Sunday, August 23, 2015

A brief overview of Changeling history (part 1)

I consider myself very fortunate at this time, because I have managed to get a group of players sufficiently interested in Changeling: The Dreaming to get a new game started. I will be meeting with them next week to walk them through the process of character creation, and I have developed the backstory for the major NPCs in preparation for creating the story we'll be exploring.

So I want to spend the next few entries describing the general history of the fae.

It all began in the Mythic Age, at the dawn of humanity, when the first humans dreamed, and those dreams became the first fae. Dreams of honour and virtue became the trolls; dreams of nobility, beauty, and finesse became the sidhe, dreams of cozy homes and humble craftsmen became the boggans. Dreams of travel and adventure became the eshu, whilst dreams of hedonism became satyrs and dreams of playful animals became the pooka. There were darker dreams as well; dreams of antisocial workaholics became the nockers, dreams of ravenous horror became the redcaps, and dreams of things that go scritch in the night became the sluagh.

The fae kept themselves mostly separate from humanity for centuries; sometimes, they'd cavort with the humans for sport, or toy with them as playthings, or seek their devotion as gods. But generally, they remained aloof, both fascinated and repulsed by these pitiful creatures with little to no magic, despite the fact that the fae relied on humans as the source of Glamour, the energy of dreams.

But there was another aspect of humans that the fae did not understand.

It did not take long for humanity to discover that they were able to use their intellect to shape their environment to their wills. It started slowly, with the crafting of stone tools to make their lives easier, making weapons to hunt food and tools to shape the remains of their prey into clothing, shelter, and other useful items. Eventually, after learning to work with soft metals such as copper, they discovered how to work with their first hard metal: iron.

The discovery of iron was a watershed moment for humanity. More than any other innovation, the taming of iron allowed man mastery over his world, and showed him that with careful application of reason and knowledge, he could conquer any obstacle before him.

This created the force known as Banality.

Iron, being the substance that sparked this realisation in the collective human psyche, is thus perpetually infused with Banality. Banality itself is the turning away from dreams, of looking at the world with a lack of wonder, of thinking only of the ways in which you might tame the world instead of revelling in the beauty of it.

At first, the fae were unconcerned with this new energy. It was insignificant, and not yet the omnipresent force that we know today. They continued to ignore the humans, thinking of them as their subjects or their prey, if they considered them at all.

In those early days, there were many other creatures of dream as well; just as the fae subsisted on dreams, there was another type of creature that fed off the darker energies. There was what is known as Dark Glamour. Whereas Glamour represented hope, creativity, love, trust, and marvel, and Banality represented despair, sterility, indifference, impassivity, and commonness, Dark Glamour was the energy of depression, destruction, hatred, suspicion, and monstrosity. The beings that subsisted on Dark Glamour were known as the Fomorians, and these monstrous beings were the sworn enemies of the Fae.

There was war with the Fomorians for years, and at last, the sidhe led a campaign to defeat the Fomorians. The enemy was sealed away in the deepest recesses of the Dark Dreaming, where powerful magics prevented them from visiting the mortal world again. Due to the sidhe's brilliant leadership, the fae made the elven leaders into their kings and queens. The noble sidhe ruled over the other fae for many years afterwards, often mimicking the style of human rulers as a form of amusement to themselves.

What you have read thus far predominantly describes the fae of Europe. There were other types of fae in other parts of the world; in the Americas, the Nunnehi represented the dreams of harmony with nature. Polynesians dreamed of the perfection of their social heirarchy, and these dreams became the Menehune. African and Asian fae were even more different still. But all subsisted on Glamour of some sort.

As the centuries progressed, and humanity came to rely on logic more and more, their collective turning away from dreams and wonder served to increase the amount of Banality. The fae soon realised that humans were a force with which to be reckoned. All attempts to curb the tide of Banality failed, and finally, the rulers decided to abandon the mortal world forever. The exodus to Arcadia had begun.

Arcadia, the mystical homeland of the fae, existed deep in the heart of the Dreaming. Some scholars have hypothesised that Arcadia actually lies on the far side of the moon, but it is reached by travelling through the chaotic world of the Dreaming until you have arrived as far from the mundane world as is possible.

So the sidhe began their arduous trek towards Arcadia. Being the royalty, they insisted that they be allowed to return before any of the commoner fae would be permitted to begin their journey. The commoners watched with growing dismay as the sidhe clogged every portal leading into the Dreaming, whilst those portals collapsed one by one. Finally, as the last of the sidhe passed through the last portal, that portal sealed shut behind them, and the commoner kith were trapped on a Banal earth forever.

When we continue the history of the Changelings next time, we will see how the fae adapted to a hostile world, and how the changing world affects the different fae beings. Until next time,

Game on!

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