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Nightmare Fuel / Changeling: The Lost

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This is what will happen if they get their hands on you.
Unmarked spoilers below!
  • The entire Changeling: The Lost line is terrifying. At any moment you could be dragged away by immortal, unstoppable fae creatures and turned into their slave. If you ever regain your mind and fight your way back into your own world, you find a double has been leading your life and you've been physically warped by your whole ordeal. It's the sort of thing that keeps you awake at nights, jumping at every little noise.
    • And all of that happens to your character before the game even starts...
    • And if by some miracle you become powerful enough to convincingly oppose the True Fae, you are almost certainly too far down the road to turning into one of them to ever turn back. Enjoy!
  • The premise of the game is that you were abducted into Arcadia by the Fae and subjected to mind rape, soul rape, torture rape, and/or actual rape. For years. Until the abuse metaphysically changed you into something not entirely human and more like the things that kidnapped you. Meanwhile, a 'fetch' has been left behind to wear your face, own your memories, live your life, and eventually die in your stead. So assuming you finally escape, you are (at minimum) unable to live a fully normal life, bear all the PTSD and then some of having survived years of literally inhuman abuse at the hands of Eldritch Horrors who are nigh-omnipotent in their home realm, and are still being hunted by said horrors. Oh, and since the fetch is created unknowing of its role as an impostor, getting even a fraction of your old life back requires you to murder an innocent being. But this isn't the Nightmare Fuel. Oh no. The Nightmare Fuel is all of the above is the True Fae reproduction cycle. That's right. The purpose of kidnapping you and twisting and breaking you into something not entirely human? Well, if your Wyrd score gets high enough as a Changeling, you can become one of the True Fae. Seriously, it's all right there in the Equinox Road supplement, particularly chapter 2. Of course, you may still may try to Screw Destiny...
    • Becoming a Changeling requires only three things: Entry into Arcadia, sufficient exposure to Arcadia to acquire certain Arcadian characteristics, and a return to Earth (technically, the last isn't required). Usually this involves unpleasant or flatly traumatic experiences, but they're not essential, just extremely common. The main author has said that he wanted to avoid romanticizing abduction and imprisonment, and in retrospect went a bit too far the other way.
  • Also disturbing is how the four Seasonal Courts of the Changelings, and their different approaches to life, map almost exactly to four of the possible reactions for survivors of sexual or emotional abuse: hedonistic escapism (Spring), violent acting-out and revenge fantasies (Summer), abused-turns-abuser (Autumn), and paranoia (Winter). Notice how the faction of "eventually overcome the trauma and move on with your life in a healthy fashion" doesn't exist in Changeling society.
    • They also map to the five stages of Grief, also without Acceptance:
      • Spring Court is Denial, pretending that they've taken all the good things from Arcadia and ignoring the bad.
      • Summer Court is about taking out violence and Anger.
      • Autumn Court is about Bargaining their time away by getting in bed with the occult.
      • Winter Court is Depression. They hide from the world.
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    • More interestingly, one could see Privateers (Changelings who work as mercenaries for the True Fae, which usually entails dragging OTHER Changelings back to Arcadia) and Loyalists (Changelings who either didn't escape before they were totally brainwashed, or escaped and are being heavily blackmailed to do their Keeper's bidding) to encapsulate Acceptance. And becoming a True Fae at Wyrd 10/Clarity 0 could be seen as Understanding.
  • Also of note is the fact of how the founders of the Seasonal Courts made their Courts: By besting the Anthropomorphic Personification of the seasons at their own games. Mother Susan had dreams of motherhood that were ruined by the fae infertility. She forged Contracts with who-knows-what, and then gave her child up to Spring. Sam Noblood took a tree branch of autumn leaves as a spear and chased down Summer itself and forced it to make the pact (okay, that's not so much Nightmare Fuel as it is awesome). It's not said how Clay Ariel got the pact with Autumn, only that she left with no weapon and a 'wry smile'. Considering the Autumn Court draws its power from Fear, whatever did happen must have been Nightmare Fuel. Snowflake John disappeared and came back two years later, claiming that because Winter couldn't find him, he got the pact.
  • And if the Seasonal Courts bother you, then how about the fact that there are eight other courts, and they're arguably just as terrifying?
    • The Courts of Sun and Moon are perhaps the best matches to the original. They're defined by the emotions of Shame and Disgust, respectively, and so seek to invoke and promote these emotions. The Sun Court is a textbook case of Light Is Not Good, but the Moon Court is a case of Dark Is Evil — their iconic holiday, Korochun (the Winter Solstice) is a night of mayhem, murder, torture and excess, culminating in the Human Sacrifice of a man and a woman.
  • Clarity, the morality stat equivalent from Changeling: The Lost almost perfectly mimics PTSD as the consequences of its lower values. At 0, the least disturbing thing that can happen is just mysteriously vanishing forever. Instead, you can go into complete nonfunctioning catatonia as the scope of your trauma finally fully catches up with you... or become debilitated by constant hallucinations that you never escaped your torment.
    • In 2e, Clarity acts more like a health track, which is usually going to be much shorter than your actual health track and can pile on all sorts of unpleasant conditions, all of which represent some sort of disconnect with reality as the changeling retreats into themselves, unable to distinguish between what's real and what isn't. This includes the aforementioned comatose state, which, if it was caused by severe enough damage, the character cannot escape on their own. Oh, and several things that cause Clarity damage are things a changeling might have no control over whatsoever, such as getting spooked by something, someone breaking their word to you, or discovering someone lied to you about something important.
  • In-Universe, the Scarecrow Ministry actually creates Nightmare Fuel, for good purposes. In New World of Darkness, the monsters are real, and they hope that by keeping the masses afraid of dangerous places, they can keep them safe. If you see an urban legend, you had better pray that it's just one of them...
  • Even the True Fae themselves aren't immune. A big part of why they're constantly looking for sources of conflict and struggle in their "lives" is that they cease to exist without it. And one of the best ways to make a source of conflict that gives you an "other" to define your own existence against? Making a Changeling.
  • Fetches typically don't know they aren't actually that human person. You could be the replacement for someone suffering in Arcadia at this very moment.
    • Oh, please, that doesn't even begin to describe the nightmare fuel of being a fetch. Think about it; you're a normal man, woman, child, just living your average life. And then things start to go mysteriously wrong for you. You wake up from terrible nightmares, awful things filled with blood and death — your death. And then you start to see it. A monster, wearing your face, stalking you. It might seem to vanish from the shadows, or look at you out of a mirror, or shift shape into some harmless beast, but you know it's always there. Watching you. From there, you got two choices:
      • You panic, trying to run, to hide, to fight, but it's all in vain. The monster catches you, and it kills you, glowering as you drown in your blood. And the last thing you see is your body falling apart into assorted rubbish.
      • The monster confronts you, and tells you what you are — you're not a person, you're a thing, a cobbled-together simulacrum of a human created to disguise the theft of a real person from this world. And that person who was stolen? They're the monster telling you this.
    • Autumn Nightmares dedicate a chapter about Fetches, with optional merits, backgrounds, and Echos. But most terrifying is the Wyrd Consumption. The Fetch tried to defend itself, bit the Changeling in desperation. And then it tasted something, craved for more, and took more and more bites of the Changeling until only bones are left. From thereon, the Fetch is no longer a Fetch; it's a Devourer, creature born of hunger and desperation, only seeking to satisfy its hunger and live a bit longer.
  • The Second Edition introduces a new group of antagonists: the Huntsmen. Huntsmen are lesser fae that hunt escaped changelings to bring them back to the True Fae. They are utterly relentless in the hunt, possess powers such as being able to appear out of nowhere to surprise unsuspecting victims or shapeshifting to better blend into crowds, and their snares are very good at keeping the normally slippery changelings bound and helpless. Killing a Huntsman does no good, since they can just reform and return to try again as long as their missing heart (which are torn out by the True Fae) still beats. And if you manage to destroy the heart? The True Fae that sent the Huntsman will know what happened, and you'll likely have to contend with a new Huntsman.
    • To make matters worse, the Huntsmen are specifically designed to counteract the Changelings' biggest advantages. Cold Iron has no effect on them, their bonds can negate a changeling's ability to escape, and while they can't actually break the Seasonal Bargains, they are very good at exploiting the loopholes in each Season's protections.


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