Thursday, September 24, 2015

Changeling The Dreaming: HOUSE PLEIADES

“It was a star," Mrs. Whatsit said sadly. "A star giving up its life in battle with the Thing. It won, oh, yes, my children, it won. But it lost its life in the winning.” -Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Symbol: Seven Pointed Star (Faerie Star or Elven Star)
Legends connecting the Fae with the stars are widespread across many cultures. House Pleiades is a house that since the early days of the Sundering allied themselves with the Stellar Incarnae of the Pleiades star cluster, gaining great allies with these strange beings. Mater Pleione, the founder of the house,  left the Mortal Realm in the early days of the Sundering to found the Realm of Seven Stars in the Dreaming Aether. There, she and her daughters created a mighty realm away from the politics of Arcadia.
And so in the grim days of the Shattering and the long Interregnum House Pleiades kept to its own Realms and the Stellar Trods across the Aether. The True Fae amongst them either retreated into the stellar abodes of the stars they served or took to the Changeling Way. There along with their kinain followers this house developed mighty magics and Aether Ships to maintain their Realm. And there they waged many battles with Nightmare Chimera and Dark Fae, dark shadows between the stars.
Before the Sundering, Mater Pleione was the consort of the Titan Atlas (a Fomorian of great power), and so members of this house are not trusted by most other houses. Thought the Autumn World was cut off from the "Fleet of Stars" these Fae and their kinain consors established bases nearby on the Dreaming aspect of Venus, Europa, Jupiter and the Otherworlds of Vulcan and the Hollow Earth.
Stellar Incarnae
The Stellar Incarnae that they serve are beings of light, and so anything that catches and enhances light is favored by members of this house. So bright colors, prisms and other crystal patterns are common in their designs and personal adornment. Older members of this house prefer flowing robes or cloaks, flowing hair and garments that allow movement. It is said that the persistent Crystal Spires and Togas theme found in so much of science fiction can be linked to this house.
Since the Return, House Pleiads has sought to reconnect with its Earthbound Fae relations, but has little use for squabbles between Sidhe and Commoner. This house prefers to be allied with forward thinking fae such as House Dougal,  Nocker Aethernauts, Krofted Inanime (Solimond and Undine in particular) and similarly adaptable fae. In their mortal lives, House Pleiades Sidhe are stargazers, Astronomers, Astrologers and anything else that deals with the nightime sky and the stars.
Boon: Nobles of House Pleiads may see clearly in pitch darkness. A chimerical crown of pale silver light shines from her brow while this power is in use. The character must state when this Boon is in effect, but it requires no roll or expenditure. The character suffers no difficulty or dice-pool penalties from darkness. House Pleiads fae gain Remembrance 3 and cannot botch Kenning or Gamarye rolls. House Pleiades fae may learn the Spirit Link Art without joining a Nunehi nation, as they already have patrons in the spirit world.
Ban: Members of of House Pleiads are all servants of the Seven Sisters, and as such are subject to the desires of these powerful beings. At any point one of these patron spirits may ask a favor of the character, which comes via a spirit servant of the Incarna, usually in a dream. Members of this house are bound to obey this summons unless forcibly restrained. Furthermore, members of this house attract the attention of Nightmare Chimera and related Spirits such as Banes (Chimera and Spirits are the same thing in my campaigns), and will always be the favored target of such creatures.

In the days leading up to the Shattering, House Pleiads brought kinain and enchanted mortal followers into the Dreaming, creating homesteads in the Aether (Dream Space). These colonies were placed on distant planets (asteroids, moons, etc) that are reached through the Dreaming using Star
A Scout Ship docking at a Star Colony
Trods. As with all Dream Realms these are worlds in their own right, and have both a physical and Dreaming portion, just as Earth does. The Stellar Colonies placed on these worlds were composed of enchanted mortals, a kinain ruling caste and a few Changelings to start out. All initially in allegiance to the True Fae Firstborn who planted them there.
During the days after the Shattering, these colonies were cut off from Earth, and had to fend for themselves against Nightmare Chimera and wicked Fae. Many times, these colonies have developed their own cultures, partly based on their origins and part on the strange environment. These colonies are also home to imported Earth animals, Inanimae and all manner of strange chimers, from aliens of every description to chimerical robots. A small number of True Fae can be found in the colonies, but they are very rare away from the Pleiades Star Cluster.
Nowadays, Most of these colonies resemble Greek or Roman cultures with some Central and South American elements mixed in. The overall effect is reminiscent of the images of Atlantis found in art and folklore. Despite the presence of Romanesque architecture and toga-wearing locals, technology is advanced, making use of weird elements and magic for its construction and power sources.

I will be posting on the Dreaming Aether very soon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Changeling The Dreaming: The Kinain

A Kinain is a mortal that possesses faerie blood, but is not a full Changeling. Kinain are usually born of a Changeling and a mortal or two Changelings. About 15-20% of those with one Changeling parent are Changelings themselves, while about 40-50% of the children of two Changeling parents are Changelings as well. The rest are Kinain.
Some Kinain are marked with unusual traits by their Faerie Blood that depend on their heritage ( a descendant of a satyr is hairy and social, while a descendant of a Boggan is short and usually works with his hands). Many also have strange abilities also known as Fae Gifts, some of which can be controlled and others that are wild and unpredictable. Some go through life completely unaware of their Fae natures, and others are taken by the Kithain into Fae society, making them a valuable part of the Changeling community.
Their Fae-like nature makes them also competent sources of Glamour, something that some Changelings exploit by ravaging them. One advantage of this is that Kinain are immune to the pains of Cold Iron or Bedlam, but instead always carry the danger of becoming Dream-struck.
Use of this material requires the Changeling The Dreaming Rulebook. Its a great game, check it out!

Among mortals, Kinain stand out as otherworldly persons and are drawn to professions that allow them to take advantage of this, such as stage magicians, musicians, fortune tellers and similar.
Though most kinain are mixed in to the general populace, a number of family lines, clans and cultures have anough Changelings and thus Kinain to be distinct. These families are usually fringe people, living in odd locations, or otherwise slipping through the cracks so as to avoid trouble. A few such groups are: 
Urmen (Romani Gypsies): The Urmen Clan is a clan of Romany that is considered to be mysterious even by the standards of the Rom, and are widely known as seers and magicians of great skill. Also calling themselves the "Minions of the Moon" or the "Servants of Alako", have a strong streak of Eshu blood with those of the Satyr kith as a large minority. Urmen are a small and widespread clan in the Mortal World, preferring wilderness areas and remote locales. 
House Merinita (Hermetic Mages): House Merinita is a chapter of the legendary Order of Hermes, an ancient order of Mortal wizards. House Merinita consists entirely of kinain (all kiths), and has long been a staunch ally of the Fae. Members of this house are focused on the research and practice of Fae Arts and have been close allies with the Fae since ancient times.Membership requires high rankings in Faerie Blood (rank 3+), Fae Sight and at least one dot in a Fae Art and Realm.  
The Star Nation of Tau Ceti (Otherworlds): These Kinain (called the Cetians) are descendants of Sidhe kinian who were long ago brought to the Dreaming aspect of the Tau Ceti star system, but are now fairly widespread across the Aether. They possess a "Roman" sense of style and culture, favoring togas and skirts. The Cetian kinain are all of ancient Sidhe stock, though a number also possess Troll blood as well. (More on Dreaming Space in the very near future...).

Note: I will be posting more in the near future regarding kinain families and groups, as well as material on the Dreaming and Fae civilization.

Kinain are required much like Changelings, but with the following changes. See Changeling The Dreaming 2nd Edition for details.
Choose character concept, Legacy, Seeming, and Heritage (what Kith you're related to)
Select Attributes: 6/4/3
Select Abilities: 11/7/4
Select Advantages: Backgrounds (5), Fae Gifts (5) (Also based on Faerie Blood)
Finishing Touches: Record Beginning Glamour, WP, and Banality
Childling: Glamour (4), Willpower (1), Banality (2)
Wilder: Glamour (3), Willpower (3), Banality (4)
Grump: Glamour (2), Willpower (5), Banality (6)
Spend Freebie (21)

Attributes (5 pts per dot)
Abilities (2 pts per dot)
Glamour (3 pts per dot)
Arts (5 pts per dot)
Realms (3 pts per dot)
Backgrounds (1 pts per dot)
Willpower (1 pts per dot)

Faerie Blood (Background)
This background represents the extent to which the kinain has been exposed to the realms of faerie. This does not necessarily mean that the character has fae blood, but can represent time spent in faerie, or in the presence or fae. A kinains glamour cannot exceed his or her rank in this background.  
O Mortal.
• A drop of power, an odd person.
•• An otherworldly person, seen as odd but intriguing.
••• Clearly unusual, seems more dramatic than most.
•••• The center of attention, and a magnet of much adventure.
••••• As close to being a true faerie as a mortal can become.

Feth Fiada/Mist Veil (Background)
The Mists protect your normal actions as they do any other Changeling. This background raises the difficulties of mortals to track or notice the kinain. 
* You are not easy to remember by most, but some may recall some features about you
** You are a little harder to remember, and blend in to the crowd.
*** You will not be remembered, but it will bother those who are trying ot remember you a little bit.
**** You will not be remembered, and it will not bother the person who is trying to remember you.
***** You are a leaf on the wind. A ghost in the night. No one in the area will recall seeing you.

Fae Gifts
These gifts may be purchased at the posted price with Fae Gift points (5) and with Freebie points.

An-da-shealladh/Fae Sight (2 point Fae Gift): You can see and hear into faerie realms, without the need for being enchanted. The character cannot necessarily touch faerie creatures because he can see them though.

The Bardic Gift (1-5 point Fae Gift)
The kinain has a supernatural skill with entertainment. This can take the form of acting, music, storytelling or something similar.
*  Strain of Soothing: Charisma + (Performance or Persuasion) diff 7, all social roll difficulties in     the area are reduced by one.
** Strain of Laughter: Manipulation + (Performance, Expression, Persuasion or Subterfuge) Diff 8,     paralyze your audience with laughter for turns equal to the successes.
*** Strain of Sorrow: Manipulation + (Performance, Expression, Persuasion, or Subterfuge) Diff 8, get your target's sympathy and tears for a number of turns equal to the successes.
****  Strain of Slumber: Charisma + (Performance, Expression, or Persuasion) with the diff being the  target's WP can put them to sleep for a number of minutes equal to the successes rolled.
*****  Strain of Truth: Charisma + (Performance, Expression, or Persuasion) diff 9 can convince an  audience that you are telling the truth. 4 or more successes gains you Rapture; roll Charisma + the     same Ability again and each success gains you a point of Glamour. A botch on the first roll gains     you a point of temp Banality.

Fith-Fath/Invisibility (1-5 point Faerie Gift): Spend one Glamour and roll your Fith-Fath rating against the diff of the highest banality in the area. Each success hides you for a turn. Per+Kenning can detect it at a Diff 4.

Honored Birthright (5 point Fae Gift): You gain the Birthrights of your related Kith. Note - if you have two bloods, you can only use one of your Legacy's Birthrights.

Instinct (1-5 point Fae Gift)
This talent is a form of 'sixth sense' that adds to any rolls regarding the character's personal safety. Even when a character has no normal way to detect a danger, one with an Instinct rating has a chance to detect it. In such cases, Instinct + Perception could be rolled (diff 8). Results can range from the character getting a funny feeling about a person who means to jump them in the alley once they've cashed their check to not wanting to start a car wired to explode. A character's Instinct score should be added to init rolls in combat scenes as well (Instinct+Wits+Alertness).
This Affinity only works in regard to the character herself and is not added to rolls where the character is not in any personal danger.
*     Novice: You generally have an umbrella with you when it rains.
**     Practiced: You never get cold-cocked in a fight.
***     Competent: Good private eye material.
****     Expert: You never answer the phone when a creditor calls.
*****     Master: Jungle predators could learn from you.

Luck (1-5 point Fae Gift)
This talent enables the character to add an extra die or two to a dice pool when she decides things look really bad. However, each Luck die can be used only once per story. So, if the character has three points of Luck she might use one point (die) early on to help win at gambling, but then she only has two Luck dice to use when she's confronted by three angry bouncers at the club. Note: This does not give you automatic successes, only extra dice to add to pools. In game terms, Luck dice can only be used once every three real life days. Luck dice can be used even in skills that the character has no talent in. For example, a Kinain with absolutely no throwing ability could roll her dex + 3 luck die (if she has 'em) to hit a moving target with a big rock and pull a David and Goliath and impress all her friends.
*    Novice: You find pennies on sidewalks.
**    Practiced: You can always find a parking spot.
***    Competent: You would have been kicked off the Titanic before it set sail.
****    Expert: You've been thrown out of a lot of casinos.
*****    Master: Compared to you, James Bond is one unlucky guy.

Nine Lives (4 point Fae Gift): Chimerical Death affects you as if you only have a Banality of 1. It can only be used nine times during a chronicle. Automatically in use.
Restricted: Have a viable reason why your character would have this or it will be rejected.

Parted Mists (5 point Fae Gift): The Mists don't affect you. You remember everything while enchanted. Automatically in use.

Riastradh/Berserker (5 point Fae Gift): Spend a point of Glamour and you gain two battle dice to apply to all of your Chimerical combat rolls. You MUST attack with a Chimerical weapon or attack for this to occur.

The Second Sight (1-5 point Fae Gift)
The Kinain has the "gift" of prophecy allowing him or her to have visions of the future.
Roll Perception + Second Sight, diff 8
*    Novice: The character can see up to one month into the past and two weeks into the future.
**    Practiced: The character can see up to one year into the past and six months into the future.
***    Competent: The character can see up to ten years into the past and five years into the future.
****    Expert: The character can see up to a hundred years into the past and fifty years into the future.
*****    Master: The character can see any point in the past or future, though the difficulty for anything beyond a hundred years past and fifty years forward is 10.

Spearman's Shield (1-5 point Faerie Gift): Get an additional soak die (based on your rating in this Gift) when you soak against Chimerical Damage only.

Taghairm/Shadow-Tongue (2 point Faerie Gift): You can hear and speak to the Dead, and they can hear you. Automatically in use.

Taibhsear/Dead Eyes (1 point Fae Gift): You can see ghosts. Automatically in use.

Weakened Mists (1-3 point Fae Gift): Subtract this rating from your Banality to remember what happened during the Mists.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Changeling the Dreaming: Some Basics

The world of Changeling The Dreaming is much like our own, and has much of the same history. However it is a world where all manner of strangeness lurks just out of sight, and real monsters haunt the shadows. Supernatural creatures are mostly gone from the world of men, but enough hang on in hidden places or even in plain sight, hidden more by the lack of awareness of mankind rather than the efforts or the supernatural. Most humans are unaware of just how weird the world really is, and are happier because of it.

Rather than get all into discussions on the nature of the spirit world and the material world, suffice it to say that Fairy Tales are REAL. And before you get all Disney about it, you should pick up a copy of The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Snow Queen, The Neverending Story or anything by Charles de Lint or Neil Gaiman. You can also watch a few episodes of Over The Garden Wall or Jim Henson's The Storyteller. As well as all being very entertaining and brilliant works, they all start to give a glimmer of the shadowy wonderland of Changeling The Dreaming.

The Fae of Changeling draw magical power (Glamour) from creativity, dreams, wonder, terror lust and madness. It is these things that empower and nurture their spirit-selves, and they make it their business to ensure a steady supply of these things. The only real limit to the power of Faerie Glamour is Banality, a sort-of metaphysical force of unbelief representing the death of wonder. It is this darkening of the heart of wonder that has closed much of humanity from the fae. Cold Iron is a manifestation of this force, and so is very dangerous to the Fae.

Up until late-Medieval times, the Fae existed much like as it is depicted in Fairy Tales from around the world. In this Mythic Age the Fae would dwell part time on Earth, usually in Enchanted Forests
, Fairy Mounds, and similar locations. The rest of the time in one or more of the many Otherworlds. These mythic fae were sometimes good neighbors, but were dreadfully fickle creatures, and some had a habit of stealing unbaptized children. Mortals who lived near the Fae had all kinds of rituals and holidays to keep peace with these fickle beings, though in Christian (and Buddhist and Muslim) lands, this had to be done away from the eyes of the clergy. Then came the Shattering.

The Shattering is an occurrence in the history of Changeling The Dreaming in which the majority of paths to the Otherworlds were slammed shut, trapping large numbers of the Fae on Earth (and near-Earth regions of Faerie). The hows and the whys of this vary with the retelling, but that this occurrence came about at the same time as the Black Plague is unlikely to be a coincidence.
Locked out of the deeper realms of the Dreaming, the earthbound Fae had to scrabble to survive. Many of them could only exist on Earth for limited periods, in magical locales or under specific circumstances. And so desperate measures needed to be undertaken.

And so to survive in a world that is inhospitable to the ephemeral Fae, those left on Earth became Changelings. Normally the making of a Changeling was a fairly rare occurrence, in-which a fairy spirit is switched with a human soul (the human souls thus evicted are sent into faerie). And so all of the remaining Fae became changelings full-time. This allows the Fae to not only survive, but to allow their immortal spirits to carry on via reincarnation into human descendants.

Now supplied with human-suits, they live alongside mortals, appearing to humans as humans though most have some kind of hint that there is something special and/or odd about him or her. How they live and just how weird they are is up to the Storyteller and players. Me I like it pretty weird in my contemporary fairy tales, soooo...

If you want to know more about the setting of Changeling The Dreaming, puck up a copy through Onyx Path Publishing. There is all kinds of great stuff in there, from the Return of the Sidhe, the Concordance War, and all kinds of other details.

In future articles I will be discussing differing Kiths (Fae races) and some odd niches that they have found themselves in. Also some info on some new houses and societies and more than a few odd Chimerical creatures. So stay tuned!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Changeling: The Dreaming (an old obsession)

Changeling The Dreaming by the now-defunct White Wolf Publishing was one of those role-playing games that I loved from the beginning. It was all about Faerie Tales, Dreams and the Imagination, both the bight and the dark. It was designed to allow for all sorts of contemporary fantasy themes and moods, and left largely up to the Storyteller and players using it. Changeling, like the other game lines in the "classic" World of Darkness was set in a darker version of our own world. However unlike the other settings, Changeling was meant to be more modular and was in many way bigger and weirder than the others. It was about faerie beings and dreams after-all.
Most of the fans of the World of Darkness did not take to Changeling, as there was no huge metaplot to underline the setting. Though there were certainly factions and a world history in Changeling, it was meant to encourage creative chaos in setting up a chronicle (ie campaign). And so the setting never made the money that Vampire, Werewolf or Mage did. Too bad in my opinion.
One of the things that I loved about Changeling: The Dreaming was the creative people who cranked out new and fun material for the setting, long after White Wolf gave up on the setting. Some, like The Moonlit Trod,  The Dream Burrow, and The Right To Dream (and its wonderful Oz series) and others closed down or otherwise stopped updating years ago. But these and other sites were so wonderfully creative and energetic. And I have yet to see that kind of creative energy coming out of the new World of Darkness line of games.
As of now Changeling looks to be getting a facelift and an update in the form of a 20th anniversary edition from Onyx Path Publishing. So I thought I would show a little love for the old setting by posting some articles, art and rules tweaks from my own thoughts on Changeling The Dreaming.

For a print-on-demand or pdf version of the game check out DriveThroughRPG.

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan