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GMing Changeling: What NOT to do

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  • #31
    Originally posted by notanautomaton View Post
    You can't get rid of them once they twig onto you except by skipping town or giving up another Changeling. (You could also rob another Changeling for their token thingy, but that comes up with a different problem, which I'll elaborate on later.) Neither of those is a fun thing to do, and the first is functionally equivalent to character death. So if the players are unwilling to do the second, you're stuck running 'Huntsman attacks' stories for the rest of the game, until someone quits.

    They also distort the fabric of Changeling society, making Changelings regularly give each other up. Changelings used to come together to fight the fae and support each other, now they come together to more easily stab each other in the back. In 1e only Loyalists gave up their fellows, now everyone does it, which isn't what made Changeling society engaging.
    It's not that Changelings regularly give each other up, it's about maintaining the possibility that someone might turn you over. The purpose of the tokens of reprieve isn't just to get Changelings to betray each other, but to make trust that much harder. For every Changeling who actually does make the deal, there are probably a thousand potential partnerships that didn't form or fell apart for fear one would betray the other. I don't see that as a big change: The more threatened a Changeling feels by their Keeper, the more the temptation grows. Trust was already difficult because just about anyone could be a Loyalist or coerced into betrayal. The Huntsmen are just another antagonist that uses that fear, to go alongside Loyalists and Privateers. An important difference is that they have rules about approaches that traitor Changelings aren't bound by.

    IIRC, there's also already one way mentioned for getting rid of a Huntsman permanently: Turn their Arcadian Weapons back on them, and it permakills that Huntsman. There are probably more we haven't seen, as Taidragon says.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by BronzeDog View Post
      It's not that Changelings regularly give each other up, it's about maintaining the possibility that someone might turn you over. The purpose of the tokens of reprieve isn't just to get Changelings to betray each other, but to make trust that much harder. For every Changeling who actually does make the deal, there are probably a thousand potential partnerships that didn't form or fell apart for fear one would betray the other. I don't see that as a big change: The more threatened a Changeling feels by their Keeper, the more the temptation grows. Trust was already difficult because just about anyone could be a Loyalist or coerced into betrayal. The Huntsmen are just another antagonist that uses that fear, to go alongside Loyalists and Privateers. An important difference is that they have rules about approaches that traitor Changelings aren't bound by.

      IIRC, there's also already one way mentioned for getting rid of a Huntsman permanently: Turn their Arcadian Weapons back on them, and it permakills that Huntsman. There are probably more we haven't seen, as Taidragon says.
      But that possibility always existed, and making it explicit just makes it worse.
      Originally posted by Taidragon View Post

      Considering that a number of the rituals in the sample courts (primarily the Iron Court) have rituals involving hunting Huntsmen, it seems that killing them is a valid option as well, possibly with some permanence. I've not read anything that suggest Changelings regularly give each other up to prevent Huntsmen from coming after them, particularly since that method only delays them for a time. Also aren't there two merits in Mantle specifically designed to help prevent Huntsmen from coming after Changelings?

      I get what you're saying, I do, but I feel that this may be an overreaction to something we've not gotten all the information for (and that information is in itself a first draft).
      If you kill them they just show up again. Unless we get something to the effect of 'Huntsmen die when they are killed' it'll still be a problem.

      And in the draft it says that a significant portion of Changelings have the tokens that they get from giving up other Changelings.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by notanautomaton View Post
        But that possibility always existed, and making it explicit just makes it worse.

        If you kill them they just show up again. Unless we get something to the effect of 'Huntsmen die when they are killed' it'll still be a problem.

        And in the draft it says that a significant portion of Changelings have the tokens that they get from giving up other Changelings.
        Significant doesn't mean have to mean "massive number" or "more than half"; it means that there's just a larger number than Changelings would be comfortable with. 1 percent in the scale of Unemployment is significant, even if it's comparing 4 percent to 5 percent. You are the GM: define what "significant" means in your game. Also note that while Changelings are constantly paranoid of their Gentry coming for them, it doesn't mean they will. The GM is the one who decides just how many of the characters are missed by Huntsmen, and how long it takes for a Huntsman to return. Just because killing a Huntsman may not ensure it won't come back, it doesn't mean it will immediately come back.

        I also will repeat myself from before: we are working from an incomplete first draft. There is precedent for one to make additional rules if not alter existing ones for better balance. We don't even really have the stats for Huntsmen weapons as of yet, even though they are a weakness of theirs and a blow reduces clarity in Changelings. If they seem too powerful, weaken them.

        However, if you don't like them there's no need to use them. There's plenty a Changeling needs to worry about from Arcadia aside from Huntsmen.
        Last edited by Taidragon; 08-05-2016, 01:43 AM.

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        • #34
          Huntsmen can be killed permanently. The exact mechanics have not been spoiled yet, but it involves turning their Arcadian weapons on them. What's more, killing one permanently means that the scrap of Changeling used to create is no longer available to the Fae that made it. You can, very explicitly, permanently remove a Huntsman from play.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by notanautomaton View Post
            But that possibility always existed, and making it explicit just makes it worse.
            I might be misreading your intent, but I'm assuming you mean the possibility of being turned over to their Keeper by a traitor Changeling. Yes, the possibility existed in 1e. I thought it was explicit before, and I don't see how making it more explicit changes the game.

            Changelings are supposed to be wary to the point of paranoia about being betrayed. I've always seen that internal conflict of wanting to band together in a united community versus the fear of betrayal as a central part of Changeling psychology. It's a major theme, and having Huntsmen offer Tokens of Reprieve serves to reinforce it.

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            • #36
              What NOT to do?

              Quite simply--don't overprepare. The Wyrd is a fickle and strange force that latches onto the smallest and weirdest phrasing of a promise and enacts it as ALL-CONSUMING TRUTH. A little bullshitting here and a little seat-of-your-pants there fits in a lot better than plot-for-days. I personally took the Dark Souls route and filled out most of the important lore with written mini-articles between sessions, usually excerpts from books the PCs found or otherwise had access to. When it came to the actual sessions, though, overpreparing usually just made the session too confusing.

              You can't be too weird with the Wyrd, if you pardon the pun. In one of my chronicle's most climactic moments, a character wrested control of the Wyrd itself, and I asked his player to redefine initiative, attack rolls, defense totals, etc. for the scene. (A wimpy character utterly destroyed an enemy by punching with Manipulation + Subterfuge.) Afterwards, I decided his Clarity dropped to zero, but as a Darkling, that triggered his Blessing and he kept 1 in the end. When the players defeated a low-level True Fae, and thus captured its Titles, by learning its true name, I granted them additional Wyrd at a Clarity cost. This all works in the CtL setting, but wouldn't AT ALL work in any another setting.

              Something that worked rather well, surprisingly, was intra-party conflict or deception. The fairy bastards are inherently untrustworthy, and that can work to a chronicle's benefit. Most of my game's PCs (and players) had huge secrets from each other, and those that didn't were still paranoid. Paranoia is important to CtL, as others have said.

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              • #37
                Adding to this with my own ancedote: Make sure everyone's on the same page as to what the terminology is. I've been starting up a Skype game of Changeling with a few friends, and unfortunately one of the guys, who was just learning the game, thought Fetches were familiars, causing my co-GM and I to be blindsided about the fact that he placed a bear as his character's Fetch. Fortunately he was able to fix this blunder quickly, but still.

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                • #38
                  Reviving this topic with a few examples from my most recent Changeling game. There were fun things done, but this dragged me out of the experience.

                  If your players have established themselves as having a pretty important job for the freehold, such as hosting a halfway house for newly escaped Changelings, do not establish a very important plot where the players are working in place of one of the court monarchs. If you do, make sure that it does not need to be executed within a relatively tight schedule at the very beginning of the game. Let them invest time to their job, get a norm going, build up some ancillary skills, and then throw in things that they need to be concerned with on a tight schedule. Any invested in the job, if not built for it, will find themselves disconcerted when they're put out of their element, and considering everyone is only at Wyrd 1 at that point it will force them to focus their XP solely on preparing for said plot and not on actually developing their characters.

                  Related, if you see/hear a player badgering another how to spend their own experiences, stop it. Some guidance is good, but outright telling someone how to spend it and making them question their own character is very much not okay. A person's character is their own creation. Suggestions are fine, but if you're going to take the reigns of their development then you are going way too far.

                  If you have everyone within a bar for a very important court social event, with mortals and most of the Freehold "encouraged" to be there, do not have the owner of said bar use their powers to make one of the motley drugged/drunk and then push (not free) Goblin Wine onto said motley mate to make him even more drunk. Especially do not do this if the only interaction up until that point has been an intention to talk to learn a particular skill that Court excels in. It makes no sense in-universe, makes the character come off as malicious and the entire experience comes off as a roofie analogue. This goes in particular for Changelings, given the Gentry are going to be engaging in this kind of behavior a lot.

                  Do not dismiss the above as a player character's "weakness". The act performed there is a breach of Changeling etiquette, and is an insult to both the owner of the bar and the character, if not the court.

                  If one player character has been unable to make any real contributions for the motley in the game, outside of humor from getting drunk, then do not deliberately hamper important contributions they make in favor of another character who has had a lot more prominence and or skill in the area. In particular, don't let that favored character's very presence hamper other players without noting and asking if the other players are okay with that. It will make that player character feel even less able and will net you, and said favored player, absolutely zero points with them.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Taidragon View Post
                    Reviving this topic with a few examples from my most recent Changeling game. There were fun things done, but this dragged me out of the experience.

                    If your players have established themselves as having a pretty important job for the freehold, such as hosting a halfway house for newly escaped Changelings, do not establish a very important plot where the players are working in place of one of the court monarchs. If you do, make sure that it does not need to be executed within a relatively tight schedule at the very beginning of the game. Let them invest time to their job, get a norm going, build up some ancillary skills, and then throw in things that they need to be concerned with on a tight schedule. Any invested in the job, if not built for it, will find themselves disconcerted when they're put out of their element, and considering everyone is only at Wyrd 1 at that point it will force them to focus their XP solely on preparing for said plot and not on actually developing their characters.

                    Related, if you see/hear a player badgering another how to spend their own experiences, stop it. Some guidance is good, but outright telling someone how to spend it and making them question their own character is very much not okay. A person's character is their own creation. Suggestions are fine, but if you're going to take the reigns of their development then you are going way too far.

                    If you have everyone within a bar for a very important court social event, with mortals and most of the Freehold "encouraged" to be there, do not have the owner of said bar use their powers to make one of the motley drugged/drunk and then push (not free) Goblin Wine onto said motley mate to make him even more drunk. Especially do not do this if the only interaction up until that point has been an intention to talk to learn a particular skill that Court excels in. It makes no sense in-universe, makes the character come off as malicious and the entire experience comes off as a roofie analogue. This goes in particular for Changelings, given the Gentry are going to be engaging in this kind of behavior a lot.

                    Do not dismiss the above as a player character's "weakness". The act performed there is a breach of Changeling etiquette, and is an insult to both the owner of the bar and the character, if not the court.

                    If one player character has been unable to make any real contributions for the motley in the game, outside of humor from getting drunk, then do not deliberately hamper important contributions they make in favor of another character who has had a lot more prominence and or skill in the area. In particular, don't let that favored character's very presence hamper other players without noting and asking if the other players are okay with that. It will make that player character feel even less able and will net you, and said favored player, absolutely zero points with them.

                    Those were... very specific scenarios.

                    A tip from my own game:
                    If you want paranoia in your freehold to be a thing in your game, make sure to first reel your players in emotionally to that freehold. Make them like the place and feel home, safe and loyal to the freehold. I had a plot for a take-over by one of the... morally darker grey NPCs, but my players weren't completely invested in the freehold yet, so when things got worse... they left!

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Spinnerling View Post
                      Those were... very specific scenarios.
                      Yes, those were specific scenarios. That game upset me pretty badly, in part from one character whose player’s actions grated on me (such as telling me I shouldn’t take particular contracts and starting with Mantle 5) and the ST, who had us doing a quest in the interests of the Winter Queen for a Mage with a club on the moon that would have us doing a massive auction heist that would end in us stealing literal contracts being held in a bastion, all in less than a week in-game...when we’d settled and started the game running a half-way house for escaped Changelings. We spent more game time in the Hedge than we did with our charges. And a character in literal sad clown make-up out-socialed my Fairest Playmate in talking a priest into letting the motley explore a church, when said Sad Clown’s very presence doubled the penalty on the contested roll my character was making. It has been months since I left that game and I’m still bitter about it.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Spinnerling View Post
                        Those were... very specific scenarios.

                        A tip from my own game:
                        If you want paranoia in your freehold to be a thing in your game, make sure to first reel your players in emotionally to that freehold. Make them like the place and feel home, safe and loyal to the freehold. I had a plot for a take-over by one of the... morally darker grey NPCs, but my players weren't completely invested in the freehold yet, so when things got worse... they left!
                        This is pretty great thank you!

                        I think this is the pitfall that I ran into when running my first CtL game. I didn't do enough to ingratiate the player's into the freehold before putting in the darker and more untrustworthy elements into the game. So when the Freehold was about to tear itself apart from within and without, the scenario didn't garner the emotional impact I was hopingfor simply because the Char's didn't truly care about the freehold itself.



                        Frequent Story Teller for the Circle of Five gaming group.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                          A thing which tangentially relates to Loki's GM's cannibalism gaffe and more directly relates to one of those common reading attitudes about the game:

                          2e's done a good job at making it more up-front, and Arc's old spiel about Never Going Back as the corollary to Finding Your Way Home is pretty direct about it, but it bears emphasis that the Durance and its related traumas do not render the Lost immune to casual malice.

                          Even beyond the explicit "bad guy" narrative archetypes that the Wyrd can and does orchestrate, most changelings who've been around for a while are not going to be especially good people without deliberate effort. This is a group of people with multiple innate means of getting out of trouble and a natural bias toward a smaller-scale version of the same behavior as the beings that made them into magical-narrative actors that can talk to the whole world. The vast majority have learned better than to do anything for free, and no small number of them have deeply-ingrained agendas amplified by the loss of their emotional regulators.

                          Put plainly, don't run changeling NPCs as simply humans who happen to be able to call on ancient pixie pacts, because that misses out on the ways that the Lost are fae.
                          So Vriska serket is a Changeling

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Konradleijon View Post

                            So Vriska serket is a Changeling
                            Through certain lenses, yes.


                            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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                            • #44
                              Your a Homestuck! , and she seems to be like a perfect Changling always thinking in terms of a story during some really bad stuff like pushing Tavros off a cliff Etrc
                              Last edited by Konradleijon; Yesterday, 06:33 PM.

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