Kismet's Kith Revamp

By Kismet @ Kismet's World of Darkness http://wod.kismetrose.com/

What A Kith Is: A Brief Overview

A changeling’s seeming1 is an extensive physical response to a magical environment or the manipulations a True Fae.  Sometimes a Keeper will mold a captive directly; other times, being exposed to a Keeper over time will cause the captive to take on traits that the Fae possesses or desires. For some changelings, being forced to eat, drink, and dwell in the ambient magic of Arcadia is enough to warp them permanently. The shift also seems to be influenced by the changeling’s inner nature once it’s awakened in Arcadia.  (Even if their seeming feels alien to them, chances are it reflects something hidden or subconscious about a changeling.) Either way, if a human can’t return to Earth quickly, her entire body is forced to react to her alien surroundings.  These changes fall into six mythical categories, from the Automata2 to the Wizened, and affect a changeling from head to toe.

A kith, on the other hand, is a refinement based on what a changeling does the most while she is in Arcadia.  Some come about by accident when a changeling develops a winning survival strategy and starts to be shaped by it.  Most kiths are directly inflicted by Keepers who have roles they force their slaves to play.  And once again, by the influence of the Wyrd, kiths often reflect roles or talents that changelings had from the start. Some captives are stolen because they are already suited for something a Keeper has in mind. Regardless, smaller alterations occur in the body, and changelings develop limited abilities to manipulate their surroundings so they can better complete their tasks.  Since there are many roles to fill, there are many more kiths than seemings, they can appear in just about any type of changeling, and all changelings have a kith3.

What Kiths Can Be

Once upon a time in first edition Changeling: the Lost, kiths were tied to particular seemings and could not cross between them. Thus, some concepts were repeated across different seemings just to make them available. Second edition Changeling is doing well to separate the two categories; now, a kith can show up in any seeming. This opens doors for players and makes it easier to create the character you envision. This change alone can add an exciting amount of variety to any Changeling game.

Rather than tying specific blessings to each kith (as second edition is doing), however, I am opening up the system even further. You will choose which powers make sense for your character based on their story; the kith becomes a pattern that guides the mechanics. You need to have a theme and/or a role in mind for your character to choose which powers make the most sense for them (this is true for sway and blessings), but your character's fairy tale sets the boundaries. This also makes kiths more customizable so they can better reflect your character's unique experience of Arcadia and beyond.

Many kiths from first edition are distinctive and ready to use; they even have fairy tale-like names that give them an extra dash of flavor. It's been worth the trouble to gather them, streamline them, rename a few, and boil them down to their basic ideas. No doubt there will be kiths for 2nd edition that are distinctive enough to add to the mix. While Arcadia can have infinite variety, there are patterns that all realms share, including common kiths. So if you're thinking about starting a new Changeling character, check the list first. If a kith already exists that will work, there's no harm in using it.

Name

Themes and Roles

Airtouched

Gliding, flight, levitation, wind, speed, running

Antiquarian

Collectors of forbidden secrets and riddles, living books

Artificer

Mad scientist, creator, fixer of bizarre instruments

Artisan

All manner of artisan

Banespeaker

Hag or crone, curse-based, wise man/woman

Blightbent

Breathes toxicity, steam, imbued with pollution

Bloodbrute

Physical, barehanded fighter, Strength-based

Broadback

Beast of burden, stubborn, mount

Chatelaine

Butler, sensechal, organizer

Chimera

Amalgamation of various creatures, fearsome, strange

Chirurgeon

Doctor, healer, wise man/woman

Confection

Made of food, to be eaten and savored

Culinarian

Cook and brewer, knowing tongue

Cyclopean

Guardian, observer, scout

Draconic

Gargoyle-like, dragon-inspired, fearsome, guardian

Dredger

Digging for precious things of all kinds, mining, panning

Drudge

Works at inhuman speeds, does the 'lesser' jobs

Earthbones

Reinforced with a strong element, deals with earth

Emyprean

Made of stars, skybound, creates light

Flowering

Brightly colored, scented, personified flowers

Forgewright

Smelter, creator of metal goods, master craftsman

Gandharva

Divine messenger, speed, declarations

Gargantuan

Giant size, intimidation, strength, guardian

Gravewight

Close to the dead, appear dead, deal with the dead

Gristlegrinder

Eater of taboo things, biter, feeds on the living

Hunterheart

Hunting animal, predator creature, tracker

Jinn

Fire or electricity-based, speed, heat, charisma

Larcenist

Natural thief, trickster, spy

Maenad

Impossible grace, contortionist, dancing, reveling

Minstrel

Enrapturing audiences with instruments, voice

Mirrorskin

Features erased, malleable, be what others want

Oracle

Prophet, fate-seer, divinely inspired madness

Render

Seige weaponry, breaks down objects easily

Shadowsoul

Beauty of night, living shadow, protected by darkness

Skitterskulk

Critters of many eyes and legs; trappers; fearful

Sleekskin

Slippery, imbued with water, oil, sand

Succubus

Feed on Vice, tempter, attractively demonic

Treasured

Bejeweled, dipped in gold, living showpiece

Tunnelgrub

Cave-dweller, creepy crawler, spy

Venombite

Poisonous, slithering, stealth, acidic wit

Warmonger

A living weapon and/or master of a weapon

Waterborn

Water-based, swimming, cold

Weisse Frau

Fairy godmother, protector, inspires others

Woodwalker

Green man, part plant, travels in nature

Wordsmith

Writer, poet, lyricist, user of the magic of words

If you have a character concept that really doesn't fit anywhere, then you can look into establishing a new kith. For this revised system, the first thing to keep in mind when choosing or designing a kith is its themes and role. There should be more than one aspect that you can tie to a kith to help define it from the others. A thematic name is nice but not the end of the world. If you can only think of one element after brainstorming, chances are that there isn't enough behind the concept to create a new category. You might do better to simply tweak an existing kith that's close enough to what you have in mind, with some input from your Storyteller.

If the Storyteller wants to retain the Dual Kith Merit, it will have to be refocused. In Rites of Spring, the Merit exists to blend kiths from within the same seeming or from two different seemings and it provides set bonuses. To revise it, the two dot version will allow a character to have two kiths and to choose powers based on both of them (so, for instance, a Shadowsoul Skitterskulk could choose powers that reflect darkness, beauty, insectile qualities, trapping, and/or fear). The three dot version will let a character develop three kiths (the Shadowsoul Skitterskulk Hunterheart could also add tracking and tooth and claw combat abilities, for example). All of this is contingent on Storyteller approval.

1. I am aware that the definitions of kith and seeming are changing for 2nd edition. For the purposes of this revamp, the above definitions stand.

2. Automata is a Seeming I created.

3. With these definitions in place, the idea of kithless changelings becomes obsolete. With enough exposure to the Fae and their realms to take on a Seeming, you will also take on a kith, even if it's just by what you keep doing to try to escape.

Kith Magic: Blessings

A kith’s magic can manifest as kith Blessings.  If you choose to use this system, each changeling starts with one free Blessing.  The others must be purchased separately for the same price as a one-dot Contract. Unless otherwise stated, a kith Blessing does not require a roll but does require one point of Glamour to be reflexively activated for the scene.  Although a changeling can develop multiple Blessings over time, they should all be closely related to her concept (thus, a player’s choice must meet with ST approval).  Finally, she can only have one Blessing for each point she possesses in Wyrd.

Design notes: Each Blessing focuses on one specific effect; if related powers are needed, they must be developed and purchased separately.  These powers grant a changeling advantages and can extend benefits to others but do not impose penalties on targets or on the changeling using them.  None of the Blessings are ongoing; all of them must be activated with Glamour and last for a set duration.  Blessings provide more defined abilities than the Sway system provides (see below), and if the Storyteller wishes, the two systems can be used together.  They are named after blessings that have been published in Changeling books for ease of reference.  Some can be used as they are, others have been given small adjustments, and some have been completely retooled.

The following blessings from Changeling books can be applied with no significant changes, except that they can be purchased by changelings of any kith or Seeming.

From the Changeling: the Lost core rulebook: (Beast) Gifted Climber, Poisonous Bite, Gift of the Sky; (Darkling) Charnel Sight, Sap the Vital Spark; (Wizened) Steel Mastery.

From Winter Masques: (Darkling) Shadow Beauty, Ripper’s Gift, Keepers of the Feral Heart, Turncoat’s Tongue; (Elemental) Enveloping Sands; (Fairest) Kiss of Life; (Ogre) Improvised Mayhem; (Wizened) Gremlinizing Touch, Tappingspeak, Polyglot’s Riddle.

From Night Horrors: Grim Fears: (Fairest) The Circle of Friends.

The following kith blessings have minor adjustments from their original versions.

From Changeling: the Lost:

Tooth and Claw: As per the Beast blessing, but for one turn per activation.

The Mercurial Visage: As per the Darkling blessing, except that as an instant action  you gain 9 again on disguise attempts to impersonate that person. This bonus applies to the Mask only.  See the Mockingbird’s Tongue blessing for more.


In Plain Sight: As per the second part of the Elemental blessing, except that it’s not limited to hiding in foliage.  There has to be a reasonable amount of coverage there, offering something at least half of your Size rating (rounded down) to hide within or behind.

Dragon’s Talon: As per the Fairest blessing, except that it does not allow you to spend Glamour to retake failed rolls, as well.

Obdurate Skin: As per the Ogre blessing except that you use half your Wyrd score (rounded down) as your armor rating, and there are no penalties.

Spurious Stature: As per the Ogre blessing except that there is no penalty when returning to normal size.

The Inebriating Elixir: As per the Wizened blessing except that if the Potency doesn’t exceed the drinker’s Health, the drinker must roll 1d10 to determine the effects:

1-2 Gains a +2 bonus to carousing rolls

3-4 Gains a +2 bonus to seduction rolls

5-6 Gains a +2 bonus to expression rolls

7-8 Gains a +2 bonus to resist reacting with aggression, including frenzy

9-10 Enters a euphoric state in which mental health-related Conditions are suppressed

From Winter Masques:

Caustic Caress: As per the Elemental blessing, focused on the polluted touch and without the additional resistance to toxins or poisons.

Enthralling Mist: As per the Elemental blessing except that it lasts for the scene.

Taste of Ill Luck: As per the Elemental blessing except that it must be declared before the first roll has been resolved and no benefit to Hearth is gained.

Velocity of the Zephyr: As per the Elemental blessing except that you must choose Speed or Initiative upon buying the power.

Cutting Might: As per the Ogre blessing, except that there is no additional Weaponry specialty.

Sepulchral Hunger: As per the Ogre blessing, except that there is no additional bonus versus undead creatures.

Unyielding Voice: As per the Ogre blessing except that it applies only to Manipulation rolls.

Gourmand’s Grotesquerie: As per the Wizened blessing except that you gain +1 on Socialize rolls with anyone who partakes and do not gain the Iron Stomach Merit.

The following completely replace any blessings with the same names, since they contain major changes from prior versions.

Burning Hypnotism: Once per scene, you can activate your aura.  Anyone you question while they can see the aura must make a contested Resolve + Composure + Power Stat roll or tell you the truth about one question per net success.  The answers can be simple and unadorned, and further demands for details will count as additional questions, but they must be true as far as the target knows.

Consumptive Voice: Use your voice to muddy the thoughts of any who listen to you speak. Gain an exceptional success when obtaining 3 successes instead of 5 on Persuasion, Socialize, or Subterfuge rolls (choose one type each time this ability is purchased) versus any who hear your voice in casual conversation.  This ability can be used only once per day.

Fade into the Background: In any area significantly like the one in which you spent the most time in Arcadia (plantlife, dark corners, stonework; choose one when purchasing this blessing), you add half your Wyrd to Stealth dice pools.

Goblin Illumination: Illuminate a portion of your body, or all of it, with a soft, pale light that eliminates up to 2 points of dice penalties to act in darkness. This can be turned on and off as a reflexive action.

Goblin’s Tongue: Gain a +3 on any Social rolls made against a single type of supernatural creature (choose a different one each time this ability is taken).

Haunting Nocturne: As per the Winter Masques Darkling blessing, except that success makes the affected listeners more suggestible; you gain a +2 bonus to make specific suggestions to such listeners for the scene.  This does not include anything that will result in bodily harm or death, and any such suggestions will instantly break the spell.

Impossible Counterpoise: When Dodging, add your Wyrd to your Defense Trait rather than doubling it.

Keys to Knowledge: Add your rating in Academics to Investigation rolls (or vice versa; choose one option when purchasing this ability).

Music of the Spheres: You have an an unerring sense of time, which allows you to roll twice and accept the better outcome for any action that might require precise timing (see the Winter Masques blessing for examples).

Narcissus’s Blessing: As per the Night Horrors: Grim Fears Fairest blessing except that it grants a +3 bonus to subliminally convince targets that you appear to be elsewise.  You should decide the exact differences, which can extend to clothing but not to anything beyond what you are wearing or holding.  One major difference - such as a great shift in height, weight, or coloring - can be conjured for every 2 points of your Wyrd.  Fooled targets will only be able to recall the illusion.  This is only useable once per scene and does not affect recordings.

Natural Swimmer: Swim at a rate equal to twice your Speed rating.

Night Eyes: Suffers no penalties to sight-based Perception rolls when in the dark.

Panomancy: Once per chapter, tell fortunes using any method you want. The effect works the same as the Precognition Merit, without a cost in Willpower (see Second Sight).

Reptilian Blood: Gains a bonus equal to half your Wyrd rating (rounded down) versus damage from anything with a toxicity level (poisons, toxins, etc.).

Runs Like the Wind: Add half your Wyrd rating (rounded down) to Speed for the scene (cumulative with the Fleet of Foot Merit, if the changeling possesses it).

Seductive Fragrance: Your skin, hair, and breath carry alluring aromas from places unknown, lulling those who can get a clear whiff of you into responding better to your presence.  Once per scene upon activating this ability, you can add your Socialize rating to later Socialize rolls.  You can do this for as many rolls equal to your Socialize rating versus those who were close enough to smell you when you activated the blessing.  You must use this bonus before the scene ends.

Slither and Squirm: Gain the third level of the Spelunking movement style in Book of the Dead (page 92).  You get to roll Dexterity + Athletics to wriggle out of bonds due to this mobility, as well.

The Gift of Water: Breathe underwater.  All water is expelled harmlessly from your lungs immediately during the round you leave the water.

The Tyranny of Ideas: Normal humans (and it must be human; it can’t be another changeling or another supernatural being) gain a bonus to one dice pool involving Expression, Persuasion, Socialize or Subterfuge equal to your Wyrd.  This can only be used once per scene.

The Trickster’s Truth: Gain an exceptional success on Subterfuge, Persuasion, or Socialize rolls at 3 successes instead of 5 (choose a different skill each time this blessing is obtained).

Track the Blood: Gain the benefit of the 9 again rule on Wits-based Perception rolls for one specific sense (sight, hearing, touch, or taste/smell; choose one each time this ability is purchased).

The following blessings are new additions.

Bodhisattvas’s Blessing: For every dot of Wyrd you possess, you can grant one person in your vicinity a +2 bonus to leave or avoid a place of imprisonment.  This can include Larceny, Stealth, Subterfuge, or Persuasion, although you have no control over the methods the targets choose or the Storyteller’s ruling on what is most appropriate for the situation.

Goblin’s Gift: As per the Changing Breeds Aspect Pearl of Great Price except that you roll with Wyrd instead of Feral Heart and supernatural opponents resist with their Power Stat.

Mockingbird’s Tongue: Shift your voice to resemble (if not completely mimic) anyone whose voice you have heard for at least a scene’s length of time. You gain 9 again on disguise attempts to impersonate that person’s voice (see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 87). Paired with Mercurial Visage, you gain 8 again for your overall performance.  This bonus applies to the Mask only.

No Place Like Home: Gain an instinctual sense of where you are in relation to a place that you consider home.  You will not fail a roll to find a way back to that location in the real world (you will at least gain one success) after calling upon this power.  If activated in another realm like the Hedge, you can expect a 50/50 chance of being led to a door or path toward your home.  This can only be used once per scene and does not ensure safe or swift travel.

Sawbones Charm: After activation, you cannot fail a Medicine roll; you will always get at least one success.  This lasts for as many rolls as your dots of Wyrd or the end of the scene, whichever comes first.

Skeleton Key: Choose a skill for which you require special tools (Crafts, Medicine, or Larceny).  Activating this ability will negate penalties for substandard equipment as long as there is something at hand that can be jury-rigged for the purpose.

Sweets for the Sweet: You can pull off a small piece of your edible body for the target to consume (without causing physical damage) or activate the ability through an exchange of bodily fluids, like a kiss, but the ability requires the target to consume the sweet.  The target can choose to make a Stamina + Resolve roll to resist the effect or give in to their chosen Vice without a struggle, gaining 1 Willpower by the end of the scene, which they ascribe to their intoxication.  The target will not forego personal safety to indulge themselves but if you are able to see the fruition of the target’s enjoyment, you will regain Willpower as they have.

Kith Magic: Sway

A kith blessing can manifest in the Sway that a changeling has over her surroundings.  In Arcadia, she was imbued with an ability to affect her environment in small ways to help her complete tasks faster and better.  A changeling's kith gives her supernatural Sway over one aspect for every other dot of Wyrd she possesses (to a maximum of five).  These aspects are directly related to her kith’s concept and role in Arcadia.  They can be drawn from a wide range of phenomena such as elements (such as wind), oft-repeated actions (like repair), objects (like tools), qualities (such as softness), conditions (like intoxication), types of people (such as children), and arts (like music).  Each one must meet with Storyteller approval before being recorded on a character's sheet. This system can be used on its own or in addition to kith blessings.

Areas of Sway do not have to be be rigidly specific, such as being reduced to one type of music, nor should they represent only one narrow skill or roll.  For example, Persuasion is not an appropriate choice, but Conversation or Temptation would work.  Temptation, for instance, could be attempted with Subterfuge, but also through Persuasion or Intimidation rolls. Aspects of Sway should be able to affect a number of possible rolls while remaining distinct from one another.  As a rule, Sway does not apply to rolls to attack or deal damage but can be used to manipulate a battlefield in one’s favor.  This made captives easier to keep in line in Arcadia but makes them slippery opponents on earth.

A changeling can use Sway once per scene per dot of Wyrd she possesses.  The aspect she is trying to influence must be present in the scene in some measure, either naturally or through use of a supernatural effect, but she cannot summon it through Sway itself.  To compel the aspect to help her, all she has to do is spend a point of Glamour reflexively and imagine how a twist of fate in that arena will occur.  The player must describe her intention first and if necessary explain how it is connected to her chosen type of Sway.  With the Storyteller’s permission, she may proceed.  An activation grants the changeling a +2 bonus or negates up to -2 in penalties on a single roll she makes. While the outcomes might appear to be good or bad luck to onlookers, they will usually not be outlandish enough to warrant suspicion of supernatural influence.

So a Cyclopean with the Sway of Sight can give herself a +2 bonus on one roll to track someone, inspect a person's outfit at the club entrance, or examine a crime scene - provided that her vision is not obscured and she is only expecting surface details to pop out at her.  She could not activate this area of Sway if she was blinded or had significantly blurred vision due to a drug effect.  She will not gain any information about things that are not able to be detected by viewing them at the moment in the scene.  On the other hand, she could negate up to -2 in penalties caused by wind or thick fog, but she must decide which benefit to claim before making the roll.

Design Notes: Sway is meant to be a flexible system that encourages players to look for more ways to use their character and the environment.  It can give players more opportunities to use their characters’ powers, but they will have to think creatively and make sure that their strategies make sense to the Storyteller.  Sway adds an element of unpredictability to kith powers, as well, giving them a tricksy feel.  Sway is tied tightly to a changeling’s theme, giving the player more power to easily flesh out a kith concept that doesn’t easily fit into the prescribed categories.  It is only one possible kith power system, the first of two I have been developing.

Sway is can also be expanded or contracted by the Storyteller, as needed.  If it doesn’t match a higher power level that a group enjoys, the Storyteller can allow characters to have one area of Sway per dot of Wyrd, or allow 2 automatic successes instead of simply allowing a +2 bonus to a roll.  If the system seems too open, a Storyteller could restrict Sway to only a few categories (such as physical aspects like elements, objects, and people) or to only negating penalties.