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Changeling: The Dreaming, A Storytelling Game of Modern Fantasy (edition 1995)
by Sam Chupp (Author)
Changeling: The Dreaming by Richard Dansky
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I bring to the table very mixed feelings when I set out to review Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition. This is one of my favorite games of the World of Darkness lines, but it has its share of problems. There are some things that could be improved upon, but wrinkles aside my core gut reaction is fondness and excitement.
Changeling is the brightest of the WoD games, not the most cheerful. Many people make that mistake. It has the shine of colors and fantasy that Vampire, Werewolf, perhaps even Mage cannot hope to match but being that is a game about dreams it can also be about the most frightening nightmares as well. Also, a core theme of the game is the loss of dreams, loss of imagination as the world steadily becomes cynical, cruel and grinding, full of ennui. That is as frightening as any monster, indeed.
Literally anything can happen in the half/world Changelings inhabit. They are mortal humans that share an immortal soul with a Fairie of Legend, so they have one foot in the real world and one in the imaginary world of dreams. So, while a changelings mortal half may be dodging traffic on his way to work his Fey self may be hunting down quarry on an imaginary steed. Comedy ensues.
The biggest problem about the game is finding players and storytellers who really understand this esoteric notion. It isn’t a game everyone can grasp. The second problem is based in irony. While the Dreaming is a place where anything can happen; Changeling: The Dreaming offers frustratingly limited character creation options. If you don’t want to be any of the “Kith” archetypes listed in the main book, there isn’t a mechanic to create just the kind of Fey you want to be without house rules. Also, the magic system is… lets not mice words. It’s broken, badly. Fans of the series deny or overlook these flaws, however. If you can, than it is a very enjoyable game. Plus, the artwork is luxuriant and beautiful.
One of the best stories ever. I love the idea of personified dreams living among us. The game system, however, needs a bit of work. Especially the Arts and Realms section. (Especially the Realms...)
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The second edition of this book, featuring a clarified and expanded setting and cosmology, as well as completely new and revised rules, while still remaining compatible with the first edition and the rest of the Storyteller games.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)793 — The arts Recreational and performing arts Indoor games and amusements
Not everything is light, like the other WoD games there is an apocalypse built in, that involving the death of creativity in light of the cynical nature of our postmodern world. For a changeling, this means the terrifying prospect of the permanent loss of their fairie soul.
As much as I love the game in theory, it is a challenge in practice. First is the challenge of finding players and storytellers who really grok the game. Many gamers just can't wrap their mind around it. Secondly is the magic system: Hopelessly Broken. Changelings are also underpowered compared to other WoD characters, but this doesn't really matter as the game is a nightmare to crossover anyhow, as the Changeling characters exist halfway in their own separate reality of the Dreaming. As time went by, I also found the character creation to be rather restrictive, but back in 1995 it was still new and fresh.
The design of the book is top notch, particularly the first chapter where the authors take a playful break from the "opening fiction" of previous material. The artwork by Tony DiTerlizzi and others is top notch, and really helps you grasp the theme and feel of the game.
Changeling: the Dreaming is a game with few but passionate fans. I hope if you find it you enjoy it as much as I did the spring of 1995. ( )