Changeling: The Lost is the fifth supplementary role-playing game line set in the new World of Darkness. It is published by White Wolf, Inc and it uses the Storytelling System for rules. Changeling is the second limited game published by White Wolf after Promethean: The Created, but in April 2008 it was announced that because of the success of the line it would be an extended limited series not limited to 5 books. Since then, three hardcover books were released. A PDF-only sourcebook, Goblin Markets, rounded out the line in the Fall of 2009. There are no plans for future official releases, but all Changeling titles remain in print and material may be included in other World of Darkness supplements.
The game is primarily inspired by tales of changelings from European folklore, but includes elements of similar stories from around the world. While superficially similar to the original World of Darkness game Changeling: The Dreaming, Changeling: The Lost approaches the legends from a more traditional perspective of mortals kidnapped by Fae, and eschews the heavily-reviled past life angle that characterized its predecessor.
The prevailing mood for a Changeling game is bittersweet. While the game works to enmesh itself within the horror genre, it does so in a way that recognises the deeply moving beauty that often accompanies faerie tales. The game does this through contrast, demonstrating juxtapositioning of dreams and nightmare, of wonder and terror. While much of what the changelings were all about has been ripped away, this is placed in context of a hard won freedom and struggles worth fighting for.
The game is set in the World of Darkness, a fictional analogue to the real world, but is a darker depiction thereof. Not only is the world cast in a more violent, malevolent and horrific manner, but humanity unknowingly coexist with legendary monsters and the supernatural. The "Changelings" of the title are ordinary human beings who were kidnapped by the Fae and taken to serve a durance of slavery in Faerie (alternately known as Arcadia). The player characters represent changelings who have escaped their otherworldly captors and through the netherworld that separates Faerie from Earth, known as the Hedge. The game focuses on the experiences of these changelings, the self-titled Lost, as they re-discover the world of their birth, try to cope with the changes they have undergone, and seek to evade recapture.
Changelings refer to themselves as "the Lost": they were kidnapped by the immortal Fae, taken to an alien realm, and held prisoner. While trapped in Faerie (referred to as their "Durance"), they were forced to serve their otherworldly masters and endure servitude ranging from menial labour to torture. In being dragged through the Hedge to Faerie, some essential piece of their humanity was torn away by the thorns of the Hedge, and over the course of their Durance, they are forced to forge compacts with the realm that triggers a change in their physical and metaphysical nature to survive under the twisted laws underpinning Faerie.
Many escape only to find that in their place has been left a Fetch, faerie simulacrum forged from leaves, twigs, and other debris, and that their experience of the passage of time may be greatly different from the passage of time on Earth since their theft. While some will seek to kill and replace the Fetch in hopes of reclaiming their lives, many more discover that either the world or their selves have altered far too much to resume where they left off.
In turn, many of the escaped turn to others of their kind, establishing political havens and refuges amongst the enclaves of humanity. Partly to provide mutual protection against external and internal threats, partly to provide a support network of fellow survivors of Faerie that they can identify with, and partly to hold society and court in the absence of true integration with humanity. For even under the best possible circumstances, the Lost are no longer fully human, and having been exposed to the wonders and horrors of Faerie, they cannot subsume themselves within the bliss of ignorance.
While it is possible for a story to exist without the backdrop of a changeling society, the customary society model for most cities containing changelings is that of the freehold, a collection of changelings who are declared liberated from Faerie rule. Changeling society represents aspects of both human society and the nature of faerie accords. As changelings are creatures bound to an imperceptible flow of fate known as the Wyrd, they can forge with each other verbal pledges that are mystically binding. This is itself a reflection of Faerie, where the entire fabric of its reality functions by a process of conceptual contracts and interrelation. In this manner, changelings use the art of pledge crafting as the basis for building trust amongst themselves, and social decorum, so verbal pledges and codes of etiquette serve in stead of formal written laws as in human society.
While the freehold contains many of the trappings of feudal society, such as fealty, a court system, codes of etiquette, patronage and peerage, the functional model is unique to changelings. Rulership is a shared function, in that rulership is expected to cycle through a number of holders on a reasonably equal basis as accorded to the power of the various courts of a freehold. This division of power is held by the various courts, with each court representing one section of a group of natural phenomena. As well, each Court has a specific plan for resisting and turning away the True Fae.
The Seasonal Courts, which are said to be predominant to Europe and North America, include:
- The Emerald Court, affiliated with the emotion of Desire and the aspect of New Growth and Rejuvenation; revel in delight and pure joy to turn away the True Fae.
- The Crimson Court, affiliated with the emotion of Wrath and the aspects of Heat and the Sun; seek to destroy the True Fae who come to earth with military might.
- The Ashen Court, affiliated with the emotion of Fear and the aspects of the Harvest and Decay; use stolen Faerie Magic (Contracts, Tokens, Oneiromancy, and Pledges) against their creators.
- The Onyx Court, affiliated with the emotion of Sorrow and the aspect of Cold; attempt to go "underground" and avoid the attentions of the True Fae.
Other courts are introduced in later supplements, that are designed to represent the political dynamics in the Orient (Directional Courts) and Slavic regions (Sun and Moon Courts):
- The Armor Court, affiliated with Suffering/Detachment and the Black Tortoise; practice detachment and ascetic hermetism to appear more undesirable to the Fae.
- The Serpent Court, affiliated with Greed/Envy and the Azure Dragon; dive back into the human world and attempt to gain power among mortals.
- The Vermilion Court, affiliated with Passion/Ecstasy and the Vermilion Bird; find strength by connecting to mortal emotions on an intimate level.
- The White Tiger Court, affiliated with Honor/War and the White Tiger; use military might to turn back the True Fae, as well as attempting to eliminate faerie behavior as much as possible.
- The Court of the Day, affiliated with Shame and Righteousness; drawing power from virtuous acts the True Fae cannot comprehend.
- The Court of the Night, affiliated with Disgust and Wickedness; embracing their fae nature to become less human and thus appear undesirable.
- The Umbral Court, affiliated with Despair; accepting the fact the they are all doomed and must make the fullest of the time left.
- The Auroral Court, affiliated with Hope; anticipate change and see the good that comes from it even though everything seems lost.
Though not truly a variant, Changeling: The Dreaming is the Old World of Darkness version of the game.
Chapters that PlayEdit
The following chapters are know to play, previously played, or open to playing the game: