Changeling: The Lost
|Changeling: The Lost|
|RPG published by
White Wolf / CCP
|Rule System||Storytelling System|
|Authors||Kelly Barnes-Herman et al|
|First Publication||2007 (1st)
|Essential Books||Changeling: The Lost Rulebook
Changeling: The Lost is a game by White Wolf in which you play a Changeling, a regular guy who fell into some mystical Fae shit through no fault of his own, and found himself transformed into a monster once he climbed out of it again. It's by far one of the most pessimistic World of Darkness splats that White Wolf has written out, but it also stands out as the closest to the traditional medieval fantasy world, filled with crazy-ass monsters, landscapes, dungeons and flora, as well as a nice hefty bag of crazed political intrigue. And it is AWESOME!
- 1 Changelings
- 2 The Wyrd
- 3 Pledges and Oaths
- 4 The Freeholds, Courts and Entitements
- 5 The True Fae and Arcadia
- 6 The Hedge
- 7 Fetch
- 8 Huntsmen
- 9 Mortals, Ensorcellment and Oneiromancy
- 10 Books
- 11 2nd Edition
- 12 See Also
So, to reiterate, Changelings are Fairies. More specifically, they're fae, and every last one of them was once a human, born on Earth, probably raised on Earth (Abducted babies and children usually don't last long and typically go barking mad if they do survive), and stolen away by god-like alien monsters to be transformed into slaves/playthings. Their souls, and indeed their personalities were shredded by thorns, and they served their usually terrible Durance in Arcadia in a mindless stupor. But on the rarest occasion, a slave catches a whiff of memory that overpowers their desire to stay in Arcadia, and they work to free themselves by outfighting, outsmarting, outcharming or outbargaining their freedom from their Keepers. They earn their sweet liberation, and can begin the healing process to mend their broken bodies and broken minds. But even so, they have to deal with all sorts of problems. Odds are that either a long time has passed in the real world since he's been abducted, leaving him anachronistically stranded, or a short time, leaving him as an adult while his family expects him to be a child. Secondly, there's a good chance that a Fetch, an identical simulacrum created by his Keeper, was left to live his life from the moment he was taken, and odds are he's not willing to give up his place without a fight, if he even knows he's a copy made to replace you (Imagine being stalked and hunted down by a monster, and OH MY GOD HE'S YOU). Even if the Changeling can get his life back on track, he's still a Changeling. He's forever changed, and being tracked by the Gentry, Changeling Privateers and Loyalists, as well as the more gutsy denizens of the Hedge, and his family is considered fair game to get his guard down; it’s enough to destroy his already fragile mental state, which is literally eroding his relation with reality.
Kiths and Seemings
Kiths and Seemings are more of a method of classification of what they were forced to do while in Arcadia, and what kind of powers manifested from their Durance, since no two changelings are truly alike and can fall under several categories. A changeling can look like a cat and not be a beast, or an elf-like archer can actually be an Ogre. This aspect really changes between the two editions of the game.
In first edition, your Seeming is the general class of purpose that a changeling was made to fill in Arcadia. The Changeling is granted a blessing and a curse by his Seeming, and can further expand (or eschew) his blessing with a Kith, that classifies him even further.
- Beasts were taken and transformed into animals and monsters, usually by having their bodies and minds swapped around at their Keeper's discretions. They aren't very smart but they get shit done, and enjoy better animalistic perceptions and a sort of animal magnetism. In 1e their flavor of animal is determined by Kith; most are fairly literal (Broadbacks are based on working animals, Hunterhearts on predators, etc), but some are more metaphorical (Truefriends are based on loyal animal companions and beloved pets, Riddleseekers on beasts as symbols of intelligence/wisdom/learning). In 2E, they gain an extra dot of any Resistance attribute. They can also move faster and deal lethal damage in unarmed combat, but have to spend Glamour to do so if they're affected by any condition related to fear. Additionally, they risk Clarity loss if they hurt someone because they acted without thinking.
- Darklings were abducted when they broke some seemingly random and arbitrary rule that the Fae set in place (which can be pretty much anything). They're grimderp boogeymen, nightmare creatures, and various other fantastic things that go bump in the night. They're also smart and sneaky guys. The sun messes with their Contracts. Their 1e Kiths are all about specific flavors of spoopy, from slender men wriggling through the pipes to creep into your bedroom and drag you away to life-sucking monsters to Freddy Krueger-style slashers (complete with blade-hands!). In 2E they gain an extra dot of any Finesse attribute and can spend Willpower to disappear into some insubstantial substance (this also costs Glamour if there are witnesses). However, they risk Clarity loss if a secret or some other important information they know turns out to be false.
- Elementals were transformed into some kind of element, hence the name. They're not really social capable or smart, but like the Beasts they can get shit done, and they can make themselves tougher with glamour. Naturally, their 1e Kiths focus on what specific kind of element they turned into, from the classic elements like fire, earth, air and water to more esoteric ones like steel, pollution, ice, etc. In 2e they get an extra dot in a Resistance stat and can act through their element if surrounded by it at a range of up to 3 yards, although this requires Glamour if their Willpower is less than half of its maximum. They risk Clarity loss whenever they are coerced or otherwise forced to act against their will.
- Fairest were treated like treasures or pets, beloved to the very limited extent that the Gentry can love anything other than themselves. Other Changelings scoff at the supposedly terrible Durances of the Fairest (how could being treasured and adored be all that bad?), but the Keepers can express “love” in some really fucked up ways. The Fairest are too often cruel and manipulative, and while some may try to fight such tendencies, the book pretty much says "nah, man. They're all bitches". Their 1e Kiths focus on exactly why their beauty was important; living art piece, courtesan, star in the night sky, noble warrior, and more. In 2e they gain an extra dot in a Power stat and can spend Willpower on behalf of other characters (albeit for a Glamour cost if the recipient distrusts them), and risk Clarity loss if their actions or inaction cause harm to their allies.
- Ogres were forced to serve brutal Durances that made them big and strong, whether it was fighting in a gladiatorial arena or building houses at the end of a whip. Though not necessarily stupid, Ogres tend to get pissed much easier than most other Seemings, and have a tenden-I WILL REND THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES AND BOIL YOUR ENTRAILS IN A STEW, HUMAN But seriously, they may act gruff but many just don't want to be hurt any further than they have been already. Although this may seem a fairly narrow Seeming, it's got a surprising amount of 1e Kiths, from the fairytale troll living under the bridge to Bigfoot-esque wilderness monsters to living stone golems to the magical, embittered hags who lay curses. In 2e they gain an extra dot in a Power stat and can temporarily cause the Beaten Down tilt on opponents in combat, but have to expend Glamour to do so unless they're fighting on someone else's behalf. They risk Clarity loss if they frighten anyone who's not their enemy.
- Wizened were the literal slaves, and the subjects of constant humiliation at the hands of their Keepers. They're usually "less" in some way, whether they're thinner, shorter or just less substantial. If you want to play a tradesman or a more traditional class ( 1e Kiths include stuff like Soldiers, Blacksmiths, etc), this is the seeming for you. They're also hella fast, so they're perfect if you want to play a character with a nimble Mien. In 2e they gain an extra dot in a Finesse stat and can turn any material into any other material as long as they have the right tools (or Glamour to jury-rig said tools), so they can literally spin straw into gold. They risk Clarity loss when taken off-guard by unpleasant surprises.
- Grimm were made for 2e, found in the companion book Dark Eras: A Grimm Dark Era (no, I am not making that up). Grimm start out as very, very boring humans. No ambition, no imagination, just heaps and heaps of dull, dependable pragmatism. In other words, the absolute last people who'd attract the attention of the True Fae-- this is given as the reason they're so rare. All Grimm tell a similar story of their escape: They had a fantastically awful durance, yet slowly but surely began to see clues and patterns that led them to freedom-- fairytale logic. On the way out, they struck a deal with the Hedge itself to forever immerse themselves in the stories mortals tell, playing myriad different roles vastly more colorful and vibrant than their real dreary selves. Their blessing is that once per session, Grimm can gain a point of Clarity when, without being asked, someone treats them as they would anyone else in their assumed role. Their curse is that have a Clarity breaking point whenever they do something counter to their role. And it's not as if a Grimm can do without a role-- role-less Grimm have to reroll all successful dice for actions eluding the True Fae and Huntsmen, and take the worse result.
- Grimm were unfortunately made for a book before the gameline they were for was finished, and as a result their crunch is kind of a mess: They don't have favored Contracts like other Seemings do, they don't get a bonus dot to an Attribute like other Seemings do, and their blessing doesn't quite gel with how the Clarity system ended up working in 2e. Then there's the issue of "roles". It's established that Grimm take on lots and lots of roles, but how exactly this works isn't really clear. The text states that while embodying a role they appear as that role, so no costuming is needed, but how exactly roles can be switched and how often this can occur is left undefined. The qualifications for taking a role aren't stated either, and in fact the text implies there are none: "Cinderella is Cinderella whether or not she can clean. Sinbad is Sinbad even if he doesn’t know how to sail." This is to justify the fact that roles don't confer any kind of bonus to actions, but it seems like it's asking for arguments about whether or not a Grimm is really adhering to a role. If you want these guys in a game it's probably best to either work out a set of house rules for them or wait for a future revision.
In second edition, Kiths are no longer linked to specific Seemings, so now it's possible to be something like an Ogre Chatelaine. Still, your Kith does define a particular blessing and a skill that you can get exceptional successes with more easily, both of which are broadly based on what you did in Arcadia (e.g. a Bright One might have served as a lantern). While 12 are outlined in the core rules, there's also a system to make your own Kiths as you see fit.
The Mien and the Mask
A Changeling's permanently transformed form is called a Mien. Because they're tied to the Wyrd, their Mien changes with their Power Stat, Seeming, Kith, Court Mantle, Entitlement, age and what-have-you. Their human disguise in the real world is called their Mask. When dealing with mortals, what's left of your soul forms a sort of disguise that hides your monstrous nature from the normies as long as you have Glamour reserves. The Mask retains your original form, looking like how you used to look like as a mortal, but with minor details (An Ogre looks fatter, a Beast will have leathery or calloused skin and horns will be invisible, while a Fairest may be taller or have a sort of strange attraction that draws people towards her). Higher Wyrd means more of your Mien seeps through the Mask, so very powerful Changelings doubly have a hard time fitting in with people (at that point they've got frailties up the ass, meaning, say, they run in terror from blue clothing or break out in zits when the moon is out, in addition to a diminished mental state where they lose Clarity every time they sleep.)
If there was ever a necessary constant in the universe, it's the Wyrd. "Wyrd" is an old Germanic word or some shit that pretty much means Fate (which leads to some clever wyrdplay... geddit?), and while the Wyrd is tied to everything that exists, only fae beings have the power to manipulate it. It acts as an adhesive between every single thought, atom, and concept in existence, and since it is destiny in all its forms, it determines reactions, repercussions, and causes and effects between everything in the form of Contracts. This means that it's only because fire has a number of contracts with the Wyrd that a flame is hot to the touch, that it can hurt you, that it cooks flesh, or that it dies when it runs out of fuel. Because it's only contracts sealed by the Wyrd that keep all of reality from unraveling and fucking our universe over, it's kind of a big deal that the worst antagonists can rape reality with just a thought if they catch you in the wrong place.
Luckily, because they spend time being in such close proximity to where the Wyrd is the strongest, humans taken to Arcadia (are forced to) learn how to strike deals with elements and concepts, or they die from exposure to Time Cube logic. This is where Changelings get their Contracts, semi-magical spells that allow them to mess with one aspect of reality for the low, low price of a point of Glamour, an energy extracted from the extremes of human emotion. On top of that, contracts always have a loophole, known as a Catch, where you can use the power for free if certain conditions are met.
Please note that there are no restrictions to learning any of these Contracts; If something is labeled as a Seeming Contract it just means that they can purchase it at a discount.
- Contracts of Dream: Helps navigate and survive Dreams or the Hedge.
- Contracts of Hearth: Improve or curse ones luck.
- Contracts of Hours: Time is malleable for the Fae. These Contracts help age or restore items... or just mess with people by Samurai Jack-ing their ass into next week.
- Contracts of Mirror: Shapeshifting.
- Contracts of the Moon: Discover, manipulate and redirect the sanity of man.
- Contracts of Omen: Peek into the future.
- Contracts of Smoke: Hiding spells.
- Contracts of Thorns and Brambles: Combative and defensive spells that manipulate hedges (except for the actual capital-H Hedge).
- Contracts of Blades: Buffing and debuffing spells mostly useful for the changeling swashbuckler.
- Contracts of the Den: Ups the defense of your Hollow.
- Contracts of Fang and Talon: Obligatory "Talk to animals, summon animals, transform into animals, etc" deal.
- Contracts of the Wild: Shared with Elementals for Affinity. Enhances your survivalism.
- Contracts of Darkness: Stealth, fear and maneuverability.
- Contracts of Shade and Spirit: Deals with ghosts.
- Contracts of Communion: Magical manipulation of an element.
- Contracts of Elements: Embody an element.
- Contracts of the Wild: Shared with Beasts for Affinity. Enhances your survivalism.
- Contracts of Reflection: Mirrors take on magical properties.
- Contracts of Separation: The Fairest have a loose grip on reality anyway, so why not loosen your grip further to do mystical escape-artistry?
- Contracts of Vainglory: SO FABULOUS OH GOD MY EYES
- Contracts of Oath and Punishment: Track, chase and punish oathbreakers.
- Contracts of Stone: Be tough and hit people.
- Contracts of Animation: Bring objects to life, see their history, etc.
- Contracts of Artifice: Used to help make stuff.
- Contracts of the Forge: A fraction of the True Fae's reality warping powers.
Goblin Contracts: Quick-and-dirty contracts that come at a price. Use at your own risk.
Pledges and Oaths
As suggested above, the Wyrd takes any sort of promise or statement of intent very seriously. Most beings aren't connected closely enough to the Wyrd for it to have an impact on them, but Fae beings can make such statements supernaturally binding.
Given that most Changelings come out of their Durance with severe trust issues, the knowledge that their promises will be supernaturally enforced does a lot to keep them from descending into paranoia. More importantly, the Gentry's powers are dependent on the oaths they swore upon coming into existence, which means that if they ever end up breaking those oaths for any reason, they will be severely weakened or even annihilated outright.
The simplest form of pledge requires a Changeling to see or hear a statement of intent being made; whether said statement was serious or made as an exaggeration is irrelevant. So if you say "if my team doesn't win this game, I'll eat my hat" in front of a Changeling and said team loses, you had better take a bite of that fuckin' hat or the Wyrd will impose some minor but immediate punishment on you for going back on your word. While Fae are not immune to sealing, they can undo the sealing before its effects take hold; among changelings, sealing is done to demonstrate willingness to keep their word on a relatively minor matter.
For more serious agreements, Changelings rely on oaths. These require mutual consent to be sworn, and both parties will be permanently bound by the oath from that point forward. As long as both parties uphold their part of the oath, they will gain its benefits.
While the terms of the oath can certainly be violated, this does not erase the oath so much as change its terms, which almost always involves grave penalties for the oathbreaker. (On the rare occasions that the penalty for violating the oath isn't specified in its terms, the Wyrd will punish the oathbreaker as it sees fit. And it is a vindictive little bitch about it.) On top of the immediate consequences, oathbreakers are reviled among Changelings and the only way to be forgiven is to make restitution to all parties involved, including the Wyrd itself.
Yes, it is possible to end up bound to obey oaths that are mutually exclusive with each other. No, the penalties for breaking one oath to uphold another are not reduced, and if anything can actually be worse than usual; read up on Cu Chulainn to see how that can bite you in the ass. Moral of the story, don't make oaths that you might not be able to keep.
Bargains can only be struck between a Changeling and a human aware of the Changeling's fae nature. The Changeling offers to perform some kind of service for the human that's within their ability to provide in exchange for something else, but what the human can provide is always supplemented by the Wyrd making it harder for the Gentry to track the changeling.
If the bargain is broken by the changeling, they lose its benefits but are otherwise unaffected. But if the human is the one to break it, they will be at risk of stumbling into the Hedge with all the nastiness that involves. No Changeling would wish that fate on anyone, but the Wyrd's demands for restitution are absolute.
The Freeholds, Courts and Entitements
For detailed info on the Freehold, Courts and Entitlements, read the Lords of Summer supplement book.
Life as a Changeling sucks. You get to enjoy PTSD and wonderful thoughts such as suicide and giving in to madness on a daily basis, on top of worrying when the Others will show up to take you back to Arcadia, or if your best friend is a privateer manipulating you into the hands of one of the True Fae. And as your connection to the Wyrd gets stronger, your lifespan increases, which would be good if you didn't have so much shit to worry about or if it didn't also start making your memories of the Durance more vivid. Luckily, Changelings aren't stupid, and they understand the value of teamwork and contact with other people.
Hence, Freeholds, keeps within the Hedge where Changelings and friendly Hobgoblins come to congregate. Pretty much all Changelings are welcome, and there's no prisons. On the other hand trust must be earned and banishment is distributed like candy, being the usual punishments for Oathbreakers and criminals, though delivering other Changelings into captivity earns you a nice death sentence instead. That's pretty much all of it, really, so let's talk about the far more interesting Court dynamic; it ties into politics anyway.
The Freehold itself is usually distributed into Courts, which circulate their power to keep the Fae from showing up. It makes sense in context, since the Fae don't understand the concept of willingly giving up power and this hurts their brains. Joining a Court is usually free, and nabs you a free dot in one of their Contracts, as well as a benefit of getting two points for every one point of Glamour you would regularly harvest from your Court emotion. You can work your way up the Court ladder through your actions or through your devotion to emotion or theme, and you begin to embody your Season more and more, as well as having access to awesome powers that would otherwise be unavailable. And since Changelings usually don't have heirs, what with the infertility and whatnot, so everyone has a chance to become a Noble through their actions, even possibly earn the coveted the Court Crown, a title that grants absolute sovereignty (And nifty buffs for your bros) while your Court rules over the Freehold, and the Crown becomes Freehold King.
Just a couple notes about Courts that the average player might miss: The higher your Court Mantle is, the easier it is to identify your affiliation (A Summer Courtier will be sunburned, or have shimmering waves of heat emanating from him). However, on top of that, with every dot you add to you mantle you get a nice little advantage to go along with it, such as Winter Courtiers getting bonuses to Subterfuge.
You can also eschew the Courts and go Courtless, but you end up missing out on some beneficial stats (As well as drama). Even so, there's always Court Goodwill, which you can earn by being bros with various courts, and doing so allows you to call on them for favors, or even to have them teach you their restricted Court Contracts (Up to three dots). Note that you can earn Court Goodwill even if you're in a Court yourself, though it's usually harder.
You can leave a Court at anytime, since Changelings understand that perspectives change as they do, and when you switch over your current Mantle is cut in half to become your Goodwill level. That said, a Changeling who switches Courts too frequently is going to be very suspicious and is not likely to get any Goodwill at all.
Courts get a huge boost in importance in 2e, where their primary purpose is to provide obstructions to and shielding against the Gentry and the Huntsmen- incredibly powerful, almost unkillable shapeshifting Fae bounty hunters who can take on the form of absolutely anything and will never stop chasing a changeling until they have dragged it back to its former master.
The most recent and by far the most popular Court system, at least in the Americas, was established with the Four Seasons (not the hotel). Because every Changeling is drawn to a particular opinion of Arcadia and their durance, the Seasonal Courts were designed with that in mind, to nudge Changelings into groups where they can hang out with people sharing similar perspectives, to foster friendships and to act as support groups. The circulation rule of thumb consists of every season ruling for 3 months of the year, during their respective seasons (Winter rules from December to February, etc) but as per usual the rules are different in every Freehold.
However, just because they're designed to complement each other doesn't mean that there's no conflict or strife. Differing ideologies cause hell, with Spring directly opposing Fall because one chooses to forget and the other chooses to remember, and Summer opposing Winter because one beats their chest and the other hides. For reference of how nasty politics can get, in the fluff of the 1e Core book, Grandfather Thunder, the Summer King of Miami, has forcibly taken control of the freehold and has declared that the Summer Court will be its permanent ruler, and the other Crowns are all willing to step on each other to get the chance to punch him in the face. And incidentally, his refusal to give up power just so happens to be weakening its defenses against the Gentry.
Interestingly, the Seasonal Courts embody the Kübler-Ross model of the Four Stages of Grief. Spring is Denial, Summer is Anger, Autumn is Bargaining and Winter is Depression. Acceptance is seems non-existant, though, since this probably makes you a Dusk courtier.
- Court Emotion: Desire
- Batman Villain Best Represented: The Joker
- Basically a Spring Court Changelings mind comes down to this: "Arcadia? Oh, you so crazy. Oh sure, I've been transformed. But, seriously, the True Fae ain't shit. Now get over here and suck on my tongue, lol asl?" They'll deny that their durance left them with anything but positive attributes, and they use passion as a way of flipping off the Fae because the Gentry can't imagine that their pets could experience pleasure without them. To that end, they'll laugh and fuck and drink and smoke, and encourage others to do the same, to enjoy life, and damn the consequences. The other Courts don't like them because they're loud and kind of crazy, but they're far from the mindless party animals who live above literally every apartment ever.
In 2e, their Bargain is that when they're in power the True Fae cannot inflict harm upon a freehold unless that violence is born of their heart's desire. This might not seem helpful, but this really means that anyone short of a Keeper coming to reclaim its absolute favorite changeling cannot attack the freehold.
- Contracts of Fleeting Spring: Discover, manipulate and redirect the desires of man.
- Contracts of Eternal Spring: Thematic Spring Magic. Rejuvenation and Growth granted by Spring. Animate plants, make it rain, heal a person or make something age a season.
- Contracts of Verdant Spring: Cannot be learned through Court Goodwill. A series of buffs granted by Spring that encompasses pretty much any given situation.
- Court Emotion: Wrath
- Batman Villain Best Represented: Killer Croc
- The reality is that the Court is little more than a loosely organized militia made of monsters, but their desire and capacity to bring violence to bear against their enemies is undeniable and grants them a level of respect. Discipline and anger makes up the psychology of a member of the Iron Spear. They're quick to blame and willing to chase down anyone who slights them. Fanatics, extremists and murderers to the last. The other Courts, while they appreciate their protection and willingness to take the fight to the Gentry, don't really enjoy dealing with these hotheads.
In 2E, Summer's Bargain forces the Others to fight to the last even when they would prefer to surrender or withdraw. The Summer courtiers use this to their advantage, goading weaker forces into drawing their weapons or setting up traps that they will be forced to fall into.
- Contracts of Fleeting Summer: Discover, manipulate and redirect the wrath of man.
- Contracts of Eternal Summer: Thematic Summer Magic. Summon sunlight and learn how to KAMEHAMEHA.
- Contracts of Punishing Summer: Punishing oathbreakers and setting fires in general.
- Court Emotion: Fear
- Batman Villain Best Represented: Scarecrow
- Know thine enemy. The Autumn Court is made up of scholars, wizards and assassins, all brought together by their capacity to understand and spread Fear. Their belief is that Fear is what keeps people in line, and fear is what will keep them safe from the True Fae (along with the copious use of Fae magic, which they specialize in). If you've got a question about the Wyrd or you need a Token looked at, come to them. But get ready for a lecture like in Hannibal, because they probably know everything that scares you already. Or they'll just jump out of the shadows screaming OOGA BOOGA if your DM doesn't understand subtlety.
In 2E, Autumn's Bargain compels the Gentry to announce their intentions before they attack, with more powerful attacks being announced further in advance. Despite the best efforts of the Gentry to work around it, the warning must be clear enough to be understood.
- Contracts of Fleeting Autumn: Discover, manipulate and redirect the fear of man.
- Contracts of Eternal Autumn: Thematic Autumn Magic. Cause crops to ripen for harvest, manipulate the weather and other cool fall stuff, like turning into leaves.
- Contracts of Spellbound Autumn: Contracts for gathering information.
- Court Emotion: Sorrow
- Batman Villain Best Represented: Mr. Freeze
- Keep your head down. Be quiet. Maybe They won't find you. Since they embody sadness, The Silent Arrow ends up being probably the most conservative of the Courts. They are also take their affinity for silence to the logical level, and some of the best assassins in the Freehold claim membership. Like the Autumn Court, they collect information but it's usually more for the sake of blackmail and spying than knowledge. There's a lot of potential here for cloak-and-dagger type characters, the book mostly writes them off as being mopey emo kids. 2E mitigates this somewhat by placing a greater focus on the Court's pragmatic side and skill in eavesdropping.
In 2E, Winter's Bargain forces the Gentry to mourn for each of their deceased victims after every kill they make. As the majority of the True Fae have no idea what mourning actually involves, this makes for a rather peculiar sight- and Winter doesn't need to worry about honoring their crude imitations of grief.
- Contracts of Fleeting Winter: Discover, manipulate and redirect the Sorrow of man.
- Contracts of Eternal Winter: Thematic Winter Magic. Ice breath, Touch of Cold, etc.
- Contracts of the Sorrow-Frozen Heart: "They can't hurt me, I'm already dead inside!"
Introduced in Winter Masques. The Directional Courts are the Asian equivalent of the Seasonal Courts, having made contracts with the mythical Four Guardian Beasts of Chinese astrology. If you're playing in Asia or in a place with heavy Asian influences (like the USA's west coast), feel free to incorporate them. They tend to split their cities into four to best isolate themselves from those filthy other-directioners. Here's the quick summary:
Court of the North
- Court Emotion: Suffering
- You know how Buddhist monks can go three weeks without food, water, or sleep, then still break granite with their foreheads? That's these guys in a nutshell. They made a contract with Xuanwu, the Black Tortoise.
Court of the East
- Court Emotion: Envy
- Greedy bastards with the power of CAPITALISM! Uses LOADSAMONEY to get fast cars, uses said money and fast cars to attract hot women, then uses said money, fast cars and hot women to harvest beta tears and collect Glamour. These guys' patron is Qinglong, the Azure Dragon.
Court of the South
- Court Emotion: Ecstasy
- Emotion is key, no matter how uncomfortable you are. Southerners are creatures of ham and extremes who pay homage to Zhuque, the Vermilion Bird.
Court of the West
- Court Emotion: Honor
- Think of the Summer Court, but replace all the sound and fury with stone-faced military discipline. The initiation for this Court is literally boot camp, and they carry swords even if they fight with other weapons. They honor Baihu, the White Tiger.
All Directional Courts have access to Contracts of the Four Directions: Contracts that help the Changeling track, locate, and move vast distances.
Courts of Sun and Moon
The Slavic Courts, closest to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of old. The Sun court rules during the day, and the Moon court at night. Durr. Unlike other Court systems, though, they're constantly at war with each other, undermining the works of the other as a necessity, even while being completely civil amongst each other. It's all about duality. This is deep. In short, it's kinda like the Nightwatch movie series. They don't have special Contracts, though.
The Sun Court
- Court Emotion: Shame
- Lawful Stupid paladins and fighters that can be summarized as Judge Dredd, but with antlers.
The Moon Court
- Court Emotion: Disgust
- Chaotic Stupid thugs looking out only for themselves. Interestingly enough, though, that their notion of Chaos is based on the rules of their court. It's a thinker.
Rather than circulating their power based on the seasons or the passage of time, these two Courts wax and wane with the conditions of the Lost themselves. In times of prosperity, the Dawn Court flourishes, while the Dusk Court grows in influence in times of hardship. They commonly coexist with the Seasonal Courts as well.
The Dawn Court
- Court Emotion: Hope
- Idealistic and selfless to a fault, this Court seeks to foster change for the greater good, certain that a better future awaits the Lost if they work hard for it and are willing to make any sacrifice to ensure that better future comes to pass.
- Contracts of Potential: Contracts meant to cause change for the better, strengthen bonds between individuals, and empower the convictions of the user.
The Dusk Court
- Court Emotion: Fatalism
- Knowing that the worst is yet to come gives these Changelings a perverse strength, striving to make what time they have before their fates come calling as glorious as possible.
- Contracts of Entropy: Draw strength from the acceptance of Fate, and break down communication (and even other active Contracts). Uniquely, it does not require Court Goodwill for Changelings outside the Dusk Court to purchase, though Dusk Courtiers do get better estimates- the Dusk Court figures that all Changelings will come to see things their way eventually.
In addition to the Courts, there are also semi-independent Nobilities that a Changeling can join once their Wyrd is high enough. An Entitlement mechanically acts as a Prestige Class, and fluffwise makes the Changeling a Noble in the eyes of the Court and the Wyrd. This can mean trouble, though, since the True Fae tend to gravitate towards Changelings of rank rather then commoners. A Changeling with an Entitlement has sworn an oath to fulfill the function of his office, which grants him benefits, such as spinning straw to gold to designing and building massive structures in an hour, in exchange for some manner of weakness. There's a ton of these and they're in almost every book. Read up on them, they're pretty neat. Second Ed changes them from social clubs you can join to roles you can take up to receive special benefits...as long as you fulfill the duties that come with the role. Sometimes there can be only one in the world, like The Red Queen, sometimes there's enough seats for a motley, like The Knights of Blades. The rules are in the Oak, Ash, and Thorn supplement.
The True Fae and Arcadia
The threat of the True Fae can best be compared to the threat of the Antediluvians of Vampire: The Masquerade, if only the Antediluvians took a more active role in fucking with people and weren't such a hilariously contrived plot point for Gehenna.
To the Changelings, the True Fae, also known as the Gentry or the Others, haunt their nightmares, because ever since they've escaped Arcadia, the land of the Faeries, their shadowy presence looms just outside of their peripheral vision, threatening to pull them back into servitude, or worse, to take their families away if they don't comply. The Gentry are unique antagonists in that each and every single one is absolutely omnipotent, capable of doing anything they wish while they're in Arcadia, but incapable of understanding anything that's not in relation to them, and existing only to feed their egos and self-gratification. The problem is that despite their massive affinity with screwing with the Wyrd, they're both incapable of creation and require conflict to exist, as they will eventually wither away into nothing without discord. Ergo, they find both slaves and rebels in human beings, who they're eternally fascinated with (but not to the extent where they'll consider them anywhere close to their own glory). To that effect, they lord their status over their servants and screw with their perceptions and lives, doing anything that pops into their heads with them no matter how dangerous or nonsensical it might be simply because they feel like it.
The True Fae are creatures that can modify the Wyrd like they were breathing, but only while they are far from where reality is strong. In Arcadia, in their little corner of paradise, where they can change everything from the color of the sky to whether snowflakes are radioactive and weigh half a ton. The further they get from Arcadia, however, the weaker their powers become, and when they're on Earth (even though they're still powerful) they can pretty much only screw with minor things that their Contracts allow them to. Indeed, reality itself slowly poisons them, so they generally don't leave Arcadia unless they want something (that something being slaves). What it ultimately comes down to for the Gentry is "Is it fun for me? How long will it be fun for me? What should I do afterwards?".
But all hope is not lost! Once upon a time, the Gentry pissed Cold Iron off, and now it's fucking mad and wants revenge, and it's not gonna let godlike powers stand in its way! Still, it's going to need all the help it can get. This Summer, get ready for edge of your seat excitement in this action packed thriller! "Cold Iron", starring Kurt Russell and Jason Lee! This film is not yet rated. At least that's one explanation for why iron works on the fae. Another is that Iron struck a deal with humanity that humans would use it to conquer the world if it protect them against the supernatural. Lastly is the idea that iron is not magical. In fact, it's the least magical thing in the world, so much so that it crosses over into anti-magic territory. (We're pretty sure that one was stolen from a Discworld novel, but we like Discworld so we'll let it slide.)
A great burn on players that play Mary Sue type characters is that the rules punish you for acting like one of the Gentry, resulting in Clarity drops out of the ass, along with benefits such as suspicion and ostracism from changeling freeholds, calling the True Fae to your location through your actions, and generally being snubbed by mortals who find you unlikable.
Oh yeah, and if you're strong and crazy enough your character might become one of them.
2e mixes things up a little: It's established that not every True Fae is interested in kidnapping mortals and rearranging their faces and psyches. Most are, in fact, content to faff about with their omnipotence back in Faerie and ignore those quaint, fragile monkey-things altogether. While an important distinction from a narrative standpoint, functionally not much has changed for the Lost except now they get to know it's explicitly the very worst True Fae who are out to get them.
If you wanna go from Arcadia to Earth or vice versa, you need to traverse the Hedge, a semi-sentient domain that appears as a vast, beautiful landscape littered with thorns. Spend too much time in them thorns and you go crazy. And for God's sake, DO NOT WANDER OFF THE PATH. You can pretty much find anything here, if you can't find it you can find it at a Goblin Market. Which is also here. Changelings can live here but so can the True Fey, and Hobgoblins can be assholes. The food here is awesome!
So you've made it back home, whoop-dee-doo. Unfortunately, most people didn't even realize you ever left, since the Gentry like animating a bit of crap they find scattered around using a piece of your soul and having it live your life for you. Killing your Fetch fucks with your clarity, since, you know, he was pretty much just you without a couple of your personality traits (maybe even without your flaws), but it's a necessity if you want your old life back and you get a bunch of really cool magic stuff and merits out of it.
...Or, you can do the "hard but moral" thing and try to merge with it (since, you know, it's you) which gives you even more cool stuff and merits.
Of course, since your fetch is different than you are (or used to be) you could end up getting your old life back, only to ruin it because you suck. Or you could come back to find your life ruined by your doppelganger, although that does give your another reason to kill the fucker.
2E's answer to "hang on, why aren't the fairies after me?" In short, they are-it's just that, like any Mary Sue writer, the True Fae are lazy as shit, and they get the underlings to do it. The underlings who, it should be mentioned, are not any happier about it than you are; see, True Fae aren't actually the natural rulers of Arcadia, the Huntsmen are-and because they have natural resistance to the mortal world, the Keepers thought to themselves "Hey I know! Let's catch a mind raped slave with other mind raped slaves!"
And "Mind Rape" is the proper term; when they're dragging a Huntsman out by the ear to get their property for them, a Gentry tears out his heart, replaces it with one of his own Titles, and then hides the heart in some poor sap's dream before blackmailing the abomination who now wants desperately for the misery to stop with its return if the Huntsman drags back the Changeling the Keeper is looking for. They literally cannot think in any other way than what the Keepers want unless they're close to their Hearts, which means confronting them in the Hedge, where they're at their most powerful and it's likely they've already placed shackle-tasers around your genitals.
Oh yeah, and they're also almost always shapeshifters and are immortal so long as their Hearts exist- and even if you destroy the heart, the Title will just return to the Keeper and can be reused to enslave another Huntsman. Have fun!
Mortals, Ensorcellment and Oneiromancy
You can make mortals see you and go into their dreams and fight and make stuff. Look just go read about it in the books.
Changeling: The Lost is the second "limited run" game, aka a small series of books whose rough contents were planned from the start. This shows in its tight release schedule: in just two days short of a full year six books were released, from the core book to the "closure" book. Four of those books lined up with specific seasons, with their release matching the seasons themselves. These six books are:
- Changeling: The Lost Rulebook is the core book, detailing all the beautiful horrors that lie behind the Hedge, the terrible beauty of the True Fae, the danger of the monsters they face and the powers of the Changelings themselves.
- Autumn Nightmares is the antagonist book, detailing the True Fae, the Hobgoblins working for them, those trying to destroy the inroads to the Hedge (this is bad because this would rob the Changelings of their powers and attract the attention of the True Fae) and the Fetches created to replace people who have been kidnapped.
- Winter Masques is the option book for players, including a lot more Kiths, Contracts and details the Courts as well as adding new Entitlements.
- Rites of Spring is the magic book, expanding on the magic of the Lost, Contracts, Pledges, Clarity and the Mask and various tokens and wonders found within the Hedge.
- Lords of Summer is the faction book that explores the Great Courts, Freeholds and a bunch of Entitlements.
- Equinox Road is the finale book detailing Arcadia, the True Fae, gives rules for high-powered Changeling games and details the dread Game of Immortals, the thing that keeps the True Fae busy most of the time in search of transcendence.
This is where Changeling: The lost was planned to end. It was a tight series of books with a good scope on what it wants to be. However, it turned out that even for all its bleakness Changeling: The Lost was immensely popular. As such, White Wolf decided to make a few more books to be released over the course of a year:
- Night Horrors: Grim Fears is an antagonist book, detailing all sorts of antagonists and monsters the Changelings might run into. It is also possible to use the book in other games like Vampire: The Requiem and Hunter: The Vigil.
- Dancers in the Dusk details the relationships that the Lost have with dreams and new ways to interact with them, as well as new Contracts, Entitlements and details on the Dusk Court.
- Swords at Dawn is about the conflicts and wars between the Lost, expands on Talecrafting and Fate and adds new Entitlements and the Dawn Court.
- Goblin Markets expands on the titular markets where players can buy and sell almost anything at dangerous and steep prices.
When the jump to Chronicles of Darkness was made all the games that had been out at that point needed an update. When Vampire, Werewolf, Mage and Promethean were updated with some significant retooling here and there, and Hunter being updated in a supplement with a full 2nd edition to be released later, it was then up to Changeling to release its update. Some of the changes shown off by White Wolf are listed above, with the full book being released in Q2 2017. As of October 2018, a full preview of the book is available, and in December 2018 the physical copies became available. A companion book containing additional information is scheduled to come out in 2019. Contracts are different now, being stand-alone powers. Clarity is much more fluid, serving as a sort of mental health track. Kith blessings are much more powerful and flavorful than they were in 1e, and now it's explicit that Lost of any Seeming can be any kith (something that was only an optional rule in 1e). Courts are pretty much the same, although the benefits from Court Mantles have changed. We have yet to see what Entitlements will look like aside from loose examples from Onyx Path blog posts.
- White Wolf
- World of Darkness
- Changeling: The Dreaming, its predecessor.
- Changeling Homebrew Kiths
- Changeling Homebrew Contracts
- Changeling Homebrew Hedge Bounty
- Changeling Homebrew Courts
- Changeling Stranger Tides