The only consolation is that the Bloody South has had it worse. Which is quite a consolation.
The Game: Changeling: The Lost
The Publisher: White Wolf Game Studio
Degree of Familiarity: Well, I've read it a couple of times, which puts it ahead of Vampire, but that's all I can say.
Books Required: Changeling: The Lost and the World of Darkness Rulebook
Changeling is a wonderful concept that I've never had a chance to do anything with. The idea of playing a character who was stolen from the world, used and abused at the whim of something fundamentally other, and who fights back to the world only to find that nobody even noticed is a powerful thing. If only I'd done more with it...
Ah well. Right, on with it.
Step 1. Concept
I like the idea of playing someone who's a little displaced in time. Kinda the Captain America thing, only without being a big blue dickhead. More Sand Hawkins, for the JSA fans in the crowd: once a sidekick, turned into a monster, and then frozen in time until his mentor could cure him, at which point he goes on to live in to the original Sandman's legacy. Interestingly, characters in Changeling could have been kidnapped anywhere up to fifty years ago.
Given the backstory, I'm going for a bloke—playing with the shift in time is going to be plenty weird enough. Sandy Drake would have been 21 in 1960, but he never saw his birthday. He was from an old money family, most of the way through his business degree at Harvard. He was all set to graduate and move in to a high-up position in the family firm.
Only thing is, something took an interest in him first. In late February 1960, the King With Five Faces0 took him to the seven-dimensional Palace of Terrible Angles, a place of perfect insane geometry. The King With Five Faces liked the look of Sandy and wanted to make him a present to the Lady of All Tears, but his true beauty was contained within an ugly, lumpen mass. The King With Five Faces changed Sandy into a smooth, perfect glass statue, and gave his gift.
What tortures befell the glass statue that still held the mind and soul of Sandy Drake? Was his body smashed every day at nightfall? Did the sun refract through his nervous system, burning his very essence from within each day? The Lady of All Tears did something worse even than that: she forgot him. For forty-nine years, he lay forgotten in the Palace of Terrible Angles, a trinket long discarded. One day, who knows why, he remembered his sister's face for the first time. Breaking his own limbs to regain his mobility, he fled. Only as he burst back into the real world did the King With Five Faces and the Lady of All Tears even notice that he was missing.
His sister's aged fifty years in his absence, and she's the one in charge. He's learned that he has a life, has a family and everything that Sandy has wanted in his isolation. Now, he wants the life he's been denied. He wants people to feel everything that he's not been able to express for fifty years. The world is a strange and different place, and in the dead of night he sometimes wonders if this is truly the place he was taken from.
Step 2: Attributes
I'm thinking Mental primary, Social secondary, Physical tertiary. Mentally, he's bright but not particularly sharp, and fifty years of torture have leant him a certain resolve that he's not about to forget in a hurry. One point into Wits, one into Intelligence, and three into Resolve.
Social would have been primary, but too long not communicating with anyone has left them to atrophy. Nothing into Presence, two into Manipulation, and two into Composure. Physically, he's average. One point into everything.
Step 3: Skills
Mix things up a bit. Social Skills are primary this time, with Physical secondary and Mental tertiary. Going through the Social skills, I put three points into Intiidation, and three more into Socialize. He's used to schmoozing, and more used to using his name and position to fuck people over. Two points go into Persuasion, and a further two into Subterfuge. The final point goes into Expression, to cover his silver tongue.
For his Physical skills, I put two points into Weaponry (he was a champion fencer before being stolen away) and two into Athletics. Another two points go into Stealth, and the last one into Larceny. All these are things he's remembered from his time as a man.
Mental skills receive two points in Academics and a further two in Politics. He's still got the fruit of his learning, but little else is left.
Step 4: Specialties
I know what I'm doing here from the start. Politics gets "Corporate" straight away. Weaponry gets "Swordplay". Finally, Intimidation gets "Veiled Threats".
Step 5: Apply Supernatural Template
I need to think some about Sandy's durance. I know I want him to be an Elemental, but I'm wondering whether to take a Kith or not. And if so, which? Earthbones could work, but thinking about it, a statue of solid unmelting ice is even cooler. Plus, the Snowskin Blessing is better suited to the character. So yeah.
I get a free Specialty in Athletics, Brawl, or Stealth. I'm thinking of putting "Shadows" in Stealth, because if there's no light it's hard to see the man of ice.
He's joined the Summer court to give himself a grounding and a structure, a means to focus the pain and the loss and the rage within until it's a weapon stronger than even the King With Five Faces.
I note one dot of Wyrd, and move on to Contracts. Five points, and at least two have to come from Court or Seeming Contracts. Three points go into the Contract of Elements. While his body is perfect unmelting ice, his Contract is tied to glass rather than the cold. Protection from glass, a whirlwind of glass shards, and controlling glass is rockawesome. One dot in Fleeting Summer helps finding like-minded people (and for getting Glamour). Finally, I see Contracts of Hearth and I want in. Cursing people? Oh yeah.
Step 6: Merits
Seven points. Fucking seven points. I swear, if I get an ongoing game, I'm going with the "35 XP at start" option just to open a few Merits up. Three of them go into Wyrd, given the power of the Element Blessing and because Glamour is damned important.
Two dots of the Mantle of Summer to start with. I figure he's able to cream some cash out of his old bank accounts enough for a point of Resources. Finally, I figure that he kept the garb that the King With Five Faces had created for him, a one-dot Token of Hedgetouched Garb.
Step 7: Determine Advantages
Maths to start: Willpower is 7, Health is 7, Defense 2, Speed 9, Initiative mod 5, Clarity 7, Glamour max is 11 and starts at 7.
Last thing I need is a Virtue and Vice. Virtue, I think... hrm. He's as detached as they come, and can use that to his advantage, so his Virtue is Temperance. For his Vice, well, Wrath is right there.
I think I covered most of the Spark of Life back in Step 1. As for why he'd get involved with other characters... he's spent fifty years locked away only to return to a world he barely recognises. There's something about other Changelings that's ultimately familiar. In their own way, each and every one has had a similar thing happen. The simple knowledge that he's not alone, that he's still useful to both them and other people, is enough to convince him to help
Concept: Man Out Of Time
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social Attributes: Presence 1, Manipulation 3, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Academics 2, Politics (Corporate) 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Larceny 1, Stealth (Shadows) 2, Weaponry (Swordplay) 2
Social Skills: Expression 1, Intimidation (Veiled Threats) 3, Persuasion 2, Socialize 3, Subterfuge 2
Merits: Mantle of Summer 2, Resources 1, Token 1
Glamour Max/Per Turn: 11/2
Blessing: Add Wyrd to Health dots, The Voice of Ice
Curse: No 10-again on Manipulation &c.
Contracts: Elements (Glass) 3, Fleeting Summer 1, Hearth
0: Not a Quintesson. Honest. Think Grant Morrison with a Hollywood FX budget.