Overview of Dark Ages: Fae Some episodes back on All Games Considered I did a review for Dark Ages: Fae. Well, it turned out to be more of an overview, and I had a lot of help from my co-GM, who was also running a DA: Fae game at the time. Im going to start this review out the same way I did for Deliria. With what this game is not. First of all this game is NOT Changeling. It isnt meant to be. That has in my experience caused some people to really not like the game, but to them I say give it a chance. It doesnt have as much in the way of a connection to the modern game, but the connections that are there are significant. It is, in fact, a different system than Changeling. Youre not dealing with the same kind of restrictions and powers that are in the modern game, and the reason is this: DA: Fae deals with what *could have happened* *before* the Shattering, a time that was never well defined in the modern setting book, which gave the developers great freedom in interpreting what that backstory could be. It doesnt *have* to be what happened before the Shattering but thats the beauty of it I think. That being said they can be tied together of course. Because no one knows exactly how the Fae got from where they were before the Shattering. In Changeling, the Shattering is the series of events that caused the Fae to flee this plane back to the Dreaming and Arcadia and left those behind the choice between clothing their Fae souls in human bodies, or dying as human disbelief and distrust eroded them into nothingness. DA Fae goes back before that explores the Good Folk, the
True Fae, and their half-human or human-adopted offspring (who were the Changelings back then) and the Inanimae elemental, primal forces that walk and talk like men. Concept: First the Fae: From the mists of creation came these fair folk, and they do believe they are the first calling themselves the firstborn, they have no human or alternate mein and hence rely on their powers and the mists to hide them in times of danger. Sprites and other magical beings with enough accumulated power can become firstborn the key here is that there is no human part to these beings. They live forever and believe themselves masters of the Realm of Flesh so much so that they believe they can leave it untended, in the hands of the humans they believe they dominate while they fight each other for dominion over the lands. Lands they didnt want to damage so while they fought elsewhere, their caretakers took over multiplied, and the serfs became the masters. Changelings have both a fae and human mein that they can switch back and forth to not quickly or easily, but they can. They have some human in them either through their being raised as such or being a human child stolen away to the fae lands. Inanimae can break down to their component parts and reform them this heals all damage and they can look human or well not. They are primal forces, men made of leaves and twigs who can trod upon the earth or fall back into its embrace. All of the Fae made oaths with the humans oaths which gave humans tremendous power over them. Certain sacrifices would be
made by humans, in return for the Fae protecting the lands. Certain things, called Echoes now existed that the Fae could be harmed by if they didnt fulfill their side of the deal. When they returned to Earth they found that these Echoes could be devastating. Throwing salt over your shoulder, a simple rhyme or incantation, or the sign of the Cross, and the Fae could be hurt, or banished. They made a truce with each other that after the war ended they would not raise another army to fight each other until the sun went black. Roughly a century is thought as the timeframe, its agreed that it will come to an end pretty soon, so even though they havent gotten a handle on the humans theyll soon be free to fight each other too. Yay. In the game you have the three kinds of fae and 5 courts. Ive already talked about the types of fae, now the courts. Instead of the two courts that Changeling has (Seelie and Unseelie) there are 4 seasonal courts and the courtless court. Spring Summer Autumn Winter Solstice Your court doesnt ironclad define your personality. Your choice of court is more defined by the courts purpose than by personality traits. To tie this to Changeling, I think that the Spring/Summer courts could have easily in my mind morphed into the Seelie court, and the Autumn/Winters could have morphed into the Unseelie court, with the Solstice Fae falling into either.
Spring and Autumn are the ones most likely to work with the humans seeking to understand them for various reasons common reasoning is however that the humans cannot forget them. The spring Fae wish to change theyre most attuned to adaptation and they want to remain within this realm and preserve their ties with humans. Not to say they dont feel superior to them, but they dont see them only as pawns. The Spring Fae I played in the Marcon demo was forever trying to figure out just how the humans had changed during the Wars and sought to understand them more partially out of the love of their mercurial changes, partially because she wanted to see the humans and the Fae have tighter bonds than before. Autumn works more towards being the influence over humans that they used to be theres no need to cater to the whims of these ephemeral beings but understanding is paramount if they are to subtly wrest control back and once again pull the strings. They also prefer to stay more hidden than their springtime cousins, manipulate, and gather information and power from the shadows. Theres no need to beat the humans over the head with their superiority, they can rule just as well from the shadows and dreams. Summer and Winter are both pissy at the uppity mortals who think that simply because their masters were gone for a spell that they now had the run of the place. Summer wants to come down hot and furious upon their heads and remind them who their true masters are. Winter wants to frighten them into submission while they take over as the true rulers.
Because lets not forget they warred not over if the Fae should rule the Mortals, but WHICH Fae should rule. Though there is a faction that believes that Rule should come with each Season, not all think that way. Solstice Fae for whatever reason, because they didnt get sained in time, because they were banished, or because they just didnt fit they are bound together by their outcast status. Allowing them more freedom with their powers, but at the same time at a higher cost. In the story, they generally hire themselves out as mercenaries, and most have their own agenda and feelings towards the mortals. Building your characters. I think they knew there would only be one book. I really do. The absolute stunning beauty in this game in my opinion lies in the endless possibilities of character combinations. There are specific aspects: Features, Oaths, and Echoes. The book gives you ideas on what to do with those, but doesnt define what you can and cannot use. The benefit in this is you can plumb the faerie tales of old and make your character one of those beings or come up with something entirely new. A point where the players and storyteller can work closely with each other on creating characters that will really fit within the storyworld. Characters that will really help build it. Mists and Weaving remember its not Changeling theres not any glamour or banality. In the DA times, there is the sliding scale of Magic Versus Reality. What is already woven, what is already defined so strongly in the human mindset, in their beliefs and dreams that the Fae cannot manipulate this
as easily as they can the unformed potential of the Mists. Changelings have better chance with the Weaving but less with the Mists than their firstborn kin. Inanimae are perfectly balanced between the two. Cantrips are ruled by Weaving youve done that abracadabra before you know it works but it can get a little boring. And depending on if it is your time of year, and the dominion you are using is your favored one it might be easier to cast. There are cantrips in the book but players and storytellers are encouraged to work together to create new ones. Unleashing you reach into the mists with an idea of what you want to happen and hope really really hard you dont blow yourself up. This is one of those points where the storyteller and the player work together. The GM rolls for you and you want them to roll low this time :). You really should explore both as going too far one way you loose touch with the realm of Faerie too far into the Mists and the Chaos can destroy you drive you mad with power, or just drive you mad. Dominions each court has an affinity with a time of day Day Summer, Dawn Spring, Dusk Autumn, Night Winter. If you cast anything cantrip or unleashing near your ideal time (shortly before or after sunrise for the Spring for example) and it is a dominion cantrip then your difficulty is lessened even more so if it is near your Equinox or Solstice (vernal equinox for spring).
However difficulty for unleashing can never go under 4. Now the dominions are self sufficient one group doesnt get cool mad powerz over the others because they all have a balanced set of healing and damage dealing cantrips. Other cantrips are closer to that courts dominion, but I dont think any one court is broke. But, how does it play? Like Ive mentioned before, I got to play at Marcon with one of the Developers Black Hat Matt. It was a lot of fun, and though I really love the Urban Fantasy genre I love this exploration of where the Fae went and what preceded the flight back to the Dreaming and Arcadia. Even better, because this isnt Dark Ages: Changeling, theres more open interpretation with what you can do with the game. Now, it can be argued that you can do that with any game, it isnt re