The Shadow Court
Sourcebook for Changeling: the Dreaming
White Wolf Games Studio
128pp - [sterling]10.99
Yeah, yeah, you say. Sure Changeling's got all these themes of, like,
innocence and lost childhood and fading idealism, but isn't it all a bit,
y'know, twee? a bit too hey-nonny-nonny and hail-fellow-well-met? isn't it
all a bit too much like listening to Fairport Convention and having a Garfield
stuck to the passenger window of your car? Well, no longer: for all you
little Darth Vaders out there, the Unseelie sourcebook has arrived to
rewrite Changeling along now-familiar Gothic Punk lines.
Or so they say. This turns out to be a very curious little book that will
surprise Changeling afficionados and please the rest who are too busy
being tragically hip to wear a flower in their hair. The Unseelie have
hitherto been the stock bad-guys of Changeling, the ones that aren't
into courtly love or noblesse oblige and who fart or blow raspberries
during royal banquets. The Shadow Court reinterprets the world of the
Dreaming for the bad guys: gives them a range of motives, new Arts and
allies and, wait for it, faerie mysticism. Yes, the Unseelie turn out to be
the ones who are truly acting out the immemorial Pageant, in touch with
their winter aspects, and get to commune with the dead and tread the Bright
Path through immortality. Cool.
So, the Unseelie are deep after all (or at least what White Wolf call
deep, ie. tortured and arty) and the book does a great job of selling the idea
The opening fiction is above par and introduces the Shadow Court itself,
an enigmatic puppetmaster behind the seemingly disorganised Unseelie revolt.
The ritual of Samhain is explored, where the Seelie get to act out their
dark sides but the Samhain Mists cloud their memories the next morning.
Even if you don't want Unseelie PCs, the background on the mysticism of the
Faerie Festivals and the detailed coverage of Samhain are invaluable for any
chronicle. If you want to play anti-heroes then you get sold coverage of
different Unseelie cliques and politics and revised rules on the Escheat
(faerie laws) and Ravaging (exploiting mortals for their Glamour)
to enable you to get away with it.
But . . . if the Unseelie are actually quite alright after all, who gets to be
the Bad Guy now? Cue the Thallain races, dark cousins of the
Kithain who followed the Fae out of Arcadia then went to ground:
Beasties, Boggarts, Bogles, Goblins and Ogres, Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh
my! These critters are deeply unpleasant and they're just the Lesser
Thallain. Their scaly overlords are lurking in the Dreaming somewhere, ready
to strike. Be afraid.
Overall: As with most WW releases, purple prose and florid
rhetoric tend to overwhelm good gaming resources - it would have been nice to
see a little less atmospherics, a little more hard details in terms of setting,
background and systems. Nevertheless, this is a thoughtful and imaginative
overhaul of Changeling for players who want something darker, or
Storytellers who want to invest their villains with a bit more depth.
Reviewed by Jon Rowe
Product supplied by White Wolf