Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 9: Changeling: The Dreaming

Changeling: The Dreaming was the fifth classic WoD core game, completing the original announced roster.  It stands out from the other core games in a number of ways, and as a result didn’t so much die as fade away.

CtD was intentionally designed to be a change of tone from the extremely dark Wraith.  Where WtO was done in shades of gray, CtD was bright, with full-color interiors.  It’s less of a horror game than a dark fantasy, and what horror elements there are aren’t visceral–the big threat isn’t the end of the world or personal destruction, but mundanity.  As a result, it doesn’t fit terribly well in tone with the other games.

The other feature that set CtD apart was its use of collectible cards for the magic system.  While they weren’t technically required–all the relevant rules were in the gamebook–they were intended to perform as the randomizing element for casting cantrips.  This was not a popular element, as it added to the expense of play and came off as a money-making move.

The external elements (not the tone) changed by 2nd Edition.  The full-color interiors were gone, probably to save money, and the cantrip card system was replaced by a dice-based system that had originally been an optional rule in the Players Guide.  This wasn’t enough to save it from its slow slide into oblivion, however.  Eventually it came to be published by WW’s Arthaus line, which was created as a publishing model for less popular games (also including Werewolf: The Wild West and Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade).  Unfortunately, part of the model appeared to be producing books with larger type and wide expanses of whitespace, so the Arthaus books look cheap in comparison to earlier releases.

Eventually CtD stopped publication, without being officially canceled like WtO was, and . (WtO’s metaplot lent itself better to an abrupt ending than CtD’s did, since it concerned apocalyptic destruction rather than a civil war and complicated politics.) The Time of Judgment book had scenarios for the end of the game that came as close as it would get to proper resolution.

The relative unpopularity of CtD means that some of the books can be expensive and hard to find. (This was true even while it was theoretically being published; I bought all the books as they originally came out, and paid my rent by selling them on eBay back in 2000.)

Core rulebooks: There are 2 editions, which run to the usual under-$10 for the 1st edition and $10-20 for 2nd.  Neither are particularly hard to find.

Core supplements: 1st Edition had a Players Guide and a Storytellers Guide, neither of which are particularly expensive. Each edition had a Storytellers Screen with an accompanying book; the books aren’t hard to find, but you don’t see the screens or shrinkwrapped copies very often.

Splatbooks: Seven Kithbooks were released (three of them, Eshu, Pooka, and Redcaps, under the Arthaus line).  Nobles: The Shining Host serves the role of Kithbook: Sidhe.  Kithbook: Boggan was never released. (Be careful: it was given an ISBN, so phantom listings for it do appear, and there was a fan-made version online.)

The non-Arthaus Kithbooks are fairly common and run under $10.  The Redcaps book isn’t terribly expensive either.  However, Kithbooks Eshu and, especially, Pooka are the rarest and most expensive splatbooks White Wolf ever produced.  I got lucky with Eshu, but Kithbook: Pooka was the last book I got for my collection, and one of only two where I had to pay over cover price.  You can expect to pay $40-50 for these, and their rarity means that the odds of getting a lucky find on eBay aren’t high.

Other books: Shadow Court is one of the most sought-after books, as it’s the key supplement on the Unseelie Court and is the only place to find most of the information on one subgroup of the fae.  It runs about $20-30.

The books on the noble houses can run into a certain amount of money.  The first Book of Houses runs under $10, but the second BoH runs $10-20, and the Book of Lost Houses (another of the last few books I obtained for my collection) $20+.

Other supplements that can be on the expensive side are Land of Eight Million Dreams (the Asian supplement) and Denizens of the Dreaming (one of the last Arthaus books published).

I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s not technically a CtD book, but Dark Ages: Fae is the Dark Ages version of CtD.  It has a different approach to the fae (one closer to Ars Magica‘s version) and as one of the last books released for the WoD is seriously rare.  There’s a copy on Amazon for $50 right now, which is the cheapest I’ve ever seen it online, and in eBay auctions it can go as high as $125-150.

Other game material: There was a Players Kit released, which contained character sheets and blank cantrip cards.  As a consumable product, it runs over $30 these days.

The Cantrip Cards were oversized, glossy, on heavy stock, and sold in packs of 10.  There were 168 in the set (plus the blanks in the Players Kit).  Nowadays they’re very hard to find on the market, so I can’t make a good guess as to the going rate, beyond “not cheap”.

Merchandise: There wasn’t a lot of this, given the game’s niche popularity.  The ones I know of are:

  • Dice. The CtD dice set was orange with blue numbers, in a red bag with the butterfly logo.
  • Pin. There was a pin for the gameline (the butterfly logo again) but no others.
  • Novels. The Immortal Eyes novels tied in to the adventures of the same name.  Splendor Falls was a short story collection.  There were a couple of others (Pomegranates Full and Fine is a CtD/VtM crossover) but not a large number.
  • CCG. The third WoD game to get a CCG, Arcadia.  This was an odd duck of a game, and would probably have worked better as a board game or non-collectible card game.  It was sold in two types of packs, Character Packs and Story Packs, and in theory could be played with two of each.  The Character Packs had a popup card with a character and cards with abilities and drawbacks to construct a character; the Story Packs had map cards (that joined up to make one big landscape) and hazards.  In theory there were no rarities, but in practice distribution didn’t work that well.  The first set was subtitled The Wyld Hunt; the first expansion was King Ironheart‘s Madness.  A third expansion was planned but never released.  It’s another one that’s hard to get a good read on values, but unopened booster boxes can be found for not that much.

There may be something I’m forgetting, but to the best of my knowledge I don’t think it even got a wide release T-shirt.

Spine art: One point of note is that most of the books had a piece of a larger image on the spine. (Exceptions include the 2nd Edition rulebook, the Kithbooks, and The Autumn People.) This was an interesting idea which didn’t work terribly well in execution, through a combination of misaligned printing, a duplicate image, the fact that putting them in image order wasn’t the most practical way to use them, and of course the fact that it only got maybe 1/8 of the way done.  Thanks to this link, we can see what it was supposed to look like (the page also has a recommended shelving order):


That’s the last of the original core books.  Coming up next: the 6th core game, the one that replaced Wraith, Hunter: The Reckoning!  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s