Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Intense Changeling Moment

I just thought I would relate a quick anecdote from my last solo game where I was actually playing a fallen in the new World of Darkness world and while playing through an adventure (from Cthulhu Britannica, no less) I found myself helping a true fae to clear out an evil wizard who had sacrificed thirteen people to build up wards to dominate her brother and drive her out of the location.

While the adventure was complicated when I immediately fell down one of the first pits in my attempts to smear the chalk outline (amazing how Cthulhu adventures can merge with World of Darkness), I managed to return to him and fulfil the quest.

So what does my dear new true fae pal do?  She asks me what I should like as a prize.  I ask to leave, having wizened up to their inhuman natures, but she refuses as she doesn't feel that would be reward enough.

Since I had previously reassured my human friend (and one-time thrall) that he won't always be so weak once I arm him to the teeth with magical weaponry (which fallen can do if they have the right lores), and having joked about getting him a flaming sword, I asked for such an item.  He was complaining about feeling ineffective and I had been needing to leave him behind while I go off and adventure, after all.

She grins and takes me through a portal to her world where she points out a sword embedded in a big stone.  I try to draw it, fail, and she hints that it may not be for me.  So I let my human buddy, Henry, grasp it and draw it.  Arcadia ... True Fae ... a mortal ... my demonic PC knew little about these factors.

Anyway he rolls up his sleeves and gets to it, straining to remove the blade.  As it slowly gets pulled loose, the rock begins to crack and lava seeps out of those cracks, splashing on his feet and then writhing up his body in tendrils, plunging below the skin and seeking out his heart.  Set alight as a human touch, he screams, and so I use my revelatory form's "Immune to Fire" ability (not that it helps against supernatural sources) and try to pull him loose.

No luck.

Finally it ends, leaving him obviously traumatised and with ribbons of glowing fire beneath the skin and the occasional heat spark dancing through his hair and a glowing flame in his heart.  He pulls the sword finally loose and stands there gasping.

The true fae then provides me my flaming sword, in the shape of my human friend, and says I will have him for a year and a day and that if he does not serve me admirably as my sword then he will return to her at the end of that time.

This is with that Shaitan character I've described earlier that I've played in numerous realities and universes (much like a beloved comic book character) because I'm lame like that.  Currently she's an anthropologist in the modern world (as we grew tired of that apocalyptic landscape previously described).

So having been resculpted into a living weapon herself in the time of the Fall, she's particularly sensitive to having essentially done the same to her friend through a foolish slip of the tongue.

Anywho, intense and a nasty surprise for any of your players should you be running Changeling.  The fae are dangerous to both cross and to help.

ADDENDUM: Conversations in the comments section reveals that a number of other players wouldn't be as cool with this as I am.  Thus I will add in a few details of what made this work in case you're thinking of trying this at home: Know Your Players (I mentioned this possibility with a smile; I spend much of my spare time daydreaming about worst case scenarios; I love deep and intense plot developments), Check With Your Players (I mentioned evil sword and he grinned before asking me if he should do it to which I responded that he might as well), A Prize For Every Cost (He will be far more useful now rather than being constantly sidelined and now he has a fancy sword), Style of Game (You can generally get away with more intense plot points in a solo game where you have adequate time to explore the ramifications and where you require more in-depth NPC characterisations).


  1. This is one of those roleplaying anecdotes which I can accept are cool on an intellectual level but which, were I playing, would have hacked me off.

    Don't get me wrong, the burning sword thing was awesome and very evocative, but what tripped me up was the fact that you'd started off by (I would argue very cleverly) choosing a gift that was designed *explicitly* not to allow the True Fae to screw you over. Perhaps more than that, to me it seemed to explicitly avoid the kind of vanity and avarice that people are usually punished for in this kind of story.

    Of course this is one of those situations in which mileage varies massively, and I suspect that I run a very different style of game. My Georgian Requiem campaign recently devolved into something I can only describe as "Vampire Diaries/Phantom of the Opera Crossover Fic".

    1. Yeah, every game is different. Or most importantly, every player is different. I love playing the desperately cheery PC in the face of massive angst so this was a deliciously tragic situation that has the in-game benefit of allowing Henry to join me on later fae adventures (so he can get some fantasy STing on top of the modern WoD theatrics). Otherwise Henry would've had to keep being left behind as thralls just don't get enough of a power boost.

      Right now I'll actually need him when dealing with the hedge or arcadia because while being nicked by thorns in an earlier bit gave me the permanently ensorcelled merit (in exchange for occasional slavery), I still have no access to glamour and am unprotected from thorns (which can still keep stealing my essence).

      Motivewise, my PC was flippant when she declared the flaming sword, figuring it seemed safe enough but without due care, and the fae are notorious for making objects out of humans, so it fit.

      So yeah, knowing player preferences, plot needs and particular action (rash flippancy) to consequence, it works quite well but it should come with a caveat to those Storytellers who plan to try this at home: Know Your Players and Ensure It Adds To The Game.

      Otherwise it can just be a dick move.

    2. Intense indeed. Yeah, I think this falls into the category of things I'd be fairly comfortable doing to an NPC party as part of establishing setting or character of the Fae, but not so much with players. I appreciate WoD is a bit different from settings I'm used to, and Changeling in particular has a sort of loss/helplessness thing going on; my general philosophy is that followers are part of the PC and I wouldn't mess with them substantially without agreement. As you say, this one does have some mechanical benefits, so if a player had been dropping hints that their buddy was underpowered I'd be more okay with doing it, keeping an eye on them and ready to pull a quick-change.

      What I actually expected to happen was he'd grab the sword, and it would turn out to be literally a sword made of fire and massively injure him, maybe in the process of forming some kind of bond.

      Oh, to be pedantic for a minute: is it just my reading, or does this pervert your wish in a rather nasty fairytale way without actually delivering on the literal wish? Only it seems like what you get is your bezzie painfully transformed, and a completely normal sword. Oh, and the Fae laying claim to him when the whole exercise was supposed to be thanking *you* for a massive favour, not making a bargain, and you'd initially turned down any reward.

      Okay, on reflection I think I'd be ticked off at this also, but on a much more mechanical level than Dan. But I know you enjoy dealing with everything going wrong on you.

    3. Yeah, I'd dropped hints that I could see it going down this way way before it happened. And yes, my ST did have a short OOC chat about whether he should progress with the evil idea (one that I'd initially mentioned as a possible horrific happening the day before - only with a much more horrific twist). He felt guilty, but hey, I wouldn't have floated the idea a day before if I hated it. I spend way too much time in my day dreaming up worse possible scenarios ... of which this one actually wasn't. His variant was far nicer.

      But yes, depending on the Player - ST connection, anything can be for the betterment of the game, otherwise there'd be no such thing as Kult-RPG.

      As for the sword, he still has it. We just haven't really poked it yet so I don't know what it is. It would at least be a hedgespun sword. My PC has thus far ignored it. I'll let you know what it does when I find out!

      I'm actually glad for the "stay by her for a year or I'll claim you" proviso, as it'll give me a motive to bring him along to things I normally wouldn't (i.e. demon things) which is more relevant in a solo game where you have no one to adventure with.

      As part of that, Henry isn't my "follower", so to speak, as I have no mechanical connection to him (i.e. merit on him). He's not an STPC, either. We run our NPCs much like plot characters in a television series ... what would be the most interesting and consistent reaction? There's certain things you wouldn't do - like with a television show you don't have a fave character die or get raped - but you have considerably leeway.

      Hmm, funnily enough, Arcadia rarely has a happy ending. They take you, they get you to play out their story, you slowly (or quickly) turn into a changeling, and then they normally keep you until you die. If you do really well they might release you but never unchanged. As entirely amoral beings, they also can't see the moral cruelties of their actions and even their 'helping' brings harm.

      But yes, as much as it may shock other players, I'm really pumped about it. Some players glee over their PCs slowly warping into Deep Ones, others glee over tragic elements deepening the plot lines. My ST used to treat me with kid gloves over the past few years so I'm really keen on seeing how this all plays out.

  2. Didn't mean to sit on this one for a fortnight! Especially as reading it again, what I wrote looks a bit more aggressive than I intended. Stuff's been happening, I got distracted.

    Of course, this is the core of the whole situation here:

    I'd dropped hints that I could see it going down this way way before it happened. And yes, my ST did have a short OOC chat about whether he should progress with the evil idea (one that I'd initially mentioned as a possible horrific happening the day before - only with a much more horrific twist).

    Like you say, when this kind of thing comes out in game from a good group dynamic, these personal events can be really cool. On the other hand, it really needs that relationship to work, because the potential for ruining someone's game experience is equally high with personal stuff. The stakes are higher. Like you've added in the edit, I think there was a bit of miscommunication here; I didn't realise this had been a tacit agreement so it came across to me as a GM misjudging where the lines were.

    I'm actually glad for the "stay by her for a year or I'll claim you" proviso, as it'll give me a motive to bring him along to things I normally wouldn't (i.e. demon things) which is more relevant in a solo game where you have no one to adventure with.

    That's a nice point which just wouldn't have occurred to me. It helps blur those areas where what the player wants and what the PC should want go different ways, which is handy. And having some backup (or Robin the Boy Wonder to steal the cell keys or whatever he ends up being) is always good.

    Anyway, hope that didn't come across as confrontational there, it wasn't my intention.

    1. No, I didn't find it confrontational. As the player in this scenario, rather than the GM, it's hard to take it personally and I know you're not the type to denounce someone (i.e. the player) from enjoying something you don't believe they should.

      My in-depth explanation was more along the lines of investigating why it worked and how it worked as it's the kind of thing that would normally fail. So where do you judge the line? How do you know where it should sit? I saw your comment as an opportunity to further analyse the situation.

      Also, I realised that I'd written the post very ambiguously to begin with one line (now edited, I forget what it stated) that made it seem all the more negative rather than enjoyable to me.