Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Changeling Civil Ceremonies

Changelings, more than any other supernatural group, have to work and blend with their community. They want that community to survive and thrive- as a hiding place and as a source of rich emotion and humanity. I like the idea of a Freehold tying itself to the lifecycle and existence of its city. I imagine that they would take up and create rituals and ceremonies drawing on local events. In our campaign we don’t have seasonal courts, but instead two+ parallel courts. However I imagine, given that most events are date based, they would be associated with one of the Seasons (perhaps shaping how they get expressed). Note that I’m not talking about National Holidays, but local events which arose out of the local history. Much like a Contract Maker, there might be Changelings who serve as ritual masters.

I think it is interesting to think about Changeling “magic” as a kind of found and associate magic. They make pacts with ideas and things in order to create effects. The Courts themselves arise from ancient bindings and rituals. They exist in a mutual protection pact (which does raise the question- what do the seasons get out of the deal?). Mages, Werewolves and Vampires have access to powers- some with drawbacks, but none quite as restricted as those the Changelings operate under. And because Changelings will likely be living in one community for their lives- they would make magic of those places.

So consider the local festivals, events and places which could be made into a Changeling ritual. In such cases, I imagine the Changelings don’t control the mortal side of things, but more latch on to the essential nature of the events.

*Dyngus Day: You may have this in your area or not. This is the Monday after Easter, originally a Polish tradition, called Wet Monday. That’s an interesting idea in and of itself, the day after the resurrection, when everything has to carry on as normal. I imagine that one could make of that a metaphor for Changeling life- there’s the suffering and then the Great escape. And then, perhaps something of a letdown as one tries to come to terms with the mundanity of life. Especially since you’re in a community of people who’ve also been through that experience…making you a less than special snowflake.

Dyngus Day has many classic rituals, including food items. But at least in Indiana, Dyngus Day signals the start of the political season. The shot is fired for local politicking and elected officials (and those hoping to be elected) have to go through all of the proper motions to secure their base. They have to prove themselves to be part of the common folk. I imagine for Changelings in power, this day could serve a like purpose. It would signal the time to begin jockeying for control and power (especially after the long dark of the Winter). Perhaps it might also be a time where the leaders of each Court must prove themselves through gifting.

*In Wayward, the Miss Ratchet-Tite Tool Contest continues on, despite the closing down of the Wemmerschmidt Tool and Die factory who used to sponsor it. The Court of Rust bought up the sponsorship of this decrepit small-town beauty pageant. The rules require amateurs only, with a very low entry fee barrier, encouraging many to participate. Those with any real popularity, talent and experience get quietly shunted out of the contest by the Changelings. This contest tries to celebrate the overlooked. At the same time, members of the Courts quietly place bets and maneuver things to raise the emotions of the contestants up to raging fits and infighting. The Glamour banquet from the event can be intoxicating. The Court of Rust uses this as a time to gift to the community quietly, through these knots building goodwill with the local community- in a magical and literal sense.

*Luminarios: In the depths of winter, people put out candles all their sidewalks in small paper sacks (often with sand at the bottom to keep them upright. These light up the dark, providing guidance for travellers and those moving around to go caroling. I imagine a local luminarios festival could easily be latched onto by the Winter Court. Perhaps it could be the one time they actually take steps to be open- to offer sanctuary and succor in the depths of winter- a light against the long night of the soul.

*TV Event Parties: Some Changeling participate in a kind of gambling ritual. They bet on which show will draw the most local interest and acclaim. These must be new shows, untested and unproven. The Changeling follows the show throughout the season, spreading stories about it and drumming up interest. Then when the season finale arrives, they put on a great festival party- reaping karma, glamour, and other magical benefits if the show proved to be a hit. Those Changelings who bet on Glee, Mad Men and American Idol won hugely. Others have done worse, wasting time, glamour and effort.

*4H and County Fairs: The spring and summer heralds of the arrival of the Changeling Carnies. They accompany various fair groups, markets, ren faires, and actual Carnivals. Unlike mundane Carnies, Changeling Carnies are treated with infinite respect. They have a deadly and dangerous task- moving out in countryside with no Court for protection and all of the usual risks of the road. They’re the Changelings with the greatest bravery and wanderlust. Older Changeling sometimes will join up, having reached the end of their days and wanting to take a chance in the outside world. Throughout the year, Changelings of a Freehold make various crafts and goods. The Changeling Carnies serve as judges for these. Great success and effort can result in a token. Note that these folk do not bring news from other Freeholds, except in coded messages. They warn of fallen places, but generally do not tell stories for fear of things coming to pass. They will carry messages and items between places however.


  1. Amazing ideas. I am particularly struck by the non-traditional beauty pageant. That would be a good time, indeed.

  2. Changeling Carnies... I was expecting that to go in a different direction.

    This shows how interesting plots and interactions can emerge from festivals in any RPG setting. Great post!

  3. @Christian: You could build a very interesting session or couple of sessions off of the classic "threats at a beauty pageant" drama trope, with the motley having to get to the bottom of strange goings on.

  4. Those some neat ceremonies and events. I hadn't thought of any like them for Changeling and I didn't even know that a few of those sorts of things existed - like Dingus Day. Thanks for the post.

    1. I need to go back and do more with this. Once the players get settled in for the current campaign, I want to throw some of these at them. I need to do some research on region specific holidays or events in Las Vegas. Yeah, our area is heavily Polish and German settled so that weird holiday gets heavy attention with specialty foods appearing in the grocery stores.