provides a well considered look at the many monsters Changelings live in fear of. True Fae, Hobgoblins, Fetches, other Changelings, and even normal humans all serve as antagonists for Changeling characters at every stage of their development. With a focus on interesting and multidimensional NPCs, Autumn Nightmares
provides the sort of antagonists that are more than simple knives in the dark.
The Good: The various NPCs are very flavorful and can be easily included in any game. The Hobgoblins are particularly enjoyable and each one adds an element of wonder to the Hedge. The discussion of using Fetches in the game is excellent.
The Bad: True Fae lose their horror and mystique when they are turned into stats, especially with stats that make them killable by a group of Changelings. Some readers may be disappointed with the small number of Hobgoblins.
The Physical Thing
This 140 page black and white hardcover showcases above average production values for its $26.99 price tag. The artwork is atmospheric and enjoyable, especially considering how closely connected it is with the text throughout the book. The editing is good and the book maintains a high degree of readability throughout.
Under the Cover
Simply put, this is the bad guy book for Changeling: The Lost
. When I ran a Changeling
Chronicle I was a little disappointed at the lack of adversaries included in the core book. While Autumn Nightmares
largely puts those concerns to rest, Storytellers interested in an epic adversary for their Chronicle are still on their own.
Autumn Nightmares opens with a chapter focused specifically on Changeling and mortal adversaries. Using these antagonists is immediately obvious, yet finding motivations and elements of horror for mortals and Changelings can be difficult. The book does a good job of helping the reader along, focusing principally on madness and fear as the motivations for most villains. While the discussion can be a little long winded at times itís more than made up for thanks to the excellent example NPCs. At first blush I always assume the NPCs are there more to illustrate concepts than anything else, and itís the discussion thatís meant to be the real meat of the work. Here thatís the opposite. Discussion of madness as a motivation helps to bring characters like The King of Cats into clear focus as frightening adversaries that, while defeatable, are unrelenting in the evil their madness dictates. In fact, every single Changeling NPC presented is interesting enough that I would drop them into my game to quickly populate the city with a variety of frightening legends and characters.
Mortals receive equally adept treatment. Consider Aldous Blackwell, an extremely wealthy but otherwise normal human. He lost his daughter, his sole pride and joy, a long time ago. A few years back he caught a glimpse of her on TV, dirty and ragged as she was. Now he uses all of his fortune and contacts to hunt for her, day and night, slowly working his way through Changeling communities in his quest to find her and bring her home. Aldous is an interesting, believable character who could serve a variety of roles in my Chronicle. Heís fun to read about and he also reflects the tragedy that befalls so many humans when their loved ones are whisked away by the capricious True Fae.
Aldous isnít the only interesting mortal presented, but he is my favorite of the handful of normal folk included. Beyond mortals with a cause are the Ensorcelled Ė beings tied up in Glamour who now have a bit more of a connection to the Fae. Ensorcelled are excellent in two ways. First off, the NPCs continue to be as interesting as all the rest. Handsome Johnny was an ugly man until he struck a bargain with some Changelings and gained a beautiful face. When they died the magic was undone and now Handsome Johnny is out to find out what happened to his beloved face. Second, thereís plenty of cross over potential here and the authorís arenít afraid of it. Discussion of mixing in all of the other supernatural types is included along with an example Ensorcelled Vampire. The bottom line on all of this material is that itís perfectly inspiring stuff and likely to see use in any game.
The second chapter, covering the True Fae, is the complete opposite of the first. While chapter one has fantastic NPCs with occasionally lackluster discussion, chapter two has wonderful discussion but manages to reduce the True Fae to being merely powerful Changelings. Let me stress that absolutely all of the discussion of the True Fae is top notch. Focus is given on their existence as malleable creatures of nightmare and wonder, each having a central theme but also being beyond human comprehension. Common roles True Fae fall into, True Fae reflecting their Vice, connections between True Fae and modern myth, and other pieces of discussion do an excellent job of providing the Storyteller with a lot of ideas to work with.
Unfortunately, quantifying the True Fae may not work for everyone. Thereís an old thought in gaming that if something gets quantified in numbers then someoneís probably going to try to kill it. While I certainly donít have a problem with that, as some of the True Fae traveling on Earth certainly are taking risks, I am a little disappointed at how ultimately mundane the stats for the True Fae are. Theyíre not going to get killed by some random person with a knife, but a couple of folk with guns are a serious threat. Thereís also a lack of wonder with the mechanics that makes me a little disappointed. Iíd like to see more novel abilities presented with the example True Fae rather than a simple reliance on existing Contracts from the core book. All that said, clear and easy to follow rules for building True Fae antagonists are provided and the example True Fae embody easy to understand concepts. A Storyteller could build their own or drop any of the provided Fae into their game with ease.
The final chapter of Autumn Nightmares explores the Fetch and Hobgoblins as adversaries. I already have a great love of the Fetch as I think they open the door to exploring all sorts of interesting bits of characters, so I had demanding standards for additional coverage of such an inventive part of the game. The end product easily meets those standards. Discussion of all sorts of different ways to use the Fetch, primarily as villains but as friends and allies too, is included. A variety of additional mechanics, such as new Echoes, are included and they do a good job of further expanding the range of oddness players may encounter when their characters interact with Fetch. Solid discussion of how the Fetch fit in with Changelings, with Courts, and with the world generally is all provided. And, of course, some terrific NPCs are detailed for Storytellers to adapt to their Chronicle.
Hobgoblins receive some much needed expansion. The coverage is focused more on detailing a handful of specific Hobgoblins rather than presenting a giant menagerie, but these 13 additions do a good job of providing the Storyteller with many more creatures of wonder to populate the Hedge with. Not all of them are necessarily antagonistic, nor are all of them intelligent or humanoid or anything else. Theyíre diverse creatures of strangeness and wonder, each of which has carved out an existence for itself within the Hedge. Itís very likely that a Storyteller will find at least a few of these interesting enough to have them play a major role in a few adventures.
This is a fantastic addition to the line. I only have two complaints. First, I wish the True Fae were as fascinating mechanically as they are descriptively. Second, I need more Hobgoblins to populate the Hedge with without falling back on creating my own (or converting D&D monsters). Those complaints aside, I find Autumn Nightmares
to be an excellent adversaries book for the Storyteller who wants to tell stories of wonder and horror. For the Storyteller who wants some nasty physical fights, however, this may be a disappointing purchase. Many of the included NPCs are definitely scary folk, but against a full group of PCs even the True Fae should hesitate to press the encounter without backup.
If you want dozens of excellent villain ideas and even more preconstructed adversaries to drop into your Changeling: The Lost game then pick this one up.