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.
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!