Changeling the Podcast is a weekly exploration of the roleplaying game Changeling the Dreaming. Episodes range from readthroughs of books, to interviews with people relevant to Changeling, to deep dives into various topics. We are two fans of the game who are excited to share our love for Changeling with you all.
Rage Across Appalachia (minisode)
Finally, we enter the double digits of episodes (well, unless you count our introductory one) as we discuss Rage Across Appalachia. Despite the cover art, the font and border styles, and the overwhelming majority of the content all suggesting this is a supplement for Werewolf: the Apocalypse, there is in fact the note that says it's also intended for Changeling: the Dreaming. Ergo, we're including it in our Lost in the Library series of book dives—however, this ended up being kind of a mini-sode, because really the entirety of the Changeling content fits into one chapter and some extra pages for the whole book. Still, we get some useful pieces, including the first substantive information on the Nunnehi, the Indigenous fae of the continent.
somewhere in the dreaming... freehold heraldry
Moving forward, the "Somewhere in the Dreaming" tag will be useful for instances where we speculate on alternate directions the Changeling universe might've gone, when we see hints of a decision about the canon briefly showing up in one book, and then disappearing again with little if any trace. In an alternate dimension—or a Dream Realm of some kind—perhaps there is a shape of the game-that-could've-been that contains some of these elements. And in the case of Rage Across Appalachia, there are two freeholds (Roan Mountain and Highcastle Eyrie) that have their own stained-glass style crests, as each of the kiths do. (Pooka was going to attempt to work some Photoshop magic and extract the line drawings to create a mockup of each, but they didn't have time, for even sorcery must give way to temporal logic in the absence of Chronos.)
What this suggests to us is that in some other version of Changeling, there are icons like this for each and every freehold, and an entire system of heraldry based around fae affiliations with them. Boggans with a head for memorizing all this shit could be there at tourneys or pitched battles announcing the representative from this-or-that freehold, the pennons of each minor knight could feature the design, and so on. If you're thinking, "but there would be hundreds to thousands of such icons!" just... just look at how bonkers the system of European heraldry got, historically. However, it might be too much for the artists and designers of the game, so if this was ever a possibility, it's easy to see why it got cut. Still, though...
ballads and bluegrass and reelbands (oh my)
When you grow up with folk and traditional music, you learn about how important ballads are for passing along stories, warnings, wisdom, feuds, history, and so on. The oral tradition is alive and well, even if we don't always know its shape when we're living in the middle of it. (Maybe memes and the explanations for why they're funny will be what we pass down in the future.) Rage Across Appalachia has a nice little section in the Appendix where they talk about how to leverage these into a game—not just in the Appalachian setting, but it works quite well there—as sources of information and inspiration. Lots of this stuff is already scattered through the canon, because a nonzero number of the line's authors have been musicians of different sorts, sometimes (we believe?) in these genres. But just for an example, here's a classic about a noble vs. commoner duel:
This kind of stuff makes good background music for a game with the right vibe; it's especially nice when you can get tracks from local acts (which are unfortunately kind of a pain to find online, if you have specific bands that, say, you went to see at the Renaissance Faire every year as a kid). The corpus for this music is vast, and extends far beyond the Celtic-immigrant-inflected flavor that this book in particular goes for. Check out traditional music where you can, and you'll find ways it can be incorporated into your chronicle, as both plot hook and atmosphere.
As we mention in the episode: we're both white folks, w
The Autumn People
This episode we'll be talking about The Autumn People, which gave extensive information and options about Banal antagonists for Changeling as part of White Wolf's first annual event, 1995's "Year of the Hunter." It's a short book, but densely packed with information, as well as some curious layout choices. Overall, it did its job of pushing out the boundaries of the game world, even if some of the text was left out by accident (and errata'd later), and other parts are a bit difficult to parse. Our conversation centers on the various ways that the Autumn People, Dauntain, and other Banal things are presented, and how they might be useful in a game.
One of the hallmarks of this book is how there are numerous ways to divide up the Banal antagonists (Bantagonists?): mortal vs. fae, aware vs. unaware of other fae, passive vs. active, etc. Here's a graphic that hopefully will illustrate at least some of the many options the book introduces, which may or may not be diegetic and/or in-character; it's hard to tell at points.
If you're slightly baffled by this, don't worry! We were too. Suffice to say, whatever particular spin you want to put on the Autumn Person in your chronicle, chances are this book gives it at least one label.
powers of the autumn people
There are a range of abilities that these antagonists possess. The Banal Chimera have Redes that can inflict Banality; Autumn Fae get Agendas; Dauntain get Stigmas, in addition to their (possible) retention of Arts and Realms. But then, Mundane (human) Autumn People also get little blindsiders like this:
Any time a changeling comes into direct contact with an Autumn Person, the Storyteller may decide to check and see how the character is affected. This is done by rolling the Autumn Person's Banality against a difficulty of the character's Glamour. Each success causes the character to gain a point of temporary Banality. The Storyteller may choose to make this roll at any time in which the character has contact with the Autumn Person; additionally, this roll may be made multiple times if the character remains within the vicinity to the Autumn Person in question, though care should be taken that it is not overdone or the character will soon be lost to Banality.
Given that Autumn People have Banalities of 8 or higher, and changelings tend to have Glamour in the 4 to 6 range, getting four or five successes on this roll is not unlikely. And that means four or five points of Banality just from bumping into (for example) an overprotective mother or restrictive librarian. No wonder changelings were seen as imploding at the slightest whiff of stasis in 1st edition.
pooka's poetry corner
On that subject, here's some shameless padding for the show notes in the form of a poem by Mark Strand that is, well, a little bit peculiar, but also has some nice pooka vs. librarian vibes:
by Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
And just to end this post, here's an art piece from the book that shows an owl pooka becoming Undone, which apparently means his hair gets bleached out, his pupils and mouth go grey, and his brain gets filled up with math. Still, it's a cool picture; there's a lot of surprisingly good art in this book about the folks who would probably prefer to erase all creativity from existence.
Josh Hillerup (he/him) is wanted for the theft of sixteen family
Werewolf and Changeling ft. Josh Heath
Another special guest joins us this week! Josh Heath from Werewolf: the Podcast is here to talk about Werewolf: the Apocalypse and its synergies with Changeling: the Dreaming. What are some of the similar themes? Do the Garou and Kithain have shared history to call out? How should one set up a crossover between the two? We tackle these questions and more, and natter for a bit about the Auspice we'd all be (because WtA astrology is a thing).
One of the interesting bits of connective tissue between WtA and CtD to bear in mind is that characters in each can often do similar things, but from different perspectives (metaphysically, spiritually, grammatically, etc.) Various kiths have the ability to change shape, as the Garou and other Changing Breeds do, but they're rarely doing it to go into battle or even commune with their nature. Delirium hides the actions of the Garou as a remnant of primal human terror; the Mists hide the actions of the fae as a form of preservation (and maybe also a bit of human terror). Each group has an otherworld they can enter with relative ease—though stepping sideways is usually simpler—and with which they have a deep spiritual connection. But those realms are entirely different in terms of their atmospheres, level of danger, their denizens, and the lessons they teach. Maybe most importantly, both groups lean heavily into the importance of social (Title/motley and Rank/pack) and familial (Kinfolk and Kinain) ties, but have very different structures for dealing with both their fellow supernaturals and mortal Kin.
There are also lots of points of similarity. There are redcaps as bloodthirsty as any Ahroun, raiding a Pentex facility is something many changelings will support just as much as a werewolf, and songs and epic tales are arguably essential to the survival of both. Aside from the mechanics that have to be organized for a crossover game, bearing thematic links like these is important to have the game feel right. Players can explore what it means to their characters to see their comrade doing the not-quite-same thing as they do, and consider whether it's an opportunity for one or both of them to grow a bit.
assorted crossover notes
Among the X20 books, there's more about crossovers in C20 than W20 (Werewolf mystics "can apparently travel to Arcadia"?? but changelings who go with them fall into Malfeas??) (these are not recommended as story elements for your game), but more solid material can be found in the older books. Some assorted tidbits that might be helpful:
While C20 has walked this back a bit, traditionally the Black Spiral Dancers have had dealings and occasional alliances with the Shadow Court.There are three Fianna Kinfolk families (two of Irish background, one of Breton) called "The Kin" who have high rates of werewolf and fae blood in their lineage. 3 out of 10 of their children are Garou (triple the rate of most Kinfolk families), 1 to 3 out of the remaining 7 will be Kithain, and the rest are likely to be Kinain (in addition to Kinfolk).A Fianna elder apparently lives at Caer Palisades and is Queen Mab's advisor on Prodigal affairs in the Kingdom of Apples.House Balor insists that the fomori are not the Fomorians or their agents, and are only threats to Prodigals; they would know the difference.We talk about why the Get of Fenris despises the fae (especially sidhe) so much in the episode, but trolls and the Nunnehi are specifically exempt from their ire.In addition to the other Changing Breeds mentioned in the episode (Ananasi, Bastet, Corax, Rokea), the Kitsune and the Nuwisha are popular crossover choices, due to their tricksiness.
And on top of that, we do have an upcoming episode about Rage Across Appalachia, the specific Werewolf/Changeling crossover book! (Spoiler: it's mostly Werewolf.)
where to find josh heath
Some places online where you can find Josh and his work:
Werewolf: the Podcast feed (https://keeponthe
Freeholds and Hidden Glens
As we enter the Seelie half of the year, it's time to talk about Freeholds and Hidden Glens, which gave us seven thorough descriptions of the spaces where changelings get together for the doing of all manner of sundry things. Each of the freeholds is rather different, offering a range of ideas and story setting possibilities for a game. Each of us were rather partial to one or two of them, but we'll let you be the judge of which ones sound the most interesting...
Something that came up briefly in the discussion (but will not be expanded here to the voluminous amount it could be) is Stephen King as a point of reference for the trope of semi-conscious places, most of which turn out to be creepy. This is slightly different than what you'd usually get with Haunts in Wraith, where the spookiness of a haunted house or wherever gets mostly attributed to the presence of the ghosts. But when the place itself begins to take on an intelligence of its own, that's another matter entirely. Works by King like The Shining and perhaps Rose Red have this thread of a place becoming corrupted by the violence or evil deeds that took place there, which causes it to gather a malevolence of its own, which leads to more such deeds, making the place stronger.
It all seems very darkly Glamourous. But this isn't unique to horror literature, and obviously folklore is thick with mythology and superstition about the relationship between past events and present influences in specific locations. You could easily set a scene in a place that causes people to become joyful, or lustful, or whatever. The Dreaming is brimming with emotion, so it's not unreasonable that places in close contact with it, freeholds or otherwise, would have an outsize influence on the feelings of those who enter them. If the building or glade or skate park or whatever is set up as antagonistic to a motley as well, it presents slightly more of a puzzle for players: how do you fight a landscape? How do you reason with geography? How do you prevent yourself from becoming sucked into its emotional vortex when you enter to rescue the childling/find the Treasure/defeat the nocnitsa?
Ghost stories do not have a monopoly on these topics, and folding them into your chronicle can be a clever way to give changelings something a little more nebulous to deal with. But equally, it's fitting for the themes of the game; that uncertainty and sense of being out of place, what theorists since Freud have called the uncanny, reminds us that sometimes the horror in a faerie-story is from the sense that your surroundings are just somehow, indefinably wrong. Food for thought!
It's always nice to see White Wolf folks poking fun at each other with their writing, and sometimes the artwork...
So, one of the freeholds, Gangster's Hideaway, is situated along a trod where all the abandoned objects in the world eventually end up (supposedly). Here we have some keys, a pen, matchbook advertising a phone sex line, a thumbtack... and a curious book buried underneath that old-school Vampire players may recognize. Because of course, if the Endless Trod is the place where all lost and abandoned junk ends up, VtM books will and should be there.
(J/k, VtM players. 3)
Maybe that sweatstained sock is what you're supposed to use to bookmark the page with the Vicissitude 10 power.
Josh Hillerup (he/him) can't find the microfilm, and he's meeting his contact at midnight. What to do?
Pooka G (any pronoun/they) couldn't think of much to write for this week's show notes, because Beltaine was off the hook and life is tiring. Next time, Gadget.
"The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace." —Gaston Bachelard
(psst! email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want)
(and join our Discord at https://discord.gg/SAryjXGm5j !)
Immortal Eyes: The Toybox
This week, we're taking a look at the (debatable) "first chronicle book for the World of Darkness", Immortal Eyes: The Toybox (not to be confused with its tie-in novel, The Toybox) (things gets complicated sometimes). The first in a trilogy of game supplements that follows the oathmates of the Immortal Eyes storyline, this is primarily a Kithain's guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area, with a few stories baked in that STs can run for their group. Although a lot of the setting information has been superseded in the last 25 years—and much of it is freely available online—there is enough depth of detail and hooks to grab onto for current groups to find some use. We highlight some of the bits we find most useful in this episode, so... give a listen!
One topic that came up early on in our discussion is tourism with relation to Glamour and Banality. Could a visitor to San Francisco seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time generate Glamour, or does it simply add to Banality, flattening the rich tapestry of the city into icons to be checked off a list? Is it both, or neither? Does it depend entirely on the tourist, or possibly the landmark? There aren't any hard and fast answers in the books (that we can think of at the moment), but it's an interesting avenue of thought to wander down. As always, it raises the question of the relativity of Glamour and Banality, and might demonstrate that while Glamour is volatile, ephemeral, localized, and situational, Banality is more numbing, creeping, spreading, and generalized. We'll keep an eye out for other bits in the books that give more substance to this discussion, since it would be significant for groups running their game in a major city with lots of visitors. (Lookin' at you, NYC.)
Late last year, Pooka published this homebrew Changeling book! It was simultaneously written to be an homage to this supplement, an update to some of the setting, a clunky pun, and an excuse for coming up with selkie business (since they make their first appearance in this book). It's available on Storyteller's Vault here: https://www.storytellersvault.com/product/375875/. Proceeds go to the medical fund for Nicky Rea, Changeling author emerita, so please consider having a browse and a purchase for a good cause. 3
Josh is a fan of the October Daye series of novels by Seanan McGuire, as surely some of our listeners also are. (They are on Pooka's ever-lengthening to-read-someday list.) He muses that the author might have been directly inspired by CtD and/or this book, because they are set in a fae-inflected San Francisco with a changeling protagonist. There's a bunch of great inspirational reading material for the city as a whole, but this might be a particularly useful series to pair with The Toybox supplement, for a more contemporary urban fantasy feel for the place. If you like them, there are currently sixteen novels in the series—the most recent just came out!—and numerous stories, novellas, etc. McGuire has scored a few Hugo nominations for the series as well, which is a good sign.
The official publisher's page is: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/BK8/october-daye.
san fran travelogue
The recording of this episode took place less than 24 hours after Pooka had returned from San Francisco for their first proper voyage in years. While we might be past the era of your parents renting a slide projector to inflict photos from the family vacation on everyone using a sheet hung over the living room windows (#Banality), here are a few hastily-snapped moments for your perusal and edification:
The Japanese Tea Garden—a freehold, according to the Toybox supplement!—is one of my favorite spots in the city. I like to sit and meditate there; it's astonishing how much passers-by shut up when they see someone sitting with their eyes closed in that space.
There's something indesc
Book of Storyteller Secrets, Player's Kit, Cantrip Cards
Herein we talk about the first proper supplement for Changeling: the Dreaming, 1995's Book of Storyteller Secrets (not to be confused with the identically-named supplement for Vampire: Dark Ages the following year). Following hard on the heels of the corebook, Changeling's BSS clocks in at 64 pages, most of which are taken up by a jump-start adventure that's largely separate from both the overall metaplot of the world and the Immortal Eyes chronicle that shaped a lot of the early supplements. There are also a few pages of crossover rules which, as we discuss, are kind of... just there.
The BSS also came with this swanky Storyteller's screen:
Disclaimer: the story in the book is heavily centered around mental health, forced committal to an institution, and similar psychological issues, which may not be for everyone. (For listeners: we discuss these pretty directly starting around the 18 minute mark and 45 minute mark of the episode, if you want to kind of skip over a few minutes at those points.) But it's also worth saying that this is a theme deeply embedded into the game, especially its first edition, and a prime example of how Changeling handles "darkness" as a concept. It's a more subtle, personalized kind of horror than the gore or edgelordiness that people often point to when they talk about WoD games as a whole; arguably, that makes it more insidious, and many people are less practiced in examining it.
Aside from this book, we also briefly discuss the Player's Kit, which is basically a pamphlet of kith-specific Bunks for each level of each Art (all six, at that point). The Kit also comes with a full-color pad of character sheets that are too pretty to use, really, and some additional templates for your cantrip cards. On that note...!
Here are some of the cards Pooka managed to get their hands on, purely for the purposes of this episode. It's more of a historical curiosity than anything else, but we stand by our overall assessment of them as a concept: quirky and pretty as artifacts, clunky and unnecessary for the actual playing of the game. (There is an undeniable twinge of Glamour when riffling through them, though... connecting with the past, etc.)
This is most likely the closest we'll ever get to an unboxing video on this podcast, but never say never, right?
Josh Hillerup (he/him) rides a friendly tardigrade to work each Thursday.
Pooka G (any pronoun/they) can tune a piano, but can't tuna fish.
"One can't build little white picket fences to keep nightmares out." —Anne Sexton
(psst! email us at email@example.com if you want)
(and join our Discord at https://discord.gg/SAryjXGm5j !)