Something for the Soundtrack

A theme for our keeper

The Boy (The Adam Ezra Group)
a boy wakes up from his dream
jumps out of bed and knows that he will conquer the world
he looks up at the sun
and smiles because his light shines just as bright

and all the people that go running through his mind
join the chorus of his heart and lungs combined and step in time

and the haphazard motion of his dreary dismal day
brings the song out from within his memory
and he knows that lack of direction
directs the intuition of the undaunted mind

and singing softly to avoid a scene
he stifles voices in his heart that want to scream - i am free

and he sings all the time
prophecies in rhythm and in rhyme
and if you listen very closely you can hear him sing the words
he sings out:

i am the sun and moon
and I'll make the angels swoon
i am the wine within your cup
i'll give myself to fill you up
and if I die before i wake
pray my friends my soul to take
and when my bleeding heart runs through
my six brass strings will ring out true
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Welcome to New Branch

logofixed
So, I was looking at the coast of New Jersey to get a sense of the geography and figure out where I was going to put the fictional town for the game. As I was zooming around with Google maps, I spotted a town in about the right place with the improbable name of Avon by the Sea. Curious, I check it out, and discover it's a tourist town which seems to take great pride in its victorian buildings. What's more, looking at the map, it's bounded on three sides by water, and on the fourth by the railroad. I literally could not have planned it better. (The logo, btw, is based off the real logo for Asbury Park).

Now, the main problem is of course that Avon by the Sea actually seems like a much nicer place than I'm expecting our town to be. It has a non-commercial boardwalk, for one thing, and my game falls apart without Skeeball. Serious. Even god plays Skeeball, and Kevin Smith will back me up on this. What's more, I've never actually been there, or even seen it, so it would be a sham for me to pretend I'm using it. I'm planning to be crueler to this town than any town really deserves, so I'm going to overtly fictionalize it, renaming the town, the streets and the major landmarks so that there's no confusion.

I was worried I was going to have to make up some derivative name - Avalon by the Sea has a nice ring, but suggests a different game than the one I'm playing - but it turns out that before it got incorporated as Avon by the Sea, it was alternately called Swanton Tract or New Branch. New Branch, New Jersey has, I think, the right tone to it.

Now, Avon by the Sea has a small population, about 2000 people, and the whole county weight in around 600k, but there's an interesting twist - it's close enough to New York City that the county has been getting steadily gentrified by well off folks from the city. That's a great axis for conflict, and it makes things all the more interesting when we go with the darker vision of New Branch - that pressure to change is going to have some teeth, especially if you have a small enough community that the freehold is actually a substantial local force by numbers alone. Small town, quirky community, big city pressures and economic woes? Awesome.

This hit a few notes I was still a little uncertain about, so I feel much better about this now. I even have a map, and that satisfies some deeply geeky part of my soul.


webcard
And as an aside, dinking around with graphics and poking around has inspired in me one of my first NPCs. His card:
Naturally, he only wants was best for the town, and his backers have an interest in making sure everything goes smoothly. And he, in turn, is willing to go to great lengths to keep those backers happy.
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Hopefully, it will work this time

Another swing at hiding the entry from my players, who I trust not to click.
So, apparently, if I manually put in an lj-cut tag, that will translate over to the LJ feed. Using the summary/main entry split should work for most regular RSS readers, so I _think_ we're good. Despite that, I'm going to start with a smaller peek behind the curtain, so that if this one explodes horribly, I'm not spilling all the beans.


Ok, so the setup: The Boy, a fae in the mold of Peter Pan and the Squire of Gothos, was responsible for capturing each of the PCs and keeping them in servitude. They escaped as a result of a terrible tantrum of his that broke toyland and gave everyone an opportunity to escape. Fred was the one who, at the table, provided the impetus, but Fred is also a very, very proactive player, and I was uncomfortable with the fall of the boy being entirely his, so when I wrote up the summaries of the characters, each of them is (by their narrative) the one responsible for The Boy's explosion. Not only does that satisfy me as a GM, it satisfies me on a story level - I can envision this chain of events much more clearly than a can any single event.

Looking over the characters sheets, one mechanical concern has struck me - I need to help my players twink. The difference that timing can make in character creation is almost appalling, so I'm talking to them about optimizing a bit. It's shameless, but honestly, the difference is so pronounced that I feel bad if we don't do it. So far I've done it for Fred and Deborah, and I've given Eric full authority to do it for himself an Em. The difference is pronounced - on average, people have picked up another dot of stats (sometimes a 4th dot) and a second dot of Wyrd without otherwise changing their sheets substantially.

So, now I have the characters.


Now I just knock wood and hope this worked.
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My apologies

It's a day of blogbombing, I'm afraid. I just discovered that enabling inline comments puts advertisements in my entries, which are ugly, tacky and entirely out of place. Going to have to turn that feature off, and it may cause another republish cascade. My apologies in advance. if it's any consolation, at some point I'll sit down and write up why I would probably have done this in wordpress if I were starting from scratch. That said I'm still trying stuff.
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Freaking Spoilers

Content-free post here, I'm afraid. I'm trying to get the "read more"more link workings.
So, because this particular blogging solution's means of doing read more summaries does not get respected in its rss feed, at least so far as LJ is concerned, I may have just aired some of my laundry to my players. I am foaming at the mouth annoyed here, but hopefully this is going to fix it.
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GM Thinkery: The Characters

Bah. LJ doesn't respect cuts. Yanking this down until I figure out how to better address this.
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The Name of the Game

Also, there's been a small change to the site as I have settled upon a name for the campaign: Broken Toys.

Edit: Also, I think the RSS issue is fixed. Thank you for the good eyes, Eric.

Edit #2 - And an apology to those on LJ who just go bombed with the full run. Fixing the linking apparently also refreshed the XML feed to LJ.
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Chargen

Character generation went very well indeed. I sat everyone down with a variety of handouts in hopes of making the process go as smoothly as possible. This mostly worked, though not flawlessly. Notably the backgrounds on the kith pages made it pretty painful to print them out from the PDF (and, as an aside, the PDF sucks. Seriously. It's split into three files with no bookmarking. Noting that it's graphically very intense, in the absence of bookmarks I need to scroll through it manually, which is slower than hell. This bothers me more than it should because the core rulebook PDF has been incredibly useful an easy to reference, and the contrast is painful.) Still, it mostly went well.

Eric and Fred came to the table with ideas in mind, ideas that played off each other quite well indeed and were similar enough that I was surprised they hadn't spoken about it. Both of them are very far out of time, and both have a strong World War II connection. Deborah and Em had to work from scratch, so we kicked around a few different possibilities. Em had a really solid idea for her mortal life, but it took a while to make her time in Faerie really zing. Deborah had a core tragedy in mind and I think she got to build up around that to her satisfaction.

We did not formally discuss the keeper so much as we got to the end of everyone's stories, and the thread of commonality suggested to me that it be The Boy - Peter Pan meets that kid from The Twilight Zone with a dash of Bart Simpson and the Squire of Gothos.

The characters are

Anna Glimmer - Magpie Songbird of Autumn

Anna's parents never got along, and one of their attempts at reconciliation was a second child in their forties. The child was not healthy, and Anna quit school to take care of him full time, acting as his nurse, his guardian and his legs. The Fae took them while they were in the woods, and her last thought as they took her away was for her brother, abandoned in the woods.

In toyland, she was put in a cage and told to sing, and sing she did. Perhaps not well, but enthusiastically. When the traveling minstrel taught her a song of victory to celebrate the upcoming triumph in The War, she practiced it very hard, and when the trumpets blared, she sung it at the top of her lungs, and still doesn't understand why it made him so angry. Things sort of broke after that.

Back in reality, she found that a decade had passed, and her fetch had managed to nurse her brother to health, helping him to walk, and even skateboard. She has not approached, or even seen, he fetch, but a long night of watching her brother through the window very nearly broke her, leaving her caught up on what should be hers.

Nika Kosmas - Haruspex and Healer

Nika was a promising surgical resident from a big Russian orthodox family who went to the wrong break room after a thirty-six hour shift. She found herself in Toyland, where The Boy had need of an oracle, and Nika had been chosen because she could put her organs back in after he had finish casting them.

She saw the disaster coming, in a flash of vision, and could have warned The Boy - in fact, it would have been hard not to, for her innards would reveal it when he asked. But the one thing she had learned to hide was her heart, and without it, the reading went wrong, and The Boy was not warned. Things sort of broke after that.

Since she's gotten back, she works in a free clinic, off the books, and watches the golden arc of the career of her fetch from a distance.

Tom Whispers - Medium and stabbin' hobo

Tom's father was a war hero, who had landed in Normandy, and his youth was idyllic, at least until his brother was born to steal away mommy's love. His boyhood adventures were many, and took him farther afield as his brother grew, til the one day The Boy took him deep into the woods and he did not return. As was inevitable, The Boy grew tired with this new playmate and put him to use as a message - not a messenger, a message. His sole role was to convey something, receive response and whisk away to deliver it.

Tom Whispers was very tired indeed, and perhaps after decades, this fatigue warped a message, perhaps he planned it, but the orders to the general of The Boy's army of toys was not what it should have been. Tom understood this not at all - all he knew was that the general was upset enough that rather than send a response, he folded Tom up and put him in his pocket. SOme things apparently happened, but for Tom, this was the first chance to sleep he could remember, and he only awoke as he burst out of the General's pocket, in the hedge.

Tom has adapted poorly. he was a kid when he left, and there's a good chance he would not have made it back if he hadn't been dragged most of the way. He spends his time among the hopeless now, the homeless of New Jersey, and is a twitching wreck of a man, looking like it will take little to push him over the edge. And sure, his Fetch is old, but his nephew sure looks a lot like him. But he'd never even think of that! Would he?

Walter Gold - The Good Soldier

Captain Gold's transport opened on the beaches of Normandy, but when he stepped through, he was not in France. He was inducted into The Boy's wooden army, fighting forever across a vast gameboard. Something he did caught The Boy's attention, and the wooden soldier was taken from the field, dipped in gold, and returned as a General, overseeing the eternal pointless struggle.

But he did his job too well. Over time, he came to see that the game could never be won, and when a particularly egregious order came his way one day, he seized the messenger, and stopped the fighting. This had never happened before - The Boy had been scheduled for a victory, and this threw everything into disarray, and his rage was unbelievable, but even in that rage, something pushed it just over the edge into a full blown tantrum, shattering toyland.

Gold has adapted to the real world quite well - the talents that made him a capable leader have translated well into business. His mundane concerns are well in hand, but he is facing a stranger issue. His fetch and his wife appear to have not aged a day - both look like no time has passed between his disappearance and now. He has no idea what that means, but a number of the possible explanations are disturbing indeed.
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Chargen First Impression

Crashing now, but we just finished chargen, and man, they went right for the dark, grabbed it by the throat and drowned it in a barrel of pitch.

Lots of stuff to work with. I'm pleased as punch.

First challenge: New Fairest Kith - the Gilded. Gold and gems wrapped around a mundane frame. Probably going to be a presence/something monkey, but I need to give it some thought when I'm more conscious.
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On dice and gifts

EDIT: Quick primer for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. The core of the nWOD system is rolling a certai number of d10s and counting 8s, 9s and 10s as successes. Most rolls benefit from the "10 again" rule, which says that if a die comes up 10, count the success and roll it again. Certain special abilities can grant a "9 again" on some rolls, meaning that if the die shows a 9 or 10, count the success and roll the die again. 8 again works the same way, except 8s, 9s and 10s are rerolled.

So, when I got to thinking about kiths and their abilities, I wondered about the difference between a bonus die and 9 again and 8 again. My math-fu is weak, but a little perl trickery revealed the numbers, and I found them interesting. Now, I note that these probabilities probably got cranked out by the math nerds as soon as the New WOD corebook came out, but I don't have the will to dig for those numbers. As a result, this is all pretty new to me. Anyway, the first exploration looked like this.

chartav
Pretty simple, and moderately intuitive. The breakpoints are clearly visible. Eight dice is the break point for 9 again. Below eight dice, gaining an extra die is more beneficial, but after eight dice, the benefit from 9 again is more pronounced. At eight dice it's equally appropriate to go either way. The impact of 8 again kicks in much sooner. With only four dice, it becomes more potent to get 8 again than an extra die.

Bottom line, if your diepool is small, you want extra dice. If it's high then then you want an X-again, and 8 again is scary-potent. But because its on a curve, there's no simple equivalency. If your pool is high, you want x-again, but if it's low, you want bonus dice. But even that's not entirely simple.

Bonus dice also help offset penalties, something that x-again does not do at all. If you're under a lot of stress, x-again will not help you much, but bonus dice can keep you from being stuck with nothing but a chance die.

On the other hand, x-again increases your chance of an exceptional success (5+ successes) dramatically. How dramatically?
Consider:
critchance
So is it a wash? Kind of. +1d/9 again, +2d/8 again are probably roughly equivalent in a purely mechanical sense, but that's only half the story.

The two types of bonuses represent a kind of essential difference that you need to keep in mind when you give a kith one or the other. Practically speaking, an extra die or dice means that the character should not suck at the activity in question. They'll always have at least a little capability, even if they don't invest in it. In contrast, x-again pays out in relation to how much the player invests in the pool. The character can suck at the task in question if they don't pursue it, but if they _do_ pursue it, the rewards escalate as the return on the investment compounds. If the character's going to be good at something, this is the path to make them very good.


As a shorthand, think of bonuses as talent and x-again as mastery. The person with talent can do more with less, picks it up more easily and so on, and can deal with adversity more handily. In contrast the person who has mastered the task has taken longer to get there, but is prepared to truly excel. When you're giving an ability, are you giving extra capacity (bonus dice) or the potential for greatness (x-again). Choose wisely.
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More on place

So, I bounced the question to my group and I got a little more feedback on place than I expected, but slightly differently than I expected as well. There was some interest in going with New England, for the depth of folklore, and some interest in a place that was in decline, a place that has fallen upon economic hardship.

Those are both pretty doable, though I ended up drifting a little outside of new England in my thinking - most of the original colonies have a thick layer of folklore, but i still want to stay northeasterly. One possibility this suggested was Cleveland, which was a little bit on my mind after a fantastic episode of
No Reservations in Cleveland. Thing is, I think that I'd want to read the entire run of American Splendor before trying it, and I don't have that kind of time.

The other option that sprung to mind is the New England mill town. This hits all the notes precisely, and I think if I sat everyone down to watch
Empire Falls it would get the sense of place across very easily indeed. Now, this is a setting I can do - it's deep enough in my bones that I could do it in my sleep. I think there's a really, really powerful Changeling game to be held in such a place, but I'm not sure it's the one I'll run. Small town stories are very personal, and everything is so tightly tied together that it's the sort of place I would love to see one changeling come back to - that would in fact be freaking fantastic - but doing a group could really stretch things beyond breaking.

Southern Connecticut might work too - one of the shipbuilding towns that's moved on. But nothing's jumping out at me there.

So, as I was chewing on this, I was listening to "Radio Nowhere", the advance track for the
new Bruce Springsteen album, and Bruce got me thinking about something that had first been planted in my head By Sarah Vowel in Assassination Vacation and driven home in the New jersey episode of No Reservations - Asbury Park.

The coast of New Jersey is littered with resort towns who saw their golden age many decades ago, and are now just sort of shells of their former glory - old boardwalks and boarded up storefronts surrounded by glorious murals faded through years of neglect. Asbury Park is probably the most famous of these, and it's theoretically been undergoing a bit of reconstruction since 2002, but this
idea really resonates. I suppose the faded resort town could be in Maine as well, but there's something ephemeral about putting it in New Jersey, some contrasted banality that makes Miami such a good setting. For this I would probably invent a fictional town, but the concept really sings with me. I've already got some visuals in my mind that I'm inclined to roll with.

That said, Fred pointed out that thinking that way also opens up the possibility of Atlantic City, and that's got some legs too, but here's where I admit I've never actually been there, and I feel like that's a problem. But that's also on the table, and I think we're primed for some good discussion on Friday.
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Five Steps

I was thinking about the role of the Court of Fools today, and more generally about the fifth thing in a cosmology of four, and I realized something incredibly powerful, something that suggests a really good reason why Changeling might be better off never having a fifth (or more) court. It's because the fifth court needs to be missing. It's absence is what gives the other courts their emotional power. Why? Simple.

Spring: Denial
Summer: Anger
Autumn: Bargaining
Winter: Depression

That's four steps. Think about the one thats missing, and suddenly, you have a reason to be playing.

Damn. If that was intentional, it's brilliant, and if it was accidental, it's still really awesome.
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Where to play

So, I've got a crew (settled on 4) and a planned time. Need to sit down and schedule things, but at it stands, looks like chargen will be next friday, the 14th.

I loaned my book to one of the players, so until wednesday I'm lacking in a reference for the rules. That suggests that it's time for me to give a little thought to the non-mechanical elements of the game. Now, we're going to commit a whole evening to chargen, and that means we'll be discussing certain issues like power level and what point in the character's arc they're in. I'm personally leaning towards early, as I'm hoping to get some mileage out of people's fetches, but we'll see where interest lies.

One thing I was going to wait on was to see which city we should do it in, but realistically this is not a point that my players are going to be very passionate about. I could try to beat an answer out of them, but they're just not likely to invest too much in it, so I'm now looking at that decision.

The first option is to just go with the default setting - Miami. It's cool, and a lot of the work has already been done, but I'll be frank. I have no idea what Miami feels like. I've never even been to Florida or read/seen any of the mystery fiction that makes its home there (well, ok, I saw Striptease, but I don't think that counts). And more, it has no winter. Seriously - my Vermont-born reality has difficulty grasping that. Northern California was about as weird as I can take in that regard. Without winter, I'm not entirely sure what human beings _do_.

Second option is Baltimore. I've already researched the hell out of it for
The Dresden Files RPG, so I'm certainly armed, and its close and familiar, which is a big plus. However, I've already done so much Dresden with it that I'm not sure I could safely keep the two idea pools firewalled, so that's probably a no go.

Third option is DC. It's the biggest city I know best, and lord knows it's full of interesting potential history and such. This tempts, but I'm slightly disinclined because if I do DC, I think I'll instinctively want to take the game big. Move onto the Movers and Shakers. Aaron Sorkin's Changeling, And that would be cool, but I'm not sure I'm up for that quite yet.

#4 - Burlington, VT - could work very well. it's a weird, not terribly large city that I know quite well. That plays to one of changeling's strengths - since the logic of freeholds is based upon how close a place is to the hedge rather than the presence or absence of people (as is the case in the big three) it is just as likely to find Changelings in a small town as in a big city, possibly without any rhyme or reason. Consider, in contrast, trying to run Vampire in a small city - you start hitting upon resource issues very, very quickly. But changelings? They can rock out, no problem. So this is definitely a strong contender. Interestingly, this logic also makes a good case for Frederick, MD.

Next possibility is just making something up. An invented city is definitely an option, but I don't have one sitting in mind at the moment. This would be most tempting if i was intimidated by researching a real city or if there was something I needed to have that a real city couldn't provide. Neither is the case, so while I'm not ruling out this possibility, it's not likely.

And the problem is that at this point I start to waffle. Burlington's a good choice, but I twitch and wonder if it's narcissistic or too small. Maybe I need to do Portland or Pittsburgh or something. No rational objections, but just a sense that there's a better choice.

So I'll compromise. I'm mailing my players about scheduling anyway, and I'll see if maybe I'm wrong and they have ideas about setting I haven't considered. If they don't, it'll probably be Burlington or Frederick, unless something especially inspirational strikes me. If they do, I will at least have something more to think about than just being neurotic.
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Some Sample Kiths

If you haven't read the previous post about how to make your own Kiths, I'd start there, since it's the frame for these.

Suppose someone wants a Beast with arctic characteristics - a Walrus, say. Sure, they could go with the usual Swimmerskin package, but the player wants to reflect the arctic element. This is still going to be an aquatic kith, so the heart of it will be like Swimmerskin, with the character able to hold his breath underwater for a long time, but we can replace the secondary ability with something else, such as a resistance to cold temperatures. That seems simple enough, so all we need is a name. Blubberhide would probably not go over well, so we'll call it Icehide.

Icehide - Changelings who draw their affinity from the aquatic beasts of the arctic, such as walruses and seals. The Icehide's blessing is
Frozen Depths. He can hold his breath underwater for half an hour, as if he had a 7 stamina, though he can hold it no longer than normal out of water. Additionally, the character never faces any risk of hypothermia (or even discomfort) from cold water.

Next, let's consider a Darkling. All darklings are good at stealth, so one can be sure that someone, somewhere wants an assassin, a knife that strikes from the shadows. So we'll run with that, and go for a combat ability of some sort. Now, as discussed, combat abilities make for very small bonuses, not likely more than +1 without some sort of large qualifier. One easy solution might be akin to the Blade Lore of the Wizened Soldiers, and grant a specialty which applies to a certain sort of combat - striking from ambush in this case - but that's a little dull. Let's look into the rules for ambush and see if maybe there's a derived ability we can put a bonus on.

Surprise seems to mostly depend upon the target making a wits+composure roll to see if they can act. We could maybe try to modify that, but it has the feel of a rule that's in place for a good reason - specifically to prevent people getting hosed by surprise attacks. However, one other interesting piece of rules jumps to mind - surprised targets do not get their defense, but they _do_ get their armor. Allowing our darkling to bypass armor in these situations seems like a possibility. Ignoring penalties allows more leeway than adding bonuses (because they come up less often), and this is a very specific sort of situation. However, completely ignoring armor makes for some potential cognitive issues if the target is VERY armored, so a cap might be in order. With that in mind, with produce the NightKnife.

Nightknife - Darklings who served as the final expression of their master's displeasure, their work was dark indeed - assassination and murder. The Nightknife's blessing is
Strike from the Shadows - when attacking a target in melee who is deprived of their defense due to surprise, the changeling may ignore three points of the target's armor.

Ok, one more, just because these things take time. Let's try an elemental, and go for one of the obvious gaps - thunder and lightning. Not only do we have a storm-themed major NPC, but there's a guy tossing lightning right there in the art. We need a storm elemental.

Now, there's a temptation to go right to the lightning chucking, but that would absolutely be a combat ability, and definitely a bit over the top. We could maybe go for some sort of electrified touch, granting +1 bashing damage when unarmed, but that's kind of dull and, strangely, a bit too literal. Notice that some of the elemental abilities have a lot more to do with the metaphorical features of the element, rather than just literally throwing the element around, so there may be some potential there. The storm is rich in potential - the tempest is all about wild energy, the thunder booms, the lightning is quick. Since I don't really want to get into berserk-style rules to reflect the passion, the most appealing thought is that idea of presence and energy, which sounds like a bonus to Intimidation and Socialize. Taking the idea of thunder a bit further is enough to suggest the special ability and we end up with:

Stormborn - Thunder and lightning roll through the veins of this changeling, carrying power and passion. Their blessing is
Voice of Thunder - Their speaking voice carries like thunder, from the rolling boom of enthusiasm to the distant rumble of menace. The changeling receives the benefit of 9 again when rolling Socialize or Intimidate, and when addressing a crowd, he may always be heard clearly without the benefit of a sound system and despite any ambient noise.

(Note that the special ability is cool, bit not necessarily potent. This is ok because Socialize and Intimidation is a powerful 1-2 punch).

Anyway, that's enough for now. Maybe more later, but I think this gets the idea across.
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Creating New Kiths

So, I sat down and looked over the kiths and thinking about what's involved in making new ones, so I broke down the entire list of bonuses, chewed them over a bit and I think it's actually pretty trivial to create new kiths, so here's my ballpark method for doing it.

Option 1 - Steal
There are a few options, but the first one to bear in mind is that there's nothing that keeps you from stealing between existing kiths. If you want to make a a character who spent their time as a star in the sky, but you want them to be an elemental, there's nothing that keeps you from making an elemental with the Bright One kith. SImilarly, if you want to play a beast with cephalopod characteristics and you want to emphasize the bonelessless of the character, go ahead and borrow the tunnelgrub kith ability. And heck, the Woodblood ability is a great way to do a chameleon-like Beast.

Option 2 - Build
So, while there is a wide variety among the various Kith abilities, there are a few core templates that a lot of the kith use.
* A small combat bonus. Examples include doing lethal damage with bare hands or a +1 bonus which can be applied to a combat roll. That +1 bonus is about as much as you're going to get,
maybe with a "Spend a glamour to reroll the ability". Examples: Draconic, Hunterheart
* A bonus to two non-combat skills plus some small bonus (generally 9 again), either equivalent to a small merit, a minor glamour-activiated effect (such as a reroll) or the ability to use a skill when it might not be appropriate. Alternately, 9 again on 3 different skills, with no bonus. Examples: Flowering, Antiquarian, Snowskin, Woodblood.
* A bonus to many skills or a stat, but only under specific circumstances.
* A very narrow but powerful non-combat bonus, generally +3 (or 8 again( to a specific application of a specific skill with a potent supporting effect. Example: Mirrorskin, Steepscrambler, Artist.
* Underwater abilities tend to be the ability to survive underwater for a time (either 30 minutes or a scene) and some supporting effect, either related to mobility or some other matter of functioning underwater.
* Access to an ability, such as purchasing another seeming's contracts more cheaply. Only one example of this (Maninkins) but it's worth remembering.

Beyond those abilities, there are a number of colorful effects that demand the expenditure of glamour. These seem to require either spending one glamour, or granting a scaling bonus (which is to say, the bonus increases with each point spent). There are some stat boosters (Though you can be sure there's a reason there's no dex booster) but the more interesting abilities seem to be roughly balanced with 1 dot abilities, and when they exceed that, they have some sort of drawback. To be totally frank, these are less easily templated than the other abilities, so it's just worth eyeballing the existing abilities and asking "Is there any reason I would take an existing ability rather than this cool new one?" If the answer is no, then it's probably out of whack.

Next up - we'll turn theory into practice, and write up some examples of this.

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Next Step - Kiths and Chargen

Ok, so I need to plan my schedule a bit better, but I think we might be able to do chargen next friday. I have 2 concrete bodies and two more I just need to catch online to make certain of. That means maybe one more seat, but maybe I'll be smart staying at 4.

I've been pondering the Kiths. Now, compared to old changeling, the sheer variety of options is through the roof. Combined with the setting limitation that characters are still pretty much human, ruling out 6 inch pixies with fairy wings (and thank goodness), the range is broad indeed, but it's still a numerical cap around the mid-30s. Or at least so it first appears.

One of the things that I think was very clever is that the kith's are loose types, rather than strict one. The beasts are probably the best example of this - each kith is a type of animal, but may be any animal within those bounds. Thus, while there is only one kith for birds, that kith can as easily be used for eagles, pigeons, ravens and seagulls. That's pretty sweet, and I think it addresses the big issue of making sure players get the character they feel like they should have.

In my mind, the question of what you did in service of the Gentry is one of the most important questions in chargen (possibly second only to "What did you come back for?") and the idea that your form altered to better serve that purpose allows players to come in from a very open ended perspective, and the real question is how many answers to that question can be reasonably answered within the existing kiths.

My
suspicion is that a lot of them can. Not all, certainly, but the variety of form and style available (especially between the Fairest, Darklings and Wizened, who are barely bounded at all in their descriptions) is enough that I've been hard pressed to hit on something I could not fit into the current structure, at least to my satisfaction. That's not enough to make it decisive, but it's enough to make me comfortable.

Now, the real strength is on the flipside. If a player comes to the table looking through the kiths for inspiration, there are
more than enough options that this player should have no shortage of potential ideas without a strong likelihood of overlap. As an example, if I want to make a character who is good at fighting or sneaking or talking, there is no obvious correct choice, and that makes me very happy indeed. It means two people might have similar ideas, but be able to pursue them very differently, and that's always welcome from my perspective.

Of course, this doesn't men I'm not thinking about new Kiths, just because I can. Adding a whole new type is rough - it would require a new contract, general abilities and most importantly there would have to be some need to fill that I don't quite see. But adding a kith is really a matter of picking the equivalent of a 1 dot power and calling it a day. The balance among the existing kith is hardly precise, so I figure as long as you don't include anything more potent than the Mirrorskins (who I think have the most potent ability) but still make it something someone would want to use, you're good to go.

As an aside, I've gotten some reports of rss choking. I haven't been able to replicate it, but I'm trying to see if I can suss out the problem.
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The Chance Court

Long weekend means plenty of time to sit and think, so I did a write up for the Chance Court, the Court of Fools and put it up in the downloads section. it's just a first swing, so I'll let it sit for a few days before I try redlining it. As a minor court, they only have one contract (Serendipity), relating to luck.
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