Part Two of this explanatory series consists of how to go about playing the game. Just having the sheet isn't enough; now you need to learn how to use it. At this point, it's assumed that you have a gaming group (A Storyteller and 2+ players; I usually like to have at least 4 players), some dice (you'll need nothing but d10s for any White Wolf game, but it doesn't hurt to have other kinds as well; if you don't have dice, see the Changeling Resources page for some links to online dice rollers) and a regular meeting place.
It REALLY helps to have read the book. I can't stress that enough, even if you're not the Storyteller.
One of the major reasons my games broke up is due to players simply not showing up. Even with an agreed day and time (not place, since we did this over the internet), people would skip it because they "forgot" or "didn't feel like it". (Their actual words, by the way.) I cannot even begin to tell you how insulting that was, both to me as the Storyteller and to the entire gaming group. Always remember that none of us HAVE to be here. We're only here because we WANT to be, and if you don't want to be a part of that, then why are you here in the first place?
Turn order is CRUCIAL. Since you're likely going to be doing this in person, this can be as simple as going around the table. If you're like me, however, and don't have anyone in person that wants to play (thus forcing you to turn to the internet), rolling initiative can be helpful if a regular turn order can't be agreed upon. Rolling initiative in Changeling works by rolling Wits + Alertness against a difficulty of 4. The highest would go first, and so on. If the Storyteller controls an NPC character, they would be required to roll too.
Read the page primarily left to right (sorry if it's a bit confusing, the bottom panel comes last here). As a roleplayer, it is your job to think in terms of your character. What would Alice do in this situation? Any number of things.
I can assure you she would not do what Felgerkar wants her to.
Dexterity + Brawl is used for any sort of hand-to-hand combat. The difficulty will vary depending on what you want to do. In case you don't have the book, difficulty works like this:
|Grapple||6||Strength||more successes than the opponent's strength means the character pins the target; inflicting harm can begin next turn.|
|Kick||7||Strength + 1|
|Body Slam||7||Strength + 1 for every success above minimum||character must get at least 3 successes; any less results in 1 health level of damage for each missing success in addition to the roll failing. Successful body slams throw the opponent off balance, meaning they are at a +2 to all difficulties this turn. Opponent must make a Dex + Ath roll (# of successes + 3); failure means s/he topples to the ground.|
|Flank/Rear Attacks||-1 to Difficulty for Flank Attacks; -2 for Rear||-|
|Joint Break||8||Strength + 2||takes a full action; attacker must have brawl 4 and strength 2 to attempt this maneuver. any character who takes damage from this has a limb broken, resulting in it being useless until it heals. Joint Break has no crippling effects on Sluagh.|
|Neck Snap||9||Strength + 3||takes a full action; attacker must have at least brawl 5 and strength 2 to attempt this maneuver. any character who takes damage (unsoaked) has their neck broken. the lucky few who survive are paralyzed from the neck down (Incapacitated) and will need expert care and a trip to a freehold in order to recover.|
|Bite||5||Strength + 2||Redcap-specific, Chimerical damage only|
Weapons (besides guns) can be used by rolling Dexterity + Melee. Like with hand to hand combat, the difficulty will vary depending on the type of weapon being used. Unlike hand to hand, however, calculating damage requires the player to roll Strength + The Damage Number against a difficulty of 6. Most weapons will be a variation off of the ones listed here (for example, Alice's Yo-yo is based off the stats for Morning Stars), but if you don't like the parameters laid out in this list, you can also check the book Changeling: The Dreaming - War in Concordia for more information on both weapons and fighting in general. As a quick note, Hand on this chart refers to the number of hands needed to hold the weapon. Strength is the Strength required to wield such a weapon, difficulty is increased by 2 for each missing point of Strength. Conceal is how hidden the weapon can become; P is for weapons that can be put in pockets; J is for jackets; T can be hidden in a trenchcoat or duster; N is non-concealable.
|Lance||8||3||2||N||2||Lances are cheap, heavy spears that are made to be left in their victims. These stats cover their use on a charging horse. For more information, see Mounted Combat on page 241 of the Changeling: The Dreaming Core Book.|
|Poleaxe||6||6||2||N||3||Poleaxes also have a spear point, and can also be used as spears in combat. Poleaxes may also have hooks attached, allowing the wielder to drag people off horses. The wielder rolls Strength + Melee after a successful attack (this does no damage). The rider rolls Strength + Ride to resist. The one with the most successes wins.|
|Morning Star||7||5||1||T||2||Botches with any chain weapon result in the weapon either becoming fouled and unuseable or striking the wielder.|
Though the following charts were not covered in the comic, it's important to know them, so I'm putting them here.
Ranged weapons include things like bows, javelins, and even rocks. Though lacking the extreme distance that guns have, they are still effective weapons with the advantage that one can be hidden when using them. Attack rolls for basic ranged weapons are made through Dexterity + Archery for Bows and Crossbows, and Dexterity + Athletics for everything else.
The difficulty of certain thrown weapons is determined by dividing the range in yards by the Strength of the Changeling. So, if a Pooka wants to throw a potato at a Redcap 16 yards away, the difficulty is 16/3 (the Pooka's Strength) for a total of 6 (always round up). If a weapon is designed to be thrown (such as a throwing knife), add 1 (or more) to the character's Strength for the purpose of determining difficulty only. If the weapon is not meant to be thrown (such as a pie), subtract 1 (or more) from the character's Strength for determining difficulty only. Using the same scenario, the difficulty for the Pooka to hit the Redcap with a lawn dart would be 4, or 8 for a Key Lime Pie.
In this chart, Range is medium range. This number is doubled for a long-range attack, with a +1 to difficulty. For more information, see page 240 of the Changeling: The Dreaming Core Book.
|Long Bow, Heavy||6||6||N||4||150yds|
|Spear||7||Str + 2||N||3||10yds||Spears are usually heavy, and do not make effective ranged weapons. These stats can be used when in desperation.|
|Javelin||See Above||Str + 2||N||2||See Above|
|Knife||See Above||Str + 1||P||2||See Above|
|Rock||See Above||Strength||P||2||See Above|
|Hatchet||See Above||Str + 1||J||2||See Above|
Guns are used by rolling Dexterity + Firearms. They are ranged weapons, meaning that, unlike melee weapons, they can be used at a distance. Unlike melee weapons, guns come with a number of complications including finding cover and jamming. This is further complicated due to guns being rather instantaneous, whereas with melee weapons, one has more time to react.
In this chart, Range is medium range. The number is doubled for a long-range attack, with a +1 to difficulty. Rate is the maximum number of bullets or 3-round bursts that may be fired in a single turn. Rate does not apply to full-auto fire or sprays. Clip is the number of bullets held in one clip. A +1 indicates that a bullet may also be held in the chamber.
|SMG, Small||7||4||50yds||3||30+1||J||This weapon is capable of 3-round bursts, full-auto fire and sprays.|
|SMG, Large||6||4||50yds||3||32+1||T||This weapon is capable of 3-round bursts, full-auto fire and sprays.|
|Assault Rifle||7||7||150yds||3||42+1||N||This weapon is capable of 3-round bursts, full-auto fire and sprays.|
|Shotgun, pump action||6||8||20yds||3||8+1||T|
The following table covers complications that may arise during firefights. All numbers are, in the end, at the discretion of the Storyteller, but this helps to give players a general idea.
|Only Head Exposed||+4||-|
|Specific Area of Target||+2||-|
|Multiple Shots||+1/extra shot||-|
Next up, we have Arts, Changeling's version of Fairy Magic. These are special powers that each character has, and allow them to do everything from change their form, to see the future, to fly. Arts can really pack a punch in battle, but Alice has a different plan for hers.
Casting Arts in Changeling has always been a bit.....weird. The original version of the game implemented a card system for bunks, which sounds alright, until you're trying to fly away and suddenly your character is laying out a tarot spread. It was really ineffective, and though I never experienced it firsthand, I'm glad they did away with it.
In an effort to prioritize story and streamline gameplay, the book actually states that you should take the parts of Cantrip Casting you like, and use them in your game. (Cantrip is the word for Arts as they're being cast; whereas Art is a noun, Cantrip is a verb.)
The formula I always used was level in Art + level in Realm = the dice pool, with any points awarded from Bunks subtracting from the difficulty. In Alice's case here, she is trying to cast Go Ask Alice (level 3 of Metamorphosis) on herself (a commoner Changeling), so she would need 3 dots in Metamorphosis and 1 dot in the Fae realm, for a total of 4 dice. Considering she's experienced in the Art, the difficulty would already be rather low at 6, but drinking that sugar water would be about a 2-point bunk, lowering the difficulty to 4. (As always, talk to your Storyteller about how to cast Cantrips, as their method may be different than mine.)
Always remember that every situation is different. If you're being accosted by a noble in the middle of a grand ball, perhaps socking the trog in the jaw isn't the best answer. Changeling involves a lot of thinking on your feet (as does any roleplaying game, really), and this can be a bit difficult for some people to get into the habit of. If it helps any, you and your Storyteller can use a method I used with my players, where I conducted mini-sessions (over the internet, mind you, it may be more difficult to do this in person) and we conducted "practice rolls" to get people used to different situations and different kinds of rolls.
This method is great for getting people into the roleplaying habit, but as a player, it's also very important for you to think in the context of your character, rather than the context of rolls. If you, as your character, lose your keys in your house, you're not going to roll Perception + Alertness to find them, you're going to search the damn room. Thinking in actions rather than rolls is Changeling's (and most games') preferred method, as it helps advance the story and game without becoming mechanical and distracting. Rolls should only really be used to determine how well you do.
We finally get to meet Hatter, Alice's friend and constant companion. This is excellent, because (as sexist as it sounds), I didn't like the idea of Felgerkar hitting a girl.
Damage is an interesting thing in Changeling. Not only are there multiple types of damage, and numerous ways to dole it out, but every character is granted a sort of natural "armour" in that they can "soak up" some damage (meaning they don't take the damage points). This is quite nice, as unlike other roleplaying games (such as Dungeons and Dragons), there is little chance to "level up" and when you do, your health cannot increase (the only ones that get more health over time are Trolls, and that's a racial-specific thing).
Damage rolls vary depending on the attack/weapon, but the base difficulty is always 6. Every success removes a level of health from the target. Soak rolls are made by rolling a character's Stamina against a difficulty of 6; each success reduces damage taken by 1 point. In addition, Damage and Soak rolls are the two rolls in Changeling that can never be botched.
On this page, Felgerkar dodged Hatter's punch (unlucky for Hatter). Normal hand-to-hand dodges are rolled with Dexterity + Dodge (or Dexterity + Athletics/just Dexterity if you don't have Dodge, at the Storyteller's discretion), but firefights use the following chart.
|2||By moving back half a step, the character is back under full cover.|
|4||Full cover within diving distance (1 yard).|
|6||Full cover within running distance (3 yards).|
|7||Partial cover within running distance (3 yards).|
|8||Flat and featureless, no cover (the character dives to the ground).|
I suppose I lied a little bit in the comic, since there are TECHNICALLY 4 types of damage, but they fall into the categories of either Physical or Chimerical.
The first I will go over is Chimerical. Only done to a Changeling's fae side, Chimerical damage is done by Chimerical sources only, such as a Minotaur's horns or a Faerie sword. This type of damage cannot be seen by the Unenchanted (humans, other prodigals such as Werewolves and Vampires, animals, etc), which may lead to confusion when a crippled character screams in agony but no wound is visible to the mortal passing by. Chimerical damage is on the easy side to heal, with characters recovering at a normal rate, unless in a Freehold or Glade. Within these confines, a character heals 1 level per night, and if in the Dreaming, 1 level per hour. As these wounds can only be seen by fae and the like, Storytellers should feel free to get 'creative' with their descriptions.
Changelings who fall to Incapacitated from Chimerical wounds fall comatose, and must be taken to a Freehold or strong source of Glamour to recover. The Changeling will not awaken until all levels have been recovered; Childlings and Wilders usually wake the day after, Grumps may take longer (Storyteller's discretion).
The next one to cover is Physical. This is damage to the Changeling's mortal side, and can be caused by anything that would normally harm a living thing: Fighting, Fire, Drowning, Falling, Impact, etc. These wounds appear on both the mortal and fae seemings, and can be seen by the Unenchanted (obviously). This type of damage is most common and heals at the normal rate, unless in a Freehold or receving treatment by magical means. Cantrips such as Heather Balm can take care of "real" wounds very easily, and when in a Freehold or the Dreaming, characters heal at the rate of 1 level a night.
After this is Aggravated Damage. Aggravated damage can almost be considered seperate from the other two in that one can take it along with other types, but considering it either causes Chimerical Aggravated wounds or Physical Aggravated wounds, I feel it falls within the two types. This type of damage is done by particularly nasty sources, such as the Holly Strike cantrip, toxic waste or extreme burns (either by fire or acid) can cause Aggravated wounds. Players should mark these seperately from normal damage, such as placing an X next to the damage box to indicate which type (Physical or Chimerical) and how much.
Healing Aggravated wounds is tricky, since typically they can only be recovered by the body's natural healing process (if the time needed is spent in a Freehold, it is only reduced by half, rather than being instantaneous). If cantrips are used, additional Glamour must be invested in addition to what's needed to cast the cantrip itself. One point of Aggravated damage can be healed for each additional point spent.
Lastly is Cold Iron wounds. These are the nastiest of all, and can only be done by Cold Iron weapons or items. "Cold Iron" in this game is actually Wrought Iron, which makes for lousy weapons, but regardless of the quality of weapon, it still does fierce damage to a Changeling. Merely handling a Cold Iron weapon sears the flesh, causing it to bubble, blister, and literally smoke both in fae and mortal seeming, and can leave permanent scars. It causes health levels of Chimerical and Aggravated damage simultaneously, and causes the character to lose a point of temporary Glamour per point inflicted. Those characters who fall to Cold Iron not only die Chimerically, but their fae soul may never go on into another lifetime. It is snuffed out completely. Cold Iron is such a vile threat to Changelings that they can sense it in their presence naturally.
The following chart is for healing times. Remember that this is base healing times; modifiers such as being in the Dreaming or using healing Arts are not taken into account. Please note that the times listed are the times BETWEEN health levels; if a character is Wounded, it will take a month for them to get to Injured.
|Crippled||Three Months||Not only must a Changeling heal this health level, but s/he may lose a point from one of his/her Physical Attributes. A Changeling who is magically healed, or who reaches a Freehold to be healed before a day has passed, does not suffer this loss.|
|Incapacitated||See Notes||A Changeling who reaches Incapacitated heals at the Storyteller's discretion; s/he may fall into a coma for the rest of his/her life (unless taken to a Freehold for healing).|
I covered this point earlier in the page, and I really hope it sinks in. It is your job as a roleplayer to assume the identity of the character. Leave the mechanics up to the Storyteller. They'll tell you when it's time to roll.
Just because I said before that you shouldn't be looking for opportunities to roll, doesn't mean you should tune yourself out. I got the feeling that some of my players did this (though probably not on purpose), so I had to actually engage them to get them to play. Remember that not all Storytellers provide a guide character the way that I do. There is no guarentee of helpful NPCs in this game. It's your job to look out for opportunities yourself.
With that, I leave you to chat with your Storyteller about what you learned here. Try the practice roll method if you're having trouble getting into the roleplay mindset. In addition, take some time to yourself and think about what your character would do in certain situations. I'll see you next time in Part III - Glamour and Banality!