Merits [Changeling: The Lost]

Changeling: The Lost core book coverHi, everyone. Today, I’d like to preview some Merits from Changeling: The Lost.

When we started the second edition process with Vampire (which, wow, was five years ago), one of the things I was keen on was making sure that every monster had access to cool Merits related to their supernatural nature. Splat-specific Merits have been a big part of second edition, and Changeling is no different. Indeed, it’s even more of a natural fit for the Lost, given the range of innate qualities and unexpected advantages changelings sometimes acquire.

With that in mind, here are some Merits from Changeling. These aren’t all of the changeling-specific Merits in the book (I’d say they’re about a quarter of them), but I think they show off some of the fun directions we’ve gone in.

One of the things I’ve chosen to highlight is changeling fighting styles, because the Chronicles of Darkness can be a rough place. You’ll also notice that some forms of fae magic fit more naturally as Merits than as Contracts, something to keep in mind when customizing powers for your own game.


Diviner (• to •••••)

Prerequisites: Composure •••, Wits •••

Effect: Your character can dig within his dreams for prophetic answers to primordial truths, as all humanity is and has always been connected through their dreams via the Dreaming Roads. He must enter a dream state, through either the Gate of Ivory or Horn, into his own Bastion. Then, ask the Storyteller a yes or no question about something he wishes to divine from his dreams. She must answer accurately, but can use “maybe” if the answer is truly neither yes nor no. Depending on the answer, you may ask additional questions, up to your Merit dots. You can ask that many total questions per chapter.

Dream Warrior (•)

Prerequisites: Wyrd 2+, one Social Attribute •••, a specialty in Weaponry or Brawl

Effect: Choose a Specialty in Weaponry or Brawl when you purchase this Merit. Your character’s extensive training in oneiromancy allows her to benefit from the flexibility of the dream. By blending dreamscaping and martial techniques, strikes land faster as the dream bends to aid her blows. You may use the chosen Specialty for its bonus even in dream form (p. XX).

You may purchase this Merit multiple times to gain its benefit with multiple Specialties.

Dreamweaver (•••)

Prerequisite: Wyrd 3+

Effect: As his connection to the Wyrd grows stronger, so does the changeling’s control over the dream. Once per scene, you may spend a Willpower point to make three successes count as an exceptional success on a dreamweaving roll (p. XX).

Elemental Warrior (• to •••••; Style)

Prerequisites: Dexterity or Wits •••; Brawl, Firearms, or Weaponry ••; Elemental Weapon or Primal Glory (Contracts) or Elemental seeming

Effect: Choose one physical element when you purchase this Merit, such as wind, flame, or wood. Your character commands it in battle; all of the following effects apply only to the chosen element.

Wind Cuts to the Bone (•): The changeling achieves exceptional success on any roll to deal purely elemental damage with three successes instead of five, except when Hedgespinning or dreamweaving. If a weapon is made from only the chosen element, such as a wooden club, it counts.

Defensive Flurry (••): The character adds half his Wyrd (rounded down) in dice to his Dodge pool after doubling his Defense. This swirling elemental shield allows the character to Dodge Firearms attacks as well, but not apply Defense against them.

Hungry Leaping Flames (•••): By spending a Glamour, the changeling may make melee attacks from 10 yards away from his target and add 10 yards to the short/medium/long ranges of a ranged attack for the scene. In addition, the appropriate elemental effects may disturb the scenery: flammable objects can ignite, cutting winds might knock over unsecured objects, and so forth.

Antaean Endurance (••••): While the character remains in significant contact with the chosen element (standing on bare earth, knee-deep in water, facing powerful wind gusts, etc.), he gains extra Health boxes equal to half his Wyrd, rounded down. Add the same as bonus dice to all rolls to resist fatigue or toxins, or to stay conscious.

Wrath of Titans (•••••): The changeling can spend a Glamour to make his successful melee attacks cause one of the following Tilts for the scene, chosen when activated: Blinded (one eye, or two with multiple attacks on the same target), Deafened (one ear, or two with multiple attacks on the same target), or Knocked Down.

Enchanting Performance (• to •••; Style)

Prerequisites: Presence •••, Expression •••

Effect: A character with Enchanting Performance can touch upon whatever font makes all things fae so captivating. She brings a little of that magical obsession from beyond the Hedge and puts it to use. Whether she does so for cruelty or kindness depends on the changeling.

Limerick (•): Your character knows how to aim insults at an audience for maximum humiliation. She can use Expression to force Doors in Social maneuvering, as her scathing words count as Hard Leverage, and adds half her Wyrd rating as dice to the roll to do so, rounded down.

Poem (••): When your character has successfully opened a Door using Expression for performance, she may spend a Glamour to open another Door immediately.

Sonnet (•••): Your character encourages a fearsome self-confidence with a performance unlike anything her audience has ever seen. She may spend a Glamour to give the rote quality to her next mundane performance-related Expression roll. If successful, a target in the audience gains the Inspired Condition (p. XX). On an exceptional success, everyone viewing the performance gains the Inspired Condition.

Fae Mount (• to •••••)

Effect: Your character has befriended a creature of the Hedge to serve as his steed. Through a special song or gesture, the mount comes to its master anywhere in the Hedge, except to the Hollow of a changeling who prohibits it.

Additionally, each dot of this Merit allows the creature one of the following special abilities:

  •  Manyleague: With a body of screaming wind or quicksilver, the steed is faster than any other, doubling its Speed. It gains the Merit’s rating as a bonus to Initiative if it acts on its own; if not, you gain the Initiative bonus while mounted instead.
  • Chatterbox: Many creatures in the Hedge are more intelligent than their appearance would let on. The steed can speak to and understand its owner clearly, and can relay simple messages in its master’s tongue to other changelings, though complex words and metaphor are beyond this special ability.
  • Actormask: Like your changeling, the mount has a Mask. This allows it to leave the Hedge, albeit for a limited time, and in a shape a great deal more mundane. An armored spider mount might become a Volkswagen Beetle, while a horse of steaming blood might become a sporty red motorcycle. Any abilities it receives from this Merit still apply and whatever form the Mask takes should bear that in mind. It may remain outside the Hedge for one scene, fading into nothing shortly thereafter. A Fae Mount that disappears will reappear in the Hedge after a day and a night.
  • Armorshell: Plates of thick chitin or stone cover the beast. It gains 3/2 armor and provides partial concealment to anyone currently riding.
  • Burdenback: The mount is massive, with broad shoulders or a pearlescent coach that grows from its haunches. It can carry a number of individuals equal to dots in this Merit. It receives an additional two dots of Stamina.
  • Dreamspun: Some creatures in the Hedge exist only as long as they’re acknowledged. When the mount dies, it returns to life the next time the character gets a full night’s rest, with no knowledge of perishing. It gains dots in Stealth equal to your dots in Fae Mount.
  • Thornbeast: Many fanged monsters hunt in the Hedge, and your character’s mount is one of these faerie predators. Add two dice to all attacks the mount makes, and increase their weapon modifier by 2. This can represent anything from natural claws to grotesque metal sawblades.
  • Hedgefoot: Many faerie creatures aren’t earthbound. They swing from trees, claw their way up walls, and even fly. Your character’s mount is no different. It can either run across water as fast it moves on land, move up buildings at three times its normal Speed, or fly once per scene at twice its Speed for a number of turns equal to your dots in this Merit.

[Stat block redacted]

Faerie Favor (•••)

Effect: The Gentry’s promises bind them to a greater degree than those of the Lost do, and your character possesses such a promise. She is entitled to a favor from one of the True Fae. She may have gained this favor through anything from knowing a clever riddle to a dark deed done at the cost of another changeling’s freedom. However she earned it, she has a bauble, song, or phrase that represents the favor, and when she breaks, sings, or utters it, the True Fae will appear.

The favor can be many things: the capture of a rival the changeling has tracked to his Hollow, a week of freedom from a Huntsman on the changeling’s heels, safe passage to somewhere in the Hedge or mortal world, etc. After the character calls in the favor, she gains dots in any combination of Merits appropriate to the power of the Gentry, per the Sanctity of Merits (p. XX).

Drawback: Nothing about summoning the Gentry for aid can be easily explained to another changeling. The character gains the Notoriety Condition when she calls in the favor.

Hedge Duelist (• to •••; Style)

Prerequisites: Presence or Manipulation ••; Brawl or Weaponry ••; any Social Skill ••

Effect: Your character is a skilled fae duelist, capable of turning the Hedge into a weapon. Each Duelist adopts a different style. A capricious sword-dancer might taunt and tease the Hedge into action, while a king of beasts calls Glamour-phantoms and Hedge-fiends to aid him, and a druidic sorcerer communes with the Hedge, its voice guiding his movements. This Merit’s effects only work in the Hedge proper.

Thousand Falling Leaves (•): The character’s attacks flutter about his enemy like a cascade of falling leaves. You may inflict a ?1 Defense penalty on his opponent in exchange for only dealing half the damage he would normally deal if you succeed.

Emerald Shield (••): The Hedge lifts up the strongest and shields him from harm. Leaves, roots, branches, even flocks of birds surge to turn aside his foe’s attacks. He gains an armor rating of 2/0, which stacks with worn armor but not with armor gained from Hedgespinning.

Bite Like Thorns (•••): Your character’s attacks wound deeply and the Hedge greedily soaks up the blood he spills. Fat vines snake around his opponent’s limbs, fastening like leeches onto their wounds. Razor-edged leaves open their cuts. Add a dice bonus to attacks equal to the wound penalty his foe suffers.

Manymask (•••)

Prerequisites: Wyrd 2+, Manipulation •••

Effect: A changeling is usually stuck with the same Mask he left the Hedge with, an immutable combination of remembered human traits. Some changelings develop control over the appearance of their Masks, either through intense mental gymnastics or some quirk of seeming, kith, pledge, or Contract.

The character may spend a point of Glamour to change his Mask permanently. He may make one change per chapter per dot of Wyrd he possesses to any of the following: eye color, hair color, facial structure, or skin tone; or he may remove any notable scars or other features such as birthmarks, freckles, etc. At Wyrd 5+ he may create an entirely new Mask once per chapter by spending one Glamour, mostly unbeholden to his existing features.

Parallel Lives (•••)

Effects: The changeling is deeply connected to his fetch. Each experiences occasional flashes of the other’s emotional state when something affects one of them strongly, and gains two bonus dice to use Empathy or magic to read the other’s intentions, or to enter his Bastion. By spending a point of Willpower, either can ride along with the other’s senses for a number of minutes equal to his Wyrd rating, losing his Defense and the ability to perceive the world around him as he does.

Either of them can also spend a Willpower point to send a vague message via thought to the other; it comes across not in words, but fleeting impressions and snippets of images, and can only encompass fairly simple ideas. A fetch could warn his changeling of a Huntsman’s impending arrival, but without any detail about when or how. Likewise, the changeling could threaten his fetch’s life, but couldn’t make any specific demands. Whenever the fetch uses this connection to make the changeling’s life more dangerous or inconvenient, take a Beat.

20 thoughts on “Merits [Changeling: The Lost]”

  1. These are some fun stuff, but I’m saddened by the nerf bat Elemental Fighting Style took.

    Before it did seemed too good for a fighting style without glamour or willpower costs, but now it looks kind of underwhelming. It’s definitely more balanced, but doesn’t really excite me.

    The other styles look nice, and Diviner and Parallel Lives are particularly interesting merits here.

    • Well, it IS a Merit, not a Contract… and I think that’s something that I like better with these over the previous set of Merits we saw.

      The line between a supernatural Merit and a supernatural Advantage is a fine thing with Changeling: The Lost anyway. I mean only that the Lost are much closer to ‘regular’ mortals than, say, vampires are. This actually fits as a Merit, IMHO.

      • Yeah, that absolutely fits the point explained in blog post’s intro, and I wasn’t too fond of the originally previewed Elemental Warrior fighting style because of how powerful it was, but it did seem to intersect more heavily with the usage of a few elemental based contracts.

        This one feels more like a change or refinement tied to Changeling’s base supernatural nature, and as a consequence less intersected or reliant on the usage of their magic.

    • I don’t have a direct comment on the power level (balancing this stuff is as much art as science), but I can say that I love playing a character with Elemental Warrior. It’s basically fae bending. Definitely picking it again if I make another Summer Court soldier. (Which, for the record, isn’t an archetype I do that often — I favor sneakier characters, and my longest-played PC of all time was a Darkling.)

      It’s a good example of the kind of thing I want out of supernatural fighting styles — rewarding for action-adventure players/chronicles, while fitting smoothly into the aesthetic of the setting.

      • I still really dig it aesthetically, and on a careful reading it has some neat and distinct benefits There’s at least one character I can think of who would make excellent use of it.

        I’m more reacting to the differences than saying this one is less good. It doesn’t make me go whoa, partly as a result of the principles it seems to work on now, but it’s still impressive in other ways and fitting.

  2. So for Elemental Warrior, dot 2 – adding Wyrd (not halved) was a useless enough benefit during 1e. Adding half Wyrd seems even moreso; is the primary benefit here meant to be the active-dodge-works-on-bullets thing?

    • Dodge is sufficiently different between 1e and 2e that you need to reevaluate it completely. Full Wyrd in extra dodge dice would be very oppressive. At half, and with dodging firearms, it’s not super strong, but it’s appropriate for a two dot ability.

  3. I want Changeling to come out already – so much previews… I’m too hyped. God damn it Onyx Path :D, The hype train is on.

  4. I have one really big problem with Elemental Warrior; the prerequisites allow for Firearms only, but the fifth dot ability is melee only. It’s useless if you take it with Firearms and without Brawl or Weaponry, and you can do that.

    • It’s prerequisites are Brawl, Firearms, or weaponry at two dots…

      “Dexterity or Wits •••; Brawl, Firearms, or Weaponry ••”

  5. Just noticed that Fae Mount’s Actormask trait got changed from hours based on dots in the merit to one scene. For something that’s mainly going to be used as a mount… that seems rather Short. At least to me anyways.

    • I suppose the idea is that you are not supposed to have access to your Mount when you don’t really need it. Like having a regular motor cycle that you use to cruise around the country, but when you go into a battle scene then you summon your Mount for that battle.

      I don’t really mind that since I really like the versatility that’s built into the merit for creating different kinds of Mounts. That was definitely the stand-out for me out of all of these merits.

      The other one was Manymask, which I thought was very interesting. That’s a really powerful ability for a 3-dot merit, because it’s so similar to Mutable Mask, which is a Life •• Mage spell. Sure, this takes more time to enact, but the effects are permanent.

      I thought Elemental Warrior is a little lackluster, but otherwise perfectly serviceable to buff up Summer courtiers. I can already see a character using that with an aluminium baseball bat that grows metal thorns. Fun times.

      • It saddens me to have Fae Mount so limited because, uh, my basic Changeling idea that I keep going back to is Celty from Durarara and the horsebike is such a solid part of that.

  6. Unclear on the language of Thousand Falling Leaves, namely – how long does that defense penalty last? Till after next attack or longer?

    • I agree, it could use a little more definition, but my assumption is that the penalty is only for that specific attack. It is easier to hit them at a penalty for doing half damage. You can choose to do it each round.

  7. *Starting to sweat, scratching at his arm*

    Come on man, when you gonna give us another fix. I am desperate here man, I’ll do anything! Just give us another hit of info!

  8. I like most of thhose Merits, except the flying limitation of the Fae Mount’s Hedgefoot option.
    Flying a few turns per scene is not a very good ability. Kind of chicken-like.

  9. I like most of those Merits, except the flying limitation of the Fae Mount’s Hedgefoot option.
    Flying a few turns per scene is not a very good ability. Kind of chicken-like.


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