Friday, July 22, 2016

Are You Sure/That We Are Awake? It Seems To Me/That Yet We Sleep, We Dream.

Changeling: The Dreaming is a truly bittersweet game for me. It was my first non-D&D game purchase. It's a game that I found to often be dismissed by many World of Darkness players I knew. Changelings were never as powerful as the others, so no one wanted to play a wandering troll knight when they could go full crinos or use celerity and be like the Flash. It didn't stop me from loving the game though. I immediately fell hard for it. I was 14 when I bought my first Changeling books, but even then the concept of the game struck me to my core.  I've never played the game. I have almost all the books and I ran two sessions of it, but still, I've never played it.

The premise of Changeling: The Dreaming is that once the world was full of wonder and magic. During that time the realms of the fae, the Dreaming, were connected to Earth. Cold logic, lack of imagination, and disbelief severed the connection between the realms. The faerie nobility, the sidhe, fled the world. The remaining fae used rituals to bind their souls to mortals, becoming changelings. The souls would be reborn time after time (unless they were destroyed by banality). When man went to the stars, their was a resurgence of glamour (creative energy) and the gates to the Dreaming opened up. During this time, the sidhe returned, but instead of bonding with humans, they essentially took over human forms (no one is sure what happened to the souls of these humans). For this reason, the sidhe are considered changelings (they're a merging of fae and human), but they don't reincarnate like others.

The characters in a Changeling: The Dreaming game must deal with being a part of two worlds. They see reality, but they can also see the fantastic creatures and things of imagination. They must live this double life and reach balance. Unfortunately, our reality is cold and they most also fight against the encroachment of banality. A part of them will eventually die, because they've grown up.

This is what makes Changeling: The Dreaming such a wonderful and sad. You get to be whimsical and tap into that inner wonder that most of us have. Unfortunately, the game also deals with the tragic fact that that wonder, even if we never truly lose it, fades as we grow older.

I know I've been gushing about Changeling, but it wasn't perfect. Honestly, the system was a bit clunky. I mean the original World of Darkness wasn't exactly streamlined, but Changeling was even more complex. Also, the way the Dreaming is described is very Euro-centric. Later sourcebooks would add more Changelings from around the world, but the core game was very European.

Still, those sour spots aside, the books are my favorites. Maybe one day I'll get to play it, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite illustrations from the books:


  1. Seems way more uplifting than Changeling, the Lost.

  2. I had a few of these books and always loved them. That Diterlizzi art is so fucking good.