As October dawns, it’s only fitting that we should get into it with a deep dive into the guide to that creepiest of kiths, Kithbook: Sluagh. We actually… don’t really have many notes this time! Both of us agreed that it was probably our favorite kithbook, that there was very little we’d do to change it (except maybe axe that THEORY), and we didn’t really have many asides to dump in the show notes. As mentioned last time, the show notes will from now on feature links to our social sites above the fold:
But in the interest of having something to drop in the main portion, perhaps this little meditation on that THEORY…
end of the cycle
So, even more irksome than their continued positioning as the true baddies in Changeling’s 1st edition, certain sluagh have a theory that each time a Kithain reincarnates, they “diminish” a bit, losing some of their fae energy. They start out as sidhe, and then come back in their next life as a commoner, working their way through the kiths until they end as sluagh (after which they might become wraiths, which is supposedly why the sluagh can talk to them). This is presented in an in-character letter from one sluagh researcher to another, but then backed up with a 5(!) point Flaw where you know this “truth” about sluagh existence. It’s kind of like Dark Fate, but its in-game effect is to just make you really nihilistic and morose.
To put it politely, we are less than fond of this idea.
For starters, there are holes large enough to pilot a nocker airship through. While sidhe incarnating as commoners has been established elsewhere, what is the “order” of kiths that one moves through otherwise? What about all the kiths that have been introduced in the meantime—are clurichaun and ghille dhu in the mix? There are references to sluagh reincarnating as sluagh, and large swathes of the fae population as a whole have Remembrance as an actual Trait, so you’d think they’d surely have noticed this progression by now. And if the Shattering peaked in the 14th century, necessitating the Changeling Way, that’s going to be longer than eight lifetimes, barring some unusual circumstances. So there must be a time delay between incarnations or there must have been large numbers of new fae souls entering the world, else the sluagh would certainly outnumber the rest of the kiths.
But what matters most is that it just changes the fundamental nature of the game. Wraith: the Oblivion is the game for teetering on the edge of nonexistence; it’s right there in the name. (And yet even that game has a measure of hope.) Changeling is not about that; it’s built instead on epic quests and adventures, sweeping emotion and dastardly villains, intrigue and madness and camaraderie and horror. To fold in an idea that invites characters to… sit around and do nothing because they know this is their last lifetime… doesn’t really seem like a good fit for most RPGs, and Changeling among the least of all. It’s certainly possible for a character to be a nihilist and have this theory, but we reject the notion that it is somehow the truth of the matter—and thankfully, it seems to have slipped quietly out of the canon.
Anyway, it’s a footnote in the history of the game, and you are welcome to use it if you want. (You just won’t see us doing so.)
Josh Hillerup (any pronoun) ain’t afraid of no ghost!
Pooka G (any pronoun/they) fears no man, no beast, neither prophet nor priest, but trembles and balks at a pinch of fine salt.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
—Bene Gesserit litany