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How are Changelings (not CtD or CtL) handled in your games?

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  • How are Changelings (not CtD or CtL) handled in your games?

    How do you handle changelings in your games? And please note that I'm not asking about RPG's other than Scion.

  • #2
    Changelings come up often in my games, or games I have played in. There is a lot of room to do a plethora of things with the concept. Off the top of my head, I can think of three different ways I have handled them.

    The Tuatha are slavers, ancient Ireland had a sort-of-complicated slave system, with the general concept being that slaves were people you captured on raids to neighboring areas. Historically, this would be things like various Irish kingdoms raiding each other, the Welsh, etc. The mortal children captured by the Tuatha, the Sidhe, and the Fomori are all going to have a roughly similar experience with the only major difference being the attitude of their captors. The Fomori and the Tuatha are both rather haughty, and treat their captured mortals relatively normally for Iron Age Ireland. The Sidhe, on the other hand, are not great at 'getting' mortals, and tend to be really not awesome to their captives. Mistreatment rife, not really regarding mortals as people, more like particularly odd animals, that sort of thing. My players have encountered these captives of the Sidhe before, mostly cowering servers at grand parties. There is another sort which I don't think my players have ever encountered, the Oisin-esque ones, carried away by powerful Lords and Ladies to be their lovers, ensorceled by glamor, and doomed to never return home again.

    The Changelings themselves, the people left behind, don't come up all that often. Players tend to wind up in the Fairy Courts more than they wind up investigating odd things in the mortal world. As NPCs, I would use them as erratic, slightly odd people who are sort of like sleeper agents left by the Sidhe or the Tuatha. (Or technically the Fomori, but they are less likely to be subtle and leave a replacement in my mind) They are, however, an awesome basis for a Scion character. A Scion of Fand, Niamh, Clíodhna, etc, all could start off as Changelings. Little semi-Divine beings left behind with a mortal couple. I would let them take a Relic Birthright to represent their Sidhe ancestry, the Relic being their actual ancestry. If I had a player do this, I would be sure that they would meet the 'Real' version of themselves one day, probably a server in the Divine Parent's mound. I have played one of these before, a Scion of Clíodhna, who went... a bit off due to the overwhelming presence of Iron in the mortal world. He was a lot of fun.

    The third way I would implement Changelings is to steer away from the Myth and more into the Origin of the Changeling myth. There has been some wonderful work on the subject pointing out that the characteristics, both physical, social, and mental of a Changeling are all markers of children born with developmental disabilities. Infanticide and murder due to suspecting someone is a Changeling is far from being ancient history, with the most recent case I found being in the 1890s in Ireland with an entire community banding together in beating a woman to death suspecting she was a Changeling, believing that the real woman having been carried off into the mounds. That is incredibly recent history, and I am fairly sure that is probably not the final Changeling-murder on the records, just the most recent I have been able to track down. I have not used this in a game yet, but I hope to one day, probably have the Sidhe laughing in their cruel way, boasting that their raids in antiquity were so great they left a scar on the psyche of the mortals, leading to their communities to tear themselves apart at points in a moment of utter paranoia.

    Changelings can be a lot of fun in games, I really love them as a basis for a Character, or using them as a ST to play up the ancient mindset of the Pantheon, or the more alien minds of the Sidhe.

    Edit: How do you handle them in your games Manannansun? Do you have a specific angle you like to play up?
    Last edited by Watcher; 07-24-2017, 04:02 PM.

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    • #3
      Thank you, Watcher your post was informative and amazing as always. I am currrently fiddling with the otherkin phenomena and how it could fit into scion. Right now I am wondering if reincarnation is a viable option to create changelings. Specifically children who are not breathing upon delivery technically do not have the "breath of life" , and so what if a bean-sidhe or emissary of the Tuatha replaces the human soul (now deceased) with a fey soul? I imagine this would be a viable alternative to actually abducting infants.

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      • #4
        This would then possible result in a fey otherkin, whose belief is validated upon the arrival of Cliodhna, Niamh, Oonagh, etc.

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        • #5
          at their visitation.

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          • #6
            May I ask how you dealt with the power scaling issue absent from 1e, specifically the difference between a sidhe queen and say a faerie knight?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Manannansun View Post
              Thank you, Watcher your post was informative and amazing as always. I am currrently fiddling with the otherkin phenomena and how it could fit into scion. Right now I am wondering if reincarnation is a viable option to create changelings. Specifically children who are not breathing upon delivery technically do not have the "breath of life" , and so what if a bean-sidhe or emissary of the Tuatha replaces the human soul (now deceased) with a fey soul? I imagine this would be a viable alternative to actually abducting infants.

              This would then possible result in a fey otherkin, whose belief is validated upon the arrival of Cliodhna, Niamh, Oonagh, etc. at their visitation.
              Hm... I wouldn't say so, not exactly. But, what you do in your own games is up to you of course! From what I do know of Otherkin, which I will admit is not much, the Tuatha are not the best fit for them. From what I know of Otherkin, the Deva seem like the best fit by leaps and bounds.

              So, right. For the details of why I don't believe Tuatha-reincarnation to be a method to create Changelings. From what we have been able to reconstruct through the literary evidence, the pre-Christian Irish notion of a 'soul' is incredibly corporeal. You are your body, your body is you. Your body might be broken down, but from your body you will be again. The few examples we have of flat-out Reincarnation are situations where the one who is reincarnated is physically consumed by a woman, or female animal, who then gives birth to them again. The swineheards of the Tuatha are stuck in a reincarnation cycle of feuding, the pair being constantly consumed, and reborn in a new form. Etain, from The Wooing of Etain also has this feature of being consumed. There is no abstract, immaterial soul, but the body being the core of the self.

              Now, we do have some examples of more phantasmal things, such as Saint Patrick calling up the soul of CuChulain, but those are very Christian stories. That story, for instance, has CuChulain explaining how awful Hell is, and how people should listen to Patrick and convert to avoid Hell. Other situations where one contacts the dead in some way mostly has to do with finding the corpse, poking it into 'waking up' and then talking to the dead person. One of the versions of the Tain has Fergus mac Roich's corpse retelling the story when some young bards came by and prodded the corpse into talking to them and retelling the tale.

              So, on that front, you can't really take the soul of one being and transplant it for the Irish. Now, you might be able to do something weird with the Head Cult angle. The best guess of the academic ranting on the subject is the Head was seen as sort of the core of the self. Perhaps because that's what you 'see out of,' because that's what you 'talk from,' or perhaps just because that's where your face is. You might be able to do something where you cut the head off a child and place a Sidhe head on, but that would be rather gruesome even for the Sidhe. And even then, damage to the head was regarded as one of the really tricky things to deal with medically, so this would be a true feat of healing, beyond Miach and Dian Cecht.

              On top of the issues of the soul, there is the issue of 'Why Changelings,' that needs to be considered. Changelings are the result of a kidnapping, taking someone away to serve as a lover, a slave, something, for the Fomori, the Tuatha, the Sidhe, potentially other tribal groups such as the Fir Bolg, etc. The Changeling is a replacement to 'cover up' the theft of the child (or in somewhat rare cases, an adult) so swapping out the soul wouldn't provide the kidnappers with any benefit. They don't get a slave out of this, they're actually taking a loss by doing this, losing a Sidhe, and not gaining a slave.

              The abduction of the infant (or, again, rare cases the adult) is the important bit. Sometimes the Sidhe or Tuatha were shown to kidnap someone without leaving a Changeling behind. Oisin and CuChulain both get lured away by Niamh and Fand respectively, and no replacement is given. Leaving a Changeling behind seems to be more of an afterthought, 'covering up' the theft of the person so no one comes looking for them and forcing the Sidhe to give them back such as by cracking open the Sidhe Mounds and trying to wage war with the Otherworld.

              If you want to use the reincarnation system, a Sidhe could be turned into a worm and a mortal woman could drink that worm accidentally, and then give birth to the Sidhe. At that point, however, they wouldn't really be a Changeling. Nothing is being nicked, it's just someone got reborn / reincarnated. They are still the same person, probably look exactly the same, act the same, all that.

              Again, if you want to do this in your games, go for it! I am not here to dictate what anyone should be believing, or what people should be doing in their games. I'm just talking about what I know from my studies.

              May I ask how you dealt with the power scaling issue absent from 1e, specifically the difference between a sidhe queen and say a faerie knight?
              Oh, I just ignore the whole section on the Sidhe in Scion: Companion. The Tuatha section did get me interested in the Tuatha to start with, but it is plagued with errors sadly. What I do for the Sidhe is just have them at different Legends. So, Niamh is probably Legend ~9, The Lady of the Lake ~4, Fand ~11, Goitne of the Blue Eyed Spear ~8, Oonagh ~4-5, Cliodhna ~4-5, etc. A random, unnamed Sidhe probably sits between 1 - 3. A Sidhe Knight is probably 3, but special, named Knights such as Goitne and his brothers who grew up with Lugh and fought alongside him are probably up at 8 or above.

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              • #8
                Thank-you Watcher! Its not often that I'm the one getting schooled in mythology. I have to start thinking before I post. I'll be sure to this information to good use. Much appreciated.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Manannansun View Post
                  Thank-you Watcher! Its not often that I'm the one getting schooled in mythology. I have to start thinking before I post. I'll be sure to this information to good use. Much appreciated.
                  Oh no, don't worry about it! I am happy to help in whatever way I can. I just happen to know a lot about a very narrow subject line. You don't need to start thinking before you post or anything, it's absolutely okay, don't worry about that sort of thing at all!

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                  • #10
                    So, one thing I've always wanted to fool with in a campaign is the overlap between changelings -- children from the otherworld left in human homes -- and foundlings, special children raised unaware of their origins. Like, does anyone recall the Prydain books? I'd love to do a young Dallben as a PC, but with a bit of a fae slant.
                    Last edited by Rose Bailey; 07-24-2017, 10:25 PM.


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                    • #11
                      The idea of a Changeling being raised unaware of their origins, or why they feel so different, and see things so different, sounds really cool. Especially when you add just a little twinge of power that crops up at the start of gameplay, to show that something fundamental has changed. Nothing too big, maybe the ability to speak to certain animals, or make a 'finger lighter' or similar with ice. The minor kind of thing you'd need to maybe cough up a Boon point for.

                      You can play that out for a while. The kid (or maybe even adult by now) gets approached by others like him/her, maybe gets mixed up with the locals. You could play that for a while before you even bothered with a Visitation (if you even had one at all).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rose Bailey View Post
                        So, one thing I've always wanted to fool with in a campaign is the overlap between changelings -- children from the otherworld left in human homes -- and foundlings, special children raised unaware of their origins. Like, does anyone recall the Prydain books? I'd love to do a young Dallben as a PC, but with a bit of a fae slant.
                        That's not a bad idea for a campaign! There are ways to expand it past the Tuatha as well, especially including some of the new methods of being a Scion Neall as eluded to. There are a whole set of "Kidnapper Entities," which an entire Band could be composed of, either the 'Replacements,' or the 'Captives,' for sure.
                        The Tuatha de Danann have the normal Sidhe Captives and Changelings. Lots of possible player options there between Captives and Changelings. For the Captives there are actually some options for Chronological Distortion as well, though the time dilation in the Irish Otherworlds is harsh in how quickly time passes outside of the Otherworld.

                        The Plant Dôn are a bit less well attested, but drawing in some Arthurian myths, and Lancelot du Lac is a good example of someone raised in an Otherworld by a Probably-A-Sidhe. There is also the chance to explore the mysterious colossal clawed hand that took Pryderi away right after being born. Whatever that... thing is, it is some sort of Kidnapper, having been stealing away colts for some time before snatching up Pryderi. There is a lack of the Irish time dilation as well, which could be a good or bad thing depending on what people want to build.

                        The Æsir don't have anything strictly within their own system, but later folklore from their regions has Trolls taking children and leaving replacements. I believe there is an utter abundance of regional variation within these stories as well which can be pretty great for character variation. Both the 'Captives,' and the 'Replacements,' could make fun characters. I'm not entirely sure what Trolls tend to do with their captives though, I think just general servile stuff?

                        The Theoi are harder, but parties of Satyr luring young woman away to become Maenads could be serviceable. I don't know if there is any option for young men really. But Maenads have a lot of Chaos angles, and give lots of chances for someone to play a frightening character with the cannibalism and whatnot. Edit: There's also totally the option of being someone kidnapped by one of the Theoi a-la Selene grabbing that poor kiddo.

                        The Kami have Tengu kidnapping young boys and leaving them catatonic, mad, or sometimes magically inclined. Though there is some seriously not-great undertones to why the kids are taken. No 'Replacements,' but certainly are 'Captives'.

                        The Teotl have the Chaneque, though they do not have 'Replacements,' they just take people away for a little while.

                        The Shen have general Fox-Problems which also show up in Korea and Japan. Not as much children, but young men lured away to become husbands to the foxes. Or to eat them. No 'Replacements,' but 'Captives' most certainly. A lot like the Sidhe-Lovers sort like Oisin. Occasionally require Buddhavista interventions with Kannon in Japan.
                        I don't think the Netjer or Orisha have anything quite fitting the idea. I don't know enough about the Algonquin to say for them, but there is some similar stuff for the Wyandot. No clue for the Deva, but Sacerdos (who helped me with a lot of this post) thinks there might be something on the more folkloric level of India. Samudra might know. Interestingly, lots of Madness or Counter-Cultural features of these things.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Watcher View Post
                          No clue for the Deva, but Sacerdos (who helped me with a lot of this post) thinks there might be something on the more folkloric level of India. Samudra might know. Interestingly, lots of Madness or Counter-Cultural features of these things.
                          There isn't really much in Hindu myth that corresponds to the Captives and Changelings situation. Theoretically Gandharvas and Apsaras (mostly Apsaras) do have children with mortals sometimes, but that doesn't often translate to being taken away. In fact, in the most famous example of Shakuntala, ancestress of the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata, she is quickly abandoned by both parents and raised by a passing hermit, and her Apsara mother Menaka doesn't figure into the story at all after that in most versions.

                          In the folklore of Bengal (which is the folklore I grew up with and the only one I'm familiar with) however, children getting displaced is a popular theme. The general trend stories usually involves a Rakshashi using her Deception powers to seduce a king and become his favoured wife, while running the kingdom ragged and randomly eating people, and the children of the earlier, now disfavoured, queen going on epic quests to make things right.

                          In one story, the Rakshashi floats the newborn babies of the elder queen down the river and replaces them with puppies, convincing the king that she is the demoness in disguise. The children, two boys and a girl, are found and brought up by a wandering Rishi and eventually go on a quest to find the Rakshashi's mother (who is the only person with the macguffin that can kill the Rakshashi) and pretend to be her children with various other adventures on the way.

                          In another, the evil older queens (who are human in this story and whose numbers vary) bury the seven newborn sons of the youngest good queen and again replace them with puppies (this seems to be a popular tactic). the seven brothers souls are metamorphosed into a magnolia tree with exactly seven flowers. It's up to the youngest Queen's lone daughter, born after her exile, to find a way to put everything right.

                          Finally, in only one story that I know of does the wicked Rakshashi queen have children of her own... in this case both the elder good queen and the younger evil demoness queen have a son each, but funnily enough the two sons are loving brothers and the Rakshashi's son does not initially know about his heritage, and once they do find out, is eager to help his brother in killing his mother (this also involves a trip to grandma Rakshashi's house and pretending that both of them are her grandsons, but not before finding a matched pair of princesses to marry). Interestingly, the Rakshasha heritage does seem to have given the younger prince some enhanced abilities... he can chew iron, for a start.

                          India doesn't really have changelings as such, at least not in Bengal, but the last story may provide some usable seeds

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