The Game: Changeling: The Dreaming, 2nd Edition
The Publisher: White Wolf, now Onyx Path Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: Lots. I ran the hell out of Dreaming back in the day. I was reading through the old books the other day and marveling at how much material there is, especially given that the line didn't actually get that many releases compared to say, Vampire.
Books Required: Just the one.
OK, by the way, before we get started, I have a character concept, but I'm putting in a trigger warning for child abuse. It's getting a little dark today. Sorry. Here's my character's theme song:
This song is really about a grown man and his partner, not a mother and child, but I'm reimagining it because that's what's in my head.
Changeling starts off like most other White Wolf properties do. Step One is Concept. I have one.
See, I work with kids. Sometimes that means I'm working kids suffering abuse. I don't normally see that front and center; really it means that over the years I've had to call CPS and then hear nothing, ever. I did wind up taking a more active role once, but that story doesn't have a happy ending. It doesn't have an ending; the boy's family starting "homeschooling" him when he was in sixth grade, and I didn't see him again. I drove by his house every day after work, and I always looked for some sign that he was OK or that anyone lived there. Nada.
Anyway, my concept is a childling who, up until recently, was raised by a single mom who beat on him. She worked long hours, and he could be stubborn, and she would lose control, especially when drinking. He never told on her, because she'd cry afterwards and make him promise he wouldn't, so he kept his mouth shut. But then one night in late August, right after school started, he came rushing home to tell his mom all about his new teacher, who was making third grader sound so awesome with all the cool projects and field trips and whatnot they were going to learn. He was just on the verge of Chrysalis then, and his mother was already drunk, having lost her job that day. He tried to share his excitement and wonder and happiness, and she lashed out.
Any other day, that might have killed the spark of Glamour in him...but that day, he lashed back. The resulting blast of magic knocked his mother over a table, blew out the windows in the house, and brought the police. They took him away and put him in foster care (both because that would give my hypothetical ST a way to involve the motley easily by making my foster parent one of them, and because I wouldn't want to make an ST play an abusive parent). He misses his mom and wants her back, but he still refuses to talk about what she did to him. He made a promise. Oh, and his name is Patrick Breyer, but other changelings call him Ronny (his True Name is Acheron, because there's no nose like on the nose).
OK, whew, that's a good start. So, my kith, if you haven't guessed, is troll (that fucks me out of my Birthright, or "Birhtright," as it's spelled in the troll write-up in Changeling 2nd, but c'est la vie). My Court is Seelie, through and through. My seeming is childling, obviously, and my Legacies...hmm. I think I'll take Orchid for my Seelie one. It isn't that Ronny had an easy or pampered life; quite the opposite. But he's delicate precisely because his sense of wonder is so fragile from the abuse. His Unseelie Legacy is Beast. His temper tantrums have the Wyrd behind them.
And now, Step Two, traits. Starting with Attributes, I get a 7/5/3 split. Hrm. Still salty that I don't get my Birthright and the extra couple of dots of Strength.
Well, I think Ronny is still just a kid, so I'll put Mental first, then Physical, then Social. Damn, that's so many points. I'll put Perception at 4 and Wits and Intelligence at 3, and then Dexterity and Stamina at 3 and Strength at 2. He's a little leaner than most trolls. Social we'll just go 2 across the board; he doesn't stand out much, which is how he got through second grade without anyone really noticing what was going on.
Abilities gives me a 13/9/5 split, but nothing over 3 at this stage of character creation. I think we gotta go Talents, Skills, Knowledges, right across the board. Hmm.
Well, I'll put two in Alertness and Athletics. I'll put one in Brawl because he's a troll, he can punch a little. I'll put three in Dodge because I figure he's good at it (BTW, yes, Dodge is going away in the next edition). Two into Empathy, and then one each in Kenning, Persuasion, and Subterfuge. Good.
Then Skills. One each in Crafts, Etiquette, Leadership, Performance, and Security (he knows how locked doors work, and it's not something he enjoyed learning). Then three in Stealth (if mom's asleep you don't want to wake her) and one in Survival.
Finally, five points in Knowledges. One in Computer, one in Enigmas, two in Gremayre, and one in Science (his favorite subject).
Right, now Advantages. First up, Backgrounds. I get five measly dots. Well, I want one dot of Dreamers (Ronny's teacher, Ms. Flynn). I'll take two dots of Remembrance because it's a fun Background, and I'll spend the other two on a Treasure, a pair of shoes that allow him to run at crazy-fast speeds because they have red strips on the sides.
Arts & Realms. You know, people bag on Changeling's magic system, but it actually works pretty well. I mean, yeah, Realms are kind of limiting and some of the combinations aren't thought through very well, and yeah, the Nature Realm intersects with Primal in a weird way, but still. The underling engine is pretty good.
Anyway, I want two dots of Legerdemain so I can go Gimmix, and then I'll take Soothsay for my other dot. For Realms, I want Fae so I can affect myself, Actor so I can affect people at school (2 dots each) and I'll take one dot of Scene.
Step Four is Tempers, which is easy, because they're set by my seeming: Glamour 5, Willpower 1 (ouch), Banality 1.
Step Five is Birthrights and Frailities. I only get Stubborness as a Birthright. I get Bond of Duty as a Frailty, which means I can't renege on a promise or I lose the Birthright I don't actually have (BAD GAME DESIGN, GUYS)
Step Six is Freebie Points. I get 15, or a few more if I want to take Flaws, so I'll look at those first.
OK, I'll take Lifesaver and Shy. That gives me 4 points. Do I wish to take three more? Oh, sure, I'll take the Child Flaw. Doy. That gives me 7 extra points, so I have 22.
Well, I'm gonna spend 5 on a dot of Wayfare, because I love that Art. I'll spend six and buy up Willpower to four. I'll buy up Persuasion, Empathy, and Kenning by a dot. That leaves me with 5. Hmm. I'll buy up Glamour by one, and then two more dots of Dreamers (other kids at school).
And that's me, done. Awesome.