Regular readers know that not only am I a fan of the World and Chronicles of Darkness setting, but that I have a special place in my heart for Changeling: The Lost. A game that evokes beautiful madness in every aspect, I've loved it ever since I first picked up the manual, and I've played it at nearly every opportunity I could find. However, a majority of my time as a player was spent in organized play under the Camarilla/Mind's Eye Society, and it was the paperwork requirements of that organization that led to quite possibly one of the funniest moments I've ever had as a player attempting to justify to the powers-that-be why I should be allowed to have something restricted on my sheet.
I'd like to tell you that story today.
The High Price of "Fame"
For those who have not played a New World of Darkness game before, Fame is a merit that goes from 1 to 3 dots. At 1 dot you have some local notoriety, and at 2 dots you have fame that ranges from regional to national fame, whereas 3 dots makes you a large-scale, worldwide celebrity to those who know of you and your work. The idea is that if your character is famous that they have a higher chance of getting the VIP treatment (being let into clubs even though they aren't on the guest list, getting in to talk to people where they'd normally need an appointment, etc.), but there's also a higher chance of them being swarmed by paparazzi, stalked by fans, and dealing with the fact that they tend to get noticed wherever they go.
Now, in a normal tabletop game, taking all 3 dots of this merit isn't really a big deal; it's just something your Storyteller has to keep in mind for both the positive and negative aspects regarding how NPCs treat a particular player character. However, the whole gimmick of organized play venues is that you can travel between them with the same character, and the same sheet, and you'll still be able to play. So the organization essentially requires you to fill out paperwork to justify why your character should have certain abilities, especially if it's something like being an international celebrity, because that's going to show up no matter where you travel to.
Since I had to get approval several levels up the chain (meaning that my reasoning had to convince multiple Storytellers that the work I'd put in justified my character being this famous), I wanted to make sure I presented a good enough case.
Enter international bestselling author Adrian King.
Now, Adrian was a Fairest with the Author kith. For those not familiar with the game, Fairest are a type of changeling who can use magic to enhance their social skills and personalities (which includes the skill Expression, typically used for giving speeches, singing, and writing). Author is a kith (a more specific subset of changelings) which grants one the ability to understand all written mortal languages (with a Wits + Academics check), but more importantly, it grants the exploding 8s rule on all Expression rolls dealing with "Wordy Endeavors".
For full context, the way success is determined in this game is that you roll a pool of 10-sided dice, and however many of those dice are at or above your target number, that's the number of successes your action has. Normally you can only reroll dice that come up a 10, but in this case Adrian could re-roll dice that came up 8, 9, or 10 in order to add more successes to his action.
There was one more addition to this formula; the merit Brownie's Boon. This merit allowed you to mimic the fey ability to perform mundane (non-magical) tasks at a fraction of the time it would normally take, as long as no one was watching you. Tasks performed under these conditions could be done in half the normal time, but for every glamour (the essence of fey magic) that you spent you could cut that time in half again... until you were performing your tasks at 1/16 the amount of time.
You Rolled HOW Many Successes?
The way this LARP worked was that characters could take a certain number of downtime actions every month, and generally speaking a downtime action was the equivalent of up to 8 hours of work on something. When writing a novel, one uses either their Wits or Intelligence + Expression, plus any other modifiers. So Adrian, being a Fairest who was far quicker than he was smart, used his Wits of 3, and his Expression of 4 for a starting pool of 7 dice. He then locked himself in a room of his cottage with a typewriter, and let the magic flow, pushing Brownie's Boon to its limit.
This resulted in the dice pool for this single check to write a novel coming in at 112 dice. Generally speaking 20-25 successes is what it takes to make an impressive piece of art, or to do something like restore a classic car from nothing. Adrian's novel had over 180 successes.
And if that wasn't bad enough, his second novel (which he wrote the following month) had over 200 successes!
The Anticlimax of This Tale
My original plan for Adrian as a character was that his novel series was going to be re-tellings of his adventures in the Hedge alongside his fellow changelings, but cleverly disguised though his superior gifts of storytelling as a Fairest. I even went so far as to create a blog for him as a character with a "sample" from one of his books, along with a fake cover. The idea was that as other players became aware of him, and got mixed up in his stories, I'd release little snippets of his books, and my fellow players could try to figure out which character was theirs, and which events were made up, and which ones were true.
If you're curious, go check out Turning Back Midnight, which was a fun little piece of fiction to try to get my fellow players interested!
While I would like to say that this was a fun little meta story I ran over several years, and that it eventually led to a modern fantasy novel series I wanted to write, sadly, that isn't what happened. Because at the time Adrian was in play, Minds Eye Society had put an XP floor rule in place; essentially, all players earned a certain amount of experience points on their characters every month, even when they didn't attend. And while I thought I'd used the proper number, I had been misinformed, and even though Adrian had been in play for months, he was over 75 XP in debt. Given that a full month of play, with downtime actions, was barely enough to earn 10 XP, I was in deep enough that it just wasn't worth the effort of trying to straighten things out.
So, sadly, I laid this idea to rest. However, if you enjoyed that little sample, consider checking out my novels Marked Territory, a gangland noir tale about a Maine Coon getting his claws into a street-level mystery, or my dystopian sci-fi thriller Old Soldiers about a defunct super soldier trying to uncover a conspiracy that may be all in his head!
What's Next on Table Talk?
That's it for this installment of Table Talk! What would you like to see next? I'm listening for your comments and votes!
For more of my work, check out my Vocal archives, as well as the YouTube channel for Azukail Games. Or, to check out books like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife, the Hardboiled Cat series with Marked Territory and Painted Cats, my dystopian sci-fi thriller Old Soldiers, or my recent short story collection The Rejects, head over to My Amazon Author Page!
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