Viva la Vida
All changelings can feel the magic of Faerie pulsing through their veins. This transformative power within is called the Wyrd, and represents how much the character has been changed by the effects of Glamour. Most Lost characters begin play knowing how to tap into only a small fraction of this tremendous power. As they experiment with their new powers, however, they find their magic growing in strength, their memories of their servitude returning with greater clarity and even some of their fundamental human limits pushed aside, allowing them to develop all manner of astounding capabilities both magical and mundane.
Just as anything else from Faerie, this power comes at a price. Most more volatile and intense his emotions become. Ultimately, his passions can become so intense that even friends and allies are put off by the intensity of the character’s feelings. Maintaining the illusion of humanity becomes increasingly difficult as well, as elements of a changeling’s true form begin to poke through their façade, further widening the rift with ordinary life. As if that were not enough, a changeling with a high Wyrd finds that they become bound by certain superstitions and folktale weaknesses.
As part of the changeling template, changelings receive one dot of Wyrd, representing the transformation they experienced in Arcadia. Additional dots may be purchased with experience points, or initial Merit dots can be spent (3 Merit points per dot of Wyrd) to add extra Wyrd dots. Increasing a changeling’s Wyrd rating typically involves such activities as becoming more involved in the magical elements of her life, experimenting with her new powers and capabilities or traveling the Hedge.
Benefits of Wyrd
- Wyrd affects a changeling’s ability to manifest her magical energy, representing how many points of Glamour a player can spend in a single turn. Wyrd also limits how much Glamour a changeling can contain at one time; the higher her Wyrd, the more Glamour she can store within herself. Changelings who have spent time learning to master their magical nature are capable of absorbing larger amounts of power than those that have not, not to mention able to use it more quickly and efficiently in times of duress.
- Changelings with Wyrd 6 or higher can increase their Attributes and Skills past five dots. Just as the heroes (and villains) of myths and fables, the changeling’s mastery of her Wyrd has made her larger than life, allowing her to increase her Mental, Social and Physical capabilities to truly legendary degrees.
- Wyrd determines how many goblin fruits she can carry in the mortal world at any given time.
- A changeling’s Wyrd rating also determines how many basic pledges (specifically, vows) she may have active at a given time. A changeling may only maintain a number of Glamour-infused vows at one time equal to her Wyrd +3. If she wishes to adopt a new vow but is currently at her maximum, she must either be released from one of her existing vows, requiring the permission of the other parties involved, or she can choose to break one of them and accept the penalties for doing so. If she attempts to craft another vow while at her maximum, it simply fails, and any other changelings involved are aware that the pledge was not mystically binding.
- A changeling’s Wyrd rating also affects her dreams, specifically her recollection of her time in Faerie. The stronger her Wyrd becomes, the more she begins to dream of Faerie, her Keeper, her time in servitude and the other changelings she might have seen there. Some motleys form after members realize they have been seeing each other in dreams or even that they once were friends and allies during their time in Arcadia. While all changelings dream of Faerie from time to time, those with low Wyrd ratings (1-3) tend to forget them almost immediately upon waking, remembering only confusing and isolated fragments. A character with a stronger Wyrd rating (4-6) still forgets as many dreams as she remembers, but those that she does recall are preserved relatively intact, like clear but fading photographs. Those rare changelings with powerful Wyrd ratings (7-9) dream often of their time in Faerie and remember almost everything as clearly as though they were watching it unfold from just a few steps away. Lastly, those paragons with Wyrd 10 enjoy frequent dreams of Arcadia so real and unclouded it feels as though they are actually re-living the experience, which, given the treatment that many changelings endured, can be a rather dubious pleasure indeed.
As with most things related to dreams and omens, this capability is largely the province of the Storyteller, who decides when such dreams are appropriate as well as what images and symbols they contain. However, the player is free to suggest certain elements or themes as a way of exploring his character’s personal history, explaining the development of certain Traits or even forging relationships between characters. A character might start to recall Faerie battles in which he wielded a blade and begin to improve his Melee rating, while two characters currently at odds might find a complication arising in their rivalry if they begin to remember a desperate alliance during their escape from Arcadia. The Storyteller is the final arbiter of such requests.
From a mechanical perspective, the changeling also adds her Wyrd rating to any rolls related to remembering or interpreting dreams. Just as any other character, the changeling still must decipher the unusual combination of symbolism, imagery and emotions that constitutes the “language” of dreams, but as her Wyrd rises, her fluency in this subtle tongue increases, making it easier to understand what the unconscious mind is trying to say.
- A character’s Wyrd is used to resist the effects of many mystical powers, whether the tricks and Contracts of other changelings or the strange talents of the other supernatural denizens of the World of Darkness. The more dots she has, the more dice her player gets to make contested rolls against these powers.
- Wyrd also allows a changeling to resist the ravages of time. The higher her Wyrd grows, the longer her lifespan grows.
Although raising a changeling’s Wyrd threatens to distance him somewhat from the ordinary humans around him, his attunement to the primal power within him also allows him to tap into raw emotional energies that even other changelings cannot normally access. By calling up his own extreme emotions, the changeling can channel that energy into a desired emotional response and send it surging through those around him, overwhelming nearby targets with highly concentrated passions and urges. Subjects who fail to resist become consumed by the passion the changeling has released and abandon other activities in favor of following the whims of their incited emotions.
Cost: 1 Willpower + 1 Glamour
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Wyrd vs. subject’s Composure + Wyrd
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive. Affects a maximum number of targets equal to the changeling’s dice pool before any modifiers.
Dramatic Failure: The target does not feel what the changeling desires, and immediately gains a strong sense of antipathy toward the changeling. The target is immune to further uses of this power by that changeling for the rest of the story.
Failure: The target is unmoved.
Success: The target gets caught up in the emotion radiating from the changeling and is inclined to act on whatever behavior it inspires in her at the time (running from the most obvious source of danger while afraid, lashing out after becoming enraged, seeking pleasure while in the grip of the desire, etc.) The target remains in the grip of this emotion for the rest of the scene, and while not completely irrational, should a question arise, the target will always choose to act on instinct and emotional response rather than the dictates of logic and practicality. The target is not blind to danger and will not commit plainly suicidal acts, but depending on the situation and the emotion unleashed, his judgment may become somewhat impaired as to the risks of actions that are not as obviously self-destructive. The target does not recognize anything unusual about this emotional outburst or the behavior it causes while it is happening, though once the scene ends, he may question his sudden change of heart, and supernatural creatures might very well suspect an unnatural cause.
Exceptional Success: As a success, with the added benefit that subjects find a way to rationalize their behavior as stemming from their own desires, and will not think to investigate the matter further unless given a compelling outside reason to do so. Depending on the outcome of the situation, subjects may also find themselves revisiting it frequently in dreams or nightmares for some time afterward.
Suggested Modifiers: The changeling is unleashing his Court’s chosen emotion (3); The emotion is from the Court most closely related to the character’s own, i.e., Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter (1); The target is already feeling emotions similar to those being unleashed (1); The target is relatively calm and relaxed (-1); The emotion is from the Court of minor opposition, i.e., Summer/Autumn, Spring/Winter (-1); The target is feeling emotions strongly in opposition to those unleashed (-3); The changeling is unleashing the emotion of the Court of major opposition, i.e., Summer/Winter, Spring/Autumn (-3).
Note that this is a wild, unrestrained release of emotional energy, with none of the safeguards or fine control of a proper Contract. Only the four major emotions represented by the Courts can be unleashed in this fashion — desire, wrath, fear and sorrow — and Incite Bedlam is utterly incapable of sending out nuanced emotional messages or any kind of actual commands. Indeed, unless the character scores an exceptional success, the changeling might very well be targeted by some of the individuals caught up in this wave of emotion, so using Incite Bedlam to enrage a group of enemies is seldom a good idea. Naturally, a character may attempt to guide the behavior of the targets through other methods, such as offering up a scapegoat for an angry mob or shouting “run for your lives!” after unleashing a wave of fear through the crowd, but the Storyteller is the final arbiter of exactly how any given individuals react.
This power automatically targets those in closest proximity to the changeling at the time it is used, including fellow motley members or other allies, and this power always attempts to affect the maximum number of targets possible given the character’s dice pool and number of individuals present — the character cannot choose to affect a smaller number of targets, selectively target individuals in the midst of a crowd or even bypass those standing closest to him in order to reach more distant targets.
Drawbacks of Wyrd
Visibility: As a character’s Wyrd rises, so, too, does her “attraction” to the True Fae. Those with little power are less likely to be targeted as valuable by any Gentry who don’t already have a vested interest in them. By contrast, once a changeling’s Wyrd reaches 6 or higher, she becomes much more interesting to any True Fae that might stray across her path. Her raw power has potentially grown to rival that of some of the lesser beings of Arcadia, for one thing, and even those who still dwarf her mystical might still recognize that she has begun to show definite promise. A changeling who developed her Wyrd in hopes of being able to defend herself against her old captors might find them full of pride in her “accomplishments,” since she has perhaps completed the work they began with her when they took her. As with most things related to the Others, the Storyteller has control over how this mechanic manifests during play. It shouldn’t be used to generate aimless and random True Fae encounters, but rather to place characters with high Wyrd ratings squarely in the sights of one or more Arcadian lords, who then begin weaving their schemes accordingly. While many changelings find themselves involved in some plot related to these arcane entities at one time or another, characters with Wyrd 6 or higher will be treated with special consideration, assigned roles of central importance to the twisted intrigues designed by the True Fae.
Addiction: Changelings whose Wyrd rises to 6 or higher become physically addicted to and psychologically fixated on obtaining Glamour, requiring increasingly regular infusions of fresh Glamour in order to sate their bodies’ increasingly alien cravings. A character with Wyrd 6+ can go (11 – Wyrd) days before needing a new “fix” of fresh Glamour. If the changeling does not harvest a number of Glamour points equal to half her Wyrd before that interval is up, she suffers one level of lethal damage each day afterward as her body literally consumes itself in an effort to satisfy its hunger. This damage cannot be healed or prevented by any means until the character once again tastes Glamour.
As a changeling becomes more infused with the power of Glamour, some of its stranger rules and limitations begin to apply to her as well. These quirks of her fae nature are called frailties. Frailties come in two forms, taboos and banes. A taboo is a behavioral restriction that either compels or prohibits a changeling to commit certain acts in specific situations. A bane is something that causes a changeling injury, usually an item but occasionally a type of person or situation. Damage caused by banes, both major and minor, automatically bypasses all forms of armor or magical protection and cannot be healed by any means until the character is removed from the presence of the bane.
A character may attempt to take action against the source of the frailty rather than avoid it or flee its presence, but to act so directly against something that weakens her so badly is extremely taxing on a character. She suffers a –3 dice penalty on all rolls related to working against the cause of a minor frailty and a -5 dice penalty on all rolls related to confronting the source of a major frailty.
Minor Frailty: This level represents a frailty that is highly inconvenient but unlikely to come up often in daily life. Taboos at this level tend to be triggered only by very specific circumstances, for example, while banes are usually uncommon items or situations that won’t be casually encountered very often. Examples of minor taboos include being forced to pick up and count spilled grains of rice, or being unable to eat anything unless given verbal permission by one’s host. Minor banes might be a painful aversion to the sound of church bells, exposure to wolfsbane or hearing a one’s name said backwards. A character may resist the compulsion surrounding a minor taboo for one scene with the expenditure of a Willpower point, while exposure to a minor bane causes one automatic level of bashing damage per turn until the bane is removed or the changeling can escape its presence.
Major Frailty: This level involves taboos that are substantial impediments to important aspects of daily life, and that cannot easily be avoided in the course of a normal day. Likewise, major banes are typically much more common substances or circumstances, and will rapidly prove fatal to the unfortunate character who is exposed to them. Examples of major taboos could include being forced to walk backward at all times, inability to go outside while the moon is in the sky or being compelled to perform a favor for anyone who recites the character’s true name. Major banes might include such things as being burned by religious items, feeling pain in the presence of children or that destroying an effigy of the character will cause him actual injury. Breaking a major taboo requires the expenditure of a Willpower point per turn the character acts against this custom, while exposure to a major bane inflicts one automatic level of lethal damage per turn until the changeling flees the bane’s presence.
Needless to say, most changelings keep their frailties as secret as possible, lest their enemies find ways to use these limitations against them. Players and Storytellers should work together to design frailties that are interesting and appropriate for each character, though the Storyteller has the final say on what frailties are acceptable. Should ideas prove hard to come by, a wealth of potential frailties can be found in folktales, legends and myths, not to mention scholarly works about those same subjects. It is important to note that while these drawbacks should definitely present a challenge to overcome, they should always enhance players’ enjoyment of the story, not make it feel like a chore to play their characters. With that in mind, create frailties that are intriguing, that embody the character’s personal history and attitude, that make sense when one considers who the character is and what he is best known for. Handled correctly, frailties can add a fascinating layer to a character, as knowledge of a great weakness can throw a character’s other qualities into sharp relief.
Although this is a rare practice, a changeling may choose to voluntarily lower her Wyrd rating. Perhaps she has become frightened by the degree of her transformation, or disturbed at the disconnection it causes between her and her mortal associates. Occasionally changelings simply walk away from their old existence, and abandoning their power is just another way they try to distance themselves from their former lives. Whatever the reason for lowering a character’s Wyrd, it must always be a choice made of her own volition — a changeling may be cajoled or coerced into lowering her Wyrd, but she cannot be outright mind controlled or otherwise compelled to do so. However unfair the choice might be, it must still be a choice.
Once the decision has been made, the process of lowering her Wyrd is deceptively simple: The changeling must cut herself off from the world of Glamour almost entirely. First she must rid herself of all Glamour points in excess of the absolute minimum required to avoid suffering from Glamour deprivation. From that point on, she cannot use Contracts, ensorcell mortals, cross into the Hedge, dream walk, employ supernatural Merits, use tokens, use any other magical abilities or even attempt to gather more Glamour than the smallest possible amount needed to survive. In effect, she must go “cold turkey” regarding all things related to Glamour; otherwise her Wyrd will continue to sustain itself on even the smallest shred of energy and her efforts will be wasted. Completely passive effects such as a seeming’s bonus Specialty will not automatically break this rule, since the changeling cannot control when or how these powers manifest, but should they activate while she is attempting to lower her Wyrd she must do her best to downplay and ignore them as much as possible.
Assuming the changeling can maintain an existence without Glamour and fight off the temptation to replenish her power, Wyrd decreases by one dot after a number of months have passed equal to the character’s current Wyrd rating. Thus, a character with Wyrd 9 must abstain from the magical world and uses of Glamour for nine months before her Wyrd rating will be lowered to Wyrd 8. It bears repeating that lowering a changeling’s Wyrd requires a voluntary decision even if a changeling is caught in an unfortunate situation where he is completely cut off from Glamour and the magical world for a long period of time, his Wyrd will not erode unless he chooses to decrease it during that time. (He might suffer other problems due to a lack of Glamour but not Wyrd loss.) Some rare exceptions to this rule exist, usually as the result of particularly virulent curses or a changeling breaking potent oaths, but these instances are extremely rare and entirely at the Storyteller’s discretion.