Saturday, December 15, 2012

Changeling Meet Kult

There's a really good post on Kult RPG forums about how Changeling and Kult share a lot of essential principles.  As a big fan of Silent Hill, this was a bit of a *click* moment for me.  Any chance to inject more horror into my dark fantasy really gets my inspirational juices moving.  It also works out because my players all have a lot of experience with the World of Darkness and can generally guess what they're facing and what powers are being used against them.  This is sometimes fine.

After all, horror works best when it contrasts against familiarity and my players generally play monster races (vampires, changelings, demons) so creating a new level of the familiar world of monsters and men and then contrasting it with a far more alien sense of place and creature is quite cool.  Especially when you're running Mage.  Anything that makes them scratch their heads and re-contemplate their place in the world works out.

In truth, I think that's one of the reasons why I liked the old World of Darkness because each monster type had it's own world - a jigsaw puzzle, as it were - and the pieces of their puzzle rarely matched up with anyone else's.  This led to a world of confusion for the players and meant that no one could be quite sure how reality worked.  Sure, you might be a Mage ... but I might be borrowing more heavily from the Demon variant of the world or the Werewolf one.  By choosing a different paradigm from within the same setting, I could even change what made a Mage a Mage.  Since all of the creatures were said to share a world, there was a lot of acceptance for a more fluid and nebulous existence where some of the angles didn't quite align.

New World of Darkness still incorporates a little of this but has largely incorporated all of the worlds into one big jigsaw puzzle.  The only species which really sits apart from that are the Changelings as the Hedge and Arcadia don't truly fit into the other paradigms as neatly as, say, the astral plain and the hisil.  Other than the accepted histories of the world as believed by werewolves versus mages, mostly it all matches up.

The fact that Changeling plays with the existing paradigms means you have greater flexibility with how you incorporate it into the rest of the world.  What are the Fae?  They could be anything.  What is the Hedge?  Generally naturalistic due to the influence of Celtic mythology but it doesn't *need* to be.  The Hedge for a city really could be Metropolis.  In fact, as it's a game of beautiful madness you could shift the paradigm many times to ensure your changelings stay on uncertain terms.

I guess what has always bothered me about running changelings is that the game feels like it should resist the full comprehension of players.  It should resist the ability for players to go: "Oh, that is this and this is something else.  I've read about it."

Now, of course, the writers *have* built that into the books but every time they describe it they need an element of consistency or readers will complain and on the many points that they do introduce setting inconsistency or alternate levels, the players can read it too and therefore be prepared for it.

In other words, the *click* moment was that by borrowing some of the mythos of other settings I feel I can actually do a better job at evoking that mysterious feeling that I believe should be at the core of Changeling.  Does the mythos have to be Kult?  No.  Kult is just a mythos that I can certainly play quite well.

In truth, it could be anything.

And that's sorta the point.

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