As this is my first post, I decided to go for something that might tell the reader who the heck I am and what my insights on roleplaying are. I can tell you to start that my tastes run both very similar and very differently from Save, Runequester and Javier. Part in parcel that’s because I’m one of the rare, the proud, the gamer chicks.
Now let me also lay it down that I don’t play CtD because of any inherent love for lovely elfin chicks or fluffy bunnies. I have been a longtime ST and I don’t like running stories with ranbows and prancing ponies. I do run storylines pulled from the old fashioned myths with burning people at the stake and having gang members shoot PCs down. So why would I be so devoted to Changeling the Dreaming, a game stereotypically know for all of those things? Why stick with a system burdened with outdated, clunky combat rules?
It all has to do with the basic theme and mood of the game. I, for one, agree with Save that for the most part I like embodying the hero in my games. That is because to me, the game is not just a fun pastime spent getting treasure and killing things; but it is a change to tell a story with friends. If I wanted to kill things and get XP and treasure (which I will grant can be hella fun) I would play a video game. If I want to share a story, I will play a RPG.
So what compels me about telling stories with Changeling?
1. The ability to play with both past and present. I’m a sucker for the ‘past lives’ thing in an RPG. I love having PCs discover their past, deal with thier past lives, have that shape them or being something they act against. The clash of who you were, who you are and who you would like to become is a dramatic question I find compelling. It invites a second layer of characterization for the player to contemplate – and great story opportunities of discovery.
2. The ability to ‘awaken’ to magic. At base I am a positive person and I like my games to be in general positive. Dungeons and Dragons is at heart (no matter how you play it) positive: I start out a normal person (or dwarf or what have you) and through experience and work adventuring I become someone who is powerful perhaps heroic, perhaps rich, or whatever else the player decides. Changeling is, too. There is nothing inherently angst-ridden about waking to a world of magic. It can be confusing and startling. It could be horribly painful, traumatic and/or destructive to the psyche – but it doesn’t have to be. I like having the choice to play a character who is, at heart positive. Having a group that doesn’t feel the need to sit around angsting about the horrible trauma thier PCs have been through. This is what set me off about large parts of the new world of darkness. For me, the ability to play a normal person who grows to become something different and more interesting without having to die, be maimed, enslaved, tortured ect ect is a strong appeal in a game.
3. Human vs. supernatural halves. I like the pull of ‘one side vs the other’ contained in one psyche. I like having players facing decisions and saying “well the fae half of me wants to do this, but the human half would rather not” or comparing fae morals to human morals. It creates tough choices in a game, and tough choices are fun because they prompt action and conflict, which lets the players create a story to be resolved.
4. The ability to bring in anything you can imagine. The dreaming is a wonderful place. shaped and influenced by the dreams of humanity, if you’re feeling like a dark and resonant game your PCs could travel through a reflection of their city where the ghosts of people killed by domestic violence walk around showing their bloody wounds. Or if your group craves something light and shamelessly fun, you could have the action heroes of the lastest summer blockbuster manifest and wreak havoc. The best thing is both are not only supported, but encouraged by the setting.
5. At base, the game supports humans. Call me crazy, but I really hate games that say ‘humans are crap, lets kick them around.’ Now, having human and non-human options is not the same: humans in DnD are not enslaved and oppressed by the other races, they are just as viable as anything other race to become adventurers. But some games (I would argue that the infamous Wraethu and the new game Changeling:the Lost) at base put humanity is a very bad light. I don’t want to play a game that tells me ‘there are big bad things that are better than/control normal humans. So you have to serve them/get changed by them, be one of them to be something. Yes, CtD focuses on characters that are humans who awaken to a fae soul, but I like the blend of human and fae – I ike the idea that fae need to interact with humans for glamour and for sanity. And at base the dreaming is crafted from the dreams of humanity – humans shape the fae as much as fae shape thier dreamers. I can get behind that.