The End of the Dream

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<ul><li><p>8/3/2019 The End of the Dream</p><p> 1/5</p><p>The End of the Dream</p><p>By</p><p>Matthew McFarland</p><p>I remember when Changeling: The Dreaming first came into my life. I was at a convention in</p><p>Toledo, Ohio, in August of 1995. I had started playing White Wolf games the previous fall (Wraith: TheOblivion was the first White Wolf game I ran, and it pretty much sucked me into the rest of the World of</p><p>Darkness). Anyway, a new game coming out was like Christmas morning. I wasnt, however, planning on</p><p>running it right away. In keeping with my lifelong policy of getting overextended, I had something like five</p><p>different games going and whenever three or more of my friends got together, I seemed to wind up running a</p><p>one-shot (which invariably became a chronicle, because people always loved their characters).</p><p>So I bought Changeling, and my friend Mike read it while we were still at the convention and had a</p><p>character concept in seconds. I remember that character. His name was Tal, he was a sidhe (House Fiona) and</p><p>he was a tragic love-story sort of figure.</p><p>This was back when you drew your bunks from a deck of cards, you know. My brother played a</p><p>pooka who turned into a ferret; I remember him hiding in the troll characters hair (the troll was played by my</p><p>friend Carrie Lewis; remember that name, itll be important later) and then casting a Chicanery cantrip. He</p><p>drew the Moo bunk, so what you had was a ferret leaping out of a trolls hair and crying, MOOOOO!!!</p><p>I love Changeling! was a common refrain in that group.</p><p>That chronicle, much as I loved it (I set it at a summer camp in Michigan that I used to attend; to me,</p><p>that place was a sort of Glamour) didnt really go anywhere. The next time I ran Changeling, it was much</p><p>more focused. I set the game in Detroit (the most banal city I could think of, and I dont need your hate mail,</p><p>thanks very much), gave everybody an extra dot of Banality and five extra freebies and then dangled the plot</p><p>hook. Five sites in the city could be properly prepared and then used to open a trod to Arcadia. But the nature</p><p>of the trod would be determined by the fae who opened it that is, Seelie or Unseelie.</p><p>I had two groups in that game, four Seelie characters and four Unseelie characters. I never ran them</p><p>together; wed cover one span of time with one group and then Id meet with the other group later in the</p><p>week and theyd catch up. That game never really ended, either. I have lots of great memories from it (I</p><p>encouraged folks to act out their bunks, and my friend Mark actually tore the legs of an already-dead</p><p>tarantula for a Primal bunk at one point), but the story didnt end. I dont know who opened that trod.</p><p>This seems to happen, you know. Its hard to end a dream. Typically, dreams end abruptly you just</p><p>wake up. Sometimes, thats a relief. Sometimes, its painful. Most often, its anticlimactic and a little</p><p>disorienting.</p><p>Theres a point, here, and youre probably catching on already. But Ive got some more folks to talk</p><p>about first. If youre one of those folks that gets annoyed when people talk about their characters, you may</p><p>want to skip a few paragraphs.</p><p>nd of the Dream</p><p> 2/24/201</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 The End of the Dream</p><p> 2/5</p><p>I havent played a lot of characters that were my own; thats the consequence of being the guy who</p><p>can run a game at the drop of a dime and always seems to have the money to buy the books and the time to</p><p>read them. As a result, I remember the few characters Ive played pretty vividly, and Changeling always</p><p>seemed to produce the ones that I was most attached to.</p><p>I played a selkie once, believe or not. The game was set in San Francisco, I believe (California,</p><p>anyway; its been a while). He was a surfer. Had some problems with the Sabbat. He swore an Oath of</p><p>Truehearts to another character (a satyr, played by the girl I was seeing at the time). She broke the oath. The</p><p>relationship went sour. Life imitates art?</p><p>I played a sluagh, once. He was a childling named Matthias, and he was a devout Catholic. He</p><p>couldnt speak above a whisper, but he could sing as a result of his faith, and he performed miracles over the</p><p>course of that game. I was lost when I played Matthias, though I didnt know it at the time. Matthias was a</p><p>fish out of water in so many ways, but he was strong and devout, no matter what horrors he saw. He was, in</p><p>some ways, what I needed to be. If you cant find a role-model, you make one.</p><p>I played a sidhe, once. He was once of House Fiona but left in an attempt to form his own noble house</p><p>with his oathcircle. It didnt work out. He wound up falling in love with a mortal girl. He was a Humanist, as I</p><p>recall. He worked in a coffee shop (the game was set in my home town of Toledo, and I worked at the coffee</p><p>shop in question, myself). He didnt want to get involved with all the supernatural craziness; he just wanted to</p><p>live his life and love his girl. I played Sir Lelio (or Damian, as he preferred to be called) when I was growing</p><p>up.</p><p>God, thats scary. Growing up is like waking up you might be relieved, but you might be</p><p>disoriented, frightened, or just a little disappointed.</p><p> Changeling isnt necessarily a game about growing up and the idyllic time that is childhood (becauseas any kid will tell you, childhood isnt all that idyllic anyway). If anything, its about the wonderof</p><p>childhood, but fear is a big part of that wonder. But it isnt necessarily about that Changelings a big</p><p>game. You can tell any kind of story with it because its about stories. And I think maybe a lot of folks missed</p><p>that. Forest for the trees, you know?</p><p>I got it. So did you. You probably got a little choked up in Autumn People in the opening fiction when</p><p>the girl opens her box and looks at whats left of her wings. Maybe you smiled in the second edition of</p><p>Changeling when the narrator talks about riding the yellow walrus. Possibly, when reading Shadow Court,</p><p>you were surprised at how easy it was to fall into the nightmare, to imagine playing a fae sworn to darkness.</p><p>You remember the kid in grade school who had imaginary friends long after everyone else had formed</p><p>their cliques? Remember the kid that just didnt really fit in well, not because of anything you could pin down,</p><p>but just because he or she was an easy target and was sensitive to what people thought and said? Oh, you</p><p>were that kid? Me, too. Funny, that.</p><p>Theres a point, here. Im pretty sure you understand, but just to make sure: Changeling appeals to</p><p>those of us who understand that these characters live. Not in a I am my character kind of creepshow, but</p><p>simply that when you spend time and energy crafting a character for any game (or any story, or whatever), it</p><p>nd of the Dream</p><p> 2/24/201</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 The End of the Dream</p><p> 3/5</p><p>lives, somehow, somewhere. Authors talk about characters speaking to them, demanding extra scenes in</p><p>fiction or a different ending to a story, and as an author, Ill say that you ignore your characters at your peril.</p><p>They might stop talking to you, after all.</p><p>Im rambling a little here, and thats deliberate, because its human nature to avoid bad news. You</p><p>already know this bad news, but that doesnt make it a lot easier. You ready? OK, here we go.</p><p> Changeling is going away, and its not coming back. You will never get Book of Glamour orKithbook: Boggan or Keys to the Kingdom. IfChangeling ever does come back, it wont be in the form</p><p>that you know, and youre better off not comparing the new to the old, because then youll be missing out on</p><p>the wonder of the new game. The story is ending. It is time to wake up from the dream.</p><p>God, it hurts just typing that. It feelsbanal. Like I should hit my delete key about 6000 times right</p><p>now and obliterate this whole thing. But see, thats the thing. This needs to be said. You need to know. You</p><p>deserve to know.</p><p> Changeling doesnt have to end for you, of course. As has been stated ad nauseum on more forums</p><p>than I care to think about, all you need is the core book and a little imagination and your troupe can play thisgame forever. And I hope that you will. But for me, the reality is a little harsher, because Im the guy who</p><p>gets to (has to?) oversee The End.</p><p> (Anybody who wanted to skip the sappy stuff about the game and what it means to me should start</p><p>reading here.)</p><p> When we decided to do a hardback encompassing the minor game lines (thats Hunter: The</p><p>Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Kindred of the East, and Changeling) we</p><p>struggled a bit to find developers. Oh, it wasnt a stretch that Ken Cliffe would do Hunter and Mike Lee</p><p>would do Demon, them being the full-time developers of those lines and all. C. A. Suleiman was only too</p><p>happy to jump back into development for Mummy, as well. Kindred of the East was a little tougher, seeing</p><p>as how Lucien Soulban (the most recent developer for that line) was up to his eyes in Orpheus, but we got</p><p>Kraig Blackwelder to do it, so thats good.</p><p>Which leaves Changeling. I think Ken was pretty relieved when I casually mentioned that Id love</p><p>the job. Honestly, I think the alternative might have been not having the section at all there was a</p><p>suggestion that we not do one, seeing as how the line had been dormant for so long.</p><p>Bullshit, says I. You know all those Changeling fans who will be horribly upset if their game doesnt</p><p>get its due? I said. Well,Im one of them.</p><p>(That suggestion was never taken very seriously, actually. But it annoyed me anyway.)</p><p>So I found myself with 30,000 words to end one of my all-time favorite games. I dont know if you</p><p>have any idea what 30,000 words looks like, but to give you an idea, the revised tribebooks for Werewolfare</p><p>about 65,000 words each. 30,000 words isnt much, but thats all Ive got. Theres a bucket of cold water in</p><p>the face for you.</p><p>I decided immediately that I needed two authors on the book, and that one of those authors had to be</p><p>nd of the Dream</p><p> 2/24/201</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 The End of the Dream</p><p> 4/5</p><p>metaplot savvy. I admit, I havent played Changeling much in recent years and Ive fallen behind on the</p><p>metaplot, so I wanted an author who knew what was going on and could work in as many nods to the existing,</p><p>ongoing stuff as possible. That author was Peter Woodworth, author of (among other things) Kithbook: Eshu</p><p>and House Beaumayn from the Book of Lost Houses.</p><p>The other author, though, I wanted to be someone who knew the game and, more importantly,</p><p>understoodthe game like I did, but hadnt worked on it and did not know or closely follow the metaplot. I</p><p>wanted someone who loved Changeling but who wasnt tied to what it had become who was more</p><p>well-versed in the essence of the game than its form (not saying that Pete doesnt grasp the games essence,</p><p>Im just saying I wanted him for different reasons). That author was Carrie Lewis, one of my staple Dark</p><p>Ages folks, but more importantly, one of the people who was right there with me as I discovered Changeling</p><p>eight years ago.</p><p>So whats in the Changeling section ofTime of Judgment? Possibility. A lot of different ways for</p><p>Winter to come. The potential for the fae to go out with a whimper or a bang. A lot of thoughts on how best to</p><p>run the last Changeling story, on where the fae are going, and even on what happens next. Theres hope,</p><p>theres despair, theres war. Some familiar faces show up.</p><p>Whats notin that section? The answers.</p><p>I thought about this. I really did consider combing through the books and answer all of the nagging</p><p>questions, putting definitive, canon, official stamps on everything that Changeling has left hanging. I</p><p>thought about having Pete and Carrie write up what was happening in Arcadia, what has happened to Sir Seif</p><p>and Kind David, how to open the Triumph Casque of Sorrows, and so on and on.</p><p>I didnt, and Ill tell you why those are yourstories, not ours. We gave them to you. You own them,</p><p>not us. We cantfinish them, because they havent been ours in a long time. I didnt want to tell you what todream; I dont have that right. The last material printed for Changeling: The Dreaming is going to consist</p><p>largely of suggestions, thoughts, and possibilities from and by people who love this game.</p><p>The stuff that dreams are made of, in other words. As a not-entirely tangential aside, did you know</p><p>that quote is originally from Shakespeares The Tempest? The actual line is: We are such stuff as dreams are</p><p>made on, and our little life is rounded by a sleep.</p><p>Speaking of Shakespeare, I just thought of why I knew, right from the start, that I would love</p><p>Changeling. The first add I saw for the game was in the first edition ofWraith (my first White Wolf game,</p><p>remember?). It had a quote from another Shakespeare play on a background that looked like shattered glass.</p><p>The quote had only the first three couplets of the speech, but Im ending with the whole thing. It seems like</p><p>the right thing to do.</p><p>If we shadows have offended,</p><p>Think but this and all is mended;</p><p>That you have but slumbered here</p><p>While these visions did appear,</p><p>nd of the Dream</p><p> 2/24/201</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 The End of the Dream</p><p> 5/5</p><p>And this weak and idle theme,</p><p>No more yielding than a dream.</p><p>Gentles, do not reprehend:</p><p>If you pardon, we will mend.</p><p>And, as I am an honest Puck,</p><p>If we have unearned luck</p><p>Now to scape the serpents tongue,</p><p>We will make amends ere long.</p><p>Else the Puck a liar call,</p><p>So, good night unto you all.</p><p>Give me your hands, if we be friends,</p><p>And Robin shall restore amends.</p><p> Matthew McFarland, 8/8/2003</p><p>Home Essays Pictures Personal Links Fiction Contact</p><p>nd of the Dream</p><p>/ /</p></li></ul>


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