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Homebrew: Alternate Glamour system based on Holly Black's YA Faerie novels

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  • Homebrew: Alternate Glamour system based on Holly Black's YA Faerie novels

    I have never posted mechanics before, and for the time being these are really rough, but . . . I really like Changeling: the Lost, but Holly Black will always have a hold of my soul when it comes to Faeries in a modern setting, so I wanted to try my hand at writing up mechanics and trying to create something that evokes her version of the fae . . . or, rather, I guess I wanted to try making mechanics that allow one to recreate her characters and world building. It's not complete yet, but I guess I'd like to share what I have so far?

    The gist of it. . . .

    Premise: Low magic system based on the faeries from Holly Black's Folk of the Air series, Modern Faerie Tale series, and The Darkest Part of the Forest; meant for use primarily in mortal campaigns. This is almost certainly not compatible with Changeling: the Lost.

    Summary: Characters have a pool of up to ten glamour; for some characters, they regain glamour at a rate equivalent to healing bashing damage as long as they are in a largely natural setting, as well as by ingesting Nevermore; other characters can only gain glamour through the ingestion of Nevermore; all characters with glamour to spend can roll Presence + an appropriate Skill to craft illusions, lay curses or blessings or befuddle minds. Iron interferes with glamour, as do certain behaviors and plants.

    Replenishing Glamour

    All characters can utilize glamour once it is in their system; not all characters can regenerate glamour. Those characters with a connection to the faerie world (generally, characters who are fae in some manner) regain glamour at a rate of 1 point every 15 minutes, to a maximum of 10, provided they are somewhere free of an excess of iron or pollution.

    What constitutes as an area free of excess iron might vary, but in general assume glamour will not regenerate naturally in heavily populated cities, or while the character is traveling by vehicle (since most vehicles involve surrounding a person with steel.)

    Characters who are entirely mortal do not regenerate glamour at all, but should they acquire it in some way, will still be able to utilize it as though they've had it all their lives.

    Nevermore (note: I have misplaced my copy of the core rulebook and need to buy the pdf version, which has to wait until next payday |||orz. Still, these are the basic notes

    Nevermore is similar to addictive medicinal substances like opium or morphine -- it was originally created to serve a specific purpose, but there are those who imbibe it for the purposes of recreational highs, and for mortals it is highly addictive.

    Cost: **

    Duration: One scene

    Toxicity: *****

    Special Rules: One dose (one pinch) of Nevermore restores five points of glamour; however, for mortals, overdosing on Nevermore is incredibly easy. One does of Nevermore inflicts the Intoxicated condition on mortal characters; taking more than one does of Nevermore in a day, or more than two days in a row might cause a lethal overdoes. Faerie characters are not subjected to these limitations, though presumably with enough Nevermore they might also be able to achieve a substantial high.

    Iron Sickness

    A faerie surrounded by iron is as a fish surrounded by air-- or perhaps, more accurately, a shark brought into freshwater. It might not be immediate, but it will kill them eventually; until then, their existence is a miserable thing indeed.

    A faerie creature takes damage equal to one bashing wound for each day they spend surrounded by iron; this damage begins with their pool of glamour, only effecting their actual health track once they have run out of glamour entirely.

    Faeries who have been living in dense cities for long enough might pick up the Iron Sickness Condition.

    In addition to the long term effects of iron, faeries are sensitive to its presence -- prolonged physical contact with iron inflicts damage at a rate of approximately 1 lethal/fifteen minutes. Swallowing iron inflicts damage at a rate of 1 aggravated/minute.

    Iron Sickness Condition

    You have been around iron for too long, and its poison has settled into your skin. You gain a -1 penalty to Stamina rolls, as your body is preoccupied with fighting off toxins.

    Resolution: Gain a beat once you are able to spend time in a place of nature, or else in faerie lands proper.

    Using Glamour


    The most common usage of glamour is to befuddle the mind, causing someone to believe things that aren't true, obey the user without question, erase memories, or a bevy of similar effects.

    Cost: 1 Glamour

    Roll: Presence + Persuasion vs Target's Composure + Supernatural Tolerance

    Duration: Permanent or Scene; once a mortal has been convinced that something did or didn't happen, or that someone is or isn't their friend, or that they must do something or avoid something, they will continue to believe this indefinitely. For faeries, the intrusion is less all encompassing, and the effect wears off at the end of the scene.

    (Of course, should someone then use glamour to undo the effects of someone else's glamour, it would have a similar duration.)

    Effect: The target of the action believes one fact determined by the player per success. This fact might be "I was never here", "This is a lovely room", or it might be much more personal, such as "You love me" or "You have always hated your brother."


    Illusions are as much a part of life in Faerie as reality is, even though anyone with the Sight might see through those illusions with little effort.

    Cost: 1 Glamour

    Roll: Presence + Craft; this may be an extended or instant action, depending on how much time the player wishes to spend honing their creation.

    Duration: Scene; after an illusion has been created, it will persist until the creator loses their focus or banishes it.

    Effect: For each success, the player may either. . .

    . . . Create something from nothing, with each success going towards a point of durability or size.

    . . . Modify an existing object or illusion, with each success going towards changing a single quality (color, shape, flexibility, texture or the like) or towards increasing durability or size at a one for one ratio.

    Hiding their faerie nature costs only one success, though there is always some trait that peaks through, such as particularly vibrant eyes or an extra joint in each finger. Increasing the durability of such an illusion assists in buffering the effects of iron sickness, providing a physical barrier between the faerie and contact with iron, as though wearing gloves.

    Curses and Blessings

    It is not uncommon, per say, for someone to get so worked up that they curse someone -- boons are more common, and more useful -- but it is always significant to the one doing it. If enchanting someone were like shouting at them, then cursing them is a bit more like throwing a punch; a blessing is to creating an illusion as kissing is to gazing forlornly. These are not things done willy-nilly.

    Roll: Presence + Resolve - Target's Composure

    Cost: 2 Glamour + 1 Willpower This does act like spent willpower would normally behave, as well, increasing the roll appropriately.

    Effect: The target of the curse gains a permanent Condition selected or created by the player; each success can provide one point towards a penalty or bonus to this condition, or else a point towards a merit. (This is one of the things I'm still trying to work out -- ideally it would cover all sorts of faerie curses and blessings, from Midas touch situations to speaking in jewels and riddles to suddenly understanding the speech of animals, etc. I considered yanking parts from the pledge system, but that seems not only intellectually lazy, but also I don't think would work so well in practice, when paired with the rest of this system.)

    Additional things to come:

    Breaking and resisting, faerie curses & glamours; merits for changelings or faerie royalty, merit for being a faerie (in this specific system), faerie fruit; again, these systems are specifically in regards to a setting based on Holly Black's novels and not meant to replace Changeling: the Lost (though they probably . . . don't work . . . very well with C:tL . . . )

    I've never made anything for CofW mechanics, and I wanted to try and I like Holly Black's take on faeries and thought they would be a good place to start. For people who haven't read her novels (because I'm not sure of the overlap in "likes TTRPGs" and "likes YA novels"), faeries are supposed to be a little bit terrifying, in the sense that no, there's not a lot mortals have to protect themselves with, other than their ingenuity and ability to lie and some small magics, like carrying rowan and salt and iron, but they are also a little bit glass-canon like, in that once you know their weaknesses they are fun to bully (though likely to have the last word.)

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Last edited by Murder-chan; 01-19-2019, 09:24 PM.

  • #2
    A minor suggestion: instead of resisting with a Composure penalty, contest Enchantment with Composure + Supernatural Tolerance. Resistance is generally more appropriate for effects that scale with number of successes, and the lack of Supernatural Tolerance will still leave mortals at a disadvantage to defend themselves.


    • #3
      Oooh, yeah, that's a really good point, thank you! I got so hyper focused on one type of character dynamic . . . :x I'll edit that in!


      • #4
        Thank you! I've edited it in -- I didn't even think about other supernatural creatures, for some reason . . . .

        Should I also keep in mind a way for supernatural characters to see through illusions the way someone with an appropriate merit might be able to, would you say? I'll have to mull it over, at least. . . !

        ETA: Oh, fidget, I didn't realize my first response had gone through. Sorry for the double post. . . .


        • #5
          A suggested change in presentation for Iron Sickness: Rather than frame the Resolution as "you get a Beat when you go to this sort of place," go with "you get a Beat when you spend [amount of time] away from the circumstances that gave you this Condition." It draws a more direct line between the Condition and what the character's body is expressing with the negative reaction.

          I'd alternately recommend making it a Persistent Condition with the more particular Resolution criterion and a Beat effect appropriate to more acute symptoms of the Condition, since characters develop it over time in the first place.

          Resident Lore-Hound
          Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e