Reviews: Changeling The Dreaming

Aged Better Than its Bedfellows

As with all tabletop RP Gs, this review has to come with a disclaimer on how much your experience of the RPG: Your mileage may vary from mine, based on the campaign, the skill of the GM, who you're playing with, and how you yourself like to play.]] With that said, there are a few common elements of Changeling: The Dreaming that players should expect if they are ever planning on giving this a try.

Firstly, Changeling lacks the familiarity of White Wolf's other RP Gs. Other titles, like Vampire: The Masquerade or Werewolf: The Apocalypse are tied to a few familiar archetypes; we know what a Vampire does, what they look like and what they do, so that gives the player something to work with. But what the hell does a Changeling do? For a new player, their understanding is going to be very woolly. Even a knowledge of changelings in folk-law doesn't help because changelings in this tabletop aren't the same thing. All you really know is that this is about fairies.

The word "fairy" will put off a lot of people from the start as well, with fans of the other White Wolf games dismissing this title as too cutesy. Some of the classes and races (called "Kiths" in Changeling) are built towards being trickster types, and these Kiths have quirks that make for some interesting roleplay, such as a "Sluagh's" inability to talk in anything but whispers, or the "Pooka's" compulsive need to lie about everything. It can encourage G Ms to branch away from typically grim, combative settings in favour of debate and intrigue based stories.

To some extent, this lets Changeling better stand the test of time, because It doesn't have the horribly dated 90s/early 2000s aesthetics of Vampire. Fantasy has grown bored with vampire tropes and dark/gritty fantasy, and fairies have enjoyed a quiet comeback. Changeling has this versatility to dabble in grit, but also to look like something completely fresh. This does also works against it too however, because its other elements definitely have dated. The combat system is sort of clunky and convoluted, but its nowhere near as convoluted as the lore, which (like a lot of White Wolf games) involves no end of feuding factions, major timelines, Courts, Noble houses, and bloodlines. Even the mechanics of the Changelings themselves feel over-complicated; the player is essentially playing two physically overlapping characters at once, and have to be prepared to switch between the two depending on the in-game situation. Not being tied to generic monster archetypes is nice, but it does force the DM to stop the show and clarify what the hell is going on sometimes.

Changeling does a lot to put off new players, but it can be much more rewarding and interesting experience in the hands of a skilled DM and a comfortable group.