Changeling the Lost, Second Edition Inspirations

Changeling: The Lost, Open Development

I’m knee-deep in redlines for Changeling: The Lost. I’m close to the point where I’ll start sharing things with the intent to playtest, and we even have one playtest group organising in the forums right now.

But, in the mean time, I figured I’d share the Inspirations section. This might give some insight to my headspace while working on Lost. It has some obvious choices, but also some less obvious choices. I wanted to balance the two, instead of just loading people full of stuff most gamers already have experience with. For example, I figured Neverwhere was maybe too obvious, so I didn’t include it.

So, here you go. And for a bonus, here’s a track one of my authors brought to the table as her inspiration.

Inspirational Material

As with much of Changeling: The Lost, know that this content may be highly vulnerable, brutal, and challenging. But this material shares some core themes, moods, or aesthetics with Changeling.


Francis Bacon – Bacon captures a very similar, dissonant, raw evocative feeling that a good Changeling: The Lost game should. Bacon’s work embodies the theme of Beautiful Lies, Bittersweet Truths that we’re going for. It’s full of vulnerability and pain that you can’t look away from.

H.R. Giger – Giger’s best known for his concept work on the Aliens franchise, which could likewise serve as inspiration. Giger’s work, while often disturbing and abstract, hides complex, organic, human feeling deep within its tubes, its jaws, and its jaws within those jaws. It demonstrates beauty and fear, and how even frightening things can deliver gorgeous imagery.


Needful Things (1991) – Stephen King’s Needful Things touches on the pursuit of beautiful lies, and shows how Glamour might work in action. It has a spiritual sequel in the short, “It Grows on You” in his anthology Nightmares and Dreamscapes. It gives a horrifying vision of the symbolism fae magic brings to the world.

The Stranger (1942) – Albert Camus’s work brings us a protagonist who sees trying things, but cannot muster the response a “normal person” would. As Camus puts it, “the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.” The Lost must play by the rules, join Courts, and otherwise follow a set path or face certain devastation.


Jacob’s Ladder (1990) – This modern classic addresses trauma, and trying to deal with a world that isn’t on the same page as you. It puts the immediacy of that trauma right in your face, and shows that sometimes the only happy ending is a sad ending. It fucking hurts.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – A shortcut to film inspirations would simply list “every Guillermo del Toro film.” Pan’s Labyrinth is simply the most iconic. Fairy tales are often moral tales showing awful consequences for non-conformity. Pan’s Labyrinth is about a girl who bucks that, who refuses to be beholden to powers which would confine her.

Spellbound (1945) – This Hitchcock classic deals with psychoanalysis, phobias, amnesia, and other issues. It has a highly symbolic dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali which serves as excellent inspiration for Oneiromancy scenes. It’s based on The House of Dr. Edwardes by Francis Beeding, which is similarly solid material but harder to find and slower to digest.

Roleplaying Games

Don’t Rest Your Head (2006) – Evil Hat’s super creepy game is about people who have been unable to sleep, and now see doors to a terrifying place where nightmares wander and lost things end up.

Unknown Armies (1998) – Atlas Games’s Unknown Armies is a modern urban fantasy game which spends a great deal of effort dealing with its protagonists’ responses to trauma, both within and without. It can give great insight into how the Lost might deal with their existences.

Video Games

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – Shattered Memories might or might not be the best in the series, but it deals with alienation and trying to reconcile your past life with your present. It also directly engages with a highly vulnerable protagonist who weathers a gauntlet of awfulness to face the truth. It could be a changeling’s escape from the Hedge, beat for beat. Other notable entries in the series for Changeling: The Lost inspiration include Silent Hill 3, and Silent Hill 4: The Room.

Spec Ops: The Line – This one’s a military shooter, which doesn’t immediately seem like ideal World of Darkness inspiration. However, you quickly find that the game is more than it appears. The protagonist is dealing with deep trauma, and trying to respond to warped perceptions while fighting for his life. It’s brutal. It’s raw. It’s uncompromising.

  36 comments for “Changeling the Lost, Second Edition Inspirations

  1. WuseMajor
    August 26, 2015 at 3:26 am

    …Ok, I know it’s the World of Darkness, but couldn’t you have included a couple of “happy” things in here?

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 3:37 am

      I actually think Pan’s Labyrinth is exceedingly happy, in its own, weird way.

  2. Kennet Gencks
    August 26, 2015 at 3:33 am

    No DeLint? No Gaiman? Kick it old school.

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 3:36 am

      I specifically mentioned Gaiman. I think Neverwhere’s a great one, but maybe too obvious. It’d be like telling people they should read Anne Rice if they’re interested in Vampire. Sure, but I expect they all know that.

      • Andrew Persichetti
        August 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        This might be, but I’m not sure it’s always the case with the younger generation. Many of the “fresh from college” newbies to my Vampire game, for example, haven’t even heard of Anne Rice. We have regular Interview With A Vampire screening nights to make up for this lack.

  3. atamajakki
    August 26, 2015 at 4:20 am

    DRYH /and/ Unknown Armies in the same post?

    That’s some damn good taste right there.

  4. Bunyip
    August 26, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Mirrormask is a lesser-known Gaiman story that’s packed full of CtL themes. Weirdness and imagery, being trapped, fetches, fighting for escape etc.

    If you haven’t seen it, I recommend adding it to your list to watch.

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Definitely. It’s how I celebrated getting my first HDTV. It’s pretty as fuck.

  5. Akco
    August 26, 2015 at 11:13 am

    It’s one personal to my own character and game but the song Porcelain by the Red hot chili peppers was the inspiration for a character of the same name.
    Fables, the comic series is another big inspiration.

    • Vyvian
      August 27, 2015 at 10:26 am

      If you want to hear a changeling as heck song you can hardly be more explicit than Young Bride by Midlake.

      I used to play a game with my sister where we would find and “court” music so we have little playlists for the seasons.

      I liked a lot of Regina Spektor’s songs for that too. Especially Ode to Divorce and Apres Moi.

  6. Michael Nightingale
    August 26, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Is there official playtesting going on? How would one get involved with that?

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Not yet. I have one group testing. But, I:ll have a more public option available shortly.

      • Phaolan
        September 2, 2015 at 3:36 pm

        Just so that you know, I have a troupe chomping at the bit to playtest this… We were/are among those playtesting Black Hat Matt’s Promethean 2: Alchemical Boogaloo, so we come with some recommendation.

        That is, if Matt thinks we were actually more helpful than just a passel of goofs. He’s a little cagey about some things. 😛

  7. Adam
    August 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I have no idea why, but the film “the fall” always reminded me changeling the lost.

  8. Crüjen
    August 26, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Super happy to see Spec Ops: The Line on here!

    Wasn’t super happy to play it, but the amount it disturbed me made me super happy!

    It’s one of those “The less you know about it walking in, the better” sort of deals.

    Since it’s alike in such a fashion, I’d suggest the movie “Ink.” Was on Netflix for a while, maybe still is. Hell, Ink would be an interesting GM tale, with a couple minor substitutions.

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Seriously. I never thought I’d truly respect that style of shooter. But it blew away all my expectations. It left me blinking at the screen a couple of times.

  9. Dan Sos
    August 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    The City and The City by China Miéville always reminded me of Changeling – try to see and unseen, always with the danger you might see the wrong thing and disappear.

    A lot of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s works have that quality of magical realism that Changeling evokes in me.

    And I’m trying to think of a movie but I’m totally blanking.

  10. Id
    August 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I think that some Florence + the Machine songs are way too Changeling. I am glad to read that The Stranger is being taken into account, the sense of loneliness and alienation are topics the lost have to deal with.

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Totally agreed. She and Lykke Li have been on pretty constant rotation.

  11. August 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I will admit: I did not buy CtL first edition. I thought the concept was interesting, just not quite my cup of tea.

    However, just seeing that Jacob’s Ladder, Silent Hill Shattered Memories (My favorite SH game for exactly the reasons described) and Spec Ops: The Line (Spot. On.) are listed as inspirations, consider myself sold. <3

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 8:07 pm


  12. Tori
    August 26, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    I wasn’t sure, but the link at the top doesn’t seem to go anywhere?

    • David A Hill Jr
      August 26, 2015 at 11:36 pm
      • inkpenavenger
        August 27, 2015 at 9:08 pm

        Holy shit! Listening to that song with the context of Changeling gave me chills. Got the wheels turning on prelude ideas too…

  13. Peter
    August 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    You had me at Jacobs Ladder

  14. Sean
    August 26, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I think “Storytime” by Nightwish has a very Changeling vibe to it. I could definitely see it being used for the title sequence or at least a trailer for a Changeling tv show.

    Basically, any song or story that features Peter Pan imagery or that deal with the art of storytelling probably fit here. There was a book I recall happening across that retold Peter Pan as a True Fae-like figure who “saves”/kidnaps orphans and unwanted and unloved children and turns them into child soldiers to fight a horrific evil, and it focused on how the nature of Neverland turned these kids into deeply flawed superhumans who faced death on a daily basis.

    • August 26, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      A lot of Nightwish songs work for Changeling and/or World of Darkness in general. My troupe played a Changeling game as our previous chronicle (we’ve moved on to Demon: the Descent) and used “Nemo” as the basis for his character.

      I was lukewarm to the first edition of Changeling (nothing against it, it just didn’t “grab me” like, say, Werewolf or Promethean) but knowing that Pan’s Labyrinth and H. R. Giger have influenced this new edition makes me a bit more interested.

    • Arcane
      August 27, 2015 at 4:13 am

      If you like Storytime, check out the whole Imaginaerum movie.

      • August 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

        I already did. It was awesome! What’s funny is the guy who got me into Nightwish and also told me about the movie still hasn’t seen it. xD

    • Cwastg
      August 28, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      I believe the Peter Pan tale you’re referencing is Gerald Brom’s “The Child Thief”. The artwork alone is worth the price of entry. His “Krampus, The Yule Lord” is also wonderfully Fae, with some unexpected God-Machine elements.

      • Sean
        August 28, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        That’s the one! Thank you!

        Know that I think about it, any song that uses music box and/or celeste is probably prime Changeling material. Good for a few other WOD gamelines, too, probably.

  15. Adam
    August 29, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    I always found that Far Cry 3 and 4 set the mood this song in particular along with the Thangka quest line in 4

  16. Christopher
    September 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I remember watching cartoons as a kid that was actually about how a child got substituted with a troll and grew up among the nordic trolls. Sadly cant remember its name.

    The movie “Falling down” has a good theme of the protagonist snapping and then immersing himself in a escalating mess of sadomachism.

  17. Christopher
    September 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I remember watching cartoons as a kid that was actually about how a child got substituted with a troll and grew up among the nordic trolls. Sadly cant remember its name.
    But here is a nordic comic about nordic trolls

    The movie “Falling down” has a good theme of the protagonist snapping and then immersing himself in a escalating mess of sadomachism.

  18. Christopher
    September 4, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    oh btw the nordic trolls looked something like this comic about trolls:

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