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  • What are Changeling's themes to you?

    So this has been coming up in other threads. Decided to relegate this to it's own thread so the other threads don't get derailed.

    Now that the C20 corebook has been out long enough to settle in, it's time to consider: what are Changeling's themes that are relevant to *you* as a fan/player/ST?

    For me, Changeling: the Dreaming is a game about finding the balance between two extremes.

    That all changelings need to find the balance between Glamour and Banality. Especially since it's extremely dangerous for changelings to go too far on either spectrum. More then the other WoD lines, CtD is about living in two worlds and keeping the scales level on both. That while yes, the World of Darkness is on the path to Long Winter and the fae emphasize bringing as much Glamour into the world as possible, but on the personal level of an individual changeling? You need a bit of stability in your life to keep yourself grounded. Without that grounding, you go crazy. Conversely get too caught up in the mundane, you become a dreary husk. Wild creativity and wonder doesn't mean a thing if you can't produce it into a manageable form. Every art show still needs to go through the process of getting permission and permits to be there in the first place, after all.

    Or to put it in other WoD terms: the Wyld/Dynamism and Weaver/Stasis need to be together and to put each other in check.

    So...what about you guys? Which themes of Changeling do you think is the most important and why?
    Last edited by tasti man LH; 02-09-2018, 08:14 PM.

  • #2
    For me, it's a game of dualities and juxtapositions. Glamour vs Banality, faerie vs human, Earth vs Dreaming, noble vs commoner, modern vs ancient, seelie vs unseelie, fomorian vs tuathan, and so many others.

    Changeling gets some flack for having an (over?) abundance of themes, but I think as long you keep the tension of duality forefront — their contrasts and compliments — you've got the spirit of the game.


    Charlie Cantrell
    Onyx Path Freelancer
    Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, Conquering Heroes, Book of Freeholds, Guide to the Night, C20 Players Guide

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    • #3
      For me there are a ton of important themes in Changeling, and getting rid of any of them would make the game less. Although all of them do seem to be about extremes and duality like you mentioned.

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      • #4
        To keep from derailing the other thread any further:

        Originally posted by Davesknd View Post
        I think that the unadulterated whimsy IS the horror. Few things are scarier and more unsettling than constant, unbroken smiles. What is more frightening than having a broken leg and finding out that your doctor is Barney the Dinosaur? I find Bedlam way more worrying then the undoing.
        I have to disagree. Bedlam's been present in the game since the very beginning, but it's never been a serious threat for most earthbound changelings. As long as characters spend some time dealing with the mundane, it's just not a primary concern. Honestly, it has more teeth in C20 than ever before. The mundane provides the the primary source of on-going dread, constantly wearing away changelings' identities.

        Arcadia and the Dreaming are sources of hope to run to in Changeling: The Dreaming.

        Arcadia and the Hedge are sources of horror to run from in Changeling: The Lost.

        Lost is a good game — it's well crafted and has lots of fans. If you want to the fantastic to be the horror and the mundane to be the source of hope, Lost is probably a better choice than Dreaming.


        Charlie Cantrell
        Onyx Path Freelancer
        Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, Conquering Heroes, Book of Freeholds, Guide to the Night, C20 Players Guide

        Comment


        • #5
          The tagline for the Exalted forum comes to mind: "Epic fantasy, human hearts."

          The fae are mythic, otherworldly, powerful beyond belief-- And yet they're trapped in mortal flesh, in a mortal's world, where being a shining god-legend won't save you from the hundred million indignities of simply being human... On the other hand, if you were a shining god-legend through and through, would you understand any of the joy, either?

          For me, that pretty much says everything.

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          • #6
            My take away is that Dreaming is a very bleak coming of age story in which your character is forced to watch everything they once loved and cherished about the world slowly die, or be corrupted into something they barely recognize. All they want is to go back to happier times when life was full of excitement and wonder. But even though they wish it weren't so, people change. Their friends all grow up, move away and build their own lives, society stops giving them free passes on their shenanigans because they're expected to act like a responsible adult. And everything they once believed in turns out to be a bold faced lie told to them by over protective authority figures who thought it would be better to protect their sensitive feelings, than to prepare them for the outside world.


            The Pooka who spent their childhood slacking off and making jokes suddenly finds that they really should have paid more attention in class when they're struggling to get their G.E.D so they can apply for a minimum wage job.


            The Satyr who devoted their youth to excess indulgence suddenly develops some life long health problems as the consequences for their reckless behavior finally catch up with them.


            The Sidhe who had everything handed to them from an early age suddenly finds that the world is not just going to bend over and kiss their ass forever.


            Edit 1: Both the Boggans and the Trolls discover that loyalty and hard work are no longer appreciated, as their jobs are outsourced so the boss can make even more money than they already need.


            Edit 2: The Nocker is driven to their wits end because they are never satisfied with their work, and yet their employers demand them to finish by a tight deadline.


            Edit 3: The Redcap, oooooh boy! Assuming these poor bastards aren't violently killed in some sort of street crime, they'll probably end up behind bars at some point... Iron bars, surrounded by hundreds of fellow inmates who will shank and / or rape them just to prove they're the bigger bad ass.


            Out of all the World of Darkness games, Changeling: the Dreaming is the one that I am the most uncomfortable with (in the good kind of way), because unlike all the other games in the series, I can actually identify with being a Changeling. None of the other games in the franchise make me sympathize with the personal horror that they're trying to convey, except for Dreaming. And that's why I finally caved in and bought it. World of Darkness is supposed to be a horror game, and Dreaming is the only one that makes me feel horrified to put myself in the character's shoes.


            The main antagonist for Dreaming isn't the Fomorians, or Banality, or even the Dauntain. The main antagonist is Real Life, and it is absolutely merciless to everything it touches.


            I also plan to get the second edition of Lost for Chronicles of Darkness... When it finally gets here!
            Last edited by Nyrufa; 02-10-2018, 12:22 PM. Reason: Added 3 more examples of Changelings having to deal with real life.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PookaKnight View Post
              To keep from derailing the other thread any further:



              I have to disagree. Bedlam's been present in the game since the very beginning, but it's never been a serious threat for most earthbound changelings. As long as characters spend some time dealing with the mundane, it's just not a primary concern. Honestly, it has more teeth in C20 than ever before. The mundane provides the the primary source of on-going dread, constantly wearing away changelings' identities.

              Arcadia and the Dreaming are sources of hope to run to in Changeling: The Dreaming.

              Arcadia and the Hedge are sources of horror to run from in Changeling: The Lost.

              Lost is a good game — it's well crafted and has lots of fans. If you want to the fantastic to be the horror and the mundane to be the source of hope, Lost is probably a better choice than Dreaming.

              I think we are seriously not on the same page because I thought that Lost was terrible and completely backwards when... ok, I surrender... after reading C20 some more... I don't get it... seriously, I don't get it. CtD clicked instantly. This just doesn't. It's probably me, I am sad that it doesn't click, but it doesn't.
              You say that banality is more dangerous than ever... I think it kinda lost it's sting! I mean... chimera can be walked through? No worries about instant-destruction when people disbelieve? Trolls don't have to bend over when squeezing through doors? I... I honestly don't get it.
              This is my last post, I'm quiet and confused.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                Out of all the World of Darkness games, Changeling: the Dreaming is the one that I am the most uncomfortable with (in the good kind of way), because unlike all the other games in the series, I can actually identify with being a Changeling. None of the other games in the franchise make me sympathize with the personal horror that they're trying to convey, except for Dreaming. And that's why I finally caved in and bought it. World of Darkness is supposed to be a horror game, and Dreaming is the only one that makes me feel horrified to put myself in the character's shoes.
                So there's this podcast, "Walking Away from Arcadia", which exclusively discusses CtD.

                The hosts explain that Changeling the Dreaming might actually be the most depressing and nihilistic WoD game. Moreso then Wraith. Basically that it's about having this perfect wonderful thing happening to you...and then having to watch lose that wonderful thing. WhichI think you summed up pretty well.

                That what you described is possibly more terrifying then what the Baali, Pentex, and the Nephandi are capable of doing.

                Originally posted by Davesknd View Post
                Trolls don't have to bend over when squeezing through doors? I... I honestly don't get it.
                ...you mean the thing that fundamentally breaks my suspension of disbelief, stop everything and goes "...well that's just stupid. I'm going to play something else."

                Because really. That never made any sense to me.

                (speaking of: yay for C20 for making the distinction that Science =/= Banal. Because in 1st-2nd edition, that notion was hard to swallow when the catalyst for the Resurgence was the moon landing...aka scientific landmark event)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post

                  So there's this podcast, "Walking Away from Arcadia", which exclusively discusses CtD.

                  The hosts explain that Changeling the Dreaming might actually be the most depressing and nihilistic WoD game. Moreso then Wraith. Basically that it's about having this perfect wonderful thing happening to you...and then having to watch lose that wonderful thing. WhichI think you summed up pretty well.

                  That what you described is possibly more terrifying then what the Baali, Pentex, and the Nephandi are capable of doing.

                  Yeah, I'm on the opposite side of Davesknd here. I find the mundane to be overwhelmingly depressing and if I were a Changeling in the Dreaming universe, I suspect I may have willingly subjected myself to Bedlam 10 years ago, rather than live in a world deprived of magic.


                  Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post



                  (speaking of: yay for C20 for making the distinction that Science =/= Banal. Because in 1st-2nd edition, that notion was hard to swallow when the catalyst for the Resurgence was the moon landing...aka scientific landmark event)

                  I think it was less about the moon landing itself and more about the exciting new possibilities that came with it. Specifically, the influx of the science fiction genre replacing the medieval fantasy setting for a while.
                  Last edited by Nyrufa; 02-09-2018, 11:07 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Davesknd View Post
                    You say that banality is more dangerous than ever...
                    No, my “it” was referring to bedlam. Bedlam mechanically has more teeth in C20 than it did in 1st or 2nd edition. Before, it didn’t have a mechanical system, only guidelines. Now, certain actions result in Nightmare, which puts characters on a path toward bedlam. I was someone who liked the guidelines (as my old posts on this forum can attest). I thought it was fitting for bedlam’s place in the setting - something that looms in the background, but isn’t a pressing threat. I was skeptical when the system got proposed, but actually using it in games made me a believer.

                    You’re right though. Banality is less punishing mechanically in C20 than it used to be. It was changed to make things a little more playable. Banality gain in C20 is intended to feel like a natural consequence of player choices and player actions, not an arbitrary act by the ST. It was too ill defined before, and gaining Banality felt too much like punishment or ST fiat. The system of triggers and the antithesis is intended to put the ball in the player’s court. They know what actions will cost their character. Is doing the thing worth the price to the character’s soul?


                    Charlie Cantrell
                    Onyx Path Freelancer
                    Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition, Conquering Heroes, Book of Freeholds, Guide to the Night, C20 Players Guide

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                      I think it was less about the moon landing itself and more about the exciting new possibilities that came with it. Specifically, the influx of the science fiction genre replacing the medieval fantasy setting for a while.
                      Which even then, inspired people into the world of sciences. Not just provide fodder for fictional stories.

                      Many a story about how the kid who watched Star Trek that convinced them to study to be an astrophysicist or an engineer, or in the 80's how TRON inspired a different kid to become a computer programmer or a video game developer.

                      Originally posted by PookaKnight View Post
                      You’re right though. Banality is less punishing mechanically in C20 than it used to be. It was changed to make things a little more playable. Banality gain in C20 is intended to feel like a natural consequence of player choices and player actions, not an arbitrary act by the ST. It was too ill defined before, and gaining Banality felt too much like punishment or ST fiat. The system of triggers and the antithesis is intended to put the ball in the player’s court. They know what actions will cost their character. Is doing the thing worth the price to the character’s soul?
                      The infamous Banality table in the past?

                      But yeah, the new system of personal Banality triggers I really dig. And if fleshes out the game a lot more.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post


                        The hosts explain that Changeling the Dreaming might actually be the most depressing and nihilistic WoD game. Moreso then Wraith.

                        Come to think of it, why exactly do all the players seem to agree on Wraith being horribly depressing? I've done very little research into the game, so I'm not sure about its themes. But the basic gist I get from it is that you're trying to stop your soul from just fading into nothingness. I don't really see how non existence is supposed to be more earth shattering than walking around drinking people's blood, or turning into a man beast at the slightest provocation, or being a fallen angel who's been tortured for the last several thousand years, only to claw their way back to the world of the living.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                          Come to think of it, why exactly do all the players seem to agree on Wraith being horribly depressing? I've done very little research into the game, so I'm not sure about its themes. But the basic gist I get from it is that you're trying to stop your soul from just fading into nothingness. I don't really see how non existence is supposed to be more earth shattering than walking around drinking people's blood, or turning into a man beast at the slightest provocation, or being a fallen angel who's been tortured for the last several thousand years, only to claw their way back to the world of the living.
                          It mostly has to do with how it starts out depressing.

                          That it starts with you playing as someone who's dead, and where in the World of Darkness, nobody ever comes back from the dead as they were from where they left it (barring the archmages that are rocking Life 5, Mind 5, Spirit 5, and Prime 3). That the various cultural afterlives, while technically being real, are actually a complete farce and a hollow existence. That some of the unluckier wraiths get turned into soulsteel and become inanimate objects and live out the rest of their lives as some other wraith's furniture. And finally that the more likely fate of all wraiths is to get tossed into Oblivion and simply just vanish into nothingness. And, well, all the existential dread that comes from trying to comprehend what it's like to become nothing.

                          Of course the kicker being that it doesn't stay that depressing.

                          That the journey of a wraith is to resolve all of their unfinished business that they left in the Skinlands/material world. That by doing so they reach Transcendence, achieve inner piece, and pass on. Basically, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's bright as hell and a lot more of a sure thing then Golconda in Vampire.

                          So kind of similar situation where, apparently, back in the 1st-2nd edition days, the rest of the WoD fanbase taking the superficials of the gameline and assuming that was all it was. And, you know, the troubles on the intensive-ness of the Shadow-guide mechanics.

                          (further clincher, on the Chronicles of Darkness side of things: I've heard some people say that they find that Geist: the Sin Eaters as not being the only spiritual successor to Wraith...but that it's also Promethean: the Created as well)
                          Last edited by tasti man LH; 02-10-2018, 03:23 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
                            And, well, all the existential dread that comes from trying to comprehend what it's like to become nothing.

                            Assuming that becoming nothing is literally just that: ceasing to exist, then I don't really see what's so horrifying about it. Your character doesn't have a consciousness anymore, so they are incapable of suffering.

                            If, however, Oblivion is similar to limbo in which you're cast into an infinite void and left to drift in total isolation for eternity, then yes, that sounds god damn soul crushing!

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                            • #15
                              I have to say I’m pretty much with PookaKnight on the duality theme of Changeling. Even if for me the dualities are mainly mundane Vs the fantastic, and Dreams Vs Nightmares, mundanity of Banality is horrible but the Dreaming is equal parts Dreams and Nightmares so with it come both brighter colours and darker shadows.

                              Admittedly I also love the duality of madness and sanity and in the games I ST the themes tend to be heavily about Dreams Vs Nightmares and of the madness that follow when that line gets muddy. I tend to find Banality to be horribly boring so my conflict between the Dreaming and mundanity tends to be more about how the two worlds collide, conflict with authority, prisons, asylums Etc. and less about Banality itself, usually reserving Banality gains for situations where the players act banally instead of forcing it upon them.

                              Personally I found C20 to be a systems update more than anything else, for me it did not affect my feel of Changelings themes that much perhaps even gave me more fuel to fire the conflict between Dreams and Nightmares. The Unleashings bring a considerable dose of madness and abandon to the conflict of fantasy Vs the mundane and I love that.

                              The small change in Thallain with adding of Nightmare legacies was nice as well though unfortunately Beasties beastly form was still left without any rules support but some things it seems just never gets answered.

                              Now for the side topic... Wraith is seen as horribly depressing by many because Oblivions victory is almost guaranteed, to fight it, and to get basic currency, innocent souls are routinely forged into soulsteel where they suffer for all eternity, each and every person having a very real, motivated and intelligent darker side that can take them over at anytime, including you so you really cannot trust anyone not even yourself, oppressive government, by necessity but still, and your supernatural senses make you see the rot in everything, your Deatsight means that you see the death and diseases prominently in the living you glimpse through the shroud, the Shadowlands themselves being rotted and dead version of our world and things only getting progressively worse the deeper you go, first the Chaos of the Tempest with the everpresent danger of loosing your way and of being caugh in a minor, but still soul flaying, maelstrom not to mention the spectres roaming there and then beneath all that the Labyrinth itself, the home of spectres and the stage of Harrowings at the center of which sits the maw of Oblivion. Yes there are rumors of Transcendense but very few ever reach it with wast majority suffering immensly before falling into Oblivion.

                              Despite all of that for me the death Glamour before the slow onslaught of Banality is much more depressing than any amount of suffering.
                              Last edited by Possessed; 02-10-2018, 08:40 PM. Reason: Typos

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