Changeling: The Dreaming
Changeling: The Dreaming was part of White Wolf Game Studio's Classic World of Darkness role playing game line. Player characters are changelings, fae souls reborn into human bodies, a practice begun by the fae to protect themselves as magic vanished from the world. The game explores the balance between imagination and practicality, and the struggle of art and beauty against the dark, mysterious "Gothic-Punk" World of Darkness. Changeling draws primarily from Gaelic mythology, particularly stories of the sidhe and Tuatha Dé Danann, but also uses mythology and folklore from various other cultures including Native American nations, Greece, India and Yoruba mythology of Africa.
Traditionally, a changeling is a fairy child substituted for a human baby, but Changeling: The Dreaming uses a very different interpretation. In the game, a changeling is a fae soul born into a human body. Early in the human's life, usually before puberty, she undergoes the Chrysalis, a magical awakening of the fae soul which previously lay dormant. Once through the Chrysalis, the Changeling exists simultaneously in both the real world and in the Chimeral Reality of the fae, nicknamed "The Dreaming," where creative ideas and imagination have substance. (The metaphysical aspects of this are the complex concepts present in the game.) The human soul becomes joined with the fae soul.
Published in 1995, Changeling's First Edition was designed as a game of Modern Fantasy. As a result, there was a great emphasis on fantastic themes, lending the game a bright and joyous tone rarely seen in either World of Darkness. The contrast between the grittiness of the world of mortals, and the beautiful realm of the Fae served as one of the major conflicts within the game.
In 1997, the Second Edition of Changeling: The Dreaming brought the game more in line with other World of Darkness games, by making the difficulty of maintaining wonder and innocence in the World of Darkness the game's core concept, and by making the rules for Arts clearer and less open to interpretation. Unlike new editions of other games, an attempt was made to ensure that First Edition supplements outside the core rulebook would still be compatible with this new edition.
List of Books
The Seeming is a Changeling's human form. Depending on the age of the Seeming, their fae self changes along with it. As Changelings age and pass through the various seemings they lose some of their glamour, which empowers them to perform changeling magic. They also gain Banality, a force created by mortal disbelief.
- Childlings are the youngest group between the ages of three and thirteen.
- Wilders are between the ages of thirteen and twenty five.
- Grumps are the oldest and wisest of Changelings, but are in the most danger of becoming undone.
Courts and Houses
All Changelings live under the duality of their soul reaching for both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, though some truly ravaged individuals slip out of any semblance of sanity and join the Shadow Court, bent on retuning winter to the world.
The Seelie have a reputation as the guardians of fae traditions. They are the peacekeepers, protectors of the weak, and the ideals of chivalry. Most Seelie seek the reunion between the mortal world and the Dreaming, and would like to be back to the time before the realms became divided. Traditionally, they ruled during spring and summer, but are now the dominant Court year-round. They comprise the Beaumayn, Dougal, Eiluned, Fiona, Gwydion, and Liam Houses.
Where the Seelie dedicate themselves to preserving the traditions of the fae, the Unseelie style themselves as mockers of those traditions. They stand for the principles of constant change and impulsive action. They have a reputation for fostering war and madness, despising those weaker than themselves, and valuing freedom and wildness over any chivalric code. Traditionally, they ruled during fall and winter, but have little political power except on the day of Samhain. They comprise the Aesin, Ailil, Balor, Daireann, Leanhaun, and Varich Houses.
A dark reflection of the Unseelie Court, populated by a distinct group of Kiths known as Thallain. Whereas members of the other two Courts occasionally take on the miens of the opposite Court, the Thallain are permanently locked between two Unseelie natures. They take change to a terrifying extreme, and wish to bring about the Ever Winter. There are no Houses of the Shadow Court, at least not any unique Houses.
The noble Sidhe organized themselves long ago into thirteen political factions known as Houses. Of these Houses, six are among the Seelie Court, and six are among the Unseelie; the thirteenth, the Scathach, are in exile on Earth. All Sidhe are a member of one of these Houses, though commoner Kiths who have gained title may also join one.
Each Changeling is a member of a "kith". Somewhat like different species of fairy, a Changeling's kith indicates the kind of dreams which birthed her soul in the Dreaming. The kiths are based on fairy archetypes from various sources, and while the most common kiths are drawn largely from Irish mythology, many others also exist.
- Ghille dhu
- River hags
Unlike the supernatural powers of other denizens of the World of Darkness, a Changeling's cantrips come from the combination of two components: the Art, and the Realm.
- Arts determine what effect a cantrip will have, and at what strength.
- Realms determine who or what will be targeted by the cantrip, and how many can be affected.
- Bunks are not required, but can help to cast a cantrip; they are odd, often attention-getting rituals.
The fae are a very diverse group, due largely to just how much variance there is in tradition and imagination in cultures around the world. These groups are similar to Changelings, but bear many crucial differences:
There are also nightmarish groups bent on destroying the Dreaming, perpetuating Banality, or otherwise acting as antagonists within the setting:
Every participant in a Changeling: The Dreaming game must create a character to play. Your character is your alter ego whom you control and through whom you vicariously experience the World of Darkness.
- Merits and Flaws
- Tools & Treasures
This section covers aspects of the game outside your character, including some of the people your character can meet. NPCs are Non-Player Characters, characters played and controlled by the Storyteller, which can include other Changelings, mortals, antagonists (enemies), etc. The section also covers the political landscape of the Changeling: The Dreaming and the World of Darkness, including the Court to which your character belongs and some of the other Factions which may influence, empower or endanger your character.
- Changeling Phenomena
- The Changeling Way
- Dream Realms
- The Escheat