The True Fae [Changeling: The Lost]

Changeling: The Lost core book coverChangeling: The Lost, Second Edition has gone to manuscript approval at White Wolf Entertainment. This is WWE’s chance to look at our near-final text and specify any changes they’d like to see. After this, the book goes to editing and art direction, then post-editing development, then layout.

To celebrate, here’s a preview of the True Fae, by Meghan Fitzgerald and Travis Stout!

The True Fae

Half a hundred aliases describe them: Gentry, Good Cousins, Kindly Ones, Fair Folk,  and more. These are lies frightened women and men tell, hoping to appease the vanity of capricious gods. Such false names obscure true ones that no one dares speak, lest careless and impertinent utterance draw Their attention from across the Thorns. The Lost use the word “fae” to describe anything that comes from the Hedge or beyond it — hobgoblins, tokens, even themselves. But the True Fae are those noble, mercurial, unknowable beings that stride, larger than life, across Arcadia and rule its lands with the divine right of conquerors.

Most changelings see “Keeper” as synonymous with “Gentry,” but in truth, Faerie is home to countless Others who have no interest in humanity. They wage glorious wars over heart-bound trophies, pitting goblin hordes against one another until blood stains the sky. They plumb the ragged edges and dusty corners of their realm, seeking new voids to fill with their boundless selves. Fae explorers prowling the cold, empty wasteland beyond the borders of their Arcadia were the first to discover the Huntsmen in their barrows there, but grew bored with these new playthings until their brethren found a way to put them to better use. A changeling desperate enough to escape her Keeper could reach out to its rival who keeps no human prisoners for a hint to its weakness, though she may decide the price isn’t worth paying after all.

A True Fae is not a person, but a Name wrapped in a tapestry of vows and deals. Deep in the mists of forgotten time, the Fae bargained with Arcadia itself, declaring that they would exist — that they would own the land entire and claim it as a vessel for their Wyrd, dreams, and facets, in exchange for a web of arcane rules so complex no one of them could ever know them all. At their core, the Fae are ravenous beings that must possess. They want, and in their all-consuming wanting they strike bargains to sate their desires, whether for slaves, kingdoms, secrets, or spoils. Changelings who live and labor among them usually see only the tip of the Gentry iceberg, but those brave and foolish enough to delve more fully into Faerie’s mysteries catch a glimpse of the truth: a True Fae’s Name is its heart and its undoing, and all the vast kingdoms and beauteous treasures with which it surrounds itself are made of promises. And promises can be broken.

Names and Titles

A True Fae’s Name is its core, and rarely manifests in a comprehensible way unless its Titles have all been stripped away or lost. A Title is one of many roles a single Fae agrees to play, one face of many that it wears, granting it limited omnipotence within the confines of that role. The Princess of Red Crowns is able to nail her hats to the heads of her victims, to conjure up her great and terrible Crimson Keep, because she holds that title. She possesses near-infinite power when it comes to nailing hats to people’s heads, dragging off wicked children to her Keep, and so on, but unless she is also the Tlatoani of Crashing Serpents, she has no especial control over dragons or violent thunderstorms. No matter what form a Title takes, its nature always bleeds through: every manifestation of the Princess, on Earth or in Arcadia, features elements of torture, blood, and nails, for example, whether she appears as a blood-drenched madwoman with a hammer or a children’s rhyme about the perils of going out of doors while hatless.

The True Fae are the lords and ladies in their palaces of crystal and moonlight, but they are also the palace and the masked servants and the forest in which the castle sits. What the Courts call the “Keeper” is just one Title’s manifestation, and even if a changeling kills it, the oaths it made would simply cast a new piece of itself in that role eventually and pick up the Wild Hunt where it left off. Only breaking the deals that created a Title in the first place can permanently unravel it, although another Fae may devour it and claim it for itself.

A given Title might become a Keeper for any number of reasons, and might not be one forever. A changeling’s captor might abandon her for ten years not to inflict the torture of loneliness but just because its Keeper Title got distracted with something else for a while and forgot it was a Keeper. Some Fae take people for the exquisite flavor of their emotions, or the prizes they can extract from human dreams. With their ability to weave dream-symbols into real objects, they pluck the most valuable jewels of dreamstuff from the minds of slumbering mortals and steal them away to adorn their crowns. A beloved memory, a childhood fear, or even the certainty itself that one is only dreaming and can wake at any time — a True Fae may covet these, and only the dreams of humanity can provide. Other Gentry might love humans for their ability to present a spirited challenge or entertain them, or might simply prefer human servants to goblin ones for the smell. One Fae might plot to take more human prisoners than another, for no reason other than to compete. Some Titles may even need to capture humans as a term of their deals to exist, which means a changeling might escape by finding loopholes in those deals.

Sign on the Dotted Line

The Others have built a kingdom that conforms to their every whim, but without their age-old pledges they would be nothing. More importantly, they can’t take power away from rebellious changelings without taking power away from themselves — an inconceivable notion. Their tangled webs of pacts and obligations are what empower the Lost to oppose and evade them.

All the world-shaping power and casual immortality a True Fae possesses comes from pacts it signed when it came into being. The Contracts it wields are like a changeling’s writ large, inscribed into not only itself but its domain too — even the crystal gardens that sing enchanting songs and the treacherous bogs that devour trespassers are Contracts. The signature that seals the deal is the oath a Fae swears, and the terms of this oath are complex secrets woven into its realm and the role it plays among the other Gentry. Pacts it swears upon its Name are existentially binding, and bestow the grandest and most fundamental parts of a Fae’s nature that persist across all of its Titles. Breaking these pacts condemns it to true destruction. Lesser pacts it swears upon a Title bestow smaller-scale powers only that Title can use; breaking these pacts won’t kill a Fae, but it might destroy the Title or render one of its powers useless.

A True Fae makes deals with entire Regalia, gaining nigh-limitless power over their themes within the bounds of the Title that uses them. In exchange, it must keep a physical representation of each Regalia it masters, though not always a literal one. A Sword could very well be a weapon, but it might also be a hunting hawk, a thunderstorm, or a bulldozer. It could even be a jagged cliff that juts out into the sea — anything that expresses force and forthrightness within the purview of the Title that commands it. Some changelings think the Fae have access to more than six Regalia, deriving ever more esoteric powers from treasures rare and peculiar.

An Arcadian realm is like a theatre: the scenery and costumes and faces change, but the framework remains apparent, if an actor just changes her perspective. Anyone wishing to oppose one of the Fair Folk can do so on its terms, dueling with pistols or plotting with its goblin courtiers, and in many cases that’s the only apparent way to do it. But these are uphill battles, fought with great sacrifice to little permanent effect. A changeling who learns the true nature of Titles and their oaths can quest and scheme to discover the terms or physical key to such an oath. Clever manipulation of the Title’s manifestation, destroying the Regalia outright, or appropriating it and overriding the oath by swearing a more powerful one on someone else’s true name can force the Fae to break its pact and take power away from it.

The Fae war among themselves for countless inscrutable reasons, constantly enmeshed in rivalries, enmities, and shifting alliances. One impetus lies in the Gentry’s ability to consume each other’s Titles and add them to their own complement of roles. If a True Fae loses all its Titles and its Name is obliterated, it ceases to be; but if even one of its Titles persists as part of another Fae, it could reconstitute itself someday, regaining a Name through some convoluted set of pledge clauses and happy accidents.

True Fae Traits

A True Fae never appears in a game as anything but the manifestation of one of its Titles, or its Name if it has no Titles left. Characters can’t interact with the full breadth of one of the Fair Ones any other way. A manifestation could be a character, or it could be a sky citadel, or an enormous clockwork machine, or a flock of platinum birds. Regardless of its form, a Title has most of the same traits that a changeling does, although all of its Attributes and Skills may not be applicable in certain forms. The Storyteller doesn’t need to create traits for every Title that belongs to a True Fae; only ones the characters will meaningfully interact with.

Build a Fae antagonist with the rules for creating Changeling characters (see Chapter Three), with the following considerations and exceptions:

  • Character Concept and Titles: A True Fae has three Aspirations just like changelings do. Whenever it fulfills an Aspiration, it gains a Willpower point instead of a Beat, which goes away at the end of the scene if not spent unless it was earned pursuing a craving or a changeling.

Aspirations for the Gentry range everywhere from the humanly impossible to the unthinkably cruel. If the Title is a Keeper, one of its Aspirations should reflect its desire to capture — or recapture — a changeling. One Aspiration should always reflect a craving of some kind, something the Title wants to possess more than anything, such as “the love of a human” or “one million loyal subjects;” this Aspiration stays no matter how many times it’s fulfilled. Highly abstract Aspirations like “become a star” are valid for the Gentry, but the Storyteller should make sure a route to such an Aspiration exists and has something to do with characters the Fae can interact with; for instance, to become a star, the Title might first need to transform seven humans into eternal blue fires and then consume them on Midsummer’s Eve. The star then becomes just another manifestation of the Title.

A True Fae has between zero and five Titles. The Storyteller should decide up front how many total Titles the Fae has, even if he’s only creating traits for one of them; this determines how powerful each Title is. A Fae with zero Titles is like a cornered rat, consisting only of a Name, and is desperate to make deals and pick off weak Titles from other Gentry to survive. A Fae with five Titles is a god even among faeries, with power over every Regalia and a massive Arcadian domain.

Gentry have many kinds of Names, from a simple “Ayesha” or “John” to the sound of waves breaking against an ice shelf, or a picture of the wadjet. Strange sounds and images don’t especially protect True Fae’s Names. Once heard (or otherwise experienced) a substitute is as good as the Name itself, provided the speaker witnessed the faerie’s real Name and uses the substitute with an honest, true intent.

Titles are abstract (and even enigmatic) concepts, but they always refer to an emotion, sensual experience, or object. One may be the Prince of Weeping Rats, while another is the Acolyte of Screams on the Mountain. Every manifestation incorporates the Title in some distinct way. This shape or theme is called the Title’s tell. The Prince of Weeping Rats appears as a rat-headed crying man holding a scepter, or becomes an endless, filthy high-rise, whose human-looking tenants weep whenever the ruling rats eat their food or
steal unattended children.

  • Wyrd: Determine Wyrd before the rest of a True Fae’s traits, as many traits derive from its Wyrd rating.

Even the weakest of the Gentry is powerful compared to most changelings. Each of a True Fae’s Titles has a Wyrd rating of 5, plus one dot for each Title the Fae possesses (including this one), to a maximum of 10.

A True Fae begins any scene with a full Glamour pool in Arcadia, and otherwise recovers Glamour in the same ways that changelings do. All True Fae suffer from Glamour addiction outside Arcadia or the Hedge; if they fail to regain at least their Wyrd rating in Glamour each day in the real world, they suffer the Deprived Condition. If they fall to Glamour 0, they lose Willpower and then Health at a rate of one per day until they regain at least their Wyrd rating in Glamour.

True Fae suffer from frailties just as changelings do. They also suffer the bane of iron, as detailed on p. XX.

  • Attributes and Skills: Rather than prioritizing categories, a Fae Title receives a number of dots equal to five times its Wyrd to distribute across Attributes, and the same number to distribute across Skills. A Title has no Skill Specialties.
  • Faerie Template: True Fae don’t have kiths, Courts, or Anchors. They don’t truly have seemings either, but each Title can use one seeming’s blessing and bears something of that seeming’s trappings regardless of the form it takes.

In Arcadia and the Hedge, a Title has free rein to treat reality as though it were shaping dreams (p. XX) or the Hedge (p. XX), performing any oneiromantic or Hedgespinning act that fits within the legend of its identity and treating other characters as though they were important eidolons. It automatically succeeds at these actions unless the target of its shaping magic spends a Willpower point for the chance to resist.

A Title also has access to every Contract in (Wyrd ? 4) Regalia (see Chapter Three). One of these must match its associated seeming. In the real world, it can use its Regalia and can itself take any form, but can’t otherwise shape reality.

  • Merits: Fae Titles can have any Merits available to changelings, where they make sense. A Fae’s Social Merits must specify whether they apply in Arcadia and the Hedge, or in the human world. A Title has Merit dots equal to twice its Wyrd rating.
  • Advantages: Calculate these as changelings do, but True Fae don’t have Clarity.
  • Mask and Mien: The Mask hides a True Fae in the real world, but imperfectly; the Title’s tell always shows through in some fashion.

Names and Pledges

Names have power. A Fae that knows someone’s true name can weave that name into a nightmare tailor-made to drive them into its waiting arms. Anyone a True Fae successfully targets with a Contract while speaking or otherwise utilizing her true name gains the Persistent Obsession Condition pertaining to that Fae, with a context chosen by the target’s player.

A changeling who learns a Fae’s true Name can speak it aloud to empower herself when she acts against any of its Titles, achieving exceptional success with any successful use of a Contract that targets that Fae.

The Gentry can make pledges just like changelings can (p. XX), but they must invest more than just Glamour. A True Fae can seal any statement, even those of changelings and other fae creatures, but to do so it must swear the sealing upon something it considers one of its possessions. This could be a captive changeling, a hobgoblin servant, a dream-trinket or token, a Huntsman who wears its livery — anything that isn’t just a manifestation of one of its Titles is fair game, as long as the Fae considers it property. If the subject of the sealing follows through on her promise, the Fae must give her the possession upon which it swore.

A True Fae’s Title or Name can swear a personal or hostile oath to any fae creature, including a changeling, but to do so it must swear upon itself. If it breaks the oath, it doesn’t gain the Oathbreaker Condition. Instead, it permanently loses access to one of its Regalia and becomes vulnerable to lethal attacks during the scene in which it broke its word. If a Title loses its last Regalia this way, the other party may choose to kill the Title permanently; demand any three tasks or wishes from it and then allow it to regain its last Regalia; or force it to inhabit the Regalia’s physical key, allowing the other party to wield it as a token. Such items retain their power even in the real world, but changelings are cautious with them, since dormant Fae Titles have been known to wake under unpredictable circumstances. Changelings who break Fae oaths gain the Oathbreaker Condition (p. XX) as normal, but the Wyrd may demand disproportionate restitution for the betrayal.

Any Title can make a bargain by swearing upon the Fae’s true Name. Fae bargains work differently than changeling bargains do. Both parties must agree to perform a task, give up a possession, abide by a rule, or something equally concrete and clearly communicated. For the True Fae, the consequences for failing to uphold its end is permanent destruction. A non-Gentry party must swear upon something crucially important to her — her own name (and thus her life), perhaps, or that of a loved one; a favorite memory; her Hollow or home; or something else. If she fails to uphold her end of the bargain, whatever she swore upon is forfeit to the Fae to do with as it pleases, and the Wyrd backs up the claim.

Since Gentry pledges have such dire consequences when broken, the Fae don’t make them often or lightly. Convincing one of the Good Cousins to make a pledge is difficult at best and usually requires a changeling to set up an untenable situation for it first. A Fae in mortal danger always has the chance to try to make a pledge and save its life before it’s consigned to oblivion, but it can’t force the other party to agree. Of course, the True Fae aren’t above extracting binding promises from others without actually pledging anything in return, if they can pull it off.

Vulnerability and Death

A True Fae never takes bashing damage from anything other than its banes (including iron), and takes lethal damage only from banes unless an attacker speaks its true Name or it breaks an oath, as above. Only cold iron weapons can deal aggravated damage to the Gentry.

The intricate web of promises and deals that govern a True Fae makes it vulnerable in other ways, too. If a changeling finds a Regalia’s physical representation and learns one of the rules that binds its Title to the Fae, she may be able to manipulate the situation such that the Title breaks its oath, as detailed above. Changelings can purchase these rules from goblins in the know, deduce them from patterns they observe after spending a long time with a Title, trick it into telling them through clever pledges, etc.

As an example, the Storm King of the Bloody Throne wears an ersatz crown and rules its domain with an iron fist. It has sworn an oath to do so forever. But the Contract that binds it to its Name says that it is a usurper, and will rule only as long as the land has no true monarch. Only one who can remove its Sword from the stone in which it’s embedded can be the true monarch, so the Storm King hides stone and Sword both deep in the belly of a dark forest, guarded by goblin beasts. When a changeling braves the forest, defeats the beast, finds the stone, and pulls out the Sword, she becomes the true queen of the land. Since the Storm King has now broken its oath to rule forever, its fate is in the new queen’s hands.

1,001 Stories

The following examples of the Gentry can serve as inspiration for players looking to create their characters’ Keepers or for Storytellers looking for principal antagonists.

Grandmother, Grandmother

Deep in the Wood, past Bone Hill and over Rickety Bridge, sits a cozy little cabin in the middle of a broad clearing. It has a little garden in the back full of dream-a-drupes and stabapples, and a pen for the piglins and milkbeast, and a stout stone tower rises from one corner. It’s here that Grandmother, Grandmother raises “her” children. She takes them from the mortals, you know; the ones who are neglected or abused, or just plain running wild and in need of a firm hand. Grandmother has specific ideas about what a family looks like, and she molds her changelings into the roles she sees fit: the Eldest Who Can Do No Wrong, the Gifted Child, the Black Sheep, the Forgotten Middle Child, and so on. Grandmother’s vision rarely matches the personality of the youths she takes, but then, that’s where the conflict comes from.

Grandmother, Grandmother’s domain encompasses the clearing, the cottage, and a vast tract of dark, spooky woodlands surrounding it. The woods are strictly forbidden to all of Grandmother’s “children,” and are fully stocked with dangerous beasts, ghosts, and any number of fairy tale appropriate dangers. They also contain the only paths from Grandmother’s domain to the Hedge and thence, back to Earth.

Grandmother herself is the manifestation of this Gentry’s third Title: a sweet, smiling old woman who always resembles the archetypal grandmother figure in whatever culture she’s preying on. When she’s angered, though, the façade slips: at first it’s just a flash of sharp teeth or burning reptilian eyes, but when she reveals herself in her full fury, Grandmother, Grandmother is a true terror. Spindly, twiglike limbs belie an unholy strength; papery, wrinkled skin deflects blows like armor; and cruel needle teeth and razor claws dish out horrifying corporal punishment.

Grandmother is choosy about the mortals she abducts: always children, never older than 16 or 17, and all from home life situations that could charitably be described as “troubled.” Street kids and those stuck in the foster-care system, children from abusive households, even latchkey kids Grandmother sees as “neglected” are all likely targets. Once she’s lured or taken them back to her cottage, Grandmother introduces them to their new “siblings” and puts them in a twisted, fairy-tale version of a family drama. Over the years, “her” kids are shaped, willingly or not, into changelings reflecting these roles: the Bossy Oldest Child becomes a Fairest while the Forgotten Middle Child becomes a Darkling, and the Wild Child who spends all her time getting punished might end up an Ogre or a Wizened.

At any given time, Grandmother, Grandmother likely has anywhere from three to five children in the cottage. Inevitably, some of them escape (though almost never all at once — it seems like every time new children arrive, at least one big brother or sister is already there to show them the ropes). Others die. Still others turn 18. Exactly what that means is something the kids debate in hushed after-bedtime whispers. Some say Grandmother lets you go, since you’re an adult and all. Others say she takes you into the forest and sacrifices you to something even more horrible than she. Still others say that, if you’re still there on your 18th birthday, you’re trapped forever, a True Fae in your own right.

Grandmother, Grandmother adheres to a decidedly old-school style of parenting: Good children get smiles and sweet treats (goblin fruits that encourage docility and pliability), while bad children provoke her wrath. Bad children are sent to bed without supper, given extra chores, or, as a final resort, sent into the Wood to cut their own switch. Since this is the only time Grandmother allows any of her children to go past the eaves of the forest, it’s often the best chance they have to escape. The Darkling might abandon her brothers and sisters to run while she can, while the Fairest refuses to leave them behind. The Ogre takes that switch right back to Grandmother and dares her to do her worst.

The Year of Plague

Under a sullen red sun, the cracked and blistered earth gives up foul vapors and poisoned waters. The dead lay uncounted in their heaps, and the dying are too ravaged by disease to seek shelter or dig graves. Changelings scurry about, seeking succor or escape or a way to stop the plague. The sun rises and sets, the seasons turn, and a year later the board resets. All is as it was, forever and ever, plague without end.

The Year of Plague is an unusual Fae Title, in that its domain isn’t a region of Arcadia so much as it is a span of time: specifically, a year of terrible epidemics and plague outbreaks. Every 365 days, the Year “resets,” returning to a zero state shortly after the outbreak. The exact plague and its environs change every year: sometimes it’s London in the midst of the Black Death, or a Ghanan village during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Other times it resembles no earthly place or disease at all.

The Year of Plague seldom manifests a character to speak with, preferring to observe its changelings at a remove. On the rare occasions that it does, it’s a tattered, empty thing of red rags and a medieval plague-doctor’s mask, from which noxious vapors spill endlessly. When it needs to act directly, whether to fetch new changelings or rein in a study subject grown unruly, it prefers to act through goblins or a Huntsman, which naturally follow the same plague doctor motif as they don his livery.

The Year of Plague casts a wide net for its changelings. Anyone who survived a brush with a deadly disease is a potential candidate, as is anyone living in the outbreak zone of an epidemic. The Year often takes doctors and humanitarian aid workers, opportunists and scavengers, and throws them all into a nightmare scenario to see how they adapt and react. Its changelings become Wizened when they try over and over to cure the incurable, or Ogres when they decide the best thing to do is put everyone out of their misery. They may unite survivors and spread hope to become Fairest, or eschew the company of others altogether to protect themselves and become scavenger Beasts.

Naturally, most of the “plague victims” in the Year of Plague are puppets, mere extensions of the Year itself and thus of no use to its studies. Every cycle, though, the Year claims a number of mortals. Sometimes it takes a small cadre and places them together to examine their group dynamics; other times it takes a larger number and scatters them across its domain so it can see how they try to survive on their own. Anyone who has not escaped before the year is up is lost in the resetting: perhaps unmade entirely, or perhaps reduced to one of the automata set dressing the next incarnation of the Year. Escape might come when a character realizes that civilization is but a thin veneer over chaos and ceases playing along, embraces the disease as his way out, or leads the survivors to work together and find a loophole. Actually curing the disease would likely end the Year entirely, ejecting any changelings still within back to the mortal realm.

The Man with the Ergot Smile

From dream to dream he walks, all dapper suits and bright red umbrella. His back is always to the dreamer, always looking toward the huge, thorny gates that loom on the horizon. It doesn’t matter if he sees you, though — once you’ve seen him, he infests your dreams, hollows them out until all you can dream of is him, the gates, and the other poor souls he’s put his mark on. The more of those he gathers, the more those gates creak open, and every night you wake up screaming.

The Man with the Ergot Smile is an exiled True Fae, cut off from his Titles and dominions by dint of some unfathomable Gentry conflict. The terms of his exile are a Contract, as are all things in Arcadia: When one hundred madmen dream as one, the Man may return to Arcadia, and not before. The Contract never said this had to occur naturally, and so the Man With the Ergot Smile slips from dream to dream, planting the seeds of his nightmare and nurturing them as patiently as any gardener. When his poisonous dreams finally bloom, he will go home.

All too aware that being fully embodied is a vulnerability, the Man with the Ergot Smile avoids the physical realm and its attendant dangers. Instead he lives in the world of dreams, skipping from mind to mind along hidden paths and Dreaming Roads, never staying too long in one dream realm. He resembles a man, slim and average height, dressed in a slightly old-fashioned black suit with a black bowler hat. The only color about him is a crimson umbrella he carries like a walking stick. Dreamers only ever see him from behind as he looks expectantly toward the gates of Arcadia, but lucid dreamers or changelings hunting him report that his face is startlingly ordinary — until he smiles, and the world cracks around you and Clarity runs like melted wax.

Though he no longer rules a realm within Arcadia and thus cannot take new changelings, the Man with the Ergot Smile once held dominion over a vast and twisty sanitarium, wherein he broke down captive mortals utterly, just to see what they would build themselves back up as. His patients ended up with any seeming, depending on what kinds of tortures he devised and how they managed to endure them.

Signs and portents follow the Man with the Ergot Smile, signs that echo the realm he once ruled. When the Man is active in the area, admittance at the local mental hospitals spike sharply. Incidences of dancing plague, sudden dissociative states, and St. Anthony’s Fire trail in his wake, and a trained occultist can use those signs to follow him and pinpoint his likely next victim.

The Three Androgenes

Once upon a time, we told stories of wicked fairies in the woods, because the woods were dangerous and it was folly to go there. Now, we do not fear the forest anymore, for we have gone to stranger places by far: the seas, the skies, and very nearly the stars. What stories do we tell to warn our young and innocent away from them? We tell stories of silvery ships and strange, gray beings, child-sized but wise beyond knowing. When you’re someplace you shouldn’t be, someplace that transgresses, they appear in a beam of blinding light, carry you off through a hole in the sky, and peel back your layers amid a galaxy of thorny stars.

Whether the Three Androgenes have always been as they are now, adapted themselves with the rise of UFO folklore, or indeed are a new Gentry altogether, born of stories of flying saucers and alien experiments, no one can say. Their realm is an endless starship, all sleek chrome and art deco fins, containing a multitude of sterile laboratories, operating theaters, and prison cells — or perhaps “zoo enclosures” is more apt. Most of the alien beasts held within are part and parcel of the realm itself, but the Androgenes pride themselves on their extensive collection of humanity. They curate it carefully, always seeking the broadest spectrum of humankind they can acquire.

The Three Androgenes themselves (and even within the nebulous concept of Gentry identity, they’re recognized as a single being) are the archetypal “grays” made popular by everything from science fiction TV shows to late night radio programs: about three feet high, slender, with bulbous heads housing enormous, solid-black eyes made all the more striking by their tiny, almost rudimentary noses and mouths. They sometimes sport silvery, one-piece “uniforms” and sometimes appear nude (though all three lack any indication of sex or gender). They’re always together, whether they’re flying their craft from the control deck or slicing an experimental subject into cross sections and rearranging the internal organs just to see what happens.

Mortals the Three Androgenes take have one purpose: to be guinea pigs and test subjects for bizarre anatomical experimentation. Some become Beasts or Ogres when their Keepers splice their genes with those of other creatures. Others become Elementals or Darklings, partially replaced with advanced mechanical prostheses or reconfigured into nothing human at all, with vast cosmic knowledge forced into their minds. Still others are rebuilt to be flawless, hailed as Fairest success stories and paraded about on display. A few are forced to participate in experimentation on other subjects in a perverse kind of medical school; these changelings become Wizened.

For all that it seems to fly about the cosmos at great speed many light-years from earth, it’s no harder (or easier) to escape the Androgenes’ realm than any other Arcadian domain. Some changelings simply fling themselves out an airlock and force themselves to endure the agony of vacuum until they “land.” Others manage to slip the containment fields on their cells, steal a small shuttlecraft, and reverse-engineer the alien control surfaces so they might escape via “wormhole” back to earth; or take control of the ship itself and crash it unceremoniously into the Hedge.

33 thoughts on “The True Fae [Changeling: The Lost]”

  1. Dear Meghan Travis And Rose! This is Bloody amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. the true fae were cool before,but this? This is a whole nother level of coolness

  2. Have to say this is actually the one gameline I have never played both the OWoD and CofD versions (Dreaming and Lost) but this definitely makes me wish to grab it when available and play!

  3. This is the most amazing that the True Fae have ever been. The comparison to the theatre is particularly apt and helpful in understanding the difference between a Name, a Title, and Regalia.

    I love the way their Aspirations work. I love that they’re so detailed they’re now possible to sheet. I love that their limitations are clearly spelled out so their presences isn’t just to work as a plot device.

    This is seriously amazing work.

  4. Crossposting from the forum for a second cause this is a great preview and it’s got a lot of thoughts swimming in my head that are hard to sum up again:

    There is a lot that was cool and memorable from Equinox Road in this, and a lot that just gets to the heart of the existence of the True Fae and delves even deeper into it, and I love it.

    The nitty-gritty has some bits of opaque comprehension because we still don’t know exactly how Regalia function, and it’s still a preview, but it makes them look very impressive. I’m not yet grasping the interplay between their Name, Titles and all their oaths and contracts, but the preview paints a fascinating picture between those parts.

    There are a few details nagging me, but they may turn out to be no concern at all. Particular advantages or benefits the Gentry gain from coining Contracts and some other kinds of promises seem elusive despite their significant importance, but my confusion may just be because of missing context. I’m somewhat confused why they’re barred from having Kiths, or even only the benefits of a Kith bereft of the significance they have for changelings, when they’re even able to claim the trappings and blessings of Seemings. It seems to close a lot of space for innate abilities or features of their mien that many of their manifestations ought to have.

    The example True Fae in the 1,001 Stories section are all disturbingly terrific, but the lines that mention their Changelings seem to imply Seeming is again something the Keeper shapes a Changeling into rather than something the Lost make for themselves in reclaiming their freedom? Maybe I’m misreading the wording.

    Hrm, something I missed initially is how the manifested Regalia of the True Fae cross roles with the manifestations of titles, especially what used to discretely be Props, in forms that are always symbolically appropriate. That’s neat.

  5. Most of it was awesome, the True Fae are scary, the possible uses exciting.

    BUT it appears that David Hill’s compelling and utterly brilliant use of Seemings as agency is gone, instead Seemings are something inflicted on you by your Keeper.

    Please tell me I’m wrong, because that was my favourite thing Hill had done, reading his Darkling was the only thing in an RPG the moved me to tears and gave me an insight into myself, I’ll be heart broken if it’s gone.

    The rest sounds amazing.

    • For me? I didn’t like that addition of agency prior to returning to the ‘real world’ for changeling characters, if only because it makes the choices made after leaving the Hedge (choosing a Court, dealing with one’s fetch, figuring out how to balance fae responsibilities with mortal life) all the more important.

      I know that mileage varies, and I respect the concerns risen about this, but for me a lack of ANY choice whilst in fae realms is intrinsic to the themes I love in the game.

    • Seemings are the fairy tale role you played in Arcadia, which you took ownership of and turned against your Keeper to escape.

      For example, an Elemental might be someone who took on the role of a storm. Then, they used their might to smash their way out of Faerie, stranding their Keeper in a downpour while rattling the gates of his domain to pieces with thunder. Now, their friends know that when danger calls for unrelenting persistence and maybe a lightning strike that shorts out a city block, the elemental is the one to have on speed dial.

        • One thing you’ll see throughout the setting chapters of the book is that we’ve got sections on “Then” (Arcadia and before) and “Now” (reclaiming your life in the mortal world). So things like seemings are defined very much in terms of both what they say about your past and what you’re choosing to do with your present.

          • If you’ll forgive some relative skepticism I’m still trying to overcome, I am interested if this is meant to suggest a more fluid nature to your Seeming than before, with its shape influenced by how you take charge of your role once you’re out.

            Redefining your Seeming or changing it entirely through your actions seem to be things that would be naturally extend from this perspective. Can you say if that’s something supported as an option in play with consequences for your sheet, or it’s “just” a in-character facet of exploring your set Seeming?

          • The answer to this one is a little involved.

            For changelings, in-character, “seeming” is shorthand for a wide variety of factors including experience in Arcadia, powers, Mien appearance, and behavior after leaving Arcadia. For gameplay purposes, we simplify it to a choice from six core seemings, but the truth is that seeming is a spectrum. There’s no blood test that can tell you whether Jack Straw of the Autumn Court is a Wizened for his knowledge of the ways of crows or a Darkling for the secrets the birds whisper to him and which he holds close to his heart.

            So seeming is something that can vary via interpretation and definitely something that can change. You may have been a living storm in Faerie, but if you use your thunder to inspire and your lightning to light the way for your followers, they might well think of you as a Fairest. Seeming changes can happen on either interpretive or mystical grounds.

            Making that into a system for transition goes beyond the scope of the core and into player’s guide territory, but I’d suggest that a player who feels his character logically begins with one seeming and then changes to another be allowed to make the change outright.

            Going back to the storm who would be queen, they could also be _created_ as a Fairest, no muss, no fuss. The seeming system is designed to present compelling archetypes that present a lot of internal options, and there’s no harm going even broader.

            That raises the question “are there more than six seemings?,” and the answer is definitely yes — there can be as many as you can find or invent archetypes for. As I said on the forums, I think build-a-seeming would be a good player’s guide topic.

          • So, first off, that does help sell it to me, because it’s a thoughtful answer, and I really appreciate your time responding.

            I was initially feeling dissatisfied, but my thoughts have since mellowed out a bit. In the end, I have to admit this presentation gives Seemings more flexibility, even being conflicted over the loss of how clear and distinct the original draft version

          • I accidentally hit the send button on my previous message, sorry!

            So, first off, that does help sell it to me, because it’s a thoughtful answer, and I really appreciate your time responding.

            I was initially feeling dissatisfied, but my thoughts have since mellowed out a bit. In the end, I have to admit this presentation gives Seemings more flexibility, even being conflicted over the loss of how distinct the original draft version was in terms of what it represented to a character by default.

            The good thing is, we can still do that if we want, and it’s true that conceptually, “fairy tale role” – in its many possible meanings and significance to Changelings – is a more iconic thing to present as part of the characters.

            And heck, if the previous seemings hadn’t insinuated themselves into my head already, I might have offered the same praises to these upfront. So I think I can be content with this. Thank you for answering, Rose.

      • Okay, so it sounds like a compromise between the 1e version of Seemings, and the David Jillian version, a half way point. I’m okay with that.

  6. And honestly, I don’t *think* I mind if Seemings =/= Agency anymore, either. Not sure if that’s actually the case, but just sayin’.

    • Actually, by the looks of it, they’re something that was not SUPPOSED to be a sign of agency…but the Kept said “fuck that”, and took ownership of it anyway. See Rose’s comment about an Elemental being a living storm that figured out that her Keeper hated getting wet, and so stranded him under a downpour until she blew her cage down.

      I don’t think that’s a worse option.

        • THIS is what I want… The previous excerpts had less of a vital, proactive vibe to them vis-a-vis one of the Lost coming to terms with the experience of the Durance.

          • From the Introduction:

            There was always something you were missing. Something everybody got that you didn’t, some metaphorical party everyone was invited to but you. Someone offered you a glimpse of it, of that thing that would make you whole. So you followed them.

            But you were deceived. The wider world you had just a glimpse of was only a sliver of a vast landscape of madness and horror. For a while you kept going, yes. But eventually, you had to get out.

            So you did. You braved pain and isolation, and you changed your life again. You ran back over the line, rushing toward the place you came from, the memory of all that was good in it lighting your way.

            And now you’re back. Turns out your life kept going without you. In your absence, the familiar became strange. You’re out of place again.

            But you won’t take it this time. You will make your place and you will defend it when your deceiver comes knocking. And if something is still missing, and there always seems to be, you will find it and you will make it part of you.

            There will be dragons and there will be sirens and there will be all the armies of the otherworld sent to bring you back. But you will slay them and you will shun them and you will stand on the battlements of your fortress as they break against your walls of thorn and iron.

            You will be free.

            And none of that was a metaphor.

  7. hawt!

    question, and a problem I had when I was trying to portray a True Fae as an antagonist. If asked who they are will they give titles? they wouldn’t give their true name, so how do they respond?

    • They might give a Title, or they might use an alias that references one of their Titles. Depends on how formal they’re being, I think.

  8. Oh dear, dear Rose, I like this. I like this a lot.

    This is what I CRAVE from Second Edition, what you so expertly did with Vampire: The Requiem and what Black Hat Matt did with Promethean: The Created. That is, NEW stuff that doesn’t invalidate what came before so much as augment, bend, and IMPROVE what came before… And for Changeling: The Lost, what came before was brilliant!

    Note: I’m not saying that ALL of CofD isn’t amazing, but these three (Vampire, Promethean, Changeling) are my faves.

  9. So I have to say that the framing of “Fuck You! I’m taking my life back” really softens my opinion of Lost. I’m a long time fan of the setting in Dreaming, but until C20 I had a lot of issues with the system design. I love the systems in Lost but it never had the theme of being deeply in love with what you are that drew me to Dreaming. I still think I would struggle with wanting to play a Fae creature desperately in love with Faerie, but this twist at least creates I space I could imagine playing in because it isn’t so lost in the trauma metaphor as first edition. For a hard core Dreaming fan that’s not a small accomplishment.


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