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I wish CtL allowed you to confront your Keeper.

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  • I wish CtL allowed you to confront your Keeper.

    Changeling doesn’t hold back with its themes. It’s clear from the outset that it’s a game about trauma, about living through something that changes you irrevocably and the struggle to regain some feeling of safety and normalcy in the wake of that. It’s very evocative and has the potential to get deeply personal.

    What irks me is, the framework of CtL’s setting does not allow you to ever really reclaim your strength after that trauma. You can heal mentally and emotionally, sure. You can establish a new life or reclaim your old one, and you can fend off the Huntsmen who come. But you can’t ACT. You can only react. You are weak and helpless compared to the Fae that hurt you, forever, and your only recourse when they try to hurt you again is to escape their plan and hope the next attempt won’t ruin you when it comes. And those changelings who do want to be more proactive against the Fae threat are presented as deluded, and their efforts obviously futile.

    I admittedly don’t know if it changed in 2e, but that framing always felt a bit disempowering to me. A bit pessimistic about people’s ability to do something about the source of their real-world traumas.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Cielle View Post
    What irks me is, the framework of CtL’s setting does not allow you to ever really reclaim your strength after that trauma. You can heal mentally and emotionally, sure. You can establish a new life or reclaim your old one, and you can fend off the Huntsmen who come. But you can’t ACT. You can only react. You are weak and helpless compared to the Fae that hurt you, forever, and your only recourse when they try to hurt you again is to escape their plan and hope the next attempt won’t ruin you when it comes. And those changelings who do want to be more proactive against the Fae threat are presented as deluded, and their efforts obviously futile.
    Not everyone gets to deal with a trauma with a convenient target to defeat, and I think it's important to the message of the game that regaining strength, and being able to act, isn't about punching your abuser in the face.

    This whole perspective is incredibly unhealthy to me, because it links strength/being proactive to revenge and perpetuating trauma, instead of overcoming trauma and actually moving on the best you can. In physical medicine, if your nose is broken, it's healed when your nose is returned to as close to possible to it's previous state. No medical doctor is going to say that you're physically weak until you break something of whatever broke your nose. That's nonsense. Mental trauma isn't actually different. Confronting a source of mental trauma isn't a magical ticket to mental health, it's not an inherent demonstration of overcoming trauma to confront someone that inflicted it on you, and overcoming the fact that you could be retraumatized isn't solved because there are plenty of other sources of trauma out there.

    Self-care is strength and acting proactively. Confrontation isn't either.

    I admittedly don’t know if it changed in 2e,...
    A bit. Not much on this end, but 2e gives Courts more teeth as something that's meant to protect you from the Gentry. Courts might not let you go hunt down your Keeper, but they have a bonus that forces Keepers that come for their Lost under the protection of the Courts into a weakened position that can be used to drive them off. Joining a Freehold and a Court is an actual proactive bulwark, so when the Gentry come calling it's not just "run and hide and pray," but, "use the Court that's currently in charge to subvert the Gentry (or more likely their servants) power and protect what you have."

    A bit pessimistic about people’s ability to do something about the source of their real-world traumas.
    There's not a lot you can do about most sources of real-world traumas. There's a lot you can do to fight mental health stigma so that people can learn healthy ways to cope with trauma.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
      Not everyone gets to deal with a trauma with a convenient target to defeat, and I think it's important to the message of the game that regaining strength, and being able to act, isn't about punching your abuser in the face.
      This kind of reductiveness isn’t helpful.

      It’s not about “punching your abuser in the face”. It’s about having a way, any way, to actually excise the source of danger that remains in your life. Killing could be one way to interpret that, if you like. A creative person should be able to think of others.

      Changelings are not simply living with PTSD. The threat here is very physical and external - for every last one of them.

      Confronting a source of mental trauma isn't a magical ticket to mental health, it's not an inherent demonstration of overcoming trauma to confront someone that inflicted it on you, and overcoming the fact that you could be retraumatized isn't solved because there are plenty of other sources of trauma out there. Self-care is strength and acting proactively. Confrontation isn't either.
      It’s not about mental health. It’s about physical health. Self-care is insufficient protection against a Keeper, and is not a proactive response to an external threat. If someone was stalking you, emotional resilience would not make them stop.

      There's not a lot you can do about most sources of real-world traumas.
      I find that perspective “incredibly unhealthy.”
      Last edited by Cielle; 08-01-2019, 07:15 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Cielle View Post
        Changeling doesn’t hold back with its themes. It’s clear from the outset that it’s a game about trauma, about living through something that changes you irrevocably and the struggle to regain some feeling of safety and normalcy in the wake of that. It’s very evocative and has the potential to get deeply personal.

        What irks me is, the framework of CtL’s setting does not allow you to ever really reclaim your strength after that trauma.
        Both editions have ways for the Keeper to be confronted and even destroyed.

        Erasing everything that happened and becoming a regular human again is entirely different.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cielle View Post
          This kind of reductiveness isn’t helpful.
          Neither is premising a thread on the outright falsehood that a game whose very first supplement over a decade ago provided means of unmaking the Gentry doesn't allow you to confront the Gentry that made you a changeling.

          It’s not about “punching your abuser in the face”. It’s about having a way, any way, to actually excise the source of danger that remains in your life. Killing could be one way to interpret that, if you like. A creative person should be able to think of others.
          Such as, say, doing any of the stuff a character potent enough to engage with the content in First Edition's book on Arcadia and running the endgame could do in the space where a final conflict with their remaker might conceivably play out.

          Changelings are not simply living with PTSD. The threat here is very physical and external - for every last one of them.
          It is also a threat that has always and explicitly been weaker outside of Arcadia and weaker still in the mortal world and is subject to whatever laws they bound themselves with in exchange for power enough to be able to make people into changelings.

          It’s not about mental health. It’s about physical health. Self-care is insufficient protection against a Keeper, and is not a proactive response to an external threat. If someone was stalking you, emotional resilience would not make them stop.
          If someone primarily stalked you by sending bounty hunters made of dust and moonlight after you to try and break down your confidence in the world around and within you, emotional resilience is a damn sight more defense against getting dragged back to the Torment Zone than the ability to shoot however many of those bounty hunters come after you in the face, particularly when their employer is sending them from a world away and has little reason to venture beyond their back garden for less than the seizure of an object of their obsession (i.e. the thing that they mostly do by employing those bounty hunters in the first place).

          I find that perspective “incredibly unhealthy.”
          You are entirely welcome to try to strike back against a hurricane, plague, famine, or war, but as a singular individual most people would probably rightly tell you that pinning your need for closure on doing so is a struggle so uphill it's functionally an iron wall.


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

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          • #6
            "Fighting back" against your keeper and finding closure has always been something that the various courts offer. Even if some of the fighting back involves less punching.
            The spring court helps you find closure by teaching you that you are not bound by your past. You cam look to build something in the present and be happy.
            The summer court gives you the tools that would allow you to literally punch back if necessary. Its their core sales pitcm so to speak. But more importantly they give you the confidence that you would be able to do something against all thise that would seek to abuse you.
            The autumn courts help you deal with what happened to you by having you look at the trauma straigth in the eye and grow out of it by learning from it.
            And finally, The winter court allows you to literally escape from those that would try to bring you back to being abused. And teaches you how to win confrontations by avoiding them.

            Ive not done a great job at showing this for all the court i think. Im not a good writer.
            But the important thing is that the game (1e and 2e) has always offered ways to confront the keeper. Even if avoiding and hiding from is less fighty.


            Currently running: Scion 2nd Edition. Les Légendes Currently playing: Being a dad for a 2year old daughter and a newborn son.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cielle View Post
              This kind of reductiveness isn’t helpful.
              I find it strange that you feel I was being reductive. My statement was meant to be expansive, that trauma is broader and more complicated than your first post acknowledges.

              Changeling, as a game about moving on from trauma, would be a lesser game if it only told stories about traumas you can address by confrontation. It also tells stories about trauma that can't be dealt with by having a catharsis of dealing with the instigator of trauma. In order to tell the second kind of story, the Gentry have to be antagonists that are not easily confronted and for some characters might never be capable of being confronted.

              As well, it feels odds that you're objecting to my "punch them in the face," line when your second post focuses so much on the Gentry as a direct physical threat rather than the game as a metaphor for trauma.

              It’s about having a way, any way, to actually excise the source of danger that remains in your life.
              Life is dangerous. Whatever emotional benefit you might have from eliminating a personal direct threat to your safety is always undercut by the fact that the world is still full of threats and you've only excised the external one you're most familiar with.

              Lets say your character kills their Keeper. Great. Now what about the Keepers of the rest of their Motley? Freehold? All the Gentry that take notice of this group of changelings that are extremely effective Fae-killers and want you dead because now you're an existential risk to them? Any Huntsmen you freed from the Gentry in all this and now are rampaging about and possibly also want to take you out on general principle to prove they're stronger than the one that defeated the Gentry?

              And that's not getting into the Winter Court assassinating your character for being a danger to the whole, bad luck leading to a series of Clarity destroying events, or a bus just running your character over tomorrow.

              This is why I object to your stated position on how strength and being proactive relate to confrontation with the instigator of trauma. While the victims of abusive trauma absolutely need to take steps to maximize their personal safety, perfect safety is an illusion. Getting caught up in trying to excise threats and danger is just falling into one of trauma's traps. Actually moving on from trauma means learning to put risks back into perspective and live your life without getting caught up in the fear/avoidance loop trauma drives people towards in the name of staying safe.

              It’s not about mental health.
              As Satchel pointed out, in Changeling mental health and physical safety are linked rather closely.

              Maintaining Clarity (aka things like self-care) means having access to Keening and perception bonuses, while allowing it to lapse penalizes perception and removes your sense for the supernatural. That's already a pretty big deal to your physical safety.

              In 2e, this is even more the case, because failure to keep your Clarity safe can literally put you in coma making you easy prey to physical attacks since you're in a freaking coma; assuming it's not a Severe Clarity damage coma and you're going to die if nobody saves you. Lost that don't tend to their mental health are at immense physical risk.

              I find that perspective “incredibly unhealthy.”
              Based on what? The world is a scary and dangerous place. That creates trauma. Lots of trauma in the world doesn't even come from events that had any malicious actors in them. Treating trauma effectively is more useful than trying to 'end' trauma.

              To go back to physical medicine as an analogy, eliminating diseases is hard; and sometimes impossible. What modern medicine has made massive strides in? Treating diseases (even purposefully getting people sick in a controlled fashion, aka vaccines), suppressing chronic infections, and better alleviation of the symptoms of chronic diseases. Truly eradicating a disease is a lucky break at best. What science has done to take some incredibly deadly diseases and turn them into things you can just take a few pills and get over is what's radically changed human health over the past 100 years.

              Mental trauma is going to keep happening. Physical dangers are going to keep existing. Confrontation can't actually get you past those truths.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Changeling, as a game about moving on from trauma, would be a lesser game if it only told stories about traumas you can address by confrontation. It also tells stories about trauma that can't be dealt with by having a catharsis of dealing with the instigator of trauma.
                The problem is, it doesn’t offer the option. It only tells those kind of stories.

                Life is dangerous. Whatever emotional benefit you might have from eliminating a personal direct threat to your safety is always undercut by the fact that the world is still full of threats and you've only excised the external one you're most familiar with.
                That’s a gloomy outlook. Maybe you can’t fix the entire world’s problems or exert perfect control over every circumstance, that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to try to fix your direct problems.

                As Satchel pointed out, in Changeling mental health and physical safety are linked rather closely.
                This is...awkward. I’m afraid he’s been on my ignore list for quite a while. I don’t see his posts (when that feature works, which is irritatingly inconsistent), so I can’t be sure what exactly you’re referring to, and TBH I’m not really interested in finding out.

                Based on what? The world is a scary and dangerous place.
                Your perspective sure sounds a lot like the language of learned helplessness. This notion that your problems are too overwhelming to ever solve, that it might make things worse to try so it’s better not to try, that it’s pointless to think you have any control because you could always be hit by a bus tomorrow - it’s very familiar. It can be comforting in a perverse way, but it is absolutely not healthy.

                The idea that all you can do is cope the best you can while being buffeted by the winds of chance does not allow for much meaningful agency. And Changeling is the only Chronicles of Darkness line that at all bolsters that view. Every other game leaves open the possibility to become more than you are.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nofather View Post

                  Both editions have ways for the Keeper to be confronted and even destroyed.

                  Could you expound on this? I don’t own the supplements, but the corebook does not seem to allow for that as a possibility and actively discourages it, so I hadn’t expected other books would contradict that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cielle View Post
                    Could you expound on this? I don’t own the supplements, but the corebook does not seem to allow for that as a possibility and actively discourages it, so I hadn’t expected other books would contradict that.
                    While it is generally discouraged (for reasons mentioned above, confronting your Keeper isn't going to erase the past or heal wounds), it's possible the reason why you're seeing it doesn't allow it as a possibility is because you're just looking at the first edition core book. The second edition core has a section on True Fae antagonists, how to build them, how to defeat them. First edition expands on them in Autumn Nightmares (clearly labeled as having a chapter that is an, 'In-depth treatment of the True Fae, complete with new potential Keepers.' And Equinox Road, the 'end level' Changeling book gets into taking the fight to them in Arcadia and how their own wars work as well as expanding on their Names and Titles, which is carried over to second edition.
                    Last edited by nofather; 08-01-2019, 04:36 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cielle View Post
                      The problem is, it doesn’t offer the option. It only tells those kind of stories.
                      Not having the books that detail this doesn't really justify this assertion.

                      Also the 1e core book has two True Fae in it, both of whom are extremely challenges to deal with, but hardly outside the realm of victory for Lost that grow powerful enough and can force the confrontation in the physical realm.

                      That’s a gloomy outlook.
                      It's a realistic outlook. Both in the fact that it's a truth about the world, and that trauma is not something satisfied easily. Trying to quick fix trauma generally results in just making it worse.

                      ...that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to try to fix your direct problems.
                      I never said it was, and I directly pointed to a positive direction to put energy into.

                      ...so I can’t be sure what exactly you’re referring to,...
                      I think my post provides enough on it's own without the additional context to make the point: changelings can't separate mental health from physical safety because poor mental health directly impedes their physical safety.

                      Your perspective sure sounds a lot like the language of learned helplessness.
                      "Sounds a lot like," doesn't mean, "is."

                      Do me the favor of not tossing your armchair diagnostics at me. Especially not with such flimsy pretext. Instead of trying to come up with some way to dismiss my posts by twisting them into something they're not, just try to respond to what I've actually said.

                      This notion that your problems are too overwhelming to ever solve,...
                      Never said that.

                      It can be comforting in a perverse way, but it is absolutely not healthy.
                      Being unrealistic about the risks in the world isn't healthy. Whether that's becoming a shut-in, or being a Pollyanna, neither extreme is good. The goal is to get to a place where you don't let fear or naivete replace well formed decision making.

                      Coping is the process of asserting agency; even in a world where there's lots of stuff you can't do anything about.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cielle View Post


                        Could you expound on this? I don’t own the supplements, but the corebook does not seem to allow for that as a possibility and actively discourages it, so I hadn’t expected other books would contradict that.
                        Getting the Strangers to break foundational contracts that make up their being, trapping their Titles in Ironside, etc. It's possible, it's just hard, and it's no accident that the main book to focus on doing it was a game about Changeling's endgame, which is the same book that presents the (optional) system for how changelings become True Fae themselves. It also won't save you, because there are always other god-children-playing-in-coffins.

                        That’s a gloomy outlook. Maybe you can’t fix the entire world’s problems or exert perfect control over every circumstance, that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to try to fix your direct problems.
                        To do some comparisons here:

                        You are not going to defeat capitalism personally.
                        You are not going to defeat a hurricane, a wildfire, or a earthquake personally.
                        You are not going to defeat the human capacity for malice inherent in everyone personally.
                        You are not going to defeat famine, plague, or pollution personally.
                        You are not going to defeat nations personally.
                        You are not going to defeat death personally.

                        The True Fae might have a more direct relation to you personally than those, but they exist on something of the same scale. Strangers are elemental forces and primordial gods wearing forms wrought by the whole of human imagination. You're a character who can barely keep their shit together and keep a-float in a world moved by krakens at the bottom of the ocean, until you aren't and gosh you look an awful lot like the very same krakens*.

                        Sure, you can, and should, do things diminish the power of the forces that fuck you and everyone else over. No one's saying you can't or that you shouldn't. But to get hung up on the existence of these things isn't healthy, and you are just gonna have to accept that it's generations down the line that will see the difference if everyone plays along. Comparing it to the real world-

                        I mean, as that goes, we kind of just have to admit the entire world is fucked in 70 years unless we actually see a significant change, and we probably won't.

                        One of the things that makes Changeling powerful is that it rises against it's fatalistic elements, not with a "No, I Won't Let It" like they actually have any power over that, but a "That Doesn't Make It Right."**. And Changeling makes that fight where it stands, it fights where the fight actually is-in the normal world, in building the communities and systems that keep people safe and secure, in making everyone feel like they've got it. They keep it where the people they need to feel for are. Oh, sure, they'll chops off the lives to the True Fae where they can-but again, there's a reason why the people who are most likely to take the fight to the Strangers are also the ones who are the most like them.

                        There are vast, impersonal sources of harm and tragedy at all times in the world-and you fight them by building the community that steals ground from those forces, not by going and taking it on personally.

                        Everyone loves a hero, but their bones don't change the world.

                        *Which is not to say you need to be like those krakens-just that the paths to power that lets you challenge Dead Tiamat are very likely to warp you into that one carnival house mirror you never liked to look at.
                        **Beast does this too, on record. A lot of Chronicles treads on that line.


                        Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cielle View Post
                          Changeling doesn’t hold back with its themes. It’s clear from the outset that it’s a game about trauma, about living through something that changes you irrevocably and the struggle to regain some feeling of safety and normalcy in the wake of that. It’s very evocative and has the potential to get deeply personal.

                          What irks me is, the framework of CtL’s setting does not allow you to ever really reclaim your strength after that trauma. You can heal mentally and emotionally, sure. You can establish a new life or reclaim your old one, and you can fend off the Huntsmen who come. But you can’t ACT. You can only react. You are weak and helpless compared to the Fae that hurt you, forever, and your only recourse when they try to hurt you again is to escape their plan and hope the next attempt won’t ruin you when it comes. And those changelings who do want to be more proactive against the Fae threat are presented as deluded, and their efforts obviously futile.

                          I admittedly don’t know if it changed in 2e, but that framing always felt a bit disempowering to me. A bit pessimistic about people’s ability to do something about the source of their real-world traumas.
                          I think there are some important things you might have missed.

                          The traumas experiences by Changelings and people in real life are not the same. This should be obvious and may come across as flippant, but hear me out. Changeling is a game of metaphors given substance. The fictional suffering of these characters are not meant to be handled with the same methods. I believe there is a discrepancy between what the game sets out to provide and what you want from it. Consider making it clearer what your personal definitions of regaining agency and overcoming trauma are. From my point of view, Changeling is a good metaphorical portrayal of trauma because it acknowledges that such experiences are very complicated and difficult to deal with at the best of times. It would be a much weaker game if there was some cheat code for ensuring safety and sanity.

                          Furthermore, you must keep in mind that the book is mostly written from the perspective of the Changelings themselves, the ones who actually had to go through a Durance. I recommend you think back on all the descriptions of True Fae inside Arcadia. Changelings have very good reasons to believe their struggles are futile, but that is just the in-character presentation. You as a player can and should think more optimistically. Otherwise, why play the game? It's not meant to be this misery porn you are apparently making it out to be.

                          Lastly, Keepers are not invincible, not even in 1ed. Autumn Nightmares and Equinox Road gave several options for confronting and even defeating them. The Courts in 2ed also provide more in-depth protections against invasions from True Fae and Huntsmen. But I feel compelled to ask: your PC believes they have killed their Keeper. Now what? Does that give you the closure you yearned for?

                          Changeling, in the book's own words, isn't about Once Upon A Time. It is about Once Upon Right Now. By giving focus to the more painful and desperate moments of a trauma survivor, the catharsis it gives is that much greater when there are moments of joy and triumph.
                          Last edited by GibberingEloquence; 08-01-2019, 05:36 PM.


                          Let Him Speak.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms
                            Do me the favor of not tossing your armchair diagnostics at me. Especially not with such flimsy pretext. Instead of trying to come up with some way to dismiss my posts by twisting them into something they're not, just try to respond to what I've actually said.
                            You haven’t shown me that courtesy at any point. The first thing you did in this thread was to “toss armchair diagnostics” at me. If you consider that inappropriate, then you should not have set the tone by doing that in the first place.
                            Last edited by Cielle; 08-01-2019, 06:10 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ArcaneArts
                              One of the things that makes Changeling powerful is that it rises against it's fatalistic elements, not with a "No, I Won't Let It" like they actually have any power over that, but a "That Doesn't Make It Right."**

                              Beast does this too, on record. A lot of Chronicles treads on that line.
                              Not sure I agree it’s comparable. Beast in particular gives the characters a lot of agency and control; four of the six Inheritances are explicitly done to defy the narrative forces that constrain Beasts, and allow the Beast to triumph over those forces. And of those four, only Incarnate is mechanically restrained to the endgame.

                              Other lines offer their own paths. Mummies have their Apotheosis. Prometheans have their Pilgrimage. Mages have Ascension and vampires have Golconda, even if they aren’t as well-defined mechanically.

                              Everyone loves a hero, but their bones don't change the world.
                              Maybe not, but saving the world was never the target here. It’s saving yourself that I’m after. Sidenote...

                              You are not going to defeat capitalism personally.
                              ...I think comparing the True Fae to capitalism means something different to you than it does to me. 😁
                              Last edited by Cielle; 08-01-2019, 06:10 PM.

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