Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kith and Kind: Some Brainstorming on Changeling the Lost

SEEMINGS AND KITHS

Changeling the Lost wins for me in that it provides a lot of imaginative room. You can spin out freely a long ways before you hit against structures and details set down by the background. I especially enjoy the openness of the Seeming and Kith structure. It provides for a great range, while at the same time giving some structure. Seemings represent the broad classes, Changelings which come out of a shared tradition. Kiths provide the detail, the breed of the character. GMs can play quite a bit with those idea. I haven’t checked the WW boards for new Kiths; I wanted to do some brainstorming of my own before I did any hunting elsewhere. I like considering new kiths- mostly in terms of how those might appear as NPCs within the campaign. Below I have some ideas for the first three of the six Seemings, I’ll hit the next in another post. I’ve avoided system details since I’m running this with a homebrew and because I’m still sketching things out.

WIZENED

I think the two easiest Seemings to come up with new Kiths for are the Wizened and the Elementals. Wizened have roles- and they are their roles. I like the idea that they had to study and learn a vast number of rules and codes in their existence: some taught by their Keeper and others by their fellow Changeling prisoners. They had a community and a place- one they had to keep to in absolute perfection. On the one hand, I imagine the realms the Wizened lived in could be mockeries of real world things: their roles might be a kind of torture through the absolute extremes of those duties. One of the Wizened in our campaign is a Gameplayer, typically a kith involved with games of strategy and luck (cards, chess). In his case, the game was literally game-theory- the Prisoner’s Dilemma. He lived an existence of constant risk, wager and betrayal. On the other hand, I imagine some Wizened were part of an operation or household. So there would be many others, each learning their own roles.

Reckoner: I imagine this being something like a Wizened who keeps the counting house, an accountant or financier. They had to track every detail, every coin, every drop of sand, every drop of water- that kind of thing. For kith ability, the easy suggestion would be that they could more easily lend their skills to increase the money made by a mortal business. On the other hand, something even more amusing might be something where they “magnetize” money such that other money becomes attracted to it.

Strapper: We have Physikers in the Changeling setting, so I’m imagining there are also Orderlies- of all kinds. They lock in the Changelings, tie them down, keep them secure. They could range from the basic holding down of the injured to the more awful wardens and keepers of keys. Their kith ability would involve being able to secure bindings, and tying them so that they don’t leave marks.

Judge: Life in the hedge revolves around rules- often arbitrary appearing, often hidden. So what would a Wizened, forced to be a judge of their fellows look like? It could be as innocent as a referee, or perhaps a more sinister kind of internal police in a Kafka-esque durance. The Grand Inquisitor as a Wizened. Contracts of Oath and Punishment might be affinity for them- or perhaps they’d have a gift for a certain kind of cursing, through the passing of a sentence on someone. (image found from Michael Kutsche on Deviant Art)


ELEMENTALS

I have a fairly easy time coming up with other Elementals- though defining exactly how they function is another question. I like the idea of Elementals of concepts or abstractions, which some people might not be as keen on. For example, that NPC I mentioned before who represents a mathematical idea of loops and recursion. I think I’d have the hardest time running an Elemental, to my thinking they’re the Seeming most alien to humanity and to other Changelings. I try to run my elemental NPCs a little off kilter- at least vaguely echoing their associated element.

Karmawhore: One of the things I’ve set up in the game is that there’s a Changeling locked away somewhere in the Freehold- if you go to see him, you don’t even remember leaving to go there or coming back. He’s a fallen enforcer for the former Courts which once ran the Freehold- he’s an elemental of Karma, of Payback. I don’t know exactly what that means, I’ll admit, but it sounds pretty awful. Especially once they’ve crossed him and chained him away…now they can’t let him out and they can’t kill him. I wouldn’t really want to work out the details of this for a PC, but it works as an NPC concept.

Smokemarrow: The Blightbent kith represents the kind of toxic nature of substances, but what about the roiling, swirling nature of smoke or even ashes drifting in the wind. They could even be dust or the like. They’d be a wan folk- pallid and unsolid. I imagine they’d drift along with the physical and social winds. The easiest thought would be to give them a significant discount on the Contracts or Separation- whatever kith ability they got, you wouldn’t want to duplicate that too much. On the other hand, I like the idea of them being able to once per scene avoid a wound or hit, by essentially dispersing themselves. It would be effective, but would drop all but Hedgespun off of them. They’d have to regather themselves together after that. I have to think on that.

Swarmsoul: This could just as easily be a Beast-type kith, but there’s something mindless and automatic to a swarm- at least when I watch nature footage of it. Insects would be the classic type, but I can also imagine vermin swarms- perhaps a wickerman stuffed with mice. There’s that effect, I think from one of the Angels come to destroy the world, where the characters turn into flocks of crows to fly away. Something like that could be quite interesting as well. I could imagine a couple of possible kith abilities- either the ability to sense remotely (clairvision or clairaudience through part of their swarm) or else some significant ablative damage absorption. (image found from Marc Simonetti on Deviant Art)


BEASTS

Beasts are interesting because I always picture them as having a kind of society which stands outside of other Changeling relations. Perhaps I’m simply thinking of a hierarchy. One of my goals when establishing my campaign setting was to switch up from expected structures. That’s part of why we have two non-seasonal Courts there. It is also why we have a dominant position for Beast Changleings in the community- they’re the largest single group and occupy both seats of power. White Wolf did an interesting thing in approaching the beasts by theme (hunter, friend, runner) rather than by specific animal. It allows for more freedom of combinations. I’ve been trying to think of a good kith role and place for a Changeling who has become like a moth. The idea of involuntary attraction draws me to that concept. I have to figure out what would be a balancing good stuff for something like that. I should also note, that like the “conceptual” elementals I mentioned above, I’ve been thinking about more abstract Beasts. For example, we have an NPC named Songbird Rex. He comes from domain where his keeper had some mixed up vision about change and evolution. He’s caught somewhere between a peacock and a dinosaur, from the idea that birds originated from lizards. That reflects his own mental state- caught between the thing he is and the thing he wants to be.

Dronedrone: The “hivemind” concept’s a little too easy and I don’t think it exactly works for Changeling. Part of the thing to consider is what the horror was of the experience for the Changelings when they were being shaped by their Keepers. Loss of identity could work, but only if the Changeling oculd feel that and perhaps their mind bobbed back up to the surface from time to time. The Keepers would want that to happen from time to time to make them spin out rich fear and panic. I’m imagining that this kith would have the ability to fall in and blend in to a workplace of setting- anywhere with repetitive tasks. They could easily pick those things up, in the most uncreative way and fit in. While doing that they would never receive acknowledgement or recognition, just a paycheck, shelter or whatever. It could be an interesting challenge to play something like that.

Coiltwist: You’ve got the idea of the venomous bite and the scale represented among the existing beast kiths. But what about those beasts who wrap, envelop and even swallow their prey. You could be fairly literal with this, allowing them an ability to grip, grapple and lock up a person. On the other hand, I like even better the idea of them being able to twist things around and wrap people up emotionally, such that they can extract debts, favors and promises from mortals- nothing damning, but a bump or add to those interactions.

Cagedweller: So most of the Beasts have a “natural world” sense to them- even those like the Roteater with a horrible kith aspect. So imagine something which would be almost a Darkling, but still a Beast. These Changelings would have been put through various experiments of many kinds, under the alien ministrations of Keepers. A literal testing facility in order to see their limits, a Saw-like Schroedinger Cat set-up, an infinite dog-track…or in the case of one of the NPCs, an isolation echo of the space program with Beasts shoved into devices and fired…where? Do the Keepers simply play out other versions of these stories or is there some place they want to explore that even they cannot reach. There’s another awful thought. I expect that their Kith ability would be something about physical or mental survival. (image found from Michael Kutsche on Deviant Art)

Next Time: Darklings, Fairest, Ogres and some general thoughts on Seeming society.