Changeling: The Dreaming by Yue
I don't even have a funny joke THIS IS AN OTHERKIN GAMEOriginal SA post
Changeling: The Dreaming, Part 1: I don't even have a funny joke THIS IS AN OTHERKIN GAME
I've known about CtD for a long time now. My first game (oMage, circa 1997) disintegrated because the ST wanted to do Dreaming instead. I never bothered to read it because I was afraid there would be a good game inside it and I'd feel bad.
Good thing we don't need to worry about that, huh?
So the cover is our first step into the world of the Fae . So let's examine this. Some kind of stained-glass dragon...bird...thing that's probably in a lot of pain, judging by the way he's holding that sword, a clock that indicates it's 13:04, and oh, a crack in the whole thing. I'm sure someone felt very good about that crack, like they were being clever.
Moving onto the introduction.
Changeling: The Dreaming posted:
The gates to the Realms of Faerie are closed. Humankind has turned its back on the magical in favor of a new dream — a dream of a sterile, banal world with no mysteries or wonder. A world where all the questions have been answered and all the puzzles of the universe solved. And yet, in the quest for this Utopia, much of humankind has lost a little of themselves. They have forgotten how to dream....
First page of actual text and already I'm wondering how long this thing is. Two hundred, ninety-one pages. God have mercy.
Okay, so humanity has forgotten how to dream , evidently. Putting aside the fact that I just dreamed about two hours ago and I'm pretty sure it's not something I don't do anymore, let's see. It goes on to say that Arcadia, the realm of the Fair Folk, is shut. You can't get in anymore, which really sucks for the guys that were in the human realm when it happened. If you're familiar with Mage, it touches on the consensual reality thing from that, except instead of Paradox, these fae dudes have to deal with Banality, which is the world going "What the hell fairies aren't real piss off" and them being physically hurt by the concept of mass disbelief.
The solution, obviously, is to become humans. Their souls can't handle being Faeries in a world where nobody believes in their shit, and to rectify this they've taken on human forms, calling themselves Changelings. They, apparently, continue to dream of a day when this won't be necessary, when humanity shuns science and technology for the days of begging spirits for blessings and guidance, when they were the lords of whateverthefuck they wanted to be...and this is something we, as players, should root for.
All things aside, so far, the premise is okay. The main offense is the purple prose reaching critical density halfway through the first page. We're going to discover what it's like to lose our homeland, be persecuted for our true nature and unable to express the beauty welling up from our souls. To be alone in a crowd, aware of the power of dreams and magic, and to be unable to stop the crushing weight of...Okay I can't do this anymore.
This is a game about playing Otherkin. There, I said it. If you're not familiar, welcome to the internet. If you are, it's exactly that. You're a human with the soul of some kind of amazing fae entity that has to hide your true nature from the poor mortals that will never understand your greatness and your power. The book warns me that I shouldn't try to devour it all at once, just browse it. That's probably wise.
So you're a Changelng. You alternate between reality and fantasy, living in both worlds and calling neither home. You don't nurture your fae side, you deal with Banality, the loss of your awesomeness as you become a normal, humdrum human. You don't nurture your human side, you deal with Bedlam, where you go apeshit loco and look like a crazy homeless guy that thinks a butter knife is a sword and silly things like that. Which is a problem, because once you get a taste of what the Seelie Court gets up to, everything else looks trivial. Which brings us to the first line in the book that actually amused me,
Changeling: The Dreaming posted:
When you don garments spun of pure moonlight and drink wine distilled from mountain mists, how can you go back to polyester and soda pop?
How, indeed. So the question of the game is if such a life is even possible. If you can still be like, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME when you have to exist around us filthy, boring humans, and if you can retain a shred of humanity when you also have to exist around batshit insane faeries. Mortals can't ever be let in on your secret, because to them, as I alluded above, the most incredible Fae creations all look boring and normal.
Blah blah blah, this game isn't about winning or losing, you'll have fun anyway. Standard RPG stuff. Ads for other books in the series, and a glossary. We're in the Autumn of this world, evidently. Chimera are...Bits of dream made real, unseen by mortals. That's helpful. Dauntain are Changelings so fucked up by banality they hunt their own kind. That could actually be pretty badass. Finally, we find out what the hell the Dreaming is: The collective dreams of humanity. Who, I thought, forgot how to dream. I'm confused. Also anyone that's older than twenty-five when they're a changeling is called a grump. Something about that is really but I can't quite explain what.
Next time, we'll dig into the first bit of prose and the first book, called Childling. For now, I need a drink. Or drugs. Possibly both.
Yer a Wizard...Troll...Knight...thing, Harry.Original SA post
Part 2: Yer a Wizard...Troll...Knight...thing, Harry.
I was planning on doing a full write-up of the first bit of prose, The Young Knight, but to be honest, it's pretty good by White Wolf standards. Blah blah blah kid with mean parents send him to a boarding school, he sees his teacher turn into a blue-skinned knight and slay a dragon, then her and some guards induct the kid, who is a Changeling, into the Seelie court. It's well-written and gets you interested in playing the game, which is more than I can say for some of the wordcount-padders in other oWoD books. The typeface, on the other hand...Tiny greyscale text does not go with a greyscale background. I could barely read a couple of the pages. Besides that, it does well enough. You see a day in the life of a changeling, the banality mechanic is demonstrated in a pretty cool way, as well as chimera (basically something that looks innocuous to mortals, but to fae it's some awesome fantasy thing), and some courtly intrigue. Oh, and a dragon gets killed, I guess. It's better than I was expecting, and at this point I'm kind of excited. Let's see if we can't fix that here and now.
Either those are bedroom eyes and the artist is into shota, or they're not and the artist is horrible. I'd believe either.
I'll take a moment to point out that David Fooden, a kinda-friend, did some art for Changeling: The Dreaming . He considers his work in this book a crappy rush-job, and asks me to direct interested parties to these much better pictures.
That aside, Book 1: Childling starts with another, shorter bit of fluff about a young girl being taken by her older brother to a secret party where all of his friends are taking funny plants and acting weird. I guess the book wanted to apologize for the good opening fluff. We get a nice picture of a crying elf looking down at mortal society with the A World Of Darkness introduction. On the next page, another horrible elf man has a horrible forced grin as a second textchunk explains that all the horror and bleakness in the World of Darkness is replaced with childlike wonder through the eyes of a changeling, and takes some unfortunate glee in making repeated reference to kids. Between this and the opening fluff, I wouldn't be surprised if this book becomes known as 'Exhibit A' one day.
So the Dreaming is the sum of the entire world's dreams; their hopes, their fears, their passions, all that good stuff. A Changeling is someone with a soul native to the Dreaming, and when that soul stirs in a moment called a chrysalis, they take some of the Dreaming back with them and this is what makes them all magical and lets them see the Dreaming layered on top of reality. Basically you grow up seeing fragments of the Dreaming around when you're growing up, but you don't understand them so kids, being all dumbasses, are all "lol pretty " while teenagers and adults just assume they're hallucinating and try to deny them or wind up in a psych ward. Seems reasonable so far.
Once they become a Changeling (the specifics of which were just described as "like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon," so that's helpful) they see the Dreaming on top of real reality, like the worst Augmented Reality game ever. So for example, a book of fairy tales that's torn to shit. A lot of kids have read it and used their *IMAGINATION* so it looks brand new and reeks of pure, innocent joy and also puppies. There's also "bad stuff from nightmares" but they don't mention it at all beyond that. Changelings interact with reality, by...Um. By.
Changeling: The Dreaming posted:
Changelings may live in a chimerical world of their own, but this is not to say that they don't realize that they also exist within a more constrained reality. If this were so, they wouldn't even be able to drive a car without running off the road. Kithain respond to stimuli that more mundane people cannot see, but this does not mean that they are unaware of real-world objects, people or dangers. They don't ride their faerie steeds along airport runways oblivious to the aircraft taking off and landing all around them, or ignore a mugger with a gun.
This is not meant to say that they have some sort of double vision that lets them see mundane and magical at the same time. Rather,the magical aspect becomes paramount, superseding the mundane reality of the objects and people with whom changelings interact, but not eradicating its presence. It is almost as if changelings' bodies remember the worldly details while their minds see beyond the ordinary to the essence within. A car is still a vehicle to be driven along streets, even if it appears to changelings that the car is glowing orange and fitted with spreading antlers on the hood.
Solid objects exist in the mundane world and must be accounted for. This often causes problems for changelings whose faerie bodies encompass more mass than their mortal selves. This is especially true for kith such as trolls, whose chimerical bodies may take up far more space than their mortal shells. In such instances, a changeling who is imbued with Glamour will always defer to his faerie mien and will make every attempt to compensate for the larger mass; to do otherwise would be an act on par with disbelieving the existence of chimera. It is therefore possible for a seven-foot tall troll to climb into the back of a Volkswagen Bug, but in doing so he denies his faerie existence, thus giving in to mundane reality. Such acts can be dangerous for any changeling, for falling back on the mundane brings with it the inherent Banality of such an act.
I don't even...What? I don't...What? Did ANYONE understand any of that?
Okay. I guess now we're learning about Chimera, which is stuff native to the Dreaming that is turned into a real object, so humans see one thing and Changelings see another; you might overlay a beautiful chimera dress over a regular blouse and skirt, so you can dress for a fancy fae ball and not look like a crazy person to humans (you know, until you start talking to and interacting with things that aren't there). Every Changeling gets a free outfit upon coming out of their chrysalis so you can design your very own wonderful sparklesue outfit for your character and not have to work for it.
If all of the art in this book is page-length I'm gonna have to cut down on showing this awful crap. What a wonderful world that would be.
There's one thing here I really like, and it's how damage works with chimerical weapons: So basically in reality they're something mundane like a stick for a sword or something; you can't hurt mortals or other supernaturals with it, but if you attack a Changeling it does glamour damage. The pain is real to them, and if you kill someone with a chimerical weapon, they aren't a changeling anymore. They 'die' and wake up completely normal, with no memory of their life as a changeling or anything, and they don't get to remember it ever again, which could be really cool. In case you were planning on making a chimerical sword out of a real sword (likely a katana, what with WoD and all), you don't want to kill a Changeling for real because the act weakens the Dreaming because there's one less Fae soul around. Also mortals can see the crazy sword you're carrying around, so you might be in trouble.
Apparently you can make a chimera of anything, at all, ever, no problem. It doesn't even have to have a real-world counterpart; as long as no mortals are around to cause Banality by noticing you're sitting on, wearing, and eating with nothing, you can have stuff that's not laid over anything. You can also make chimera houses, so that crappy abandoned building on seventh? That's actually a palace just sitting in the middle of the city, or a whole ghost town might actually be a Changeling village, or, and this is from the book, a cluster of mushrooms can be a faerie dancing ground.
I swear you could make a drinking game out of this book; every time they mention mortals sending you to the psychiatric ward, take a shot. Preferably of something weak, because you're going to be doing this a lot. So if Banality affects you when you're surrounded by chimerical stuff that can't be explained away, you just pop somewhere into the Dreaming and have to find your way back. Basically what I'm saying is these entire pages are random observances strung together to look like paragraphs. You can make living chimera too, as if what we already had wasn't horrifying enough. Usually childlings do it subconsciously for companionship, in other words Hobbes was a chimera for Calvin, who is, evidently, a changeling. Older Changelings tend to create enemies to fight, or worse, monsters. The scarier kind are spawned by madness, pain, and fear, and all of them can eat at your fae self just like that.
And also this, because why the fuck not.
Bear with me, we're almost through Chapter 1. So Changelings are exiles from Arcadia, where the Fae come form, and Banality is constantly eating at their true self or whatever. To fix that, they congregate in places with connection to the Dreaming where they can have some respite from dumb, boring reality. These places are called freeholds, and they're kind of charged with glamour, so they're a good place to hang out. You don't want to stay there all the time though, 'cause then your mortal shell weakens, which is just as bad as banality. So, uh...Don't do that. Glades are naturally-occurring wellsprings of glamour that come from a sacred stone oooooooo . Trods are doors to other Freeholds, and they used to go to Arcadia, and they don't anymore, and that's bad. Finally, we get a couple of pages on the Dreaming, the place all fae stuff comes from, of which Arcadia is a part. It's a big, confusing clusterfuck that doesn't work for Changelings any better than real reality because while Banality presses down on their fae selves, they can't handle a purely glamourry existance anymore, so it's constantly nibbling at their sanity while monsters they have no hope of fighting stalk them and other hilarious stuff. The further into the Dreaming you go, the less structure reality has and the more it's a mess of unshaped ohgodwhy, and the harder it is to get back.
NEXT TIME: Changeling history and what it's like to be a changeling oh please god no god why no oh god aaaaaaaaaaaaa