Reviews: Changeling The Lost

Changeling: one of the best settings I've ever seen

I'm in love with this game. The setting is rich, nuanced, tragic and yet beautiful, and strongly thematic. The game manages to encompass its stated theme, "beautiful madness," in nearly every facet. Changeling characters have been infected with dreams, and the mad logic of dreams and nightmares is common throughout the setting, much like in Neil Gaiman's Never Where or Alice In Wonderland. The True Fae, this game's uber-boogeymen, are terrifying enemies, but not insurmountable for clever, careful characters.

System-wise, the game suffers from a certain amount of imbalance, but not horribly so. The Kith blessings, especially, can vary wildly from one another in utility and power level. However, these issues are (in my own opinion) offset by the sheer versatility offered by the creation system. The character-building tools are almost infinitely flexible, allowing a clever player with a good grasp of the system the ability to create pretty much any character concept you could think of, at all - and probably 2 or 3 ways to do so. The contracts are flavorful and thematic, encompassing common folkloric Fae powers such as time manipulation, plant control, and the ability to lull bystanders into enchanted sleep. The system of Catches, by which a Changeling who ensures that certain circumstances come to pass need not pay the Glamour (read: Mana) cost of the Contract, suits the themes of the game and offers an intriguing way for players to use their smarts while playing. The Pledgecraft system allows both a versatile and clever method for characters to gain benefits when needed and a potential snare for Player Characters and NP Cs alike. In the end, the system, even in its flaws, manages to support the setting, story, and themes of the game. And in the end, for me, that's what it's all about.

So, yeah. An excellent game.

The Fae remind us why we are scared of the dark

Imagine that, out of no fault of your own, you were snatched away from your old life by a being whose mind is so alien to yours that it nearly defies comprehension. You have been tortured, subjected to the whims of your abductor, and you've managed to escape as a broken individual twisted by the horrors you have been subjected to. Your old life is gone, whether it is because there is an imposter in your place or too many years have passed since your "death." You have no choice but to start a new life for now you are one of the Lost.

Changeling The Lost is a brilliant callback to the faeries of old, sociopathic beings that kidnap humans and twist them to their likings. The game puts a lot of emphasis on paranoia and sanity; did you truly escape the True Fae, or is your former Keeper just subjecting you to a cruel illusion that can shatter at any time? Can your sanity hold after it has been through the chaotic environment of Faerie? It is a bleak setting, one that seems almost as hopeless as any Cosmic Horror Story with the True Fae set up as super powerful entities that would gladly drag you back to Faerie and commence Round Two of the tortures they put you through originally.

Despite this bleak setting, the game also gives a glimmer of hope through the motleys. Your motley is like a support group, people who have been put through the same horrors that you have experienced. In a world where the True Fae could strike at any moment, they are your greatest hope of rebuilding your shattered life. Sticking out for each other will help keep the Fae at bay, and through friendship the changelings can keep their sanity intact, stil able to discern reality from fantasy. The changelings may have lost their old lives due to a stroke of very bad luck, but they have been given a second chance and can make the most out of it.

This is definitely one of the gamebooks that fans of the World Of Darkness should own. It has a very compelling setting and, given the fairy tale nature of this game, provides for a great number of ways to create the world of the changelings. Forget the friendly little sidekicks with butterfly wings and sparkles surrounding them. Here, in the World Of Darkness, the True Fae lurk and remind those why faeries were feared by the people of old.