Friday, May 16, 2014

Look Upon Me And Despair: The Most Striking Changeling Build

I've been doing a lot of Pathfinder articles. A lot. So this week I thought I'd take a break from Golarion and poke about in the second most popular setting on the market, White Wolf's World of Darkness. Specifically I'd like to draw people's attention to Changeling: The Lost, which is one of my favorite games ever. Players who are big fans of characters who use their social skills and attributes to open doors and solve plot are going to enjoy this week's little bit of crunch.

I call it the Striking Looks Sledge. So, let's get started shall we?

Seeming and Kith

For those who haven't played Changeling before, you are a mortal who was stolen by a pan-dimensional being of alien intelligence and god-like power. Your soul was ripped from your body, and the holes were filled in with Fae magic that changed the very nature of who and what you are. That magic's reaction with the role you were given in the place you were kidnapped to gives you strange powers, and some of the aspects of the creatures who stole you in the first place.

The Fairest, changelings who have taken on aspects of the hauntingly, inhumanly beautiful creatures that kept them, are the best Seeming for this build. You can use a Darkling if you want, but Fairest are the heavy-hitters when it comes to social builds.

Beauty is a weapon, if put into the wrong hands.
Rather than taking a Fairest kith though (for the uninitiated, your Seeming is like being American. The kith is a more specific variety, like folks from Indiana; they are both things, and get benefits from both areas), you want to pair the Fairest with the Illes (pronounced eels) which is a Darkling kith found in Winter Masques, page 108.

This kith gives you the ability Shadow Beauty. Once per day you can spend a point of glamour to gain a bonus equivalent to the four-dot version of Striking Looks, which provides a +2 on all social checks against members of the opposite sex (or against those who find you attractive if we want to be more inclusive of gender and sexuality). This benefit lasts for one hour.

How Striking Are Your Looks?

In addition to the Shadow Beauty ability you should also get your Fairest the four-dot Striking Looks merit. This means that once per day for about an hour you have the equivalent of an 8-dot version of striking looks. Considering that the 4-dot version says you are angelic and that it's nearly impossible for people to forget your face, the 8-dot version is kind of like smashing a nine pound hammer into someone's heart.

This is what your smile looks like.
It gets worse for your enemies. As a Fairest you have access to the Contracts of Vainglory. Most purely social characters will buy the first 4 dots of this contract, but it's the third dot we're concerned about; Splendor of the Envoy's Protection, page 147 of Changeling: the Lost. This ability, once invoked, means that mortals cannot harm the individual in any way, and that supernatural creatures must succeed on a willpower check to attack the individual as long as he or she takes no harmful actions (giving orders to underlings is considered peaceful for these purposes).

It also gives you a bonus equivalent to the 4-dot version of Striking Looks while it's in effect.

That Can't Stack!

The World of Darkness is very lax about which abilities provide bonuses, and whether one bonus supersedes another or if they stack. The general rule of thumb though is that as long as the abilities come from different sources, they stack. Since one bonus comes from a merit, one comes from a kith ability, and one comes from a contract, all three of them can turn you into something out of legend if you activate all three of them at once.

Additional Touches

While a 12-dot version of Striking Looks is pretty impressive (and according to one storyteller would be enough to act under the same rules for the mechanic Incite Bedlam on page 185 of Changeling: the Lost), it's just one trick. It's a hell of a trick, but you don't want to be left out in the cold if your big gun doesn't work. So here are some other things that might make solid, additional touches.

Oh god, there's more?
Oh is there.

Dual Kith: Found on page 98 of Winter Masques, Dual Kith is a merit that allows a character to possess two kiths, and to get the benefits of both. A solid addition to the Illes is the Shadowsoul or the Flamesiren (both on page 108 of Winter Masques). They provide bonus to wyrd on all intimidate checks, or an aura that requires a resolve+composure check not to be sucked in and distracted by respectively.

Siren Song: Found on page 97 of Rites of Spring, Siren Song grants the character an unearthly, enchanting voice that causes a -2 penalty to those listening as it enraptures them. It has no off-button though, unless someone uses an electronic device to filter out the magic.

Rigid Mask: On page 96 of Rites of Spring, Rigid Mask takes a character from being a good liar to being a stone-faced tale teller. For players who are going to use falsehood as a weapon, this is an absolute necessity.

Gentrified Bearing: While not a requirement, this handy little merit found on page 92 of Rites of Spring makes it so that hobgoblins often mistake a character for one of the Gentry. Even the True Fae themselves might be fooled if they only see a character from a distance, which can be quite the feat for those who want to get away through nothing more than strength of presence.

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