9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The best of the new World of Darkness,
This review is from: Changeling the Lost (Changeling) (Hardcover)
Though there were many complaints about White Wolf's choice to release a new edition of their acclaimed role playing system, the new World of Darkness was generally well received, and once the three "core" systems (Requiem, Awakening, and Forsaken) had been published some members of the community wondered where the line would go from here. The publishing of the much maligned Promethean put White Wolf on shaky ground, and when they announced they were releasing a new version of the cult classic Changeling players prepared for an appalling mess. This was, after all, the game that White Wolf had previously claimed would never be made.
So when the pre-releases started emerging, people were suspicious, myself among them. Dreaming had been such a strange, unique game... how could it work in the new streamlined system? But when the preview adventure came out, and in wonder we read what they had done, the scale began to tip in their favor.
Welcome, then, to Changeling: the Lost, the latest in White Wolf's "Game: The Angst" line of publishing, which sounds like an insult, but actually is anything but. WW have cracked horror roleplaying, and this is another superb example of their skill. Whereas Promethean suffered from overpowered PCs and underpowered enemies, Lost crashed back with intriguing yet subtle power dynamics, and horrific enemies who would genuinely hunt you to the end of the world and take you, screaming and kicking, back to the place where your nightmares come from. This wasn't smash and grab role play, this was dark and terrifying, and beautiful at the same time.
I realise it sounds like I'm gushing a bit about this, but it deserves to be gushed over. So, in order, let's assess the game.
Setting and Mood: WW clearly looked long and hard at what made Dreaming great, and then scrapped most of it with the intent of making it better. By forcing the faerie realms into a more western view (with lots of lovely novel extras arriving in Winter Masques) it becomes more cohesive, whilst still keeping the horrible arbitrary nature which makes it terrible and wonderful at the same time. Faerie is both beautiful and awful, and the True Fae themselves, the Keepers, take on the role of abuser and parent, ensuring conflict and horror aplenty. The discussion of privateers and loyalists, those who would serve the True Fae out of devotion or greed, adds another level of grotesque. Add to this the hedge, a barrier realm consumed by chaos and delightful nightmare, and you have an endless supply of material for your games.
Mechanics - It's clear that WW wanted to break out of what is now recognised as their "standard" formula - five political groups, five clans/paths/etc. Changeling throws this away and starts again, and feels much less forced for it. And contracts... how can I not talk about contracts. They vary from the surreal and subtle all the way up to the near godly, but the carefully laid out requirements, and the relatively small dice pools means that they never get out of hand. Contracts aren't something to ignore, but neither are they the be all and end all - they're just too hard to pin down for that. The introduction of catches, specific circumstances where these powers are free, is a lovely touch, and is a constant reminder of the near lyrical methodology of faerie. The only complaint is in regards to dreaming - it feels like they tacked it on to make oWoD players happy, when it was in fact totally unnecessary. It's a nice idea, but there needs to be way more background on it. We can only hope it's covered in a supplementary volume.
Appearance - *drools* Seriously, the moment you open the book you're understand. It's wonderful. Gorgeous illustrations, tasteful and interesting fonts that don't lose out on clarity, simplicity of layout coupled with intrigue of writing. The only negative to associate with it is perhaps the overwhelming green colouration. Yes, we know you had a colour scheme. Well done. But couldn't we have had the kiths illustrated in colour? Just tasteful pastel shades? It's a shame, and a missed opportunity. But still, a minor complaint really.
So, in conclusion, this is a game that feels great, works brilliantly, holds your attention, infects you with its charm, and celebrates the weird and terrible. If you want to play the most twisted WoD game, don't pick anything but Lost. But watch out for the gentry...