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I am preparing to run my first Changeling: The Lost game, and I just read over the rule book. One thing I don't understand is why the mortals don't know about the Changelings.

Vampires have strong reasons to hide from the mortals. The mages in Mage: The Awakening would actually have a hard time revealing themselves even if they wanted to. But Changelings can reveal themselves to mortals (p. 108). There are some negative consequences to doing so, but those consequences are primarily supernatural, such as making it easier to track the Changeling. I haven't found anything about the mortals forgetting or rationalizing a changeling that has scoured her mask or made overt use of contracts. In, fact there are some advantages to forming a contract with mortals and the types of contract discussed might involve the human knowing the changeling is supernatural in some way even if not all of the details.

I see plenty of reasons an individual changeling may not want to out themselves specifically, from the risks of attracting the Huntsmen to changing relationships she doesn't want to change. But I don't see anything preventing the world from knowing about the existence of changelings in general.

So, why don't the mortals know, at least in general terms, about the existence of changelings and the True Fae?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Consider how native americans or the passenger pigeon might answer this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Verdan Dec 20 '20 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I take it you're implying humans would hunt them, which is why the vampires hide. But I'm not sureethat's true and it doesn't really seem to be supported by the main book. Vampires prey on humans and in the Requiem risks of frenzy and implications of blood potency mean that even a "friendly neighborhood vampire" is at very high risk of racking up a body count eventually. Changelings kind of sort of prey on humans in harvesting glamour, but they have almost 0 risk of killing a human that way and have options of getting glamour in other ways such as goblin fruit. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Dec 20 '20 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aren't changelings created by destroying a human life? \$\endgroup\$ – Ling Dec 20 '20 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ling If by destroying you mean "killing" then no, no killing required. If you mean "ruining" then yes, but it's the true fae doing the ruining, not other changelings. The True Fae are generally antagonists. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Dec 20 '20 at 22:42
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The out-of-character answer is that changelings are hidden because the Chronicles of Darkness setting has to maintain the premise of being our world but with secret monsters. You're always welcome to modify this assumption in your game. My in-universe answer is that humans do know lots of changeling lore already, but they refuse to believe it.

Every child is exposed to ideas about magical heroes, monsters under the bed, talking trees and witches with chicken-legged huts. Changelings often resemble or maybe even were these beings of legend. This means changeling revelations are comprehensible but also renders them unbelievable. In the modern day, the true story of a changeling's experience gets retold and butchered until it ends up on a creepypasta site as yet another urban legend. A scientific study of a changeling's powers would encounter strong skepticism but also become a favorite citation of parapsychologists and ufologists, further lowering its credibility by association.

Hunter: The Vigil 1e Chapter 1 talks about how the humans regularly encounter the supernatural but our psyche and society refuse to see it for what it is. To admit that what hit your car wasn't really a deer, that there's a 13th room on your 12-room floor, that this heartless corpse shows no signs of chest surgery is too much for most of us. Opening that door would raise so many other questions that our minds lock it tight -- no magic secrecy field or adjustment bureau required. This aspect of the setting was carried forward into the Chronicles of Darkness core book in places like the breaking point question "What has your character forgotten?"

In the Chronicles of Darkness, it’s next to impossible to grow up without any exposure to the supernatural. Decide what your character saw and forgot. Did she see a vampire take the form of smoke and vanish? A man turn into a wolf? Maybe she caught a glimpse of an impossible nightmarescape through a door that should never have been propped open? (p. 30)

Furthermore, the humans who do accept the reality of supernatural beings have mixed views on their personhood. Ask Prometheans how they feel about alchemists who want their flesh for experiments. The Cheiron Group wants to know your location. These humans don't want supernatural knowledge to spread because scrutiny and sympathy thwart their predation. They heap doubt on crazy rumors and supply alternative explanations while simultaneously tracing the origin for capture.

In Chronicles, every supernatural element that seems potentially innocuous is connected to something truly haunting in depravity and scope. A mortal knowing about changelings somewhat necessitates knowing about the True Fae that warped them, and possibly giving up on having peaceful sleep ever again. Befriending ghosts may lead to learning about the Underworld, the meaningless oblivion that awaits all. Each of the major supernatural types functions as the tip of an iceberg of nightmarish realizations. Looked at this way, it becomes easier to understand how many mortals, confronted with passing strangeness but who can still return to their normal lives, will try to convince themselves it's not real.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't entirely find this satisfying compared to some of the other splats that have much more explicit rules either giving the creatures reasons to hide or outright making it hard for them to reveal themselves even if they tried. But I think it is probably the correct answer and the best possible one within the Changeling Lore and it does at least mostly explain things. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Apr 11 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see this as a feature not a bug: a key, implicit power of the Changeling splat that groups can & should lean into. Any normie can join up & learn all your secrets without really endangering "species". Explicit mechanics like Promethean Disquiet serve to isolate the characters & make street-level stories about having a family, going to school or running a business very hard to do. That works great in Promethean: master being normal when you're barely able to practice. But Changeling is about characters finding their place and isolating mechanics would effectively close off certain places. \$\endgroup\$ – mrae Apr 18 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Softer rules often make more exciting stories. Consider RL physics doesn't prevent stabbings, but the odds of incarceration make it now a rare & dramatic occurrence. If most reject/deny the supernatural, we become automatically interested when a mortal follows us into the Hedge or recognizes our Huntsman before we do. As the Storyteller, use unexpected exceptions to general rules to pique interest. Bring in mysterious individuals who have reasons to push past disbelief. Are they from a character's past, not actually mortal? If Masks were buffed, you'd be much more limited when throwing curves. \$\endgroup\$ – mrae Apr 18 at 1:48
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Their goals and wishes mean they really, really do not to be found as they worry they will be abducted again by the fae who stole them.

The primary goal of changelings is to find their way home. See, Changeling the lost p13.

The prevailing theme of Changeling is the quest to find their way home. For some this may mean reclaiming the mortal lives they were stolen away from as best they can. For others, it means finding a new home among the freeholds and Courts of the Lost.

In addition, from p32.

One of the characteristics that almost all changelings share is that they have great difficulty feeling safe. Abducted without warning and enslaved by almost incomprehensible beings, in the back of every changeling's mind is the fear that someday, something will suddenly turn his world back into a living nightmare. Changelings fear that they will be recaptured by the Fae or become the victims in some as yet unknown horror, and this fear is a central issue in many of their lives.

They want to be safe, and get home, and revealing themselves means the Fae will abduct them, as p32 notes.

Most of the few changelings who use the internet fear that the agents of the Fae will locate them if they post too many hints about themselves or their activities on any but the most private forums.

This is why they don't reveal themselves to supernatural beings, see p33.

Their natural suspicion and desire for safety is the primary reason that changelings remain so mysterious to most other supernatural beings. Changeling occultists recognize the fear that vampires, mages and werewolves might all have some secret connection to or alliance with the Fae. As a result, the Lost are no more inclined to reveal themselves to a mage or a vampire than they are to a mortal.

Now, on p35 it is revealed what people typically do if a Fae goes loud.

Mortals fear or dismiss what they cannot understand... Changelings... find themselves subjected to to violent and sometimes dangerous attempts at exorcism, as their families attempt to force the devil out of them. Attempted revelations about the changeling's fetch go over especially poorly, and can result in restraining orders, charges of conspiracy to commit murder and similar problems... Because mortals cannot perceive the changelings fae miens, at best changelings appear to be magically powerful humans with strange and disturbing delusions about their pasts.

However, some have found acceptance as mildly supernatural beings. See p36.

In the past few decades, some changelings have gained acceptance among small groups of eccentric mortals interested in alien abductions and similar phenomenon.

So yes, they totally can and sometimes do reveal themselves as magic, and then get regarded as weird, abducted by the fae, or find acceptance among a small group of people.

Notably, in my homeland of Britain, 44% of the populace claims to have had personal contact with faeries.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/9k8n9p/women-believe-fairies-real-study

World of Darkness is loosely based on our world, so knowledge of the fae and that lots of people think that they're real is likely widespread. Just, Fae want to get home, are paranoid and worried about revealing themselves, and often are seen as demons or creepy magical creatures that want to murder their old self so they don't tend to go loud enough to reveal themselves to the world at loud, even if a near majority of the populace has personally met a faerie and believes in them.

Magic is seen by the intellectual elite as false, so we disregard the fact that 44% of the populace claims to have met a fae.

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