Thursday, November 29, 2012

Personae: Five Changelings in Search of a Storyteller

The completeist in me wants to get around to reviewing all of the Changeling the Lost products. I’ve done all of the core books, which brings me to some of the secondary materials available for the line. White Wolf’s done a decent job of supporting their lines with additional pdf only materials. The substantial Goblin Markets and Victorian Lost pdfs expanded the line. As well a number of the more general WoD books (like Glimpses of the Unknown) can easily be used with Changeling. Today I’m looking at Personae, a collection of NPCs intended to be used as ready-made PCs for a group.

The actual pdf’s only 28 pages long, done in the same layout style as the rest of the CtL line. It’s actually a little more open here- with slightly more white space which makes sense given the utility approach. The writing’s decent, a mix of player and GM facing material which can easily be disentangled. The art work consists of sigils from the core book and illustrations for each of the five characters presented. These are OK, with only one of them really grabbing me. A while back I’d had someone suggest that Changeling the Lost seemed too “New Mutants” to them. It was an observation I didn’t get; I hadn’t gotten that impression from the series. However these images here do echo that for me. They look like a team of Morlock heroes from the X-Men or something like that. It doesn’t help that one of the PCs looks a lot like Storm (pose and all).

This is a short book, with a nice cover showing all five of the characters. The first page and a have defines the background of the Motley formed by these Changelings, calling itself “Personae.” This is fairly basic and thin, a decent introduction of the players. It may be a little too much for a one-shot, but it you were running a couple of sessions or a mini-series, to introduce people it might be useful.

Each character gets a two-page overview. This covers the usual quotes, virtue, vice, background, description, and roleplaying hints. Two versions of the characters sheets are provided for each Changeling: starting and seasoned. That’s a nice touch. The character choices are fairly basic, or at least none really surprised me except the first. You have Romeo, a Mirrorskin Darkling; Aslan, a Hunterheart Beast; Keridwen, a Wizened Chiurgeon; The Hunchback, a Farwalker Oge; and Nicola, a Snowskin Elemental.

The last five pages of the book are Storyteller-oriented. I like having some commentary material on hand. In particular there’s some important commentary on the shared themes which can join together a Motley in a CtL campaign. There’s an extensive analysis of the possible options for GM’s who have to reduce the number of characters in the Motley (as with fewer players) or add more. Here’s where the book really shows its aim, going over advice in detail which a GM with a few games under their belt wouldn’t worry about. There’s clearly the aspiration for this material to be used by new Changeling Storytellers. The last part of the supplement offers three interesting plot hooks for each of the characters, some quite interesting and inspired. A novice ST could easily run several sessions just from these.

This obviously aims to allow a new GM to simply pick up and start running a Changeling game. At least in our group, I can only imagine these being used for a one-shot or really short run campaign where you want to try out the mechanics or a particular module (like The Fear-Maker's Promise which the text has a couple of ties to). In most other cases, given the cool toolbox of the setting, I would want the players to make up their own characters and I expect they would want to as well. As a ST resource, you might be able to present the characters as a rival motley, but you’d probably want to do some tuning to make them more engaging from the outside.

Personae on RPGNow.