Conventional faery folklore often refers to changelings as the creature left behind when evil fae steal a child from its crib. Here, the term “Changeling” refers to the stolen child itself.
Changelings were humans once. Mere mortals stolen from this world and taken to another. In a land known as Arcadia (or Faery), they were twisted and changed. Turned into fae themselves, they exist in two major states. Those in service to their abductors (Loyal) and those who have escaped the madness of Faery (Lost).
THERE sat a knight all armed in black harness, and his name was the Knight of the Black Laund. And said the Black Knight “Now yield thy lady from thee. I shall put ye down upon one foot, and thy horse and thy harness ye shall leave with me, for it were shame to me to do thee any more harm.”~ Le Morte D’Arthur B.VII, C.VII
There’s a mechanical god that exists just under the surface of our reality. Its gears are hidden inside mind-bending architecture surreptitiously planted around the world. No one knows what its end goal is, but it has a plan. It sees across time, pushing and nudging humans in bizarre and arcane ways to further the schedule.
It is called the God-Machine, and like any god worth talking about, it has its angels.
The angels are beings of silicon and spirit-stuff, created to enact a certain purpose in our world. They hide under the mask of normal everyday people, just waiting until their mission is complete. One angel’s mission might be to delay one Anna Smith to ensure that she does not board the 9:50 train that will crash, killing all on board. Another’s might be to murder one Jonathon Lee, along with a random assortment of other people to mask the true target of its mission. The pattern of the missions is bast and bizarre, knowable only to the God-Machine, but its angels do not need to know. They obey.
Except when they don’t. Angels are not perfect, and once in a while, one questions. Perhaps Anna Smith’s guardian finds her repulsive and unworthy of being spared. Perhaps Jonathon Lee’s murderer feels empathy for him, or even love. Perhaps the angel is slowed by outside factors, failing its mission, or perhaps two angels find themselves on mutually exclusive missions. The reason for failing are infinite; regardless, when an angel fail to perform its mission, its programming breaks. It gains free will. It becomes a demon.
Demons hide out inside the flesh of humans, and live lives of paranoia and intrigue. They are at constant risk of exposure, as they balance out working their own agendas with maintaining the cover of their new life. They barter with humans for pieces of their soul, taking parts of people’s lives to shore up the demon’s own cover or replacing the person entirely–or carrying out angel-jacking, hijacking the body of a newborn angel that the God-Machine is investing into the world. When they were angels, they learned the tiny flaws in reality, and as demons, they exploit those flaws for their own ends, like a hacker using a back door–all the better to hide from the angels hunting them.
Sometimes, though, things go bad. Really bad. Back against the wall, bloodied with an empty gun bad. That’s when a demon says “fuck it”. That’s when a demon goes loud, letting their human mask fall and revealing their true dread face. Every demon’s true form is unique, a horrifying creature of wire, circuitry, and a crude semblance of flesh. Their power is terrible to behold, and glorious.
Every move a demon makes brings it closer to the truth–the fundamental truth, beyond even the power of the God-Machine to control. Every step takes it further on the path of the demon’s Descent into Hell, the legendary nirvana-like state unique to each demon. After all, you know what they say about reigning in Hell.
This is Demon: the Descent, a Storytelling Game of Techgnostic Espionage
Man, Demon: the Descent is… genuinely a fantastic revamp of Fallen’s concepts on several levels.
Like, not only is the concept compelling independent of any context - techgnostic espionage, come on - it’s a look at the risk of UFAI, embodied in the God-Machine, an occult engine that does nothing but maintain its own existence and build infrastructure to achieve goals inscrutable to its servant-angels, demons and humans alike, and by drawing an analogy between angels and loyalist government agents, and demons and defector spies, Descent portrays the end result of the natural Molochian process of incentivizing terrible choices, wherein a government becomes a hulk that exists independent of the knowledge of its constituents, whose agents have no understanding of it, existing only to exist, taking control for no reason that anyone can understand.
Also, there’s a power that lets you turn puns into reality as long as someone else is making them.
So I think my triumvirate of tabletop games is Delta Green, Unknown Armies, and World of Darkness (nWoD), with special seats for FATE Core as my favorite system and Eberron and Planescape vying for ‘favorite fantasy setting.’
In my upcoming piece I will be throwing out some terms and show some lore, probably unknown to you. This is not mandatory but will help to make some sense in the story I write. Like with the Vampire lore before, this explains the Werewolves.
In WoD werewolves are part mortal and part spirit, in particular the spirit of wolves. This is because in long ages past they were born from the union of Luna the spirit of the moon and Father Wolf, the greatest hunter. They hunted with their father and all was good. Sadly this was not meant to be as for some reason the Werewolves turned on Father Wolf and slew him. This had the dire effect of dividing the world into two halves, the spiritual and the material, for once they were whole. The Werewolves found themselves abandoned by their mother and the rest of the spirit world, hell some of their own numbers turned on them, promising to kill those who had slain Father Wolf.
They are Forsaken: the children of both worlds but belonging to neither so they keep the vigil held by their dead father, by keeping the borders between the two worlds and hunting anyone who would try to change the delicate balance held between them.
Werewolves can control their change and can change into five different forms.
Auspice: The sign of moon that a Werewolf first changed under. They are:
Rahu (The Full Moon, The Warrior) - warriors of all kinds from brawlers to seasoned commanders.
Cahalith (The Gibbous Moon, The Visionary) - seers, storytellers and lorekeepers.
Elodoth (The Half Moon, The Walker Between) - diplomats to the spirit courts, judges and arbiters.
Ithaeur (The Crescent Moon, The Spirit Master) - occultists and keepers of spirit lore and rituals.
Irraka (The New Moon, The Stalker) - scouts, spies and trackers.
First Tongue:The ancient language of the spirit world, spoken by the spirits and werewolves.
Tribes:The Forsaken organize themselves in Five tribes, depending on values and attitude dictated by a Firstborn Totem. They are:
Blood Talons: A tribe of fierce warriors who use their full strength against threats that leak through form the spiritual world.
Bone Shadows: A tribe of wise searchers in dark places who seek to understand the spirit world that is denied to them.
Hunters in Darkness: A tribe of stalkers who keep their sacred hunting grounds pure with primal magic and fury.
Iron Masters: A tribe of cunning wolves in human clothing who maintain close ties to their human sides.
Storm Lords: A tribe of fearless leaders who purge all weakness and dishonor form their souls.
The Pure: The werewolves who have three tribes away from the Forsaken. Monsters who hunt their brethren with hatred and twisted beliefs. Their tribes are the: Fire-Tounched, Ivory Claws, Predator Kings.
All these stories are true, even the contradictions. Examine the past as you examine the present. Find the stories that make sense, and learn from them. Throw away stories that no longer apply. And if you need another legend, write another legend. Without adaptation, extinction. If the stories don’t work for you, change them. They don’t matter as much as you think they do. Take what works and change the rest into something else that works. Change is the only constant. Change the past. Change the future. Change the truth. Change yourself. Change the world.
You are Farsil Luhal. Change or die.
The team hears rumors of a strange woman in a black hat showing up near an old opera house and saving people from tragedy. Before the would-be victims can thank her, she disappears without a trace. The locals have begun referring to her as the ‘angel in black’. A good Samaritan, perhaps? Not likely, considering the woman is none other than Ravin Mirage…