Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Neon Hedge: Building Changeling Las Vegas

Last night we went through the city creation process for our new Changeling the Lost campaign set in Las Vegas. We used a hybrid Microscope/Dresden Files approach with G+. The group built some big picture elements first (some I’d already established), then the details of the city (Persons/Places & Rumors/Questions). Each participant also added a new faction to the mix. I think what continues to amaze me about this process is that it greats great details while still leaving the GM enormous room to construct the campaign as they see fit. For GMs who worry about control- I’d say give it up and enjoy the fun of building around the concepts your players craft.

New Contracts Require Action
Once a changeling has bought into a Contract set, they can purchase higher ranked clauses as they wish. However to buy the first item in a Contract set requires some kind of symbolic action. They can undertake a quest, seek out a mentor who knows the Contract in depth, commune with a significant representation of the Contract’s sphere. In practical terms I’ll require the player to spin a brief narrative riff to justify their purpose- and may negotiate some hurdles to jump through.

Special/Symbolic Actions to Bank Glamour
Each Changeling may choose one of the Contract sets as key to their identity. They may then take actions in game to bank some extra glamour which may only be spent on those Contracts. The most which can be banked at any time is three points. The action take should be related and require some time. Sherri’s example was taking positive and good karma actions on the part of her Ogre Witchtooth to empower her curses. Players can develop this in play.

Keeper: The Director :D (Howard Hughes)
Hughes’ madness reflects his change from human to Changeling. Ambitious and strange, he then went further eventually evolving into a Keeper himself. His influence and attention linger in the city he built.

Dual Kiths Allowed/Encouraged
Players may choose two kiths, one as their primary and one as secondary. This grants two distinct kith abilities. Characters who opt to be single kith will gain some extra points for character creation.

Blasted Glass Hedge Entrance
The one of the nuclear testing sites outside Las Vegas has an anomaly reaching from the real world into the Hedge. A plain of blackened blasted glass, still radioactive, lies well behind military fences. It has a gateway into a sparkling Hedge made of bright crystal, with trails strewn with broken glass. Pin-prick glass splinters rain like snow here, making it doubly dangerous. A path to here from greater Las vegas has not been discovered. Rumors suggest amazing secrets and treasures hidden in this isolated place.

Accessible Court Contracts
The Courts of Las Vegas don’t have a monopoly on their own Contracts. Changelings do not have to possess Court Mantle to purchase those. Instead, they may gamble for access to them. These still cost XP to buy, but a Changeling who beats the house can purchase a particular set as they wish- if they win big they may even get a discount. Changelings may possess such contracts from multiple Courts.

Neon Elementals
The nature of Las Vegas has created a new order of Elemental, born of Neon.

Near Future 2020
The campaign takes place in near-future World of Darkness Las Vegas. The promised year of Cyberpunk has arrived, bring with it modest changes in the form of higher gas prices, self-driving electric cars, wearable computing, and a fifth trilogy of Star Wars films.

Goblin Casinos
The Goblins of Las Vegas are divided into many tribes and groups- engaged in a constant battle of rivalries and vendettas. Instead of one central Goblin Market, there are instead many different Goblin Casinos with differing themes, terms, and goods. Changelings have to be careful maneuvering around the Hedge of the Strip where Hob Buskers bearing invitations don’t take no for answer.

Struggle between Mages/Werewolves
Mages and Werwolves operate in Las Vegas. They’re embroiled in an ongoing struggle, with the Changelings who know of it wisely keeping the sidelines. However recent rumors have suggested that both sides have been secretly vying for an alliance with the Beasts of Vegas.

Farewell Vampires
Vampires are rare and dangerous within Las Vegas and the world at large. Some form of Gehenna occurred at the turn of the millennium. Those very few ‘vampires’ who still exist are...something else.

Underworld Struggles
Reduced in influence by the ongoing transformation of Vegas into a corporate wonderland, the Mafia has suffered an additional setback. They have been infiltrated by magical creatures, resulting in a massive power struggle.

The Nature of Darkness
The process of building Las Vegas established or left open a number of classic WoD details. Vampires, Masquerade or Reckoning, have vanished. Geists and Prometheans exist- likely in the classic form from their sourcebooks. On the other hand, Mages and Werewloves, while mentioned were not defined further. Therefore they may or may not follow the classic WoD pattern (as the GM sees fit). We do know one thing about the werewolves: they’re slightly boring and uncreative.

New Facts of Changeling Life
Two Freeholds exist in Vegas, one dominated by the Summer Court. Some Hobs can operate out in the real world for short periods of time. Fetches are mysterious and killing one’s fetch has uncertain repercussions. Travel between cities can be dangerous for Changelings. Outside the protections of a Freehold, they’re significantly more vulnerable to the attentions of Keepers.  Entitlements are spiritual blessings gifted by mysterious Changelings who have reached some form of enlightenment.

Lights and spectacle. A feast of glamour and dust running from Mandalay Bay to Circus, Circus.
  • Tawdry: Neon Elemental, Levinquick/Apsaras that runs Temptation, a huge dance club. Charismatic/terrifying. :D Perhaps Monarch?
  • Nightsky: There’s an observatory atop the Stratosphere
  • Mirrored Waters: The dancing fountains of Bellagio are oracular
  • Moths to the Flame? The huge spotlights atop the Luxor are a magnet for changeling rumours.
    • Rumor: Including that bathing in the light will grant a wish...or make a call.
  • Siegfried and Roy: Changeling servants to a Beast Fae Keeper.
    • Question: What did Roy do to deserve the punishment from his Master
  • Wayne Newton: Werewolf Hunter, he takes on apprentices. These rarely last.

The central business district of the city. Once the gambling center, it still has some gaming, but now lends itself to hotels, convention centers, businesses, high rises, and government offices.
  • 25 Hour Market: While there are many rival Goblin casinos with varying offerings, challenging obligations, and treasures galore there’s also the hole-in-the-wall 25 Hour Market. This tiny consistent Goblin Market Convenience Store always has the basics in stock. Of course there’s a significant mark-up.
  • The Count: Bitter and Jaded. He’s the head of the Society for the Preservation of Vampires
  • Museum of Strange Things: It has a (partially dissected) ‘alien’ body in it
    • Rumor: Oh, it’s actually a Changeling
    • Rumor: No, it’s actually a Keeper!
    • Rumor: Dude, it’s a mage, twisted by his own magic. Duh.
    • Rumor:...Shaved werewolf.
    • Rumor: It’s that guy that told off the Count.

Vegas dedicates itself to entertainment and away from the casinos the city serves tourists and locals with playgrounds, gardens, preserves, zoos, sport complexes, and arenas. From Fairgrounds to Little League Fields to Hiking Trails to Rollerderby Rinks.
  • Marquant Zola: Human Tour Guide for the Redlands Zoo. This small, tucked-away place specializes in cryptozoolological beasts.  
  • General Rumor: A group of beast changelings are slowly invading Vegas in an attempt to take over the protection racket from the mafia. They may be using the parks as their gathering ground.

Behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas lies the real living city- all the anonymous people who serve the casinos and the lifers who only know Vegas as their hometown. This includes local business and industries, schools and campuses, ethnic enclaves, and apparently uneventful lives concealing secrets.
  • Papa’s Pawn Shop: A magical store of necessity, it varies widely in location, moving from place to place.
  • Off the Clocks: Any changeling can use these boltholes. They have to break a clock face off the clock to get into the tiny protected space. However they must pay Changeling-style prices to get out.
  • Token Rumor: The MT Pass. This blank plastic pass card when used at a hotel employee’s entrance will take you to what you seek. That may be for better or worse.

The Vegas dream creates a turnover population of those who come to settle and vanish quietly when things don’t turn out as they hoped. The crash of the housing market accelerated the flight of this turnkey population. They left behind half-finished sub-divisions, schools, and building projects. But there will always be more arriving to live in these strip-mall serviced sections of the city.
  • Thorn Haven: Transient House for Changelings travelling through Las Vegas. Spotted new arrivals and those who have made arrangements with the Courts are lodged here. This keeps them isolated from the Freehold for mutual protection. Working at the haven is a dangerous and rotated duty.
  • The Rot: Deep in the sewers below Vegas lies the Grotto of Rot, full of very strange fungi.
  • The Clearing House: Banks intent on foreclosing on blocks of properties hire the more unsavory supernatural elements to create an atmosphere of unease and depression--increasing their ability to accrue huge swathes of L.V. real estate for cheap future development

Things fall apart. Places get iffy. People vanish. All cities have dark corners, especially those that run through the night. These are all those shadowy spaces.
  • The Runabouts: A Hobgoblin Taxi Service through the Hedge. They can get Changelings quickly from one part of the city to another for a price. Their vehicles vary from rickshaws to patchworked minivans.
    • Question: How do the Hobs maintain an ‘accurate’ map of the Hedge?
  • Gren Dell’s: A “supernatural” bar where mages/werewolves/vampires/changelings have a small-area peace treaty. The owner, Gren Dell can get anyone most any kind of info, but the price is steep. He must be defeated in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Serenissima Vindiola: A Promethean-Created who was apparently assembled out of ‘alien’ material. She is trying to create more of herself.
  • The Old Chinese Theatre: Often shows double-creature features, and kung fu movie marathons. Run by Vera Gaunt, a Torn Sin-Eater newly come from Los Angeles, bringing a small pack of Sin-eaters with her..
    • Rumor: Werewolves think she’s a vampire, and vampires think she’s a mage.
    • Rumor: Changelings dunno wtf is up with that, but speculation abounds.

Between the city and the desert lies the fringe- the edge gas stations, small communities, truck stops, and dumping grounds. Here the protections of the Freeholds fade and the wild takes over.
  • The Hedge Fun: Brothel for those whose tastes run to the...eclectic. Mortals who make their way there rarely make their way back out.
  • The White Lodge: An order of Mages operating in Las Vegas, in thrall to their regional magical overlords. They operate like a sorcerous telemarketing firm, trying to rope people into service of their dark master.
  • Devout Lycanthrope: There’s a container church on one of the highways run by an old werewolf trucker who has been born-again and is hiding out from Wayne Newton. He’s friends to all supernatural creatures, so long as they’re willing to accept Jesus.
    • Rumor: I heard he’s totally hookin’ up with Sheryl at the Blue Spoon Diner.

Summerlin’s one of the largest communities of the wealthy in Vegas, but there are many other enclaves like it scattered throughout the city. Some flaunt celebrity residents while others hide within gated communities. Wealth, power, and buried secrets
  • The Blue Lady: She knows the ways to access confessions. She’s wealthy and she owns many outlets for confessions--internet, counseling services, phone.
  • Pretty Gardens: Manmade lakes hide a collection of statues, that one may sight-see if one walks along the bottom. These are housewives turned into pretty statues! Some werewolves rent scuba equipment to supernatural tourists.  They’re called the Pretty Gardens, because werewolves are not creative.
  • Welcome to Summer: A second Las Vegas Freehold controls the wealthy enclave of North Las Vegas. It is run by a banished Keeper who looks like an alien. He’s led the Summer Court to permanent control of this Freehold and when a changeling makes him angry, he sells him to one of his old Keeper friends.
    • Rumor: Recently, UFO wreckage was found in the desert, and some wonder if this Summer King didn’t come from the wreckage.

The Hedge reflects the strange natures and histories of Las Vegas. From odd features within the thorns to the organization of the Hobs, this covers those places past the veil.
  • The Strip: No, the other strip. Countless Goblin Market casinos, all locked in constant war. Like the mortal Strip, only way nastier.
  • Circus Circus: A corrupted, evil place where Keepers go to ‘browse’ for children that they want to take home from them. It’s the least expensive place to visit on the strip and the games are all rigged to magically keep their users entranced. While the parents are busy gambling, the Keepers take the kids, winning them from slot machines in a Hedge version of the same casino.
  • Grazeland: There’s a Casino in the hedge run entirely by Elvis impersonators where the things you gamble for are typical goblin market fair - and sometimes the odd changeling’s freedom.
  • The Sanitarium: A casino where changelings can gamble their clarity
  • The Outback: A strange hob-podge goblin casino of redneck & Aussie themes. It has led to a plague of Australian poisonous toads in the nearby hedge--”Don’t lick it.”

  • Department of Parks and Recreation: Weird, obsessive, and not to be messed with. Could they perhaps be Beasts?
  • The Drummers: Wild pack of street kids, information dealers and guides. None seem to be older than 14 or 15. Some have suggested a connection to Circus, Circus. The leader tends to wear a different face, but she and her lieutenants all have inky black eyes.
  • The Monorailians: Mysterious Hobs who have assumed the guise of “Greys”. They feed on unease, panic and horror from tourists. They appear normal, but out of the corner of your eye you can see their images.
  • AROOT: “A Ride Out Of Town”.  Some of the mundanes have gotten the sense that there is something really bad going on--they run a sort of incredulous underground railroad to get folks who need help a way to get beyond the city borders and to another place of civilization.  They really don’t get it - but they know that the need is real.
  • STARR: A group of academics who are trying to solve the unified theory of Supernaturalism.
  • Supernatural Arms Designers/Dealers”- secretly fuelling the various wars to continue bringing in the greenbacks.

  • Players will begin the game with 10 bonus points for creation.
  • Characters may be given flaws. Instead of granting extra experience, these will function like classic Storyteller, offering additional build points at the beginning. A character may take up to two flaws. The GM will decide how much the flaws are worth.
  • The first session will be a kind of “Prologue.” We will play out the characters escaping from the Hedge simultaneously and their first meeting. We’ll set up the arrival and basic premises. Then we’ll jump forward slightly. This allows everyone to establish a life and other details (like allies, contacts, etc) as they wish. I may GM fiat some obligation of community between the Motley members. 


  1. Sounds exciting! Don't forget the casino at the far north end of the Strip: the Moroccan themed Sahara, last of the Rat Pack era joints.


    Currently abandoned and slated to re-open in 2014. Boarded up and spray paint marked, who knows what they're building inside. Or if humans are actually building anything at all. It's the last station on the Las Vegas Monorail, and it's a sad and empty station with only the Stratosphere a few blocks walk worth the trip.

    Also of note, a new attempt at a shady old style casino, Terribles. No joke, that's the name. A taxi driver warned me that it really is terrible and he's too afraid of its rowdy violent clientele to pick up fares there. I suspect the Hooters casino draws a similar crowd.

  2. Yup, reading this now leaves me even more pumped than I was last night!

  3. Never was a huge fan of WoD, but this is an interesting take on it.

  4. I'd love to know how the game is going for you guys! I have recently started a campaign set in 1940s Vegas for my VtM group, but I also run a current-day Philly-New Jersey-NYC CtL game for my 'ling players. So this is all really interesting. :D

  5. I've just read this and I have tou say... Excellent, I wish I could play a setting like that. By the way, creating the setting with your players is a quiet good idea! :)