5E Eberron Campaign

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I’m currently starting up a 5th Edition Eberron campaign. I have a lot of the books from the original version of Eberron in 3.5, and therefore more fluff than I could ever use, but it will take some adaptation to run this game. Unearthed Arcana has released some updates for basic Eberron material, which I am taking as my starting-point.

House Rules

First, some house rules. I can’t seem to run any RPG without at least a few house rules, and D&D is no exception.

Players roll all the dice. I just like this way of running a game, especially a game like D&D. I feel like the game slows to a crawl whenever the DM needs to roll dice for all the monsters and NPCs. Basically, where NPCs have bonuses I make those DCs, and where PCs have DCs (like Armor Class) I make those bonuses. I also use set damage, as in the MM. (Bonus: based on our first session, this rule works amazingly well, and is now how I DM)

Let it ride. I use this rule in all of my games. I get it from Burning Wheel. Basically, once you roll for something, the stakes remain. One stealth roll to sneak all the way in the castle. One roll to pick the lock. You can’t make another attempt until the conditions change.

Action points. One element of Eberron is Action Points. To emulate those in 5E, I just made the simple change that players can store, and swap, points of inspiration. Over time they can build up, and have a similar function to Action Points.

I’m also going to be working on house rules for House Tarkanan aberrant dragonmarks and the effects of the Mark of Vol, which I will share when I have them.

Principles

Everyone’s hack of D&D 5E to run Eberron will be a bit different. Here is what I have in mind for my own: in the Eberron setting material as written, as usual for 3.X D&D, the NPCs often have PC character classes, sometimes mixed with NPC classes. 5E’s approach from the Monster Manual and onward seems to be much more about exception-based design, including for humanoids who have abilities very similar to player-character classes.

One thing from Eberron that I’ll retain is that there are not many high-level NPCs in the world. So you get a setting where tons of characters have first-level spells of various kinds, and spells are relatively common up to maybe 3rd level, but if you need someone resurrected you’ll have to go on a question to find some sort of religious figure who can help you out. There also end up being plenty of threats that only the PCs can really deal with in the world, as CR 20 monsters abound.

Obsidian Portal

I love using Obsidian Portal for campaign management. It’s a good way to have a lot of my worldbuilding notes right in front of me, to track player-characters and NPCs, and to have something cool for players to dig through looking for Easter eggs that will help them in-game. This is my Obsidian portal page for Shadows of the Last War.

They Didn’t Meet In A Bar

To introduce the characters to one another, I threw them into a pretty contrived fight scene where some of their backgrounds came out all at once. After that, though, I had to have a reason for them to be working together. I hate the stage in a game where the PCs are pretending not to want to work together, so I decided to just force them together early on, and the players were OK with that. Sharn gave me an option I hadn’t used before – because of the high rent in Deathsgate where they all wanted to live, they are roommates. So now it’s a sort of dysfunctional episode of Friends, and the players all introduced their characters to each other by answering the question, “What kind of roommate are you?” It went great, and I recommend it as something to have in the goodie-bag for ways to get the party together early in a game, especially an urban one.

Elves and Batman: Stories With No End Aggrieve Us

In the legendarium (I just like that word) of Middle-Earth, the story of the elves ends in grief and loss. The elves are slowly overcome by grief by their long years in the world, and at last the world loses them as they depart into the Undying Lands. Their stories have no endings – they just go on and on. In the same way that Bilbo found so exhausting when he still had the Ring, “…like butter scraped over too much bread.” It’s clear from the text, to me at least, that their longevity is what brings their grief – part of why human mortality is called a gift. Our stories, as humans, have endings built in from the start.

I was thinking about superhero reboots, just now. How even in the comics, periodically superheroes and supervillains have to be rebooted, and in movies every decade or so. Or more often if you’re Spider-Man. Even when you have four Batman movies in a row without a new origin story, they are four very different Batman movies. But it seems that a trilogy is about as far as they tend to get before they start again.

How many times have we seen Bruce Wayne’s parents shot, or seen Uncle Ben die? How many times has Superman crash-landed on Earth? Right now I’m watching the new Punisher series on Netflix, and I’ve watched two other Punisher movies before now. Ten or fifteen years from now, will we have a Wonder Woman or Black Panther reboot? Will that be how we know that POC and female supers are here to stay as lead characters?

The problem with superheroes is that they are like elves – their stories have no end unless they die, and since death means the end of a storyline and loss of sales, superheroes never die. Neither do supervillains. Well, generally speaking of course. But even looking through a list of supers who have died, particular individuals have been the ones who died. The superheroes go on. They never die, and eventually it comes to grief. We just get tired of the story, and then comes the reboot.

Thing is, stories need endings. Eventually they attenuate, then burn out; wear out their welcome and their meaning. Eventually, without an end, stories don’t mean anything.

The other things is, the end of stories is always contrived. Endings are something we make up, so that we can make sense. Sam Gamgee hits on this truth, when he realizes that he is part of the same story that Beren and Luthien were in, that the light of the Silmaril is the same light caught in the Vial of Galadriel that he and Frodo carried. “Don’t the great tales ever end?”

Well, Sam, yes and no. We end them, in order to make meaning. Or, when we can’t end them, as with so may superheroes, they lose the meaning they had. I think so, anyway. So we go to see reboots, because if the story can’t end, at least it can begin again.

But that’s not as good. It’s never as good.

RPG Mechanic Round-Up #4

Big Fish Points

Big Fish is a cool movie. In part, the movie is driven by the conflict between story on the one hand and fact on the other. One refrain that comes up in the various yarns is when the storyteller says, “This isn’t how I die.” The story then takes some turn for the better, and we know that it doesn’t end here even if things look dire.

The idea here is for the player to have “This isn’t how I die” points which she can spend when, according to the rules-as-written, they would normally die. This is to protect a character from a meaningless death, or a death that doesn’t make a good story.

Zombie Dinner Bell

In a zombie game, or any game where there is a potential for drawing the attention of swarming foes, have a dinner bell mechanic. Every time the characters do something noisy, or something that would draw attention, the dinner bell rating increases. As it increases, the number of monsters attracted should increase, maybe geometrically. So in the zombie example, first you attract 1 zombie, and then 4, and then 9, or maybe even 1 and then 10 and then 100 for a quicker escalation. I think that the effect could be comparable to that of the Jenga tower in Dread.

Always Minimal Success

Few things are less fun, in a RPG, than rolling a failure that just means you have no impact on the story. You take your turn to act as the player, and nothing happens because of a dice roll.

This idea is for a system that attaches a minimal effect to every action. To take D&D as an example, we could say that every melee or missile attack deals a minimal amount of damage, maybe equal to the character level, or equal to their ability score bonus. Even if you miss, you have some effect, chipping away at your foes.

For skills and other abilities, I would add a minimal effect that can be accomplished without any dice roll at all. It is possible to make something interesting of a failed roll, but there should be times when a character just gets to be awesome without having to take a risk. To take D&D as an example again, if a character is proficient with a skill, there should be a basic action they can always take. If they are proficient with thieves’ tools, then they can open a normal lock if they aren’t under time pressure. If they are proficient with Athletics, they can swim across a river or climb a rope without rolling.

 

When Anger Drives Creativity

With thanks to Jason Godesky, who helped me articulate this realization better than I have in the past.

Get Angry, Make Things

I was reflecting recently on how many of the creative projects I’ve actually finished were started because I was angry. It started early – I created a literary magazine with my best fried in high school because we were angry with our English teachers. It was called The Erudite Review.

The next angry things I created, with two more of my best friends in Seminary, was Shared Governance, the first student publication of San Francisco Theological Seminary. We create it because we were angry – the Seminary at the time was being reviewed for accreditation, something that happens regularly I suppose. At the same time, a lot of shenanigans were taking place, including some things like ignoring black mold that put a student in the hospital, and ten refusing to do anything more than paint over the mold in her student housing. We got attention when we put a copy of Shared Governance in every board member’s mailbox in the administration building – we even got a sit-down with the President of SFTS himself. I don’t know that we did significant good, but we were angry, and we created a thing.

From 2007 to 2012, I was at work on Parsec, the RPG I was designing, writing and editing for Jolly Roger Games. I was given an established setting and a number of guidelines as to what the owner of JRG wanted in the RPG and set to work. Obviously, it was a long process from being hired after a conversation at Origins to our successful Kickstarter in 2012. But part of this project was also driven by anger, or at least frustration, with Shadowrun. Because of that, I made sure Parsec lacked a huge equipment catalog – in particular a huge gun list – and I made sure that the cool plans you make matter.

One of the worst things about Shadowrun, in every incarnation, is when the players spend an hour or more making a complex plan for the job they are undertaking, and then the job doesn’t matter because the GM has planned something else, or someone fails their key roll, etc. As a result, Parsec equipment, including weapons and armor, is abstracted, and your cool plan gives you bonus dice when you go to execute it, so that your cool plan matters.

Another book I’ve written, with the same friends who helped on Shared Governance, was Never Pray Again. This time, the anger was directed against “Thoughts and prayers” responses to tragedy, or being told to pray my depression away, or the way that so much prayer seems to lead to so little change. So we wrote a book about all of the amazing things we could do instead of praying.

Anger Driving Art History

In thinking about it with Jason on Twitter, it occurred to me more clearly how one could see art history as being anger-driven. The Renaissance in frustration against the Roman Catholic strictures on medieval art. Romantics frustrated with the rationalism of the Enlightenment. Realism and Modernism arose as opposed to Romanticism. Postmodernism opposed to Modernism. And so on.

It’s interesting – I can imagine so much great historical artwork being the result of someone muttering “Dammit” under their breath and then going to work.

Anger Driving Modern Game Design

It’s easy to see game design in a similar way. The Forge was basically founded on anger and frustration with White Wolf. This was often explicit in what Forge designers said about themselves and their process. Ron Edwards and Vince Baker famously described Vampire the Masquerade as causing brain damage in players. I can only guess how much narrativism came out of frustration with a ‘Storyteller system’ that certain gamers found didn’t help them tell stories.

That being said, pretty much everything referred to as “indie” in tabletop role-playing games, including influential and popular games like Apocalypse World and its derivatives, including Dungeon World, Monsterhearts and Masks. Pretty much a who’s-who of story games from the last 15 years originated with the Forge and the discussions that took place there. And a lot of the discussions were driven by frustration with the way non-Forge games were designed.

The Healthy Function of Anger

 

They don’t talk about this in The Artist’s Way, but a lot of creativity is born from anger. I don’t see this connection discussed very often, but having thought it through a bit, I can now see it everywhere. So many great creators saying to themselves “Screw this, I’m-a make a thing!”

In the theory of emotions that I’ve absorbed, positive and negative emotions all have healthy functions. The healthy function of anger, as I understand it, is to give us the energy to protect ourselves and to overcome obstacles. And it’s clear how anger could be helpful in creative endeavors, which always involve overcoming obstacle after obstacle.

So, I guess what I’m getting at here is that as creators, creative people, and maybe people in general, we could focus on our anger. Let our anger tell us what the next project is. Rely on our anger, even, to carry us through.

I’m looking at my own anger to see what might be next for me.

RPG Mechanic Round-Up #3

Image result for game design

Still drawing from that idea document that I maintain, these are further game mechanic ideas that I like. Feel free to take these, use them, adapt them or hack them for your own games.

Advantage and Disadvantage with Fate Dice

As written, Fate Core allows you to use Aspects to add a +2 bonus to rolls after the fact, or to re-roll. I thought of another way to represent an advantage in a Fate roll, this time before the fact. In some of my Fate-based designs, I have a player set aside one of their four dice, and set it to a “+” or “-” ahead of time. This not only grants a bonus that is approximately equivalent to the +2 from an Aspect, it also reduces the amount of swing that is possible in the roll. With only three dice, the worst that can happen with the advantage is that three dice come up “-“, or a total of just -2. I also like how visible the bonus (or penalty) is on the table, and I think of it as similar to D&D 5th Edition’s advantage/disadvantage mechanic.

Using the Force or Magic Skill

One of the things I like about skill systems in RPGs is when you have to make a limited number of selections from a list, all of which are desirable options. (No dump stats or skills in our designs, please) One of the things I’d like to see more explicitly is treating magic, or whatever your equivalent is, as a skill, meaning that you have to commit time and practice to magic, and that time and practice does not go elsewhere. You have the super-skill, so you lack the other skills a mundane person would have.

Specifically, I have in mind Jedi in the Star Wars universe, who tend to be better than everyone at everything, and to also have magic powers. Rey is an example of this, but so is Luke, and Anakin or Obi-wan before him. They are fantastic at every action-hero thing they try, and also have the Force on top of that. I much prefer Force-users, or magic-users, as specialists who have an arcane, occult, rare specialty, and I think that games should reflect this by making the choice to have magic powers a choice with a cost.

Elvish Skills

I have an idea for a game from the point of view of elves, or of other beings who have very long lives compared to humans. In this game, there will only be three levels of skill to reflect the kind of mastery an elf might achieve (assuming D&D elvish lifespans): one year of skill, ten years of skill, and a hundred years of skill. I like there being a level of mastery that is simply unattainable for shorter-lived beings, and also reflecting the idea of some diminishing return in gaining skills. The differences in skill become very small at the highest level in any field, it seems. But I like the idea of a setting where these very long lives matter, and where the most highly skilled elves could simply clown the most highly skilled humans or others. It’s a challenge to build a game around this fundamental unbalance, but is fun to think about.

Positive Masculinity Moment: No Means No in Kenya

This cool video came up in my Twitter feed, and I thought, hey, that’s positive masculinity right there:

The group is what the video shows – here’s a link to the full website for No Means No in Kenya. If you have time, check out the other things that Ujamaa does.

What I like about this program is that it is addressing both boys and girls, in somewhat different ways, but with the same basic idea: fight for yourself and fight for other people. I like the excitement on the little boys’ faces when they think of themselves as potentially heroic.

I think that fighting is probably part of masculinity, but it’s like with the Mouse Guard: it’s not what you fight, but what (or whom) you fight for. I know that was a leap from No Means No in Kenya, but I like Mouse Guard.

Fate Core Hack: Changeling the Lost Dream

Image result for rankin bass goblins

(Maybe call the hack Changeling the Lost Dream?) These are my notes and thoughts on a kind of complicated hack that I used to run a game session at Save Against Fear. The scenario was called The Long Night, something I’ve run before as a Changeling: the Lost scenario. It’s a scenario I like, starting off with an obvious mystery, then introducing some nightmares, and then finally a sinister goblin plot.

I developed the most recent idea for The Long Night before Changeling 20th Anniversary Edition came out (but after I backed it on Kickstarter), but historically there have always been parts of Changeling the Dreaming and Changeling the Lost that I liked, and others that I didn’t. One example: I like the way Dreaming’s Arts work better for the most part than Lost’s Contracts, but I prefer the way Lost handles kiths to the way that Dreaming does. Dreaming is way too Europe-specific for me, and the non-European kithain suffer from White Wolf’s tendency toward stereotyping (ahem Gypsies ahem). I much prefer Lost’s approach of generalizing out one step for a much more flexible system that can be used to represent fae-type creatures from any culture where they appear.

I also really like Fate Core, especially for one-shot play in a situation like a convention where everyone will want to incorporate their zany one-off ideas, and where I don’t want to spend a ton of time explaining the system. So what I did is hack together Dreaming’s Arts with Lost’s kith, using Fate Core rules.

The result was pretty awesome. My players had a great time, ending with a mighty triumph over the Goblin King that used all of their biggest abilities with flash at just the right moment. They worked together beautifully, something that Fate Core really encourages. In fact, I learned some tactics from these players, as two of them were familiar with Fate Core already, and were very adept at creating advantages and handing them off to each other for big effects. One of the players wanted me to send her my hack so that she could use it in her own game.

Unfortunately, I only wrote up the rules I needed for the scenario. But I think that in principle someone could easily read through what I’ve done and do the work themselves to fill it out for their own game.

The Hack

Aspects

For each pre-generated character, I added three Aspects: each character’s high concept, which was basically their kith and seeming; their trouble aspect, which was some way that their kith and seeming could cause trouble for them in everyday life; and an aspect drawn from their Durance and how they survived as a roleplaying hint and also a statement of what they are good at. I then left the last two slots blank and encouraged the players to fill in aspects however they would like.

Custom Skill List

This list is similar to the one that I use for my weekly Fate Core Vampire game. Basically, I reorganize the Fate Core skills as they appear in the core book and the SRD, and replace some of them with White-Wolf names (Charisma, Manipulation). I also add Streetwise and Survival, since in my view those are significant aspects of White Wolf games – Streetwise in particular.

Athletics, Charisma (replaces Rapport), Contacts, Drive, Expression (partially replaces Craft), Fight, Investigate, Kenning (replaces Empathy), Knowledge (academics, science, medicine), Lore (enigmas, supernaturals), Manipulate (replaces Provoke and Deceive), Physique, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Streetwise, Tech (partially replaces Craft), Will

Kith and Seeming Stunts

For each character, I came up with one Stunt for their Kith and one for their Seeming, adapted from Changeling the Lost. Not all of these will adhere strictly to Stunt rules as written, but they’re in the right range I think.

Darkling – Ephemeral: Any Darkling can spend one Fate point to add +2 to a Stealth roll to move in darkness.

Mirrorskin – The Mercurial Visage: A Mirrorskin can alter her features at will to help her mimic another person, granting a +2 to Manipulation rolls made to do so.

Elemental – The Stuff of the World: Elementals can spend a Fate point once per session to clear all physical stress boxes.

Airtouched – Velocity of the Zephyr: An Airtouched gains a +2 to any Athletics roll related solely to movement speed. 

Fairest – Fairest of Them All: Any Fairest can spend a Fate point to add +2 to a Charisma roll where she can use her appearance to best effect.

Muse – The Tyranny of Ideas: A Muse can spend a Fate point to boost another character’s roll if she has a moment to inspire them.

Ogre – Brute Force: An Ogre can spend a Fate point to add +2 to a Fight roll or a Physique roll related directly to brute strength.

Stonebones – Obdurate Skin: A Stonebones Ogre can spend a Fate point to give herself an armor rating of 2 for a scene.

Wizened – Nimble: A Wizened can spend a Fate point to add +2 to Athletics for a roll relating to nimbleness, including dodging in coming attacks.

Chirurgeon – Analeptic Charm: The Chirurgeon gains +2 to any Knowledge roll used to treat an injury.

Arts as Extras

As I did with my Fate Core hack of Vampire the Masquerade, for this Changeling hack I reduced each Art from five levels to only three, and made each level of the Art cost 2 refresh. Rather than tie them to Skills, I simply give a character skill in each Art as she buys it up, so that at level 1 she has a +1, at level 2 she has a +3, and at level 3 she has a +5. For Arts that have a target or minimum roll, I simply used +0 for level 1, +2 for level 2, and +4 for level 3. This means that most of the time, Arts rolls will be successful, but there is still a risk, while masters of an Art will almost always succeed on activating the 1st level (unless something is tagged against them, really). Another option would be to tie each Art to a Skill (I thought there would be too much overlap here though) and keep the basic target numbers for each level.

Remember, for each of these, I only wrote out the levels that characters in my convention game would have, so this is far from complete. Also, as I said, I’m using Changeling the Lost kiths but Changeling the Dreaming Arts.

For Unleashing, which is new to the 20th Anniversary rules, I decided that the effects would be up to the GM, but that an Unleashing would add one particular Aspect to the scene, which the character could tag once for free.

Autumn

Unleashing Autumn causes rot, decay, and ruin. The problem is one of scale. Collateral effects can harm anything or anyone nearby, and well as anything or anyone connected through sympathetic magic. You choose which person, place or thing you want to bring to ruin initially, and it spreads from there. Aspect: Ruin and Decay.

  1. +0 Autumn Eyes: enables you to recognize weaknesses and stress points in people and objects.
  2. +2 The Poisoned Apple: the changeling can reify her negative emotions into poison and infuse food or drink with it. Anyone who ingests the food or drink is struck by an attack – mental if Chimerical and physical if Wyrd.
  3. +4 Shivers: gives the changeling the power to haunt a person, place or object. Precise effects are up to the GM, but often involve a new permanent Aspect.

Chicanery

Unleashing Chicanery imposes delusions, but the scope of those delusions often extends far beyond the original intent. You choose whom you want to delude, and another player (or the GM) determines the delusion. Or the delusion can be an Aspect defined by the GM. 

  1. +0 Trick of the Light: the changeling uses this cantrip to become temporarily invisible. She is invisible to other changelings and supernatural creatures unless she makes the effect Wyrd, in which case she is invisible to everyone.
  2. +2 Dream Logic: success puts a victim into a suggestible state for a single scene. They will view your requests and suggestions in the best possible light, and only try to resist if told to do something that is clearly dangerous.
  3. +4 Lost in the Mists: this cantrip imposes a lasting delusion in the target. This cannot be a complicated delusion – something that can be explained in a brief sentence.

Chronos

Unleashing Chronos is more dangerous even than unleashing most other Arts. Those affected can become unstuck in time, and the resulting weirdness can be more than the Mists can cover. You choose whom or what you want to speed up, slow down, or stop in time. Aspect: Unstuck in Time.

  1. +0 Backward Glance: enables the changeling to look into the past of a particular place. First, determine how far back you are attempting to look. If your roll doesn’t enable a look that far, it automatically fails. +1 One scene, +2 Up to a day, +3 Up to a week, +4 up to a month, +5 a year and a day.
  2. +2 Set in Stone:  through this cantrip, a changeling can remove the target from the normal flow of time. Not frozen in motion, but no longer aging. It is also possible to prevent wounds from healing over time, interfere with chemical reactions, and so on. +2 One day, +3 One week, +4 One month, +5 One year, +6 One decade.
  3. +4 Time Dilation: enables the changeling to move the target forward in time with all of the attendant aging and decay: +4 one year, +5 one decade, +6 one century.

Contract

Unleashing Contract might draw the oathbound to you, or even help you seek someone out who would be the right one to undertake a quest. It might also escalate a rivalry to a deadly oath of revenge. The cost is that you often find more than you bargained for. Aspect: Bound by Words.

  1. +0 Done Deal: the changeling can solemnize a formal contract, and the Dreaming will enforce it. The strength of this enforcement is based on your roll and subject to the GM.
  2. +2 Casual Contract: this cantrip can enforce a classic fae trick, turning a casual agreement into a binding contract.
  3. +4 Sanctified Words: this cantrip grants an ongoing boon as part of a contract. As long as it is upheld, the boon (often an Aspect) continues.

Dragon’s Ire

Unleashing Dragon’s Ire inspires greatness in battle, and also escalates the violence involved. Often, a scene will simply receive the Aspect: Dragon’s Ire, useful for violence and violent compels.

  1. +0 Burning Thews: grants a +2 to Physique where strength is concerned and +1 to melee damage for a scene. To use in front of mundanes, must be made Wyrd.  
  2. +2 Dragonscales: grants armor 2 against physical stress for a scene, in addition to the +2 to Physique and +1 melee damage.
  3. +4 Tripping the Ire: in addition to previous levels, the changeling receives a +2 to her Fight skill for the scene. So, +2 to Physique for strength, +1 to melee damage, 2 armor and +2 to Fight skill.

Legerdemain

Unleashing Legerdemain causes a torrent of telekinetic activity, much of which is not under the changeling’s direct control. Aspect: Telekinetic Activity

  1. +0 Ensnare: entangles the target in whatever is nearby and makes sense – literal vines, cables, even shag carpet. To escape, the target must make a Physique roll to escape the obstacle.
  2. +2 Mooch: this cantrip enables a changeling to steal a small object, replacing it with a short-lived simulation. Chimerical by default.
  3. +4 Gimmix: the changeling can either hurl a large object, like a washing machine, across the zone, or have longer-term and more precise control over a smaller object. A hurled object deals a base of 4 physical stress.

Metamorphosis

Unleashing Metamorphoses results in changes to shapes and size to living things all around the changeling. Aspect: Shifting Size and Shape.

  1. +0 Sparrows and Nightingales: enables the changeling to make changes in her or another’s appearance, ranging from things like hair color to apparent kith or ethnicity. The changes last for at last a scene, and up to a year and a day.
  2. +2 Worms and Giants: enables the target to grow or shrink in size. +2 half size or one and a half times larger; +3 one quarter normal size or twice normal size; +4 one eighth or three times; +5 one sixteenth or four times. This size change only lasts for a scene at most, and precise effects are up to the GM to adjudicate on the fly.
  3. +4 Chimeric Exultation: you transform the target into a creature of legend. Specifics have to be determined by the GM, but gryphons can fly and dragons can breathe fire and manticores can sting and so on. Lasts for one scene.

Primal

Unleashing Primal causes an elemental storm with unpredictable effects. Usually one or two new environmental aspects. Aspect: Unpredictable Elemental Storm.

  1. +0 Willow Whisper: cantrip enables the changeling to speak with any object or animal, as long as they speak in a whisper. One question per degree of success, and the target’s knowledge is of course limited to what it might plausible know if it was aware.
  2. +2 Eldritch Prime: the changeling is able to summon one element, like fire or water, into a scene directly. Often this will take the place of an Aspect or obstacle.
  3. +4 Dance of the Five Kings: the changeling can manipulate any element that is present in the scene, for the duration of the scene. Usually must be made Wyrd. This element can be used to create obstacles, deal damage, and add Aspects to different zones.

Soothsay

Unleashing Soothsay tends to reveal truths you’d rather remain hidden. Aspect example: Ugly Truth Revealed.

  1. +0 Omen: for each degree of success, the changeling can ask one question about the target of the cantrip. The answers come wrapped in imagery and symbolism, of course.
  2. +2 Seer’s Wisp: the changeling summons a chimerical wisp that leads her to whomever or whatever she names. The wisp often takes an interesting path, and can be a challenge to follow.
  3. +4 Tattletale: enables the changeling to scry distant places, seeing and hearing what is going on there chimerically and unobtrusively.

Sovereign

To unleash Sovereign is to call upon the authority of the Dreaming to strengthen your own. Such power cannot help but foster resentment in those it is used against, of course. Aspect example: Imposing Authority.

  1. +0 Protocol: this cantrip enables a changeling to enforce Fae etiquette for a scene. Everyon in the zone where the proceedings are taking place are bound by Fae etiquette, even if they are not fully aware of it. (Assume some version of feudal rules with Fae quirks) To break protocol requires a Will roll to overcome an obstacle.
  2. +2 Dictum: the changeling gives a single command that must be obeyed. Anything that would shock the conscience or threaten direct harm allows a Will roll to resist by overcoming the obstacle. Dictum can only be used on the same target once a season without spending a Fate point.
  3. +4 Geas: the geas must be physically possible, and it must not require self-harm or harm to loved ones. Otherwise, any task can be laid upon the target with the full weight of the Dreaming enforcing it. The changeling spends 1, 2 or 3 Fate points, or reduces her Refresh permanently by one.
    • 1 Fate point: a simple geas with a minor curse – do not speak until sundown or you will reveal your secrets.
    • 2 Fate points: retrieve the Goblin Goblet or all food and drink will taste fetid for a year and a day
    • 3 Fate points: leave your home and never return, or each step you take will feel like walking on iron knives
    • Permanent Refresh reduced by 1: never speak to your true love again, or you will be the instrument of his death

Spring

Unleashing Spring results in riotous growth in all nearby plants. Aspect: Riotous Growth.

  1. +0 Awaken: precise effects are up to the GM, but could include causing a plant to bloom, starting a stalled car, or even awakening someone from a coma. Can also be used, if made Wyrd, to clear either mental or physical stress.
  2. +2 Well of Life: the target is imbued with healing energy. Anyone who touches it is able to clear their stress or a minor consequence.
  3. +4 Renewal: the target is returned to life, or wholeness if an object, until the following sunrise.

Summer

Unleashing summer unleashes not only heat but also strength and desire. Aspect example: It’s Getting Hot.

  1. +0 Flicker-Flies: chimerical wisps of light congregate around the target, providing chimerical light equivalent to a torch for the scene. Those nearby also feel subtle stirrings of an emotion of the changeling’s choice.
  2. +2 Aphrodisia: this cantrip targets a living thing or an object, making it desirable to everyone nearby who has a +2 or lower Will. The effect lasts for one scene. Those affected will find the target of the cantrip desirable and fascinating, and there is always a chance that fights might break out…
  3. +4 The Beltane Blade: ignites the ambient Banality in a person or object into red-gold flames. If successful, the cantrip deals 4 physical stress and if the target was not already enchanted, the cantrip enchants them as well, making them vulnerable to chimerical effects and weapons.

Wayfare

Unleashing Wayfare causes everyone affected to move, travel, and even teleport unpredictably. They often end up where their fate directs, for good or ill. Aspect example: Unpredictable Travel.

  1. +0 Hopscotch: enables the changeling to make one enormous leap, or to cause an object to leap into the air. She can attempt to force another creature into the air, but that creature resists with Will. +1 a story up, or about 10 feet. +2 two stories. +3 five storeys. +4 up to 10 storeys. +5 as far as the eye can see.
  2. +2 Quicksilver: doubles one’s movement speed, enabling them to traverse two zones and still have time to act. In addition, the target can take one additional action (and more, if the cantrip succeeds with style).
  3. +4 Flicker Flash: enables the changeling, or the target of the cantrip, to teleport. It must be to a place that the changeling knows, or she must have something in her possession from that place. Failure can mean that she teleports, but to someplace she did not intend.

Winter

Unleashing Winter spreads cold, lethargy, and fear to freeze the heart. Aspect: Fearsome Cold.

  1. +0 Hardened Heart: the cold of winter grips the target’s heart, providing an armor rating of 2 against mental stress, but also makes the character appear cold and unfeeling. They may have difficulty making Charisma and Contacts rolls as a result, at the GM’s discretion.
  2. +2 Terror of the Long Night: this cantrip inflicts deep, primordial fear on the target which lasts for a scene. It initially counts as an attack inflicting mental stress which can be resisted with a Will roll. After this, even if the defense is successful, the target must make a Will roll to overcome an obstacle in order to act for the scene. This roll requires a round of mental effort, after which they can act freely.
  3. +4 Stasis: you freeze a person, animal or object in time. As long as it is not touched or moved it will remain in stasis, at minimum, until the next sunrise – or longer: +5 a week, +6 a month, etc.

An Idea That I Dropped

I thought about adding a third stress track, representing the effect of Banality, but decided to just have Banality be a source for physical and mental stress for Changelings, maybe as the result of failing an Art roll, or a way to take stress in order to barely succeed. It could still be thematically present, demanding Will rolls in order to avoid stress from Banality when opening a bank account or something.

There It Is (For Now)

Obviously, there is a ton of work still to be done with this hack, but here is what I have now. It’s a big head-start if you are interested in hacking Changeling for your own Fate Core game. As always, feel free to comment below with your own ideas.