Changeling: The Lost - IRC RPG

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 Ensorcelled

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PostSubject: Ensorcelled   Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:12 am

Ensorcelled mortals provide a whole other avenue of concern for the Lost. Yes, the ensorcelled can be tools -- a human who is allowed to be in on "the secret" and realize that the characters aren't raving lunatics but are instead truly magical beings? Well, that's a resource to be carefully cultivated. The concern is, not every changeling so carefully maintains that relationship. Alternately, some cultivate it just fine, but an ensorcelled mortal isn't automatically an ally to the whole freehold.

With mortal antagonists, a little knowledge can be a big danger. Ensorcellment, in some cases, takes that to the next step. Now a human knows who the changelings are. He knows of what they're capable. Sure, he's likely to be getting something out of the bargain, but humans the world around have thrown away perfectly good careers and relationships because of out-of-control emotions. Being tied to Glamour to intimately can tweak the ensorcelled mortal's brain a bit. Glamour doesn't set the world spinning off its axis most of the time, but does introduce a certain unreality into the mind, tempting imbalance. The ensorcelled might go nuts. He might go rogue. He might want more out of the deal than what he's getting. Yes, the changelings have ways of dealing with this element, but just as all things, it can be imperfect. Slip up, let him go and one might have a very deadly -- and ultimately knowledgeable -- foe stalking you from within the mortal herd.

Want to play the ensorcelled? You'll find that you need no special rules to play them that aren't present in Changeling: The Lost or Autumn Nightmares -- they can see changelings, Glamour, the Hedge, the world's mien in all its glory and horror. Apart from that, the ensorcelled are simple mortal World of Darkness characters. If you feel that changelings are perhaps too powerful or too strange for the mood you seek to present, and you're looking for characters who are a little more vulnerable and "in the dark," then ensorcelled might be a good way to go. Ensorcelled mortals can possess dots in the Court Goodwill Merit, though it's incredibly rare that this Merit goes above two dots. Unless the Storyteller declares otherwise, a human cannot maintain a Hollow or gain Glamour from possessing the Harvest Merit. New Identity works, and needn't be Lost-centric.


Magic And Mortals

Below are a number of problems potentially presented by the ensorcelled. These problems are not universal, but represent reasons why an ensorcelled mortal could present a problem for the Lost either as a rogue ally or a full-blown antagonist.

Madness

As an optional rule, you might consider making it easier for ensorcelled mortals to gain derangements from degeneration. One's eyes being opened to Glamour -- with the very stuff infusing that human's body -- is certainly wondrous and strange, but it might well be too wondrous, too strange. The very existence of this magic is at odds with the reasonable centers of most human beings' brains. Therefore, it might become easier for a human to develop tics, foibles, little insanities.

When making the Morality roll (post-degeneration roll) to check for a derangement, that roll is made at a -1 penalty.

Alternately, you might consider not making derangements easier to gain, but easier to for them to surface once they are gained. Any Resolve + Composure roll made to resist manifesting a derangement could be made at a -1 penalty.

One option, too, is that instead of manifesting derangements, a human ensorcelled may develop frailties (banes and taboos) much in the way that changelings do. Think of a human who can't cross a line of spilled salt, or one who gains physical discomfort from hearing the chiming of an open music box.

Friend Of Enemies

The ensorcelled can very well be pledge-bound to an unsavory or antagonistic motley, thus making that ensorcelled mortal an enemy instead of an ally. The motley to which the mortal "belongs" needn't be outright evil, which means the ensorcelled isn't evil, either. But if the motley is in any way hostile to the players' characters, then the ensorcelled will act in similar opposition. This, by proxy, makes an otherwise normal (if there is such a thing) ensorcelled a very real antagonist.

Friend Of The Fair Folk

The Fair Folk have mortal agents in this world, plain and simple. These mortals, ensorcelled by the potent Glamour of the True Fae, needn't be bound by any pledge, but simply have their eyes ripped open to the reality of Wyrd's presence in the world. And, just because that agent isn't actually pledgebound doesn't mean he won't do every damn thing that the True Fae demands of him -- the consequences of failing the Fair Folk are both many and endless. Denying a Fae master might cause one to lose his family, friends, job, money, his whole damn life because the fiend will take it from him inch by inch, like plucking bits of wing from a fragile butterfly. (Though, it's worth noting that some Fae do bind their ensorcelled mortals by pledges instead of just infusing them with Glamour.)

Ensorcelled mortals working for the Fae are dangerous indeed. Such mortals operate as spies. They function as soldiers. One Fae agent might perform intense weeks-long surveillance on a given changeling's activities to report back to his mistress. Another might strap a bomb to his chest or carry an arsenal of guns into the freehold and just start taking changelings out left and right (as the mad Fae squeals with delight from somewhere far away).

Remember, too, that the Fae are in themselves wondrous. They can appear like brave gods, tempting demons, otherworldly beauties or punishing angels. A human being can easily be seduced by this. Some humans even work for the Fair Folk under the promise that one day they, too, will be taken away to "beautiful Arcadia" to become changelings. Of course, such a reward is no reward at all, but when a Fae appears garbed in the very ideal of raw majesty, it's hard to believe that such a being could be lying.

Eternal Ensorcelled

Some humans can become ensorcelled simply by being exposed to Glamour at work in this world. This doesn't require the deliberate efforts of a Fae or changeling, but if a mortal is in some way affected by or a witness to a situation involving Glamour or Wyrd, he may have the scales ripped from his eyes forever.

In what situations can this happen? A human manipulated too many times by Contracts. Or perhaps a human who witnesses something that his mind finds impossible to parse: a changeling calling up a tidal wave of water, a grotesque Other entering into this world, a vicious attack by a howling hobgoblin. Maybe the human wanders into the Hedge, or just catches a glimpse through the doorway and sees what lies among the Thorns. It's even possible that the human hasn't really been affected by Glamour at all, but suffered some manner of trauma that allows him to retreat into a very real fantasy world (think head trauma or some kind of abuse as a child).

The thing about such characters is that they can't shut it off. They can't close their eyes and stop seeing the truth about things. For some, this is liberating -- they feel special, powerful, sanctified. Others feel cursed. Many go mad.

Eternally ensorcelled humans can be great allies or persistent antagonists -- some humans can even be both, helping the changelings in one motion while hurting them the next. Alternately, consider that having one's perspective shift dramatically can be traumatic (often on top of whatever trauma was initially suffered). It isn't unthinkable that an eternally ensorcelled individual might not see true Glamour in action, but instead would perceive a world poisoned by it (much as the "poisoning ensorcellment" sanction in the system of pledges). He would see only monstrosity. Beautiful things would all be ugly. The splendor of Wyrd would be vile and frightening. This is likely to cause derangements and, at least initially, a complete withdrawal from the world. Some manage to build their will against such a thing, though, and venture out to destroy the awful things they see hiding in the shadows.

Assume that, not only are such characters ensorcelled, but they gain the Unseen Sense Merit, as well.

Crossover Potential

Ensorcellment needn't be limited to humans. With Storyteller approval, any of the other "monster" character types (vampires, werewolves, mages, changelings, psychics, ghouls, wolf-blooded, etc.) could attain ensorcellment. (Note that such characters cannot gain Contracts in anyway, but they can possess some changeling Merits such as Court Goodwill.)

For purposes of this book, that means you have a whole other bevy of antagonists from which to choose. Obviously, the other denizens of the World of Darkness make for interesting antagonists all on their own, but once they become ensorcelled, they gain an even greater connection to the Lost and can always see the magic of the Fae without any effort on their parts. While such characters can be highly useful, they can also be dangerously unpredictable. Many possess urges to give in to their monstrous sides, and such urges can become hard to deny (especially when their minds are addled with magic). Others, such as mages, are intensely curious -- some so curious that it must be labeled an obsession. They all present great value and great risk to the Lost. Which makes them damn fine antagonists, indeed.

Broken Pledge

A broken pledge can lead to a vengeful mortal -- one who may no longer be ensorcelled, or one whose eyes still can see the effects of Wyrd on the world.

One possibility is that a mortal's ensorcellment grows poisoned as the result of his breaking a pledge. Perhaps he didn't mean to break it. Maybe it was on purpose. But a mortal experiencing a poisoned ensorcellment is in for a rough ride, indeed. All that he sees of Glamour is distorted, cast in the hues of nightmare, twisted and misshapen into something grotesque. While many mortals can't handle this, and either go catatonic or flee at the sight of such false wretchedness, some stand against it. They steel themselves against the nightmare -- likely not understanding what's really happening -- and fight it. Some might even think that they now see the true reality, that all the fairy gold was just dross, that all the beautiful dreams were truly just nightmares.

Another option is that a mortal feels wrathful over any kind of curse that resulted as a broken pledge. Maybe his ire is up because his blessing is gone. Or maybe the curse has cause him accidents (crashing a car, chopping off a thumb, accidentally falling off a ladder) that hurt him or a loved one. Sometimes, a human breaks a pledge and doesn't really realize that he's done it. He might mistake what he did for something that was perfectly acceptable -- but, in reality, he brought danger to the changeling or accidentally gave away too much information. (Consider, too, that other changelings can be quite manipulative, and might lead him astray without him even realizing it.) Upon experiencing the results of the broken pledge, a mortal may feel spurned and sour, and seek revenge as if it's somehow the changeling's fault. The mortal may even turn this anger against all the changelings, because if one apple is bad, the whole bushel must be, too.
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