vulcans, trying never to love again.
Glamour, Greymayre, and Magics
Changelings use "glamour" as their fuel source (hence glamourbombing). They can get this from harvesting dreams from humans, either by inspiring humans to dream (Acting as muses for artists, providing constructive criticism for game designers, etc) or by crushing and absorbing their dreams (Burning a child's drawing of a house in front of said child). Additionally, there is "Dross" which is basically Tass; be it Faerie Mushrooms, mana crystals, etc, or be it items with artistic significance (The original copy of "A Midsummer's Night Dream, as an example), by consuming these items, one can use them in place of Glamour for casting stuff.
Glamour can be used for creating magic items, invoking kith powers (For example, if a Redcap wanted to eat an engine block, it would need to spend Glamour), or to use many of the changeling powers (be it transforming into battlemode, or enchanting a mortal), or for casting Cantrips.
Cantrips are the Changeling equivalent of Disciplines or Spheres...however, many of the effects are more "open-ended" in general. A Changeling has both Arts ("What effects can be done?"), and Realms ("What can an Art Affect"); however, this generally means that it will take awhile before Changelings can produce really useful direct-attack spells. (As "Enemy" requires maxed out dots in the Actor Realm, so baleful polymorph would take awhile to learn...).
To cast a Cantrip, one determines the Art to use, (For example, "I want my parachute to have an updraft" would be the Jump ability, under Wayfare), then the realms appopriate to what is being affected (A parachute is an item with moving parts, so Prop 3). If one can use multiple Realms to affect a target, then they can lower the casting difficulty. (For example, using the Gimmix ability to telekinetically throw a knife towards an enemy. If you have Actor 5 and Prop 3, you can lower the difficulty by 1). Additionally, two metamagic realms let one put delays on a cantrip, or increase area effect (So if one wanted to throw multiple blades, one could add the Scene realm on top of other realms.)
Then your character has to do something thematically appropriate to the power in question; Normally, the more time this "Bunk" takes, the lower the casting difficulty, but real clever Bunks can add a bigger bonus, so it's up to the players to improvise (And in fact, using the same bunk repeatedly can give the GM an excuse to raise the difficulty). For example, attempting to scry the future could involve meditating on a crystal ball, reading the entrails of a sacrificial animal (Or elf princess), or tuning a television to ultra-ultra high frequency while wearing a tinfoil hat. However, many of the core examples are very silly; we're talking stuff like throwing pixie-dust and holly leaves, eating cotton candy, or using tinkerbell wands. A lot of troupes will have a deck of cards with silly dares written on them. This junk goes over really well when LARPing but fuck that shit; we're fa/tg/uys, so lets have some dignity.
An additional power that Changelings have is Greymare, the ability to study Glamour and the Dreaming, and to use it to develop new Arts, to mutate existing Arts, to use countermagic, or design/enforce Oaths. However, they never created mechanical rules for oathcrafting, so it would make more sense to adapt the rules either from Changeling: The Lost, or Dark Ages: Fae.
Of Banality, Bedlam, and Balance
Banality is to Changelings what Paradox is to Mages and Humanity loss is to Vampires. The game does a pretty lousy job explaining it, but it consists of having too normal a life. A better way to envision it is like Clarity in Lost, except that most Changelings fear getting it too high due to the corresponding loss of power.
However, having too *low* a banality rating is also a bad thing. For one thing, it makes it easier to affect you with hostile magic (And one can actually opt to gain banality points to do counterspells), and if Banality gets too low, you gradually start going insane, become a True Fae, and must depart the world.
To lower permanent Banality, one must rake a quest to help a "mundane" regain the ability to dream again. Examples can include The Angel from "It's a Wonderful Life" convincing George Bailey not to jump, or Tyler Durden taking the convenience store clerk outside back and threatening to shoot him if he doesn't treat life with more reverence.
Eventually, though, even the Changelings get more worn down, and grumpy, and doubtful, and succumb to growing up. Few Changelings are able to hold on to their innocence and open-mindedness past their early twenties, and eventually turn Mundane. For them, it's getting on with their lives, growing up, getting serious about life, but they close the door on their fae natures and deny it was anything more than fantasy if they remember it at all. For their friends who can still live the dream, it's another lost friend to Banality.
Shortcomings of Changeling
- Loads of splats. Way too many.
- The writers can't tell if it's a game about bringing back cheer to a dreary world or about losing innocence and happiness when you grow up. Keep in mind that it shares the setting with games like Wraith: The Oblivion and Werewolf: The Apocalypse and said setting is called World Of Darkness. As our hatefuckbuddies over at TVTropes succinctly put it: "Those who were looking for something along the lines of the rest of the World of Darkness found something covered in glitter; those who wanted something cheerier found the glitter flaked off easily."
- Aside from the occasional cute stuff that is contrasted with creepy mirrors of said art, the majority of the books are fairly consistent as far as art goes, showing things that wouldn't be too out of place in D&D or Shadowrun art.
- Inconsistent Writing. This was clearest in the absolute inconsistency on what "Banality" was; seemingly, no two writers could agree on what produced it.
With the Anniversary edition, it can be possible. Certainly easier than trying to salvage Beast: The Primordial. A lot of the advice should you wish to run this holds true for most the other WoD lines:
- Remember the Mortal World Exists: This is the big one. You could run a pure Dreaming adventure game, but aside from racking up Imbalance and inviting Bedlam...you might as well play D&D. Rather, remember that the Dreaming represents the collective gestalt of human dreams and subconscious beliefs. Chances are if the Near Dreaming is troubled in a local area...there are troubled Dreamers nearby. Unlike Vampires, Garou, or even Mages, Changelings have the easiest time regaining their power through directly inspiring or improving the lives of mortals. Sure, you can go for edgelording and Ravage...but the risk is higher and the benefits are less sustainable over the long term.
- Decide on the type of game you want to run: Do you want to do an adventure game, a politics game, or a kingbuilder? Or even Faehammer 30k? Make sure to have your focus down from the start. After all, if the core gameline was unfocused and contradictory, you need to work extra-hard to ensure that your game is focused.
- Use Rule Lawyering Wisely: Moreso than in other settings, Changeling is a game about dilemmas and conflicts. Unlike Vampire's Camarilla/Sabbat split, Changelings both Seelie and Unseelie can work together in the same group. Kithain have both a Seelie and Unseelie Legacy, and one is primary. However, when a Baron of one Court is vassal to a Count of another Court, or is member of a House of an opposing Court...things get interesting politically. Combine this with both Courts holding to the Escheat, as well as personal Banality Triggers and Oaths, and resolving conflicts of duty is a tough task to juggle. Remember though that while individual Kithain may invoke the letter rather than the spirit of the Escheat (for example, using the Right of Rescue and Always Honor a Debt to engineer situations of political blackmail), Oaths are powered by the Dreaming itself, and care about the spirit rather than the letter of the law.