Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gaming Materials: Five Insanities I Love About Changeling: the Lost

It happened.  Something that excited me so much I jumped up and down and giggled over it.  Well, jumping is too much work.  But it did excite me.  The land of dreams, dark Gentry and dealing with world of darkness, all came back to me.  Yays!

Some recent open playtest doc dropped for Changeling the Lost 2nd Edition from Onyx Path.  Changeling the Lost is my favorite entry for the nWoD Chronicles of Darkness.  One of the best campaigns I've ever won was a Changeling game- City of Thorns.

Instead of gushing over the new rules, I want to talk about why I like it.  Most of my current players have little to no experience with it.  Crux itself borrows a few ideas from how I ran City of Thorns.  So, I'm going to do a list.  A list about what I love about Beautiful Madness.

Becoming Lost... part of what makes CtL for me.  The sobriquet is apt.  They've all lost something.  As always, characters struggling for something, that intrigues me.  But Changelings?  Their lives have been robbed from them.  The Gentry took them, the True Fae.  They escape, but their lives are gone.  They have to rebuild.  All Changeling characters have to deal with that.

I love that.  There are so many questions.  How does a character handle this?  How do they overcome it?  Playing a Lost is a neat way to explore what it's like for those who've lost everything, yet still work to find home.  That resonates with me.  I believe that interesting characters that have to deal with struggles.  Darkness and trouble are more interesting struggles than others.  I believe that exploration is important.  It's something you have to do in your fiction.  It's a safe space and a way to explore things that you don't necessarily get exposed to a lot in real life.

On top of losing who they were, there's more.  The Lost were taken by the beings from stories and tales.  Faeries.  Trolls.  Giants.  But not the understandable kind, but dark chthonic creatures that tortured them.  And the Lost became a bit like their captors.  That's a familiar theme, though.


...The Gentry.  True Fae.  Those who took the Lost.  They are alien creatures bound by story and archetype.

What I find amazing about the Gentry is how malleable they seem.  Each Keeper could be fitted to any fairy tale.  Or urban legend.  Or any sort of monster.  Or even better, how you could squeeze them into a role normally set for a hero in a fable.  They inflicted a durance on you.  Changed you.

I like having players design or suggest concepts for other players.  I don't know why, but some players revel in creating horrible monsters for others to deal with.  But the part I always remember one thing about the True Fae.  One fact that makes them creepy for me.   They miss their changelings.  They miss them.  They miss them enough to go hunting for them.

That part makes me shiver.  They are looking for you, and they miss you.  That's also why the Purple Man in Jessica Jones is frightening.  Fears like that are good motivations for the Lost.


...Collected bits and things make to take your place.  The horror of someone being you.  That little bit is easy for players to instinctively kick away.  But fetches are awesome.  As a player you should adore, nay, obsess over your character's fetch.  Your Keeper placed them to replace your character.

It sounds like some sort of chain that hangs on your character.  It's a built-in personal rival.  Someone who has something you want.  That's actually ideal for a protagonist.  It shouldn't be clean to take one's fetch out.  There should be a collection of pros and cons.

It's your Rival.  They shouldn't die in a instant.  They are the heel to your face.  Or alternately, if you're clever, the face to your heel.  Another path, the one you didn't take.  I mean, doesn't that just create a mirror for you to gobble up roleplaying time with?


...Are things Changelings can make stick.  You can't just say certain things, not without a chance that a Changeling will make it stick if you don't keep it up.  They can make their oaths, their pledges and promises carry weight.  In CtL, the rules for it are a bit obtuse in the 1st Ed, but I think the culture around it doesn't care about the rules.  The Lost don't trust others, and pledges are a tool they use to be able to interact with them.

The part where it taps into the whole Fae promises schtick, that's just gravy on top.


...and the whole dreamwalking stuff in Changeling is one of my favorite ideas.  Changing, manipulating or experiencing the dreams of others.  Anything like that, I love.  Regardless of most else, the dream angle for Changeling would sell it to me.  But the part where stories and tales are manifest part of fae life?  Whoa.

Changeling posits that the Lost must deal with a realm of dreams on one hand, and reality on the other.  Stories crisscross the two.  Changelings can feel out what their role in the story is.  They can alter it, or use that to their advantage.  This is where kayfabe comes in, like I mentioned before.  If you're cast as the hero who pulls a sword from a stone, then, by god, figure out who your Mordred is.  Use it to your advantage.  Or better yet, if you see someone else falling into the King Arthur role, find a way to play the villain.

Not because you're evil.  But because it isn't something the Gentry are expecting.