Changeling: The Lost

Changeling: The Lost is the most recent game released by White Wolf. It is Changeling for the NWoD, and is actually quite different from the original Changeling: The Dreaming.

In Changeling: The Lost, you play the part of mortals who were taken to Arcadia to serve the True Fae but who have escaped, returned to the mortal world, to find that the world has moved on without them. The game seems to be about finding your identity in a world you no longer quite fit into, finding a way to return home, while avoiding the notice of the forces of Faerie which would like nothing better than to find you and capture you again – or worse.

Like Requiem and Forsaken, character creation in Changeling begins with creating a mortal and then adding the Changeling template. This comes with some advantages, of course. Wyrd is essentially the power of your Fae magic – similar, actually, to Blood Potency in Requiem, because Wyrd determines how much Glamour (magical energy) you can hold and how quickly you can spend it. Clarity is the ‘moral’ attribute for a Changeling – it is the ability to tell dream from reality, essentially. High Clarity sharpens perceptions and allows kenning – discerning what is magical around you clearly. Low Clarity means you are essentially a lunatic.

Instead of Arts, Changeling magic is expressed through Contracts. Each Changeling has one special affinity Contract based on her Seeming (Beast, Darkling, Elemental, Fairest, Ogre, Wizened) as well as her Court (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter). Contracts have Catches – things that must be done in order to use them that are special limitations – having thread from someone’s bedclothes to affect their dreams, for example.

All Changelings also have affinity for the Contracts of Dream, Hearth (traditional blessings and curses), Mirror (changing appearance), and Smoke (stealth). When using your Contracts, you roll Attribute + Wyrd in dice, and even may high-level Contracts are pretty subtle.

New Merits include: Court Goodwill, Harvest (allows you to gather Glamour), Hallow (special housing, including the sub-Merit Hallow Amenities), Mantle (connection to a particular Court), New Identity and Token (magical objects).

If you’re looking for similarities with Changeling: The Dreaming, there are many to be found. Beasts are somewhat like Pooka or Beasties, animalistic fae with nature-attuned powers. Darklings are similar to Sluagh, nocturnal lurkers. Fairest are similar to the Sidhe, beautiful manipulators. Ogres hearken back to…well, Ogres, as well as Trolls. The Wizened are artificers somewhat like Nockers.

The similarities are not very direct, however – Lost is very much a new game. The book, of course, is absurdly beautiful and well written. On first reading it seems easy to use, though like any WoD book the rules are spread out and interspersed with flavor text and examples. The game is dense with setting and tone, and it needs to be. It is quite evocative – reading it, I feel like I get a sense of what the designers and writers were going for in the game.

There’s a great deal I won’t get into here – Fetches and Hobgoblins and Goblin Markets, Entitlements. There is also the Freehold in the second Appendix, which is in this case Miami, presumably the iconic city for the Changeling setting – an interesting choice. Really, I need more time to read the book again, and ideally, I need to run a Changeling game, or play in one, to really get a handle on how everything works together. Just reading the book, however, gives the strong impression that this is an excellent game. It definitely, in my opinion, lives up to what I expected from another edition of Changeling.

Without even playing it yet, I give it 4 out of 5 stars, and that’s partly because I actually prefer the dice mechanic of the Old World of Darkness. This game is dense with story, and is probably the best of the NWoD thus far.

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