Sunday, January 10, 2016

Changeling: The Dreaming - The Battle's Lost and Won

So, the Kickstarter is almost over, but the playtest has barely begun. We made characters a couple of weeks ago, but I just hadn't gotten around to doing a post about it. Now's a good time, though. My players, if you're reading this, stop reading when you see the picture of Leo.

First, the characters:

  • Thaia (childling/Autumn sidhe): Thaia is a lady of House Scathach. She was an orphan who wound up living an Oliver Twist like story; her grandparents saw her on TV on a "look how good these foster kids turned out!" show. She's lived in relative comfort ever since. She has friends in the theater biz. 
  • Krysa (wilder/pooka): Krysa is a political rabble-rouser. She writes political polls for her day job, and she's got a bunch of friends into counterculture and activism. She's also got a Retinue made up of a huge swarm of rats. 
  • Ambrose (wilder/sluagh): Ambrose, otherwise known as the Ashen Knight, is a member of House Scathach and takes on the nobility by sneaking into their holdings and exposing their secrets. He was an orphan, too, and grew up in a group home, but wasn't so lucky as Thaia, I suppose. 
  • Zulkis (grump/troll): Zulkis is a fallen noble. He escaped an oath to a nastier sidhe through his superior oathcrafting skills, and is the protege of Duke Kelodin. 
  • Sander (childling/satyr): Sander is a club kid and artist, but I don't know much about him because his player hasn't answered his email, so we'll all learn about Sander together. 

The players decided to pool some Background points and have a freehold. Their freehold is in an old subway station in New York (and I apologize in advance to any New Yorkers that read this who might be horrified to see me fuck up geography or whatever, but I'm a Clevelander and I've only been to NY once). They're all Unseelie, and most of them have some tie-in to the existing power structure.

Said power structure is thus: New York is the Duchy of the Golden Sigil, overseen by Duke Kelodin, a troll. He shows up in War in Concordia, but his House isn't specified. He must have one, though, if he's a duke. Or maybe not, since supposedly you can have Title without belong to a house. OK, so we'll let that be for the time being.

Now, the characters in general have a somewhat antagonistic relationship with nobility, but Kelodin seems to be more or less OK. Krysa is actively a rabble-rouser, Ambrose has had run-ins with nobility (though in his backstory it's Kelodin, which doesn't really work; I'll have to talk with Toasty about that), and Zulkis, of course, is a fallen noble. Thaia and Sander are the ones that are mostly removed from the political scene, but Thaia is House Scathach, as is Ambrose, so that's gonna come back on her at some point.

Themes: Political secrets, theater, rats, underground, revolution, battle cries, fighting oppression, idle rich, entertainment vs. art.

So what's going on? There's a Seelie count called Maldiset (House Dougal) who wants Kelodin out of power. There's a Nocker Underground under Manhattan called Goblin Town that I'd love to have the PCs visit at some point. There's their freehold, the Cavern of Ivory and Horn. And War in Concordia mentions roving gangs of changelings that fight each other; Kelodin has his hands full trying to keep everything in the state (not just NYC - his ducal manse is actually in Buffalo) running smoothly.

Likewise, this city was the site of 9/11, which in Changeling was accompanied by a big flood of Glamour - fear, dread, xenophobia, and so on. So I think that, in keeping with the themes of this game and with the tone of this edition (that is, powerful nobles hiding in freeholds and staying young while the changelings outside freeze), we'll say that the game takes place in winter. Kelodin is in the city at his winter home, but High King David hasn't come down to Homefires, preferring to stay in Tara-Nar. In fact, no one's seen the High King in years.

OK, players, time to stop. 

I think for the first session, I want to split it between doing some more set-up - naming a few of the NPCs that we need to nail down - and testing out the system a bit more. I think that an "accident" on the set of a new play would be fun, and would get the PCs involved quickly. So here's the deal:

Rista the Rat-Thing is a wilder beastie (Thallain). She generally hangs out in the subway tunnels, but recently saw a post for a new play called Lost & Won, an homage to MacBeth. She entered her monthly hunt and sneaked into the theater, and rigged the lighting booth, some of the lights backstage, and a few other nasty traps. She also cast a cantrip on the theater to lock itself up once a trap had been tripped.

Branziah calls up Thaia to chat while he's waiting for rehearsal to start, but as he's wandering around the lobby, he touches a handrail leading down the stairs to a locked door (old basement access, no uses it). The railing was sharpened, however, and he slices his hand open. This first trap triggers the magic. The theater doors shut and magically lock, and the cast and crew are trapped inside. The motley can therefore get there and free them. I can seed a few "did Maldiset know about this?" notions while they're there, maybe. Also means I need to stat up Rista, but that's easy enough.