episode 13 – shadows on the hill

Changeling the Podcast
Changeling the Podcast
episode 13 - shadows on the hill

Lucky thirteen! In this installment, we move forward in the Immortal Eyes chronicle, Shadows on the Hill, following the protagonist oathmates to their next adventure in Hawaiʻi. Like the previous book, The Toybox, the storyline (and included adventures) of the Immortal Eyes is kind of ancillary to the setting details laid out here. We found this one somewhat richer overall, with a lot of material that could be used for games set in the islands, with the caveat that one should always use discretion and do some additional research before taking everything in these pages for granted. (Disclaimer: we’re both white folks with limited knowledge of the setting and culture.) But even if you don’t use the book as intended, it has many beautiful passages and lots of bits that you might want to incorporate into a chronicle of your own. File under “not strictly necessary to buy, but a nice addition to the collection,” if that’s a label you’re keen to use.

in the beginning…

There’s a passage describing the creation of the Hawaiʻian island chain that Pooka mentions reminds them of the intro to the first Civilization computer game. For the sake of a visual aid, and to do a throwback to a game even older than Changeling: the Dreaming, here’s the video. It doesn’t have quite the same power when the tinny Sound Blaster music isn’t piping out of your cheap speakers, but you get the idea. (Pooka will not be taking questions on how many hours they’ve wasted playing the games in this series, so you’ll just have to guess.)

sacred sites and science

One of the secondary antagonists in the book’s first adventure is an Autumn Person geologist, Jennifer Friedman, whose character is not really developed beyond that description. She’s mentioned as part of a group of tourists who are depleting the mana from the land, as part of an ongoing framing of mana as Glamour specifically infused with the notion of being a dream of the land, an idea of the people, and the relationship between the two. While that concept of mana is an intriguing one, the use of this geologist in relation to it just seems too easy—another foray in the anti-science mentality that crops up regularly in 1st edition.

The issue of science intruding on culture is a longstanding one in Hawaiʻi, with the Thirty Meter Telescope protests being the most recent and high-profile conflict. (Note: the protests were erroneously referred to in the episode as taking place on Mauna Loa; they are actually on Mauna Kea.) Changeling has always been a game with the capacity to responsibly explore political issues like this, and if a group wants to engage with heritage and tradition in relation to land use and rights, this is a possible situation to address. On the other hand, the technical knowledge gained about how the planet works can be just as Glamour-inspiring for some, not to mention life-saving for others. That’s part of why the character of Dr. Friedman as a throwaway line is so frustrating: she’s a one-dimensional foil to the characters. We don’t dispute the book’s foregrounding of Hawaiʻi as a spiritual landscape first, but if you choose to have a scientist as a villain, at least make them more interesting than being just another Autumn Person. If they’re going to disrespect the land to give players a reason to stand against them, they should have some kind of reason for it.

This goes for other similar cases as well. All around the world are places and moments where passionate belief is challenged by thirst for data. You can certainly have unabashedly corrupt foes—Pentex and their local branch, Big Fruit, spring to mind—but we recommend giving you and your group the space to get more complex here, because the game allows you to. The nature of Glamour and Banality is a theme we keep returning to; when the stakes are the well-being of entire groups of people, the question of what each of those forces means to people becomes all the more urgent.

hot tub satyr machine

That was a pretty serious topic in the last section. For a bit of whimsy to counterbalance it, here’s the hot tub picture from page 124 that Josh found weird and uncomfortable:

It’s really the satyr’s face that does it. The longer you look at it, the more uncomfortable it gets.

a few resources

The book that Pooka mentioned finding at the local bookmonger was the second volume of the Nānā i ke Kumu series. The first two were published in the 1970s as a joint venture between the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and local community leaders/organizations. They cover all manner of legend, folktale, custom, and religious belief over the course of hundreds of pages; a third volume, published in 2020, covers more modern social problems from a cultural context. You can find more information/purchase the books at the press website, or (if you want) use a certain rapacious corporation’s website instead. Such a collection is valuable for creating verisimilitude in your game—there are plenty of stories, practices, and kapu that you can search through to flesh out a Hawaiʻian setting—but also just for self-education.

And if you want some cool information about the mindboggling navigational practices that got the Menehune and their people to Hawaiʻi in the first place, check out this page from the university on techniques (see the sidebar for links to specific traditional tools), and this article from the BBC last year about the Hōkūleʻa, a traditionally-built canoe that was sailed using those techniques across the Pacific in 1976. The canoe’s voyage demonstrated that the voyages of the ancient Polynesians were entirely possible, creating a sense of renewed pride and interest in the history of seafaring. Pretty astounding stuff that can make for an interesting sidebar in a chronicle set on the seas. (Some of this also pops up in Mage’s Dead Magic II, within a WoD-context.)

promo card note

In a misalignment of circumstance, Pooka did not take a picture of the promo card for the Arcadia: the Wyld Hunt CCG they have in the back of their copy of IE2 before departing for overseas voyages. And now, as the episode goes live, they are thousands of miles away from said book. Luckily, the In Arcadia blog has a write-up of the phenomenon, and an image handy as you please:

It’s unlikely that this is still valid, right? Still, if we can get our hands on more cards, maybe an episode about the CCG will make an appearance in the future…

your hosts

Josh Hillerup (he/him) tasted of the forbidden fruit, and found it resembled persimmon with a hint of cardamom.
Pooka G (any pronoun/they) is in terrible need of pastries most hours of the day.

“Ukuliʻi ka pua, onaona i ka mauʻu.”
(Tiny is the flower, yet it scents the grasses around it.)
—Hawaiʻian proverb cited by Serge Kahili King

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