Demoing Changeling: the Lost

Last weekend I ran the demo from White Wolf of Changeling: the Lost. This was my first White Wolf game I’ve ever played and a first look at Changeling: the Lost for all of my players. In all fairness the entirety of our experience was based off the demo packet as none of us had source books to reference. This was intended to be an exercise to see if it would be worth purchasing the source books and if my gaming group would even be interested.

The demo was very well put together. I did have to visit the forums to clarify one or two details but I’d have to say that everything we needed to play was contained in the demo packet as promised. I do with they had broken the PDF into two separate files though so that I could send one to the players with the quick start characters and the rules without sending them the actual adventure. The rules were on the first five pages of the PDF while the characters were at the end of the PDF. It took a lot of work preparing primer documents to give the players without spoiling the story.

With that said, the story that comes in the demo was excellent. With only the smallest exception there was a good balance between block text and story information. The story did an excellent job of instilling paranoia in the players which is a hallmark of the Changeling setting.

The basic premise of the story is that the characters are recently escaped from Arcadia and living in Miami. The Summer Court has been controlling Miami well beyond their normal reign and refuses to hand over control to the other courts. The players are invited to a coup to overthrow the summer king and for their individual reasons they agree.

Over the course of the demo they players get a chance to experience combat, social manipulation, and the every day risks that Changelings face. It did a great job of running the gambit of the various aspect of Changeling: the Lost.

The thing we found wanting about it though was the game engine. We found combat to be far too lethal. Defenses didn’t seem to balance well with offenses so NPCs and players would die too quickly. It’s the nature of the setting that people aren’t running around in full armor like in a medieval fantasy. Unfortunately that would have helped.

I understand there is a realism aspect to the idea that a normally clothed person has no special defenses against a bullet or a knife. Realism aside, there isn’t a lot of fun factor in an NPC dropping a PC on the first round just because of a lucky roll either. Perhaps we weren’t understanding something correctly but I feel fairly confident we were running things the way the demo intended them to be run.

Everything considered we had a great time though. I think we’ll try another White Wolf demo in the future, at least to give the system a second chance. They have demos for a few of their games. Perhaps Mage: The Awakening next?

While I’m not quite sold on the game system the setting was a blast and I’ve got Monte Cook’s World of Darkness on order. Once that arrives and I get a chance to dig into it, I’ll be sure to post a review here.

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