Thursday, October 20, 2011

Changeling: Court of Judgment & Contracts of Weights and Measures

I'll talk more about this later, but in our Changeling the Lost campaign, the players have quested out to find a new fourth Court to balance those existing in the campaign city of Wayward. The Court of Rust, Gardens and the Wolf have become unbalanced and threatened by the return of the Winter seasonal Court. After a number of stories, the PCs managed to attract the attention of the force of Judgment who agree to put them to the test. They've completed those tests and have not come home, bearing new mantles and three new contract sets (which they still have to spend points on). Below I tlak about the mantle and one of the new contracts, Weights and Measures (I wish I'd figured out a music reference for that one...). Not that we use a homebrew system, so you'll find things written loosely for our rules light version. I want to talk later about how were taking advantage of this significant moment to make changes to the game system, adding Fate elements.

Each Court has a Mantle, allowing members of that Court to demonstrate their alliance and allow them access to the Contracts of that particular Court. A Courtly Mantle represents a Changeling's dedication to both the temporal form of the Court in the body of the Prince and the Courtiers as well as the metaphysical ideas and ethos of that Court. Mantle is a purchased ranked advantage (5/5/10/15/20). Most associate members of the Court do not possess a Mantle or else only possess a single dot.

A mantle compliments the appearance of one's mien, adding certain elements depending on the rank of the mantle. The mantles for both Gardens and Rust tend to be more subtle than the showy ones of the Seasonal Courts. That means at the lower ranks Changeling's may not notice the effects unless they're looking for them. At Rank One, players should probably select what one sensory aspect or effect happens with them. More aspects with greater potency will arise as the characters buy more ranks.

Mechanically, mantles provide a couple of benefits. First, each mantle provides a particular bonus, usually at Rank One. New effects and bonuses can come into play at Rank Three and Rank Five. They also provide a prerequisite for the Contracts of a particular Court. A character with a Mantle may purchase a set of Contracts up to the rank equal to their Mantle+1. A character without a Mantle may only purchase the first rank (unless they've bought Court Goodwill). Changeling's tend to respect persons who have a significant mantle, indicating that person's dedication to the Court's ideals. This can provide a social benefit, even among those of other Courts. When a Changeling deals with other Courts and tries to bring the Mantle's social standing to bear, this can force a subject to choose between accepting their right to those good graces or causing an insult.

Note that if a Mantle or Court Goodwill is lost, then Contracts requiring those as prerequisites cost an additional glamour to activate (which may not be reduced by use of a Catch).

The Court's Mantle appears first as a slight haze, a kind of shadowy distortion around the character. As the level of mantle increases, that haze beings to focus and form into a set of Shadowy Judges robes. The color may vary among Changeling, but they are unmistakable as that. They carry with them the sense of authority- not necessarily of rulership, but of honest and impartial decisions.

At Rank One, the character may perform a quick Assessment action against a target. If successful, beyond learning some of the target's aspects, they may invoke one of those aspects for free on a following round. This aspect is fragile, and must be used relatively quickly.

At Rank Three, the Court member may choose to freely add an aspect to a social situation or scene with at least three people present. They may either add “Merciful Feelings” or “Desire for Condemnation” to the scene. Only one of these aspects may be in play at one time; Court members do not double up on these, but can negate one anothers'. This aspect functions in all other respects as a scene aspect.

At Rank Five, the Court member gains the ability to judge the sincerity of Redemption. If a character has pledged themselves to something or has been given a chance to apologize or ask for forgiveness, the Courtier can gain a sense of their commitment at that moment. This ability cuts through kith abilities and Contracts except for the highest levels. It requires a social pull. The GM may provide additional information when the assessment is made, depending on the result of the pull.

No Guessing (*)
The Changeling may count the exact number of objects of a particular type in their surrounding zone. This range is defined fairly loosely, but should be larger based on the Changeling's Wyrd. The Changeling can know how many marbles are in a jar, how much money is in a cash register, how many guns are in a room. The Changeling does not actually have to see the objects being counted, but they should be nearby. Objects, people and things concealed by magic or other talents will not be counted.

Cost: One Glamour

Catch: The Changeling wildly does “the New math” on their fingertips.

Double Down (**)
The Changeling may quietly duplicate relatively small and items- those with relatively little value: buttons, coins, pins. Things with a specific use or of real value to someone cannot be duplicated. The character's Wyrd determines how much doubling can be done. Doubled items remain- until they're bundled together with other like items, and then they vanish. The Changeling can also decide to end a set of objects existence at will. The Changeling must have at least one of the objects to create others. Duplication can be done as a free action.

Cost: One Glamour, more if significant numbers are to be made.

Catch: The character breaks one of the original objects in making the extras. Can only offset one point of Glamour.

Gravity Never Sleeps (***)
The Changeling can add or subtract “weight” to an object. To do this, they must have one or more persons either lift or press down on the object. That force, in that direction, then stays with the object- even after those persons let go. Note that this does not levitate an object, but instead makes it weightless in that direction when someone picks it up. The Changeling may put multiple applications of this on a single object.

Cost: One Glamour, plus one Glamour for having more than one person affecting the object at once, plus one Glamour to have the effect last for longer than Dusk/Dawn.

Catch: The object is semi-permanently attached to a scale. This can reduce the cost down to a minimum of one.

Zeno's Inversion (****)
There's one way around Zeno's Paradox- if all points exist in all places at once. This clause takes that assumption to carry voices across a distance. The Changeling may speak with a target in the same realm at any distance. That Changeling may respond back as well. This does require speaking, but no one but the target will hear the conversion, which sounds to them like someone whispering in their ear. The Changeling does not have to know the location of the target, but does have to know them personally. Either side of the conversation may stop communication at will.

Cost: Two Glamour

Catch: the Changeling breaks an arrow.

Not Here nor There (*****)
The Changeling may create a small storage space, “in-between” neither in the real world nor in the Hedge. The changeling must use a storage container of some kind. They may then place anything which will fit through the mouth of the container without increasing the weight of that container. The Changeling may later reach in and draw out objects at will. If anyone but the Changeling looks into the container, they will see nothing. Living things and tokens may not be stored in the container; they simply go in normally. If the container is destroyed, the Changeling must take time and spend glamour to recreate the storage space.

The changeling may also create a lesser version of this to gift to other people. This creates a “Bag of Holding.” In this case, overly large objects may be placed in the container without adding to the bulk- but still adding to the weight. If someone other than a Changeling looks into the bag, everything comes pouring out.

Cost: Two to create, one to retrieve or place objects in the space. Two glamour- one reserved temporary to create an independent bag.

Catch: Creation is free if the Changeling has made the storage container themselves.


  1. I have no actual game experience with C:tL (though I did play C:tD) but I hope to review the book in December.

    How much do you enjoy the game?

  2. I have to break my answer into two parts. I'm not fond of the nWoD mechanics. I often feel when I'm reading books in the line that were getting tons of mechanics to keep people in line. Any particular power or ability has so much text to it, that you almost have to look it up in play. It feels overwritten- and there's a break between what you can actually do in the game and how the narrative/background presents that- this is especially true in the Changeling books. We opted to play with a lighter rules engine, porting everything over. When I reviewed the books in the series I mostly set aside consideration of the mechanics.

    That aside- I absolutely love the setting and the concepts. I think it is the most interesting and open of the nWoD books, and tops many of the classic WoD set ups as well. I like it much better than C:tD, and I enjoyed that one. Having run/played most of the old WoD stuff- this campaign background offers richness and humanity. A GM could make may different kinds of campaigns from the basic material here. I'd say Changeling's been a all-around success with our group.

  3. I am... indifferent to the mechanical changes as I tend to tweak and house rule changes to what ever system I use.

    I do very much like the changes to the world and setting for all the game lines, except Mage which feels like it has less energy and iconography to it.

    I will get a copy of Changeling soon.