Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The rulebook begins its description of kenning by suggesting that players can "spot the signs of supernatural phenomena," but then goes on to say pretty clearly that it's not an "always-on" ability:

A player whose character's Clarity rating is 6 or higher may choose to spend a Willpower point and ask the Storyteller to secretly roll the player's Clarity to detect the presence of the supernatural in the area.

Given the changelings' need to explicitly sense the supernatural, and the relatively high expense of this ability at 1 Willpower, how can I hint to my players that they should use it?

share|improve this question
This is the sort of thing that can be difficult to do-have they forgotten that their powers exist, or do they just not want to use them? Either way, the fix can easily seem heavy-handed. – Kyle Willey May 17 '13 at 4:43
@KyleWilley: edited the post slightly. The main problem is the expense of the ability, which provides a pretty strong incentive to only use it when necessary. – ladenedge May 17 '13 at 4:57
Does this require the world-of-darkness tag? Its not applicable to any edition but wod...right? – Pureferret May 17 '13 at 16:22
@Pureferret That's being worked out on meta, but actual changes in use are being postponed until the contest ends, so maybe for now we're just following the current trends (which may need changing)? – doppelgreener May 18 '13 at 3:40
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Kenning isn't generally worth it

Consider the angle that your players aren't using Kenning because, well, Kenning isn't worth the cost; you spend an entire Willpower and the most your character gets is, "Yes, there is something supernatural within sensory range of me," without even the courtesy of learning distance, direction, or relative strength. The complete lack of useful information even if you do use it at an appropriate time (and then succeed on your roll) means that even if Kenning could be theoretically used in a situation you're better off not using it and instead trying to detect the supernatural/your enemies/weird things in some other fashion - like Contracts of Fang and Talon, Contracts of Communion, a bog-standard Perception check, a Token, Contracts of Spell-Bound Autumn, or more (honestly, the list of things just grows longer and longer with every supplement).

If you want them to be able to pick up on the presence of the supernatural in the area then I would suggest looking into the expanded Clarity rules in Rites of Spring, or finding other ways to drop hints. Perhaps someone using Contracts of Fang and Talon can pick up on an unusual scent (old blood on a vampire's ghoul servant, for example), or they notice odd traits with a Perception roll.

If you want a general ability to detect the supernatural, Contracts of Spell-Bound Autumn (Lords of Summer) has such a power at the first dot, making it a "teaser" Court clause that can be taught freely to anyone even without Court Goodwill or Mantle (see Changeling: the Lost's description of Court contracts) and it serves well for the purpose; not only is it cheaper than Kenning in terms of costs, but it works better.

share|improve this answer
"how can I hint to my players that they should use it?" - it being kenning. Alternatives are great but please give the question asked some service in your answer. – Leezard May 18 '13 at 16:50
Well, I did - I answered it by saying "Don't try to, use these instead." – Lord_Gareth May 18 '13 at 16:53
Ok, fair enough. – Leezard May 18 '13 at 16:54

There are a few ways that come to mind. First, if any of the characters has a "sense" merit that seems applicable, especially Common Sense, it can be used to drop hints.

Second is by having an NPC that points out how helpful this can be. This could be by acting as a mentor and guiding them through like they are learning a new ability or possibly by making more experienced NPCs take time out from an encounter to do the kenning and showing how useful it can be. The second example there may also need you to point out that all changelings can do this and may lead to the first example.

As a more manipulative method, you could talk to someone about it on an out of character level, making out like you were re-reading the book and were reminded how useful that ability is, then hope they realize when it is a good time to use it.

share|improve this answer
If your already talking to them out of character about it, just tell them it's useful. You don't need subterfuge. If you wish, tell one player who you think will act on it, and let the others figure it out during play. – okeefe May 17 '13 at 7:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.